Writing Project 2021

“TROUBLE AT THE OFFICE”

A Romance Screenplay

By Rugby Café Writers

This is our Writing Project for the first part of 2021. It’s a Film Script in the Romance genre. Once it is finished, we are going to try to film it with real actors. Each part will be written by a different member of the Rugby Cafe Writers. Apart from Lindsay, none of us has ever tried script-writing before, so it will be a new experience!

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Part 1 by Lindsay Woodward

EXT. OFFICE CAR PARK. MORNING.

RACHEL SMITH, 32, steps out of her mid-range car, weighed down with her handbag and laptop bag. She’s very pretty and well presented in nice clothes, never looking anything but immaculate.

The car park sits beside a large office block. It’s packed with cars, but there is no other person in sight.

Rachel walks confidently in her pristine stilettos to the entrance of the building. It’s not a grand entrance, and the building isn’t particularly new, but it all seems well looked after.

INT. RECEPTION. MORNING.

Rachel enters the cosy reception. To the left there is a staircase that leads to the upstairs offices. Next to that is the reception desk where CHARLOTTE, the 21 year old mousey receptionist sits, hidden by the oversized reception desk. 

Towards the back of the carpeted area there are two doors. One leads to the meetings rooms and some other offices, and the other leads directly to the shop floor.

On the wall opposite the reception desk is a large TV screen hosting a rolling corporate video. It catches Rachel’s eye and she watches three slides of the presentation:

  1. The red and white corporate branding shoots across the screen and the words “Welcome to WLF Interiors” appear
  1. Those words dissolve away and new words appear saying “A family run business since 1905 manufacturing high quality furniture and market-leading upholstery”
  1. A picture of a fancy leather sofa and a Chesterfield armchair appear next to the words “Still 100% British-made from our manufacturing site in Rugby, Warwickshire”

RACHEL (pointing to the screen)

Why is the old logo still on here?

Rachel turns to glare at Charlotte who just shrugs nervously.

RACHEL

I gave you the USB to update this video a week ago. Why haven’t you done it yet?

CHARLOTTE

I didn’t know how.

RACHEL

And you didn’t think to ask?

Loud steps are heard bounding down the staircase and JASMINE DAVIES, 29, appears. She’s sporting a very large smile. She’s always full of beans, and is the trendsetter of the office, wearing nothing but the latest fashion.

Jasmine approaches Rachel with a skip in her step.

JASMINE

Rach, am I glad to see you. I could burst with excitement. You’ll never guess what?

RACHEL

Morning to you too, Jasmine.

JASMINE

You’re the only other single girl here. No one else understands.

RACHEL

What is it?

JASMINE

The new Marketing Director has started, and he’s absolutely gorgeous.

RACHEL

What?

JASMINE

We finally have some talent in the office! 

RACHEL

You know we’re here to work, right?

JASMINE

Don’t be so boring. You have to come and look at him.

Jasmine grabs Rachel’s hand and leads her towards the door at the back of the reception that hides the meeting rooms.

INT. CORRIDOR. MORNING

Jasmine and Rachel slyly enter the corridor. There are closed doors on either side all the way down, but Jasmine stops at the first door and pokes her head just to the side of it to look through the large glass window.

Through the glass there are a number of tables pushed together, surrounded by chairs. It’s clearly a meeting room, but only one man working on a laptop can be seen.

BRAD JONES, 35, is sitting towards the end of the room, focused intently on the laptop before him. He’s dressed sharply in a tailored suit, and he is indeed gorgeous with not one strand of his perfectly gelled hair out of place.

Rachel steps beside Jasmine to take a sneak peek. As soon as her eyes fall on Brad she gasps. She turns quickly on her heels.

INT. RECEPTION. MORNING.

Rachel storms back into the reception area. She paces around with grave concern.

Jasmine runs after her.

JASMINE

What is it?

RACHEL

He’s the new Marketing Director?

JASMINE

Yes.

RACHEL

You’re sure?

JASMINE

Yes. I introduced myself to him when I made coffee this morning. 

RACHEL

Did he say his name was Brad Jones?

JASMINE

He said his name was Brad. You know him?

Rachel mutters profanities under her breath as she paces around some more.

JASMINE

Do you not like him? He seemed really nice.

RACHEL

Oh yes. He’s the best.

JASMINE

What’s the matter?

Rachel stops pacing. She approaches Jasmine and drops her voice.

RACHEL

Do you remember I said that I used to have a crush on my old boss?

JASMINE

Yes.

RACHEL

Brad Jones was my old boss. I worked with him for six months and spent every minute totally besotted with him. Then one night we went out for team drinks and him and I ended up being the last two left. We got talking, I let it slip that I like him, and before I know it we’re kissing. It was one of those mind-blowing kisses; you know the sort that you fantasise about.

JASMINE

You never told me that.

RACHEL

Because the very next day he called me into his office to tell me I’m being made redundant. I haven’t seen him since. Until about thirty seconds ago.

JASMINE

Let me get this right. Our new boss is your old boss that you’re still insanely in love with, a man that you eventually confessed your feelings to, only for him to instantly make you redundant?

RACHEL

That about sums it up.

JASMINE

Well, this should be fun. We’ve got a team meeting in thirty minutes.

To be continued.

Part Two by Bella Osborne

RACHEL

Then I need caffeine and lots of it.

EXT. COFFEE SHOP. MORNING.

Standard coffee shop chain outlet. Small with some seating. Few people. No queue. Rachel’s usual apron-clad young male Barista is serving. Rachel approaches the smiling Barista.

BARISTA

You’re early, Rachel. Usual?

RACHEL

Size me up, please. And a …

She gestures at Jasmine to give her order.

JASMINE

Just a chocolate croissant, please.

BARISTA

Sure thing.

JASMINE

This is so romantic. The love of your life has turned up here. It’s actually fate.

RACHEL

It’s actually a nightmare.

JASMINE

But you still have feelings for him. Don’t you?

RACHEL

Oh yeah! Murderous ones. I was on my way up in that company until he made me redundant. That’s how little he thought of me. Of my potential. I had to start again, at the bottom, all because of him.

JASMINE

That’s just business. It’s not personal.

RACHEL

He snogged me the night before. That’s personal. Oh My God. I snogged him. This is so embarrassing.

JASMINE

You only kissed him. It’s not like you pole-danced topless around the lamppost outside his house, now is it?

RACHEL

No. Was the topless pole dancing you?

JASMINE

No… I was wearing a bra.

BARISTA

Rachel!

RACHEL

Thanks.

Rachel takes her drink and a bag containing Jasmine’s croissant. They both leave the shop.

EXT. CROSSING ROAD. MORNING.

Edge of town. Row of shops behind. Few cars passing by. Rachel is not paying attention. Steps into road. Car screeches to a halt. Jasmine waves apologies at the irate driver.

JASMINE

Rachel!

Rachel turns around. Jasmine crosses the road.

RACHEL

Sorry.

Rachel still unaware of the car hands Jasmine the bag containing her croissant.

JASMINE

So what are you going to do?

Irate driver speeds away still gesticulating in the background.

RACHEL

I am going to show bloody Brad Jones what a huge mistake he made by letting me go.

JASMINE

From the job or romantically?

RACHEL

Both.

INT. CORRIDOR. MORNING.

Rachel and Jasmine are outside the meeting room door. Rachel is pacing with her bag on the same wrist of the hand which is holding her large coffee.

Jasmine checks her watch.

JASMINE

I think we should go in.

RACHEL

I just need to make sure I have an answer for every possible thing he could throw at me.

Rachel stops pacing. Stands in front of Jasmine.

RACHEL

Do I look like a strong independent woman who has risen to the rank of Sales Director?

JASMINE

You’ve got lipstick on your teeth.

RACHEL

Bugger it.

Rachel rubs a finger over her teeth and bares them for Jasmine to inspect.

JASMINE

Better.

Ready?

RACHEL

Let battle commence.

Jasmine holds open the meeting room door for Rachel to walk in. As Rachel steps forward Brad is coming out of the room. They don’t collide but it’s a near miss.

BRAD

Hi. I’m Brad Jones.

RACHEL

I’m Rachel Smith.

They shake hands.

BRAD

Nice to meet you Rachel.

RACHEL

Nice to see you again Brad.

BRAD

Oh, I’m sorry. Have we met? Did you get my coffee this morning?

JASMINE

That was me. I’m Jasmine.

BRAD

Thanks, Jasmine. Great coffee.

Rachel coughs.

BRAD

I look forward to getting to know you, Rachel.

RACHEL

You do know me!

Rachel laughs awkwardly. Brad looks confused. Rachel looks cross.

RACHEL

Rachel. Rachel Smith. From Bendall and Mason’s.

BRAD

Right. Okay. 

RACHEL

You really don’t remember?

BRAD

Sorry. No. Wait. Did you work in the factory?

Rachel is stunned that he doesn’t appear to recognise her. In her haste to go past him into the meeting room she catches the arm of her bag on the door handle and tips the contents of the coffee over herself. Rachel lets out a squeal of surprise.

RACHEL

Shit!

Part Three by Chris Wright

Fade In:

INT Pub

Character Name 1

Brad Jones : up and coming handsome exec

Character Name 2

Janet Moss : his Fiancée pretty as Penelope.

Character Name 3

Gordon the Jukebox: pathetic and fallacious

Scene: a Pub in the Midlands not too busy, Modern computerized jukebox

Brad

How’s that Janet? Bacardi and Coke and my Stella

Janet

So … No e-type Jags. It shatters my vision. Fiat 500s and Minis; the nice new style does not like your dads old wreck.

