French Kissing

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50. Encore

Five years later

"And the nominees for Best Book of a Musical are…"

It was very strange and nerve-wracking for Marcy, hearing her name read out alongside such prestigious and well-known writers.

Beside her, Gray squeezed her hand when a few seconds of Rapunzel was shown to the audience. She knew she couldn’t possibly win, but it had been such an amazing ride.

Her play, Rapunzel, had been turned into a musical and eventually became a hit show on Broadway. And now she was being nominated for a Tony award! Of course the play had gone through a lot of changes and additions, but the libretto was still nearly all Marcy. She had written or co-written the lyrics to all of the songs, and worked closely on extra dialogue and other changes. It was still essentially hers.

In the row in front, Revel turned around and winked at Marcy. She was impossibly glamorous these days, her piercings long gone, her hair like long black silk. Perfectly styled today, wearing some designer gown that had been created especially for her. Revel was fully a star in her own right now, albeit a bit of a frustrated one. Instead of the character roles she wanted she was still getting ingénue roles. Along with slews of awards and accolades, though these didn’t seem to thrill her.

Addy, also still in New York, working in advertising and dating a different gorgeous guy every six months, was mystified by Revel’s attitude. "Don’t you like getting the leads?"

Indeed Revel had ended up cast as Rapunzel in the first, off-Broadway production of Marcy’s play, not the witch as she had hoped for. What Revel wanted was character parts. She wanted to be a grande dame of the theatre, not just the winsome heroine. The Joan Crawford, not the Jeanne Crain. "You’ll get there eventually," Marcy had told her. "You just need to age a few decades."

Marcy only realised she’d started daydreaming when Gray nudged her. "Go on, you’ll have to go up."

What? Then she realised the reason she’d just heard her own name again was because it had been on the card drawn out from the envelope. She had won!

Feeling part dizzy, part in a trance she made her way along the row to the stage. There were people to usher her where she needed to go, so she let them lead her and ended up standing on the stage with the brilliance of the lights upon her.

Marcy had been on plenty of stages over the past year, but somehow this moment took her right back to that deer-in-the-headlight sensation of understudying for Mrs Helberg.

With one hand on the podium stand and another on her bump, which felt like it was size and shape of a pumpkin, she managed to find her voice. She listed off all the various theatre people she needed to thank, trying to speak clearly and concisely. It had been such a huge team effort after all.

"…and not forgetting Revel Holmes, our wonderful leading lady for the first run, all my dear friends and family, and most of all my husband Gray, without whose inspiration and support this would never have happened."

She looked for Gray in the audience and could make him out, smiling at her. The advantage of being nominated and married to a famous actor was that they seated you in the front rows, where the cameras were constantly on you.

Marcy returned to her seat as the applause rang out through the auditorium, clutching the heavy award. She slid in beside Gray, knowing they would be filmed in close up. He kissed her. "Congratulations, you looked beautiful up there. You totally deserved to win, I knew you could do it."

"I looked like a huge pregnant hippo," Marcy said.

Gray laughed. "You’re glowing and you’ve never been more beautiful to me. Carrying our child." His hand lightly caressed the roundness of her stomach through her dress as he kissed her again. He was so genuinely proud of her talent, so supportive of her writing career.

On the way to the awards party Gray stopped to sign autographs for a couple of people. The past two years he had been starring in a top rating medical drama about New York heart surgeons, and it had reached the stage where he was constantly approached by fans. Fame had been a weird thing for them both to deal with.

The money had been wonderful though: they now owned a beautiful New York apartment, Marcy could fly down to see her parents whenever she wanted, and she had all the time in the world to write. She already had another play in production and one in the pipeline, and with the Tony nomination she was starting to get approached to write film screenplays.

Gray had asked her to marry him the day she graduated with honours from NYU. He had produced the most beautiful diamond ring that had belonged to his grandmother. "This is just a temporary ring, so you can choose the one you want."

