Moonlighting: Series 3

'New York State of Mind' by Nancy Morris for Sandra Donadio (Together we are Partners in Crime)

Sandra's Birthday Episode

The Episode occurs just before 'The Big Bang' arc in Season 3 and is heavily influenced by Mr Billy Joel.

Interesting news: Back in 1987, this episode never aired due to its controversial ending. Mr Caron, insisting that it could only be shown at a later date, opted to air another re-run of 'The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice' instead, but sadly it never graced a television screen. The episode, which has slept in its own dust for over twenty year, has now been lovingly restored to its former state. This special episode of 'Moonlighting' is dedicated to Sandra Donadio.

'Some folks like to get away,

Take a holiday from the neighbourhood.

Hop a flight to Miami Beach, or to Hollywood.

But I'm takin' a Greyhound on the Hudson River line.

I'm in a New York state of mind.

I've seen all the movie stars in their fancy cars and their limousines.

Been high in the Rockies, under the evergreens.

I know what I'm needin', and I don't want to waste more time.

I'm in a New York state of mind.'

New York 1987:

In a dilapidated New York hotel room, Richard Addison was slumped on a single bed – head in hands. With a world weary face, he stared at the telephone; a time-bomb stealing seconds of his life with each tick. He looked nervous; shifty.

The room was stuck inside 'a 1970s time-warp': garish swirls on aging wallpaper at odds with stripy, stained carpet; both fought furiously with psychedelic bed linen. It was enough to send anyone over the edge. It was all Richie could afford.

Fretful, he gave his watch a cursory glance; his anxiety rising. He bit his lower lip and raked both hands through his hair. A determined bead of sweat channelled its way down his forehead. Rich was in trouble again.

When the phone came to life, it was with a shrill, cheap ring that penetrated the skull; Richie stared at it for the longest time. The sound intensified and became unbearable, forcing him to respond – if only to silence it. The receiver slipped in his hand which was slick from nervous sweat. He fumbled with it like a fool.

'H-hello?' his voice was brimming with fear, 'Richard Addison speaking.'

'Well, hello Richard Addison,' the voice was overly confident and therefore mocking.

'C-can I help you?'

A repellent rumble of laughter erupted from the receiver and Richie flinched.

'Don't you mean the other way around?' the voice asked enjoying its own strain of sarcasm. 'I believe it is you that needs my help, our help. Am I wrong?'

'No,' Richie stuttered, 'not at all. Just tell me what I have to do.'

'Again Richard,' the voice sounded impatient, 'I don't appreciate your use of imperatives. Instead, I suggest that you listen carefully to what I have to say. Now I believe that you owe a substantial amount of money to a significant money-lender of the Italian variety?'

'That's right,' Richie's voice was shaky as he confirmed facts.

'Goooood,' the voice elongated the vowel, 'well then, I am definitely your saviour. I am of the understanding that you are unable to meet the demands of the payment and interest this month- is this correct Mr Addison?'

'Y-yes,' Richard's reply was reticent, 'you are.'

The voice sighed and disappeared into silence. 'I'm your white knight Richard – I hope that you comprehend the implications of this...' More silence.

'Yes.' Richard's head filled with the image of a severed horse's head on the pillow next to him.

'Good, then let's proceed. I can unburden your load...for a price. This price consists of an exchange of kindness, tit for tat, tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye...'

'Name your price,' Richie sounded desperate, 'name it.'

'Not so fast,' the voice whispered, 'patience my friend. I need to know that you're listening attentively and taking in every word I say because I'm only going to make this offer once. Are you listening Mr Richard Addison?'

'I am,' Richie couldn't release the words. He could feel that sweat collecting in the nape of his neck and pulled on his collar in order to breathe.

'Good. This is my proposal: I'll buy you one extra month if you do a business transaction for me. You'll sell some contraband ammunition at a Little Italy soiree that's going down for close friends of yours: Sandra and Peppe Donadio. In three days you will receive an invitation with a plus one guest. You will RSVP that you will attend and we will supply your date. You get your best tux on, party like you mean it and the buyer will make himself known to you. You will conduct the transaction in secret- collect the cold cash and pass it to your date; she will suddenly come down with a headache and have to leave: a simple, illegal and essential plan. Are you game?'

'I'm game,' Richard echoed but his voice lacked conviction.

'Then consider yourself saved, for one month,' the voice was demanding, 'I will contact you with the next stage of the arrangement so don't become unavailable, stay at the hotel.'

'Yes, I will,' Richard's voice was flat, biddable.

Los Angeles:

Maddie Hayes, scowl in place, was methodically slitting envelopes open to reveal bill after bill after bill. Every time they got ahead, they ended up paying it all out for the agency to run day to day. Boy did they need a good case to top up the cash flow. November was always a slow month. People were too busy preparing for Christmas and weren't inclined to commit felonies - the decorations were on their way up whereas most crime rates were on their way down.

However, one particular envelope ground her methodical system to a halt...she paused and read the contents:

Dear David Addison plus Guest,

I am celebrating my 41st Birthday at: Osteria da Peppe (Little Italy, New York City)

On: 18th November

Italian food, Italian dancing, Italian Chic...

Please Come along and help me celebrate... I intend to get my long-lost friends all together in one room. That's all I want for my birthday!

Please help to make that happen and RSVP: YES!

Sandra Donadio

Dress code: Formal

'Sandra,' Maddie sighed, 'great - another ghost from New York.'

Images from her last bite of the Big Apple flooded back: facing David's ex-wife, the funeral, holding back the full truth from him. She had felt closer to David after that trip but, as usual, Blue Moon business became a screen to hide behind. The truth was an exhibition best left unveiled.

She stared with intent at the would be wrong to accidentally lose it in the trash and besides, Sandra might call him. The timing was all out – could he cope with facing New York so soon after Jimmy's funeral?

There was a brief knock at her door, immediately followed by David barging through in his usual presumptuous style; she jumped and dropped the invitation.

'Every time,' she muttered under her breath.

'Ha,' he blurted, 'you can't accuse me of not knocking! And I know you're always pleased to see me so why waste time waiting for a response?'

Maddie looking flummoxed searched for where the invitation had landed.

'What's the matter - you looking for your answer?' He looked around in mock empathy.

Hurriedly, Maddie scooped up the invite and casually shoved it in with the unpaid bills. 'It's just a bill, nothing interesting,' she spoke too quickly.

'Tell that to all the guys named William out there, you just put the final nails into their uninspiring coffins.'

'Was there a reason that you came in here?' Maddie interjected quickly, attempting to put him off the scent- but she should have known better.

'Hold the phone Madolyn, yes there was a reason but it can wait,' he stated, piercing her with a look of interrogation. 'That was no bill; it was more like an Andrew, or most probably a David...'

Maddie hesitated, knowing that he could read her like a book, she had two options left: attempt to continue with the lie or tell him the truth. She looked at his wide open eyes, arched eyebrows and folded arms; the decision was made for her.

'Okay, Okay,' Maddie sighed. 'I'm sure you have some kind of radar!'

'No it's just the highly sophisticated, highly tuned, expensive security camera system that I had installed in your office...watching your every move Blondie!' His eyes twinkled.

Maddie looked around her and shook her head. 'It's an invitation to a Birthday Party from one of your friends in New York.' She held it out to him and stopped talking in order to gage his reaction.

David took it and read. 'Sandra? Oh wow,'s been awhile!'

'Sandra?' Maddie asked; a book of questions etched onto her face.

David took a moment and then realised what this look implied. 'Oh no, don't worry, Sandra's not an ex-wife, ex-girlfriend or ex-anything else! She's a cool friend from my past, married to a crazy Italian dude called Peppe who runs the restaurant they're holding the party in. We still stay in touch...she's great, she gets me, she' deep – someone you'd like if you met her!'

Maddie relaxed, relieved at his answer. 'Great.' She was about to ask whether she would have been at Jimmy's funeral but thought better of it.

'Yeah, it is pretty great.' He sat on the front of Maddie's desk. 'What should I do?' He looked at her for inspiration.

'You're asking me?' Maddie smiled at him, noticing how lost he looked. He was obviously thinking about Jimmy, Tess...

'Yeah,' he confirmed, looking at her for inspiration. 'It's only been two month since Jimmy's funeral.'

'It has,' Maddie replied. 'You say she's a close friend?'


'Then I think Jimmy wouldn't want a party being cancelled because of him.' She hoped that this was what he wanted to hear.

'You're right!' He banged his fist down on the desk, making her jump.

'I am?' She was genuinely pleased and relieved.

'Don't get too excited lady. You being right? It's not likely to happen again until the next series,' he jibed before nodding his head thoughtfully, 'Jimmy definitely would have gone to this- so in honour of the big guy himself, I need to do this. ' He scrutinised the invite.

'Will er...' Maddie wanted to ask if David's ex-wife would be attending but she feared it would give too many intimate feelings away so her voice trailed off into a thin line.

'...No, she won't,' David read her mind anyway. 'She was his sister, not really a part of this friendship group.'

'Good,' Maddie replied, feeling awkward. 'At least you won't have to worry about facing her again. You should definitely go- have some fun, get away for a weekend; we'll still be here when you get back...'

David lowered the invite and grinned at her, instantly disarming her. 'Not so fast sister!' He placed the invite into her hand, their skin meeting for a moment, the electricity surprising them both for a fraction of a second. 'It says right here: plus friend. You're my best friend out here in LA – my only friend - so I think it refers to you.'

'Me?' It touched her to hear David calling her a best friend, it always did. It made her forget all of the times she was mad with him.

He looked around as if looking for another person in the room. 'What's the matter, you already had enough of the Big Apple for one season?' he chastised with mock indifference. 'Due to certain complications: Numero Uno being the main obstacle, you didn't get to meet any of my friends last time we were in the neighbourhood soooooo, it might be kinda nice to show you off under a better light.'

A moment of fear flashed through Maddie's mind- what if they recognised her from the funeral? Regarding David's pleading face, she thought better of it. He probably could do with some support having to face New York so soon after that last experience. 'Better light? Watch it buster – one day they'll start giving you the diffused side of the lens!'

'Diffused side?' David pretended not to know what this meant – looking directly out of the camera he shifted his eyes around the shot as if looking for something.

'Quit whilst you're ahead David, is this your version of buttering me up?'

'Believe me, you'd know if I was buttering you up,' David smirked giving her the once over.

'Well I did have my hair to wash, nails to paint...but how could I refuse such an invitation: a whole weekend of your bawdy innuendos and lewd sexual comments? I can't wait to pack!' Maddie rolled her eyes.

'Is that a yes?' he asked, a nervous twinge clinging to the edges of his words.

'Yes, it's a yes,' Maddie declared, 'God help me.'

'Great!' his eyes lit up for a fraction of a second until he remembered that he should never look delighted around Maddie Hayes.

'Great,' Maddie echoed. 'Now what did you come in here for anyway?'

