"Now this, I could get used to, but you're gonna tell me not to."
The remains of the elegant room service breakfast Bonnie had ordered lay abandoned on the table among bone china coffee cups and randomly scattered linen napkins, looking almost as much like a still life as Mike Nesmith did at the moment. He was lying on the love seat with his bare feet dangling over the arm and his head in Bonnie's lap. Her fingers were tangling and stroking through his thick hair, wandering over his forehead and tracing his eyebrows, trailing down the edges of his sideburns and under his ears and back up again, to make the trip down the other side.
"Oh yeah," he breathed, not bothering to open his eyes, "mama you oughta learn to slow down more often…"
"You're not gonna purr, are you?" she teased.
"Nope, but you can count on me rubbin' up against you when you least expect it. Now how about puttin' that other hand to use, you missed a spot behind my left ear…"
In her other hand Bonnie held the notes she'd put together for her meeting with Bob. She'd hastily written something up while Nesmith was in the shower, not wanting to ruin their morning together by looking like she was working. She wasn't really… or so she told herself. Just a few of the usual post-production things she didn't want to forget about, a few numbers she'd had the time to crunch.
"I don't wanna spoil you too much, like you said." His eyes were closed, after all, and she could do two things at once, especially when one involved him. Unlike him, she had a hard time disengaging entirely from her work because her wheels were always turning, afraid of missing something or failing to keep up. There was so much to keep up with... Nesmith had a talent for locking out the things he didn't feel like thinking about at any given moment, and picking them up later. Bonnie envied that, to a point anyway. Now she ran the thumb of her free hand under that lush lower lip and cupped his chin, bending to give him a quick kiss before very carefully turning the page of the notebook she had balanced on the arm of the love seat.
"Think you're slick, dontcha," he drawled lazily. "I heard that page turnin'." He also heard the notebook drop when she let it go as if burned her. When he opened his eyes she was looking down at him with sad, guilty eyes.
"I'm really trying, I'm not just playing you," she told him, and was grateful to see the gentle smile he always wore when he caught her out.
"Damn, I know that you foolish woman. C'mon, don't look like you just stole somethin'. I know you can't shut it off like I do, you gotta juggle it all." He reached for both of her now-empty hands, gently bundling her fingers together for kiss, then pressing them flat against his chest. "Quit worrying so much, go ahead and juggle, you're keeping me in the air just fine. And in case you didn't notice, I got stuff I need to juggle too." He lifted his hand as if to look at his watch but instead pulled her down for another kiss. "Gotcha."
"Okay, that wraps it up for now," Bob announced to close the meeting. "Bonnie you can hand all the numbers to accounting when we get back to L.A. Chip, you go straight to the booth for sound and music editing. Go with what we had already. There's enough there to keep the guys from carrying on too much. If it's not, tough. We've spent enough on this already."
"We've been getting lots of notice in the French press," Pam informed them. She had been thrilled to be invited to an actual production meeting. "Not just entertainment, but business, because they're trying to tap into the TV market, not just film, and I've heard from some of them that they the city and national film boards would like to get more outside productions filming here. Oh, and here's my article." She handed it to Bob. "Press deadline isn't for two weeks after we get back, so you'll have plenty of time to suggest changes if you want to." Bonnie was about to say something but Pam interjected, "Don't worry, that's a copy."
Bob offered a narrow eye to both of them. "I'm sure that's just in case we spill coffee on it. Because you know I don't lose important stuff."
"Thanks, Mr. Rafelson. For calling it 'important'," Pam managed not to sound quite as gushingly grateful as she really was.
"Anything that can help the show is important. Okay everyone, take off. Bonnie you'll get everyone's passports tomorrow when we meet downstairs to check out. When's the flight again?"
"Four o'clock. Same as last time, except we're all going back the same flight. Crew flies coach and the guys and us here, we're in First. I made sure they kept it clear for just us."
"Great. We're done."
Everyone headed for the door except Bonnie, who by long-established habit took a bit longer to gather her things as the others left.
"So. What now? With Kirshner I mean. And with me." She really wasn't all that sure there would be no repercussions.
"I told you. As far as I'm concerned it was Don who was out of line, and it happened off the clock. I should have shut him up sooner." Then he laughed and shook his head. "You had your share of crap to field this week, babe, and you were right, it's not in your contract that I remember. We'll talk about a new pay scale when we get back. You did good, Bonnie, for real. Now go do your civilizing magic on Nesmith. He's not gonna be happy the new stuff didn't get in the episode and I'm not in the mood to deal with him until maybe next week."
