Anything Goes

by Partners-in-Crime Int

"And though I'm not a great romancer,
I know that I'm bound to answer.
When you propose,
Anything goes"

- Cole Porter

David Addison and Maddie Hayes had just landed at Chicago O'Hare Airport on that late Friday afternoon. They were about to attend the wedding of Maddie's beautiful cousin, Wimberly Hayes.

"Maddie, why did you have to bring two suitcases?" David panted, trying to balance their many travel cases on a baggage car. "We're only staying for the weekend, remember? Not that I'd mind extending that weekend, but..."

"May I remind you that we're attending a wedding?" Maddie interrupted ironically. "Plus, there will be a dinner tonight, probably brunch tomorrow with some friend, the wedding reception itself..."

"Why do women always have to make such a fuss over their outfits having to match the outings?" David sighed, rolling his eyes in an exaggerated manner. "I say the essentials are clean underwear, the smile you were born with and a toothbrush, and you're ready to face the odds," he lectured. "Clothes are overrated anyway – unless, of course, they involve plenty of lace, let's say in black..." He let his voice drift off dreamily and gave Maddie one of his notorious smirks. She hated them. She hated their effect on her stomach.

She snorted and replied with utter distaste: "Yes, I know you don't give two hoots about the exterior package and manners, well..."

"Hey, I give at least one hoot about the exterior," he emphasized, "and especially where yours is concerned- I would consider two hoots!"

She decided not to pursue that discussion further for the moment and demanded: "Then stop complaining and take care of the baggage!"

"Always at your service, Miz Hayes," he purred. Maddie rolled her eyes. He decided to give her a moment of rest and asked casually: "Are we staying at your parents' house?"

She shook her head. "No, my cousin's parents booked rooms for everybody at the same hotel as the reception. We're going directly to the hotel from here." She could almost feel his smirk rising before actually seeing it and added menacingly: "Addison, don't even think about saying what you are about to say!"

"Maddie, Maddie, Maddie... I never think before I speak, you should know that by now," he chuckled.

She rolled her eyes. "Can I ask you another favor?"

He smirked again, definitely enjoying this. "I might be charging you extra."

Maddie growled. "Can you try not to embarrass me in front of my family? If I wanted to be constantly embarrassed, I could have gone on my own!"

"Yeah, well, you could have, but it wouldn't be half as much fun!" he stated.

She turned around without another word and stomped to the waiting cab, leaving the luggage to David; he followed her with a devilish smile and muttered to himself: "And fun it's gonna be."

On arrival at the hotel, they headed right to the check-in desk where Maddie asked the concierge about their reservation in the name of Hayes for both Hayes and Addison, she was very particular about these specifics.

"There must be a reservation for Madolyn Hayes, two rooms," she insisted.

"Will that be the adjoining rooms, Ma'am?" the concierge asked.

"Uhm... well... I don't know exactly..." she stuttered.

"The missus will pay for everything," David threw in with a mean grin, but the concierge ignored his comment and turned around to fetch their room keys.

"Distasteful gnome," Maddie hissed, and David shook his head reproachfully.

"Maddie," he rebuked, "don't be rude. The man's been very polite!"

She covered her eyes with her right hand for a moment. "God, I really wish that I had declined this invitation now!" she sighed desperately.

David just chuckled; he was enjoying himself immensely.

The rooms were wide and spacious, furnished in a modern, tasteful way. Not luxurious, but sedate. Maddie sighed and flung herself on the bed, already tired of the weekend before it had begun. However, this respite was short lived as, with an undignified crash, the adjoining door was thrown open, making her jump.

David was peeping through the door crack with a smirk. "I like these adjoining doors!"

Quickly getting up from the bed, Maddie replied dryly: "What I like best about them is that they're lockable." She strode through the room, closed the door in David's face and tried to lock it. In vain. "What the..." she muttered.

David pushed the door open again and threw her a mean glance. "Well, I like them, period," he stated with an amused chuckle and a naughty twinkle in his eyes.

Maddie was annoyed and so she turned hastily around to pick up the phone, which was next to the bed, in order to call reception. "I am not going to take this. They'll have to do something about it."

He raised his hands in a soothing way. "Maddie, Maddie, Maddie... don't be ridiculous. No need to hide from the big, bad wolf, Red Riding Hood. I even left you alone in that funeral home where you practically glued yourself to me!"

She flared her nostrils. "I did not..."

He interrupted her with a laugh. "Just a joke. Maddie, please. I can control myself," he assured and added with a smirk: "Maybe you're just afraid you won't be able to keep your fingers off that doorknob?" With that remark he turned around and strolled, provokingly slowly, to his room, whilst whistling You Can Get It If You Really Want. He deliberately left the door wide open behind him.

"Yeah, maybe!" Maddie called angrily at his back. "To strangle you in your sleep!" With three determined steps she was at the door and slammed it heartily, satisfied with how good that felt.

David flung himself on his bed and laughed. "Yeah, sure." If this weekend goes on like this, it might be so much fun, that I'd have to pay you for it, Blondie, he thought gleefully.

Only five minutes later the adjoining door was opened again, and without saying a word, Maddie entered the room, a grumpy expression on her face, ready for his comment that, dollars to doughnuts, was about to come.

He smirked and propped himself up on one elbow. "Whoa, that was faster than I had expected! Am I in the right position for your purposes or do you want me to...?"

"Drop it, Addison!" She snarled.

"Now that is a direct order…no teasing first? No foreplay? No…?'

Maddie interrupted him with a venomous scowl. "Tonight, we'll be going out to dinner." She shuddered at the prospect.

"Am I supposed to be fine with it or delighted about it?" he chuckled.

She rolled her eyes. "We're meeting up with my parents."

"Fine then," he said, switching to a more serious tone which she appreciated.

He sat up and put his feet on the floor. "Have you talked to them already?"

Maddie nodded and sat down on the chair at the dressing table. "I just called my mother and fixed the time," she sighed. "I know it sounds awful to say but I feel kind of... awkward."

"Hey, don't worry," he replied lightly. "You parents already know me, and you're still in their will, aren't you?"

She shook her head. "It's not that. It's about..."

David interrupted softly: "I know."

She looked up at him, and he had a barely perceptible, understanding smile on his face, and not for the first time she was pleasantly surprised by his ability to switch from bantering to seriousness when required. Of course, he knew what she was talking about and why she was worried about meeting her parents. The last time they had met, not too long ago, David had been there as well, and he had proved to be the best friend one could ever imagine. She smiled back.

"Don't worry," he went on. "It's gonna be all right. I'm sure they are all right." He paused for a moment and added: "Your mom and dad are great people."

"Well... thanks," Maddie answered, pleased with his kindness, "but how can you say that? You only met them once."

He shrugged casually. "Hey, I've always been a good judge of character," he declared, then grinned. "Well... maybe sometimes I'm a little off the mark but with your parents I'm quite sure." He smiled openly. "Besides – they produced you, didn't they? They have to be remarkable people."

Maddie was touched by his observation, although she was careful not to show it. "That's a very sweet thing to say," she responded with reluctance.

"It's included in the charge." He winked nonchalantly.

With a growl, Maddie got up and turned around. "We'll be going in about an hour," curtly, she diverted the subject and left David's room, closing the adjoining door behind her, an involuntary little smile surfacing on her face.

Later that same evening, they were driving in a cab to the restaurant where Maddie's parents had reserved a table. David could detect her nervousness in the tangible silence.

"Relax, Maddie," he soothed. "You look great. Your parents will be fine. Everything will be fine."

She looked at him and saw that his expression matched the serious, encouraging tone of his voice. Maybe asking him to take her to the wedding had not been the worst idea after all. Before she could hold them back, the words tumbled out of her mouth. "I'm glad you're here."

She bit her lip when she saw his green eyes widening in surprise, in pleased surprise, and she felt herself blush slightly. Great. Hand him the weapons, why don't you just go and release the safety catch? "I... I mean..." she stuttered.