Brad

Babe! But both are proper classics.

Janet(unironically)

This wedding will be a new classic: silver swags, my LDS church choir, and white roses everywhere, for MY dad.

Janet pauses. Brad looks resigned and takes a big swig

Janet

… and none of that 70s music, the dross you like. No Simon AND No Garfunkel

Brad

That’s one duo

Janet

I don’t care. (pauses a beat) You have a lot of making up to do, Brad. We might be a bit confused by that, but Brad knows exactly what she means.

Janet

It’s a long enough engagement … Don Juan

Brad downs the remainder

Jukebox plays Gordon Lightfoot … Is only Brad listening?

Gordon Lightfoot

if you could read my mind love what a tale my thoughts could tell

Janet

 I ‘ve not decided the venue. It’s the Victorian Castle or the Roman Ruin conference Centre

Gordon Lightfoot

In a castle dark, or a fortress strong with chains upon my feet

Brad

you know that ghost is me

Janet

What did you say Brad

Brad

Just joining in with the chorus

Gordon Lightfoot

And you won’t read that book again because the ending’s just too hard to take

Janet

Focus darling. Venue finalization tomorrow we need an early night

They start to leave

Janet

I’m going to make an honest man of you Brad! (laughs)

Gordon Lightfoot

I don’t know where we went wrong but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

Janet

Bloody Hell doesn’t that jukebox have anything decent? A bit of STEPS™ say (sings) There was something in your voice, that was telling me don’t be too sure

Exiting, crossing the car park and Brad’s counting to keep his temper

Brad

.. 5,6,7,8 …

Janet

That’s a good one Brad(sings)  My boot-scootin’ baby is drivin’ me crazy My obsession from a western My dance-floor date

They get into Brad’s Audi TT and drive off

FAde Out:

Part Four by Fran Neatherway

EXT. OFFICE ENTRANCE. MORNING.

Jasmine approaches the door, carrying 2 cups of takeaway coffee, her handbag cross-body. 

Rachel is exiting the building. She has her coat on, handbag over one shoulder, and is pulling a heavy-looking laptop wheelie case.

JASMINE

I got you a coffee. Are you off somewhere?

Rachel stops and takes a cup.

RACHEL (angrily)

That bloody smug git has sent me to Leeds to see some web design company I’ve never heard of. That’s most of the day gone driving for a start. And he wants a report first thing tomorrow. When am I going to do that? In the evening, that’s when. Bastard.

JASMINE

Bummer.

RACHEL

And I had a date with Mike. Which I’ve had to cancel. Bastard!  

JASMINE

What? Did Mike throw a hissy fit?

RACHEL (impatiently)

No, Mike’s OK about it. Bloody bastard Brad sodding Jones, that’s who. Couldn’t be bothered to speak to me himself. Just sent an email. Bastard. Do me a favour and keep an eye on the pig. Let me know what he’s up to.

JASMINE (voice trailing away as Rachel stalks off)

Don’t drive too fast… too late.

Rachel zooms past in her car, driving too fast.

INT. BRAD JONES’ OFFICE. TEN AM.

Brad is wearing another sharp suit. He’s sitting behind his desk, studying a printout.

There’s a knock at the door.

BRAD

Come.

The door opens and Jasmine enters. She’s a little nervous.

JASMINE

Good morning, Mr. Jones. You wanted to see me?

BRAD

Yes, good morning, Janine. Please sit.

JASMINE

Jasmine, not Janine.

Jasmine sits down in front of Brad’s desk. 

BRAD

Right, Jasmine. I need to talk to you about a matter of some delicacy. It is, of course, extremely confidential, and I require your assurance that you will not repeat this conversation.

JASMINE (puzzled)

Of course.

BRAD…

Yesterday, when Ms. Smith said we’d met before, that is true. I had no idea that she worked here and I was caught completely off guard.

Brad leans forward.

          … BRAD

You see, the truth is, Janine…

JASMINE

Jasmine.

Brad ignores her.

BRAD

She did work for me several years ago. Unfortunately, she became obsessed with me and started stalking me. I ignored it at first, until then she told my fiancée that we were having an affair, which was, obviously, untrue. Janet didn’t believe her, of course, but it made things very difficult. In the end I had to let her go. You can imagine how shocked I was when she walked into my office yesterday.    

JASMINE (sympathetically)

Well, yes.

BRAD

So, Janine, I would like you to keep an eye on her and let me know if 

she shows any signs of … a relapse.

JASMINE

Of course. And it’s Jasmine, not Janine.

BRAD (stands up) 

Jasmine, yes. Thank you. I know I can rely on your discretion.

Brad stands up, indicating the meeting is over. Jasmine takes the hint and leaves, worried and confused. 

INT. THE ROSE AND CROWN. EVENING.

Jasmine is sitting at a table. She is wearing jeans and a jumper. DAN, 29, also casually dressed, sits opposite. He is not her boyfriend. There are several empty glasses on the table as well as her wine and his pint. They are in the middle of an intense conversation.

DAN

But is he hot? 

JASMINE (rolls eyes)

Yes, he’s totally your type, apart from the fiancée.

Dan shrugs and grins.

JASMINE

I don’t know which one to believe. They both sounded so, so… believable. I don’t want to get stuck in the middle. It’s going to make things awkward with Rachel. Him I can mostly avoid. 

DAN (making air quotes)

What are you going to do? Are you going to “keep an eye” on both? Tell each of them what the other is “up to”?

JASMINE

God, no. I’m going to keep my head down and hope it all goes away.

She sips her wine and sighs.

DAN

I still don’t understand why Rachel didn’t go to HR and make a fuss. I 

would’ve.  Or why Brad didn’t either.

JASMINE (laughing)

Yes, but you like making a fuss!

Part 5 by Simon Parker

INT. A QUIET CORNER TABLE FOR TWO AT AN INDIAN RESTAURANT. EVENING.

Brad and Janet, both still dressed in work clothes, are reading a menu each, deciding what to order.

JANET, (leaning over the table, smiling at Brad) 

You read my mind, Darling.  I really didn’t fancy cooking tonight and you know I love a nice mid-week Indian.

BRAD, (not really taking much notice of the menu)

Yeah.  Listen, Janet.  Something’s come up at work and I might be away for a few days at a stretch over the next couple of months.

JANET, (putting the menu down on the table and looking hurt)

What could be so important that you need to be away from the office, and me, and the wedding preparations?  You said this job would keep you at home most of the time, Brad, after all those years travelling around Europe.  You said you were sick of it, remember, that’s why you left your last job?

BRAD, (under his breath so as not to be fully heard)

Mmmm, that’s not the only reason I left Bendall and bloody Mason.

JANET, (looking confused)

What did you say?

BRAD, (looking annoyed, sitting back in his seat and putting his hands behind his head)

Forget it.  It doesn’t matter.  This is a new job and I have to make a name for myself, that’s all.  It isn’t going to be a regular thing and then we can settle down to…

JANET, (getting increasingly prickly, finishes Brad’s sentence)

…a nice quiet life together, doing up the house and making babies!  That’s what you want too, isn’t it Brad?

BRAD’S LIVING ROOM. BRAD ON THE PHONE TO HIS BEST MATE, TONY. 11PM

TONY, (yawning down the phone)

What couldn’t wait ‘til daylight, you old tart?

BRAD, (in an exasperated tone)

I’ve just been out with Janet for a curry.  All she talks about is: ‘house’ this and ‘babies’ that.  I’ll swear she she’s me perpetually up a ladder with a paintbrush in my hand, while she wafts around in a maternity dress, plumping the cushions!

TONY, (slightly more awake now)

It’s called married bliss, Brad, and it’s what every thirty-something unmarried female in the world wants!

BRAD, (still exasperated)

Don’t get me wrong, I do want kids with her at some point.  But I just want it to be the two of us for a few years.  You know – belting around Europe in fast cars, staying in nice hotels, eating in smart restaurants.  You can’t do that with a bevy of welps in tow in a people carrier!

TONY

You didn’t seem to mind before.  You’ve known Janet’s agenda for years.  Are you sure there’s not something else going on?

BRAD, (in an accusing tone)

You always could read me like a book, you old bastard!  There is something as it happens.  A very big something: a girl I had a bit of a fling with a couple of years ago, works at my new company.  She’s the complete opposite of Janet: she’s not in the least bit provincial; she wears smart clothes; she knows how to handle herself in the boardroom, as well as in the bedroom and she makes me think I’ll be making a big mistake marrying Janet!

TONY, (pretty much at the end of his tether)

Let’s go for a beer and talk about it.  Tomorrow at the Dun Cow?  Marital advice from the master doesn’t come cheap though – you’re buying!

BRAD, (laughing)

You’re on.  Eight o’clock?  But you can buy your own crisps! Good night Tony, and thanks.

TONY

Good night, Brad.  

INT.  BRAD JONES’ OFFICE.  10 AM THE FOLLOWING DAY

Brad, dressed as immaculately as ever, is sitting at his desk typing an email.  There’s a knock at the door.

BRAD

Come!

The door opens and Rachel enters, looking professionally aloof.

RACHEL

You wanted to see me, Mr. Jones?

BRAD (in a conciliatory tone)

You can call me Brad you know, Rachel.

RACHEL (maintaining her professionalism)

I prefer Mr. Jones, if you don’t mind.

