Lunch at Sardi's



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Jenna Donovan Preston Van
der Mark III

Lunch at Sardi's!
It's been forever since Jenna's actually gone to Sardi's at lunch time. It used to be a weekly ritual with Preston; a gab fest in the theater district, good food, and promises that someday their cariactures would wind up gracing the walls of the famous restaurant.
But, Preston was off on a European adventure, and she didn't see the point in dragging her bestie across town for this little tradition.
The day before the Ball though, that's the best time to go for lunch.
There's lots of things to catch up on, and she can share the drama of Tuesday with him if she feels like talking about it. She's called in their standing reservation for Friday at one, and has arrived a little early. She's at their usual table, so he should be able to find her easily enough.

Europe was a blast. Preston has been there before, on family vacations and school trips, but there was nothing like going there independently with Uncle Chandler and Chandler's husband, Garrett. They saw sights and went places that tourists don't usually get to experience, but the piece de resistance were the days and nights spent at the West End in London. Garrett knows people, and his people know people and even though Preston never performed, he's added to his list of goals: get on stage at West End.

As soon as he's made a splash on Broadway.

Seven months abroad, but it's good to be home. It means he's behind a semester, but so worth it.

Preston sweeps in and gazes around simply to take in the ambiance anew. No need to look far to find Jenna, and raising his hand in a wave, he hurries over to greet his friend.

"You're a welcome sight for these old poor eyes!"

Fingerwaving back, Jenna hops up from her seat and throws her arms around him as he nears the table.
"Ohmigawd, it's so good to see you. Tisch was soooo not the same without you this year. C'mon, sit down. Tell me all about Europe. Meet any nice guys there?"
Smiling, she seats herself again and flips open a menu.
"I suppose you already spent a night talking to Shiv? If so, that means that all my gossip will be old news by now."

Preston returns the hug with a laugh, lifting his light little friend up off the ground. He may look thin, but he's wiry beneath his clothing. Preston has a dancer's body and a dancer's training. "I missed you too, Jen! Europe was wonderful, but without my girls, it got lonely sometimes." He kisses her on the cheek and sets her back to her feet.

Taking the seat opposite her, Preston adjusts his ascot and tosses the trailing end of his shoulder. "You don't get off that easily. Shiv and I dished about the Sharper. You know, like Brangelina except it's Siobhan and Harper?" He points a finger at Jenna with a smirk. "I coined that one, you may use it."

He takes the lemon wedge hanging over his glass and dunks it into the water. "She was tight lipped when it came to what you've been up to. There was a mention of two hot guys, a football player and a baseball player? I assume the same one that's taking you to the Ball tomorrow?"

"No details. She can be such a tease when she wants to be." In reality, Preston suspects that Siobhan didn't want to steal Jenna's thunder, and he thinks he's missed a helluva lot.

"Next time you should totally bring us along! God, maybe after graduation if I don't wind up in a spectacular show, I'll spend a month or two in London." Jenna has been to Europe plenty, and while she loves the shopping in Paris, spending two months on the West End would be a dream.
Giggling, she shakes her head. "I bet she loved that. I will def have to use that next time I talk about them."
Siobhan didn't spill everything? Part of Jenna is relieved at that. The other part is a tad upset because she really didn't want to go into everything.
"Quintin is the football player. Chance is the baseball player. They are both hot in different ways. Quintin's suddenly got a girlfriend, or at least a clinger-on at the moment. I guess when I said I didn't want to hop into anything serious right away, that meant 'please go jump into bed with the next girl you find'."
Wrinkling her nose, she pokes a straw into her bottle of Perrier and takes a sip.

"We could all go together." Preston grins and his face lights up. "Rent a little place in London, and enjoy proper scones and clotted cheese every morning and fish and chips for dinner in our own garden."

He sips the water and considers, "Do you think Shiv would go? She seems awfully attached to your brother. I'm not sure we could tear her away for a season."

Preston grins mischievously. "I might have earned myself a glower but it was short lived. That girl is practically floating on air. I have to say that it's about damn time. I don't think anyone would have survived this summer with them giving each other googly eyes when the other one wasn't looking."

The young man barely glances over the menu before setting it aside. They've been here enough that he knows what he wants to order. "Here's what I got. The abbreviated version. You met Quintin and introduced Shiv. You both crushed, but he preferred you. Somewhere in there, you met Chance, who just happens to be his friend and roomie, and you crushed on him but Shiv didn't care for him much though they're friends now?"