"Thanks, Bob. Y'know I confess I'm surprised this did turn out this well, I really didn't think this would work at all, to be honest, for a bunch of very specific reasons."
"And you didn't say that until now?"
"Not in my contract, man." She departed with a laugh.
Nesmith had said that it was important she be back at the room by five, something to do with the Big Surprise tonight, and it was already three-thirty. She'd have just enough time to go to the café next door to grab an espresso and go over her departure checklist, and get back on time. She still had no idea what he had up his long sleeve… couldn't be a party, the room was too small. Probably another gypsy jazz club, something nice and low key. She laughed to herself when she thought of Pam's continued insistence that a visit to Paris had to involve some specific, romantic happening. That kind of thing was okay, but it was kind of like the pretty frosting on all the culinary works of art displayed in the patisserie windows. Nice, but not necessary. With a tough week behind her she couldn't imagine how this final night of downtime could be improved by pretty frosting, even if it was with Nesmith.
"Here they are, Monsieur Nesmith… here is the address, but the car will be here at half past six, and the driver knows exactly what to do. Your reservations, they are for seven o'clock. And the other request… that too has been arranged. Mon ami Gaston is well acquainted with the music director."
"Phil, you are a master. I just hope it all goes by the plan…"
Philippe drew himself up to his full, professional posture. "Monsieur, you wound me." Then he laughed, and promised, "All will be well. And I must say, I commend you. We have not had many, ah, popular musicians as guests, and we were prepared for mayhem. It is wonderful to meet someone from such a young culture who has so much romance in his soul. To visit Paris for the first time… it must be said, romance is not optional."
"Thanks. In my case, it's been getting rusty."
"Ah but rust may be removed and voilá! All is restored. You must tell me tomorrow, everything."
"Well if I don't I'll be sure to write! Thanks again, man, and if we get back again here you are comin' to dinner with us. But you gotta call me 'Mike'. I don't think I could get used to Michel, no matter what it means."
"It would be mon plaisir, Mike. And have a wonderful evening with Mademoiselle Morris."
Bonnie didn't notice the ribbon-adorned garment bag until she closed the door. "Put me on," said the sign hung from the red silk. Huh? She went to the phone and dialed Genie's room.
"Hey, do you guys know anything about this wardrobe bag on my door?" she asked when Pam answered. "The tag says 'put me on'. So who's putting me on?"
"I don't know. I'm about questions, not answers, remember?" Oh my god, did we or did we not imagine this would happen? She beckoned to Genie, who had been setting her records in order in her briefcase. "Bonnie wants to know what that bag is doing on her door and what the note means."
Genie's exasperated sigh could have blown out all the candles in all the chandeliers at Versailles. She stomped across the room and snatched the phone from Pam's hand.
"Look, you obstinate cow, just embrace the bloody mystery and put the bloody thing on, right?" She slammed the phone down and turned back to Pam. "Bloody hell, I'm starting to wonder how Tall Boy ever got close to her."
Pam was smiling. "Well not that I've learned a lot from just ten days, but it seems like they're more in tune than anyone gets. They're both always trying to get one up on whatever will happen next, and control it."
"Au contraire, as the French say, you seem to have learned quite a lot."
"Amazing what you can learn when you just stand back and watch and listen." Pam shrugged, and then grinned. "Off the record, of course."
Rebuffed by Genie, Bonnie decided to go ahead and open the bag. Inside was a dress… and what a dress! A black silk satin shell topped with a sheer black silk overdress with three-quarter sleeves, a burst of colorful flowers on the front of each shoulder and a few more irregularly placed on the skirt and back. They looked as if they'd been painted on with delicate watercolors. Oh my god this is the dress I saw in her design shop! The one Bonnie had tried on, and laughed when Genie had told her how gorgeous it looked on her. It had looked like a work of art on the hanger, but really… 30's elegance would never be her style. At the bottom of the bag were black silk pantyhose, bra and panties, and a pair of black satin pumps.
Just embrace the bloody mystery...