'Forgot,' David laughed, 'excuse me whilst I go retrace my golden bread-crumbs!' He paused at the door and almost whispered, 'thanks partner.'

'No problem partner – someone's gotta save you from ending up on the bar room floor; it may as well be me.' She looked at him as if from a high platform but there was genuine warmth behind it.

New York:

'Because you had to be a big shot, didn't cha
You had to open up your mouth
You had to be a big shot, didn't cha
All your friends were so knocked out
You had to have the last word, last night
You know what everything's about
You had to have a white hot spotlight
You had to be a big shot last night'

Richard Addison perched on the edge of the bed clutching an invitation from his childhood friend, Sandra Donadio. He paused for a moment as if having an inner battle, before dialling her number with shaking hands:

'Hi, Sandra? It's me Richie, Richie Addison!' he sounded almost too enthusiastic. '...I'm great Yeah, it's been too long...Of course I' gonna be there- just try to stop me...good times...huh? You invited Dave? He replied yet? He is? They are...Yup, it'll certainly be an experience...yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing you too...bye for now...yeah bye.' He hung up and punched the pillow hard; a look of self-loathing dominating his face.

Los Angeles:

Blue Moon

Agnes DiPesto, excited, clutched airline tickets to her chest as if they were for her rather than the bosses. To Agnes, hell- to the whole of the staff at Blue Moon- these represented another chance for Miss Hayes and Mr Addison to see the light, fall head over heels in love and to scratch that two and a half year itch. In fact the whole office had a sweepstake going on will they/won't they. Bert had $50 on at least a peck on the lips; Jamie $30 on a drunken declaration of their feelings- but that they'd deny it in the morning; Symonds was feeling lucky and had bet $100 on a full on dance-floor smooch and McGillercuddy was plain ol' devil-may-care and bet $150 on the itch getting scratched (his own marriage was not going well and he had to get his kicks vicariously).

Agnes proudly held the tickets aloft for all to see and cheers were heard from every office orifice. The tickets, to them, were hope; to David and Maddie they were just plain old airline tickets to New York. David would be looking forward to seeing the old gang and Maddie would look out for him and make sure he didn't have too much Fun. Of course, she'd also be looking out for him like a best friend should but she'd never admit to that.

They held their breath in office-unison as Agnes buzzed Ms Hayes with the news. They knew how it was; their hopes could be dashed by a late Friday afternoon tiff, a door slam or one of David's famous foot-in-mouth moments. All had been quiet, calm, relaxed...but still, they may have misinterpreted this quietude when they should have realised that it was a dead calm.

'Ms Hayes? Just to let you know the tickets have arrived in time. Would you like me to bring them in, or leave them at the desk?' Agnes had to use her will-power reserves not to allow the big cheesy grin, threatening to spread across her face, to emerge. She must sound business-like, calm, in control.

'Bring them in please Agnes,' Maddie's reply was equally short and business like.

The employees nervously looked around at each other; Lewis even gave a faltering thumbs-up. This was a defining moment; Agnes gave them the nod.

Agnes, with confidence in her step, strode up to Maddie's office door. She held the precious tickets and the latest case files for Maddie's inspection. She took a deep breath, clutched her beads like they were a rosary and knocked the door.

The employees watched her disappear into the office – faces full of expectation and hope...when the door closed, they returned to their mundane office rituals. The air was full of possibility.

'Ms Hayes,' Agnes spoke as she handed the tickets to her. 'These are the latest Anselmo papers. Do you want me to file them, or put them on the burner?'

Taking the tickets without thought, Maddie placed them on top of her handbag. She sighed; she always sighed when the Anselmo case was mentioned. 'Well,' she contemplated as she stared at the files, 'burner I guess; it looks like Mr Anselmo is gonna keep us warm this Christmas...we're going to be busy with a capital B: he's really turning up the heat.'

'Burner until December?' Agnes nodded. 'That's it then Ms Hayes – everything from this week is taken care of, filed, listed, name it, it's done, done and done again. All corners have been folded, all creases ironed and files obsessively ordered.'

'Thank you Agnes,' Maddie smiled with appreciation, 'you know how I hate to leave Blue Moon if everything's not ship-shape.'

'I know,' Agnes agreed a little too quickly. 'We aim to please.'

'Well,' Maddie began as she looked at the clock, 'you haven't left much for me to do.'

'Just doing my job Ms Hayes,' Agnes replied and then relaxed enough to add, 'so looking forward to the trip?'

'Looking forward?' Maddie looked unsure and Agnes worried that she should not have asked. 'I'm not sure if that quite matches my thoughts...apprehensive? Ambivalent? Scared for my mental well-being?'

'I think it's pretty nice of you to be know, after last time...' Agnes says quickly, brown eyes wide as she scrabbled to re-focus the conversation onto the correct runway.

'Do you think I shouldn't?' Maddie blurted, sounding like she wanted Agnes to affirm so she could throw her ticket away and be done with it. 'I'm actually going to a party with David Addison; of my free will- I must be insane. What am I doing?'

'Helping out a friend in need?' Agnes jumped in with the question, furiously intent on a safe take-off.

'I guess you're right Agnes, as usual,' Maddie sat back in her chair. 'Wonder what his friends are like?'

'I wonder too...' Agnes was relieved to see the seat-belt signs were now off – but of course, it's always up to the flyer whether they unbuckle or not.

'I can't seem to erase the image I have of a room full of David's girls – hanging on every word he says,' she laughed in a well-natured manner, 'I think he was a top cat around his old neighbourhood- know what I mean?'

Agnes giggled at the thought. 'Whilst the top cat's away...'

'You're right...things will have changed - a lot.'

New York- Maddie and David's hotel:

'Even though I'm in love
Sometimes I get so afraid
I'll say something so wrong
Just to have something to say

I know the moment isn't right
To tell the girl a comical line
To keep the conversation light
I guess I'm just frightened out of my mind

But if that's how I feel
Then it's the best feeling I've ever known
It's undeniably real
Leave a tender moment alone

Yes I know I'm in love
But just when I ought to relax
I put my foot in my mouth
Cause I'm just avoiding the facts...'

Knocking tentatively on Maddie's door, David tucked his shirt in and composed himself. He couldn't believe she had agreed to come to New York with him again; it felt like he had been given the second chance he had prayed for. Let's face it, last time he'd blown it. He could not keep both of these women in his head space: his ex-wife and Maddie- these two were not meant to co-exist. He could not deal with being in the same room as Tess period: the memories; the feelings, they had all but consumed him. The fact that Maddie had turned up, out of the blue, to be there for him had meant everything. So what did he do to show his appreciation? He abandoned her and she didn't hate him for it.

'David?' Maddie opened her door; she looked tired from the flight but also restless like she had gone past the sleep phase.

'Maddie...' his voice came out broken from fatigue. 'I don't know about you but I'm still wired...even tried making fists with my toes on the plane but no go. Wanna night cap in the bar? Don't worry; I checked: it's ludicrously tasteful, subdued, live jazz in the corner...'

'Yes, good idea,' Maddie replied.

'Yes?' he swallowed, 'okaaaay...guess I'll just wait out here until you're ready then.' He was momentarily taken aback.

'Oh I'm good,' Maddie smiled. 'I feel the same; I couldn't sleep if someone knocked me out with a poison chalice. A bed time drink might help.'

David, dubious at this sudden change in her usual behaviour, held out his arm and she took it, leaning into him with fatigue. He was happy to support her. He led her to where he had found the bar that would meet Maddie's fastidious standards.

Maddie was suitably impressed: the bar sported a panoramic view of New York from the dizzy heights of the thirtieth floor. They both looked out at the breath-taking sight, appreciating the sky-line: the sun was setting, creating an orange glow around the statue of liberty. The lights that illuminated the surrounding sky-scrapers, far from being oppressive, somehow felt magical. New York never failed to impress and the mood was infectious.

'Not bad Addison,' Maddie smiled... 'I'm impressed.'

David, despite his fatigue, couldn't help but smile. 'Well of course it was all planned...'

Maddie laughed, 'of course, Mr Spontaneity.'

'Drink?' David mimed holding a wine glass.

'Sure, I'll have a white wine spritzer thank you David,' Maddie replied as she found a seat with a view. She settled herself into the comforting folds of the leather sofa, leaned back and let the day drain out through her body. Losing herself in the music, she felt her eyes grow heavy as she thought about the weekend ahead. This was not so bad. David had been on his best behaviour and she felt relaxed. Of course all of that could change- being out with David was like walking a tight rope: a drop either side.

Staring at the view, she blushed- hot. A transitory memory fluttered across her conscience taking her by surprise: a tight blue dress, dancing with David, burning steps, bodies locked, a fervent kiss. Why couldn't she get the lyrics to Billy Joel's 'Big Man on Mulberry Street' out of her head...?

'Maddie?' David placed the drink on the table in front of her. 'You too tired partner?'

'Sorry,' Maddie apologised with flushed cheeks, embarrassed that she had drifted off in public. She picked up the drink and sipped it in a desperate attempt to regain full awareness. 'Jet-lag I guess.'

'To...' David raised his glass, ', for accompanying me on this trip as my plus one.' He let his glass clink against hers.

'So far so good,' Maddie agreed. 'Although, you know me, I always keep one eye open to check for missiles with my name etched on the side.'

'Ever the optimist,' David sighed as he took in the view. 'Not too shabby huh?'

'Not too shabby u-huh,' Maddie agreed. 'There's something about New York that's just so exciting: maybe it's because the place never sleeps, it makes you think maybe you shouldn't either, in case you miss something!'

David chuckled, stifling a yawn, 'although if we stayed up for the whole weekend they might end up casting us in the next zombie flick- it's not a good look.'

Maddie smiled, echoing his yawn. 'So tell me what the plans are for tomorrow.' She took another sip and gave him her full attention.

'Plans- you know me – I chucked all my plans out of the plane window somewhere over Chicago...right now somebody is reading them and wondering how we're going to fit all of that fun into one human weekend!'

'Why does that fill me with dread?' Maddie complained. 'Surely we'll at least meet up with your brother? We haven't seen Richard since your father's wedding.'

'Actually, one teensy weensy plan did refuse to jump the plane: we are having lunch with Rich and his new girlfriend: Leyna. Sandra said she might stop by for a quick drink too just to say 'hi' before the party.' He took a deep drink from his beer. 'Again, I made sure it was a fancy restaurant Miss Hayes – so put your best on. I wonder if they'll let my brother in to a classy establishment. Maybe we'll trade him in at the cloakroom for a ticket stub; collect him when we're done.' He chuckled.

'Poor Richard,' Maddie sympathised. 'He's not that bad.'

'No and he's not that good,' David corrected. 'You wait and see...Leyna will probably be some girl in a short skirt that he picked up in a cocktail bar and he'll be up to his neck in his next bad life decision.'

'Let's give him the benefit of the doubt,' Maddie suggested, 'he is your brother.'

'Don't say it too loud!' David looked around him in dramatic embarrassment, 'even if you bought me and got him free- people would still try to return him- asking for compensation, rather than a refund...'

