Contracted

It sounded very good to Diana, and by the time they had dressed, tidied up the bed, and Danny had grabbed her for another kiss in the lift, the penthouse now contained an extensive lunch buffet.  With some level of self-control, neither Mike nor Mark had begun to fill their plates.   Danny poked his head around the hallway door, grinned and said, “Tuck in lads, but make sure you leave some for me and Diana.”

They needed no further invitation; always a true gentleman, Mike obtained a plate and paper napkin, and handed them to Diana with a rather shy smile.

“Can we talk after lunch?” he asked quietly.  “Danny looks very happy, so I think we have quite a lot to discuss.  Don’t look so worried, Diana.  If Danny is happy, we’re all happy.”

“Are you talking about me again Mike?” said Danny as he poured two glasses of fruit juice, filled up his plate, and sat down at the table pulling out the chair next to him for Diana. Although her appetite had been sorely affected on other occasions, the comfortable atmosphere in the room encouraged her to tuck in, and even tap Danny’s hand when he tried to pinch a sandwich from her plate.  He laughed in response and planted a very audible kiss on her cheek. Mike was right, Danny looked very happy.

 Once the team had finished eating, Mike handed Danny a sheaf of papers to look at, and beckoned Diana to come over and sit with him by the patio window that looked out onto the rain-soaked grounds of the hotel.

“I’ve just given Danny a copy of the standard employee contract,” said Mike.  “I’m expecting it to come back with numerous crossings out, and scribbled notes, because you are a far from standard employee. While he’s scribbling, there are a couple of other things that I need to let you know about.  Are you okay with that?  I know that this is a bit sudden, but that’s Danny.  He makes his mind up quickly, and we are all used to reacting to his ideas – and usually refining them.”

“And are you okay with this idea, Mike?” Diana asked.

“I doubt if he’s mentioned it,” said Mike quietly. “But Danny’s wife Lisa is – was my sister.  She introduced me to Danny after I’d finished studying for a business degree at university. That was fifteen years ago, and between us, we supported and guided Danny through the difficult times and helped him to become a success in the US. Lisa became ill; she went through chemo and various treatments for cancer.  Danny was doing a lot of television work in LA at the time, so we were both there for her but it took its toll on us.  I suppose we are more like family than most managers and their clients. I’ve been trying to get Danny back on track since Lisa died, but his heart hasn’t been in it.  We had work to finish up in LA, but had to rent another place to live because their house held too many memories for him. Everything personal was removed and most of it was shipped to the new house in the Cotswolds but we’ve only stayed there for a couple of days in all.  This is the first really big event Danny’s attended and I was dreading it. It was quite a struggle getting the book written and published; we had to get a ghost writer in because some of it was too painful for him to talk about. I remember it all though so I could fill in most of the gaps. If you haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, don’t rush, it would be better to get to know the Danny of today, rather than the bad boy that he used to be. For the first time in ages, Diana, I’ve seen him laughing, cracking jokes and making decisions rather than just shrugging his shoulders and flicking through the sports channels on TV.  You’ve made the difference, and the Danny that we love, admire, and who annoys the hell out of us all has come back.  I know that it won’t be easy working for, and being in a personal relationship with him, but if you are willing to adapt, it can be done.  What do you think?”

Diana had put her hand over Mike’s when he began to talk about Lisa.  A simple gesture, but the way in which he responded, with a smile and a reciprocal squeeze, was the sealing of their friendship.  She took in a deep breath and smiled back at him.

“To be honest, I don’t have a great deal to lose now. My children are away, I have some friends at home, but my husband has been spreading stories that paint him as the victim in the divorce, added to which, he’s had affairs with most of the women.  The others just see me as a deserted wife, and pity me.  My neighbour Jane, and my oldest friend Helen, are the only people that I trust nowadays. My main worry is that this is a very physical thing between me and Danny at the moment.  What happens if – well – that wears off, or if someone more attractive and younger comes along?”

Mike squeezed her hand again, and shook his head. “Danny was always faithful to Lisa, no matter how glamorous the temptations were.  When she died, he went off the rails a bit, and a great deal of my time was spent disentangling him from clingy females who saw him as a good catch.  He can’t keep his hands off you, that’s true, but we’re talking about him hugging and kissing you as well, not just sex.  These are all signs of real affection as far as I know, rather than just rampant lust.  No need to go into the rampant lust bit – we’ll keep that between the two of you, I guess you both have some lost time to make up for.  He sees something in you that makes him feel real again.  Don’t underestimate what you are doing for him – and for the rest of us as well.  If you become Danny’s PA, I can take a break from trawling through rubbish CVs, worse than mindless interviews, and apologising for Danny’s grumpiness.  When Debbie’s better, we can find her a job where she can have time to recover, but only when she feels up to it.  She’s a part of the team and we’ll pay for anything that she needs.”

