This sweetest of sleeps was broken by a pounding on the door only a couple of hours later, and an urgent voice shouting for Danny. He was awake immediately, and stopping only to unwrap himself from Diana, he ran to the door and asked who it was.
“It’s Mike, open the door for God’s sake, Danny!”
“What on earth is wrong!” he shouted, as he threw open the door and found a distraught Mike.
“It’s Debbie. That bastard Simon that we got to do the auction raped her, then made off with some of the stuff from her safe.”
“Sod the stuff! Where’s Debbie? Have you called the police – an ambulance?”
“Debbie’s upstairs, Mark’s with her but she’s in a hell of a state. We haven’t called anyone – we thought we ought to get you first.”
Danny turned to look at Diana, who was already wrapping herself up in a bath robe and shoving her feet into the totally impractical sandals she had been wearing earlier in the evening. She picked up her phone and the door card, then gave Danny a gentle push that seemed to bring him to his senses.
“We can’t leave that poor girl alone after what she’s been through,” she said. “You need to get the police and paramedics up here straight away before that evil little swine gets away with it. Come on, Danny!”
Diana was out of the door and headed towards the lift with Danny and Mike close behind her. When they arrived at the penthouse Debbie was sitting on the sofa in a daze, scratched and bruised, her dress torn and her face ravaged by tears. Diana sent Mark to fetch a blanket and sat beside Debbie, talking to her in a low soothing voice that seemed to break through her trauma. Wrapping the blanket round Debbie, partly for warmth and partly to preserve any evidence of her attack, Diana put her arms around her, and held her as she would have done Caroline, rocking her gently as she sobbed, so strangely reminiscent of how Danny had cried in her arms only a few hours earlier.
He had been busy on the phone, and in what seemed to be a matter of minutes the room was filled with security staff, hotel management, and finally the police and paramedics. A search of his room confirmed that the comedian, Simon, was long gone and had taken the contents of the safe in Debbie’s room. Diana listened closely, and managed to work out that Debbie had got very drunk in the bar after the auction, where Simon had homed in on her. He commiserated with her about the way she had been treated, and took her back to his room. He made a pass at her, and though she initially tried to fight him off, he was too strong, and she was overpowered. She blacked out, and when she came to, she found that he had also taken her security pass and cards so that he could get into her room safe and steal the jewellery and some other small items that Danny had successfully bid for.
What caused Diana the most sadness was Debbie’s constant apology for her rudeness. It seemed that this, far more than the rape and assault, was uppermost in her fevered mind. Diana beckoned Danny over to the sofa.
“Debbie, here’s Danny now. He’s going to promise you that everything will be sorted out. I’m not upset with you; you haven’t lost your job, and Danny isn’t cross. Isn’t that right Danny?”
“Of course, it is. We need to get you to hospital now, and make sure that you are okay babe, but I promise that you have a job with me for as long as you want one. I’ll arrange for a private room and your own nurses once the hospital’s checked you over, and I’ll come and see you as soon as we’re allowed.”
She looked up at him, her poor face a mess of makeup and scratches, then turned to Diana.
“Will you come too? I’m sorry I was so horrible. Please come and see me?”
“We’ll both be there, sweetheart.” said Danny. “Nothing matters right now, but looking after you, and catching the bastard that did this.”
The paramedics wrapped Debbie up in another blanket, and gently manoeuvred her into a wheelchair before taking her off to the lift, accompanied by a female police officer. Diana and Danny moved out of the way to the patio doors while the hotel blanket was bagged up, and swabs taken from the sofa.
Danny took Diana in his arms and held her tight, kissing the top of her head, and sighing wearily. Standing there, in a blood-stained towelling bath robe, her plaited hair dishevelled by their lovemaking, and wearing a pair of extremely uncomfortable high-heeled sandals, Diana was well aware that she must look a sight. It didn’t seem to matter to Danny however, he was holding her as if he never intended to let her go.
The bath robe had to be surrendered for examination too, and Diana was touched by the fact that it was Mike who fetched her another from Danny’s bathroom, and handed it to her with a sheepish smile.
“You were great, Diana. Thank God you were here, I’ve a feeling Danny’s struck lucky for a change.”
Danny shook his head in disbelief; a compliment from Mike was a rarity at the best of times, but particularly under the present circumstances. The room was emptying of people gradually; initial statements had been taken and as Danny surveyed the mess, he decided that there was only one place he wanted to be right now. He took Diana’s hand in his and kissed it; the look in his eyes made her knees turn to jelly.
“Can I come back downstairs with you?” he asked quietly. “I’ll get some stuff for the morning. All I want is a couple of hours more sleep, and the only place I’ll get that is with you, my love. I’m so sorry for all the hassle and I’ll understand if ….”
“Shut up, Danny,” she said hugging him. “I’m a nurse; we thrive on crises. I did what any mother would do for a child in distress. It broke my heart to hear her apologising after all she’s been through, and you’ve no need to apologise either. Get your things together, and we’ll go back to bed. These shoes are killing me. God only knows why I put them on, I must look an absolute fright.”
“Believe me, you are just as beautiful to me right now as you were before, if not more so.” Danny stroked the stray hairs away from her face and kissed her gently. “None of us would have known how to deal with poor Debbie. We’d probably have rushed around trying to get her cleaned up, and destroyed all the evidence. You pulled us all together and sorted things out. You also understood about Lisa, and how I’d kept things bottled up inside. Mike’s right. I really have struck lucky with you – if you want to get to know me better, that is?”
Her kiss was all the answer he needed, and after putting some clothes into a bag, they headed back to the lift. Diana had removed her shoes and they dangled incongruously from her hand, as a weary progress was made along the corridor to her room. Stopping only to drop their belongings on the floor and discard the borrowed bath robe, Diana climbed into bed and once again, Danny curled himself around her and they fell asleep.