Maddie's eyes lost focus for a moment and she yawned again. 'David, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to call it a night.'

'Well then, let's get you to bed Blondie, wanna borrow an arm? I'll accompany you back to your room.' He stood and offered his arm out to her.

'What? No rude remarks, no flirtatious moves, no attempts to wheedle your way into my room?' Maddie sounded surprised as she stood up, taking his proffered arm.

'I'm shocked and appalled,' David rejoined, 'I'm all gentleman this weekend... well not all gentle...'

'Stop whilst the night is perfect,' Maddie smiled.

They made their way, arm in arm, to the elevator that would carry them to their respective hotel rooms. David, always the gentleman, held the elevator door open as Maddie stepped in, she was thankful to be heading towards the prospect of sleep. Too busy looking for her floor level; she missed the look he bestowed upon her, the one that exposed the love he felt. By the time she turned to face him, he'd cleverly disguised it with tiredness.

Falling exhausted into bed, Maddie thought about the evening to come. Doubts and anxieties raced around her mind on a collision course with worse case scenarios. What if there were old friends of David's that had spotted her at Jimmy's funeral; what if Tess came up in conversation (she didn't want David to fall into that mood again and abandon her at Sandra's party); what if...

Maddie's thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock at her door.

'Yes?' she called out wearily.

'Maddie,' it was David's voice, he sounded like she felt.

'David?' Maddie asked, surprised. 'Come in.'

The door opened and David, dressed in black sweat pants and crumpled t-shirt, entered the room. It was evident that he had been worrying about something as his hair was sticking up like the branches of a tree in high wind.

He walked in, hands crossed high up on his body, bare feet pacing the ground where he stood. 'Sorry to disturb you from your sleep,' he mumbled, head down, 'it's just that, I've got a small problem drilling into the side of my skull to the point where I think what's left of my brain may fall out.'

'David what's wrong now?' Maddie yawned.

David looked over at her, lying in the bed, in the half light. Her face, where it hit the light, shone an iridescent blue. She looked beautiful to him and somehow, it made what he had to say all the more difficult.


'Maddie,' he swallowed. 'Look, there's something I gotta tell you, something that I should have told you before now but that time never felt right and now we're here, again...'

'What?' Maddie's tone showed that she was worried about what he was about to reveal. She shifted restlessly in the bed.

He walked into the room further; and chose to sit on the end of her bed. Better to sit when he, at last, exposed the truth to her. 'Um,' he chuckled nervously and couldn't look at her, 'Maddie, don't be mad at me but last time we were here? Well, I may have told you a few teensy weensy white lies. Actually it was one big white lie.' He coughed and pulled his knees into his chest. 'Tomorrow night, you're gonna meet a lot of my friends from the village and no matter how I colour in the picture it keeps coming back to the fact that those old friends will, despite what I said, remember Tess...'

Maddie sighed, she had been worried about this; maybe she'd been right after all, it was too soon after Jimmy's funeral. She looked at him silently, an invitation for him to continue.

'Sooo,' he drew the sound out to buy him some time, 'and some of 'em may have better memories than others.' He drew in his breath and held his head in his hands. 'Oh God, why is this so hard to say?'

Instinctively, Maddie felt the need to sit up in bed and comfort him, maybe hold his hand, put an arm around him...but she was terrified of where that might lead so she sat tight, not saying a word.

'Maddie,' he tried again, 'you remember I told you what happened that night with Tess?' His face betrayed the pain felt beneath it.

Maddie nodded her eyes full of understanding- even in the darkness.

'Well it was only partly true,' his face went red.

Maddie could see beads of perspiration form on his forehead; he was having difficulty re-living this memory. It was what she had wanted to avoid. The fact that she already knew what he was trying to confess made her feel worse.

'The part where I came home and found her with someone else, that was true but I kind of left the pertinent information out,' he rubbed a nervous hand through his hair, making him look achingly vulnerable. 'I um, I left the part out where I was meant to confide in you that the person I found her with was another woman, not a man like I led you to believe,' he breathed out long and hard as if he had just released a memory that had been holding him back for years. 'I just thought you ought to know in case it came up tomorrow.'

Maddie could see that it had taken every ounce of David's soul to disclose the truth. He looked drained, lost and exhausted. Despite previous misgivings, she reached out a hand to touch his. 'It means a lot that you would tell me about a painful experience David,' she soothed. Only now, it made her own white lie almost inexcusable- and even worse if someone came up to her tomorrow claiming to have already seen her with Tess at Jimmy's funeral. It was now or never.

'David?' she was still holding his hand. 'I've also got a little white lie to confess.'

David looked up at her anxious eyes, his own were on the edge of tears so he rubbed them quickly with his free hand to keep them at bay. 'What you? A white lie? That's like saying the pope occasionally partakes in the wearing of lacy black underwear...well not quite but you know what I mean.'

'David,' Maddie sighed, 'last time we were here and you went off to Jimmy's funeral? Well, for most of the day I just stayed in the hotel room waiting for you to come back. I was so worried about you; I knew something wasn't right...well it got late, way past the time you said you'd be back so I decided that I'd go and look for you, make sure that you were okay... so I turned up at the address for the wake...'

'You did?' David sounded instantly worried.

'I did David, I know that you never went- I'm sorry that I didn't tell you. I guess that I didn't want you to know how much I'd worried about you...and when I realised you weren't there, I just went back to the hotel.' Maddie deliberately missed out the part where she had spoken to Tess; she'd at least give him his earlier confession. She did not need to tell him that she already knew.

David looked at her hand in his; feeling its warmth radiating against his skin, he raised it and touched it to his lips in the softest kiss. 'Well if you forgive me, then I forgive you partner.' He smiled that side-ways grin that thawed her heart a little more each time. 'Look at us, a pair of white liars – two in one pack huh? I'm not mad with you, you're not mad with me...we should pause the scene and file it away in the 'impossible moments category.'

'Or we should call it a night and get some sleep,' Maddie almost whispered as she held his gaze, feeling its intensity and unable to move.

'...That is an option,' David breathed, his heart racing to the point where he thought it might betray him.

'No David, it's the only choice- we've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow and besides, I need my beauty sleep.' She intentionally changed the mood because it had been scaring her; she had almost done something she would regret in the morning.

David paused, smiled a genuine smile and leaned in towards her. He gently placed a butterfly kiss on her forehead. 'You're a pretty special friend partner.'

New York- Restaurant Aurora12.30:

'Uptown girl

She's been living in her uptown world

I bet she's never had a backstreet guy

I bet her momma never told her why

I'm gonna try for an uptown girl

She's been living in her white bread world

As long as anyone with hot blood can

And now she's looking for a downtown man

That's what I am...'

Restaurant Aurora was Maddie Hayes. To use David's term: the restaurant matched her wardrobe. He knew that she'd wear it like a second skin so he had passed up the chance to eat diner-style cheese steaks (his favourite) in favour of showing his appreciation for her company. He was also trying to make up for last time.

'David, this place is so...' Maddie gushed.

'You?' David finished. 'Yeah, thought you'd like it. It has a high price tag but don't worry, I hocked my soul when I booked the trip.'

'And you made enough to settle the check?' Maddie joked sarcastically.

'I'll have you know that my soul is heavily in's fed only by the greats: Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Bruce...'

'Looks like Richie already arrived,' Maddie observed, tugging on his sleeve and pointing in the direction of their table. 'You were right, short skirt, cocktail...'

'And what about Leyna?' he jested, adding: 'You sound surprised,' his tone dropped instantly from light to serious. 'Come on, let's do this thing.'

They approached the table and Richard immediately stood up to greet them, he looked tense, fretful. He hugged David too hard and kissed Maddie's hand too many times. He almost forgot to introduce Leyna.

'Great to see you bro,' Richard enthused as he pounded him on the back, leaving David breathless.

'Hey, steady on there, bro,' David wheezed, 'I'm attached to these lungs.'

'Maddie, you're looking stunning as always,' he grinned, eyes wide.

'Thank you Richard,' Maddie replied politely, 'and this is?'

'Oh sorry, yeah, this is my girlfriend Leyna,' he says this in a throw-away tone.

'Hi,' Leyna held out a hand, the nails painted dark red. She was frosty, aloof.

Leyna was tall, slim and sultry. Dark hair was cut into a severe bob, sharpening her cheek bones. Lips were the same shade as her nails. She smelled of the night: smoke and heavy perfume. Her eyes were cold, jaded, lacking in compassion. In other words, David could see that Rich had literally pulled this one off the cold streets.

David shook her hand and found it to be as unresponsive as her. 'David.'

Rushing around the table to Maddie's side, Richard clumsily pulled out a chair for her. She exchanged a passing look of concern with David and accepted the seat, shaking out the white linen serviette to place on her lap as she did so.

Leyna, David noticed, had already taken a seat- a seat that Richie had not pulled out for her. She did not reach for her serviette; instead she played with her Martini cocktail – stirring the cherry around and around, looking uninterested in her surroundings. She reached for a cigarette. 'Does anyone mind?'

Not wanting to cause any trouble, Maddie and David shook their heads.

'So Rich, how long have you known...Leyna?' David asked as the waiter came over with tasteful looking menus.

'A few months,' Richie replied vaguely. 'I guess time flies when you're flying together!' He laughed nervously in her direction but Leyna avoided this contact, leaving him floundering in open water.

David coughed uncomfortably, noticing distance between the two of them. He noted that Leyna had not looked up when they were discussing her- she only moved when she had to accept the menu and listen to the daily specials. Even when he and Maddie had their worst arguments of the century, there was never a cold chasm like the one between Richie and Leyna.

'How did you meet?' Maddie tried.

'Oh just a bar,' Richie replied with no details.

'Figures,' David muttered under his breath.

'Shall we order?' Maddie suggested, relieving the tension that was steadily building.

'I knew there was a reason why I invited you along,' David quipped as he opened his menu. 'Maddie,' he whispered from behind it, 'I think he might have kidnapped her from the coma ward at the hospital!'

Maddie glared at him from behind her own menu and shot him a warning to behave. One eye scoured the luncheon choices, whilst the other observed the behaviour and distinct lack of body language between the new couple. Something did not fit. Despite the lack of clothing, she was clearly not Richie's type. Richie could be charming, funny; amiable...Leyna was none of these.

'So...' Richie ventured to start up a conversation.

'So...' David repeated.

'So what job are you doing now?' Maddie rescued the situation.

'Oh this and that,' Rich replied, '...bit of bar tending whilst I'm trying to sell my latest invention, it's a tough market out there!'

'I daren't ask...' David winced.

'Then don't bro,' Richie snapped, 'it's boring anyway...nothing new...what about you? How's the business back in LALA land?'

With impeccable timing, Sandra Donadio came bursting into the restaurant, curly hair bobbing, arms full of shopping. A waiter pointed out their table and she made a bee line for them, a wide smile illuminating her face. She was petite, dark and sexy- full of life.