BRAD (sighing)

OK, I understand.  Thank you for the email report of your visit to the web developers in Leeds.  You pulled a rabbit out of the hat there and saved the company a lot of money.  It won’t go unnoticed.  You must have been up pretty late, writing that report?

RACHEL

Yep, I turned in at 2am this morning.  Thank goodness for coffee, that’s all!

They exchange a quick smile, which warms the atmosphere a little.

BRAD, (leaning forwards and wringing his hands)

Rachel, I’ve been a bloody fool, and I want to make it up to you.  I’m sorry I pretended not to know you, after all we’ve been through.  We’re both a bit older and wiser now and we need to learn how to work together and make a go of it here.  Neither of us can afford another two-year setback at this stage in our careers. ‘Truce?

Brad makes to shake Rachel’s hand, which she accepts.

RACHEL, (softening, but maintaining high ground)

Agreed, but we need to set some ground rules if this is going to work.  Rule number one is: stop pretending you don’t know me in front of everyone else, OK?  Jasmine and the rest know what happened between us, or at least some of it.  We don’t need to broadcast how we know each other, but we need to show that we’ve got a calm, professional working relationship that puts everyone around us at ease.  ‘Got it?

BRAD, (sighing)

You’re right, that’s the best way to start.  The rest will slot into place once we get the hang of it, I suppose!

That leads me to the other thing I wanted to talk to you about.  Southampton Football Club has finally agreed to a meeting, to go over our proposal to furnish their corporate hospitality suite.  I want you to lead this bid, Rachel.  It needs someone with your design flair and  commercial nous to push it over the line.

RACHEL, (surprised but elated)

Thanks, Mr. Jones, er, Brad.  I’ve wanted to get my teeth into that project for a while.  It will be a pleasure to reel ‘em in!

BRAD,

Good!  They’ve asked for a meeting next Wednesday at 10am in their boardroom.  You’ll need to stay the night before so that you’re fresh for the meeting, I understand that.

I’ve had Charlotte book you into the Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa next Tuesday night, with a booking in the restaurant for 8pm.  It’s a super hotel and will set you up for the Wednesday.  Make sure you dress to impress, but don’t go overboard with Pritchard, the CFO – he’s immune to that sort of thing.  Between you and me, I think he travels on the other bus!

Rachel resents this last remark, but she’s secretly excited to be going back ‘on stage’, with the thought of having a group of gullible old men eating out of her hand!  Plus, the thought of a night in a flash hotel with access to a spa and a nice restaurant, all on expenses, takes the sting out of Brad’s screaming sexism.

INT. RECEPTION DESK AT SOUTHAMPTON HARBOUR HOTEL. 5PM THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY

YOUNG FRENCH MALE RECEPTIONIST

Good evening madame, are you checking in?

RACHEL

Yes, Rachel Jones of WLF Interiors.

RECEPTIONIST

Ah, yes Ms. Jones.  With a booking in the restaurant for 8pm as well?

RACHEL

Yes, and a wake-up call for 7am tomorrow please.  I fancy a swim before going into battle!

RECEPTIONIST, (laughing)

Of course.  It’s all arranged. Enjoy your stay with us Ms. Jones (simultaneously handing RACHEL the key card).  Oh, and your colleague is already here.  He’s in the bar now and asked that you joined him as soon as you arrived.

RACHEL, (confused)

What?  Who?

Rachel walks into the bar, pulling her suitcase behind her. She approaches the only other customer, a man in a suit seated on a stool at the bar with his back to her, drinking a pint.

Brad hears the sound of high heels clicking on the parquet flooring, like an electric shock through his brain, and swings around on his bar stool.

BRAD, (quietly, but with purpose)

Hi Rachel.  What’ll it be?

Part 6 by Steve Redshaw 

INT. RACHEL’S HOTEL ROOM. 5:10pm 

Rachel is perched on the bed. She is on the phone. The curtains are not drawn. Her suitcase is  standing upright, handle extended, abandoned in the middle of the room. 

Rachel 

Jasmine, hi. I’m at the hotel. You’ll never believe this. I walk into reception then  through the hotel bar and he’s there. Brad Jones. He’s down there, sitting at the bar,  waiting for me to join him for a drink. 

Jasmine (o/s) – expressing some incredulity 

He’s there, at the hotel? He’s booked himself into that hotel? Bloody hell Rach! 

Rachel 

Well, I don’t know if he’s staying here, suppose he must be. I didn’t have a conversation with him, I’d only just checked in. I said I needed to take my case up to  my room, have a shower and then I’d be back down. 

Jasmine (o/s) 

Nothing like encouraging him, then… 

Rachel 

What do you mean? 

INT. A ROOM IN JASMINE’S FLAT 

Jasmine is pacing back and forth across the room. 

Jasmine 

Oh come on Rach, he’s only after one thing. It’s a classic! He has lured you there.  ‘Personal interests’ under cover of ‘business matters’. Happens all the time doesn’t it! 

Rachel (o/s) 

No, this opportunity at the Football Club. This could be my big break. Brad believes  in me, he sees my worth. I can prove myself through this. 

Jasmine – plonks herself down on the sofa 

Oh, it’s Brad now is it, not Mr Bastard Jones? Yeah, I bet he sees your worth and  hopes you can prove yourself, preferably tonight! 

Listen Rach, I haven’t told you this. A couple of weeks ago, Mr Brad Jones  calls me into his office and tells me, confidentially like, that you had been obsessed  with him when you worked together at that last place, you know. 

Rachel (o/s) 

Bendall and Mason’s. 

Jasmine  

Yeah. He tells me you were stalking him and that you told his fiancee that you and he were having an affair. 

Rachel (o/s) 

He told you that! What else? 

Jasmine 

Well, that’s it really, he said you made things really difficult between him and his  fiancee and he said he had to, reluctantly, ‘let you go’. That’s a smart-arse way of  saying ‘firing you on the spot.’ 

Rachel (o/s) 

Mmm… 

Jasmine 

And then. Then, he asks me to keep my eye on you – discreetly – for signs that you  were, you know, getting a thing about him again. And I was to – discreetly – report  back to him if I saw anything to suggest that was happening… 

There is a prolonged, awkward silence.… Jasmine gets up and paces again. 

Jasmine 

Rach? You still there? You’re not mad at me are you? I just didn’t want to get  involved, you know piggy in the middle and all that. Anyway, it’s totally ridiculous,  didn’t fall for it for one moment. So, I’ll tell you what, I’ve been keeping my eye on  him. He’s got a thing for the females you know. He might be drop-dead gorgeous, but he bloody well knows it. Flirty, chauvinistic, predator, I reckon. 

Rach? Rach? You’re not mad at me are you? I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you  about this. I didn’t know how to… Tried to just forget it… 

Look, you should be bloody livid with that high and mighty Mr Brad Jones!  These bloody men, they think they can get away with anything. They’re in charge,  we’re just the underlings, to be shunted around and directed at their will. Yeah and  for….  

Rach? Rach? Are we still connected? Did you hear all that or was I spouting  into a total void? Rach… Speak to me, say something for God’s sake….. 

Another pause. 

INT. RACHEL’S HOTEL ROOM.  

Rachel seats herself further back on the bed, feet not touching floor. Her free arm is hugged around  her middle and her head is lowered. 

Rachel 

It’s true….. Well, mostly true…. I don’t know, it’s not like me, it just sort of –  happened. You saw him that first morning at work. You were more excited than a  pig-tailed school-girl when she spots the new boy in class! Yeah, he is totally good looking, but he’s more than that. Charm, yes, but also a certain calm, determined  confidence. He has power, he’s going places. I wanted to be like him, get on in my  career, be a successful business person. Yeah, I looked up to him. 

Jasmine (o/s) 

Not so easy for us, the weaker sex and all that…. 

Rachel – not responding to Jasmine’s comment 

But then, somehow, it all got mixed up, business ambitions and personal feelings. I  started trying to be where he was, coffee machine, reception, collecting letters,  walking down the corridor he just happened to walking up. Soon I talked to him, I  asked for a meeting, a consultation…. yeah, we discussed career development,  opportunities for me in the company, business stuff. But he could see through all that. And I could tell he was attracted to me. Of course, everyone knew he was engaged to the CEO’s daughter. 

Jasmine (o/s) 

Oh-oh, I can see where this is leading… 

Rachel 

Yes, we started meeting up, nothing too romantic. We did discuss business – where  we had worked previously, what our ambitions were, what we thought of the  company – and then – well, you know how it goes – tastes in music, favourite films,  places we like to visit. We had coffee, working lunches, sneaked in a couple of  evening meals together, even a weekend walk. That time we first kissed. It wasn’t  chance we were the last ones left at the end of the team drinks evening. We felt  comfortable in each other’s company. I didn’t need to confess my feelings for him, he already knew. That kiss…. it was inevitable. 

Jasmine (o/s) 

Oh, Rach, this is…. 

Rachel 

Then his personal secretary appears again. She’d left her reading glasses on the table.  She stood before us, totally in shock, then made a desperate grab for her glasses case, turned and rushed out, like she suddenly realised she was late for an important  meeting! 

Jasmine (o/s) 

Blimey, Oh Reilly…. 

Rachel 

She didn’t waste her time. That was how his fiancee got to hear about us – a bit later  that evening. He sent me a text, 2am! I handed my resignation in the next morning. 

