Still feeling rather unreal, Diana went back to her room on the way downstairs to pick up her handbag. The team building event in the main conference room had just finished and people were filing out into reception to pay their bar bills, collect their luggage, and find a space in one of the minibuses heading back to the station. Diana caught sight of Alice and waved at her; she came over and formal introductions were made.
“You aren’t coming back on the train then?” asked Alice.
“No.” said Danny. “Diana and I are going to visit the member of my staff who was attacked last night. She’s in hospital.”
“Oh. We heard that there was an incident, but we were all advised not to ask questions because the police were involved,” said Alice. “It was nice to meet you both anyway, and I hope the young woman feels better soon. Bye.”
Diana noticed that Alice was headed back towards the man from Scotland that she had spent most of the weekend with. Diana still couldn’t remember his name. Danny grabbed her hand, and walked out to the car park where Ted was waiting next to the Bentley and holding the passenger door open. Mike had obviously sent a swift message saying that they were on the way. Sitting next to Danny in the back seat brought back those butterflies that she’d felt last time she had been in the Bentley. This time, after fastening her seat belt for her, Danny followed it up by taking her face in his hands and kissing her; it was different type of kiss, not an affectionate peck, nor a precursor to making love, but a kiss that made her feel that above all, he was very happy to be with her. The barriers between her old life and this new one, were very gradually tumbling down.
“I know you haven’t signed the contract yet,” said Danny. “But I have a job for you when we get to the hospital. If Debbie is fit to be moved, I would definitely like her to go to a private hospital with security as soon as possible – just in case Simon turns up. I think that was your idea anyway? Given your experience, it might be easier for you to do the arranging, and get Debbie’s consent in as gentle a way as possible. I’d like her to be moved within reasonable distance of the house in the Cotswolds. Could you do that?”
Diana nodded. This was more familiar ground; she often had to arrange for patients to be moved from hospitals to the hospice, and knew that it was an area that had to be dealt with compassionately and with discretion. Mike had given Danny a list of private hospitals that fit the bill, and Diana scanned it thoroughly before picking out two that might be appropriate.
“I’d like to talk to the staff who’ve been looking after her first, just to find out what kind of treatment she needs, and what they think of these two hospitals. Things often look good on paper but may have incidents that they want to keep hidden. Mike mentioned finding a job for Debbie somewhere, you’ will stick to that promise, won’t you?”
“Of course, we will. You take the lead on this, and we’ll do what you recommend. Even if you are being my PA, I can still kiss you, can’t I?”
“As much, and as often as you want to. You really are the best kisser I’ve ever met. Will we have to be discreet in public though?”
“I’ve never been known for my discretion, and once the news gets out about the rape and the burglary, we may find ourselves very much in the public eye. DI Willis has insisted on a media blackout until tomorrow in order to give them more chance to catch Simon before he can get out of the country. You’ll probably want to talk to your children once you’ve signed on the dotted line. What do you think John will say when he looks in the paper and sees pictures of you and me at the charity auction?”
“He’ll die!” Diana giggled. “Well, not literally but the thought of his dowdy, boring frump of an ex-wife on the arm of a famous sportsman and celebrity will definitely take the wind out of his sails. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!”
Danny looked down at the floor, and his grip on her hand loosened. “Is that what I am?” he said a little sadly.
“No!” she replied, bringing his hand to her lips this time. “That’s who you were on Friday night when Alice described you to me. Then you turned around and you smiled. From that moment on, you became a real person, someone I wanted to meet properly, someone who gave me butterflies, noticed that I’d missed out on lunch during the fundraising event, and who has made me understand what making love is all about. Oh! Can Ted hear all this? Am I being indiscreet?”
“You never need to worry about his discretion,” said Danny, hugging her. “There’s a screen between the front seats and the back, with an intercom. Do you really mean what you said then? All of it?”
“Would I be sitting here beside you and considering embarking on a new career as your PA if I didn’t mean it? Perhaps we really are falling for each other? I hope so, Danny.”
He took that as a cue for another kiss that took her breath away and set the butterflies zooming around again. The car pulled into the hospital car park; Ted stopped by the entrance, coughed discreetly, and opened the passenger doors.
“Parking is a bit tight round here. I’ll drop you off at reception and park up somewhere else for the time being.”
“Good idea. I’ll text you before we leave.” said Danny, taking Diana by the hand, and walking into the hospital with the confidence of one who knows that he will be instantly recognised.
“Good afternoon, Mr Vincent. Pleased to meet you.” said the receptionist.
“Danny, please. I don’t do formal.” he said, “We’ve come to see Debbie, this is Diana, my partner. She’s a nurse and will be having a chat about Debbie’s future care.”