Well all right, maybe it was time. She was in and out of the shower in minutes; careful to keep her tightly braided hair dry, and slipped into the decadent-feeling silk underthings. They fit perfectly. Of course they did, as would the dress, because Genie had a hand in this somehow, and Genie had taken her measurements a long time ago so she could put together some press call and other outfits for her.
Bonnie stood staring at the dress on its hanger... what on earth is happening tonight?
"Embrace the bloody mystery," she told herself aloud, and put it on. The inner silk shell hung just below her knees; the uneven hem of the sheer overdress reached her ankles. It felt like heaven, just heaven, against her skin. There was no jewelry she owned that would look even remotely right with it. But when she walked to the full length mirror on the bathroom door and saw herself she knew nothing more was needed. When was the last time she'd actually, truly, dressed up? The night Benny had his first solo gig at Strings Attached, maybe, but even that was more hippie chic than this. She put on the shoes; blessedly they felt comfortable. The heels were only a couple of inches (and a good thing because she was accustomed to sneakers and sandals), but she felt taller and more elegant than she'd ever felt before.
Oh crap, my hair! She pulled out the braid she'd worn since stepping out of the shower last night and was trying to tame the resulting waves with a large barrette when she heard the knock at the door. She looked at the clock… six o'clock. "Just a sec!" She grabbed the pile of discarded clothes from the floor and flung them on the bed, then ran to the door.
"Is that you?" She was answered by Nesmith's unmistakable, albeit muffled, drawl.
"Well that all depends on who you were expecting, lady."
If Bonnie had only recently tilted just past the edge of falling for this rangy, moody piece of work from Dallas, what greeted her when she opened the door knocked her all the way over, without hope of redemption.
"Oh my g… Nes… you look…"
He stood there, waiting. He stood there, waiting, in white tie and black tails. He stood there waiting in white tie and black tails, and his signature Ray Bans. Holding what had to be two dozen white roses bound in a colossal wrap of white ribbons and lace.
"You're lookin' pretty fine yourself, Morris." Instead of standing aside to let him in, she was backing away, mouth hanging open. "What are you runnin' away for?" He strode in casually and offered the flowers again. "It's a bouquet, not a gun."
"Oh, sorry," she took the massive bunch of roses but couldn't find anything large enough to put them in, so instead ran into the bathroom and filled the sink with water, carefully setting them there as Nesmith laughed.
"Good thing I didn't bring a corsage, you'd be jumping in the shower."
When she re-entered the room his laughter cut off short. "My good jumping Jesus, you are a vision." He saw she'd been getting ready to wind her hair up again. "No, don't…" He took the barrette from her and reached over to the bureau, where a random collection of his pocket contents had been scattered over the past week, and picked up a wrap-around tortoise shell thumb pick. "Turn around," he directed, and when she did he took thick bunches hair from either side of her head and twisted them together, then snapped the thumb pick around them. "Lemme see."
She turned around again, facing him and the mirror. Some of her hair was pulled away from her face, but most of it cascaded in disordered waves around her head and shoulders.
"Just like an angel in a painting," he said quietly.
"Why?" she asked, gesturing at him, and herself, and the flowers in the bathroom. She couldn't help it. She always had to ask why. Why kiss in Chicago, why the trip to New York for Benny's tape... as if there were some answer that would make it all clear and safe.
"Because after almost two years of having everyone falling down for me just because I show up…" He reached out and ran two fingers down her hair. "I wanna treat a woman like she's special, but hell there haven't been many around I saw that way. So you are the lucky winner, Morris. And if that's me bein' selfish so be it." He paused, watching her face for signs of… anything. Then something in her eyes replaced the questions. He couldn't be sure, but it looked something like what he was trying to deserve. "And besides, my prom sucked. Thought I'd give it another shot."
Snapped from her trance, Bonnie burst out laughing. "My prom sucked, too. My date got in a fight and got arrested. I spent the night trolling the crowd collecting bail money."
"Well I don't think I can promise anything that exciting… but get a move on, missy. We got a ride waiting downstairs."
She took the arm he offered and as they made their way to the elevator, the circled thumb-and-finger "okay" gesture Mike made behind his back with his free hand registered loud and clear two with the two women whose door was cracked open just wide enough to see.
Never one with a taste for cliché, Bonnie nonetheless felt like Cinderella. The chauffeured car took them to what had to be the finest dinner club in Paris. Dinner was superb, the wine was to die for. And being out, alone, themselves alone… just staring at him across a candle-lit table made Bonnie feel as if she'd stepped through the looking glass. It was completely out of her realm, but it felt… perfect, and real. Not at all like patisserie displays.