INT. A ROOM IN JASMINE’S FLAT 

Jasmine is seated again, perched uncomfortably on the very edge of her sofa. 

Jasmine 

Right, yes, well that clears a few things up. Oh Rach – and here you are working in  the same place again. But he’s not employed in Daddy’s firm any more, he’s…. 

Rachel (o/s) 

Still engaged…. Hey, thanks for listening. Look, I know I haven’t been totally honest  with you. I’m sorry. Maybe you should be mad at me. 

Jasmine – awkwardly 

Oh, come on, it’s ok. Well, it’s not ok for you, but it’s ok between us, we’re fine, we’re ok… Ok? 

INT. RACHEL’S HOTEL ROOM. 

Rachel stands, crosses to the window and looks out. 

Rachel 

Yeah, I think it is ok. I’ll skip the shower. It’s about time I went back down to the bar.  I know exactly what’s about to take place. And I’m ready and willing.… Catch you  later. 

She hangs up and places the phone determinedly on the desk. She stride to the middle of the room,  firmly collapses the handle of the suitcase and heaves it onto the bed. She picks up her key card,  slips it into her hand bag, shoulders the bag and marches out of the room.

Part Seven by Wendy Goulstone

INT. THE HOTEL BAR.  EARLY EVENING.  BRAD, RACHEL.

(BRAD IS SITTING ON A SETTEE. ON A LOW TABLE IN FRONT OF THE SETTEE IS AN OPENED BOTTLE OF WINE AND TWO GLASSES.

ON FLOOR, OUT OF SIGHT, ON BRAD’S SIDE OF THE SETTEE, IS HIS BULGING BRIEF CASE WITH SHEAVES OF PAPER AND A SMALL LAP-TOP. HE IS READING A DOCUMENT.

RACHEL ENTERS , LOOKING AS GLAMOROUS AS SHE COULD MANAGE FROM THE CLOTHES SHE HAD WITH HER. SHE WALKS ACROSS TO BRAD.

BRAD DOES NOT LOOK UP UNTIL SHE REACHES THE SETTEE AND STANDS LOOKING AT HIM.)

BRAD: (STARTLED)

Ah, Rachel.  I hadn’t expected you so soon.  How the time flies when you are busy. Take a seat.  Wine?

RACHEL:

Please.

(RACHEL  DRAPES HERSELF ON THE SETTEE, SHOWING OFF HER LEGS.)

BRAD(POURING WINE)

Not the best, I’m afraid, but I didn’t want to go overboard on company expenses.

RACHEL

 It’s fine.  I’m not a connoisseur.

BRAD: 

Everything satisfactory in your room?

RACHEL:

Yes, thank you. 

BRAD:

Good view?

RACHEL:

Great view of the car park.

BRAD: 

Tough luck.  Mine has a balcony overlooking the garden.

RACHEL:

That would be very pleasant on a warm evening like this.

BRAD;

Indeed it would.  We’ll enjoy it later.

RACHEL:

We?  Brad…

BRAD:

 Journey down OK?

RACHEL:

Yes thank you.  Brad…

BRAD:

All ready for tomorrow?

RACHEL:

Yes, thank you.  I think I have everything under control. Brad…

BRAD:

Busy day ahead, Presentation in order?

RACHEL:

Yes, thank you.  Brad, I…

BRAD:  

Then I’m sorry to throw a spanner in the works. Something has cropped up and we need to spend some time going over the proceedings before tomorrow’s meeting. I didn’t want to risk sending the new requirements by email so I’ve brought them myself.  That’s why I’m here.

RACHEL:  

What?  I thought you…

BRAD

You thought I what, Rachel?

RACHEL:

 It doesn’t matter.

BRAD:

So I thought we’d have a bit of time to make a start before dinner, then complete the briefing after dinner.  I’ve asked for coffee to be served in here.  Shall we make a start?

(HE REACHES DOWN AND PILES BRIEFCASE, LAPTOP AND A GREAT STACK OF PAPERS ON THE TABLE.)

BRAD:

 Right.  Shall we begin?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

INT.  THE HOTEL DINING ROOM.   

BRAD  RACHEL  WAITER  JANET  

TABLE LAID FOR FOUR. BRAD AND RACHEL ARE SEATED AT THE TABLE.  A WAITER APPROACHES WITH NOTE PAD.

WAITER:

Sir?

BRAD

We’ll wait a little while to see if my other guests will arrive in time to join us.

WAITER:  

Yes, Sir.  Would you like drinks while you are waiting.

BRAD

No thank you.  I’ll order later.

WAITER

Thank you, Sir.

( WAITER MOVES TO ANOTHER TABLE.)

RACHEL

Other guests?

BRAD:

Yes, The Southampton Football Club manager has decided to come in person to discuss the proposals for tomorrow. He’s probably help up in traffic.

RACHEL:

And the other guest?

BRAD:  

Ah, here she is now.  

(JANET ARRIVES AT THE TABLE. BRAD RISES, KISSES JANET, SEATS HER AT THE TABLE.)

BRAD

Have you had a good journey, Darling?  The weather forecast is good for your shopping trip tomorrow. Have you seen our bedroom? Top of the range.  I thought you would like a little luxury.Oh, how remiss of me.  I do apologise.  This is my colleague, Rachel Smith.  I believe you two have met.

JANET:  

Yes, indeed. I remember Rachel very well.  Are you feeling all right, Rachel? You have gone very pale.

Chapter 8 by Madalyn Morgan

INT. HOTEL DINING ROOM.

SEATED AT THE TABLE – BRAD, JANET AND RACHEL. 

RACHEL (wrinkles her nose)

It must be the overpowering smell of… I can’t put my finger on it, but it has made me feel quite nauseous.

Rachel pushes back her chair and stands up. 

RACHEL

If you’ll excuse me. I’ve left the presentation in my room. As Doug Henshall hasn’t arrived yet, I’ll go up and get it.

Rachel takes her briefcase from the side of her chair. Hooks the strap over her shoulder and with her head held high leaves the dining room. 

INT. HOTEL LOBBY. 

Rachel in the hotel lobby looks at the exit, a revolving door. Beyond the door is a busy street. A taxi pulls up.

Rachel walks towards the exit then suddenly stops. She frowns, turns, looks across the foyer at the stairs and walks briskly to them.  

INT. LANDING OUTSIDE RACHEL’S BEDROOM

Rachel takes her key card from her briefcase and swipes it in the magnetic lock. She pushes open the door to her room leaving it to swing on its hinges. 

INT. RACHEL’S BEDROOM. 

Rachel drops the briefcase on the dressing table chair and crosses the room to the en suite bathroom. 

INT. RACHEL’S BATHROOM

Rachel looks at her reflection in the mirror above the handbasin and exhales loudly. 

RACHEL (mutters to herself)

The design for Doug Henshall is my work. It’s my presentation and it should be me who goes to the Southampton football club tomorrow to discuss furnishing the corporate hospitality suite, not bloody Brad Jones! 

INT. BEDROOM.

RACHEL comes out of the bathroom and marches across the bedroom. She opens the briefcase, takes out a folder, drops the briefcase on the floor, sits down at the dressing table and begins to read.  

RACHEL

Damn the man! What the hell is his game? 

JANET

Don’t you know?  

Rachel spins round at the sound of Janet’s voice.

RACHEL

How…?  No! I don’t know. 

Janet drops onto Rachel’s bed, swings her legs up and leans back against the headboard.

RACHEL

What are you doing here, Janet? What do you want?

JANET

To warn you.

Rachel puts up her hands as if to surrender. 

RACHEL

Save your breath. I’ve had enough. I give in. 

Rachel throws the folder that contains the football club’s designs and presentation onto the bed next to Janet.

RACHEL

Take it to your– fiancée. I never want to see him, or you, again!   

JANET

That’s being defeatist, Rachel. I thought you had more balls.

Rachel looks quizzically at Janet.

JANET

It’s your presentation, but Brad embarrasses you by inviting me to join him tonight, and you’re going to leave and let him take the credit for your hard work?

RACHEL

What are you saying? 

JANET

I’m saying, you sold WLF Interiors to Doug Henshall. You drew up the designs to refurbish and refurnish the corporate hospitality suite at Britannia Road, so go back to the dining room with you head held as high as it was when you left, and nail the contract. If you leave now, Brad will take the credit for your work. 

Rachel looks suspiciously at Janet. It is clear from Rachel’s expression that she does not trust Janet. What is her agenda? Why is Rachel helping her and not Brad?

RACHEL

I’d have thought you of all people would want me to leave. Get me out of the way.

Janet (lets out a cynical laugh.)  

I would have done, once, but not now. You’re not the first female sales manager Brad has had an affair with, nor the first he has promised to promote if you land a big contract. And, I doubt you’ll be the last. Brad uses women, Rachel. He is using you.  

Rachel already thinks Brad is a slime ball, but to hear Janet speak about him in such a way shocks her. She is confused and speechless. Now she really does feel nauseous.

JANET

Rachel, Brad didn’t leave Bendall and Masons of his own volition. He wasn’t headhunted by WLF interiors. My father paid him off. He warned him if there were any more malpractice’s he would make sure Brad never worked in interior design again. For my sake Daddy let Brad resign with a golden handshake. Money has always been the way to Brad’s heart, Rachel.  

Janet pauses. There is a heavy silence between the two women. Janet picks up the folder and holds it out to Rachel.

