(An alternative ending to Blonde on Blonde)
'Yo, Maddie!' he yelled. 'Maddie, I got something to tell ya!' David was pounding on the entrance door of Maddie's home with his left fist, the right one was holding on to a slightly ruffled bunch of stolen flowers. Damn, it had taken him an eternity to admit to himself that he loved her. Finally, a number of crazy events had led him to pull his courage together and hurry to her house so he could finally admit these feelings; he didn't intend to give up now. 'Now listen, I know it's 4 o'clock in the morning...'
Abruptly, the door was yanked open, and she was standing there in a pale silvery grey satin nightgown, a matching dressing gown pulled hastily over it. She was so beautiful that his heart skipped a beat. If looks could kill, he would have been dead meat. 'Terrific!' she hissed. 'He can read the clock! Addison, what are you doing here?!'
Untypically for him, David pulled a shy, sheepish grin; he was stunned by her beauty and overwhelmed by his own feelings, and suddenly he felt scared by his own courage. 'Uhm... ah,' he stuttered, 'you been asleep, huh?'
'Asleep?!' she slowly echoed, her voice dripping with acid sarcasm, and folded her arms. 'Gee no, I've been embroidering a tapestry!' David just looked at her with a puppyish expression on his face; the heavy rain was still pouring down on him. Somehow, he looked different tonight and it startled and annoyed her. Maddie rolled her eyes. 'Alright already, just get in here, you'll catch your death!' Angrily, she stepped aside and let him enter. 'Although the thought has its charm...' she muttered under her breath as she slammed the door behind him.
David was standing there with his rampaged flowers, still staring at her in that confusing way, almost like a schoolboy, shuffling his feet, his face wet with rain – it could easily have been tears. In that moment, he looked very vulnerable. Maddie started to worry.
'So...' he started, unsure how to go on.
She folded her arms again, as if in self-defense – she had no idea what he was up to, and that made her uneasy, even frightened her. 'So?' she inquired impatiently. 'Where are you coming from at this ungodly hour – looking like this?' She made a brusque movement towards him with her right hand.
He looked down at himself – his coat was soaked, dirty, even ripped on one side; his whole appearance was bruised and battered, just like the flowers he still fiercely gripped. He shrugged clumsily. 'I was held up a little...'
'Held up?' she snapped, using her old offense-is-the-best-defense-strategy against him, and gave him a dirty look. Oddly enough, Maddie herself had no idea why she was so mad at him right now. 'Held down, you mean!'
'I've been in jail,' he defended himself, 'but that doesn't matter now. I have to...'
'In jail?!' she interrupted, her eyes widening in disbelief.
David just shook his head in a weary, helpless way. 'Long story.' And it would completely lead off track if I told you about it now...
Maddie's voice clearly showed her annoyance. 'I bet it is, and I'm not sure I wanna hear it!'
He raised his hands in a defensive gesture, the left one still holding the poorly looking flowers. 'Look, I came here to tell you something...'
'How did you know, by the way, that I was home?' she interrupted again, suddenly remembering what she had told him about her plans for the night when they had parted in the office. He should have thought she was out somewhere, being bad... Then an idea dawned on her, so crazy, even for him, that it just couldn't possibly be true, could it? 'Wait a minute... did you follow me?!' Her eyes widened in disbelief and anger. 'Oh my Goodness, you followed me, didn't you?!'
'No!' he denied instinctively, then he decided to lay his cards on the table and sighed. 'I... yes.'
Maddie shook her head and let out a disgusted snort. 'Addison, you're a very sick man.'
Now he was getting angry himself. Why for heaven's sake did it always have to end up in a fight when he was trying to talk seriously to her? Why was she always attacking him? 'I am sick? I am sick?' His voice was rising. 'Well, unlike what you usually accuse me of, I am not the one running around to hook up with some stranger just because...' in the middle of the phrase he stopped himself, shocked by his own words – this was not going as he had intended it to...
Maddie was mad now and lowered her voice to a cutting hiss that he could physically feel. 'Well I got news for you,' she replied dangerously, slowly, 'my private life is none of your goddamn business!'
His jaw tightened without him even noticing it.
'You made it very clear today,' she went on, 'that you weren't interested in it anyway! And now – haul your miserable carcass out of my house!'
'Fine,' he growled, his voice just as low.
'Fine!' she yelled.
He nodded quietly, in a defeated way. 'Good...'
'Good,' she replied coldly.
'Terrific!' In a sudden outburst that made her literally jump, David threw the ruffled flowers violently on the floor, turned around on his heels and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him. This had taken place in less than three seconds.
