Summary: A prequel/missing scene; Lilli Vanessi receives a script from the last person she ever expected to hear from again.
Categories: Kiss me, Kate
Other comments: This is definitely one of my tamer bits of writing, but I’m giving it a PG-13 just to be on the safe side. Word count: 1973
Disclaimer: This story is purely for the enjoyment of fans. It is not intended to infringe upon rights held by the Estate of Cole Porter or Loew's, Inc.
Thursday evening - 6:28 p.m.
The large, manila envelope caught her eye the minute she stepped into her apartment. Addressed
in a masculine hand that was as familiar to her as her own, it read simply : ‘Miss Lilli Vanessi'.
Not ‘Lilli Vanessi' - or even ‘Lillian Vanessi,' as he had been wont to do in the past. No sign of
affection graced the severe package - but how could she expect there to be?
Cautiously picking it up, Lilli shook her head. The name on the return address: ‘Fred Graham,'
was hopelessly smudged. Fred never would learn to write without putting his hand in the wet ink.
"From Mr. Callaway, Ms. Vanessi?" Suzanne, Lilli's French maid, inquired.
"No, Suzanne. It's from - Mr. Graham."
Lifting her chin, Lilli tucked the package under her arm. "Yes. My ex-husband. I'm going up to
change. Let me know if Mr. Callaway calls."
"Yes, mademoiselle." Suzanne's heavily accented voice faded away as Lilli climbed the stairs.
Once in her room, she shut and locked the door behind her. Nonchalantly, she dropped the thick
envelope on her bed and began to step out of her dress.
"You can just wait a few more minutes." She said defiantly to no one in particular. "Heaven knows, you kept me waiting on more than one occasion. You know, you certainly have a nerve, writing to me now. Why now, anyway? Hm, Fred? You haven't so much as called to see how I am in months. Now - just as I get engaged - you write." She pulled on a silk robe and tied the sash tightly. "Won't you be surprised to know that I am going to be Mrs. Tex Callaway? I bet you'll be thrilled to have me out of your way."
Finally finished, Lilli sat on the bed and took up the envelope, carefully opening it. Inside was a
script. ‘Kiss Me, Kate,' the title read. But Lilli's attention was drawn to the small note that accompanied it.
‘Cole Porter and I have been working on a new play - a musical version of The Taming of the
Shrew. You would be perfect for the part, Lilli. Do you think we can out aside our differences to work on it together? Read the script, then call me and tell me what you think. You know the number.
"‘Sincerely, Fred.'" She repeated, her voice a whisper. "We lived together for six years, and now it's ‘sincerely, Fred.'" Unexpected tears pricked her eyes. "I do NOT feel anything for him! He's just a person I was married to - that's all."
The note trembled in her hands. Why couldn't she believe herself? Their love was gone forever - wasn't it? Sliding off her bed, Lilli padded over to the dresser and pulled open the bottom drawer. Buried beneath her winter clothes was a silver framed photograph. Lowering herself onto the plush carpet, she tucked her feet underneath and stared hard at the black and white photo. There she was, a young bride and there was Fred, his arms around her, kissing her temple. They both looked ecstatic. She would never say it out loud, but even Tex had not made her as happy as she had been her first few years with Fred.
"Ms Vanessi," Suzanne called through the door, "Mr. Callaway is on the telephone."
"Coming, Suzanne." Replacing the photo, Lilli scrambled to her feet, wiping the tears from her eyes. Impulsively, she reached for Fred's note, tucking it into her pocket, before going out the door.
Sunday evening - 7:01 p.m.
The telephone sat before her, black and shining, just as it did every day. It would a simple matter to pick it up, dial the number that had once been her own, and tell Fred she was interested in the play. So why couldn't she?
"This is ridiculous!" she said, exasperated.
Seizing the receiver, she dialed quickly. It rang once, twice, three times. Perhaps he was not at home? She was just about to hang up, when the confident voice of Fred Graham boomed cheerfully, "hello?"
She swallowed. "Fred?"
"Lilli?" He sounded shaken. "Lilli, is that you?"
"Yes. How - are you, Fred."
"Very well. And you?"
"The same as always. I read the script and I think it's excellent. I don't see why we couldn't work together."
There was a long pause. "You'll be perfect for it, Lilli. Ravishing."
She lifted her eyebrows, not quite believing what she heard. "Fred! You said something nice!"
"Please, Lilli. I don't want to start this again. Is next Wednesday a good night for you?"
"It depends. Good for what?"
"To hear the score, of course. At my apartment - you know where that is, don't you?"
"Don't be an ass, Fred. Of course I do."
"I'll have Cole come over - say, about seven?"
"A.M. or P.M. ?"
You haven't lost your touch, I see. P.M., of course. Will you come?"
Lilli hesitated. "Yes, I'll come."
"Good." He sounded satisfied. "And, Lilli?"
"Take care of yourself."
Startled, she could not respond at first. His voice had that softness that stirred so many happy memories - and they hurt her. "Don't worry, Fred. I won't jeopardize your show."
"Some things never change, eh, Lilli?" Fred said bitterly. "I'll see you Wednesday."
Hanging up the phone, tears began to well up in Lilli's eyes. "Things have changed, Fred. They
Wednesday evening - 6:25 p.m.
