Mike tapped gently on the bedroom door, loathe to disturb the happy couple but aware that Ted was waiting downstairs, and Mark needed to finalise Danny’s shopping requirements. Diana moved Danny’s sleeping head slightly, and did up a couple of buttons on her shirt.
“Come in,” she called quietly, but it was sufficient to rouse Danny from what had been a short, but very sweet sleep. Mike poked his head around the door and raised his eyebrows.
“It’s good to see that you’ve remembered how to sleep again Danny, but Mark and Ted are champing at the bit to go, and I’ve got some paperwork that I need you to look over.”
Pausing only to give Diana a quick kiss, Danny sat up and blinked. “I didn’t fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, did I?” he asked Diana.
“No. You’d finished talking and you looked so peaceful, I didn’t have the heart to wake you. I knew Mike would remind us eventually, and he did.”
Grabbing her hand and pulling them both up from the bed, Danny headed for the door. Mark was sitting at the table with a notepad and pen in hand. Danny reeled off his needs, most of which had already been written down by Mark. Looking over his shoulder, Danny laughed at the predicted list.
“There’s no limit to Diana’s shopping; she buys whatever she needs, Mark. I think I know her well enough by now to say that she won’t keep you hanging around for a long time, nor will she spend my entire fortune on anything that isn’t comfortable to wear, ugly to look at, and non-huggable.”
Diana and Mark looked at each other and laughed; before picking up her handbag, she gave Danny a very long and loving embrace, touched by the fact that he was reluctant to let her go.
“We won’t be long; you’re right,” she said. “When you’re used to buying clothes on a tight budget, you don’t get easily distracted. The budget will be dictated by my boredom threshold too.”
“I’ll miss you.” he whispered burying his face in her hair. “I might have to nip downstairs and sniff your shampoo.”
“Thank you for reminding me; I only bought enough for the weekend. Keep busy and we’ll be back soon.”
He stood and watched them go; Mike put his arm around Danny’s shoulders and steered him back to the table, where a pile of legal paperwork was waiting for them.
“She’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. If this thing is going to last between the two of you, then I think you need to appreciate what a culture shock all this is for her. Cast your mind back to before you became a marketable commodity if you can; you’ve led a very extraordinary life for so long now. I think Diana is a very special person, and she may well be just what you need, but you’re going to have to accept that not everyone wants to live in the lap of luxury.”
“I know, I know. Lisa spent years trying to get me to understand that money can’t buy everything. God knows, we both appreciate that, don’t we? I’d have given away every penny to have had more time with her.”
“Now it’s time to look at what you want from life. I’ve got the paperwork for the LA house; we have a buyer but are you absolutely certain that you want to get rid of it?”
“Too many memories, and if we’re talking about making life more ordinary, I don’t think Diana would take to that kind of lifestyle. It would take her too far away from her children and friends for a start. If we need to anywhere other than London or the Cotswolds, we’ll just have to go to a hotel or rent a cottage or something.”
“I’ve spoken to Jenny this morning about getting the house ready for tomorrow. It seems that Ted has given Diana a glowing reference already; she was very pleased to find that no drastic refurnishing would be necessary, apart from making things a bit more homely.”
“Would you think me daft if I said that I’m counting my blessings today, mate?”
“Don’t go and get all slushy on me, Dan. I take it you won’t mind me taking a few days off to go home and see my other half once you’ve settled in the house.”
“I can do a bit of shouting and swearing if you like, but hey, I feel mellow and I’m looking forward to seeing what Diana makes of the house, and how she shapes up as my PA while you’re in London.”
“I’ve drawn up a loose job description, and a few things she can get her teeth into. Mark’s happy to go back with you, and as he’s taken a shine to Diana as well, he’ll offer his help if she needs it. That could all change if she turns into the shopper from Hell, however!”
Nothing could have been further from the truth; Ted sat outside a café, taking the opportunity to have a well-earned cup of coffee, and keeping a weather eye on the Bentley. Mark had dashed off to complete Danny’s shopping, and arranged to meet up with Diana in her favourite chain store so that he could pay the bill. He winked at her, and reminded her that next time she went clothes shopping it would be with her own company credit card. It was yet another notion that terrified her, but every time such a thought crept in, she thought of Danny; the gentle kisses, the all-enveloping hugs, and the wonder of having someone who actually made love to her, wanted to spend time with her, and didn’t find her boring nor frigid.
Buying some special presents for Debbie was fun, and she did it first, using Caroline’s favourites as a guideline. Finding everything else she needed wasn’t too arduous, a couple of nice blouses and dresses, and she paid special attention to acquiring a couple of swimsuits that combined a flattering shape with a decent covering. Having only bought a limited supply of toiletries with her, she stocked up and bought some nice scarves and necklaces as well. Her timing was immaculate; having stowed Danny’s shopping in the car, Mark found her and paid for her purchases with a flourish of the card. To Diana, the number of her bags looked hugely extravagant, until Ted opened the boot and compared them to the bags and boxes belonging to Danny that were already there.
“As you can see,” said Mark. “Danny likes to be prepared for any eventualities. I’ve got a feeling that meeting you has caught him on the hop a bit, but as far as I’m concerned, Diana, you are an extremely efficient shopper, and very welcome.”
“I’ll second that!” said Ted, doffing an imaginary cap. He only wore the chauffeur’s livery on special occasions.
Diana blushed. She really wasn’t used to all the positive male attention that she’d received in the past three days. She sat in the back of the Bentley on her own; Mark got travel sickness, and was always happier in the front. Diana didn’t mind sitting alone; she was still rather stunned by all that had happened, and couldn’t deny the butterflies that were flitting around in her stomach at the prospect of being reunited with Danny. The thought of the money that had been spent that morning was rather scary, but Mark seemed to take it all in his stride. She took a moment instead to think of Caroline and Ben, and what they might be doing, but John crept back into her thoughts like an ugly, poisonous snake. She still hadn’t looked at his messages nor listened to his voicemails. She decided to trust Danny on this.
Having read their way through the paperwork, Mike was busy on his laptop while Danny was on the floor doing press ups. He got to his feet when Mark, Diana and an extremely loaded luggage trolley came up in the lift.
“You were quick! Did you get everything you needed, Diana?”
“Yes, and Mark got everything you needed as well, and I am very proud to say that my pile of shopping is smaller than yours. Have you put the world to rights while we were away?”
“You would be surprised at what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. Your ex really is a git, isn’t he?”
“What has he done now?” Diana looked aghast.
“Nothing important,” said Mike dismissively. “He’s been trying to sell his story to the tabloids but most of the press would rather stick to our side of things. He’s not really newsworthy, whereas the extremely generous donation that Danny has made to your hospice trust is going down very well, and has generated a number of prospective TV appearances for the ‘bad boy done good’.”
Seeing the look of horror on Diana’s face, Danny took her in his arms.
“Most of the press will check out stuff like your ex’s rubbish with Mike first.” he said. “The stories John has been peddling have no substance, are more than a little racist, and the last thing anyone needs is a costly lawsuit for printing his blatant lies. There may be a few local rags who’ll run a toned-down version of his story in the lesser pages, but no one will be that interested in the long term. Mike is used to mitigating bad news about me; on this occasion I’m actually the good guy for a change!” “I’m sorry.” she said quietly. Once again John had done something to suck all the pleasure out of life. Danny shook his head. “Nothing to be sorry about. You’ve done nothing wrong, and now you and I are going to take this shopping into the bedroom, and explore it all.”