Alice and Danny avoided each other the following days like the plague. She had been in from work an hour and she hadn't seen him yet, it was starting to get dark. She didn't know what possessed her to kiss him! Ok the day had been an emotional one and she was feeling tired and defenceless but that was no excuse. She had seen a different side to him, he'd been so caring and supportive then before that playful and that was exactly what she liked in a man, not that she liked him! It had been a momentary impulse, that was it. Just a slip, a blip….definately...probably...or was she in trouble?
Actually the bigger question she had spent asking herself last night was why did he kiss her? Yeah she had went to kiss his cheek and missed but he kissed her lips first and after that it would have been bad manners not to do it in return right? Anyway back to the matter at hand? Why did he kiss her? WHY? She was tempted to ask that question out loud but since she was in the kitchen alone the only reply she was likely to get was from the kitchen utensils, or Danny might hear her and think she's finally lost her marbles and was talking to herself! Lets face facts here people….well Alice. Danny didn't like her! He made it known often enough. The one day that managed to be civil to each other and what happened? They end up having a rather heated kiss on the veranda. She couldn't help but smile at the memory, it had been some kiss! His lips had been firm, commanding and masterful and he made her feel….well put it this way it almost felt like her first kiss all over again. The not knowing what to expect, then slowly getting used to it. The butterflies, the way your head felt light. Not even her first kiss had made her feel like that to be fair! No one had ever made her feel like that! She'd been part of a fair few kisses over the years some on screen and romantic ones too. Of course the ones on screen didn't count, you're not gonna swoon if you have about 20 people watching you but she had been on some dates and no one made her feel weak, and shaky, he touched her lips and that was it, she was his, she surrendered. If this was a war then her white flag was flying high. It felt like the whole world shrunk to just then and time ceased for a second. He deepened the kiss and time was back with avengeance, only this time it was speeding up and she was dizzy from the feel of him.
When he'd pulled away her body hadn't known what was going on and just fell backwards. Thankfully the wall had been there to catch her or she may have fell to the floor! Then, he jumped the fence and began running…..eager to get away from her it seemed. As her mind returned, bringing with it sanity she wondered what on earth had happened! Soon humiliation quickly followed because of his his rejection when she fully came to her senses. Now though she knew he'd been chasing someone but after she thought he was disgusted by her.
The photographer must have thought Christmas had came early. The next day images of her kiss with Danny was front page news. Her publicist rang her having a heart attack, what had she been thinking? She had an image to think about. She had only been there two weeks and she was cavorting…..yes she said the word cavorting, with the locals.
The image had been grainy you couldn't make Danny out clearly but they had still identified him and reporters had been crawling over his land since. They had dug up his past, like she said they would and found he had been married once and his wife left him after six short months. His family history too, his mum a teacher and his dad a doctor who left his wife and son. They knew he kept to himself, didn't date and was a loner. Soon there was speculation that he was taking advantage of poor innocent Alice Collins. He was almost ten years her senior after all. They acted like she was sixteen some little virgin girl he was trying to exploit, she was twenty eight and knew exactly what she was doing and she was actually capable of taking advantage of him….well maybe not but she could try! Anyway now the papers were painting him as the devil and she the victim….and he hadn't spoke to her since.
She exhaled looking into her coffee cup, she didn't want much really. The chance to date someone without it being front page news. The chance to fall in love and argue and hold hands and actually kiss someone she wanted without worrying someone was gonna be recording it. She wanted a quiet normal life, fame had its drawbacks as well as its advantages and sometimes, like now it wasn't worth it. Because of her a man she liked, admired in a way was being slandered in the papers.
"You looking for the answer to life's mysteries?" Danny asked, she had been staring in the coffee cup for a while.
Alice looked up and saw Danny leaning against a wall long had he been there? She'd been lost in thought. She examined him, he had a little half smile on his face. She had been right, he looked amazing when he smiled. It transformed his whole face, his eyes soft the depths of them never ending. He looked young and playful and she drank in the sight.
"You're not going to find the answers in me either!" he joked.