Maddie stood there on her spot for a few seconds, then her gaze fell on the deplorable flowers lying on the floor; she seemed to notice them for the first time. David had been carrying flowers to her house in the middle of the night. Why? She took two steps and bent down to pick up them up. He had come to her house because he had been desperate to tell her something, carrying flowers, and it dawned on her that she never had given him the opportunity to say what he had wanted to say. Suddenly, she realized that she felt the unmistakable urge to hear what he actually had to say; she ran to the door and yanked it open again, calling out for him: 'David, wait!'
David had stomped down the few steps leading from Maddie's door to the pavement, but his anger was drowned by the pouring rain as soon as he had reached the level of the street. Damn, this hadn't gone as he had intended it to. He had rushed to Maddie's house to finally tell her that he loved her, to lay his heart at her feet, but somehow, he had ended up throwing flowers at her feet instead, and it had all spiralled out of control. It dawned on him that he had let himself be steamrolled by her defensive anger again, just like before, and he had held back where he should have told her to shut up and listen to him. Suddenly, he knew that it was now or never, that if he let this opportunity slip through his fingers, this door would be closed to him for ever. He turned around and almost ran back up those few steps, raising his fist to hammer again at the door. 'Maddie! Open the door!'
When the door was pulled violently open and he found himself nose to nose with Maddie, for a few seconds, time seemed to stand still, and both of them stood like pillars of salt under Maddie's entrance door; she inside the house, he outside in the rain. They were staring at each other in an almost horrified way. Then, finally, they both spoke simultaneously.
'Were you calling me back? 'Were you coming back?
Me? No!' Me? No!'
When they realized what had just happened, both looked at each other shamefaced and fell silent. Without a word, Maddie stepped aside and let David come in again. Quietly, carefully this time, she closed the door behind him and went inside the hall, leaving him standing with his back to the door, still clutching the miserable flowers in her hand, holding on to them like a safety rope. Their battered exterior seemed to mirror her own ruffled state of mind. He saw the flowers in her hands, and somehow it raised his hopes.
'I think you never told me what you were doing here in the middle of the night,' she finally said.
'Looking like this,' he added.
She smiled feebly. 'Looking like this.'
David took a deep breath. 'I came here to tell you something.'
She raised her eyebrows in a questioning, yet not unfriendly way. 'And it couldn't wait until tomorrow morning?'
She's questioning me again? David felt his courage evaporate once more and looked at his feet, trying to think of the best words to present his case.
'Well,' she went on, 'obviously it must be something important if it brings you to my doorstep at 4 in the morning, clutching a bunch of miserable flowers, looking like you just escaped from Alcatraz.' Despite the ironic color of her voice, she looked at him encouragingly. 'I'm listening, David.'
This time he opened his mouth, desperately wanting to speak, then, still lacking in words, closed it again – he wanted, needed to find the right words, but all he could get hold of in his mind were panicky pieces of thought like: This can't go wrong again... Damnit, you got only one chance – but how the hell could I ever live up to the expectations of Madolyn Hayes? I must be crazy to think I could ever...
Maddie mistook his inability to speak for hesitation and got angry again. If he didn't know what he wanted, then – well, to hell with him!
'Fine,' she snapped and threw the flowers at his feet, turned around on her heels and headed for the spiral staircase.
'I love you,' he blurted out.
She stepped dead in her tracks and turned around again to face him. 'What did you say?'
'You heard me.'
'No, I didn't!' she shot back. 'You were mumbling!'
'I wasn't...' Stop this – now! He sighed. 'I said – I love you.'
The silence that followed was almost deafening. Their stares locked, and their eyes mirrored each other's anxiety, breathlessness and confusion. Maddie managed a toneless: 'Are you serious?'
He replied softly: 'Do I look like I'm joking?'
In the pause that followed, David picked up the flowers from the floor and handed them to Maddie; she took them from him with a shy little smile, and in that brief moment their hands touched and it was as if electricity was literally flowing through them, but, surprisingly enough, neither of them backed away. The words David had spoken hung between them, powerfully ringing in the ears of both, and not for one minute did either of them contemplate denying it it had happened.
Yes, there was awkwardness in the air, mixed with tension, anxiety but also eager anticipation. They shared the vague, but mutual feeling that a step had been taken that wouldn't allow either of them to go back to how and who they were before, even if they had wanted to. It was like something new had begun – for both, it felt crazy, frightening – but also good and warm. It was a feeling that made them wonder what the next step would be, who would take it and where it would lead them.