This time, David let it be nice. "Me too," he replied and looked away from her, giving her the privacy to regain her composure before they met her parents. He looked out of the window into the dark Chicago night, and a pleased, secret smile curled up and around his lips.

Virginia Hayes said: "So... you brought David to the wedding."

She and Maddie were in the powder room, freshening themselves up, after dinner. The atmosphere had not exactly been relaxed, but neither had it been awkward, so Maddie had been relieved. Until her mother had brought up that subject.

"Yes..." she answered unenthusiastically.

Virginia was powdering her nose with small, elegant moves and continued her inquiry in a casual tone: "Does that mean you are...?" she let her sentence linger unfinished in the scented air.

"No!" Maddie exclaimed with a nervous giggle. "Heavens, no!"

Her mother raised a questioning eyebrow, perfectly aware of the uneasiness in her voice and the haste of her answer, but she didn't comment on any of it.

"It's simple," Maddie went on, "there was nobody else to bring, and I'm really tired of listening to all of those silly questions that arise when you're attending a wedding alone, especially when it's a family wedding."

"Oh, I can perfectly understand you dear. You two just look so nice together and seem to get along so well, that I just thought..." she paused to put on a bit of lipstick.

Maddie quickly jumped in: "No, Mom, not in the least. We're business partners, that's all. David is just doing me a favor." And to underline that this is strictly business, I'm paying him for it.

"That's very nice of him," Virginia stated.

"Yes. Well." Maddie's voice didn't sound very wholehearted.

Her mother giggled in a girlish way. "Please forgive me, baby. It's just that I always seem to have a sixth sense for such things. Well..." she shrugged, and even that careless move looked elegant. "It already had me fooled before, right? The last time not so long ago." She stuffed the lipstick back in her purse.

Maddie gave a feeble smile as she remembered her mother's sixth sense absolutely nailing the facts (when she had suspected her husband of cheating on her) back then.

"I suppose that's what happened this time," Virginia added.

"Yeah... I suppose so," Maddie sighed.

"Shall we?" asked Virginia to her daughter, holding her arm out.

Maddie smiled at her mom, that woman always had a knack of seeing right into her head when even she didn't really know what was happening in there. "Sure, Mom."

"Can't leave our gentlemen friends waiting too long," she teased, "they might start talking about sport- God help us!"

The two beautiful and sophisticated women left the restroom arm in arm, giggling at an old story Virginia was relating to Maddie that involved her father at a stuffy golf do and how it always brought the worst out in her…

"There they are!" cried Alex, getting up from his seat. This wasn't a conscientious decision; this politeness was ingrained into his very soul. "The world's most beautiful women."

"Oh Alex," chided Virginia. "You're too much!"

"What, a man can't compliment his own wife and daughter? What's the world coming to, hey David?"

"Indeed, Mr. Hayes," agreed David, on his absolute best behavior. "I couldn't agree more, they are both indeed absolutely lovely."

Maddie blushed a little and sat down, taking a sip of her champagne. Alex Hayes always ordered champagne when he got to see his wonderful grown-up daughter- the duration between visits seemed longer and longer each time.

"So... we miss much?" smiled Maddie.

"I was just filling your father in on our last case," replied David.

"Oh yes," laughed Alex, "I love to hear all about your weird and wonderful cases! That guy that talked in his sleep, huh?"

"I guess you didn't fill him in on everything to do with that case, David?" inquired Maddie as memories of her disappointment in David came flooding back.  It hadn't been entirely his fault, though. She had been unfair to him, and he had tried to prove himself- so she left it at that.

"No not everything, Madolyn, I left all the boring paperwork out and cut to the chase," he shot her a look which was received with a smile, so he knew that it was an end to the matter.

"Hey David," smiled Virginia, "it's so nice of you to accompany Maddie to this wedding. I mean, it can't be easy meeting all of the Hayes clan in one weekend… the invite needed to come with a safety warning," she giggled, taking another sip of champagne.

"Well, what can I say? Maybe they were wrong about mixing business and pleasure," he commented, receiving a kick under the table from Maddie which made him wince slightly. "Just wanted to help a friend out."

"Maybe we should toast David?" suggested Alex. "For rescuing Maddie on this occasion – huh? What do you say, ladies?"

"Oh yes," said Virginia, "he's a regular knight!"

Maddie looked increasingly uncomfortable, her neck reddened, and she smiled while clenching her teeth. David couldn't help but chuckle.

"To David," chanted Alex and Virginia. "Maddie's knight in shining armor!"

They all clinked glasses and sipped from their flutes, except Maddie who downed half of her glass in one go.

"Whoa there, sailor!" cried David as she choked a little. "Need me to pat you on the back?"

"I'm fine," she stated. "I'm perfectly capable of looking after myself."

Alex and Virginia swapped conspiratorial smiles and resumed table pleasantries.

"Want me to carry you over the threshold?" laughed David as they approached their hotel rooms, he was feeling the effects of the champagne and was secretly glad he had not indulged in that second bottle. "I am your knight in shining armor after all!" She just glared at him. "Not even if I throw it in with the package deal: The Dave Deluxe?"

"It was good seeing my parents like that after…" she trailed off as David began to unlock their doors.

He stopped and turned to face her. "Yeah, I know, it was, it is good to see them happy now."

They smiled with understanding at each other. Sometimes it was such a relief when he read her mind, it often meant that they didn't have to discuss the things that would make her feel sad. He was good at that. Now if only they could harness that ability when arguing with each other – that would save a few pages of the script! Not half the fun though, she smiled to herself.

"What?" asked David.

"Nothing," she uttered, following him into his room, "I was just thinking that tonight went well."

"Yeah," he smiled back, "it sure did."

"Thanks for coming with me, Sir Galahad," she mocked.

"Hey, don't knock it… it could be a whole new level in the world of escorts!" he jibed. "I could become a millionaire over night!"

"Don't give up the day job…"

"It would be strictly Moonlighting," he replied, chuckling.

They both looked at each other, frowned and shook their heads.

"I see you're using my room as a route to your own?" observed David. "Convenient."

"Yeah, I'm just using and abusing you," she retorted. "Hope you don't mind." She felt the effect of the champagne a little herself, otherwise she wouldn't have uncharacteristically bantered in such a flippant manner.

"Maddie, it is always a pleasure to be the carpet under which you wipe your pumps."

She walked over to the adjoining door and pushed it open, disappearing inside the room for a few moments to deposit her handbag and coat. She re-appeared at the doorway.

"You nervous about tomorrow?" she asked David.

"Nar… families always love me," he sighed, laying back on his bed, fully clothed. He yawned. "I'm the one you can take anywhere."

"Since when?" she retorted, but in an easy tone.

"Since I'm well paid for good behavior," came the immediate reply.

"Overpaid," she stated grimly.

"Again? Maybe at the end of the weekend you're gonna find yourself willing to pay out extra," he challenged, but she decided not to end the day with bantering on the grounds that it could so easily turn into a fight; instead, she rolled her eyes at him.

She decided to change the subject to favor the odds and breezed: "It's been a long day, huh?"

"I guess," he rubbed his eyes. "I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow."

"Do you have to?" asked Maddie, with a hint of worry in her tone.

"Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm being paid to have a bad time… must keep reminding myself of that," he looked confused for a moment but knew it wouldn't help the situation. "Maddie? I promise you that I will be on my best behavior tomorrow, shirt tucked, polite smile, lots of pleases and thank yous, pleasant chit chat etc. etc. etc. I solemnly declare that I will not, at any point, make a jackass out of myself, or embarrass you in any way."

"David," Maddie softly replied, feeling peaceable after the evening with her parents. "Thank you, I know you won't."

"I'm taking this job seriously," he added, with a twinkle in his eye that Maddie couldn't detect amongst the shadows.

"I appreciate that."

"I mean while the fee lasts… but then when the clock strikes midnight I may turn back into the old David, the bare feet, rags and pumpkin deal. I won't be responsible for my actions then."

