“Do I get a fashion show then? I especially want to see you in a swimsuit.” said Danny, throwing himself down on the bed. Diana very slowly unloaded the bags and placed them in two distinct piles. She opened the bedroom door and pushed the luggage trolley outside, before shutting the door again and leaning against it.
Had Danny been looking at her face rather than the shopping, he would have realised that all was not well with her.
“I am not, and never will be, a model, an actress, nor a prostitute,” she said very calmly. “I value my freedom more than anything else because it’s taken me a long time to achieve. This morning I have lost a job that I love, been plastered all over the papers, given my ex-husband more ammunition to fire at me, and now, you expect me to parade up and down this bedroom like a tart. You can keep the clothes for someone else, Danny. I am going back to my room to finish packing, then I’ll pay my hotel bill and get a taxi to the station. I’m going home. To my home. It may not be much compared to yours but at least it’s mine until the children are old enough to look after themselves. Then I shall buy a little flat somewhere, and live out an ordinary life. Thank you for an extraordinary weekend, Danny.”
She couldn’t look at him, knowing that if she did, his face would show the anguish her words had caused. She opened the door and walked into the main room. Mike and Mark were sat at the table, poring over the papers. She stopped, briefly.
“Thank you both for your kindness and pass on my thanks to Ted. I can’t take any more and I was foolish enough to think that I could. I’m going downstairs to finish packing my things, and then I’ll settle up my hotel bill and go home.”
Diana got into the lift, desperate to stem the tears that she was holding back until she was in the safety of her hotel room. Then she threw herself down on the bed and sobbed, still able to smell the scent of Danny on the pillows, her mind and body remembering every moment they had spent in the room together.
Mike stood in the doorway of Danny’s bedroom. Danny was still lying on the bed, speechless and seemingly unable to move.
“Get after her you bloody fool!” Mike shouted. “I don’t know what you said or did, but it must have been insulting and inconsiderate to have had that effect on her. If you let her go now Danny, she will never come back!”
Danny shook his head, trying to clear his mind. “It was a joke! Nothing more than that! Oh God, what have I done?”
“Get downstairs now! You’ll spend the rest of your life being miserable, even more miserable than you’ve been since Lisa died. You have a chance at happiness, don’t throw it away!”
Getting to his feel slowly, Danny grabbed Mike’s arm. “What can I say to her? How can I make it better?”
“I can’t tell you what to do on this one, mate. If you think she’s worth it then prove it. Take the key card and hope to hell she’s too upset to have put the chain across the door.”
Mike handed him the card and watched as Danny ran to the lift, shoeless, but showing as much speed as he ever did on a sports field. Mark looked up from the papers, and showed his crossed fingers. Mike picked up his mobile and called down to reception, making sure that Diana’s bill had been incorporated into Danny’s. Then he crossed his own fingers hoping that their relationship was salvageable.
Knocking on the door gently, Danny called her name, knowing somehow that using the key card might be seen as just another symbol of his power over her.
“Please, Diana? Can we just talk first? If you really want to go home and have time to think, that’s fine but I can’t bear the thought of you making that journey alone. Just for once you’re making me think of someone other than myself. Please let me in?”
He waited, his heart beating so fast and loud, that he thought it would explode. The door opened a crack, and Diana went back to sitting in one of the armchairs; her face pale and resolute, a bundle of tissues clasped in her hand. Danny came in and closed the door very quietly behind him. Something, way at the back of his mind, told him not to touch her, just to sit in the armchair next to hers, and be patient, patient and quiet.
At length she spoke, in a voice so sad that he had to hold himself back from taking her in his arms. “I don’t think that I can ever be your kept woman, Danny. I know that the PA side of it is just a lure to keep me, but why can’t you see that there’s nothing in the world that can make me into something that I’m not? I can’t make up for the loss of your wife, nor step into Debbie’s tiny stilettos. There’s so much that I’ve loved about this weekend, but there are things that don’t sit well with me, and I can’t change them.”