She nodded feeling down.
He decided to distract her. "How did Mercy and Angel's visit go?"
"They liked it." she murmured nodding. "Colin wasn't happy about me negotiating them a part, but when is he ever happy?"
"I saw that. You were talking and he kept shaking his head. Then you got this look on your face that truly terrified me. It was all stubborn and cold then you whispered something to him and he accommodated you immediately. Well nodded and stomped off anyway. What'd you say?"
"Can't tell you, if I did I'd have to kill you." stirred her coffee with a spoon. She had actually saw him cavorting as her agent put it with an extra and threatened to tell his wife. "The girls had fun though, they had their pictures taken and autographs and even a part in the film. Austin was actually charming! I think he liked Mercy's mum to be fair. If she is daft enough to fall for his lies then I feel sorry for her. All she is is a one night stand to him. Single mums aren't his style."
"No, you are." Danny told her.
She narrowed her eyes. "Excuse me?"
"Well he is going around set saying that you and he are getting close."
She snorted. "If you believe that that you are stupider than you look and you look pretty stupid!"
"Thanks." he laughed.
"It might have escaped your notice but I kissed you a few nights ago, if I was getting close to him I wouldn't have kissed you!"
"Oh I know that!" Danny assured. "I know how you feel about him, the words slimy worm come to mind."
She smiled though it didn't reach her eyes. "Good. Anyway they did their part really well, I told their mum they were gonna have me out of a job one day. I meant it too. Mercy kept on saying that everything was cool beans, I used to say that at her age, it would be nice to go back to that time."
"What being fifteen?" Danny asked appalled. "No way, I was all lanky, skinny and awkward."
"I bet you were cute." she said softly looking at the table.
"Well the girls my age certainly didn't think so!"
"They didn't know what they were missing." she again said softly feeling so down her smile disappearing.
He was giving her ammo to insult him and she was just ignoring it, she never missed a chance before. He walked towards her and sat opposite, he hated that this look was on her face, he needed her to smile and insult him. He rested his arms on the table. "What's wrong?"
"I dunno, nothing really." she exhaled eyes downcast.
He smiled. "You know for an actress you are a really bad liar! I mean c'mon you're supposed to be convincing me you are fine. I wouldn't hire you." he told her, sat back and crossed his arms.
Her eyes flared as she looked at the table, she looked up at him her smile wide. Projected happiness in her voice. "I'm so happy today!" she told him jovially. "I had the best day on set all my takes were amazing and we even finished early!" her face returned to surly. "Better?"
He snorted, "Marginally, I could still tell you were lying."
"Don't piss off an actress Danny I can go from overjoyed to in tears in three seconds flat. Do you want me to cry and have you wondering whether its real or not?" she warned and smiled evilly. "I can do it!"
His eyes widened in fear a moment, then he realised she had passion in her eyes. "Now that's better, you're insulting me again!" he patted her hand as her head lowered and she stared at the table again. "C'mon Alice, talk to me please. I might be able to help."
She looked at him and her face was pained. "I'm sorry for all this."
"What is this exactly?" he wondered.
"Well you didn't want me here and I came anyway and then we kissed and now you're in all the papers and they are digging into your past an accusing you of taking advantage of me! Like I'm some sodding child!" she pounded her fist off the table.
He jumped back. "Oh no child!" he told her seriously.
She closed her eyes and realised that trying to get her to insult him wasn't working and went for understanding. "It isn't your fault you know." he said softly. "It's fine, I'm a big boy. I can handle it."
"All I want is a normal life you know? I mean God my first kiss was caught on camera!"
"Alice you're an actress!" he told her seriously.
A laugh burst from her unexpectedly at his serious slightly bewildered tone. She looked into his eyes and they gleamed with good humour.
"Personally I think you are made for your job I saw you on set today and watched you as you did a scene and you were flawless, I mean seriously I couldn't fault it. It was just natural for you. You create the characters like Ashley, or Lucy or Sophie and bring them to life and have me believing that you are them." he nodded. "Kinda like multiple personalities." grinned devilishly.
