For thousands of years, one truth has prevailed both in fiction and reality:
Any rich, single man is looking for someone to share his good fortune with … even if he is not quite aware of it yet.
This is a story about the pursuit of those men, told by:
- the men who want to be them
- the women they pursue, who simultaneously pretend NOT to pursue them
- and the well-meaning friends of those men who generally mess up their lives along the way
(Any resemblance to people or places is entirely coincidental - this is an original work of fiction)
Part 1: He Walked Into The Room ...
Their parents thought they just came to audition for the summer's annual Jane Austen festival, where they could win their big chance to perform for the top 10 Theatre Department heads and win scholarships to the best acting schools in the country.
But even the top-secret plans of those three best friends flew out of the window when they saw ... him.
"Ben, we're here. Hello ... Earth calling Ben? Wait - are you still watching male-stripper Gifs on repeat?" Linda laughed. She turned around from the passenger seat and pulled his phone out of his hands to check.
"Shhh! Guys, be quiet, would you? Look who else just got here. 3 'o clock -- but don't stare!" Janice hissed.
All three of their jaws crashed to the floor of Janice's old Honda Civic at the sight of the driver behind the wheel of the obviously new silver BMW, pulling up just two spaces next to them.
Linda dropped Ben's phone on the floor.
Ben panicked and scrambled after it.
Janice squealed, "Damn you two! Now he's seen us!"
"Really?" Ben piped up, peeking up from the backseat after he recovered his phone. He waved.
All three were shocked to see their new prey grin back at them.
"What are you doing?! Oh my God, he's getting out of the car. Everyone look at your phones. Now! Look busy. Don't look at him!" Janice begged.
The three did their best to pretend that nothing was more important than their imaginary lists of messages and emails on their phones as he strolled right in front of their car and into the audition hall, but neither their target nor any of them were fooled by the performance.
"He's too confident. Look at him! He acts like he's already on the cast list. You know what that means. Mommy and Daddy are on the board. This isn't an audition for him. All he has to do is show up," Linda remarked.
"Mmm-mmm … I swear I've seen that ass before in a Tommy Hilfiger spread," Ben drooled.
"What? Come on, Ben," Linda giggled, although he truly looked like a classic model with his blonde-highlighted hair and perfect khakis that were tight in all the right places.
"Seriously, I never forget a nice ass, and that is one fine piece of work attached to it too!" Ben said.
"He must have SOME taste if he wants to perform in 'Pride and Prejudice.' Do you think he's gay, Ben?" Linda asked.
"Could go either way; my gay-dar detects bisexual possibilities, but he probably thinks he's straight. Poor guy. The good ones are always like that," Ben smiled.
"Well, I called him first, so at least give me a chance before you jump at him, ok, Ben?"
“You’re not still mad about my night out with that DJ, are you? Girl, I thought you knew he was gay as soon as you saw him. It was so obvious.”
“But you all said he was totally flirting with me! Oh, forget it.”
“Alright, I’ll make sure you get the first chance with our new Mr. Fine Ass this time.”
“Who do you think he'll play?” Janice mused while watching him open the door to the hall and loosen the top of his polo shirt. “I'm laying my bets on Mr. Bingley, and if so, I'd die to play Jane."
"Honey, we all know you were born to play Jane, but just don't hold it against me if he decides to come out of the closet once he discovers how fabulous I am," Ben announced with all his usual Queenly flourish.
The three of them laughed, happy to ease the tension of their auditions.
None of them came from wealthy families, so they knew they needed to display some serious talent to get into this show. Only the best students were permitted in this show, and there was serious competition from the three neighboring schools in the area because anyone who even completed a successful summer performance at this university usually got great acting gigs even if they didn’t win a scholarship.
The trio of admirers eventually trailed behind their latest eye candy into the front lobby of the theatre, wearing their best we-know-what-we’re-doing faces, which would’ve been a lot more effective if Janice hadn’t tripped on the plush, red rug in the center of the marble-floored entrance.
They all fought back laughter, and Ben nudged Janice to the receptionist’s desk first to help her remember why she was here before they totally lost whatever little composure they had.
Janice recovered quickly and held her stride as she approached the receptionist. She reached the desk behind her target just long enough to catch his name…
"Thank you, Brad. You're up next. Please take a seat for the moment," the receptionist replied.
Brad turned around and could not help but take a glance at the lovely Janice. She was a bit shy, as always, but she managed a coy smile at him when their eyes met for just a moment before he took his seat at the far end of the bare lobby. Linda was happy that, among the three of them, Brad's glance lingered on Janice the longest. It had been far too long since Janice had seen any action.
They all knew that Janice deserved to have the first chance. She was very sweet-natured and beautiful in a classic, Duchess Kate sort of way, often dressing as if she needed to impress an invisible paparazzi crew with just the right amount of style without exposing too much skin. Her optimistic tendencies often made her fall for men who weren't good enough for her, so her friends were more than happy to see her taste in men improving for once – even if it was just superficially.