Maddie averted her eyes and looked down at the flowers in her hands. 'They look pretty battered...'
David ruffled his rain-soaked hair, and tiny droplets of water splashed all over the place. 'I'm sorry,' he said uncomfortably, 'I know they're not...'
Maddie clutched them to her chest and looked into his eyes again. 'I love them!' she interrupted quickly.
He smiled his half-smile, but not smugly – this time it was full of anxiety. He was not really sure what to say, what to do next and finally managed: 'Good...' Atypically for him, he fell silent again. God, this is more difficult than I thought...
Maddie cleared her throat. 'Why?'
He frowned. 'What?'
'Why?' she repeated. 'I mean – you're saying you love me... why?'
'Why do I love you?'
David frowned. 'What kind of question is this?' he asked, startled. 'Why do I love you?' He slowly shook his head, clueless. 'I have no idea why! I can't explain it to you – or to myself, for what it's worth.' He looked at Maddie and noticed that she was scrutinizing him closely, her blue eyes hanging onto his lips, his eyes – as if she were afraid to miss anything he might say or do. 'I only know,' he went on, 'that when I don't see you, I keep looking for you, and when I still don't see you, I get nervous. And then, when I finally do see you...' he hesitated, then his lips curved into a crooked smile again that gave Maddie a warm and pleasant feeling. 'I feel like dancing,' he finished and shrugged. 'Okay, sometimes it's break dancing, but still – dancing.' He winked at her and nodded. 'Yes, that sums it up pretty much.' He shrugged again. 'Anyway, what really counts is the X-factor.'
'The X-factor?' Maddie echoed.
'Ex-actly,' he confirmed with the tiniest teasing note in his voice. 'I don't have to say that you're beautiful, smart – sexy...' with every word, he lowered his voice a nuance so it deepened in tone (Maddie shivering along with each vibration). 'All of that wouldn't mean a thing if there wasn't the X-factor,' he went on and explained with another shrug: 'I guess you never really know why you love somebody – that makes it so freaking... scary.' With that last word, he looked her deep in the eyes, and she was mesmerized by his honesty and very touched that he had admitted it – that he loved her and that it frightened him. So, she was not alone with that confusing combination of emotions.
'Well...' his voice woke her from her thoughts, 'aren't you gonna say something?'
After a long pause, Maddie drew a deep breath, full of hesitation, before she admitted: 'I'm complicated.'
Now it was David's turn to be encouraging. He smiled.'I'm a good riddle-solver.'
'Maybe neurotic,' she went on.
He winked. 'Let's say quirky.'
She smiled shyly but only for a moment. She hadn't finished yet. 'I have problems with trusting somebody completely, and I'm afraid of...' she swallowed and licked her lips; it was not a sensual gesture, but more of a helpless one. '...letting myself fall.'
David wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and show her that they were strong enough to catch her when she fell; but he knew that it was not the right moment yet. He just took a step nearer and was standing only a few inches apart from her now, but he didn't touch her. 'We can work on that,' he simply said. 'What else?'
She seemed to faintly relax, but still had her last bomb to drop. 'It's perfectly possible that I'm... I'm...' she interrupted herself and let out a deep sigh. 'I'm incapable of allowing myself to be happy.'
He raised his left hand and tucked a streak of hair behind her right ear, replying softly: 'Then we're gonna work on that too.'
She looked down at the flowers in her hands, and he waited patiently before she lifted her head again and her eyes met his gaze. Her voice was not loud, but it was clear when she finally told him: 'I love you.'
David suppressed the strong urge to clench both fists and yell Yes! He beamed. 'Now that's something we can definitely work with.'
Maddie's mouth was dry all of a sudden, and she was scared to death by her own courage, but also pleasantly surprised. She had taken the next step, she couldn't believe she had been brave enough to do it, but he had spurred her on, and there she was – they were. But she still felt like she was walking on egg-shells, so anxious not to crush either of their dreams. It was almost too much for her to deal with, and for a moment she felt the urge to flee, to run for cover from him.
'You should take your coat off,' she said hastily because she couldn't think of anything more clever to say. Looking at it more closely, she couldn't think of anything else at all to say – his presence and what had just happened between them made it almost impossible for her to form any coherent thought in her head. 'You're soaked.' She took a deep breath and tried to gather her senses, her wits together – without success. 'Hey, why don't I get you a towel?'