"Me and my multiple personalities huh. Only you could turn a compliment into an insult Trevanion!" she said.
"You love it!" and winked. "Oh and you agree too because you said it!" he reached across and took her hand in his when she didn't laugh. "C'mon Alice smile, insult me, you can even threaten to kill me if you want. It's not a normal day if I don't hear that from you at least once." he told her pleading. "Do anything just don't be sad." her expression was breaking his heart.
"I'll be fine Danny. This happens sometimes, once a year maybe. I just sit and list the reasons I hate being an actress and how it impacts on everyone I know. Unfortunately it happened while I'm here. I just need a good film, some ice cream and my best friend Mandy to vent to."
"You could talk to me." he offered.
"It's fine." she replied.
"Is it coz I'm not wearing a dress or make up?"
She looked at him intrigued. "If it was would you change?"
He looked torn between screaming no and running to making her cheer up. "Would you think any differently about me if I did?"
She was smiling. "Maybe not."
"Tell me would I have to shave my legs?"
She shook her head. "Wax!" eyes wide to punctuate the statement.
Danny gulped, eyes wide. "This is getting scary!"
"You would seriously wear a dress and make up? Danny in drag?"
"If you talk to me." he countered.
She motioned to his room. "Go on then."
His smile fell. "You were supposed to take pity on me and say no!" he told her in mock seriousness.
"And miss a chance like this? Never!" her mood lifting without her knowledge.
"Well I don't own a dress in my size and I doubt you do too so there!" and he stuck his tongue out. "No drag for Danny!" he crowed then he was serious. "But all joking aside I am here to listen if you want to let off steam go on you know you want to…..just don't cry ok." squeezed her hand. "Coz if you cry I may cry too and that isn't pretty believe me!"
"I'll never make you cry." she murmured smiled. "Maybe have you begging for mercy."
She blinked and her eyes were full of tears.
"Mercy!" he screamed hands together in prayer.
She wiped her eyes with her sleeve saw a strange light shining in her eyes.
"So c'mon then, since you have ascertained that I am A willing to wear a dress and make up and B beg you not to cry you have to talk to me now."
She nodded her head. "I just hate this life sometimes." she admitted. "I know I am so lucky to have the life I do, be able to do the job I love and get paid really well to do it. I'm financially secure and I'm only 28 and have numerous opportunities that people can only dream of but it's the living in a fish bowl I can't stand! I hate the feeling like I'm being watched no matter where I go. Sometimes I wonder what if feels like to be invisible, what would I do if I was?"
He nodded and squeezed her hand.
"You know I can't even get drunk, I'm too afraid. I hate having my picture taken outside of work or photo shoots believe it or not."
His mouth gaped slightly, she was shy! He would never have believed it, she hid it really well. She must have been emotionally drained after the hospital and the media. He should have helped her more!
"Just a question have you ever been that drunk that you passed out?" she asked.
"Not that bad but I have been pretty far gone. You?"
"Well I'm just making a point I don't have that choice." she murmured "But to answer your question, yes before I was famous."
"Bet that was a fun night." he smiled.
"Oh it was, well what I can remember of it." she smiled lost in memories and he felt great that his plan was working taking her mind of the bad stuff. "Cory's mum Mandy, oh the stories she could sell! Once about two years before Cory was born we have been out then went back to hers and drank some more. I woke up in her bath using the shower curtain as a blanket! I swore I went to sleep in her spare room!"
"Then there was the time I fell asleep on her bench using the bread bin as a pillow and had my feet in a sink full of water!" she rubbed her cheek smiling. "I got up and slipped onto my bum my feet went south without telling me!" she smiled nostalgically. "Those two nights are a blur, fun though. Put me, Mandy and alcohol together and it just goes mad!"
He laughed. "Mandy sounds nice."
"She's great, been there from the beginning. She'd never betray me, has all my secrets. Thankfully I have managed to keep her and Cory a secret so reporters aren't following her. No doubt she'd kick their ass." she studied him. "Mandy would love you."
