Scene: A parlor, Edwardian in style. ISABEL ALICIA is sitting in a chair, stage right, looking on, while OSWALD and PHINEAS are speaking center stage)

OSWALD: I still cannot believe that one of the world's rising stars in science wishes to tutor our young son. I suppose I should be grateful that my wife has a colorful circle of childhood friends.

PHINEAS: It's my pleasure, your lordship. As much as I love my greenhouse, I adore children as well, and tutoring should keep me going until I'm able to have one of my own. (He glances at ISABEL ALICIA) And, it's always a pleasure to help a dear old friend.

OSWALD: Mind you, Nigel is still very young. (He turns to ISABEL ALICIA) Dearest, are you sure you will be all right here on your own?

ISABEL ALICIA: Yes, I'll be fine. Even if he's lively, Nigel is easy to mind, and Lise, Phineas, and Euphemia will be here to help.

OSWALD: I wish I didn't have to leave at this time, but that telegraph from Nekustk sounded urgent, and I need to make sure the factory there is in working order.

ISABEL ALICIA: (Stands up) I say again, it's all right. Business is business, and I know you'll return before we know it. (She kisses OSWALD'S cheek) Now go on. Duty calls.

OSWALD: Farewell, I should only be gone a week at most. Charles! Bring my bags to the motorcar! (He exits)

ISABEL ALICIA: (Walking over to PHINEAS) It's going to be odd having you around so often. I'm much more used to talking to you through letters and only seeing you on holiday.

PHINEAS: I hope this doesn't displease you, your ladyship.

ISABEL ALICIA: Phineas, there's no need for such formalities. I'm still simply Belle. Just because I'm married doesn't mean you have to change how you speak with me. I get that your father raised you well, but...

(Beat)

PHINEAS: I must, you know that.

ISABEL ALICIA: I've realized something. You had no trouble calling me Belle until I married. Why is that?

PHINEAS: You married a baron.

ISABEL ALICIA: And my father is Earl Fawcett, whom, if I'm not mistaken, is more highly ranked. Why is it really?

PHINEAS: You wouldn't understand.

ISABEL ALICIA: We've been friends since my father invited yours to his cabin the mountains when we were but four. I'm sure I'll understand.

PHINEAS: That's not what I meant. I suppose what I should have said is you don't understand. You never truly did.

ISABEL ALICIA: What?

PHINEAS: You should know that... (Beat) I didn't want to attend your wedding. It was... Hard for me.

ISABEL ALICIA: Oh... Is it because you could not find a wife of your own? Now, I do find that hard to believe, I'm sure there are many women in your country who are vying for your hand. You are a genius after all, and very handsome.

PHINEAS: Not handsome like Baron Faraday.

ISABEL ALICIA: Nonsense! Not all men are handsome in the same way. And unlike him, at least you don't always put your business above people, and *Beat* Well, face it, you're never dull.

PHINEAS: Are you tiring of him? Is he not treating you well?

ISABEL ALICIA: I don't know... I mean, he does treat me well, I was happy with him for a time, but... I don't know who to say this to, but ever since Nigel was born, it seems there is no more spark. I can't say it's me, carrying me hasn't done much to my figure, and I don't know of any mistresses, but... It just all feels like obligation now. (Beat) Why did you bring him up? What's he got to do with your unhappiness?

PHINEAS: You hadn't noticed it at all.

ISABEL ALICIA: (She takes his hand) Then tell me.

PHINEAS: Belle... Just promise me you won't think any less of me, regardless of how you feel about what I'm going to say.

ISABEL ALICIA: Yes, of course, I promise.

PHINEAS: (Sigh) I... I didn't want you to marry him because... Because... I love you, Belle. I'm in love with you.

(Beat)

ISABEL ALICIA: Why didn't you say anything before?

PHINEAS: I did, in the letters.

ISABEL ALICIA: We always spoke rather tenderly... But... I don't ever remember you saying you loved me.

PHINEAS: I thought it was obvious, but I guessed not enough. Even during our first kiss.

ISABEL ALICIA: That was during a game, so it didn't count as a real kiss. Although... (She laughs) You were the only boy there who wasn't horrified at the thought of kissing a girl.

PHINEAS: Well... Moreso I wasn't horrified at the thought of kissing you. I still consider it one of the greatest moments of my life.

ISABEL ALICIA: It wasn't even a deep kiss, although I admit it lasted longer than it probably should have. (Beat) And I... I can't say I minded it. I think we tried it again once or twice before we learned that kissing on the lips was intimate.

PHINEAS: Yet you still let me kiss you elsewhere on your face.

(Beat)

ISABEL ALICIA: I never told anyone this, but... It was because I liked the feeling of your lips, even if they couldn't be on mine. Admittedly, when Oswald taught me more about kissing... I couldn't help but wonder how it would feel with you. To be honest... it went beyond that. I knew it was wrong to think like that, in a way I was being unfaithful, but it's only curiosity, isn't it? You're a scientist, you'd understand.

PHINEAS: Belle... Kiss me.

ISABEL ALICIA: What?

PHINEAS: I've felt the same way. Again, I'm in love with you. I've dreamt of tasting your lips again since we were young, and so have you. Just this once. If you don't like it or feel it's too wrong, we don't have to again, and you can forget this moment ever happened, and I'd know what it's like to have you again.

ISABEL ALICIA: And what if I still like it? Or daresay love it?

PHINEAS: If that happens, we'll figure things out. Let's not think about it unless it happens.

ISABEL ALICIA: I see. (Beat) All right.

(He kisses her. All too quickly, she moves her arms around his neck, and both are clearly enjoying themselves. PHINEAS pulls away slowly)

ISABEL ALICIA: I... I... I felt it. I haven't in a long time, but I'm certain... Passion.

PHINEAS: I'm glad... No, elated that I could make you feel that way again.

ISABEL ALICIA: But I'm still married... Yet I don't think I can stay away from you, and I know you're devoted to me. What now?

PHINEAS: Does Euphemia have the day off tomorrow.

ISABEL ALICIA: No. Not until Friday.

PHINEAS: Come to the lake with me tomorrow, and we'll discuss.

ISABEL ALICIA: Yes, good idea. Lise can be incredibly nosy sometimes. I'll tell Nigel and the servants that I'll be visiting my brother.

PHINEAS: (He kisses her hand) Until then.

ISABEL ALICIA: I told you not to be so formal. (She kisses him)

(End scene)

(For more on these characters, please read this piece)