JANET

So, what’s it to be, Rachel? Go back to the dining room, greet Doug Henshall and secure the deal, or do what all the other women that Brad has used to climb the career ladder have done? Go home, cry into your cocoa and wait for your redundancy settlement and your P45. 

Rachel takes the folder from Janet and smiles.

RACHEL

I’m going back to the dining room and I am going to do the deal with Doug Henshall. 

Janet jumps off the bed and goes to the door. She turns and looks back at Rachel. 

JANET

Do you remember the account you were working on when Brad made you redundant from Bendall and Masons?

RACHEL

Yes, Thompson’s, a large retail clothes outlet. 

Janet raises her eyes and shakes her head.

JANET

Brad claimed that success. The commission that should have been yours, he took.

Rachel looks into the mid-distance and recalls that day.   

FLASHBACK. INT. BRADS OFFICE AT BENDALL AND MASONS.

Brad is sitting at his desk. He swivels in his chair and smiles when Rachel enters. He shakes his head and pulls a sad face as he hands Rachel her redundancy payment and her P45.    

INT. HOTEL BEDROOM.

Rachel looks at Janet. She blinks hard to stop herself from crying with anger. She turns, picks up her briefcase and puts the folder in it. 

JANET

I’ll go back to the dining room first. Wait a couple of minutes before you come in.

Janet takes a white business card from her coat pocket.

JANET

Bendall and Masons are looking for a Marketing Director. If you’re interested, and I hope you are, give this number a ring tomorrow.

Janet hands Rachel the card and leaves the room.

Rachel looks at the name on the card. Horace Bendall, CEO of Bendall and Masons. Janet’s father.  

Chapter 9 by Lindsay Woodward

Rachel stares thoughtfully at the business card in her hand. After a few moments, she clutches her bag and leaves the room.

INT. HOTEL LOBBY. EVENING.

Rachel walks down the stairs, still glancing at the business card that she is holding tightly.

INT. RESTAURANT. EVENING.

Rachel stops before she approaches the table. Doug Henshall still hasn’t arrived and Janet is stroking Brad’s arm. Rachel takes a breath before walking on confidently. She sits down next to Brad.

BRAD

Did you get everything you need?

Rachel nods before once again studying the card. She then looks over at Janet who is smiling.

BRAD (pointing to the card)

What’s that?

RACHEL

Nothing.

BRAD

Where did you get that?

Brad turns to Janet. She is still smiling, although now quite smugly. DOUG HENSHALL, well built and groomed, 54, arrives.

DOUG

Good evening.

JANET

Doug! So lovely to see you again.

Janet stands and kisses Doug’s cheek.

RACHEL (to Janet)

You know Doug Henshall?

BRAD (to Rachel)

She knows everyone.

Rachel watches as Janet and Doug chat joyfully. Suddenly Brad stands up.

BRAD

Phone call. Back in a sec.

He walks off, talking on the phone. Doug and Janet continue to laugh together about something Rachel doesn’t understand. Her phone buzzes from within her bag and she reaches down to grab it.

BRAD (TEXT)

Meet me out the front

Rachel looks across at Janet, then she studies the text message again.

RACHEL

I’m just going to pop to the bathroom.

Janet and Doug appear not to hear. Rachel hesitates before standing up and leaving.

EXT. HOTEL ENTRANCE. EVENING.

RACHEL

What are you doing?

Brad checks to see if she’s been followed and then grabs Rachel’s arm. He leads her round the side of the building, away from the view of anyone.

BRAD

Has Janet offered you a job?

RACHEL

What’s it to you?

He shakes his head. He seems upset.

BRAD

Rach, you can’t.

RACHEL

Worried I’ll do a better job than you did?

BRAD

No. Of course not. I mean of course you will. You’re the most talented marketer I’ve ever met. I didn’t mean that. I meant… Things are more complicated than you realise. I’m really sorry.

RACHEL

I’m sure you are.

BRAD

I need to explain. We don’t have long, and Janet can never know we’ve had this conversation. No one can know.

RACHEL

What are you talking about?

Brad takes a breath, searching for his words.

RACHEL

You’re just playing games with me again, aren’t you.

BRAD

No. It’s not what you think-

RACHEL

I wish I’d never met you. If I’d known what a two-faced, backstabbing bastard you are, I never would have looked twice at you.

BRAD

Please don’t say that.

RACHEL

You’ve treated me so badly. But it’s going to stop. Right now. I’m getting that job and there’s nothing you can do-

BRAD

I love you, Rachel!

There is a moment of tense silence.

RACHEL

What?

BRAD

I love you. Really love you. I have done for years.

RACHEL

Please stop messing with me.

BRAD

You’re right. I have been messing with you. But to protect you. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long, but Janet is always there. She has spies everywhere. She knows everyone.

RACHEL

Protect me?

BRAD

I pushed you out of Bendall and Mason’s because it was getting too dangerous.

RACHEL

How was it dangerous? That’s ridiculous.

BRAD

I thought maybe I could get over you. Be with her to keep you safe. But even when I finally managed to break free from Bendall and Masons myself, it still wasn’t over. I’m trapped in a horrible nightmare.

RACHEL

Trapped? How exactly are you trapped?

BRAD

It’s very complicated, and it’s best you don’t know anyway. But please, steer clear of Janet and her family. 

RACHEL

How can you say love me?

BRAD

Because I do. So much. I know it seems hard to believe, and I wouldn’t blame you if you hated me. It’s probably better that you do. It’ll keep you safe.

RACHEL

I don’t understand any of this.

BRAD

I wish I could explain more. I just have to tell you this: you’re the one I want to be with. You’re the only one. But Janet has made sure that we can never be together.

Brad leans in. He almost stops himself, but then he kisses her. A deep, loving kiss that takes Rachel’s breath away. He stands back. There’s obvious sadness and regret in his eyes as he looks at her one more time. Then he walks away.

Chapter 10 by Terri Brown

Rachel is breathing heavily as she turns to watch Brad re-enter the building. Her gaze falls to a cat sitting in the shadows quietly watching her. 

Rachel shakes her head.

RACHEL

He loves me?

She runs her fingers through her hair and looks at the cat.

RACHEL

What the hell was that?

The cat blinks.

RACHEL

And what did he mean that Janet is dangerous? Dangerous to him? Dangerous to me? Dangerous to the business?

The cat doesn’t reply.

RACHEL

And why am I asking a cat?

Rachel pulls out her mobile phone and calls Jasmine. She holds the phone to her ear for a few beats before hastily hanging up. The cat still watches her.

RACHEL

What? It went straight to answerphone; I hate leaving messages on the answerphone. 

The cat gets up and calmly trots off around the building. After a moments indecision, Rachel sighs and redials the phone. 

RACHEL

Jasmine, something really strange is happening here. Your friend Dan, he has some connections, right? I hate to ask, but I am beginning to feel like I am walking through a mine field right now. Can you get him to check out Brad’s fiancé, Janet, please? I know it’s a big ask, and I am not going all crazy stalker bunny boiler here, I promise. I just need to find out what is going on. Call me and I’ll explain properly.”

Rachel puts her phone away carefully and straightens up her hair and clothing. Squaring her shoulders, she heads back to the dining table. 

Janet and Doug are still huddled close and laughing together amicably. Brad is sat back in his seat nursing his wine glass. 

DOUG

Ah, here she is, the girl of the hour. 

Doug jumps up and pulls out the chair next to him for Rachel to sit. She smiles a thank you.

JANET

Yes, we thought you had gotten lost.

Rachel and Janet look at each other. Janet smiles but it does not reach her eyes. 

RACHEL

My apologies. I had to make a phone call. 

Brad studiously looks at his wine.

JANET

An important one, no doubt. You strike me as the kind of girl who grabs lucrative opportunities when they present themselves.

The waiter arrives to take their orders before Rachel can respond.  

INT. RACHELS HOTEL ROOM – LATER THAT EVENING

Rachel is sat on her bed in cute, comfy pj’s with her laptop open in front of her. She is busy doing social media and google searches on Janet. Scrolling through photo’s, posts and news articles and scribbling notes as she goes. 

Rachel’s mobile rings, making her jump a little.

RACHEL (under her breath)

About time!

Rachel answers the phone without looking at the caller ID, too engrossed in what she is reading on her laptop.

RACHEL

Jasmine, thanks for calling back…

Rachel’s eyes widen as she hears who is on the line and she slams the laptop shut quickly looking mildly guilty.

RACHEL

Brad?

Pause

RACHEL (alarmed)

You’re what?

Rachel jumps off the bed and dashes to the mirror quickly trying to smarten herself up. 

RACHEL

Erm, yeah. Sure. I am here.

She throws the phone onto the bed and dashes into the bathroom. She attempts to brush her teeth and hair at the same time as putting on some deodorant.

There is a gentle tap on the hotel door. Rachel quickly rinses her mouth out and runs to the door. Catching herself before she rips it open in a fluster, she stops and takes a deep breathe. She counts to three quietly and gently opens the door. She has toothpaste around her mouth.

Brad is stood in the doorway looking completely dishevelled and a little drunk. He quickly steps into the room and furtively looks up and down the corridor before closing the door. He sighs loudly and leans his forehead against the door without looking at Rachel.

Rachel is puzzled as to what to do next.

RACHEL (tentatively)

Are you ok?

BRAD

No.

Rachel waits to see if Brad is forthcoming with anymore information, but she is getting visibly frustrated by him. She is just about to say something when he speaks…

BRAD

It’s all gone tits up…

Rachel waits for something more.