They didn't talk about the show, or the band, or anything to do with what had, after all, thrown them into each other's paths. They talked about books, about music, about history and art and film, passions neither had ever had the time to really discover in the other beyond the short ten-minute snatches that had happened at work. Both were surprised there was so much left to learn. It was like Chicago, and that first night at his place, all over again. Discovering was even better than knowing, because it was being in motion. Like a drive between Burbank and the Hollywood Hills in a red convertible with the top down…
The waiter cleared away the dessert dishes and left the silver coffee pot.
"Can you dig it, Morris? All the coffee you can possibly want, all for you."
Something about seeing him through a candlelit golden haze, and hearing "Can you dig it?" delighted Bonnie. She laughed and reached for his hand (as her other poured the coffee). "Oh yeah, I really can."
The maitre d' approached and bent to whisper something in Mike's ear. "Merci," he responded in heavily Texas-accented French, and then drew Bonnie to her feet. "Okay, Morris, time to try out those fancy dancin' shoes you're wearing."
She froze. "Dancing?" Aside from the free form rock club gyrations she'd grown up on, dancing was not one of her skills. "I can't dance," she told him urgently as he pulled her bodily toward the parquet floor at the far end of the dining room. "Besides, you're too tall! I'm too short! I can't dance!" She tried to pull him to a stop, but to no avail. "And I never knew you could dance, not like they do here! C'mon, let's just sit down and have coffee…" she begged.
"Nuthin' doin'. I have dropped a bucketload of cash on this night, and I say you are going to dance. And don't worry, I had to take lessons in high school, which for one of us wasn't too long ago. So just fight every natural instinct you have, and follow my lead."
A few minutes into the first song, performed by the small band and a wonderful cabaret singer, Bonnie relaxed and began to wonder why she'd fought it. This, this was living, holding each other in front of everyone, no flashbulbs and no worries… and she managed not to step on his feet. Well, maybe once or twice, but if he noticed he didn't say. By the end of the third song, she didn't want to leave.
"Okay, baby, but just one more…" he told her. What he knew, that she didn't, was that the violinist had his marching orders from Philippe the concierge's friend, the music director. The next tune would be as special as everything else tonight.
A waltz started, one that sounded familiar to Bonnie. Mike was resting his chin against her head that lay easily on his shoulder. I could stay like this forever. Two minds with a single thought, though one was a bit more surprised than the other.
Bonnie lifted her head and looked up at Mike. "This one sounds familiar, but it's not French, it's American."
"It's Texan. The Armadillo Waltz," he told her earnestly, not missing a beat as he moved them around the floor (with less of a struggle than he'd expected, to be honest).
"Now wait a minute… you mean the Amarillo Waltz, right?"
Mike smiled down at her. "Depends on who you're waltzin' with."
"But I don't get…"
Content to keep the his late-night joke to himself for the time being, he silenced her with a kiss.
"Morris, sometimes you talk too damn much… will ya please just shut up and dance?"
The flight home was uneventful, beginning to end, though Pam and Genie were unbearably smug, as was Mike.
"So, now do you believe in romantic Paris?" Pam wanted to know.
"Sure. As long as you believe the Monkees are the hardest working act on TV."
"You read the article, you tell me."
"I'd say this trip made believers of both of you," Genie laughed.
In the next row, Micky started up. "Reminds me of a song… not a long song… but a good song…"
Genie reached over his seat and smacked him in the back of the head.
"Lemme guess, in your contract," Davy remarked.
Bob glanced up from his notebook. "Working on it. Keeping Dolenz in line is a two-woman job."
Bonnie sat down again and slouched under Mike's arm. "So we got time off coming after we finish the post production stuff this week. I promised Ari I'd come see him. It's been past long enough."
Mike nodded, absorbed in the latest "Car and Driver" magazine. "Sounds groovy."
"I was told I should bring my rock star boyfriend. How about it?"
"Well if he can't make it, I'm in."
"Nesmith you are definitely not gonna get laid for such a long time…"
"Man, Kirshner's right about at least one thing," Peter grumbled sleepily from across the aisle, unhappy at being woken. "You sure as hell deserve each other."