She smiled, despite her annoyance at him for constantly reminding her that this was a paid arrangement. She surprised him by declaring: "I think I like both Davids." She disappeared back into her room to change into her night clothes but still chatted through the adjoining door.

"So, what time does the shin dig blast off tomorrow?" he yelled through the door to her.

"Well, we've got a brunch date with my cousin Peter first at 10.30. Then it's back here to change for the wedding which is at 2 pm."

"Sounds like a well-oiled, finely tuned plan… not a lot of room for spontaneity in there – tight as clock springs, huh?"

"You got it, Mister."

"No hittin' happy hour first then?" He attempted to rile her a little. "A few Tequila shots before the big event?"

Instead of taking the bate, she appeared at the door again, dressed in her night gown, it modestly draped down to the floor but was silky, black and figure hugging. She put her hand on her hip. "Yeah sure, we'll all get drunk first… and then we'll take a rocket to the moon before landing on the roof of the wedding venue, how's that sound?"

"My kinda party," laughed David taking in the black garment from head to toe. He whistled. "Whoa, Nelly, you better put something on before you catch a chill."

"David," chastised Maddie. "I knew this adjoining room thing was a bad idea."

"…and it's after midnight so I have no control over my actions!" he laughed a deeply throaty chuckle. "You were warned, Maddie – no water, no direct sunlight and definitely no feeding after midnight!"

"Get back in your box, Gismo," she warned, floating back into her room to brush her hair out and make sure she had everything ready for the next morning. She closed the door behind her with a determined "click".

David made a silent 'hubba hubba' noise to himself and headed off to his en-suite to brush his teeth and have a quick shower, this was going to need to be a cold shower he thought. He started to sing loudly to himself as he went about his nightly ritual: "Pretty Woman, walking down the street, pretty woman, the kind I like to meet, pretty woman, I don't believe you, you're not the truth, no one could look as good as you. - Mercy!"

Maddie blushed slightly as she combed her hair and took her earrings out, carefully placing them on the side. She felt privy to a side of David Addison that she had not seen before… she wasn't sure how she felt about knowing what it was like to listen to him singing in the shower. It felt intimate and... dare she say it? She liked it. She shook her head, slightly frowning, to cast off that thought, wherever it had come from.

Maddie busied herself about the room, making sure her dress was hanging up for tomorrow, her shoes were placed neatly underneath the wardrobe, accessories ready and alarm set for 8.30. She was pretty much ready for sleep, she just needed to fetch the invitation that she had left in David's room – wouldn't do to misplace that, it was their ticket and itinerary for the whole day. She didn't think of knocking as she thought he was still in the en-suite.

"Whoa, sister, haven't you heard of knocking!" David grabbed a towel and put it round his waist.

Maddie reddened and averted her eyes. "Sorry, David... I thought you were in the bathroom." she hurried to excuse herself, deeply embarrassed.

"It's okay, it's safe to look now," he chuckled. "You just caught me by surprise."

She opened her eyes and gulped, the flush of her cheeks ran across her chest and neck as she tried to swallow and sound normal. It was hard to look at him – he was standing there, dripping wet with only a towel slung across his hips – his body was muscular, tanned and extremely attractive to her. She had never seen him like this before.

"I j-j-just wanted to p-p-pick up the invitation," she muttered, trying to hide her mortification.

"Go help yourself," he invited, taking pleasure in deliberately equivocating.

She almost ran across the room to his dresser, where she hastily grabbed the invite and turned round to find she was facing him.

"Sorry about that, I guess I shoulda shouted a warning," he smiled.

"No problem," she gulped. "It was my fault really," she sounded like a teenage girl all of a sudden. Her eyes kept moving towards his chest area. "You're dripping all over the carpet," was all she managed to say.

"It's only water," David replied, deeply aware of the effect he was having on her. He treated her to one of his side-ways grins that he knew made her crumble, even mid-argument.

The grin disarmed her, and she let her eyes slip down to just above the towel and then she hoiked them at speed back up to his face, ashamed of the feelings that she was experiencing, and even more so because she had a sense that he knew exactly what was going on in her brain... and in any region far south of it. He is my hired company, she thought to herself, getting angry, nothing else… that's why I'm paying him!

"Well... I guess I've got it now," she stumbled, maintaining eye contact with him.

The two of them stood, only a foot apart, silently staring at each other for what felt like an age. It was like time had suddenly stopped and nothing felt real.

"I better go and get some beauty sleep," Maddie broke the silence in a funny voice.

"And I guess I better dry off before we have a damp problem in here," he said in his deep throaty tone that was almost a whisper.

"Until the morning…" sighed Maddie.

"…until the morning," finished David.

She swept out of his room, closing the adjoining door firmly behind her.

In her own room, she stood motionless for a moment, leaned against the door, and fanned herself with the invitation. She let out her breath slowly. "What was that?" she whispered in a bewildered voice.

It was Saturday morning and Maddie and David were waiting at a table in a sophisticated looking restaurant, one of those establishments that matched Maddie's wardrobe. She looked nervous and David looked amused by this present anxiety.

"Hey, hey, hey," he grabbed her arm, "isn't it me who's supposed to be the nervous one here? I don't know any of these people."

"I know," she laughed, trying to hide her feelings. "I just haven't seen them in a while, and I'm kind of pre-supposing the kind of questions that 34 year old women always get asked…" she grumbled, reaching for a menu. "So – who are you with? Are you married? Do you have children? All those things I'm supposed to have ticked off my 'successful woman' list…"

"Hey, Maddie…in my book you are a successful woman – who cares about some dumb list!"

"Thank you," smiled Maddie, encouraged by his loyalty here. "But you don't know the Hayes women – there's a list, believe me!"

"Well let's tear up that list and celebrate what you've achieved with your remarkable life so far shall we?" David still had his hand on her arm and gave it a squeeze. "I think that's them…"

Maddie looked over to the entrance to see a couple about her age enter the restaurant, they were furiously scouring the restaurant, so Maddie waved them over. "Yeah, that's them."

"Don't worry, I'll behave," reassured David. "It's what I'm being paid for, and I take my jobs very seriously." She looked at him with a frown, so he added something nice. "…And as a friend," he added with a smile.

They found the table and David rose out of his seat in order to shake hands with them. "Nice to meet you, I'm David Addison."

"David," smiled Maddie, "meet Peter, one of my many cousins, and his lovely wife Veronica."

"Good to meet you, David." Peter shook his out-stretched hand. "Call me Pete."

All pleasantries and greeting aside… the assault on Maddie began…

"Sooo, Maddie," laughed Pete. "It's been so long, but you're looking absolutely gorgeous as always!"

"Thank you," gushed Maddie, "not as gorgeous as your lovely wife though. You're looking really great, Veronica."

"Oh Maddie," sighed Veronica, "you always put me to shame. I always have to make an extra special effort when I know I'm brunching with the Blue Moon Shampoo girl."

"Oh, I know what you mean," interjected David, trying to keep the mood light. "I had my hair newly set and waved especially for the occasion."

"Oh, you've caught yourself a funny one!" remarked Peter.

"Yeah, funny how I just can't seem to unhook him from my net," Maddie retorted but it seemed lost on these two who wouldn't understand a good banter if it came up and introduced itself.

"So, how did you two meet?" gushed Veronica. "When's the big day? Are you planning on starting a family straight away?"

David and Maddie exchanged glances and David mimed tearing up an imaginary list.

It was now 1pm and Maddie was full of frustration on arrival back at the hotel. She had been grilled by her cousin Peter, and although David had been sympathetic, at some point he had become too amused by it and could not fight the urge to poke fun.

"Maddie, Maddie, Maddie..." he tried to soothe, "come on. It was not that bad."

"Yeah, well!" she snapped. "It was not your scalp they were after!"

"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that!" he defended himself but then decided not to push it too far. "I've got a little more scalp on show than you Blondie; anyway, it's over. Don't think about it. And by the way..." - he couldn't help but assume a generous tone - "... I really don't mind if you tell people that I'm your..."

"Thanks," she interrupted icily, "but no thanks!"