RACHEL (exasperated)

Ok. Well do you want to come in and sit and talk about it, or are you trying to get back out the door one molecule at a time?

Brad sighs again and slumps his way onto the edge of her bed. Elbows on knees he stares at the floor.

BRAD

Its all my fault. I messed everything up. And now I am stuck with Janet and I can’t stop thinking about you and I can’t be with you and it’s all…crap.

RACHEL

Brad, what is going on? Please, tell me exactly what is happening. No more of this cryptic stuff. I am not Dan Browne, I don’t want to go chasing down clues all over Europe to get to the truth. Just tell me.

Brad looks up at Rachel, his face a picture of puzzled misery at her reference. But it quickly turns to alarm.

BRAD

Oh my god, Rach. Are you okay?

Do you have rabies? Are you epileptic?

Brad jumps to feet and starts to drag Rachel to the bathroom by her arms.

BRAD

Water. You need to drink lots of water. Did Janet poison you? I bet she put something in your drink when you weren’t looking. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Rachel digs her heels in and grabs back her arms. 

RACHEL

Bradley Jones, what on Earth are you talking about? What do you mean poison me? Have you gone quite mad?

Rachel catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror.

RACHEL

Oh! Its toothpaste you muppet. 

Chapter 11 by Simon Parker

INT. RACHEL’S HOTEL ROOM. LATE EVENING.

Brad and Rachel regard each other with a mixture of suspicion, humour and a little pity, following Brad’s toothpaste-mistaken-for-rabies comment.

BRAD, 

Sorry, Rachel.  My mind is in overdrive.  I thought for a minute you were foaming at the mouth because Janet had poisoned your drink.  I obviously spend way too long reading spy novels!

RACHEL,

Nothing so dramatic, I’m pleased to say.  I was about to hit the hay when you called, and I brushed my teeth as quickly as I could.  There were obviously, ahem, one or two escapes!

Brad stands up and takes Rachel in his arms.  She leans into him, and they stand quite still, luxuriating in the scent of each other’s bodies for what seems like several minutes, but is actually only 30 seconds or so.  Brad slips his right hand up the back of Rachel’s pyjama jacket and caresses the small of her back with the edge of his thumbnail.  Rachel’s body squirms with pleasure and she lets herself go heavy in Brad’s arms, sighing gently into his ear.  

After a few moments, Rachel’s eyes open wide and she pulls away from Brad, brushing her hair back away from her face and readjusting her pyjamas.

RACHEL,

As attractive as the prospect of tripping the light fandango with you might be, Brad darling, we have work to do!  Put your brain back in your head and let’s get on with it.

Brad, clearly thrown off balance by Rachel’s instant change of mood, looks at her, quizzically.

BRAD,

Get on with what?  I thought we were about to get on with it?  Why else are you wearing pyjamas with hearts and cupids all over them?

RACHEL,

Ah, these, yeeeees… They’re the most comfortable pair I own, that’s all.  And I wasn’t expecting you to come up to my room when you’ve got little miss perfect panting for you back in the room with the great view.  How did you get away from her at this time of night anyway?  Never mind, like I said, let’s figure this cosy little vipers nest out before we both get badly bitten.

Rachel sits back down on the edge of the bed and starts to speak, in a slow measured tone, about what they are both up against.

RACHEL,  

You said you thought it best that I don’t know the full extent of the goings-on.  Well, I disagree.  This is what I think is happening and if it’s not precisely right then it’s close enough and what we do about it remains the same anyway.

Brad sits down in the chair next to the desk, slumps back against the backrest and folds his arms.

BRAD,

OK, Miss Holmes, hit with your best theory and I’ll let you know if you’re even remotely close.

Rachel, looking sideways at Brad and choosing to ignore his implied vote of no-confidence in her sleuthing abilities, continues.

RACHEL,

You were employed at Bendall & Mason, right?  Janet’s dad owns the company.  You and Janet are the happy, golden, betrothed couple.  You leave Bendall’s, apparently under a cloud, and turn up at WLF Interiors, Bendall’s direct competitor.  Janet, up to now known only for her homespun approach to life with interests ranging from babies to flouncy cushions and not much else, is actually a conniving, deceitful, two-faced power player with only the interests of her family at heart.  Janet offers me a job at Bendall’s on the eve of me giving a peach of a proposal to a major customer that WLF and Bendall’s would kill to land.  The customer turns up at our hotel the night before I’m due to go in front of them and – hey presto – runs into his old best friend’s daughter, Janet!

BRAD,

Hold your horses, best friend, what do you mean?  

RACHEL,

Doug Henshall and old man Bendall were in the army together, you numbskull – didn’t you know?  We’re never going to compete with a camaraderie built at Sandhurst.  Jasmine made some discreet enquiries and found all this out just the other day.  

BRAD,

I didn’t know, but it makes sense now.  That’s why Janet was so insistent on joining me on this trip – “to do some shopping at that super new outlet, darling”.  Bollocks!

RACHEL,

Quite, and nicely if crudely put, I suppose.

BRAD,

Hang on.  So why did Will Fowler take me on at WLF Interiors?  He knows that Janet and I are an item and that she is Bendall’s daughter?

RACHEL,

Like everything else in life Brad: greed.  Fowler must have smelt a rat when you jumped ship.  He probably figured out he was being set up when you applied for the job.  Then he probably figured he could turn the tables and do as much damage to Bendall by employing you, as Bendall was trying to do to him.  Tell me this, Brad, when you got fired from Bendall’s, was it a genuine firing or were you part of an elaborate scheme to put a cuckoo in the nest at WLF?

BRAD,

Nope, it was a definite firing.  I did think it was strange of old Bendall to pay me off and still say that he didn’t mind that I was about to marry his daughter, as long as I kept my nose clean.  But I wasn’t privy to some elaborate plan to bring WLF down.

  RACHEL,

Ah-ha!  So it’s as I thought, and we are both just pawns in this game.  You know what happens to pawns, Brad?

BRAD,

Tell me Rachel, what happens to pawns?

RACHEL,

They get sacrificed, Brad, and thrown off the board, never to return!  Our careers are in the balance here and we need to get our heads together if we want to come out of this unscathed.

BRAD,

One thing puzzles me though.  Why would Janet deal her trump card to Doug Henshall, and to you, now?  Something must have gone wrong with the grand plan, for her to reveal her real motive at such a delicate stage of the game.

RACHEL,

‘Interesting point and I don’t know the answer.  The Southampton deal is big, but it’s not the end game by any means.  You’re right, something must have tipped her over the edge.  Whatever it is, it just proves that we don’t have much time.  We need an escape route that keeps us employed at WLF or gets us out altogether, smelling of roses, rather than the nameless smell that is becoming increasingly pervading.

Brad laughs at Rachel’s turn of phrase and leans forward in the chair.

BRAD,

It seems to me that Bendall wants to bring WLF down, so staying with them isn’t a smart strategy in the long run.  We have to go through with the meeting tomorrow and give it our best shot, whatever happens.  We won’t know if we’ve won the contract tomorrow, even if it all goes really well, so we have some time to extricate ourselves without looking bad.

RACHEL,

But extricate ourselves to where?  In the long term, maybe, but unemployed oblivion doesn’t seem like an attractive option to me right now.  I’ve got a lifestyle to maintain!  These Jimmi Choos’ aren’t given out free after church on Sunday mornings, you know?  

BRAD,

OK, then our only option is to fess up to Will Fowler about everything we’ve learned and let him know that we’re all being played.  We tell him that the Southampton deal is probably going to Bendall’s on account of Janet’s schmoozing with Doug Henshall.  We then work with Will to identify some other major wins, especially the ones that Bendall’s are after or, better still, some disgruntled Bendall’s customers, and reel them in.  Let’s get the old band back together – you and me Rachel – how about it?

RACHEL,

Sounds like a plan.  Promise me one thing though, Brad?  

BRAD,

What’s that, Rachel?

RACHEL,

When Janet whispers those little questions into your ear at night after, well you know, tell her some of the most fantastic lies you can imagine!  

BRAD,

I love you, you know, and I’ll make this work, for the two of us.

Brad walks over to the bed, takes Rachels hands and pulls her back up to him, giving her another deep loving kiss that makes her crumple into his arms again.  She composes herself and with faint tears in her eyes and a slight choke in her voice, whispers to him.

RACHEL,

Goodnight my love, and sweet dreams of me!

As Brad leaves the hotel room and closes the door softly behind him, Rachel throws herself onto the bed, sobbing uncontrollably.

Chapter 12 by Fran Neatherway

INT. HOTEL CONFERENCE ROOM. 7.30 AM.

Rachel is sitting at a desk at the head of a rectangular table with 8 chairs. Behind her is a large video wall screen, flanked by a pair of whiteboards. Off to one side is a table containing cups and saucers, tea-spoons and water glasses. To the other side is a row of windows with closed Venetian blinds. She is dressed in her best business suit and looks very professional, as usual. On the desk are several folders, her laptop, a pad of paper, markers, pens and pencils, and a large cup of coffee. 

She is preparing for the biggest presentation of her life. 

INT. HOTEL LOBBY. 9.00 AM.

Brad and Janet exit the dining room. 

JANET (suspiciously)

 What happened to you last night, darling? I was asleep by the time you came to bed. 

BRAD

 I went for a walk to clear my head, darling. I was worried what Rachel might be up to.

Janet smiles smugly and pats his hand.  

