Diana sensed rather than saw him go, and sank back down in the armchair again, her heart racing and her mind trying desperately to make sense of it all. It was a charity fundraiser, for goodness’ sake! No one comes to these things looking for romance and unbridled sex!
Actually, when she came to think about it, most people did – and often found it. She had always been in the minority before, and now, here was this handsome, not to mention infamous, man who was charming away all her doubts and inhibitions. There was a conflict between the sensible middle-aged nurse who was planning to pack, feign sickness, and hurry back to the safety of her memory-choked house; and the wanton woman that emerged when Danny touched her, and made her feel as if she were going to explode.
What choice should she make, could she make?
At the same time, she felt stunned that she had the ability to attract such a gorgeous man as Danny, and turn him on so very obviously. It had been a very long time since John had expressed that kind of interest in her rather than his endless harem of other women – not that she was complaining about that anymore!
Mind made up, she got up from the chair and went into the bathroom, pinning up her hair with one hand as she turned the shower on with the other. She took her best dress out of the wardrobe and looked at it, hoping it would do and thanking heaven that she had allowed her friend Helen to lengthen the ankle high split so that it came just above the knee. Black velvet again but sleeveless this time, and with a sash of gold ribbon below the bust that emphasised her curves. She’d invested in a short matching jacket with three quarter length sleeves that had cost her more than the dress itself, but tonight, she had a feeling it would be worth every penny.
Throwing off her clothes as she ran back into the bathroom, Diana had the world’s quickest shower, and at the last minute decided to wash her hair again, and leave it down rather than pinning it up as she had last night.
It was another of John’s bugbears.
“You should cut your hair short, it’s impractical and you’re too old to have long hair anyway.”
Caroline had overheard this comment and taken Diana into her bedroom, sat her down on the bed and given her a hug and a kiss.
“I love your hair Mum. If you cut it, do it because you want to, and not because of HIM.”
Diana had not cut her hair since, apart from the occasional trim with the nail scissors when her fringe got in her eyes.
She dressed quickly, did her make-up with a trembling hand, and moved everything from the green handbag back to the black velvet bag. Men never had this problem, and it was another of the many things that John had found a constant source of annoyance; Diana never seemed to have the thing he wanted in the right handbag at the right time.
The thought of John brought her back to how she felt when Danny kissed her. John had two methods of kissing; there was the perfunctory peck on the cheek that signified hello or goodbye, and the very rare tongue-thrusting preliminary-to-sex kiss that made her think of England, wifely duties, and long for it to be over so that she could turn away from him and go to sleep.
Last Christmas Helen had presented her with a gift-wrapped box that was to be opened in private. Courtesy of Ann Summers, it was the pinkest and most graphic vibrator Diana had ever seen. It made such a noise when she put the batteries in, that she was afraid John, snoring in the next room, would hear it and come charging in to see what the racket was. She had taken it out of the box when she knew he would be out for some hours, but the very thought of being caught in the act by him, or one of the children, had left it consigned to a dark corner of her wardrobe. You don’t miss what you don’t have – or do you?
She was a grown woman, a nurse, she knew all about anatomy, and she was well aware that some women had a wonderful time during sex; it just hadn’t ever happened to her, and in the two years since their separation Diana had come to realise that the fault for that lay mostly at John’s door, but partly at her own for not being attracted to him anymore, especially after the children were born.
All that might change.
Even in the minimal long-ago passion of the early days with John, she had never felt as alive and sensual as she had after just a couple of kisses from Danny. Diana squared her shoulders, let out another deep and energetic sigh, and decided that whatever happened tonight, one of the first things she would do when she got home, was to take that box out of the wardrobe, lock all the doors and find her inner woman again.
The knock at the door made her jump, and she got to her feet quickly, picked up her bag and checked her appearance in the mirror one last time before opening the door. Debbie was there, a sour expression on her face, wearing a red dress so skimpy that it made Diana feel as if she were muffled up for winter. Debbie looked Diana up and down, shrugged her shoulders and turned on her stiletto heels without comment, stomping off towards the lift. Diana followed her with a meekness that belied the urge to plant a kick very hard on Debbie’s taut buttocks.
