Aladdin and the Chocolate Princess

The Lamp

Disclaimer: The guys belong to Guy Ritchie, the girls are mine.

Lyrics are from Sade's songs.

The words written in Italics are thoughts. The words written in bold characters are memories.

Dear Mandy, thanks a million for the encouragement. Hope you like it!

"There must have been an Angel by my side… Something helped me, led me to you….

There must have been an Angel by my side… Something helped me, came down from above, he led me to you…."

                                                "An Angel By My Side" - Sade

"It's raining again… Sometimes I feel this bleak time will never end…And it's not just the bloody weather…"

Mandy walked in the third antiques shop. The talk with the shopkeeper varied very little from the previous two times. No, they didn't have that particular jewel.

No, they never had it.

No, he didn't know anyone who could help her.

She was looking in her bag for the address of the next shop when the old man said something else.

"There is some one… If this jewel is so important to you…"

"It's not, but I have to find it anyway. Who is this person?"

"Oh, I don't know his name. He's someone who lives nearby. He has just open a firm'

"What sort of firm?" she was getting annoyed.

"It's called Aladdin. He's in the business of getting things done. Whatever you're looking for, he can put you in contact with the right person"

"Where is this place? And what's his name?" she got her pen and paper ready.

***

Outside the shop, Mandy looked at the piece of paper, getting wet under the raindrops.

"Bacon" she frowned. "What kind of a name is this?" she pictured a fat guy, in his late forties, with disgustingly greasy hair. "That's just the type of man the a snotty brat like Justin Sinclair deserves to deal with. Imagine, sending me after this… this nonsense. This trinket his great grandmother wore a hundred years ago. If it's so bloody personal why isn't he the one running around in the rain?"

She looked up at the little golden square before entering. "Aladdin". As simple as that. She expected something more aggressive. Someone who's known for getting things done and who doesn't have a neon firm might actually be good. This could actually be the thing to get her out of this ghastly situation her boss placed her in.

Once inside, she started sizing up the place. It seemed… common. Neither shady, nor vulgar. Good, clean office space. She noticed the phone lines, the security cameras and the fake glass door in the lobby. Somebody was definitely behind all this! She just wished he could put an end to this wild goose chase.

The young woman greeted her with a smile and a pre-recorded text along the lines of  "Welcome to Aladdin's bla bla bla". Mandy paid little attention to her. She had observed a young man sitting on a couch in the other side of the room, trying to seem uninterested in her arrival. She said her line back to the girl.

"I'm Amanda Cadbury. I was told I could get some help here"

The girl gave her another annoyingly innocent smile and invited her in a next door office. The gorgeous guy followed her and closed the door behind him.

"Good morning. How may I help you?"

Bacon looked her up and down, weighing her, pricing her. She felt his look straight through the clothes and for a split second wondered if she was dressed.

"I'm Amanda"

"Cadbury" he interrupted her. "Yes, I heard you. How can I help you?"

The young woman looked at him, unsure if she was irritated with his blunt style. She shook her head and asked before she could think it.

"You are… Bacon?"

It took all Bacon's self control to prevent a grin. He had gotten the nickname so long ago, he almost forgot how he came about it. Still, people were invariably surprised when they had to put him together with the name.

"Yes. Have a seat and tell me what can I do for you"

She sunk in the cosy armchair and told her all about her not so personal quest.

He let her speak for a while, making sure she'd give him enough details to trace the whole story. Not the jewel's story. For that, he still had to turn to his usual sources. A short trip to the Library and a good half a day of looking through some dusty old shreds and he'd have the answer. Bacon was more interested in her story. Beyond her words, the street boy could read her gestures, her accent, her eyes…

She was a nice girl. Something rather uncommon in his life. Most of his women had been almost as experienced and cold at heart as him. This girl… had something different. She had an innocence about her… she was probably ten years older than his little girl Addie, but she was not made to survive in the wilderness.

The old protective feeling came over him again. He could remember the first day he had met Addie four years earlier… That day had turned his life up side down. Was it an omen? Addie was working as receptionist once in a while, when he was short staffed, but she was there that day.

*Neah!* he said to himself, with all the self sufficiency of his troubled past.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

That's how it all started. As simple as that. You just turn a corner one day and you run into an extraordinary person. Mandy was musing over the past week.

The treasure hunt had started on Tuesday, she found Bacon on Wednesday, he called her back on Friday with the first lead. It was late Sunday night and she laid awake in her bed, allowing her mind to run away with her.

Bacon…

The name seemed less strange now. Definitely not repulsive.

~~~~~~~

"What were you thinking? That didn't even look like the description I gave you!"

"Oh, come on, you have no way of knowing  how the thing looks like. You said the family had lost it a hundred years ago. Who told the Sinclair boy how the ring looked. My sources say…"

"There was no need to call me if you weren't sure"

"I was sure"

"Aladdin" she puffed, mocking.

"I get people what they're looking for, you know!"

It had started to rain all of a sudden and they were running for shelter.

"Bacon! Aladdin! What is your real name anyway?" she had asked him in anger.

"Can you keep a secret?" he asked, out of breath from running.

"Yes" she had replied all stuck up.

"So can I" he breathed in her ear.

~~~~~~~

Mandy re-lived the storm he had triggered inside her simply touching her skin with his breath. She closed her eyes, attempting to summon up his smell. She had experienced him only through three of her senses and was overwhelmed. His voice was smooth, his tone, persuasive, his lips would fascinate her so much that she sometimes lost track of the conversation just looking at them. His mouth had inspired her more fantasies than all the guys she had ever dated rolled into one.

She eventually fell asleep… smiling.

~~~~~

On the other side of the Thames, Bacon was on the phone with his latest former girlfriend. He felt a little guilty about dropping her like a hot potato as soon as Mandy came in the picture, but he soon grew tired of her whining. He put down the phone and went over at JDs. He tried to get Mandy out of his head joining Ed and Tom in mocking Soap about his workaholic streak.

~ END OF PART ONE ~