Doug comes in through the front entrance and approaches them. He shakes hands with Brad and kisses Janet on the cheek. She looks even more smug. 

They walk together through a door marked CONFERENCE CENTRE.

INT. HOTEL CORRIDOR. 

Brad, Janet and Doug walk to the door at the end marked WINDSOR ROOM. Brad opens the door. 

INT. WINDSOR CONFERENCE ROOM.

Janet, Doug and Brad enter. Rachel stands and walks towards them. 

RACHEL

 Good morning, everybody. (She shakes hands with Doug.) Thank you for coming, Doug. Would you like tea or coffee? 

She indicates the side table which now contains tea and coffee pots, milk, plates of biscuits and croissants, and a bowl of fruit. There is also a carafe of water.

Doug pours himself a coffee, takes a biscuit and takes a seat at the table.

Janet moves to join him, but Brad grabs her hand.

BRAD

 Not for us, Rachel. We’ll be off now. (he turns to Doug) I’ll leave you in Rachel’s capable hands. She’s done all the heavy lifting on this project. 

JANET

 Aren’t we staying? So I can support you, darling. And Rachel, of course. (she pulls her hand out of Brad’s, but he takes it again.) That’s why I came.

Janet no longer looks smug – she looks annoyed.

BRAD

I’ve got a special treat booked for you, darling, as thanks for being such a supportive partner: the couple’s package at the hotel’s spa. We’re booked in for 10 o’clock so we can go and have a swim first. You can wear that sexy bikini of yours.

JANET (flustered)

 But, don’t you need to be here? In case Rachel needs some help? (she stares venomously at Rachel)

BRAD (smiles at Janet fondly)

 Of course not, darling. Rachel knows what she’s doing. I have every confidence in her, as usual. (to Doug) We’ll see you for lunch at one o’clock.

Brad and Janet leave, Janet looking desperately over her shoulder. Rachel smiles and waves goodbye. As Janet turns away, Brad looks at Rachel and winks.

INT. HOTEL DINING ROOM. 1.00 PM.

Rachel and Doug enter and are shown to a table for four. They both look pleased with the morning’s presentation. They pick up the menus and discuss what they want to order.

Brand and Janet enter. Brad looks calm and relaxed. Janet is not wearing any make-up and her hair is dishevelled and greasy. She does not look calm and relaxed. They join Rachel and Doug at their table.

RACHEL

 Hello, you two. I can see you enjoyed your morning at the spa.

BRAD

 It was wonderful, wasn’t it, darling?  A swim, a soak in the Jacuzzi and a full body massage. Who knew hot stones could feel so good? And Janet had the de-luxe facial.

RACHEL

 Your skin is certainly glowing, Janet. I must give it a try.

JANET (through gritted teeth)

 Thanks. I can certainly recommend it. (spitefully) Although you would need a partner for a couple’s package.   

Rachel smiles sweetly.

DOUG (oblivious to the tension)

Brad, I’m very impressed with Rachel here. I’ve sat through several sales presentations in the last month, and this was by far the most impressive. As far as I’m concerned, WLF has the contract. 

RACHEL

 Thank you, Doug. It’ll be a pleasure to work with you and the club. I’ll get the contracts to you after lunch.

BRAD (raises his glass of water)

Cheers, everybody. I think we should have a nice bottle of wine to celebrate. 

He beckons to the waiter.

Janet grinds her teeth.

Chapter 13 by Steve Redshaw with Fran Neatherway and Lindsay Woodward

INT. HOTEL DINING ROOM 

Rachael, Doug, Brad and Janet are finishing main course of lunch. 

BRAD (raising his glass

Doug, I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you for your confidence in WLF  Interiors. I, (then looking across to Rachael) we, can assure you of complete satisfaction in  our services and we look forward to being entertained in your refurbished hospitality suite in the not too distant future.  

DOUG 

It has been a pleasure to do business with you, and I must say again, how professional and  efficient Rachael has been in her preparation and presentation. Most impressed. 

Rachael smiles, raises her glass and nods in acknowledgement. 

JANET 

I, er, please, just excuse me for a moment. I think I need some fresh air, just feeling it’s a bit  stuffy in here. Must have overdone the swimming this morning… I’ll skip the dessert… (she  leaves the table, exiting through French doors to the hotel garden

The table is cleared, as Brad, Rachael and Doug sip their wine for a while in silence. 

RACHAEL 

The contract won’t take long to prepare, I have all the details I need. As promised, it will be  with you a little later this afternoon, I’ll get all the paperwork emailed to your office. But  first we have the rest of this excellent lunch to enjoy, here are the desserts. 

Desserts are placed on the table, Brad waves away the one placed at Janet’s place. They start to  eat. 

DOUG (to Brad

Janet alright is she? She was looking a bit flustered. I quite understand if you need to go and  see how she is. 

BRAD 

She’s not a great one for desserts. I’ll go out presently. I understand Southampton are having a very successful season… (fade as they chat, action skips to waiter clearing tables

DOUG 

Shall we round off with tea or coffee? Rachael? 

RACHAEL 

Mmm, yes, a good coffee will set me up for the afternoon. 

DOUG 

Brad, how about you? 

BRAD 

Thank you, but no, I’ll just go and see how Janet is. Please excuse me, I’ll be in touch soon,  and thank you again Doug. (Brad shakes hands with Doug and exits to garden

EXT. HOTEL GARDEN 

Brad sees Janet standing a little way off, her back to him. She is on the phone. 

JANET 

No, I don’t know the details. Look I’ve already told you. Brad whisked me away to a Spa  morning. Yes, I thought he’d be there negotiating the deal, and of course I’d be there too, but he left it to that Rachael woman; turning up again, sticking her oar in, that’s all we need. I  think Brad is onto something, just let me handle things for a while, I’ll bring him round… 

Brad approaches silently from behind Janet and takes the phone from her. 

BRAD 

Oh yes, I’m onto something alright. Your father I assume. Well let me have a chat with the  old man. (speaking into phone) Hello, Mr Bendall, so nice to talk with you. Janet just  updating you on our latest business deal was she? Quite a coup. I understand you are  acquainted with our client Mr Doug Henson? 

Janet snatches the phone from Brad and stuffs it into her handbag. 

JANET 

How dare you, what do you think you’re playing at. I’m having a private conversation with  my father and you… 

BRAD 

Too many ‘private’ conversations. Oh, how could I have been so blind not to see what you  two were up to. Ever felt like a puppet on a string? ‘Cos right now I do. You and your father, thick as thieves. But no longer Janet, my eyes are wide open now and your clever scheming  is over, finished, ended. Just as we are. The engagement is off. 

JANET (after slight pause

Oh, just like that, you think you can end it just like that. After all I’ve given you; the support  for your precious career; staying true to you despite your ‘indiscreetnesses’, and the deceit  that went with them. 

BRAD 

It turns out you have served up the greater helping of deceit. (Janet attempts to interrupt)  No.. listen Janet. I know I’ve made mistakes – yes, business and personal. But I’m my own  man, I make my own destiny. And I do not take kindly to being manipulated or taken for a  ride. 

JANET 

You don’t appreciate what I did for you. You could have lost everything when my father  finally decided he had to ‘let you go’. Who do you think pleaded on your behalf? Who do  you think got you such a good financial deal? Who ensured your reputation survived intact? He could so easily have destroyed you, but I stepped in, I calmed the waters, I…  

BRAD 

And you really expect me to believe that. I did, I did, but I see through it all now. I see  through you Janet, straight through you…  

JANET 

You are nothing without me. 

BRAD 

…and who do I see, lurking there just behind you, glaring over your shoulder? Your father… 

JANET 

You leave my father out of this. 

BRAD 

We can hardly leave your father out of any of this. Do you know why our relationship has  lasted this long Janet? Because I felt I owed you… 

INT. HOTEL DINING ROOM 

Doug and Rachael, seated on two facing armchairs, low coffee table paced between them, are in  conversation, but the raised voices of Brad and Janet are becoming more intrusive. 

RACHAEL 

I think I’ll just pop outside and… sorry, please… excuse me (she exits to the garden

EXT. HOTEL GARDEN 

Rachael approaches Brad and Janet, but stops short before they see he, because she hears… 

JANET 

…well of course it’s all down to your latest distraction, no doubt. She bursts onto the scene  again, flutters her eyelids, flashes her cleavage. You’re so easily taken in. 

BRAD 

This is not about Rachael. She is nothing to me. I don’t need her in my life, just as I don’t  need you. This is… 

RACHAEL (stepping suddenly into view

Brad, what did you just say? How could you…  

(Brad turns towards Rachael in shock and dismay

After all you said to me… I thought we… 

(Rachael catches Janet’s look of smugness and contempt. She turns and rushes away

BRAD 

Rachael, no, I didn’t mean it like that… (he starts towards the hotel garden door, but stops  with his arms held up imploringly

INT. HOTEL DINING ROOM 

Doug is seated as before, half-filled tea cup in front of him on table. He stands as Rachael rushes  past, distraught. He pauses then makes his way into the garden. 

EXT. HOTEL GARDEN 

Janet catches hold of Brad’s jacket sleeve. 

JANET 

Ha, and there she goes. I knew it, you lying bastard. Yes, she’s the one, she’s the cause of all  this. 

Brad spins round and shakes himself free of Janet’s grip. 

BRAD 

And you think it’s that simple. You don’t know the half of it. It’s over Janet, we’re finished.  Do you know, I wish I’d never even met you. And I’ll tell you this, right now. I never want  to see you again, never! 