Quickly, she turned around on her heels, happy to be able to give herself a break and escape the situation for just one moment, but David had her by the elbow before she could put more than a two-foot distance between them. He whirled her around, right into his arms, and caught her firmly in his embrace. The poor flowers landed on the floor for the third time. Maddie gasped in surprise and something more when he replied in a husky, and by no means questioning, demanding voice:
'Why don't you just kiss me?'
She looked into his sparkling green eyes, mesmerized, almost hypnotized by the unmistakable desire she saw there, and for a fraction of a second she felt like the proverbial rabbit looking at the snake. But then, her gaze went beyond the dangerous-looking surface, much deeper, like she was looking right into his soul, and all she saw there was true and honest love, and suddenly all her fears and insecurities fell away from her, were just gone, and she could allow herself to revel in this moment. She did this with pleasure and then allowed her gaze to wander down and linger on his mouth, not bothering to hide it. She felt warmth, no – heat spread all over her body, a pleasant heat that felt comfortable and not all-consuming. Maddie subconsciously moistened her own lips.
David hadn't touched her, or made any other move, he was just holding her in his arms – obviously not intending to let her go. It was like he was waiting for her to make the next move – not because he didn't want to make it himself, but because he didn't want to rush anything, rush her, or dictate the pace. It made her feel good – secure, appreciated and taken seriously. Courageous. Bold.
She lifted her eyes up to his again and saw the smile in them, the yearning, the plead. She felt her lips curve into a sultry and loving smile and grabbed his wet and spiky hair with both hands to pull his face near. It felt bold and yet so good to do that, not scary at all. He gladly obliged and followed her pull, bringing his mouth so close to hers that she could feel his breath on her lips.
'Yes,' she breathed, 'why don't I?'
When their lips finally touched, it was a mutual effort, and it happened with such ease, and so naturally that it was beautiful. There were no barriers left between them any more, no inhibitions and no insecurities. What had seemed so complicated before, was so easy now.
Although the kiss started slowly, tenderly, within the first second of contact came a jolt of electricity that sizzled right through them, it was a force stronger than any physical or chemical reaction which kept them glued together. David's left hand went right up to the back of Maddie's head, cupping it firmly, while his right arm slid around her waist, drawing her towards him and holding her even more tightly than before, if that was possible. Her hands had released his hair, and she had slid both arms around his neck, literally hanging onto him. She pressed herself into his body without hesitation or holding back, aching for him as he was aching for her. She felt the wetness of his rain-soaked coat steep the delicate fabric of her nightgown, and somehow this filled her even more with hot pangs of eager anticipation. For a brief moment, she removed her arms and grabbed the lapels of his coat to pull it off, her mouth never releasing his.
David laughed softly against her lips as he noticed her urgent moves and gladly shrugged the coat off; it fell to the floor on top of the battered flowers and was forgotten in that same moment. They never stopped their kissing which was becoming deeper and more and more passionate with each moment. Maddie was glad to be held firmly in his arms, because she was so dizzy that she didn't trust her knees any longer. Although she knew this was really happening, she couldn't believe it yet – she had imagined that kissing David, really kissing him would be like this, but still she had never expected anything like this, ever. From deep within, she sighed.
She was a little startled when his lips left hers, but then he started to kiss his way slowly down the right side of her throat, leaving only scorched earth, and almost like a primal reflex, her hands impatiently grabbed hold of his hair again. Maddie was already afire and had always secretly suspected that David could have that physical effect on her (and now she was more than ready to welcome this) but when his mouth reached her collarbone, it dawned on her that she hadn't even scratched the surface yet. The fact that this immense physical attraction was paired with that intense emotion – name it: love! – and the knowledge that he felt the same about her, made her head spin in a spiral of utter bliss and her body melt with sweet desire.
In this very moment, when she was happy to let go of her last ounce of control, David pulled back for a brief moment to look at her. Against her will, she lifted her eyelids and looked at him. God, how she loved his eyes.
He whispered hoarsely: 'Maddie... trust me. I will catch you.'
She smiled and replied without hesitation (although a little breathlessly): 'I trust you.'
And she found that she did exactly that – trust him. She knew instinctively that her heart was safe with him, that she could let down her guard. She was ready to let go of everything, ready to take his hand and let him lead her to the edge of that cliff she'd always been so frightened of, and she was more than ready to jump off the edge, over and over again.
She could see that he was very moved by her open reaction, which he had not expected, and she pulled him near again and simply said: 'David, make love to me.'
He smiled a happy, lopsided grin. ' Now that's the first thing we're gonna work on.'
For Sue who had this crazy idea of a friendly fanfic challenge that ruined my creative break!
As always, edited by the skilled hands of my partner Nancy. Thanks!