Linda observed the way Janice was almost too eager to observe the new Mr. Maybe-A-Happy-Ever-After and suddenly had a new fear: If Janice liked him this much already, did it mean he must be a real creep like all the others she’d liked before? Oh God, was she ready for another week of Janice crying on her shoulder over a bowl of ice cream every night while refusing to talk about it after this one fails? There were only so many “Friends” re-runs she could watch before running out of shows to cheer her up again…
"Hi, I'm Janice Sanbourn…" Janice mentioned slowly with perfect pronunciation to the desk clerk, as if she suspected that the object of her attention would be writing it down any second on his notebook.
"Ah, yes, Janice. You're after that gentleman just there. Take a seat. And you two are…?" the recepionist asked as she looked at the two companions behind Janice.
"…and Ben Bedford."
"Good -- right on schedule. Linda, you're after Janice. And Ben, you'll follow Linda. Sit down, please," she chirped.
Janice seemed to glide across the floor toward Brad, who was unsuccessfully pretending to study the time on his gold Apple watch.
There were only five chairs set out for them, and Janice sat in the one immediately next to Brad. She crossed her legs as Brad glanced up at her again, and Janice forgot that her friends were even in the same room with her when she looked into his crystalline-gray eyes.
Ben and Linda sat behind them and pretended to ignore them for the time being, whispering to each other about their favorite audition tips and scribbling notes about how cute Brad and Janice looked together.
Meanwhile, Brad and Janice engaged in a subtle dance with their eyes. Every time Janice looked at him, she was preoccupied with thoughts of what it would be like to unbutton that perfectly pressed white polo shirt. The tension was building, making the silence heavy with anticipation.
"So, who would you like to play?" Brad leaned over and whispered to Janice.
"I would be happy with any part. But probably like most girls, I would love to play Jane or Elizabeth of course," she replied.
"You look like a Jane," Brad smiled.
"Why...thank you," Janice blushed. "What about you? Which role are you hoping for?"
Just then the heavy, double doors next to them opened up. An assistant peered down through her glasses at them.
"Next?" she called out.
As Brad stood up he whispered, "Break a leg … Jane," before walking into the audition room.
When the doors closed behind him, Ben and Linda were bursting to pry Janice for the details as they moved their chairs closer to hers.
"What did he say?" Ben asked in a low voice to avoid the increasing stares of the receptionist from across the room.
"Shh…I'll tell you later! I need to try to remember my lines. Don't distract me!" Janice insisted.
"You've rehearsed that monologue at least a million times. You won't forget it now!" Linda hissed back.
"I'll tell you both everything - don't I always? I'm so nervous right now…" Janice answered.
"Don't worry - you'll be wonderful," Ben reassured her.
“Believe it or not, I am trying to work over here,” the irritated receptionist snapped across the room. “Could you all please pipe down and try to take your auditions more seriously?”
Ben turned to the girls and rolled his eyes, and the trio resigned themselves to silence once more.
After a few minutes that felt like a small eternity -- during which Janice imagined where Brad would take her on their first date, Linda glared at the military-like receptionist and wondered if she had ever been in love, and Ben debated with himself about whether or not Brad was actually gay -- the assistant finally opened the doors again.
"Next please," she called out for Janice to come.
Janice stood slowly, a bit confused about why Brad had not exited yet. Was there another exit to the building?
Janice went through the doors and found that they led directly onto a stage. There were only a few spotlights illuminating the black wooden floor, and she could not see the director sitting in the dark audience before her.
Brad was still standing on the stage, and her anxiety doubled as she realized he must be part of her audition.
"Read for Jane," the assistant said, thrusting a script into her hands. "Walk to the center of the stage and announce your name clearly. Then you will read the scene with this young man reading for Mr. Bingley."
Janice was stunned. She summoned all of her charm and charisma as she took the stage.
Brad’s smile at her, like the spotlights and audience mattered not an ounce to him, gave her a new bravery.
He read out in a calm voice that felt as smooth as velvet against Janice’s ears:
“Please, Miss Bennet, would you care for another dance? I can’t bear to see someone like yourself standing without a partner at such a lively party.”
She grinned at him, reading, “Thank you, Mr. Bingley. I’d be happy to. I must confess that I did not expect such a compliment.”
“Nor did I expect to find such a beautiful lady to dance with.”
Brad reached out and took her hand.
Janice blushed, flustered because he actually began pulling her in to dance with him when she’d thought they would only read the lines!
While her heart pounded, she suddenly heard something louder above her head, which was followed by a frightened call from the high ceiling-
Janice had been in enough stage accidents to recognize the impending danger, and she looked up just in time to see a spotlight falling directly above Brad's head!
Janice instinctively grabbed Brad about his waist and pulled him out of the way just seconds before the light shattered into a thousand pieces on the floor. Janice tripped over Ben's legs while pulling him away however, and soon both her and Brad tumbled onto the ground, just out of harm's way.
(end of Part 1)
***This story is entirely about having fun with writing and entertaining all of you beautiful people, so...
Steemians, please let me know if you want to read more by upvoting and sharing it 🙏🏼.
Because this is an open community, you can also take this opportunity to tell me anytime there's something about this story you'd like to see me write differently -- and if your reply gets 3 votes or more, then I will change the story the way you want it!***
UPDATE: I've just posted the next chapter! Click here to go to chapter 2 now.