There's a pause as Preston takes another drink and smooths a napkin in his lap. "Also in the midst of all this crazy liking the same guy thing, Harper pulled his head out of his ass and made the equivalent of a Harper move on Shiv. She's now dating the only guy who's ever really stood a long term chance with her anyway, you were going back and forth between two hot roomies, one went to Vegas with an alleged friend and came back with what might be a girlfriend?"

"We could. A garden of my very own for a few months? That'd be great, actually." Jenna considers whether or not Siobhan would go, and she shrugs. "Maybe, if we invited Harper to come along. You know, act as our bodyguard or whatever."
That causes her to giggle, because she really can see her often stoic brother wearing dark clothes and sunglasses the entire time he's with them.
"It was close. Jesse came back to the city and was looking to get back together with her. I'm pretty sure Harper finally told her what a douche that guy was."
Taking a sip from her straw, she likewise closes the menu and sets it aside. "That's the abridged version, yeah." Beat. "I just wanted time to get to know both of the guys, you know? I mean, I think my last serious date was with you before you decided that you definitely didn't like girls, and christ that was what? Five? Six years ago? That's why I don't want to jump into anything right away."
Because knowing her luck, one of them would come out and announce that they batted for the other team.
"I do like Quintin, and I guess I can't complain too much that he fooled around with that girl in Vegas. I told him that we should date other people too. I just really wasn't expecting that dating meant screwing."
Sighing, she looks over at him and half smiles. "It hurts, but not because he did it. Because it makes me wonder if that's all he wanted from the beginning, and I'm definitely not giving that away unless I'm serious about someone."

The image makes Preston chuckle as well. "He would make an excellent body guard. Or FBI agent. Maybe he should reconsider his studies?"

"Oh. Jesse." Preston pulls a face that speaks volumes regarding his opinion on Siobhan's ex. "I really want his penis to shrivel up and fall off. I wish that she would have listened to us when we told her she could do so much better."

"What about your junior year? What was his name? Bradley Marsh? Didn't you date him?" Beat. "Jumping in? Sweetheart, you're not even getting your toes wet if I was your last boyfriend. You have to put yourself out there and go. For. It."


"I know we've had this conversation before."

The server arrives and after taking their orders, Preston focuses on his friend again. "Shiv says that Quin didn't seem like the seeking sex sort. Just goes to show that you never really know about people. But … are you sure he banged this Vegas Bunny? Not that I'm discounting your hurt, obviously he interpreted 'dating and getting to know' much more differently than you did."

He taps his nails on the table and winks at her. "I would so love to meet both of these guys who've just set my little Jenna into a state of befuddlement and confusion."

"I'll mention it to him. He could at least fall back on it if his current course of action fails him." Jenna grins at the thought of her brother running around with the FBI. It's ludicrous, but she can so see it happening.
"I'm sure there's a spell for that, you know." Clearing her throat, she smiles innocently. "She listened now, and that's what's important."
"Yep. I'd forgotten about Brad." Jenna slips her lips around the straw and takes another small drink, then wrinkles up her nose. "He told everyone that I slept with him after I'd been seeing him a month, so that was rather short-lived."
"The way she was hanging off of him, and he was trying to protect her from Shiv? Yeah, I'm almost certain. I know that's not a whole lot to go on, and he is the protective sort, but she was wearing his clothing."
"Well you can totes meet Chance at the party. He's tall, nearly six foot, I think. Sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, Texan, and he's got the best personality ever. He's perfect, Pres, except for the whole playboy thing, but since I just want to date and not jump into anything serious…"

Preston taps his chin. "Yes, I'd totally forgotten that Bradley was a boasting liar… and the whole inexplicable pink hair fiasco. Personally, I thought it was good color on him."

Blink. "Protect someone from our little Dancing Diva? Is he mad?" It's an amusing thought, really, Siobhan Knight resorting to physical violence. Spells perhaps, the vanity stripping sort such as Bradley's pink hair, certainly, but not physical violence. Preston waves an annoyed hand to the side, "Protective or not, anyone who knows Shivvie knows that she's not going to get into a cat fight. She may turn on the bitch, but she'd break a nail if she got into physical violence."

Tapping his blue lacquered nails on the table, Preston sips his ice water and considers. Siobhan admitted to not knowing all the details, except what Jenna told her later, so he's filling in the blanks now. Hanging off is hardly a sentence to sleeping with, but Preston trusts Jenna's gut. She tends to feel things and she's usually spot on about it. "I'll take your word for it, sweetheart. If you're almost certain that he slept with her then he slept with her." It makes no difference to Preston except where it hurt Jenna.

"That makes the decision for you, then, doesn't it? No more flailing around. Sounds like the hot blonde Texan wins. Especially since you so clearly like him so much. You're gushing, Miss Donovan."