"Ouch, now I'm hurt!" he joked. "Hey, the wedding is going to start in an hour. Let's have some fun."

Maddie rolled her eyes. "Why does it frighten me to hear you say that?"

He chuckled. "Relax. I promised you that I'd behave. I'm not planning to humiliate you."

"You never plan that!" Maddie complained. "You just do it. Spontaneously."

David shrugged nonchalantly. "Well, what can I say... I'm a natural."

Maddie just growled and buried her head in her hands. Despite the fact that she had thought it would be a good way to evade the usual questions if she attended the wedding with an escort, David hadn't exactly been her first choice. However, she hadn't been able to evade anything so far, even her parents had questioned her about her relationship with David... and for the life of her she didn't know why it embarrassed her so much to talk about it, since there was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about, was there?

"Maddie, come on," David interrupted her thoughts, "please. Let's just enjoy the wedding."

"Ugh," she shuddered, although she was glad that she didn't have to pursue those thoughts any further. "These family weddings are never fun." She let her shoulders sag.

David shook his head in disbelief at so much pessimism. "Nonsense!" he exclaimed. "They are whatever you make 'em!" He put his hands on Maddie's shoulders in a reassuring gesture. "Listen, I promise I'm gonna make sure that you have a good time."

"I don't wanna have a good time!" Maddie winced. "I just wanna get through this without major bruises."

He raised both hands. "Hey, that's fine with me! I never went for that S & M stuff either." He suppressed a chuckle.

Maddie hid her face in both hands again. "I wanna go home," she moaned. "I don't care if I'm gonna be disinherited."

"That's ridiculous. You're a big girl. You can face it." he snapped his fingers at her. "Hey, I'll tell you what: let's get dressed for the party, go and kiss the bride, then have a fine dinner, a decent little chitchat with some of your old friends and relatives, and then cut up a mean floor." Maddie threw him a mean look, and David quickly corrected himself: "OK, a few decent dances. How's that sound?"

She rolled her eyes. "Like oodles of fun." Then she pointed a severe finger at him. "No mean floor. One dance. Maybe. Just... to silence the pack," she added a bit hastily.

David grabbed her pointed finger and put a quick kiss on its tip. "Your wish is my command, boss."

She growled and snatched her hand away from his grip, but regardless of this gesture, she had to hide the little smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. David smirked and turned around to the adjoining door, singing "I'm a private dancer, a dancer for money, I'll do what you want me to do..."

Maddie unzipped her dress from its protective carrier, displaying it in all of its splendor. She sighed, maybe it was too much? She held it up, and the icy blue material swished around, inviting her to step into it. She'd forgotten how low cut in back it was, in fact, she thought, what back? There was no back to this dress! She touched the silver clasp that held the neck together, this was the only thing that held the entire dress together – she could already hear David's voice in her head: "Now that's what I call an easy access dress. In fact, it's an access-all-areas-free-pass!" Oh, dear God, what had she been thinking when she bought it? Too late now.

Having changed out of her brunch outfit, she realized that this dress required very little in the way of under-garments if it was to fall the right way. Another no-no with Addison, and his x-ray vision, trailing around after her all day. She sighed, slipped out of everything she still had on, except that which contained her humility and stepped into the dress, she pulled it up over her body and made sure that the silver clasp was as tightly fastened as humanly possible. By the time she had finished with it, it was the Fort Knox of clasps. She looked in the mirror. She liked what she saw, the silk was beautiful and moved with her body, it came up quite high at the front and was cut to flatter. The blue was the same color as her eyes and therefore made her blonde hair seem more golden in contrast. Then she turned to look at the back. "Oh God," she moaned. The reverse side was cut low to the point where her entire back was exposed, it stopped within a millimeter of her decency.

She took a deep breath, reached for the accompanying silver heels, slipped them on and began arranging her hair and make-up. Why did she feel like she had a knot the size of that clasp in her stomach? It was just her cousin's wedding so it would be full of people she knew, friends from the past… maybe that was it? She was bringing David into the very fold of who she was, and now she suddenly felt extremely vulnerable and sick. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to invite him, maybe it would have been better to go it alone. No, it wasn't that. It was something else. These nerves were more familiar to her. No. Absolutely not. It couldn't be.

Meanwhile, next door, David was putting the finishing touches to his tuxedo – fixing the bow tie, shining the shoes, trying to do up his cufflinks…

"Damn," he kept repeating. "I can never do these babies up. How come they always come off easier than they go on?" Then he chuckled to himself as he carried that thought on. He always looked good in a monkey suit, and he knew it. Not bad, Addison. Not bad.

Leaving his cuffs undone for now, he continued with the rest of the process, he reached for a splash of the right aftershave, checked his chin for stubble and put some gel through his hair. He didn't want, what was left of his hair, to look out of place in the slightest. He had promised Maddie he wouldn't let her down – fee or no fee – so he wanted to make a special effort, show her he could pull out all of the stops.

Wait a minute, he thought. Was that the unmistakable detection of butterflies he was feeling in the pit of his stomach? No, it couldn't be. He wasn't nervous about meeting her family, he knew he could talk the talk, walk the walk… what was it then? No way! Absolutely no way was it that, he chastised himself.

He slipped into the shiny black shoes and yet again reached for those pesky cufflinks. Attempting to put them on to no avail, he was forced to give up and shout for Maddie's help: "Maddie!"

"David?" came her reply from the other room.

"Would you help me with these cufflinks before we get in a fight, and it gets messy?"

"Sure," she replied. "Come on in when you're ready, I'm done."

"You're gonna lose this battle, pals," David warned them as he scooped them up and headed to Maddie's room.

He knocked on the adjoining room door, remembering the previous evening where a missing knock had almost led to major... confusion. "You decent?"

"Come in," came her voice, and it sounded nervous – now that was interesting. Why was she sounding nervous?

He opened the door and stepped in. He saw her standing in front of the mirror and his mouth dropped open, he was speechless for a moment. "Whoa," he managed. "You look beautiful, Maddie."

"Thanks," she said in soft girly tones, dropping her eyes in awkwardness. "You scrub up well yourself."

"Oh, this old thing?" stuttered David. He had momentarily forgotten why he had come into her room.

"You want to bring 'em over?" she asked.

"Huh?"

"The cufflinks?"

"Oh them, yeah." He tentatively approached her, holding them out in his hand. "I've never been able to put these on by myself."

"I'm not surprised," Maddie replied, taking them from his hand. Their skin touched for a moment and sizzled, taking them both by surprise. "My daddy always has to get mom to put his on for him. Come here."

A bolt of passion swept through David's body, the last time she had said those words had been in the garage, right before they had kissed for the first time. He was abashed to feel his face flush hot. "Boy, it sure is hot in this room," he commented, trying to hide what was happening to him, trying to hide it from himself even, because it confused him too much. He dutifully held out his arm to her.

"Here," she was still using that coy voice that was getting him all hot under the collar. She took his arm and turned it over, deftly applying the errant cufflink to its home. "Other one?"

He gave his other arm to her, she caught it in her hand and turned it again, slipping slightly with the cufflink, her hands were sweating slightly – not like her. She had to hold his hand to pull the sleeve into place and there it was, that tingle again as their flesh met. She almost forgot to breathe this time and she absolutely could not look him in the face. "This one doesn't wanna go in," she muttered, and he was so taken by the moment that he even forgot to throw in a lewd remark. "Hang on, almost got him. There. All done."

"Thanks," he smiled, noticing that she still hadn't looked at him. "We all set to go?"

"Yeah, I'll just get my bag." That was when she turned around and David saw the back of the dress – or the lack of a back – for the first time.

If his mouth had dropped open before, his jaw hit the ground this time – in fact, he had to insert his entire fist into it and bite down to stop himself from making an inappropriate sound. His face said it all.

Maddie retrieved her bag, silver to match the shoes, and turned round to face him – looking into his eyes this time. "You ready?" She held out her arm for him.

"Ready," he stuttered. "Boy, you're gonna make a lot of grown men cry today."