'The Addison boys!' she yelled aloud, her German accent evident.

'Sandra!' Both Addison boys leapt to their feet to smother their old friend in hugs.

'It's so good to see you both- my boys!' she enthused, looking them up and down. 'You both still look the same- gorgeous!'

'Just don't mention the hair,' David warned in good humour. He turned to Maddie to introduce her to his special friend. 'Sandra this is my good friend Maddie Hayes.'

'Aw Maddie, I've heard a lot about you,' Sandra smiled with a wink, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

'Pleased to meet you,' Maddie smiled back, Sandra's energy was contagious. 'David created the impression that you were Italian.'

'Well I'm half Italian,' she explained, 'half German! Half mother, half lawyer- you know how it is,' she laughed a deep throaty chuckle. 'The wise ass-cracking hub of mine is all'll meet him tonight. He's busy cooking up a feast over at the restaurant.'

'I can't wait to meet him,' Maddie sounded approving of the Donadio family; she could see why David was friends with this amiable woman.

'Don't eat too much for lunch,' she warned, 'save room for tonight! Dave we haven't forgotten you don't like seafood- so there's plenty of everything! God, I'm just so ecstatic that you all made it!'

'Me too, me too,' David chuckled. 'Whole gang gonna be there?'

'You bet!' Sandra cried, holding her shopping bags out. 'Rosie's flying in with Phil all the way from Pittsburgh- oh and they're travelling with Kim and her husband- then there's Iryna, Sara, Diane, Wim, Nancy, Martine...oh too many to mention! Dave's girls are back in town.'

Maddie rolled her eyes, remembering her and Agnes' conversation from earlier- Top Cat indeed!

'Can't stop I'm afraid, got so much to do!' Sandra sighed- she cast a fleeting glance at Rich, immediately sensing that all was not well with him. He was too quiet.

'See you tonight Sandra,' David kissed her on the cheek again. 'Now the invite says formal- did I read that right?'

'You bet you did!' Sandra gushed, turning to Maddie, 'nothing like these guys in a hot tux huh?'

Maddie blushed. 'Indeed,' she concurred, evidently coy about this confession.

New York -Richard's hotel room:

'When I'm deep inside of me
don't be too concerned.
I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone.
But when I want sincerity
tell me where else can I turn.
Because you're the one I depend upon.

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue

Honesty is hardly ever heard. .
And mostly what I need from you...'

Two hours before the party:

Three people crowded into Richie's hovel; it was not a friendly meeting. One man paced, one sat forlornly on the bed and the woman leaned against the bathroom door, biting red nails.

'Now you have it straight Mr Addison?' the man, who referred to himself as Mr H, demanded.

'Straight,' Richie confirmed morosely.

'Leyna?' Mr H clicked his fingers to attract her attention.

'Yes,' she responded curtly, lighting up another cigarette. 'I got it.'

'The weapons are in the brief case,' Mr H motioned towards a shiny black case on the bed. 'I don't care how you explain it – you're carrying your latest invention, you got karaoke, any kind of crap...just get it in to the goddamn party. You got that?'

'Got it,' Richie uttered as he shifted uncomfortably. 'Nobody will get hurt will they?'

'What, you going soft on me now, Richie boy?' Mr H complained, looking down at the diminished figure of Richie. 'You should have thought of that before you borrowed money from the wrong guy! You know, you're lucky your friend is having her party at that particular venue – it's our client's favourite place to eat- I hear they do an amazing Tagliarini al Tartufo Bianco.' He offered a blank smile that did not reach his eyes.

'My family, my friends...' Richie begged.

'Then get it right!' Mr H shouted making, an already jittery, Richie jump.

New York: Maddie and David's hotel

'She's got a way about her
I don't know what it is
But I know that I can't live without her
She's got a way of pleasin'
I don't know why it is
But there doesn't have to be a reason anywhere

She's got a smile that heals me
I don't know what it is
But I have to laugh when she reveals me
She's got a way of talkin'
I don't know why it is
But it lifts me up when we are walkin' anywhere

She comes to me when I'm feelin' down
Inspires me without a sound
She touches me and I get turned around
She's got a way of showin'
How I make her feel
And I find the strength to keep on goin'
She's got a light around her
And everywhere she goes a million
Dreams of love surround her everywhere

She comes to me when I'm feelin' down
Inspires me without a sound
She touches me, I get turned around... '

David Addison was putting the finishing touches to his tuxedo ensemble in preparation for this evening's celebrations. He was all too aware that, once again, he was in New York, in a hotel room that was adjacent to the woman he had been in love with for the last two and a half years. Only this time he wasn't preoccupied by dark memories of the past- this time the past was friendly. That's why he was so darn worried.

'Maddie, Maddie, Maddie,' he muttered to himself as he splashed on some cologne. 'Of all the women in the world, why do I have to fall for you? You're the one woman who brings out the best and worst in me...trouble is, the worst part of me seems to have the biggest shoes and boy I'm good at sticking both in my mouth at once! Let's face it Daveroo, you've spent two and a half years showing her what a trophy-deserving clown you can be. For instance,' his voice gets louder as he chastises himself, 'she flies all the way out here to be with me, support me in my time of need and what do I do? I left her in the hotel room most of the day whilst I went out and made an even bigger ass out of myself,' he shook his head in disbelief at his own actions. 'She was sat there on that bed Dave, waiting for a response from you. You needed her and yet you did not go to her...Of course I know what I should've done; I should've taken her into my arms right then and there; kissed her; told her what it meant to me that she was there,' he paused to think, 'nar, she'd think I was over-emotional on drama. I can see it now,' he puts on a mock Maddie voice, 'what was that David- what we just did? Let's just put it down to your highly emotive state David and agree that it did not happen.' He peered at himself in the glass and shook his head. 'And do you know what the really sad part is Dave? You are talking, to yourself, in the mirror!'

There was a friendly knock at his door.

'Yeah?' he jumped, caught in vulnerability.

'It's just me,' Maddie's soft voice called. 'Can I come in?'

'Just spit and slide under,' David yelled back, checking his appearance once more. 'Or, you could revert to the more conventional method of turning the door knob but I know which I'd prefer.'

'Hey,' she smiled as she entered his room. She was dressed in a figure hugging, classic black sleeveless cocktail dress that finished just above the knee. Black heels finished the ensemble –with an extra flourish in the form of a simple diamond necklace and earrings. The look was understated yet extremely sexy. Her hair she had teased into soft golden curls that framed and flattered her face. She looked every inch the model tonight.

'Hey Baby Grande,' David flattered, 'you look amazing!'

'Thanks,' Maddie gushed, always a sucker for a compliment. 'You don't look too bad yourself fellar.'

'What this ol' thing? Found it at the back of the closet...' he brushed off the flattery.

'David, I've been thinking...' Maddie began.

'Nooooo, don't do that coz then you'll figure out that you were nuts to fly out here with me again and will want to book the first available flight back to LA!' David's mouth gambled onwards, towards his first fall of the evening. 'What was I thinking David, flying out to spend a raucous weekend with you – I must have lost my mind in the duty free...'

Maddie coughed, hands on hips. 'David, have you finished?'

David looked up apologetically; he may have come over a little harsh. 'Have you? I mean with this weekend? I bet you're well and truly finished with this weekend...'

'David,' Maddie snapped, 'you sound like you want me to go back to LA- do you? Is that what you want? Because you're right, it would be easy for me to call and book a last minute flight...'

'No, no, no,' David jumped in, 'it's just me practising for the annual clown trophy again...just pretend that I didn't say that; I'll get the writer to edit those lines out. I'm just nervous...I haven't seen a lot of these people for a long while.'

Observing his nervous tension, Maddie's face instantly softened. 'Of're forgiven David, just try to relax will you? These people will all be delighted to see their 'top cat''

'What if they...'Stopping his own sentence dead, he laughed at his own anxiety, 'I'll just flick the off button for my over-active imagination...although you may beg for me to switch it back on later when we've had a few too many champagnes.'

'In your dreams Addison,' Maddie reprimanded him. She smiled, 'that switch? If I remove the batteries will it stay in the permanent off position?'

'You could, it would...but you'd have to find my batteries first.' He smiled his side-ways smirk that made his eyes sparkle.

'David, what did we agree about lewd comments?' Maddie warned.

'There should be more of them?' he chuckled, 'I know Maddie...remember we're in company,' he laughed to himself as she rolled her eyes. 'You ready to hit the streets of New York partner?'

Maddie shivered, 'why do I feel like this is going to be a long night?'

'Because you're with me?' David fluttered his eyelashes and offered her an arm. 'Ms Hayes?'

She folded her arm into his and took a deep breath as if she were about to dive off a high board into an ocean full of sharks.

NYC-Little Italy: Osteria da Peppe

'Sing us a song you're the piano man
sing us a song tonight
well we're all in the mood for a melody
and you got us all feeling alright

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while...

And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?" '

Maddie and David's cab coughed them out on to the cold streets of Little Italy and they shivered despite thick coats. The temperature of New York in the winter was harsh and bitter – the type of cold that made it through to your bones; for two people used to the climate of LA, it was a shock. They instinctively huddled together and looked about them.

It may have been a bleak evening but the front of Osteria da Peppe glowed with welcoming light; its interior was heaving, full to bursting, with Sandra's friends and family. It stood out amongst the restaurants of Little Italy like a precious gem.

'You ready partner?' David inquired grinning at her with a suddenly nervous expression.

Maddie took a deep breath and smiled bravely back at him; it melted his heart. He was unable to hide the emotion but Maddie mistook it for explicit mocking of her apprehension.

'You love this don't you,' she seethed.

'What, being cold; nervous; keyed up? Or, all of the above?' he quipped.

'I have two words for you: behave yourself,' she sighed.

'Maddie,' he chuckled holding her shoulders so that she would look at him and see he was being sincere, 'I'm just so thankful that you came...there's no way I could face this crowd without you tonight, not after...'

'I know,' Maddie said in a softer tone.

'These people Maddie, they're good people. They may not be the kind of people who you're used to but they're golden hearted- real people.'

'So my friends aren't real?'

'You have friends?'

'David!' Maddie warned.

'Sorry, you know me: I joke when I'm anxious...' David apologised.

'And yet I still came to this thing willingly.' Maddie took another lungful of cold, icy air- it cleared her head and steadied her own nerves. 'Come on Scooby Do.'

'Top Cat,' David corrected with a chuckle- holding his arm out.

'David we don't want to confuse people,' she muttered staring at his arm as if it were made of spikes.

'God forbid,' David's come-back had an edge; but in good humour, he put an arm around her waist instead- laughing good naturedly at his own practical joke. 'Everybody knows we don't have that kind of relationship sis!'

Maddie, shaking her head, stepped out of his embrace and pushed him towards the door so that he would enter first; these people were, after all, waiting to see him.