“Oh yes, we’ve been monitoring visitors since she was brought in but …”
“I know.” said Diana. “You aren’t here to provide security. I want to talk to Debbie about getting her moved to a private hospital so that no one else is inconvenienced or put at risk.”
A nurse came down to take them to Debbie’s room. Just as Mike had promised, it was full of flowers and cuddly toys, with Debbie looking very small in the large hospital bed. She had two black eyes, and her neck bore the imprints of Simon’s large hands. When she saw Diana and Danny, she managed a little smile, which increased when Diana very gently put her arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. Danny came round the other side of the bed, took up one of Debbie’s scratched and battered hands and kissed it.
“You came.” Debbie said. “Both of you. Thank you.”
“No need for thanks, sweetheart. You’re one of the family now, and we’ll make sure that you’re being well looked after. The trouble is, this hospital doesn’t have enough security to keep you safe, and I’m afraid Simon is still on the run. If you agree to it, we’d like to get you moved to a place where you’ll have time and space to recover without any worries. Once you feel up to it, we’ll find you a job where you don’t have to run around at the beck and call of some grumpy and unreasonable boss.”
That raised another glimmer of a smile. “Who’s going to be your PA though, Danny? Will Mike have to start interviewing again?”
“You’re looking at her.” said Diana, pulling a face. “My first job is to get things sorted out for you. Are you okay if I go and talk to the staff? Danny will stay with you till I come back.”
Debbie nodded, and if Danny had any doubts, they were dispelled as she squeezed his hand. “I like Diana. She’s so kind. Excuse me asking but are you two – you know – are you together now?”
“Very much so,” he nodded and grinned. “Not only is Diana kind, she’s no pushover either. I think I’ll have to behave myself in future, but I have the feeling that I’m going to enjoy it. She’ll take some of the weight off Mike’s back anyway. One thing that you need to remember though Deb, is that there’s no time limit on us looking after you. The private hospital we’ve got in mind is close to my house in the Cotswolds so we can come and visit you more often once we leave the hotel. I think it will be easier in there, they have spas and indoor swimming pools. The food is much better as well.”
“I heard that!” said the nurse who came back into the room with Diana. “We’ve made some arrangements and I think you’ll be physically well enough to move this afternoon. You’ll go by ambulance, and yes, the place you are going to has all of those things, and in addition, you will be much safer. I suppose I’d better start getting your things together. I’m afraid you’ll have to travel in a hospital gown but Diana has arranged for the hospital to get you some nice clothes to wear.”
Danny kissed Debbie on the cheek, managing to miss her black eye, Diana gave her another of those motherly hugs and whispered, “Things will be okay darling, I’ll see to that. I’ve given my mobile number to the staff, and if you need anything, or if you just want to talk, text me?”
“I will. I just wish I hadn’t been so nasty to you.”
“Debbie, I have a daughter just a bit younger than you, and she has been very mean to me at times, but I still love her and I always will. We’ll come and see you once you’ve settled in.”
They waved good bye at the door and Danny, not content with just holding hands, put his arm around Diana’s shoulders and hugged her, while trying to send a text to Ted. He must have parked some distance away, as there was no sign of the Bentley outside. Diana thought she saw a familiar face out in the car park though, and tugged at Danny’s arm.
“It’s Simon! Over there behind those trees!” she whispered.
Diana held onto Danny’s arm, and prevented him from running after Simon.
“No! Call the police and let them know that we’ve seen him. Debbie is safe for now, and we know that he’s still in the country at least. I’ll go back in and warn the staff that we’ve seen him in the grounds. You phone Mike and get him to contact the DI direct. And Danny…”
“Stay here. Stay safe please?”
After Diana had been back to speak to the nurse on reception, Ted arrived and drove them very slowly around the car park to see if Simon was still there.
“He’d have to be pretty stupid to hang about if he’s seen the Bentley,” said Danny. “Bloody good job Ted keeps the keys with him, or the miserable little toad might have pinched our car as well. Oh, text from Mike – do we want to eat in tonight or go out? We have a choice of the hotel restaurant, eating in the suite, going out as a group, or going out just the two of us? Your choice, Diana?”
“It would be nice to go out as a group,” she said, smiling at the thought. “The hotel food is okay but… and I get you all to myself at night anyway – barring any more excitement. I hate the smell and taste of lemongrass though, so I’d rather not eat in a Thai restaurant if possible.”
“Good choice. A bit of team bonding. I take it that you have decided to join our team then?”
“I need to let Caroline and Ben know, and Jane and Helen.”
“We won’t be going out until seven-ish; plenty of time to let everyone know. Not telling John?”
“He can find out the hard way. You know he’ll try and bump up the price of the house once he knows who you are.”
“We’ll get Mike to liaise with your solicitor. Mike can be very sneaky about these things. Do you realise that I haven’t actually kissed you since we left the hospital, and we’re nearly back at the hotel now?”