Stacie felt it could be the beginning of the end. She tells him this over breakfast. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the rooftops she sweeps her hair from her face and says that she can't play his mistress anymore. She's tired of hiding from the four 'wives' who keep him occupied even though he's not actually married. He agrees, plants a coffee kiss on her lips and promises he'll find way. Grabbing a croissant from the table, he's gone and she missed him before the door closes behind him. The thrill of the chase is waning and she can hardly be bothered to find a mark.
The answer is so simple yet they're both nervous that night. He is already well aware of the danger she will be in tomorrow and it's all she can do to glue herself to him, mould her body around him in case they forget what they have. Then there's the unspoken worse.
So it's the beginning of the end. There can't be any other reason for Mickey and Ash getting in so close and weaving in so tight around a dangerous man who collects dead bodies as Danny collected notches in his bedpost.
His hand stings from the coffee. Stacie feels it as if it were her own. Red, sore and irritated as he strides from the room. There's a brief concerned look directed at her, so quick anyone else would have missed it. Later he hugs her as a friend might. It feels strange and somehow she wants to lay claim to him. The only grip she has in this quicksand moment is to declare how often he has written to her. She falls short of revealing the late phone calls and secret visits, the house they've made together in case the ultimate mark was found. Until this day arrived.
Her stomach is turning knots and there's an acrid taste of worry churning through her mouth. Worry for him, worry for her and the concern that this con is so fragile. There is much more at stake. More to risk than could be solved by a hasty getaway. The last time Stacie felt this sense of foreboding was when she saw him fake his death in Eddie's bar and she thought that it was too late to tell him how his strength imbues her with a confidence she doesn't feel when he walks away. No, scrap that, it was when she got on the plane to America and halfway to New York realised that the very thing which drove them apart didn't matter as much as him. The confusion between work and play could be removed if she made the ultimate sacrifice and left the family. So Stacie promptly conned a restaurant chain and flew straight back much to Danny's confusion. She called Ash as soon as she was through passport control and met him in one of the few posh hotels they'd never conned. They'd sat in bemused and stunned shock for several minutes before tentatively taking slow steps to intimacy.
Stacie knows that she has mixed up work and play again as the nerves take hold. Mickey was so right all those years ago when he refused to rekindle the death of their brief fling now she was considered family. Yet there was no comparison between that fling and the permanency of Ash. That thought was comforting and surprising for her, someone who usually feels habitual fear at commitment. He is permanent. He might not know that yet but it's the only way she thinks of him. With ease, the conversation is deflected to Danny and she is grateful to Ash for going with the flow.
It's hard keeping it a secret. When she heard that he'd been beaten up all she got was a quick call whilst he was lurking on a street corner to say he was okay. In the background Albert was demanding something from him. They always have needed him. Her included. She can't recall the last time she hadn't wanted him. Maybe those first few months when the excitement of being an adored woman in a gang of high-flying grifters made her giddy, she'd barely been aware. Then she was brought up short with the return of her ex and the impact of her past on the present. She still wears the diamond bracelet Ash gave her. She still has one of those photos. The ones that embarrassed them both at a time when neither wanted to go that far. They'd barely had one date then but it's the only photo she has of them both. It's not wise to leave any evidence when you pass through life conning everyone outside the family. She recalls flaunting herself in a barely there bikini on a sun lounger. He'd studiously ignored but months later, alone, remembered in passionately clear detail.
The car has come to a stop. It is the beginning of the end. Albert and Danny are first to get out. They are both ready for a first class service to NYC and to their surprise Sean gets out with them, eager for adventure and possibly reluctant to let go all that is familiar by tagging along with Albert. Mickey and Emma follow. She has decided to see her brother safely on the flight, prolonging what Stacie thinks must be the first separation of the siblings for many years. She's surprised but grateful that Mickey has found someone as kind as Emma.
So it's just them she thinks. There's a look on the faces of her friends standing on the pavement. A collective twinkle that tells her they knew all along, the very secret they had tried to hide. When Mickey tells them not to forget to invite them to the wedding, she laughs at Ash's stunned look and kisses him with relief. What's left to hide?
It's the start of a new beginning.