Messing with the Media

By mutual agreement, mobile phones were turned to silent before they went to bed that night. It was another good night’s sleep for them both, with Danny spooning himself around Diana after they’d made love, and feeling as if he didn’t have a care in the world. The urge to pee woke him in the morning, and very carefully he slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom.  Coming out again after brushing his teeth, there seemed to be a lot of noise outside.  He very cautiously peered round the edge of the hallway blind to see a throng of paparazzi, leaning on Diana’s front garden wall, her car, and anything else they could lean against.

“Oh shit!” he said quietly, and padded back to bed, trying to get back in without waking Diana.  He picked up his phone and was greeted with a flood of texts.  He looked at Mike’s first.

Simon’s mates have broken the news.  Trying to keep a lid on things but someone has leaked Diana’s address, keep the curtains drawn for now.

From Mark:

Police visited Deb last night.  Spending the day with her at the hospital. Keep your head down and don’t make Diana do all the washing up.

From Ted:

Paps outside the gates first thing, then vanished. Someone has told them that you are at Diana’s.  If the two of you need rescuing, let me know.  I won’t bring the Bentley. Look after each other.

Woken by the change of Danny’s position, Diana stretched, turned over towards Danny, and gave him a sleepy smile.

“Good morning.  Did you sleep well?”

He leaned over and kissed her; a freshly brushed teeth kiss.

“I slept very well my love, but our media friends would appear to have had a more stressful night. Simon’s friends were quick to get pictures of his confession on their mobiles before the police took the evidence, and they sold them to the press.  Luckily DI Willis and a female police officer went to see Debbie last night and told her what had happened. Mark has texted to say that he’s spending the day with her today.  Ted had the press at the house earlier, but someone gave them your address.  I suspect your ex is behind the leak.  We have a large group of paps outside.  Mike is trying to calm things down. Ted will come and rescue us if need be.  Better check your phone too?”

Ignoring the long stream of texts from John, Diana looked at Jane’s first.  Not surprisingly it was to advise her about the people outside the house, and that they had already knocked on her door.  She told them to sod off and bother someone else.  She had also had a couple of calls from angry neighbours about the people blocking up the road.  They were threatening to call the police if Diana didn’t get the press to clear off.

She told them to go ahead.

“I guess we’ll be staying in today then,” said Danny, putting his phone down and holding a slightly shell-shocked Diana to his chest. “Mike says to keep the curtains drawn – which suits me fine.”

“What can we do to get them to go away?” said Diana, scanning through the rest of her texts.

“Wait it out.  There will be something else to interest them soon enough. Either that or one of your neighbours will complain to the police, who will advise them to move along or risk arrest and detention for breach of the peace – or something like that.  Have we got enough food for a siege?”

“I got some staples in yesterday; we could probably manage for a couple of days without starving.  Jane texted to say that she has plenty in her larder if we need it.  She’s finding the whole thing very funny and hasn’t seen this much excitement in the road for years. We know that Debbie is okay and safe, and that’s all that matters really.  I’m sorry about Simon, but his confession puts a line under things. I just hope no one blames your phony laryngitis for putting temptation in his way.”

“Hosting the auction would have given him the career boost he badly needed. He chose to attack Debbie, and steal stuff from the safe.  You shouldn’t take risks like that without thinking about the consequences.  You do realise that we are safest up here in bed, don’t you?” said Danny, grinning and kissing Diana again, and again, and again.

“Explain that to me slowly, and with fewer kisses in between, because they distract me.”

“Downstairs is easy prey for professional cameras; there’s always a possibility of nasty neighbours at the back of your house hiring out the garden or an upstairs bedroom to the paps.  Because this bedroom is at the front of the house, and there’s a green space opposite, it would be harder to get a decent picture.  We’ll just have to sneak down, grab some food and run back up the stairs.  Good job you have a TV in here; we can keep an eye on the news.  Can you bear to spend the day in bed with me?”

“Oh yes!” she laughed, and continued scanning her texts.  “Ah! I think I’ve found the source of the leak.  A pathetic text from John asking if we are enjoying the audience?”

“It will pass.  If it doesn’t, Ted will come and rescue us.  We have a minibus with tinted windows specially for secret missions.  Unless all the fuss makes you miserable, I’d rather stick it out here for a few days at least.”

“You couldn’t have said anything to make me feel happier.  Toast, coffee and juice for breakfast?”

“Let’s go down together, my love.  If the worst comes to the worst, I can whip my tee-shirt off and dazzle them with my six pack. It worked on John after all!”

“Better put your boxers on first then?”

“Oh yeah.”

Danny bounced down the stairs, Diana followed more cautiously.

“How come the press haven’t been ringing your door bell?” he asked. “They’ve been banging on the door enough.”

Diana started to laugh, so much that she had to sit down on the stairs in order to control herself.

“The irony!  John disconnected the bell ages ago when the kids were still living here.  He said that the sound of it got on his nerves.  More likely that it was because no one ever rang the bell to see him – and now – he’s been indirectly responsible for giving us a bit of peace!”

Danny’s phone rang; not just a text this time, and he sat down on one of the kitchen stools to answer it.

“Hi Mike.  You okay?”

“Sorry to ring you.  Sam Willis – the detective – wants to talk to you and Diana.  He didn’t have your mobile so I said I’d ring you before I passed it on – just in case you thought it was a reporter pretending to be a police man.”

“Yet another reason why you are a wonderful manager – a manager who is supposed to be on holiday by the way.”