Janet gasps, her face crumples. She stares at him for a moment… 

JANET 

You’ll regret this Mr Brad Marketing Manager Jones. You wait, you’ll regret this… Janet bursts into tears and rushes towards the hotel garden door, straight past a very startled Doug. 

Brad pauses momentarily, also starts towards the hotel garden door and bowls forcefully into Doug. He is stopped in his tracks as Doug holds onto his arms. 

DOUG 

Whoa, just take it steady. What the hell is going on? This is all a bit.. 

BRAD 

Oh God, Doug. Sorry, sorry. Are you ok? God, I’m really sorry about all this… 

DOUG 

Are you ok? Do you people make a habit of chasing each other around at the end of business lunches? I think we’d better just stop and take stock, just calm it down. Why don’t you sit  

down here for a while. (he guides Brad gently but firmly and sits him down on a bench,  Doug remains standing

DOUG 

Right, ok, so… this was going really well, but somehow…. I mean, what in God’s name have I got mixed up in…? (Brad is staring blankly into space and then turns to look up at Doug) I have things to do this afternoon, important business to attend to, as I’m sure you do. I should be on my way now. I hope you sort out your personal affairs… I mean, your personal  

situation, fiancee, colleagues, whatever. What can I say? I’ll be in touch. But I must tell you  bluntly, I think I might need to reconsider our agreement. Not the time or place to do that  right now, I know. So, I’ll bid you good day and, as I say, I’ll… I’ll be in touch.  

Doug leaves Brad a little uncertainly, glancing over his shoulder as he walks back into the hotel.  Brad gazes towards the hotel garden door, seemingly not aware of Doug’s departure. 

EXT. ON STREET OUTSIDE HOTEL ENTRANCE 

Rachael is standing on the pavement, alternately looking into the road and then back at the hotel  entrance. She seems to be texting on her phone. Doug exits briskly from the hotel. Rachael looks up  expectantly and starts to approach him. 

DOUG 

Well, thank you for your time and effort Miss Smith. We seem to have concluded today’s  business and I must be getting on. I told your colleague I would be in touch. So… good day  to you. (He walks towards a line of waiting taxis.

Rachael starts to go after Doug, but then turns on her heels and gazes again at the hotel  entrance 

RACHAEL (quietly to herself

Oh my God, what have I done… (she stands alone on the pavement, then covers her tear stained face with her hands

EXT. HOTEL GARDEN 

Brad sits, slumped forward on a bench, head cradled in his hands. 

Part 14 by Lindsay Woodward

EXT. HOTEL GARDEN. DAY.

There’s a vibration and Brad scrambles in his pocket for his phone, a spark of hope on his face. He looks at it quickly but is disappointed to see it’s only an email from Jasmine. He clicks to read it. His expression turns from frustration to intrigue to shock. He stands with determination, looks around, then darts towards the door.

INT. HOTEL LOBBY. DAY.

Brad rushes in, still searching everywhere. He looks out the main doors and sees Doug approaching a taxi.

EXT. HOTEL ENTRANCE. DAY.

Brad runs outside and straight towards Doug.

RACHEL

Brad?

Brad stops and turns, surprised to see Rachel. He looks as if he’s about to speak, but then glances back towards Doug who is opening the door of the taxi.

BRAD

I’ll be… I’ve got to…

With desperation, Brad turns and hurries over to Doug.

BRAD

Doug, wait up!

DOUG

Brad. I think we said enough earlier. Don’t you?

BRAD (showing Doug his phone)

You need to see this. Don’t give Bendall & Mason the work. They’re not who you think they are. This is proof that they’ve been using sub-standard materials, sometimes even second hand products, and selling them as brand new at high end prices. I had no idea that they were deceiving customers like this. It’s all there in black and white. Enough for legal action.

Doug hesitantly takes the phone and reads the email.

DOUG

Where did you get this?

BRAD

I have a good team. The best. And you knew that earlier. Janet has been trying to mess this pitch up from the start. This proves just how low they’ll go. WLF would never do this. Don’t let these theatrics ruin what you knew was a good deal.

Doug takes a breath.

DOUG

All right. I’m a man of my word. If Rachel gets the contract to me by close of play, I’ll sign with you.

BRAD

Thank you. Definitely.

DOUG

What are you going to do with that email?

BRAD

I think a few of Bendall & Mason’s customers might be getting a copy.

DOUG

You just watch your back.

They shake hands and then Brad quickly turns around, expecting to see Rachel. But she’s gone.

INT. HOTEL LOBBY. DAY.

Brad re-enters the hotel, looking around everywhere. He grabs his phone and dials Rachel’s number.

RACHEL (O/S)

Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of…

He hangs up and looks around some more. He’s suddenly excited as his phone rings. But again he sees it’s Jasmine.

BRAD

Hi Jasmine. Thanks so much for that email. I don’t know where you found that info, but it literally saved the day.

JASMINE

You bastard.

BRAD

Excuse me?

JASMINE

I know you’re my boss and I shouldn’t be saying it, but you’re a bastard.

BRAD

How exactly?

JASMINE

Did you just suck up to Rachel so she’d win you that contract?

BRAD

You’ve spoken to her?

JASMINE

All sweet and lovely last night. But then as soon as the job is won you don’t want to know her anymore.

BRAD

No, you’ve got it all wrong.

JASMINE

She’s ready to hand in her notice.

BRAD

She can’t. Where is she?

JASMINE

Wouldn’t you like to know.

BRAD

I love her, Jasmine. I can’t lose her again. I can’t. Not again.

JASMINE

You love her?

BRAD

More than life itself. Now where is she?

JASMINE

She’s… on a train. Back to Coventry.

BRAD

What? What train?

JASMINE

It was just arriving as she got there. Leaving any minute.

BRAD

What time does it get into Coventry?

JASMINE

Half four. I was going to pick her up.

Brad looks at his watch. It’s 2.20pm.

BRAD

No you won’t. I’ll be there for her Jasmine. Trust me. I won’t let her down again.

Brad hangs up quickly and dashes outside.

EXT. HOTEL ENTRANCE. DAY.

Brad runs out of the hotel and round the side of the building.

EXT. HOTEL CAR PARK. DAY.

Brad reaches his Audi A5 and jumps straight in. Without hesitation he hits the road.

EXT. M3. DAY.

Brad zooms onto the motorway, clearly going above the speed limit.

INT. TRAIN. DAY.

Rachel sits staring out of the window, trying to stop her tears.

EXT. A34. DAY.

Brad cuts up a car as he joins the A34. He’s erratic. 

INT. TRAIN. DAY.

Rachel watches as the train slows down. People start to queue in the aisle as it pulls into Oxford station.

INT. BRAD’S AUDI – ISLAND JOINING M40. DAY.

Brad curses under his breath as he is forced to slow down as he leaves the A34 and approaches the M40. He stares at the clock on his dashboard. It’s 3.38pm.

EXT. M40. DAY.

Brad zooms along, driving recklessly, panic across his face.

EXT. COVENTRY RAILWAY STATION. DAY.

The train pulls into Coventry station.

INT. TRAIN. DAY.

Rachel looks glum as she stands up and grabs her overnight bag.

EXT. COVENTRY RAILWAY STATION CAR PARK. DAY.

Brad’s Audi screeches into a space in the busy car park.

INT. AUDI. DAY.

Brad glances at the time. It’s 4.34pm. He rushes out the car.

EXT. COVENTRY RAILWAY STATION CAR PARK. DAY.

Brad dashes towards the entrance of the train station.

INT. COVENTRY RAILWAY STATION. DAY.

Brad races in and immediately sees Rachel waiting patiently. She seems very unhappy. He runs over to her.

BRAD

Rachel!

RACHEL

What the hell are you doing here?

BRAD

I’m here to say I’m sorry.

RACHEL

Sorry for being so horrible? Sorry for using me?

BRAD

Sorry for letting you believe that I wasn’t in love with you. Time and time again. When I am. Totally in love with you.

RACHEL

You have a funny way of showing it.

BRAD

You’re right. I do. But I’m going to fix that right now.

Brad gets down on one knee. People across the station start to watch.

BRAD

You are the only woman I’ve ever loved. I have been miserable every second I’ve been away from you. I need you in my life. You’re the only thing that makes sense to me. Rachel Smith, will you marry me?

Rachel is stunned. She is suddenly aware that dozens of pairs of eyes are fixated on her.

RACHEL

Isn’t this a bit sudden?

BRAD

No. We’re in love. We have been for a long time. Other people have tried to keep us apart, so let’s make sure that never happens again. Marry me, Rachel. You’re all I want.

RACHEL

Have you just driven here straight from Southampton?

BRAD

I am always going to be here for you from this day forward.

A huge smile spreads across Rachel’s face.

RACHEL

This isn’t a joke?

BRAD

I have never been more serious.

RACHEL

Then yes. Of course! Of course I’ll marry you!

Brad jumps to his feet, takes Rachel in his arms and kisses her, just as the crowd around them bursts into applause.

Brad and Rachel pull back from their embrace, a little embarrassed, but generally too happy to care.

BRAD

You have just made me the happiest man alive.

RACHEL

I love you, Brad Jones.

They kiss again and slowly the people watching lose interest. And they continue their embrace as the world around them gets back to normal. But still they don’t step apart from one another.

Here is a link to the 2020 Writing Project, Thrapston Mansions.

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