But Marcy hadn’t wanted another. The stone in the heirloom ring had witnessed so much love and happiness: it was such a beautiful setting and had such beautiful symbolic value, that nothing else could match it.

The wedding had been a dream. Addy had been Marcy’s maid of honour with Revel as chief bridesmaid. Gray had managed to produce some devastatingly handsome groomsmen, one of whom Addy had even dated for a while.

Revel never seemed to get into any serious relationships, she was too committed to her career. She was often photographed with various male stars, some of which she confessed to Marcy were merely PR set ups. But she was happy, and determined to keep climbing the ladder. She had been a huge success at Juilliard and was clearly headed for the stars.

So Marcy was the only one hitched so far. It had been younger than she had imagined she would marry, but Gray being a few years older, it all felt right. They hadn’t planned on starting a family so soon but nature had a way of deciding these things, and Gray had been so overjoyed when Marcy told him that his reaction assuaged any fears she might have had.

She was pretty sure it was going to be a girl, and if so, they were going to call her Esme. Great Aunt Esme was very elderly these days and had moved into an old people’s home. Her mind was still as sharp as ever, she just was a little too frail of body to live by herself. She had formed a strong friendship over the past years with Revel’s grandmother Rowena, who visited her regularly as did Marcy’s family.

Cora Helberg still reigned supreme in Springdale’s theatre world. Having been the "incubator", as she liked to claim, for two hugely successful actors and now an award winning playwright, she had taken the Springdale Players from strength to strength.

Brittanny and her friends had ended up going off to different colleges, their clique finally split up. The last Marcy had heard, Brittanny had just broken off an engagement to some guy who worked in finance. Or he had broken it off. Marcy felt somewhat sorry for her, either way. Brittanny had gone from being queen of Springdale to no one in particular, forced to watch from a distance while her former enemies lived it up as celebrities in the Big Apple.

Marcy felt pretty tired as the awards after party continued. So many people approached her to congratulate her, after a while she felt like her face was aching with smiling and saying thank you to everyone.

Fortunately Gray’s eagle eyes missed nothing. "We’re going home," he told her.

"But the party’s far from over."

"And you’re already exhausted, and your wellbeing is more important than more schmoozing with showbiz people. I know you don’t even enjoy it."

It was true. Marcy far preferred to be home, resting, reading a book or a play. She was thinking of doing something with The Tempest for her next project: it would definitely be a musical, she could already imagine some of the songs. And Revel as Miranda.

She lay back in the limo, Gray’s arm around her. It would be nice to get out of this dress, take a shower, and just put her head down.

Reading her mind, Gray said: "it’s straight to bed with you when we get back. No sitting up and writing." He knew that Marcy could write until the early hours when she got into the zone. "Besides, I have other plans for you."

"Other plans?" From the gleam in his eye, Marcy had a fair idea what they were. She was still amazed he remained so attracted to her given her condition.

"If you’re not too tired. Though given how sexy you look in that dress, I may just have to keep you awake," he warned.

It was a beautiful dress. It was fitted in the bodice, and then flowed as elegantly as possible over her bump, specially adapted to do so. It also showed much more of of the swell of her breasts than she would usually have worn, but the couturier had insisted it would look best that way.

Back in their apartment, Gray drank in the sexy shape of his wife, before slowly unzipping her and carrying her to their bed.

"I love you," he told her. "You’re the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have you in my life, and our future child."

Marcy answered him with a kiss, pulling him towards her. She was tired, but Gray’s mere touch still lit fires in her body. "I guess we should make the most of the time we have just the two of us," she said. As excited as she was about the baby, it was going to be a big change.

And then she was in Gray’s arms, and nothing else existed. He was her world, and they were creating their own future together. The curtain might be coming down on the first act, starring Gray and Marcy, but she knew that there would be new wonders in store when the curtain rose again, and the three of them took up their new roles. Whatever dramas came their way, whatever love scenes, they were headed for a very happy ending.

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