[SCENE I. NICHOLAS’s house. He is sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the ceiling. KELLY is in the kitchen fixing herself something to eat. There is a knock at the door. NICHOLAS mutters darkly to himself as he rises to his feet to answer the door, and is surprised to find CHARLOTTE CORDAY waiting for him at the door.]
CHARLOTTE: I hope it’s not a bad time?
NICK: No, please, come in. I–what are you doing back in town?
CHARLOTTE: (Sitting down on the couch.) I needed a change of scenery. I’m sorry to just drop in here like this, but–
NICK: No, no, it’s all right. I was just relaxing. (Beat.) Can I get you something to drink? I’ve got a bottle of wine from–
CHARLOTTE: Oh, yes please.
(NICHOLAS departs and returns with two glasses of wine. KELLY is still in the kitchen, though it looks like she’s just eavesdropping now.)
CHARLOTTE: So, I hear you work for the new mayor.
NICK: Yeah. She’s–a lot less insipid than anyone thought based on her campaign. Actually she’s pretty competent.
CHARLOTTE: Good for her.
NICK: Have you heard anything at all from–
CHARLOTTE: Jean-Paul? (She shakes her head.) He still writes. Probably he backs up his files now. I keep an eye on him. His blog is more popular than ever after I got him out of the election.
NICK: That’s a shame. (Beat.) So, is there anyone, uh–
CHARLOTTE: (Shakes her head.) You?
NICK: Not, uh, exactly–
KELLY: He has a girlfriend!
NICK: Had a girlfriend. Not that Melissa would ever let me call her that. I think she broke up with me to go on vacation with her friend.
CHARLOTTE: Not that curly-haired harpy you were telling me about last time?
NICK: Yeah. We . . . have a history.
CHARLOTTE: She doesn’t sound very nice.
NICK: She’s not. I . . . you know, she actually said ‘go date that leggy blonde from the election’ when she told me about her vacation. I think she probably meant you.
KELLY: Well, that’s highly suspicious.
NICK: Shut up, Kelly.
CHARLOTTE: Well, I don’t want to get in the way or–
NICK: Charlotte, I would love to take you out to dinner some time. Tonight, even, if you’re hungry.
CHARLOTTE: I think I’d like that.
NICK: Let me grab my coat. (He runs upstairs. KELLY finishes whatever she was making in the kitchen and sits down on the couch to eat.)
CHARLOTTE: And how have you been?
CHARLOTTE: That good, huh?
(NICHOLAS returns with his coat, and offers an arm to CHARLOTTE. They depart.)
[SCENE II. Outside CHARLOTTE’s hotel. Much later. They are talking and laughing, apparently enjoying themselves.]
CHARLOTTE: So, here we are.
NICK: Here we are.
CHARLOTTE: Thank you for a lovely evening, Nick. Do you still have my number?
NICK: Of course.
CHARLOTTE: Give me a call some time. (She kisses him goodnight.)
NICK: Goodnight, Charlotte.
(She steps inside. NICHOLAS watches for a while before wandering off.)
[SCENE III. CHARLOTTE’s hotel room. She has just finished taking a shower and is wearing a bathrobe and a towel in her hair, when there is a knock on the door. She frowns, confused, and goes to answer the door. SOPHIE SWANSON is standing outside.]
SOPHIE: Well, well. I heard you were back in town.
CHARLOTTE: Do I know you?
SOPHIE: Sophie Swanson. I work for the Portland Examiner. You remember the Examiner? You sabotaged one of the writers who worked there because he spurned your love or something.
CHARLOTTE: He was a monster who needed to be stopped.
CHARLOTTE: I . . . don’t think that’s what that word means.
SOPHIE: (Flustered.) Does it matter? I didn’t come here to discuss the past anyway.
CHARLOTTE: You brought it up.
SOPHIE:(Regaining her composure.)Yes, well. Sorry.
CHARLOTTE: What do you want, then?
SOPHIE: I have an offer for you. Help me take over the Examiner and you’ve got a job waiting for you.
CHARLOTTE: Help you take over?
SOPHIE: Sabotaging people is what you do, isn’t it? (She grins smugly.) See, I did some investigation after you left town. I know all about you.
CHARLOTTE: Why do you want to take over your own newspaper?
SOPHIE: The editor and the board have kept me on a tight leash for a while. I tried to get a job elsewhere, but it turns out I was being set up.
CHARLOTTE: Well, I’ll consider your offer. I can’t guarantee the paper will fall to your hands, though.
SOPHIE: Oh, leave that to me. (She offers a business card.) Do keep in touch. (She departs. CHARLOTTE sits down on the edge of her bed, looking at the business card, as if conflicted.)
[SCENE IV. The Jaded Old Crone. CHARLOTTE and NICHOLAS are having lunch. CHARLOTTE looks preoccupied.]
CHARLOTTE: Do you know a Sophie Swanson?
NICK: I know her, yeah. Why? Has she been bothering you?
CHARLOTTE: Oh, no, I just bumped into her earlier. She seemed to remember me from the election.
NICK: Sophie has an amazing capacity to hold a grudge.
CHARLOTTE: Really? She seemed to be willing to put things in the past.
NICK: Are you sure you met Sophie Swanson and not, I don’t know, some other Sophie?
CHARLOTTE: I’m sure.
NICK: Well, don’t trust her. She’s probably out for revenge. If I know Sophie, she’s just setting you up to take a fall.
CHARLOTTE: Thanks for the advice.
NICK: So, do you want to catch a movie after lunch? I’m free all afternoon, and–
CHARLOTTE: I can’t. Later this evening, perhaps. I have an appointment to make.
[SCENE V. The offices of the Portland Examiner. CHARLOTTE is standing outside SOPHIE’s office, when SOPHIE answers the door.]
SOPHIE: Ms. Corday! What a surprise.
CHARLOTTE: I think we should work together, Sophie. I think we could do a lot together.
SOPHIE: Well, if you’d just step into my office . . . .
[CHARLOTTE and SOPHIE walk into the office. CHARLOTTE reaches into her purse and turns on a tape recorder just before the door to the office closes behind her. Fin.]