There was much discussion up in the suite about where the evening meal should be; Ted solved the problem by nipping down to the staff quarters (where he preferred to stay), and getting a straw poll from those who preferred to eat out rather than in. He came back with three restaurant suggestions, one of which was immediately discounted because of Diana’s dislike of lemongrass. The final choice was between a curry house or an Italian restaurant. Pizza and pasta triumphed. Ted volunteered to drive everyone in the Bentley; Mike and Mark played scissors, paper, rock for the front seat and Mark won. Danny promised not to make Mike feel like a gooseberry in the back of the car, and Diana decided to sit in the middle so that she could pick Mike’s brains as well as hold Danny’s hand.
Before any of that could happen, Diana had texts and phone calls to make, and it wasn’t going to be easy. Mike had shown her the revised contract, and to be fair, there were plenty of get out clauses if anything went wrong between Danny and herself. Danny took her into what should have been his bedroom and pulled her down onto the bed beside him.
“May as well get some use out of the bed,” he said. “Rest here and read through the contract, and if there’s anything that worries you, just yell and I’ll come running. Do you want to make your phone calls from here as well? I’ll see to it that you aren’t disturbed, but again, let me know if anything upsets you. More than anything my love, I want this to work.”
He put his arms around her and held her very tight. It was the confirmation that she needed that this wasn’t just one of Danny’s mad spontaneous ideas. It was becoming a reality.
“What happens tomorrow, Danny?” she asked.
“That’s what Mike and I are going to talk about. We need to look at my schedule before we can make any plans. We’ll work around things and come up with some solutions, but whatever happens, you and I will be together. Remember, if you need me, just call.”
He kissed her with a tenderness that had no hidden agenda, and left the room. Diana looked around her, this bedroom was far more spacious but rather over-decorated compared to the one she had been staying in. She preferred her room, and smiled at its very happy memories. And so, it seemed, did Danny. She sat down on the bed and had another quick look through the contract before texting Caroline, Ben and Jane to see if they were free for a chat. She didn’t text Helen; she knew that she would be home, a car accident six years ago had left her in a wheelchair, and getting out of the house required massive advance planning. While Diana had done her best to be there and provide support after the accident, John and Helen had never got on, and it was only once she had separated from him that Diana felt able to rekindle her friendship with Helen properly.
“Hello you. Are you back home from your fundraiser yet?” asked Helen.
“Not yet. How are you?”
“I’m okay. A bit bored so your phone call has brightened up my day. What have you been up to?”
Starting with the mutual smiles on Friday evening, Diana told Helen everything, and as each new revelation was revealed, Helen’s responses grew more ecstatic. “Wow! Is Danny Boy really as difficult as he’s made out to be? And to think that I bought you a vibrator! You certainly won’t need it now!”
“He is lovely, Helen. Kind, sweet, and very funny. I’ve seen a little of the celebrity stuff but his team are very good at handling him. Gosh, that includes me as well now. We’re all going out to dinner tonight to get to know each other better, but Mike, Danny’s manager says that there are other staff dotted around the country in different places as well.”
“What kind of places?”
“I don’t know the details but there’s a big house near you in the Cotswolds, and an apartment in London apparently. The house in LA is in the process of being sold because Danny doesn’t want to live in the US any more. I’ve got a contract to sign in order to be his PA, and Mike is in the process of buying our house and putting it into a trust for Ben and Caroline so that John can’t touch it. It will also be my bolthole if things go wrong.”
“Do you think that they will? It’s very early days to be making such drastic decisions.”
“I have to admit Helen, that no one has ever made me feel the way that Danny does. I don’t just mean the making love side of it either. He says that he is falling for me, and I feel the same. Am I just being a silly middle-aged woman?”
“No. You are a wonderful woman who has spent your life pandering to John’s whims and protecting your children from his nastiness. If ever a woman deserved something wonderful to happen, it’s you! Have you told the kids yet?”
“You first. You’ve given me the courage to explain it to them. They’ve both texted back so I’ll call them now. I’ll keep you posted about where I am. Fingers crossed.”
Diana called Ben first. His initial reaction was to go online, look at Danny’s profile and check out some of his programmes. He was pleased that his graphic designs had been appreciated, and that his Dad wasn’t going to get his greedy mitts on their house. He gave his blessing.
Caroline laughed to find that her well-behaved mother was having an affair with an infamous person. “Dad is going to absolutely die when he finds out. Are you going to tell him? Can I watch?”
“There’s a strong possibility that I may be on the front pages as Danny’s mystery woman in the morning. The police have sanctioned media publicity once Debbie’s been moved to a safe place, but we know that Simon is still in the country. I had my best dress on in the pictures, but I’m rapidly running out of clean clothes. Do hotels still have laundries?”
“Mum, you are an absolute innocent at times. Yes, they do have laundries so get off the phone and get your clothes sorted out. I shall watch the news with interest and bask in the glowing reflection of your new found fame. Ben and I love you heaps, and it’s brilliant that something special is happening for you after all that you’ve put up with. I’m pleased about Dad being bought out of the house particularly. Have fun!”
Jane was rather shell-shocked at Diana’s news but very pleased that there was no way that John would ever be living next door. The cat was asleep on her lap again.
Diana got off the bed and stuck her head around the door. “I’ve spoken to them all, and they are amazed but very supportive. Ben’s going to binge-watch your programmes, Danny. Lovely phone calls, but I have even more questions now. Caroline says I should send my clothes down to the hotel laundry before I run out, but I didn’t exactly pack much in the first place.”
Quick as a flash, Danny was up and pulling her down next him on the sofa, assuring her that they had a better idea of what was happening now in the short term.
“We can get your laundry done as a priority, you go down to our room and bag it up, and it will be ready by the morning. The hospital phoned to say that Debbie has been safely sent off to the new hospital, and not a moment too soon, as a young man in dark glasses and a baseball cap turned up pretending to be her boyfriend. She’d already left but the receptionist kept him talking on the pretence of checking if Debbie was awake, and in the meantime, they called the police. He got suspicious though, and legged it before the police arrived. DI Willis has given the go-ahead for some publicity now, and Mike is contacting some of our friendly journos and paparazzi to meet us at the restaurant, ask a few questions and take a few photos. Sounds like fun, eh?”
Diana frowned. “What am I going to wear?”
“We are all going as we are – casual dress. You can put on some lippy and let your hair down, but otherwise, you will do us proud. Won’t she lads?”
The response was a rousing cheer that made Diana laugh and forget her worries. Dinner tonight was sorted, and tomorrow would take care of itself – once she’d sorted out her laundry.