"Oh god yes, the pink hair. I'd forgotten all about that," she replies with a light laugh. Siobhan generally does tend to hit people in their pride when they hurt her friends.
"Exactly. Siobhan was angry, and upset because I'd thought she and Chance were… in the shower together. Which they were, but for entirely innocent circumstances." Jenna likely wouldn't have believed it if it were coming from an overly emotional bestie, but there's that feeling she gets when Chance is telling her the truth that she has to go with her gut on.
"But she'd never have gone after Quintin's new friend. Girlfriend. Whatever. Even if she didn't like her. Not in his own home."
"It does, and it doesn't. I mean, I was leaning toward Chance already, but they're roommates, and they've got that whole bro-code or whatever. I'm probably 'off-limits' now for Chance, so I've got to settle for being a friend, which is fine, but you know something, Pres?"
Dropping her voice a little, she whispers, "He's the first guy that I've ever considered wanting to sleep with."
"We actually literally slept together last week. On the couch. I fell asleep watching movies with him, and when I woke up? I swear to God it was the most comfortable situation I've ever been in. It was natural."

"Sounds to me like this football player has no true sense of class," Preston considers. He sits back while their salads are delivered, and then carefully turns the salad dish a quarter turn clockwise. Picking up his fork, he dips it into the raspberry vinagerette dressing and then spears a few pieces of lettuce. "Professional football suits him well and it's where he belongs." Preston might not follow sports, but his father and brother do. Also, Google is your friend. "Those brutes are all classless ruffians anyway. Some just fake it better than others."

Preston doesn't have a high opinion of professional sports.

He chews his forkful of salad, washes it down with a few swallows of water. Twisting his wrist, Preston points his fork at Jenna. "I may not be a 'bro' but I've been in enough locker rooms and heard enough drunken chatter to know all about the bro-code. Let me tell you, if your boy Quin has dipped his pen into an inkwell when your inkwell still has a cap on it and isn't accepting any pens? It totally means that it's time to get a little closer and step up the game."

Preston squeals and squeezes her hand. "You've got it bad, Songbird. Considering turning in your v-card and falling asleep in his arms. I have the envy." He waves his hand excitedly at her. "Go on. I want to know everything. Give me all the details."


"How did he look wet and naked by the way?" Yes, Shiv told him that both she and Chance were wearing underwear, but he likes his version.

"Maybe not. His parents were killed when he was young, and I'm pretty sure he was fostered. He's definitely not from the Upper East Side. He attends Columbia, and I think the pros were scouting him."
Jenna just pushes the salad around her plate, not eating anything yet.
"So you're suggesting I jump right into bed with Chance? Wouldn't that make me a whore?"
There's a laugh at the squeal, and she nods. "I do, but I know he's going to think he was second choice right now so I really don't want to push anything."
"Ohmigawd. He's so hot with his shirt off. I mean the muscle, Pres. You so wouldn't expect it just seeing him in his shirt, but with the shirt off…"
Biting her lip, she glances at him. "He plays baseball for Columbia, he's Pre-law, going into Business Law, I think. He's Texan, but I told you that. His dad is the CEO of Aerotek, and apparently friends with Shiv's parents."

"Bite your tongue, missy! I suggested no such thing!" Preston takes a few more bites of the salad and looks over at her again. "I'm telling you that once your football player decided to go get naked and horizontal with his Vegas lady friend? That meant that your baseball player doesn't have to stand back anymore. He's allowed to make a move on you. It's like … Mr. Football totally said 'She's not my sole target or any interest anymore and may the best man win.' "

Preston sighs. "Sadly, entirely possible. The entire scenario just screams default. No jock wants to win the game with a default victory from what I understand. I don't know what we're going to do about that Songbird."


"Does Harper have any friends who could pretend to hit on you so that it doesn't look like he's the runner up?"

There's a slow grin and Preston twitters. "Okay, that's it. I have to meet him. You can expect me and my date, Dana, to find our way to your table at the Ball. This one sounds too good to be real, pre-law and a backup plan with Daddy's company? We're going to have to brainstorm this. Tell me again, what exactly are you wearing tomorrow night?"

"Good, because while I might be toying with the idea of it…" Jenna shrugs and finally spears up a little bit of salad. "… I'm not quite there yet. I mean, not right now. The last thing I want is to jump into that, and have Chance feeling like I'm doing it to be vindictive."
She takes a few quiet bites of the salad, and washes them down with a small sip from her bottled water.
"It does, and I know it does, and that makes me want to smack Quintin even more. It went from getting to know two guys, to having his new relationship shoved in my face and potentially losing both of them."
"Oh, I'm sure there's a couple who'd love to get close to me."
"You so do. I can't wait." Jenna digs out her phone, and slides it across to him after scrolling to the picture of the dress. "That."