She cleared her throat. "Thanks... I think."

He slipped his arm into hers and escorted her out of the door, and of course he managed one more quick peek at the back of her dress as he closed it – a grin spreading across his face as he thought about the day's celebrations to come. Thank you for getting married Maddie's cousin!

Later, in the evening, after the tables had been cleared of the plates and platters and the music had started to play, Maddie finally started to relax. The wedding ceremony had been very moving, and she had managed to escape most of the awkward situations. She was now scrutinizing, very thoughtfully, the bride, a distantly related cousin of hers; her father and the bride's father were cousins. Maddie knew the bride was about thirty, but she looked way younger, a beautiful gracious brunette with dark, slightly almond-shaped eyes, velvety black lashes, and a radiant smile. She had very fine bone structure and seemed to shine from within.

"What was your cousin's name again?" David's voice was suddenly in her ear, and she jumped a little when his breath brushed her neck.

"Wimberly," Maddie replied.

"Wimberly?" he repeated. "That's an extraordinary name."

Maddie nodded. "She's an extraordinary person. I wish we were closer."

David threw her a meaningful look. "Sometimes only to wish something is not enough."

She looked at him, frowning. "What does that mean?"

He shrugged. "I have no idea. Probably another bumper sticker saying. – Shall we dance?"

She rose eagerly from her chair, glad to escape that conversation for the moment. "Sure", she said hastily, "let's get it over and done with."

Just one dance. To silence the pack. That was what she had said, he remembered. Oh, don't you worry, Blondie, I'm gonna show you a dance, he thought with grim determination. One you won't forget.

"Champagne!" David suddenly cried out as he saw a tray float by- you can't have dancing without champagne. "Maddie?"

"Please, David," acknowledged Maddie, thinking that one glass might ease the nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach.

David interrupted the waiter. "Hey sport," he used his fellow bartender tone on him. "How's it shakin' this evening?"

The waiter appreciated the familiarity and was immediately at ease. "Nice wedding," he remarked. "You enjoying yourself, sir?"

"You could say that," sighed David looking round at Maddie. "The champagne might just be the ticket to get this party really started."

"You help yourself, sir, I'll keep 'em coming, if you like."

"You read my mind," David smiled.

"Hey, you're a lucky guy, if you don't mind me saying that?" The waiter nodded his head in the direction of Maddie. "There's some beautiful women in here tonight but that one's a home-coming queen."

"Let's just say I'm working on the coming home part," joked David taking two flutes of champagne from his tray.

"Good luck," laughed the waiter. "See you around."

David presented the champagne to Maddie with that side-ways grin that always set her heart a flutter, even when she was rowing with him "Anything the lady wants… she gets," he used that dusky bedroom voice on her, the one that was as good as a physical touch.

She shivered in response to it, feeling both rather flushed and somewhat angry – why could he always do that to her?

"What's the matter? Not real champagne?" he asked sniffing at the flute. "All looks the same to me."

"It's fine David," she smiled, taking the flute and sipping it almost immediately. Boy, did she need that.

"Hey, hey Blondie…not a toast?"

"Oh, sorry David, sure – what are we toasting?"

"Well, the obvious choice would be to your beautiful cousin Wimberly and her new husband… but that said, I'd like to propose a new one: To the most beautiful woman in my world, my partner, my best friend… and my pimp!" He knew that he should have let it just be nice but yet again, there was a trigger in his brain that was always activated whenever he wanted to be serious that just would not allow it to be so.

"Addison!" hissed Maddie, looking furious once again.

"I know, I know… I can't just let things be nice! How about we get the writers to erase that last word and just concentrate on the good bits!"

'To the good bits,' she relented with a genuine smile that lit up her face.

"Bottoms up," he responded, clinking his glass against hers and taking a big swallow.

He paused for a moment as he took in the room, the Hayes clan were a remarkable, strong, and beautiful family, fairly intimidating to an earthy Philly boy such as himself. It was then that he caught sight of Maddie's twin and choked on his Champagne.

"I thought we'd agreed that when God made you, he broke the mold," he spluttered.

"Is that a complement or a question?" mused Maddie, offering him a napkin.

David wiped the champagne from his chin and motioned towards a beautiful, blonde, and leggy female helping herself to canapes at the buffet table.

"Hey, Maddie, do you think she comes with less baggage than you too?" he quipped.

"That," breathed Maddie, with much fought for patience, "is my second cousin, Tierney. She's also a much younger version of myself but don't let that choke you again," she hissed. "In fact, she has just started out in modelling – poor thing. It's all new to her at the moment, she's not jaded by it."

"Double bonus!" smiled David. "No baggage and not jaded by life! So, if I return you to the counter will they let me exchange without a receipt?"

Maddie hit his arm with her bag again. "You just lost your bonus!"

"I'm only kidding, Maddie, who would want to exchange you for that other blonde, long legged, sultry…"

This time, the handbag hit him in the face.

"Ouch!" yelped David. "For a whole minute there I almost forgot you were my pimp but then the physical abuse began…"

"Men," growled Maddie.

"At your service." David spun round and batted his eye lids at her.

"You can't get back in my good books that easily!"

"What about your bad books? That's always a lot more fun!" As he finished this last sentence he ducked, waiting for the bag to make contact with another part of his anatomy but it didn't happen. He stopped and looked up at his blonde. "Is it too late to say sorry?"

"David," sighed Maddie. "If you want to go and chat up younger versions of myself then I guess I can't stop you, it's not like…" she didn't know how to end this sentence.

"Maddie, I wouldn't dream of it," stated David. "You're all the blonde I need for my evening… and besides, she probably doesn't pay as well."

"You wanna give that motor mouth a rest and take this retired model out on the dance floor for a test drive?"

"Well, when you put it that way," smiled David. "I'll get my wrench."

The two of them danced in silence for a while, just enjoying each other's company. Their heads finding the comfortable hollows on the other, they could stay like this forever, it was always easy when they weren't talking, bantering, arguing etc. etc. etc.

"Maddie?" David broke the comfortable silence.

"Yes, David?"

"I meant what I said."

"Which bit? The nice part, I hope," she drew back from his shoulder and smiled up at him.

"Yeah," he chuckled. "The nice part." He looked down into her blue eyes, detecting a sense of happiness in them tonight – this caused him to smile deep from within.

"Hey – I always forget what a good dance partner you are," she remarked. " A good leader."

"Now, where have I heard that before?" he whispered, "different setting, different context, different position…"

"Shhh," sshh'd Maddie. "You always manage to turn it around."

"I find it keeps things fresh…" David innuendoed.

"Shut up and dance," demanded Maddie.

"Ooh, I love taking orders from you!" he laughed and used his arm to guide her into a twirl – away from him and then back in towards him.

" Bringing out the fancy moves buster?" remarked Maddie.

"I got more," he spoke softly. He used his guiding arm to move them to a quieter spot on the dance floor, effortlessly weaving through people like a professional, taking corners with sophisticated steps and coming to a standstill in the darker corner of the floor.

"Not bad," said Maddie, genuinely impressed. "The tuxedo, the moves…"

"Yes?" asked David, unused to compliments from this remarkable woman.

"Anyone would think that you were a gentleman."

"Hey, now who's not being nice?" complained David. "But I forgive you as I know how to behave myself in company."

He continued to dance with her, less of the fancy steps this time, more close contact and losing themselves in the music and the atmosphere. She was barely aware of the lyrics, but he was listening closely. His lips curved into that secret smile.

If you want something to play with
Go and find yourself a toy,
‘Cause baby my time is too expensive,
And I'm not a little boy.

Just when he thought he had lulled her into a false sense of security he swept her in a downwards swoop to the floor and back, a romantic gesture that left her a little breathless. As her head came back into an upright position, her hair falling gently around her shoulders, her eyes met his with a sparkle.

If you are serious
Don't play with my heart, it makes me furious…

She could not hide the attraction she felt, suddenly and intensely, and nor could he she observed as his pupils dilated in response to hers.