The Party- a dark corner:

'There's nothing else I can do
'Cause I'm doing it all for Leyna
I don't want anyone new
'Cause I'm living it all for Leyna
There's nothing in it for you
'Cause I'm giving it all to Leyna

We laid on the beach
Watching the tide
She didn't tell me there were rocks
Under the waves
Right off the shore
Washed up on the sand
Barely alive
Wishing the undertow would stop
How can a man take anymore'

Having already arrived at the party, Richie planted himself, complete with shiny black briefcase, in the farthest corner of the room. Leyna sat next to him stiff as card; she was chewing gum and had created a fine-art out of disinterest. The two of them looked at odds with the flamboyant nature of this warm, generous Italian gathering.

'Richard Addison,' Sandra complained as she rushed by with one of her closest friends, Iryna- a blonde slip of a woman. She stopped in her tracks for a moment, noting the serious looking brief case parked on the table-top. 'What have I told you about mixing business with pleasure?'

Richie's face darkened for a moment and a look of fear flashed up in his eyes, until he realised what she was implying. 'Oh I promise it's not a whole bunch of my inventions that I deliberately brought with me to foist upon your unwilling guests, I promise.'

Sandra laughed, 'go mingle Richie!'

'I will, I will... I just need to make sure Leyna is happy.' He was thankful that she had not pursued a line of questioning with regard to the offensive article that lay on the table, waiting.

Frowning, Sandra glared at the unapproachable Leyna who, in turn, was staring at the door to the restaurant as if she could simply will herself out of the place. Shrugging, she smiled at Richie, dragging the girls off to catch up with more long-lost guests.

'Well I want the Addison boys up on that dance floor excuses!' she yelled over her shoulder at him.

'Oh you bet!' Richie yelled back. 'You just try and stop 'The Add-man'!' he yelled back, pulling a wide vacuous grin.

'Relax,' Leyna demanded, blowing smoke in his face, 'you'll bring attention to us.'

'Funny, I'm having a hard time relaxing,' he complained, 'with that,' he pointed at the briefcase, 'in the middle of my best friend's restaurant – surrounded by people that I care about.'

The Party: David opens up

'This is the time to remember
'Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
'Cause we won't
Although we'll want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
You've given me the best of you
And now I need the rest of you

Did you know that before you came into my life
Some kind of miracle that I survived
Some day we will both look back
And have to laugh
We lived through a lifetime
And the aftermath'

Casually observing Maddie as she headed towards the rest rooms, David's eyes lingered on her shape, memorising curves, the movement of her hair until she vanished from sight. As the scene was cut dead, his eyes closed. He sighed.

'So you guys are just friends,' Sandra dripped cynicism as she slid into the seat next to him.

'You got it Curlz,' David confirmed, taking a sip from his beer.

'David, I saw the way you just looked at her,' Sandra put her hand on his.

'Sandra, Sandra, Sandra...' he drew her name out, accentuating the sound of her name, 'you always 'get me', you always did, you always will.'

'Just be careful fellar,' she warned, 'I like Maddie a lot but if she messes with my David- there'll be hell to pay!' Her eyes flared with spirit.

'Oh I'm careful Sandra,' he laughed, pulling his mouth into his notorious smirk, 'I'm so careful that I carry an extra bullet proof vest, a hard hat and a safety net with me at all times.'

Sandra smiled and hugged him to her. 'Oh David, you shouldn't need all of that.'

'You don't know Maddie Hayes! She eats mortal jokers like me as if we were bar snacks.' He sat back in his chair, a defensive, impenetrable stare visiting his face.

'Hey hey hey,' she chastised, 'she's a lucky lady to have the interest of David Addison at all- I remember when half of the girls here tonight wanted a piece of your ass. They probably still do!'

'You always did have a blunt way with words,' David joked, 'tell me how it really is Sandra.'

'You know me, I'll always give you honesty,' Sandra's tone became more serious and she pulled her brown curls away from her face as if to emphasise what she was about to say. 'Listen friend, you need to tell her how you feel.'

'No way,' David rebuked, 'she thinks I'm a jerk.'

'Why?' Sandra widened her brown eyes in disbelief.

'Oh let me give you a list!' David sighed, rolling his eyes and folding his arms. His closed body language gave him away.

'So why did she come with you to New York?' Sandra hit the bull's eye and knew it.

David looked uncomfortable and sunk down further into his chair. 'Same reason as last time I guess, to look out for me. I know, I know... that must mean that she cares on some level but I don't think she's prepared to ride the elevator any further- you get my drift Curlz?' He took a bigger sip from his beer.

'How do you know?' Sandra was not going to give up- she was a terrier with a bone.

'Look at her, she's 'Ms-in-control' and I'm 'Mr-let's-see-what- happens'!' David sounded agitated, she was touching a nerve and he was unwilling to pursue this avenue.

'And opposites attract- I mean just look at me and Peppe!' Sandra gesticulated wildly at her husband who was holding court with a group of guys.

'Yes but that's different, you two love each other.'

'So do you,' Sandra smiled. 'If she doesn't want you I'll grant myself a divorce and marry you'll have to watch out for Peppe though- he has a sharp memory and a resolute belief in justice.'

'I better not rock the boat – nobody would want to get on the wrong side of that crazy Italian chef,' he laughed with good humour.

'Give Maddie the benefit of the doubt David,' Sandra added quickly as she could see the beautiful, long legged blonde making her way back to their table. 'It's unfair to under-estimate her value of you.'

Maddie approached the table with a glass of 'summer wine', which one of the waiters had just pushed into her hand. She was smiling and looked as if she were allowing a few strands of hair down tonight.

'Watch it Maddie,' Sandra warned, 'that's my homemade summer wine you've got there- potent! Brings out a person's spirit if you know what I mean.' She chuckled and winked at David.

'Thanks for the warning!' Turning towards David, Maddie hastily placed the drink down, 'did I miss much?'

'Just catching up with the birthday girl,' David explained. 'Hey Sandra, make sure my brother gets some of that summer wine- if anyone needs their spirit coaxing out, it's him. The man hasn't cracked a smile all evening- you think he'd manage one for his good friend.'

'Already on it,' Sandra waved the bottle in the air, 'Sandra to the rescue!'

The Party: Uninvited guests up to no good

Unnoticed, the uninvited guest slipped through the fire-exit at the back entrance to the building. The chefs were too busy getting food out on time; the waiters were too focused on making sure it got to the tables efficiently; and there was no way anybody wanted to let the big boss down tonight. To them, he was just another guest trying to find the restroom and winding up in the kitchen by mistake.

'Tray of anti-pasta for the main table!' the caller yelled as the man in the black suit slipped past unnoticed.

Richie, although he did not know the man, instantly recognised him as the client due to his serious expression and morose demeanour. He was no friend of his.

'We're on,' Leyna observed.

'Nobody gets hurt,' Richie repeated from before.

'That's up to you,' she snapped.

The uninvited guest helped himself to champagne and anti-pasta, making Richie reel. How dare he come in here and act like he belonged to this decent set of people- he was like a fly whose presence would be tolerated only until someone went nuts and swatted him. He had a feeling that the person would be him.

Richie must have stared too hard as, the next thing he knew; Leyna had kicked him underneath the table. She frowned at him, showing displeasure at this rooky she was forced to partner.

'Idiot,' she seethed, 'you want to make it any more obvious?'

'What's he think he's doing?' Richie complained.

'His job,' she stated without emotion. 'Blending in, acting like he belongs, and avoiding attention.'

Richie stared at the briefcase, wishing that he could be anywhere in the world but here: endangering the lives of family and friends. What he did not notice was that David Addison's detective eyes were focused entirely on him. Richie had underestimated his brother's investigatory skills. David, already guessing something was up; had figured out that Leyna was more than not just Richie's type; his brother never carried a brief case and the latest guest was not on the list.

The uninvited guest made small talk with a few of the real guests, who figured that he must be a husband of one of Sandra's friends, until he finally made his way to Richie's table. He feigned a big smile and embraced Richie and Leyna as if they'd known each other for years.

David, of course, observed this exchange meticulously: it was the first time he had seen his brother animated all night but it was not a good animated.

Richie offered the man wine but he refused and continued to small talk whilst Richie's face became crimson, his body sweatier and his gesticulations frenzied. Most people put it down to drink: at last Richie was joining the party.

David recognised abject fear.

After mock small talk met its natural conclusion, the man got up and headed to the rest rooms. Two minutes later, Richie followed with the briefcase.

The Party: David to the rescue

'Maddie,' David grabbed her arm and whispered directly into her ear.

'David?' She pulled her arm away, alarmed at his sudden change of mood.

'Would you do me a favour?'

'What is it first?' she whispered back suspiciously.

'Richie's in trouble.'

'Oh give him a chance David, he's only been here an hour,' Maddie exclaimed. 'What's he done, stolen the cocktail umbrellas and sold them as wet weather prevention?'

'No,' David looked increasingly frantic as he looked between Maddie and the men's room. 'I don't have time to explain this Maddie so can you please trust me on this?'

Maddie read David's serious conduct and changed her own attitude to match – she stared at him wide eyed. 'You're serious?'

'Bingo Maddie and they say you're just the eye-candy.'

She frowned at him, 'what do you want me to do?'

'Carry on talking to the ladies on our table like there's nothing wrong at all but keep one eye on the time...fifteen minutes goes by? Come look for me,' David instructed, 'take note of who comes in and out of the men's room too. You got all that Cagney?'

'I got it,' she looked concerned and put a hand on David's arm. 'David?'

'Yeah, yeah, I'll be careful...this is clearly one plot point that I need to obstruct,' he commented, 'something's rotten in Peppe's kitchen.'

Maddie's face relaxed. 'See, you do care about your brother,' she observed, 'he does care about him,' she repeated for the benefit of both guests at their table: Kim and Rose.

'Yup, turns out I do,' David replied, standing up as he watched Rich disappear into the men's room. 'I'll be right back- don't do anything I wouldn't do.'

'That doesn't leave me with very many options,' Maddie observed to herself taking another sip of the summer wine, despite her reservations and Sandra's earlier warning. She needed something to steady her nerves.

'Now where were we?' cried Rose, 'I can't believe I'm talking to the Blue Moon shampoo girl!'

Leaning against the wall outside the men's room, Leyna nonchalantly waited for her moment. She had been given the brief case to guard, until the deal was done. She looked bored, distant...when David Addison bumped into her and knocked the case over.

'Leyna isn't it?' David cried out, embracing her in full hug whilst he kicked the briefcase down the hall and switched it with another black case full of karaoke song hits (that he'd grabbed from the DJ). In this darkness, she would not notice its absence until it mattered.

Leyna flinched in response to the embrace; she hated people invading her space. 'Yes,' she sounded irritated.

'How's my brother?' David small talked.

'All right I guess,' she breathed, chewing on a new stick of gum that she produced from her back pocket.

'That's good to know. So you two are happy?'

'Yes we are,' she strung the words out slowly as if she thought David was stupid.

'Good, good,' he muttered, 'well excuse me whilst I pay a visit to the little boys' room – I guess I've drunk a lot of beer for one evening...'