He smiled. "Really?"
"Yeah, keeping the all powerful Alice Collins in her place. She'd think you're great, ask how you did it then ask if you had a brother!"
"I'm an only child." he told he apologetically. "Plus why would she ask if I had a brother? What's wrong with me?"
"You don't wanna hear this!" she advised.
"I do." he said haughtily eyes twinkling.
"You asked for it," looked him dead in the eye. "She'd say that someone able to put me in my place so easily should marry me, then she could laugh at the havoc in the marriage."
He wasn't as affected by the statement as he may have been in the past. "I have to meet her!" then squeezed Alice's hand when her eyes began to darken again. "Jobs have good jobs and bad parts you know that right?" a rhetorical question. "As a vet I hate when I can't save every animal that needs me, then there is the stupid amount of paperwork, the cleaning the list goes on. But the good parts usually outweigh the bad, especially if you are doing something you love. Like Mercy and her friend. She wouldn't be here without you!"
She looked in his eyes.
"Is Colin angry about the reporters sniffing around?"
"Oh no, on the contrary he loves it. Free publicity, apparently I'm putting the film out there. He suggested to pretend to the media that I'm falling for you, like my character is on the film. Real life mirroring art sort of thing. I'm beginning to wonder how far he wants me to go with you!" she pondered out loud then realised what she said and blushed.
He disregarded her statement, had an idea to really cheer her up, this would work, he knew it. "Enough of this, it isn't helping huh? How do you feel seeing one of the good parts of my job?"
He took her hand and tugged it. "C'mon."
They separated hands and walked from the house down to the surgery side by side. She halted at the door. "Is the surgery a place I can go or should I fear for my nose?"
"I'll let you off this time." and held the door open for her. He led her towards the pens and she saw a lioness inside it, three tiny newborn cubs suckling.
"Oh my god!" Alice breathed and knelt down to examine them. "How old are they?"
"Two days old, their eyes aren't even open yet."
A breath was expelled from her. "Look at them." she said in awe. "Isn't that just the most beautiful thing." she murmured more to herself than him. The lioness just lay back as the babies fed. She heard Danny walk away, then returned carrying a bottle. "Do you want to feed one?"
She spun her head. "Go in there? With her?" eyes wide. "You truly are trying to get rid of me huh?"
He laughed. "Damn, plan foiled. I suppose you'll have to feed a different cub."
"Different?" she asked interest piqued.
"Well those three have a little brother who was really ill when he was born. Mum rejected him so I'm hand rearing him. He's due a feed and…." he shook the bottle.
"Could I?" she asked softly. "Really? No joke?" only half believing that she had this opportunity.
"Sure." and pointed to a cage across the room.
She jumped up and down a little and clapped. He felt his chest swell when he realised he put this joyful look in her eyes. Then she grabbed his hand and they walked across the room hand in hand, they didn't release until they were washing hands at a sink, he could tell she was excited. She then skipped over to the cage and looked at the baby while he collected a chair. He put his hands on her shoulders and guided her backwards until she sat down.
"I'll bring him over ok?" then he opened the door of the cage, the cub mewled and moved its head a slowly, Alice's heart just melted. Danny tenderly picked the cub up and placed it on a little white sheet, then moved so he was behind Alice. He reached over her and laid the cub in her hands. Alice looked down at the baby who was as long as one of her hands and reached for the bottle. Danny remained behind her mouth close to her ear. "Let him seek out the teat." he murmured.
Alice nudged the little one with the teat and he found it and began to drink tentatively.
"I was feeding him with a syringe at first but he didn't take to it, the last resort was a bottle and he did so I'm happy." he added. Then moved so he could see her face. He was down on his haunches by her side pretending his focus was on the animal but it was she who commanded his attention. She was gazing at the animal with the sweetest smile, eyes unbelievably bright. He began to feel a tightness in his chest then, a feeling he couldn't explain.
"This is amazing." she whispered, her troubles forgotten.
The cub lost the teat and began to whimper, Alice guided back with a gentle touch.