“Yeah, I know, but who could have guessed Simon would top himself? If it’s any consolation you and I get a positive mention in the suicide note.  He said that he should have been grateful for the opportunity we gave him to host the auction, rather than attacking Debbie and stealing the stuff.  Talking of which, what do you want me to do with said stuff?”

“Get rid of it.  Donate to a good cause – maybe a charity that supports people in Debbie’s position.  She’s got us but others are often dealing with it alone.”

“What about the other stuff you bought.  Necker? The crash helmet?”

“I think Diana would rather have a less ostentatious holiday.  In fact. If these bloody reporters would do one, we could carry on having a nice little holiday here.  I even did some washing up yesterday.  Can’t the DI get rid of them?”

“I’ll give him your mobile number; you can ask him yourself.”

“Tell him to give us an hour to make breakfast, carry it upstairs and eat it.”

“In the bedroom, eh?”

“It’s the only place where we are safe from the mob outside. Once you’ve rung the DI put your phone down and do something holiday-ish.”

“No offence meant but your star is on the ascendant at the moment.  I’ll take some time off when things have settled down.  Apart from the mob and the washing up – you sound happy.”

“I am.  Very happy.  We both are.  We are both very, very hungry as well.  Catch you later.”

Diana had already loaded the tray with plates, mugs, the cafetiere, fruit juice and strawberry jam.  She was just waiting for the second lot of toast to pop up.

Danny loved toast.

“Breakfast in bed. Bliss.” Danny smiled as he carried the tray upstairs and settled the tray between them.  Diana handed him the TV remote. “Thank you, my love.  Shall we see if we are on the news?”

“Oh, go on then.  They’ll blur out my registration plate and house number, won’t they?”

“For what good it would do. I wonder what the DI wants?  Simon’s confession should clear everything up really.  Did I make the right decision about the auction stuff?”

“You did. Apart from the fact it’s a reminder of what happened later that night, you’re correct.  I would hate to spend a fortnight on Necker, and if someone less fortunate than us can benefit from it, all well and good. I never really took notice of what else you bought. I was far too distracted.”

Putting his arm around her shoulders, he kissed her very gently on the cheek. 

“I bought some jewellery, even at that early stage of our relationship I was going to give it to you, but now that I know you better, I’d rather we choose things together.  Talking of which, do you have any cans of Diet Coke in the house?”

“In the fridge.  Do you really want some with your breakfast?”

“No.  If we’re going to be under house arrest, you might have to make do with a ring pull when I get down on one knee to propose.  Will you say ‘yes’?”

“You’ll have to wait and find out.  It’s a very romantic gesture though. Hang on.  Turn the sound up on the TV.”

The picture on the screen was very familiar to Diana. It was the outside of her house, but now it was complete with the press, together with the sight of Jane peering out from behind her curtain.  The news report also showed a picture of Danny’s Cotswold house, his flat in London, and the house in LA that was in the process of being sold. According to the news, it was a mystery why Danny had chosen to hide out in this humble suburban semi.  John managed to get his five eggs in by claiming that Danny had stolen his house and his wife, and that their children were now homeless.  Just as Diana was moving up from simmer to fume, DI Willis phoned; “Danny! How are you both?”

“Apart from the noisy lot outside, we are both fine.  What’s up?”

“Donating the stolen goods to charity; is that okay?  I have to check as you are the legal owner.”

“Yeah.  I’ve told Mike to donate them to some worthy causes. Can you get anything done about the press though?  This is a quiet place usually, but some of Diana’s neighbours are already complaining about the noise and cars blocking up the road. We have supplies in, so we won’t starve to death but there’s not an awful lot I can say to the press about what’s happened anyway.  Mike’s going to prepare an official press release about Simon’s death, but I think our main problem is Diana’s ex-husband who is peddling a load of lies to anyone who’ll listen.”

“I’ll have a word with the local police force, and see if they can move people on.  Perhaps Diana needs to do an interview with one of the more sympathetic papers or magazines?  How long are you intending to stay there?  You’d be more secure in your other house.”

“We wanted to be on our own for a while.  Not a good idea in retrospect, but if it wasn’t for the media, we’d be perfectly happy here.  I’ll talk to Diana, and if she’s okay we’ll get Mike to set something up.  Was there anything else?”

“Diana’s ex also claims that you assaulted him when he came round, and made threats.”

“For the record; the front door was on the chain so I couldn’t have hit him if I wanted to.  I told him to do one or we’d call the police but Diana will confirm that I stayed on our side of the door all the time. If you want an independent witness; Jane next door was watching the whole thing from her front window.  Can’t you lot do him for wasting police time?”

“I’ll have a word.  If things don’t calm down in a day or two, you might have to move out though.”

“Ted is on standby with a minibus to smuggle us out in the middle of the night. Thanks for going to see Debbie and breaking it to her gently by the way.  How did she take it?”

“As I expected her to. Shocked and tearful. They’re doing a good job of helping her through it at the hospital though, and your lad Mark has been there most of the time.  Give my regards to Diana anyway, and Danny…”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t punch any of the press. Please?”

Packing the remains of their breakfast on the tray, Diana was about to take it back downstairs, but Danny took it from her.

“Come downstairs by all means, and tell me where everything goes, but I don’t expect you to wait on me.  Perhaps we can wash up together, and when we’ve done that…”

“Yes?”

“What else is there to do but go back to bed.  Not necessarily rampant sex, I just like being here with you and snuggling.”

She couldn’t argue with that, and didn’t want to, either.

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