‘Bide your time’, said the still small voice inside her, and Diana, with the cunning and ingenuity borne of being the mother of teenagers, plotted revenge.
The journey up to the penthouse was conducted in stony silence, which suited Diana admirably. The lift doors opened into a small hallway, and Debbie led the way into Danny’s suite. She recognised Mike and Mark from earlier, and smiled as she took a quick look around her surroundings. The huge penthouse suite, with its ceiling to floor windows all down one side, was definitely more opulent than her own room four floors down.
Danny came out of his bedroom, resplendent in elegant evening attire that looked as if the jacket alone cost more than Diana earned in a year.
Somewhat at odds with his bare feet however.
The smile of appreciation on his face as he saw her said it all, and she was equally gratified to see the expression on Debbie’s face turn positively malevolent.
Time to act.
Diana fished in her handbag and brought out a tissue.
“Debbie dear, you’ve got a – you know – just a little one – just hanging out of your nose – there – that’s got it – you can keep the tissue.”
It took a moment to accomplish, but Debbie was left with a face that matched her scarlet dress. Throwing the empty tissue into the bin, she stormed out of the suite, slamming the door behind her. Diana feigned astonishment at her reaction, while Danny fell onto the sofa in an apoplexy of laughter, before remembering his viral infection and sore throat. Mark, also recovering from a fit of the giggles at Debbie’s departure, handed him a glass of water. He sipped it, shaking his head and motioning for Diana to sit beside him on the sofa. She sat down primly, keeping a respectable distance between them, although the sight of him in his dinner jacket was giving her goose pimples. Danny beckoned to Mike who had just come off the phone.
“Better start looking for another PA,” he croaked “I’ve a feeling Debbie won’t be gracing us with her presence for much longer.”
“I’m getting you a bloke this time,” said Mike crossly. “Either you have sex with these girls, and they get upset, or you won’t have sex with them and they get upset. Perhaps I should be looking for someone who swings the other way to keep you in order!”
Danny shrugged his shoulders, trying hard to maintain a whisper despite his annoyance. “To be honest Mike, I just want someone who can pull their weight, be useful and not give me any grief. It isn’t my fault if you keep on employing sulky girls who see me as their meal ticket to the bright lights. Is there no one normal out there anymore?”
Mike sighed, picked up his mobile phone and went out into the hallway, pausing to give Danny another stern look.
“You need to put your shoes and socks on Danny, and get downstairs even if you aren’t saying anything at the auction. They’ve just called and are waiting for you before they start serving dinner.
“Don’t worry Mike, Diana’s here to look after me now. You did remember to rearrange the seating I hope?”
“Of course, put a few noses out of joint, but you will have your personal nurse by your side as requested.”
“Careful Mike, or she’ll take a bogie out of your nose too.”
Mike almost smiled.
“I doubt it very much. I’m too old to fall for that one and I only give people dirty looks if they deserve it. Just get a move on, we need to get dinner over and done with if this auction’s going to be any kind of a success.”
Danny put on his shoes and socks, got to his feet and offered Diana his arm. She took it and gave just the slightest wink. He put his head close to hers and whispered, “You were very naughty with Debbie. What did she do?”
“Looked me up and down as if I was something someone had trodden in. That was the third time today that I’ve seen her give me that look, and if her mother had done what I did a few years ago she’d probably be a much nicer person. It worked with my daughter Caroline, but I think she’s forgiven me now.”
“Can I just say that you look extremely gorgeous, and even if Debbie doesn’t appreciate you, I most certainly do. I’m glad you left your hair down tonight.”
His words made Diana feel warm, and more than a little excited as they got into the lift and rode downstairs to the bustle of the banqueting hall. They were led to a table in the centre of the room, and Diana was seated to Danny’s right. Looking around she saw Alice, Mandy and the Scottish contingent on a table far out to the left of the room. Alice was waving frantically and raising her eyebrows, Diana waved back and grinned as Alice’s companions stuck their thumbs up and blew kisses. Danny gave them a wave too, and told Mike to get a couple of bottles of champagne sent over to their table with his compliments.