Lilli was almost ready to leave. The black dress and hat she had chosen to wear were flattering,
and the silver necklace was just right. Very striking against the dark material. It had taken her a
long time to finally decide to wear it. It had been a present from Fred years ago and she had not worn it since their divorce.
Draping a fur stole over her shoulders, she eyed herself in the mirror. Finished. Not if only her
stomach wasn't churning.
"Of all places, why our old apartment?"
She dreaded seeing it again, the place where so many battles as well as so much passion had occurred between them.
Moistening her lips, she started out. She would just have to learn to face her past - including
Wednesday evening - 8.45 p.m.
Standing in the bathroom of Fred's apartment, Lilli tried to compose herself. The evening had not
been quite what she expected - she had certainly not planned on meeting Fred's new girlfriend, Lois.
Leaning towards the mirror, she reapplied her lipstick. In truth, though, it was Fred who was
disturbing her the most. That look in his eyes whenever they rested on her - she had not seen it in
so long. Even Tex never looked at her like that. Then, there was how he had taken the news of her engagement. When she told him, he had been visibly shocked - and hurt. She had seen the pain fill his eyes and seen how he desperately covered it up with a display of ego.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm herself. It was only natural that he should have been that
upset. Or was it? He couldn't possibly still be in love with her, could he?
"Why did I ever come here?" she whispered. Her eyes trailed around the small bathroom, which
looked just as it had the day she had left. She could remember exactly where she had kept every bottle of perfume, and just where she had kicked off her shoes after a long day at rehearsal.
The sound of a door closing brought her back to reality. Cole had left, now she would be alone
with Fred. A sensation of something akin to panic shot through her. "I'll just leave," she
murmured. "I have to get up early in the morning and it's getting late."
Making her way into the living room, she found Fred sitting on the couch, pensively smoking his
pipe. He obviously hadn't heard her come in, his eyes were fixed on something.... Squinting in
the dimly lit room, Lilli saw what it was. A photograph of them taken three years ago, an image of them in a close, loving embrace.
She gently cleared her throat.
His eyes met hers, the softness in them making her heart race. "Cole asked me to tell you goodbye. He said he has an early appointment tomorrow."
"So do I, Fred. I really should -"
"Have a drink with me?" he asked unexpectedly, rising and moving closer. "We haven't spoken
each other in nearly a year."
"You could have called any time." Her voice trembled, despite herself.
"So could you." He replied quietly, gently touching her cheek.
‘Fred - "
"I know. Hands off, eh? You're spoken for now."
Lilli watched him as he poured their drinks, tempted to snap back with a hurtful comment, but unable to actually do it. Sitting on the couch, she simply smiled at him as she took the glass he offered. "There's nothing in it, is there?" she asked, teasingly.
He gave her a half-hearted smile, "only alcohol. Something I could use a great deal of, just now."
Putting down her glass, Lilli took his hand. "Fred, don't do this."
He looked at her gently, his thumb absently caressing her knuckles. "Why not?"
On impulse, Lilli reached out and touched his cheek. She forgot the bitterness and the hurt that was between them. Instead, she saw a man who was lonely and wouldn't even admit it to himself.
Gaging her reaction, Fred placed a kiss on the palm of her hand. She was stunned, but she didn't
pull away. Moving still closer, his hands slid slowly up her back, and his breath warmed her
cheek, causing chill bumps to break out on her skin. She was entranced. It had been so long...
His lips softly brushed the sensitive skin on her neck, over and over until she melted against him.
Working his way to her mouth, he kissed her lightly. When she didn't object his mouth lingered
again on hers. Finally, she gave in to him, her lips parting beneath his. He deepened the kiss, and
she felt as though the whole world had dissolved into an incredible rush of heat.
Sliding her hands over Fred's shoulders and around his neck, Lilli let him ease her backwards.
Her vision swayed dizzily, but she didn’t want it to end. Suddenly he was moving away from her and she reached out, trying to pull him back. "Fred...." her voice was breathless.
He didn't respond, though, and she opened her eyes to find the room lit brightly.
"Excuse me, sir! I beg you pardon -" Paul, the British butler, was backing out quickly, looking as
embarrassed as Lilli felt. Sitting up, she tried to smooth out her clothes, once again ill-at-ease.
"Fred, I - I really need to go."
He looked at her, almost sadly. "Yes, you'd better. Goodbye, Lilli. Sleep well," he added, taking
her hand and pressing it to his lips.
"Goodbye, Fred." Slowly rising, she went to the door, casting once last glance back at her ex- husband. He was sitting with his elbows on his knees and his face resting in his hands.
Regretfully, Lilli closed the door behind her.
Thursday morning - 1:26 a.m.
Even though she was safe in her own bed, staring sightlessly into the darkness of her room, Lilli
was restless. Her mind kept drifting back to Fred, back to what had almost happened between them. She knew herself well enough to know that if Paul had not interrupted them, she would
still be with him. Sighing, she closed her eyes. She wasn't sure if she was relieved or disappointed. She knew she should be glad to have gotten out of it - but a tiny part of her wished
that she had stayed.
It wouldn't do. She couldn't afford to become involved in an affair that had no chance of working. Their marriage had proved how truly incompatible they were. From now on, she would just have to keep him at a distance. "We have our separate lives, and they DON'T cross." She said, her voice sounding oddly loud in the still room. Rolling over, she pulled a pillow into her arms and pressed it against her, realizing that determination was small consolation for emptiness.