But if you want me to love you,
Then baby I will, girl you know I will.

She felt a little giddy from the champagne but more intoxicated by those green eyes; the look she received from them shot a bolt of heat directly into the core of her being. She needed to look away, but it was like she was trapped in this moment and so was he. They stared at each other like this for what felt like minutes.

Tell it like it is.
Don't be ashamed.
Let your conscience be your guide.

David made the first move, he pulled her in just a little more closely, and she suddenly felt a hotspot where his firm guiding hand touched the bare skin of her back. She could now feel his breath on her cheek, and it made the little hairs on the back of her neck bristle in response. And still she could not take her eyes off his, although she knew she should, she had to. Must.

Baby, I know deep down inside me,
I believe that you love me.
Forget your foolish pride.

He tilted his head slightly to the side and she found herself mirroring him. He moved even closer. Lips were almost touching. She sighed involuntarily. His lips parted slightly and hers responded likewise. They were so close now that the only distance between them was filled with a touchable electricity so intense that you could see it. She felt his lips brush against hers and the electricity had found its way to earth, flowing through her, at the same time shivers penetrated each notch of her bare spine; her eyes automatically began to close and…

"Maddie? Maddie!" It was the voice of old Aunt Ruth. "Who's this fine young man you've got here?"

The two of them pulled away, shocked and slightly self-conscious. Without knowing, they shared the same thought: what the hell was happening here?

"Aunt Ruth?" managed Maddie, flushed red and stuttering with the effort to speak.

"I thought it was you," smiled Aunt Ruth, she was a short, plump old lady with glasses that balanced on the end of her nose. "Come and give your old Aunt a hug!"

For the next two hours Maddie carefully avoided being taken to the dancefloor and, instead, busied herself chatting to her family and friends. Close friends, distant friends, immediate family, extended family- it didn't matter as long as she stayed off that dance floor. During this time, David stayed firmly by her side, helping her through some of the more critical questioning and high alert situations. Although the moment on the dancefloor had confused and frightened her, oddly enough, she was thankful she had him by her side through all of this.

When all the chitchat was said and done, David deigned to invite her to dance with him again ("to silence the pack"). This time she couldn't think quickly enough of an appropriate excuse and, once again, found herself in his confident arms, swaying to the soft music. Darn, she thought, why do they have always play those songs when we're on the dancefloor?

Chances are you'll find me
Somewhere on the road tonight.
Seems I always end up driving by.
Ever since I've known you,
It just seems you're on my way.
All the rules of logic don't apply.

Maddie felt a little awkward at first but after a while she relaxed into it once more, mostly because she had observed that he was not showing the slightest inclination to guide her into those dangerously private corners. In spite of being absolutely determined not to, after the first song, she leaned her head slightly against David's cheek, her face brushing against the smooth fabric of his tux, she did not notice his satisfied smile. This whole wedding wasn't as terrible as she had feared, she thought with relief. The music lulled her again, the soft moves did their job of calming her, and being held in that comfortable way relaxed her to the point of closing her eyes. They were swaying in silence for a while.

And now you're all I long to see.
You've come to mean so much to me.
Chances are I'll see you
Somewhere in my dreams tonight.
You'll be smiling like the night we met.
Chances are I'll hold you, and I'll offer all I have.

Then David murmured softly into her hair: "Are we having fun yet?"

Maddie didn't even bother to lift her head or, for what it was worth, to open her eyes. Her only answer was a dreamily questioning "Hmmmm?"

He couldn't help but smirk, more than pleased with her being so oblivious to everything and everybody around her because she was here with him. "Obviously. Never mind."

You're the only one I can't forget.
Baby, you're the best I've ever met.

They continued to sway to the music without regard to anything happening around them. In fact, the whole wedding could have come to an end, ceremonious cutting of the cake, throwing of the bouquet, happy couple packed into their limo and sent off on their honeymoon, and they would not have noticed… After a long while, Maddie simply asked: "David?"

"Maddie."

Without lifting her head from his shoulder, she went on: "I have to admit... it wasn't half as bad as I feared it would be." Her voice was only tinged with the slightest reluctance.

"Well... I always told you I can behave when I want to." David couldn't refrain from adding ironically: "Sometimes I can even behave well."

She didn't seem to have noticed his remark and went on: "I had a good time." He couldn't see her face, but he could hear the smile in her voice. It pleased him very much.

David replied softly: "Yeah, me too." Indeed, it was amazing how this weekend had turned out so far. He had come here with his usual let's-see-what-happens-attitude, thus without any great expectations, but ready to deal with any development. He was quite pleased indeed with how things had developed. Maybe they could develop even more. Spontaneously, he said: "You don't have to pay me you know."

Finally, Maddie lifted her head from his shoulder and looked him right in the eyes. She was frowning. "What?"

"Forget about the charge," he clarified. "It wouldn't be fair." He didn't notice the flashing red warning signs and added innocently: "I had a good time."

Maddie shook her head and replied stiffly: "No way. A deal is a deal."

He raised his eyebrows. "What?"

Suddenly, she stopped the dancing. "We had a deal, remember? This is business."

He stared at her in utter disbelief. "Business?" he repeated. "Oh Maddie, come on! We spent a weekend together, and we both had a great time. Period." The same moment the words were out, David knew he had made a mistake emphasizing to Maddie that she had had a good time with him.

"I knew you would do that!" she fumed.

He was taken aback. "Do what?"

"Act like this was a date!" she snapped and added immediately: "Well, it wasn't! It was..."

"Maddie, give it a rest!" he interrupted and tried to calm her down, failing to understand her sudden explosion of anger. "Come on, why do you have to analyze this, press it into a frame? It was what it was – two people spending time together and enjoying themselves. Why does it have to matter what you call it?"

Maddie drew a deep, determined breath. "This conversation is through," she declared firmly and left the dancefloor with thunderous steps.

David was left stranded, just standing there in the middle of the dancefloor for a moment, mouth open, completely confused. What the hell was wrong with that woman? A minute ago, they had been totally at ease with each other, and now... He sped after her. "Maddie! Wait!"

When he reached her, she was already in the elevator, pushing the button for their floor. "Leave me alone!"

Before the doors could close, he slipped in. She shot him fiery glances. "I don't want to talk about it!"

He threw his hands in the air, clearly upset now. "Hey, what's gotten into you? – and I know it wasn't me!"

She snorted madly. "There you are!" she exclaimed almost triumphantly. "I knew you couldn't keep up the façade for long!"

For a second, he was lacking in words. "What?" He was clearly upset now and burst out: "You're completely nuts, lady! I don't get it. There's something wrong with you. Why can't you just enjoy your life for once?"

As soon as the elevator reached its destination, she could not get out of it quickly enough. She stormed, like a cyclone, along the hotel corridor towards their rooms. "I can enjoy life!" she snapped over her shoulder. "I do enjoy life!"

"Yeah," he called to her back in a sarcastic voice, "right now you're looking like you're having a helluva time, honey!"

He reached her when she was opening the door to her room. She shot back at him: "I would if you didn't always remind me of..."

"Of what, Maddie?" he jumped in. "Talk to me!"

"Good night." Maddie slammed the door in his face.

"Nice move," he murmured and entered his own room. He went straight to the adjoining door and threw it open. Maddie whirled around in response.

"How dare you?" she fumed. "Close that door!"

With an overly exaggerated gesture and an acutely mocking smile he obeyed her order and closed the door, but of course without leaving the room. Instead, he leaned against it and folded his arms in a provoking manner. Maddie, for a moment speechless, gazed at him irately.

David decided to slow the argument down and asked softly: "What's bothering you so much, Maddie? You said yourself that you had a good time. What's wrong with that?"

To the contrary, his deliberately soothing voice drove her even more crazy. She was yelling now: "I don't want to have this conversation!"

David was frustrated and fed up with her puzzling behavior. "Oh yeah?" he yelled back angrily. "Well, I got news for you, Missy – the world doesn't always revolve around what you want!" Her eyes widened with fury when he called her Missy, and she shot him a few blue lightning bolts that he had to swerve to avoid. He went on, as furious now as she was: "I happen to want to have this conversation!"