She suddenly perked up, desperate to keep him out of there. 'So how do you know this Sandra then?'

Now she wants to talk. David had his suspicions confirmed. 'A friend of mine: probably an alien concept to the living dead,' he answered swinging the door open. 'Sorry toots. When a guy's gotta go...' he ducked through the door before she could detain him any longer; he could hear her swearing under her breath.

Once inside the men's room, David hastily looked around, taking in every inch of the space. It appeared empty but David knew better. His eyes darted across cubicles, noting that all but one door swung open and vacant. He slipped into the one adjacent to its occupied neighbour and locked it.

Squatting down, he attempted to see through the gap: one pair of shiny shoes and one pair of knees. It appeared that Richie was receiving a free ceramic salon tour. He stood back up and wracked his brains- how to get Richie out of this dilemma. He looked up, he looked down, and he glanced around the small confined space: something would come to him- he was David Addison after all.

Stepping up onto the toilet bowl rim, careful not to make a noise, he slowly and painstakingly removed the lid of the water-tank. He figured it might be heavy enough to knock that un-invited guest out cold. Frowning, he realised that he should have flushed the chain before hand to create some distractive noise. He stood there for a moment, holding the heavy lid and staring at the flush- he pulled a face at his own stupidity. Carefully shifting the weight of the lid to one side of his body, he managed to free a hand. Tentatively, he now reached out to flush the chain with it. Alas, he was not balanced well enough which caused him to lose his footing and slip

'Nya!' he cried out.

He slipped off the toilet bowl; crashed into the door; bounced off; landed on the floor and was then hit hard on the head by the falling, heavy porcelain lid. The noise echoed around the men's room and was followed by stillness. David lay there unconscious, surrounded by the remnants of his own failed plan.

The Billy Joel Dream Sequence: 'Tell Her about It'

David could hear the deep, melodious sound of a piano being caressed by someone close to music. It was beautiful, intoxicating; soul-lighting.

At first he was content to lie there, appreciating the display of musical aptitude but growing awareness of his surroundings drew him on towards figuring out its source.

Newly aware that he was lying on a floor, he pulled himself up to a sitting position. His head ached. It was the restaurant but where were all the people? The tables were clear, the chairs empty and not a guest in sight.

Blinking his eyes rapidly, David tried to awaken his senses but it was impossible because of the subdued lighting. The corner he had found himself in was black; the feeble rays could not reach it. He would have to get up and walk if he wanted to make contact with it and figure out what was happening. Looking for the light's source, he detected that it emanated from the area of the restaurant piano.

There was only one choice. David, with effort, slowly got to his feet and made his way towards the music. He was not alone in the restaurant. The intoxicating notes drew him on towards the player like a magical spell that had him in mind for its purpose.

David could see the silhouette of a man sat at the piano, a spot light shining down on him, creating a halo effect. The music was becoming more beautiful, more intense. He stopped. The man, slowly, turned around to greet him.

'Hello David,' he said in a cool tone.

'No way,' David bent at the knees and put his hands in his pockets – a visible display of awe. 'Billy? Billy Joel?'

'I've been waiting for you,' Billy stated as he swivelled around on his stool.

'You have?' David sounded incredulous. 'No way man, Billy Joel is in Sandra's restaurant? How...'

'...Come nobody's around to appreciate it?' finished Billy Joel. 'This is a special performance, that's why – just for you David Addison.'

'No, no, no, no, no,' David sang, 'I've been doing this series long enough to know a dream sequence when I see one.'

'So what if it is?' Billy smiled, turning round to play a chord or two.

'True,' David contemplated. 'So I may as well enjoy the fact that you're in this episode whilst we got you. You gonna play something?'

'Not so fast train-track,' Billy crooned. 'I'm here to emphasise the New York flavour of this particular episode.'

'I got that figured padre,' David smiled, 'and I might as well enjoy my dream sequence so, do you take requests?'

Billy Joel laughed and stopped playing. 'David? I'm here to talk about your relationship with Maddie.' He stared astutely at David as if he were searching for his soul.

'Well there is no relationship between me and the blonde ice-cap so how about a little 'Vienna'?' David pleaded.

'Well Davey boy, that's where you're wrong,' Billy said with a concerned tone. 'I've had my fair share of getting my hands burnt but it doesn't mean a man can't step up to the heat.'

'U-uh,' David shook his head. 'I'm not stupid.'

'I know that David,' Billy sighed, 'just do me a favour will you? Just listen to my questions and answer them. It's only a dream sequence so what do you have to lose?'

'Okay but only because it's you Billy – shoot.' David crossed his arms defensively.

'You love this woman right?' Billy was direct- his air-time was expensive.

'I care deeply about her if that's what you're gettin' at,' David remarked.

'That's called love Dave – and love is a fragile thing, it's not something that you should play rough with,' Billy warned.

'Nothing wrong with rough,' David chuckles.

'I'm with you there bro,' Billy chuckled, 'but not what I'm getting at on this occasion. So let's get this straight: you love Maddie Hayes right?'

David looked uncomfortable, digging his hands even deeper into the pockets of his tuxedo as if he might find a way out through them. His face contorted with reluctance as he confessed: 'okay you got me, gun in my hand, dead body on the floor, finger-prints all over the crime-scene.'

'So say it,' Billy demanded patiently.

'You always this much fun at a private party?'

'David?' Billy was getting impatient.

'Okay, okay I love her, I'm in love with her but what's the point in this particular exercise? It's unrequited!' David's shoulders drooped and a look of anguish flittered across his features.

'Is it?'

'Of course,' David stuttered, 'you saw her- she wouldn't even be seen on my arm when we arrived at the party and she only calmed down when I reassured her that I'd put everyone straight if they thought we were an item,' David wrung his hands and started to pace.

'She protested a lot huh?' Billy asked.

'Much,' David agreed.

'Hmmmm,' Billy sighed, 'of course...well, I may have some advice for you David.'

'Really?' David looked down at the ground for an answer.

'Really, now you just listen boy...' Billy Joel started to play an upbeat tune on the piano, bringing it and the restaurant to sudden and alarming life. David started to tap his feet and click his fingers as he recognised the tune:

'Listen boy I don't want to see you
Let a good thing slip away
You know I don't like watching anybody
Make the same mistakes I made
She's a real nice girl and she's always there for you
But a nice girl wouldn't tell you what you should do

Listen boy I'm sure that you think
You got it all under control
You don't want somebody telling you
The way to stay in someone's soul
You're a big boy now and you'll never let her go
But that's just the kind of thing she ought to know

Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel
Give her every reason to accept that you're for real
Tell her about it, tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her, let her know how much she means

Listen boy, it's not automatically a certain guarantee
To insure yourself, you've got to provide
Communication constantly
When you love someone, you're always insecure
And there's only one good way to reassure

Tell her about it, let her know how much you care
When she can't be with you, tell her you wish you were there
Tell her about it, every day before you leave
Pay her some attention, give her something to believe

Cause now and then, she'll get to worrying
Just because you haven't spoken for so long
Though you may not have done anything
Will that be a consolation when she's gone

Listen boy, it's good information
From a man who's made mistakes
Just a word or two that she gets from you
Could be the difference that it makes
She's a trusting soul, she's put her trust in you
But a girl like that won't tell you what you should do

Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel
Give her every reason to accept that you're for real
Tell her about it, tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her, let her know how much she means

Tell her about it
Tell her how you feel right now
Just tell her about it
The girl don't want to wait too long
You got to tell her about it
Tell her now and you won't go wrong
You got to tell her about it
Before it gets too late
You got to tell her about it
You know the girl don't want to wait
You got to tell her about it
You got to tell, tell, tell her about it
Tell her about it'

Whilst Billy was singing guidance to David, 'Dream Maddie' walked into the bar in search of him. Her hair was wild, dress length a little shorter than usual, heels a little higher- she was definitely a product of David's imagination. David, knowing that this was a dream sequence, realised that this was a chance for him to take Billy's advice and see how it felt to confront the truth head on.

He approaches Maddie the seductress, takes her into his arms and holds her tight, not wanting to let go. Her arms instantly move around his body and she pulls him in closer; he is drunk on her returned affection. They move as one to the hypnotic music- hips interlocking with hips, her hands moving up towards his neck area. He unexpectedly pushes her away from him but it is only to create a space between them so that he can look directly into her eyes that are dark with visible passion. He melts in front of her – open and vulnerable in a way that he dare not reveal to any woman but this one. He reveals his soul, knowing he is safe.

'Maddie,' he purrs her name like it is something delectable he tastes on his tongue, 'I love you. I'm in love with you...' He feels relief flood through him, 'God, you have no idea how good it feels to say those words out loud!'

She smiles at him; it suggests she feels the same. 'I love you too David.' She brushes a finger across his lips and closes the gap between them.

He leans in, his lips touching hers, whispering against them with a feather's touch, 'I've longed for this,' he sighed.

'Kiss me David,' her voice was heavy with desire.

He leant in and kissed her like he was devouring her essence, his lips felt her warmth, his tongue found hers...passion welled up in him like he had never experienced before. Her hand reached to loosen his bow-tie. She discarded it and started on his shirt buttons. He reached his hand into her golden hair, feeling the soft curls twist around his fingers. His hand then traced its way down her spine until it reached the low cut zip. He pulled on the zipper and worked it downwards... and the lyrics evaporated, the kiss faded and tore like old fragile paper, the moment was falling, falling, falling...

The Party: Maddie gets worried

Maddie, having waited patiently for exactly fifteen minutes, brought her conversation with the girls to an abrupt end. 'Excuse me ladies, I'm just going to use the restroom- powder my nose.'

She made her way across the busy restaurant floor, gently nudging her way through tightly packed bodies, avoiding eye contact; intent on reaching her destination. Despite efforts to avoid attention, she was offered champagne, olives, hands to shake, cheeks to kiss and friendly smiles. Sandra certainly had a wonderful circle of friends – she was honoured to have been invited.

Reaching the restroom area, she spotted Richie at his table, deep in debate with a suited man- no sign of David, no sign of Leyna. Panic gripped her. Where was David? She wished, with her whole heart, that she had not waited the full fifteen minutes. Her breathing quickened as she attempted to figure out a way to sneak into the men's room without being noticed.

She waited for what seemed like an age as the latest track played out and the restroom area became less populated- most people were hitting the dance floor. As the majority headed towards the noise, lights and dancing, Maddie dashed into the men's room, frantically looking around.

'David?' she called out, terrified at what she might find: what they might have done to him, what had happened, why he wasn't with Richie.

Swiftly, she pushed open each cubicle door with a bang – until one door stopped short; something was clearly blocking its movement. 'David!'

Full of frustration, she stepped into the next stall, hoisted her dress up and climbed up onto the toilet seat. Peering over, she was met with an image which halted her breathing. Heart in mouth, she took in the scene: David sprawled out on the floor, the porcelain lid lying next to him. He had a mark on his forehead and blood was dripping down his face.