“The last thing in the world I want is for you to be unhappy, my love,” he said. “You’re right. Money can’t buy everything; I’ve had too much of it for too long to be able to remember what counting the pennies is like. Forget the big house, the new clothes, and all the publicity. This weekend, the time I’ve spent with you has made me remember that, and learn more about myself. If you really want to go home, let me come too? I want to look at your world, and see if we can’t find some compromise. I want to be with you, and I don’t care where we are as long as we’re together. Please, Diana?”
Once again, he crouched down by her chair, still afraid to touch her however much he wanted to make contact. He closed his eyes and although he’d never been particularly religious, at that moment he came very close to praying.
“It’s a small three-bedroomed semi, in a fairly suburban area,” she said very quietly. “We had the kitchen done a couple of years ago, but the rest of the house is pretty much the same as it was twenty-two years ago when we moved in. Old carpets and well-worn furniture. No swimming pool, gym or jacuzzi, and the grounds consist of a driveway, a small front garden, and a larger bit of grass at the back with a patio and a barbecue. Could you, would you cope with that?”
“For you. Yes. For as long as you want. Do you have a car at home?”
Diana giggled. It was a weak giggle, but a giggle nevertheless. “I do, but it’s not a patch on the Bentley. It’s a little old red Focus, but it gets me around. Are you serious Danny?”
He sat down on the floor and leaned his head against her knees. “If it means that you and I are together, I’ll go anywhere and do anything that you ask. I wasn’t born into money, and though my memories of the time when things were tight aren’t good, I will do anything to prove that this isn’t just a flash in the pan. Please take me home with you, Diana?”
She stroked his head, and smiled as the tension went from his shoulders.
“Get up Danny, your knees won’t like being in that position for long. Let’s sit down on the sofa, like we did that first night. I have to admit, I didn’t expect you to come downstairs, let alone agree to come home with me.”
He put his arms around her, happy to feel her head resting against his shoulder; just sitting together on the sofa, like he and Lisa used to in the days before he became infamous, and the money started rolling in. He kissed the top of Diana’s head, and breathed in the scent of her hair. It made him feel safe again.
“Do you feel up to coming back upstairs, and telling them that you’ve forgiven me and that we need to make arrangements about going home – to your home?” he asked.
“I don’t suppose going back on the train is an option – considering all the publicity. It’s a shame that the Bentley is so big, parking is going to be a bit of a problem in our road. What will Mike, Mark and Ted do?”
“I’d given Mike a week off once we’d settled in at the big house, but he can go home now if we’re going to yours. Ted will be very happy to be going back to Jenny, and Mark can have some time off too if he wants. They’ve all earned it. As far as I know, the police have finished with us for now. There’s Debbie to consider too, though.”
Reaching up to turn his face to hers, she kissed him on the lips. Not an affectionate peck, but a proper kiss that made him feel that he’d broken down another barrier between them. “Don’t worry too much about Debbie for the time being,” she said. “I had a talk with Mark when we were out shopping this morning. He’s been feeling very guilty about not looking out for her that night. They’ve been texting each other and although it’s a friendship, I think he’d be very happy going to visit her in the meantime.”
“Let’s pack up today. Mike will be fine about sorting out the hotel. If Ted takes us back to yours, he can return here for Mike and Mark. There’s something else I need to confess.”
“More? Go on.”
“I don’t drive anymore. That’s one of the many reasons why I have Ted. I lost my licence due to drink driving years ago, and I haven’t applied for another one.”
“Hah! So, I get to be your chauffeur as well!”
“If I didn’t think you’d get all offended, I’d give you a pay rise. I must make sure I get my cards from Mike so that we’ve got some money to live on. Will I have to go shopping for food?”
“Poor boy!” she said, kissing him again. “If you are coming home with me, I will do my best to make sure that you don’t have to do anything that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable.”
“I like this,” he said. “I like just sitting here, the two of us. This is why I like this room so much. I suppose we ought to go back upstairs and put them out of their misery.”
“I’d imagine that they are anticipating a good outcome; otherwise, you’d have been up there ranting and raving, and I’d be downstairs ordering a taxi to the station.”
“Come on then. Let’s get things sorted out. You strike a hard bargain, but by God you’re worth it!”