She put her hands to her hips and threw him a mean, scornful glance. "See if I care! You can have it with yourself!"

"But by giving me permission to have it with myself takes all the immoral joy out of it," he shot back, unable to control the quick-witted side of his brain- he immediately regretted it and sighed at himself with exasperation. Maddie shot him a look of utter contempt. He attempted to haul his mistake back in with a friendlier note to his voice "Maddie, you're not thinking straight, or you would never have just thrown me that line and not expected me to go fetch!"

She did not return the tone of friendliness, instead she spat at him: "Can you now sit and stay for let's say… the next 8 hours?" She was also unable to resist jumping on the banter wagon. However, like all cease fires, this one was not destined to last.

Obviously, thought David, she was asking for it then. She was asking for the ugly truth. Well, Blondie, you can have it from me. David pointed a determined finger at her. "You're afraid to have a good time with me, because..."

"I am not afraid of anything!" Maddie shrieked.

"Oh yes, you are!" he barked.

"I am not!"

"You are," he declared, and before she could contradict again, he added: "...and it's because it creeps the hell outta you that you are attracted to me!"

Now it was Maddie's turn to stare at him with her mouth open in disbelief. After a second, she hissed menacingly: "I am what?"

He assumed a deliberately calm tone that drove her mad. "You heard me. Earlier, out there, on that dancefloor..."

"Ha!" she spat. "There was nothing on that dancefloor. You must be hallucinating, Addison."

"And you must have a huge carpet to sweep all your feelings under."

She was shocked by this stark statement of his, all of a sudden bringing the discussion from mere attraction to feelings. These grounds were becoming more and more treacherous. "I don't have to sweep anything..."

"Crap!" He interrupted angrily. "This is crap, and you know it!"

Time for retreat. "I know and I won't listen to any more of your crap!" she snapped and turned around on her heels, heading for an escape route.

"Wait!" He grabbed her by the elbow and whirled her around. "You're not running away from me again!"

Maddie stumbled against his chest from the sheer force of this movement, and David caught her by the shoulders, holding her firmly in his grip. Without wasting a second, he pulled her close and kissed her in a sudden explosion of passion, a passion that had been slowly building during their heated argument. However, unlike that other occasion down in the parking garage, after only a few seconds, she abruptly pushed him away. With a mad glint shining in her eyes, she raised her hand and slapped him with fervor. Boy, she can deliver a slap!

Her eyes were flashing with fury and shooting out icy blue lightning bolts in his direction. Before David was able to gather his thoughts in the face of this onslaught, with a surprisingly fierce move, Maddie grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him close until their noses almost touched. He was so taken aback with her capability for such a gesture (like she wanted to take him hostage), that he was forced to draw in a sharp breath. For a fraction of a second his eyes widened and showed their full range of amazing green, and she kissed him fully on his open mouth.

This time, Maddie didn't push him away, and David, still not knowing what was happening but certainly approving of it, slid his arms around her waist and enclosed her in a tight embrace. He kissed her back with as much fervor as she had when she had pounced on him. When, after what seemed to have lasted an eternity, they finally parted, they stood face to face- it was only their lips that had parted. They were both short of breath, and Maddie was not making any effort to escape from David's arms, all the earlier fury had been stripped away. Her hands rested on his chest. He certainly had no intention of releasing her either. They were looking into each other's eyes in sweet confusion, like children who had just witnessed something they couldn't understand for the lives of them.

Finally, Maddie was the first to find her voice. "What was that?"

David's eyes widened in disbelief, as a huge déjà-vu struck him. "Again!" he exclaimed but was very careful not to loosen his grip. "What do you mean, what was that? Weren't you here with me? Aren't you here?"

She still didn't push him away, nor did she withdraw. "Of course, I'm here. I just don't know..."

David felt a tinge of frustration welling up again, but still kept holding her. He would never understand how that blonde's brain worked. "You and your questions!" he blurted out. Then he saw a shadow of disappointment appear in her amazing blue eyes and thought, hell, you're the smartest woman I ever met, how can you be so slow on the uptake sometimes? He went on softly, in a husky voice: "It was a kiss, okay? Two kisses, to be more specific. With a slap in between. Shall I tattoo it on my forehead for you?"

Maddie sighed but still didn't move. She was still looking into his eyes. "Great. And now? What are we gonna do now?"

David started to feel anxious. He instinctively understood that this was a crucial point. Choose your words and actions well, fella, he warned himself. He was highly conscious that any move, any word could be the wrong one now. He almost held his breath. "Well... What do you feel like doing?" he whispered. She seemed to shiver when she heard him speak.

Maddie swallowed slowly. Her voice still sounded confused when she spoke. "Are you gonna do that again?"

"Me?" he replied, taken aback, instinctively wanting to object to the belied fact that he had made the first move and was depending on her reaction now. "I didn't..."

He fell silent when he looked at her beautiful eyes – he could read many, many questions there, questions that he was partly asking himself right now; there was utter confusion, of course, but also a kind of incredulous joy, like she had just been the witness to a wonder. There was also – David could hardly believe it – an expression of eager anticipation. Like Maddie wanted to convey to him a secret message with her eyes – please say yes. And just do it again.

They had been at this very point just a couple of weeks ago, and they had ruined it because they had both been too shy and scared to admit that something great was about to happen between them. Granted, it was something maybe so great that it could creep the hell out of anyone who had sustained major bruises with regard to relationships. He damn sure had had his share of those bruises. Therefore, he had let that chance slip, that opportunity to admit his feelings and get her to admit to hers. David felt that they had reached the same crossroads all over again.

He still felt insecure; the last time he had opened himself up to a woman and exposed his vulnerability, he had been taken for a painful ride and got kicked goodbye. But he also felt that with this woman it could be different. Besides, hadn't her reaction, just now, been to kiss him again after that first shock and then, not to withdraw from him, to stay in his arms like she belonged there? – Damn, don't blow it again!

He took a risk and assumed a determined voice when he finally answered Maddie's question. "You betcha I am."

Then he pulled her in towards him again, and before he closed his eyes, right before their lips met again, the last thing he saw was a wonderful, almost blinding sapphire sparkle in her eyes that mirrored pure happiness and promised everything.

The first kisses were slow, unspeakably sweet, and deliberate, but soon they both assumed a faster pace as their passion increased and their fears, insecurities and inhibitions shrank until they were small and unimportant. It was as if those insecurities had never been there, never been there to hold them back from giving in to their feelings and their mutual longing for each other's closeness. Everything that was important was both here and now - they had finally found each other, found the courage to let their guard down and take the first step onto new ground.

Maddie had slid her arms around David's neck and hung on to his lips as if she were drowning, as hungry and thirsty for his kisses as he was for hers. Her legs were feeling weak like they were boneless, and she had the impression that she was being held upright only by David's tight embrace. His hands were constantly moving, slowly but firmly, wandering up and down her bare spine, making her shiver and burn from this energy. The effect her fingertips had on him, where they touched his skin right above the collar of his shirt as she was caressing his neck, set him on fire. He cupped the back of her head in his left hand so as to make sure she couldn't escape him, but she hadn't the slightest intention of doing so.

They continued kissing, until both were dizzy, and the floor seemed to be spinning beneath them. Their bodies had found a rhythm that matched so perfectly, as if they had been doing this sweet dance for years, and it surprised them both how easily this had happened. David's lips left hers only to wander slowly to the spot right below her left ear and then down the side of her throat to where he felt her pulse running madly beneath them. He lingered there with his mouth, in the meantime, never ceasing his right hand's maddeningly slow journey up and down her spine, until Maddie couldn't stand it any longer, she breathed his name and grabbed his hair with both hands to pull his lips to hers.