"Losing both of them? Wasn't there something about Chance hunting you down in a stairwell and buying you breakfast? That doesn't sound like losing. Maybe a few steps back with the whole 'I don't want to be the consolation prize' thing, but I'm not hearing any strains of lost."

Preston snatches up the phone and whistles happily at the dress. "You are going to be unbelievably hot. What are we doing for hair? Up, I presume?"

"A few? Probably like twelve dozen." Jenna wrinkles her nose, and eats a little bit more. Smiling happily at the way Preston's looking at that dress, she nods.
"That's the point. I want to knock his socks off."
A nod is given to him. "Definitely up. A soft bun, a few strands to frame my face. A pretty ruby and diamond hair pin…"

"If you don't knock his socks off in this and take his breath away, then he's batting for my team and hasn't admitted it yet."

"Perfect. Absotively perfect."


"Underwear? You have to wear something sexy. It doesn't if anyone is going to see it. You have to feel pretty and sexy underneath while wearing that dress." Preston takes another sip of water. "If you don't have anything, we're going shopping. I helped Shivvie out, now it's your turn."

"Then here's hoping that I knock his socks off. I already had my heart trampled on once this week." Jenna's words are light, she's joking about it. She's willing to play nice about the whole drama, but the truth is she's not ready to forgive people just yet. Shiv and Chance, yes, because that really was a misunderstanding of epic proportions and she hurt Shiv a lot more than she wants to admit.
"I've been looking at a few things, but I've really not found anything perfect. I don't want something cute or innocent. I want to pretend that someone is going to see it, and so when I take the dress off, I want it to be scant, and lacy, and look like it's barely covering me."
Blushing, she quickly stares down at her salad and finishes it. The last thing she wants to do is look at Preston at the moment, even if she does consider him one of the girls.

"And it's his loss," Preston reaches out and pats Jenna's hand. The words aren't just idle from her fellow Broadway dreamer, however. Preston means it. Jenna is a wonderful person, and any guy who doesn't have the patience enough to find that out isn't worth her time anyway.

"No, no, no, no getting embarrassed around me. You should know better," Preston gives her hand a squeeze. He's grinning, but he's sympathetic. He knows that Jenna is more sensitive about these things than Siobhan, who had no problem dumping her 'spicy' underwear drawer on her bed for them to sort through. Of course it led to an entire conversation about her needing to learn the meaning of 'spicy' until he found something balled up and clearly forgotten about.

"Are you sure that's the look you're going for? Though I suppose if no one is going to see it …" He'd suggested naughty and nice for Siobhan, because it's Harper and the girl is dead set on it being perfect. But if Jenna is the only one who's going to see it. "You have some time to kill after lunch? I think we might need to make a few stops."

It is his loss, as far as Jenna's concerned. There are reasons why she's not bothered dating a whole lot. Getting hurt is one of them. She knows that she's an overly emotional person at times, but she wears her heart on her sleeve, and it's so easily hurt.
"Thanks, Pres."
Looking up, she grins. "I am so happy you're home. I'm positive that it's the look I want. I own plenty of cute, sexy lingerie, but nothing naughty. I want something horribly sexy, definitely naughty, and that will make me feel like I've got a dirty little secret on all night."

"Then we are going to dress you to impress," Preston winks.

"It'll be our dirty little secret."

Squeezing his hand, she smiles across at him. The waitress comes by and delivers the rest of their meal and refills their water, or in Jenna's case offers a new bottle.
Waiting until the woman departs, the empath nods. "Our dirty little secret. I can't wait."
"So are you tossing out any auditions this summer?"

"Sadly, I think I may be sitting out the rest of the summer season. I'm going to need to focus on catching up on the schooling I missed while in Europe. Real life experience, yes, but they won't put it on my transcripts or count it toward my graduation credits."


"What about you? What do you have on your docket?"

"Boo! You have to come to an audition with me on Tuesday. Men's ensemble is in the morning." Yes, Preston is going to have to catch up on the semester of theory and history of the theater but that doesn't mean that he should give up auditioning.
Jenna says, "I've had a few auditions already. I got a call back for a principle role on one, but wound up losing out on it. Which is fine, because it was so far off Broadway that it was in a different zip code."
"The one on Tuesday is for the ensemble cast for Mama Mia. If I get that part, there's a chance I might get to work as understudy for one of the principle roles."

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