'Oh my God David,' she whimpered.

The Party: Richie in trouble

The uninvited guest had a gun, concealed beneath the table, pointing at Richie. He also had a slippery smile that slithered across his face and stopped just short of being human.

'Where the hell is my briefcase?' he snarled.

'Honest to God man, I thought that was the briefcase...' Richie sounded panic stricken and was struggling to keep up the veneer.

'What, this one?' the man hissed, holding up a set of karaoke tapes and song lyrics, 'yes, Mr Addison because the contents of this case are clearly worth two million dollars!' He banged them down on the table in fury.

'I think that there's a lot of potential for karaoke,' Richie stuttered, 'I predict it'll really take off by the nineties.'

'You're making a big mistake pal,' the man warned, 'if you think is the correct time and place for jokes.'

'You're obviously not a fan of the show?' Rich suggested.

The man's fury level just powered up by another notch. 'Do you know who you're messing with? Get me the guns and I may allow you and your friends to live.'

The Party: back in the rest room.

Maddie was precariously balanced on top of the dividing wall between the two cubicles, skirt up round her waist, panty-hose laddered and only one remaining shoe.

'What am I doing?' she mumbled to herself, responding to the worst case scenario: 'Hi I'm Maddie Hayes, yes that Maddie I often hang around on the top of toilet stalls in the men's room!'

Somehow, she managed to force her other leg up to the top of the stall before tumbling down, with a muffled shriek, on the other side - right on top of David's comatose body. Hastily, she rectified this and pushed herself to a kneeling position. Practically straddling David (there was not room for the both of them in here), she pulled on the tissue dispenser and tenderly cleared the blood from his face. Staring intently at his him, she gently slapped him a few times- feeling guilty with each hit. Nothing.

'David;' she pleaded, 'wake up!'

She tried pushing his eye-lids open with her fingers but he did not respond. What if he was dead? She had never really told him how she felt about him. 'David,' she implored, 'David you can't die on me now. Wake up! I haven't told you how much it meant to me that you flew out to be with me in Buenos Aires- how I felt so bad for not sending you quite enough money to get home, we never talked about the kiss in the garage- okay I admit it see? It was a kiss; although it was you that kissed me because you thought you wouldn't see me again! David why do you think I followed you to New York a second time? I don't know David...I don't do emotions very well, not like you- you make it all look so easy- me? My emotions are like a dripping tap, it takes a while for the tub to fill but I get there in the end,' she continued, thinking she'd never get to say any of this to him. 'We're so wrong for each other but so right, we'd never work and yet somehow we do. Half the time you let me down, the other half you're right there watching my back right when I need you most. David why do you have to be such an anomaly? I love you and I hate you David Addison! Wake up so I can tell you. Wake up, wake up, wake up,' she cried, shaking him. There was only one thing left to try but she'd never tried to resuscitate anyone before...she wasn't trained, this could go horribly wrong.

She tipped David's head back, opened his mouth, pinched his nose and brought her lips to his. It was this action that caused David to re-gain consciousness but not for the obvious reason.

'Maddie?' he asked bewildered but aware that she was straddling him in a restroom cubicle.

'David I thought you were dead!' Maddie screamed in relief and delight.

'Maddie honey,' he began, looking up at her face, 'aren't there rules that prohibit necrophilia in this state?'

She whacked him round the head.

'Ouch!' he cried, grabbing his head.

'Sorry, sorry, sorry,' she apologised profusely and gripped him in a bear hug.

'Ouch!' he winced again.

'Sorry,' Maddie repeated and she pulled away and looked at him, 'I was so scared...'

What Maddie did next was not planned (kind of spontaneous some might say); it was as if her body was working without her mind anchoring it to the safe, real world. She kissed him. Not a kiss of life this time but the real thing. A surge of worry, fear and pent up emotions cut loose through that kiss.

David, stunned and thinking he was back in the dream, froze for a second but was soon reciprocating with full unencumbered passion. They stayed this way for a long sweet while; a minute becoming thousands of seconds, both afraid that when they pulled away it would be the garage all over again- but like all good things...

'She turns to me sometimes and she asks me what I'm dreaming
And I realize I must have gone a million miles away
And I ask her how she knew to reach out for me at that moment
And she smiles because it's understood there are no words to say
It's all about soul (She's all about soul)
It's all about knowin' what someone is feelin'
The woman's got soul (She's all about soul)
The power of love and the power of healin''

Eventually pulling away, they stared at each other, eyes misty with contentment and open mouths portraying fear...

Until: 'Richie,' they both whispered.

The Party- the plot thinens

Maddie and David, having emerged from the men's room (Maddie now shoeless, laddered tights but dress firmly pulled down to its proper place) were now standing amidst what Sandra's party had evolved into. It was at full steam. People talked loudly, animated; some folks laughed raucously; others preferred the intimacy of a booth as they caught up with long lost friends. The dance floor was firing up: Sandra was leading and, by the looks of it, she was conjuring up a conga-line...

'Over there,' David whispered in Maddie's ear as he motioned towards a table, 'Maddie he's got a gun.'

'Oh my God, we need to call the police!' Maddie hissed back in a panic.

'Not unless you want to spend the night in the morgue Maddie...well, considering your behaviour earlier that might not be such a bad thing,' he joked, receiving a glare. 'Listen Maddie, I got a bad feeling about these people Richie's got mixed up with.'

'No kidding?' Maddie replied sarcastically.

'Do the words 'I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse' mean anything to you?' David kept his voice low and close to her ear. 'What about: 'Never tell anyone outside the family what you're thinking'?'

'David, you don't think...'

'We both know that,' he quipped, '...if I'm right, then Rich has sunk to the lowest level a human being can- however, this is Richie we're talking about so he's only gone and burrowed so deep that he's missed the escape tunnel- only a golden spade could rescue him now- you with me?'

'I have no idea,' Maddie looked perplexed.

'The only shovel big enough to shovel this particular dirt has dollar signs all over it,' David tried to exemplify further.

'David what are you trying to say?'

'I think I'm going to have to try to negotiate, sweet-talk, bail him out...'

'With what exactly?'

'Our money?' he gulped.

Maddie's mouth dropped open but was soon replaced with a resolute look. 'Do what you have to do David,' she sighed, 'you Addison brothers!'

'Don't you tarnish me with the same breath Maddie,' David complained, 'I told you, I'm sure that my parents found him in lost baggage at the airport all those years...where they should have left him. Lost and not found.'

'David,' Maddie grabbed his arm, 'please, please...'

' careful? I know, you used that line already; anyone would think you cared,' he smiled a little but soon looked serious. 'Right, I'm going over, talk a little business...'

'I don't like it,' Maddie shook her head and stared back at him with anxious, wide blue eyes.

'Well it's a good job that I wouldn't let you do it for all the tea in China then isn't it?' David mentally prepared to put himself on the front-line.

'What do I do?' Maddie insisted.

'Maddie, listen carefully, I want you to find the briefcase that I swapped earlier on in the should be in the corridor, round the corner from the men's room. That's where I kicked it. Get it and bring it to the table,' he listed, 'oh and watch out for that viper: Leyna- I think she's fled the field but she could be lurking in the grass.'

'Right,' Maddie nodded.

Without warning, Sandra's Conga-line reached them and carried them away from their plan in a cacophony of laughter, rhythm and hands. They had no choice but to be lifted away with the crowd of devout party-goers. The line weaved in and out of the tables and covered the whole establishment. There was Richie, now he was gone; there was the case, now it was gone...

David was behind Maddie, both hands around her waist.

'David,' Maddie turned around to snap at him, 'mind out where you put those hands!'

'Maddie, what can I say? It's a Conga- I think pretty much any type of holding is permissible.'

'There's Richie,' Maddie threw over her shoulder to him.

David caught it and returned a: 'no, we missed him again.'

'Next time we conga past his table, let go of my waist and go for it!' she demanded.

David chuckles despite the tense atmosphere. 'I never thought I'd hear you say that Ms Hayes!'

He received an icy glare and held her tighter, and a little lower just to retaliate.

The Party: Richie up to his neck...

The Uninvited guest was losing his cool. Wiping his brow, he demanded for a final time: 'The brief-case!'

'You're gonna have to shoot me because I'm telling you the truth, I don't know what happened to it,' Richie replied, eyes fraught and heart racing, 'only do me one favour...can you do it out back so it's not in front of these good people?'

'You're either incredibly stupid, or incredibly brave- except, I can't work out which,' the man replied in a cold voice.

David Addison slipped into the seat next to Richie.

'Hey bro; nothing like the family to deal with the family huh?' he stated nervously.

'What are you doing here?' Richie stammered and the man demanded in unison.

'Thanks for the grateful reception...I believe it's called saving your crazy ass bro,' David rolled his eyes at the situation.

'The unfortunate man from the restroom I believe,' the man sighed, 'who are you exactly?'

'The man who knows where your briefcase is!' David replied. 'Ready to talk?'

The man switched his gun from one brother to the other. 'Why the hell do you have my briefcase?' he demanded.

'Well that question is easy,' David stated, trying to keep his cool exterior. 'I swapped it with this fine array of music you see before you on the table.'

'How on Earth did you get past Leyna?' the man demanded, waggling the gun around frenetically.

'Well, I guess having a private investigator at the party didn't quite figure into your plan Mr...' David trailed off.

'Mr Gatling will do,' the uninvited guest seethed.

'The way I see it,' David continued, 'is that we have a problem; a problem that may be solvable through negotiation and a fist full of dollars- am I right?'

David heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked from underneath a table. He gulped.

'In my book, I tend to find that actions speak a whole lot louder than words,' the man's voice was spiked with venom. 'Give me the case now or I'll shoot you both.'

Flinging the case down on the table with an almighty crash, Maddie looked expectantly at David for the next move.

'Way to go Maddie,' David groaned. 'I guess the negotiation is over!'

Sensing that she just did something wrong, Maddie glared at David: 'You told me to go and fetch the briefcase!'

'I meant wait until the right moment,' David sighed.

'This isn't the right moment?' Maddie asked, looking from one man to the other.

'Maddie, Mr Corleone has a gun pointed at us under the table,' David explained.

'Oh,' Maddie gulped, realising her mistake.

'And Leyna has a gun pointed at you,' Leyna drawled as Maddie felt something hard and cold pressing into the small of her back.

'Leyna, we thought you'd left the party,' David mocked, 'it was so dead here without you!'

'Shut up!' the man hissed. 'Leyna, I have the money- we'll carry out the transaction and then I'll leave with my goods. Does that sound like a simple enough plot for you two nit-wit detectives to get your heads around?'

'I know that they say our cases always take second place to the romance on the show- but right now you're doing a good job of killing both,' David complained. 'You want our ratings to take a nose dive or what? We can't let the episode end like this; you'll have our audience writing in enough mail to sink your career as the bad guy forever!'

'I'm willing to take that risk!' the man, who referred to himself as Mr Gatling, spat.