“That’s something else I feel bad about.” said Diana.  “Danny didn’t really lose his voice, and I lied about the viral infection.  If I hadn’t done that, Danny would have done the auction and Simon might not have been given the opportunity to hurt Debbie and steal the auction goods.”

“Did you really think anyone believed you?” Mike roared with laughter. “I had Simon lined up as a standby anyway; we know that Danny hated these auctions, and you gave him a way of backing out gracefully.  Simon is a chancer, and I’m sure that he had Debbie sussed out as a weak link from the start.  He would have made a beeline for her at some stage anyway. You looked after her last night, and advised us on what we should be doing.  Whatever talents Danny has spotted in you – and I’m sure that you have many – your ability to deal with that situation showed how well you could take on the role of Danny’s PA. Keep him happy, keep him busy and if in doubt, talk to me.  You can ask me about anything; and before you even entertain the thought, you are not replacing Lisa in Danny’s life nor mine. You both have the ability to empathise and understand people, but physically you are totally different, and you are in a far better position to support Danny when he really needs it.  One of Lisa’s greatest regrets was that they couldn’t have children. Danny isn’t particularly paternal; his own childhood was a mess but he knew how much having a family meant to Lisa.   She went for tests eventually, and that’s when they found out how ill she was.  You have children, don’t you?”

“Two, although they aren’t exactly children now.  Ben is almost twenty, and studying graphic art and design, Caroline has just turned eighteen and is doing a combined degree in English literature and history.  Neither of them approved of their father’s behaviour; I’m not sure they’ll approve of mine now.”

“You need to be kinder to yourself, Diana and trust that Danny sees something in you that makes him feel safe and happy.  Did you ever read Winnie the Pooh with your children?”

“I know what you’re about to say Mike,” said Diana, smiling at the memory.  “Yes, Danny is definitely Tigger! But Tigger was extremely lovable even if he was a pain at times!” She and Mike laughed together as yet another aspect of Danny’s personality was revealed.

“Yes, there are times when he behaves like a stroppy adolescent, but as we saw with poor Debbie, you have a wealth of experience in that area!” said Mike, lowering his voice. “Danny hates getting dressed up and tends to wander around with as little on as possible if he can get away with it.  It took Lisa and me years to get him to be more civilised; I try not to nag about shoes and socks too much but you’ll have noticed that he often needs some prompting. He’s coming over with your contract. I have another one here that I’ve amended – let’s see how well they match up?”

Danny pulled up a chair next to Diana and handed the contract to Mike, who held it in one hand, and his own version in the other. He laughed, and showed them both to Diana; with the main exception that Mike’s handwriting was more legible than Danny’s, they looked identical. Diana took Mike’s copy and examined it more closely.  Danny shuffled his chair closer and leaned over her shoulder, putting his hand on her knee and squeezing it gently.

“Clothes allowance!” exclaimed Diana, “I’ve never had one of those before.  Nurses’ uniforms are part of the package, and everything else comes out of my wages.  I know I’m not exactly a fashion plate but is there anything wrong with my clothes, Danny?”

“You are as gorgeous in them, as you are out of them, my love, and if you look more closely, you’ll see that both Mike and I have crossed that bit through, and replaced it with a company credit card so that you can buy what you want whenever you need it. That way if we have any events to go to, and a new outfit is required, you can just go out and get it.  My only rider is that I don’t have to go with you – I hate shopping, especially clothes shopping.”

Diana was still looking shell-shocked; Mike and Danny exchanged meaningful looks, and Mike got up from his seat. “I’ll consolidate these two and put together another document for you to read Diana.  Do you feel up to visiting Debbie now?  Ted’s been on standby since lunch.”

“Who is Ted?” asked Diana, looking around the suite and not seeing anyone that she didn’t know. “Ted is our chauffeur.” said Danny.  “You met him on Saturday when we came back from the fundraising do.  Sometimes he drives the Bentley, but he also drives the minibus when we need it.  He prefers the Bentley, and so do I.  We can talk some more on the way?”

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