Danny stared at her not even blinking. The cub was good, but it was she who was amazing, the feeling inside growing.
Alice looked up at him smiling. "Do you do this often?"
"Not really." he said clearing his throat when his voice sounded husky. "Just when mum can't cope or rejects the little ones. It helps that he is a little fighter."
The cub had finished his meal and was snoozing in Alice's arms. Her fingers gently rubbing from his head down his back rhythmically.
"I named his brother Fangs you know." he told her.
"Fangs? Is that because one day he'll be able to rip you apart?" she asked.
He laughed. "Nothing that dramatic, I was at a loss what to call the boys and your comment about sleeping in a coffin down here popped into my mind and voila fangs."
"That's sweet in a weird way."
"So what do you think we should name him?"
"You haven't named him yet?"
He shook his head. "I was gonna name him count, for count Dracula but it doesn't fit."
She thought. "Would you mind very much calling him Cory? You just said he was ill when he was born but was a fighter kinda like my little nephew."
"Cory it is! If you have a phone I can take a picture of you and baby Cory to send to Mandy."
She frowned. "I left it at the house. Would you take one with your phone then send it to me?" she asked hopefully.
"My pleasure." and he snapped a few pics.
She nodded fingers returning to the cubs head. "At least you have these little guys to remind you of me when I'm gone." she said reluctantly handing the baby over.
He placed the cub in the cage feeling sombre, he didn't like to think of her leaving and that should unsettle him but it didn't it just made him sad.
"Bye bye Cory." Alice whispered. "Mummy doesn't know what she is missing." looked out of the window and saw it was fully dark now. She checked her watch. "I'd better be getting up to the house, I have lines to learn and a early start tomorrow. Oh yeah Colin asked me to remind you about the lions."
They walked up to the house together.
"I'm worried about the lions if I'm being honest." she admitted.
"You're right to, they are dangerous animals."
"Have you ever been you know, attacked?" she said the last word softly.
He nodded looking at the dusty ground as he walked. "I was out with Dupe. The truck stalled and a lion appeared. The lion pounced on him and was sort of throwing him from side to side. He was shouting at me to shoot the lion but they were moving so much in couldn't incase I hit Dupe." he exhaled. "He almost died that day." he swallowed eyes radiating with sadness and Alice grasped his hand tightly. "Eventually I shot the gun and must have grazed the animal because it jumped off Dupe, I thought it ran off and lifted Dupe into the truck. It returned and pounced on me….." he remembered the saliva dripping in his eyes. Rotten putrid breath around him. The sharpness of the teeth…."I only survived coz Dupe managed to fire a flare and I rolled under the car. We got away after I managed to radio the house." he shook his head. "I've never been so scared in my life. I couldn't eat, barely slept without nightmares. I couldn't go near an animal without having a panic attack. Lynsey, my wife suggested selling up and I was going to but I couldn't. Three weeks later she left."
What a cow! She left her husband after such a traumatic experience? Alice restrained herself, they found themselves at the foot of the veranda. "I'm so glad you were ok, really." reached out and found her hand running down his cheek slowly.
"Me too. Really." Danny echoed, he caught her hand as it fell and began comparing the difference of size to her hand and his. She was so small, he far bigger. He placed both of his hands around her and looked into her eyes. "If you are cautious you'll be fine." he promised, a hidden double meaning to his words. The second meaning he was totally unaware of.
"You're….you're keeping me safe?" she stammered at the blatant heat in his eyes and the feel of his hands surounding hers
"Always." he murmured and freed her hand, ran a finger down her cheek feather soft. "As long as you are here than you don't ever have to worry about that." a light in his eyes Alice hadn't seen before.
No one looked at her with such a expression. She had seen lust in peoples eyes and want and calculating but this was tender and gentle. She wanted him to kiss her again, when he made no move to disappointment filled her and she gave up. "Thank you, goodnight Danny." climbed the stairs and walked into the house.
"Night Alice." he whispered as she retreated. "Sleep well."
A/N awwww the danice are falling in love! But will evil stalker guy put a spanner in the works?