'We're not!' David retorted. 'Maddie?'

'Yes David?' she sounded anxious.

'I'd say it was probably a good time to start a chase scene!' he cried.

The Party: time for a chase

Sandra's Conga-line had made it around the room again, taking Leyna; gun in hand, by surprise as she was swept away by the group of loud celebrating guests.

Maddie took one look at David, snatched the case and joined the end of the Conga-line. 'I think this is as close to a chase scene as you're gonna get without ruining the party!' she cried, allowing herself to be dragged around the room.

'Hey!' the man shouted; he rose to his feet and watched the briefcase disappear on the human freight train.

David, taking this opportunity presented to him, immediately lunged at the man- desperately grabbing for the gun. Richie, seeing that his brother had the upper hand, jumped in to his side and between them, they wrestled the weapon out of Mr Gatling's hands.

'Richie,' David complained as he held the man's arms behind his back, 'are you in trouble with who I think you're in trouble with?'

'I think I may be in trouble with who you think I'm in trouble with but these guys are not the main trouble, they're offering me another way out of the original trouble,' Richie explained, even confusing the uninvited guest.

'What trouble?' David asked.

'Money bro,' Richie sighed, 'I borrowed some money off people I had no business borrowing money from...these guys said they could buy me an extra week if I let them sell the guns...I'm the go-between.' He hung his head in shame.

'Richie there are a million things I'd like to call you right now but we haven't time,' David shouted. 'People are beginning to notice what's going down over here and I've got to rescue a blonde who's doing the Russian roulette version of the Conga.'

'I'm sorry,' Richie whined.

'Don't be sorry, just sit with our good friend Mr Gatling here and wait for me- and whatever you do, don't let him leave,' David commanded, discretely handing him the gun... 'Oh,' he looked directly at the uninvited guest, 'you know what the most common problem with the Gatling is? When they were first used in a war situation? Sometimes the bullets jammed!'

Clinging furiously to the briefcase, Maddie attempted to keep up with the Conga-line. Every time it made a turn, her eyes darted around the room, desperate to locate Leyna and the gun but she could only see smiling faces glancing back. Then an idea struck her: she would use the human conga-line to climb towards Leyna, approaching her from behind and hopefully taking her unawares. This was not going to be easy.

David followed the group of dancers, lead by the inexorable Sandra (who did not know that she had saved the day), searching for the familiar silhouette of his partner. His eyes moved swiftly along the line until he spotted the highly recognizable blonde using the Conga-line as a human ladder to reach Leyna. Now how could he thwart Leyna, keep Maddie out of the firing line and create a happy ending for all?

'The show must go on,' he muttered to himself, 'or in this case, the party.'

'David,' Sandra yelled from the head of the line, 'join the party!'

David, looking behind him, could see that Richie remained seated with Mr Luger- only Richie was the one holding the gun now. Luckily, Mr Luger didn't know that Richie had no idea how to use it.

'Try and stop me!' David cried as he waited for his opportunity to rejoin the line behind Maddie. At last, he hooked his arm around her waist and joined: 'Maddie!'

'David!' Maddie cried, relieved to hear his familiar voice- she didn't even mind it when he put both of his hands firmly around her waist, somehow it made her feel safer. 'What happened?' she yelled.

'Let's just say the tables turned!' he yelled back to her. 'Let's get the gun off Leyna and force them both to have a conversation that ends with us paying them off and severing Richie's ties to a certain family. Sandra, hopefully, will never know any of this happened. Plan?'

'Plan!' Maddie hollered back.

'Now let me in front of you,' David demanded, 'if anyone's going to 'do it for Leyna', it's going to be me!'

'Be my guest,' Maddie sounded relieved as she let him pass in front of her; she held on firmly to his waist. 'Watch where you put those hands David.'

'Oh don't worry, I intend to!' David tapped the shoulder of the woman in front of him; it was Rose LaChance from their table. 'Hey Rosie Rose,' he shouted. 'It's your old buddy Dave!'

'Oh, hi there Dave !' she beamed back.

'Phil's looking for you- something about a phone call from the twins' babysitter?' David pretended to look confused and held his hand up to his ear like a phone.

Rosie grabbed her friend in front and the two of them sped off looking for Phil.

David, grasping his chance with both arms, pushed too hard into Leyna in order to bridge the gap. Tumbling to the floor in an ungainly fashion, he landed on top of her and wrestled for the weapon. Maddie, accompanied by a shriek, lost her footing and also toppled down onto David. She was followed by several other people who had not had time to put the brakes on. It was a human pile-up.

Maddie, although squished, spotted the weapon and was able to tease it into her hand. 'David, you okay down there?' she wheezed with what little breath she could squeeze out.

'Arrrrr,' he groaned, 'Maddie I always wondered what it might be like to have you on top, but for future reference – the others are definitely not invited!'

The Party: later in a dark corner of the dance floor

After all of the excitement, Sandra had demanded a change in the mood- the lights had been dulled, the music was softer, slower as they entered into that magical phase of a good party where conversation became intimate, secrets whispered, and lovers owned the dance-floor.

The restaurant transformed. Night time had claimed it- tables were cleared and moved aside; candle light took the place of the restaurant lighting and now flickered with opportunity. Gentle music nudged its way into every corner of the room inviting people to give into its sultry midnight rhythms.

Maddie and David were enjoying a slow dance in the shadows of the dance floor- lack of light gave the simple illusion of being in a private place. They danced in peace for awhile, leaning on one another, exhausted from their unplanned Richie intervention.

David, sighing deeply, looked up at Maddie who was just as lost. 'I thought we did a good job this evening partner- how about you?' He broke the silence.

'We did, it could have gone so wrong,' she muttered, '...what if...'

David stopped her mouth with a finger to her lips, 'no what if's Ms Hayes. We did good. All's well that ends well: Richie's safe, the bad guys are paid off so they can go work on some other show over at NBC and Sandra is none the wiser.'

'You're right David, we did do well,' she smiled but this ceased when her attention was drawn to his injury. 'You did not fare so well David- knocked out and crushed all in the same episode?' She gently brushed a finger across the bruise that had formed on his forehead. 'Does it hurt much?'

'Only when you do that,' he chuckled. 'It wasn't all bad in this episode though.' His skin burned where she had left her impression.

'No, you're right: you have great friends here in New York and it was lovely to meet them all,' Maddie agreed. 'Sandra's wonderful, where have you been hiding her?'

'They're my friends – so it goes without saying. I was actually thinking of something else that occurred during this episode...' he whispered cautiously.

'Oh?' She looked away with sudden embarrassment.

'Oh,' he repeated. 'Hey, where'd you go?'

She looked up again and he could detect a flush to her cheek. For a moment he thought better of pursuing the conversation; he'd cornered her again and she would retaliate like a deer caught in a trap. Then again, they were dancing in darkness, the music was right and they had experienced so much together.

'David, don't ruin a tender moment by talking about it,' she said in a quiet voice.

David was taken aback; did that mean she didn't want to discuss the kiss at all? Was that her way of closing the book on that conversation? Obviously he was supposed to lock the door on his feelings once more.

'No, I have to...' he began, desperate to tell her the truth before it killed him

This time she put a finger to his lips in order to silence words that would lead to his foot occupying space that she unexpectedly wanted to fill. She looked directly into his eyes as she held his body close. There was that warm feeling of utter security; she felt safe in his arms and satisfied that, in this moment, this was exactly where she wanted to be.

Surprising him again, she brushed soft fingers across the back of his neck. They were face to face, eyes locked, heat radiating outwards to fill the space between them. With her other hand, she traced a line down his cheek, inviting him to come closer.

Responding instinctively to this beautiful creature in close proximity, David found his lips parting; his head naturally angling itself in preparation for another kiss with this amazing woman (he couldn't believe his luck- three in one episode: they must want him to stay on and do a fourth season). He could not take his eyes off her. He paused to savour the precious moment; he could hear the sound of his own heart pounding in his chest. Then his lips brushed against her so softly, so tenderly that he could feel warmth of her fragile skin against his own. Then he began to explore in earnest, taking pleasure in this perpetual kiss...

' Just friends?' Sandra interrupted them as she slinked past with Peppe in her arms, the two of them nodding together as if they had both just won on the roulette table. They took one look at David's bruise; Maddie's torn tights and lack of foot-wear and smiled a knowing look at one another. Winking, they danced off into the wild night.

'Hey, partner,' David breathed the air of his words into Maddie's ear- she shut her eyes in pleasure. 'What say you if we take this dance somewhere a little more private?'

'Let's hail a cab,' Maddie smiled up at him, a twinkle in her eye.

'You never cease to amaze me,' he sighed in awe.

'Didn't I say
I wasn't ready for a romance
Didn't we promise

We would only be friends

And so we danced
Though it was only a slow dance
I started breaking my promises
Right there and then

Didn't I swear
There would be no complications
Didn't you want
Someone who's seen it all before

Now that you're here
It's not the same situation
Suddenly I don't remember the rules anymore

This night is mine
It's only you and I
Is a long time away
This night can last forever'

LA: Maddie's house

Maddie, weary with jetlag, was greeted by the persuasive flashing of the answer-machine message light. She wished it were not so insistent. She wanted to unpack first, pour a glass of wine...maybe a hot bubble bath. The flashing neon light demanded immediate attention and she gave in.

David shuffled into the house behind her; dragging the suitcases- which he deposited by the foot of the spiral staircase. 'Just leave it,' he sighed, 'whoever it is, they can wait.'

Despite David's opinion on the matter, she pressed the button and he frowned with disapproval.

'Message 1: Hey Maddie, it's Sandra – just wanted to say thanks again for coming all the way out here for my birthday; it was so great to see you both! Anyway...hope the flight was okay blah, blah, blah...I just want you to know I won myself a tidy wager that night! Talk to you soon.'


'Message 2: Maddie? This is Glenn, I know you're in NYC at the moment but I just wanted to run a few ideas by you for the next few episodes...I've been thinking about doing a Shakespearean episode that would be perfect for you guys. Hey and guess what? The Rona Barrett wants to be on the show- can you believe that? Oh and one more thing...'


'Message 3: Hi Maddie this is Sam Crawford- your astronaut friend? I know it's been awhile but I'd really like to take a trip over to LA and catch up with my beautiful friend over a candlelit dinner for two...'

Maddie deleted this one.

'Message 4: Sorry we must've gotten cut off Maddie, this is Glenn again...just to let you know that we have big end of season plans which coincide with February Sweeps! Mark Harmon has agreed to come on the show and play your long lost love-interest Sam Crawford! He's going to call you... anyway; it's going to lead, at last, to the Big Bang...'


'Oops,' Maddie and David uttered in unison.

'Were we meant to wait?' David bit his lip. 'Mark Harmon? Big Bang? Sweeps Week?'

'Maybe Glenn won't watch this episode,' Maddie said hopefully.

'And maybe we're in trouble,' David suggested. 'How good are you at keeping secrets?'

Cue Al Jarreau