He opened his eyes for a moment and saw she was looking at him too, and in her misty gaze he could detect the same bliss and desire he was feeling himself. Then their lips touched again, and she sighed. Maddie was soft in his arms, but at the same time her moves clearly revealed her determination not to retreat from him, from this. She was ready. Boy, was she ready. He was more than ready, too; ready to do all of those wonderful things he had been dreaming of for a long, long time; things that, he now believed, she had been secretly dreaming of too. Every trace of doubt, of hesitation, had fallen from her, and David knew that all he had to do now was to loosen the silver buckle that held her dress at the back of her neck, and she would be his right there and then. He could even detect that she was unmistakably pulling him towards the king-size bed, and, absurdly enough, this was just the moment when his inner voice chimed in and told him to stop.

It was maybe the hardest thing he had ever done in his entire life to loosen his tight embrace now and break the contact of their lips. "Maddie," he murmured breathlessly.

"David..." she sighed in response and tried to snuggle up against him again.

"Maddie," he repeated softly but firmly, holding her tenderly back by her shoulders. "I think we should... go to sleep now."

Maddie looked at him with an expression of shock and utter confusion. "What?" she breathed in disbelief.

I must be crazy, he thought. Damn me, but I can't do this. "I don't think this is right..." he whispered back, desperately struggling with himself.

"What?!" Maddie panted.

He took both her hands in his and looked intensely into her eyes, to make sure he had her full attention, and at the same time pleading for her understanding. "Oh my God," he sighed, "I might hate myself for the rest of my life for this, but..." he interrupted himself. "Damn! Maddie, this is wonderful. You are wonderful, and you can't even come near to imagining how much, or for how long, I have been dreaming of this. I want you so much. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to make love to you right now."

With disbelief, she shook her head, her face baring no understanding of these qualms. This was ridiculous! David had been pursuing her since the very moment she had set foot in his office, and now – now that she had finally decided to... dared to do something about it – he was ready to turn his back on her because of... what?

"I really don't understand why..." her voice drifted off, clearly showing her disappointment, but she held on firmly to his hands which still enclosed hers in a tight grip, not ready to let go of him yet.

"This is a very special occasion, Maddie, we've been attending a wedding, we're dressed up like movie stars, we've been drinking champagne, we've been dancing, the whole setting is more than romantic..." he paused and searched for the right words. "Look, I want you, and I can see that tonight you want me too. I've been waiting for a long time to make love to you Maddie, but when that happens, I want it to be just... perfect."

This confused her even more. "What's not perfect about all this?" she asked, baffled. "Like you just said, the whole setting..."

He was touched by her reaction, by her hesitation to let go of him, by this moment. "Blondie," he interrupted in a very soft voice, "for my life I wouldn't want you to regret anything tomorrow, to tell yourself and me that it was just a mistake, a mistake that was fueled by too much dancing cheek to cheek, too much champagne, too much romance in the air." David swallowed hard.

Slowly, Maddie had started to understand what was moving him, what was haunting him. She smiled feebly and found herself at a loss for the right words.

He raised his left hand and caressed her cheek lightly with his fingertips. "If you wake up tomorrow morning and you haven't had a change of heart, and if when we get back to LA you find you still want me, then everything will be perfect, no matter what the setting."

There was nothing left to say. He placed a kiss on each of her palms, sending shivers coursing through her body again, and communicated a look of utmost regret in his green eyes.

"Well, then... good night, I guess," she murmured, feeling a lump in her throat, and finally letting go of his hands.

He took a step back, and it looked like it had cost him more strength than anything he had ever done before- to leave her now! This was a move that she would never have expected from him. And this was the moment when Maddie realized for the first time that maybe, maybe they were moving towards something wonderful.

She smiled remorsefully and nodded. "Tomorrow then."

David smiled back with yearning, he had to hold himself back from licking his lips when he walked carefully and slowly backwards towards that adjoining door. When he had reached it, he touched two fingers to his lips and whispered back almost soundlessly: "Night." Then he finally forced himself to open the door, and now he hurried to disappear into his own room and to close it behind him. Close it before he could change his mind, run back to her, pull her into his arms, loosen that darn silver buckle and finish what they had started and were both desperately longing for.

Maddie stood there for a full minute, staring at the closed door, a very small, very incredulous smile slowly curling the corners of her mouth where she still could feel his kisses. "Damn you, Addison," she murmured, and her voice was full of appreciation and affection.

Neither of them slept much that night.

David lay awake and asked himself again and again why on earth he had let that unbelievable occasion slip away. Had this happened six months ago, he surely wouldn't have let her off the hook. He wouldn't have been able to refrain from something so sweet and delicious handing itself to him on a silver platter, practically begging to be devoured. But then – deep, deep down he knew why: because he was prepared and determined to risk and invest more than just a few hours, or nights of pleasure – he knew that now. And therefore, the approach to the whole thing had to be right and leave no opportunities for Maddie to shy away this time. After that kiss they had shared a few weeks ago in the parking garage, she had needed reassurance, had wanted to hear him say that it hadn't just been a reaction fueled by angst, fear of loss, or anything like that. That it had been the start of maybe more, the expression of long pent-up emotions. He had learned his lesson now.

The only problem, back then, had been that he had needed that reassurance too. And he still needed it. He needed to know she wouldn't make love to him only to let him down the next day, because in plain daylight with its everyday routines, she may arrive at the conclusion that he wasn't good enough for her. He desired her, craved her, but he didn't want her to fall for him just because of the heat of the moment, because of the special circumstances they were in on this particular night, just because the air between them had been filled with electricity, just because he was a good dancer or, for what it was worth, a good kisser. No, it had been the right thing to step back for now, although he had to admit he had been flattered by the lament in her eyes and her reluctance to let go of his hands.

He growled and pulled the sheet over his head, although his body was already in thermal overload. This was gonna be a long night.

After she was sure that he wouldn't come back, Maddie loosened the neck buckle of her gown and let it simply fall to the floor. She slipped between the cool satin sheets without pulling on her nightgown; the heat in her body was still too unbearable for another layer of fabric. Feeling the cool sheets on her bare skin didn't help either though, not when she imagined what could be happening right now, when she imagined how the sensation of David's skin against hers would feel, how it would feel to have him run his hands over all the parts of her body that had been covered by the blue silk earlier. She could still feel them sliding up and down her bare spine, and never before had she felt anything like this sensation of shivering from an almost unbearable heat.

It had felt like a slap in her face at first, when he had pulled away from her, broken the connection between their lips, their bodies, and she hadn't understood at all what was bothering him. Then, slowly, she had gotten his point, and his words had touched something inside her. That very moment, he could have taken advantage of her to the fullest, he could have done anything he wanted with her or have her do anything he wanted; that moment, she had been wax in his hands.

It was not easy to admit it to herself, but here, lying alone in her bed in her dark hotel room with no one watching, she could finally confess it: she had always been attracted to this man, although she had always fought this attraction. He drove her crazy and took great pleasure in it, but that was not the reason. The reason was her fear to be used only for his pleasure; too open and undisguised had his advances been, always a lewd remark on his lips, a wolfish glance on his face, a devilish twinkle in his eyes. Although, she had to admit, he had proved to be a real friend to her on more than one occasion. But nevertheless – he had always seemed to be the type who treated women in a flippant manner, and she surely had no interest in that. In spite of that undeniable attraction she felt.

Tonight... that retreating of his had been sweet, full of seriousness and completely altruistic. It was like he wanted more than just the heated response to a spontaneous explosion of passion. Like he... really did care about her. He had shown that clearly, unlike on that other occasion a few weeks ago in the parking garage, when afterward he had been offhand about their kiss and by reacting in his usual wisecracking way, he had managed to dismiss it as irrelevant- just a goodbye kiss. She had been so disappointed by his reaction. Tonight had been completely different.

Maddie knew it had been right not to push ahead, but at the same time she kept feeling that regret, that embarrassing urge to jump out of her bed and storm right through that conveniently unlocked adjoining door, baring her body and her soul, throwing herself into his arms. The fact that she could still taste his lips on her mouth and feel them brushing hotly against the burning skin of her throat didn't help either; it only fueled her desire for him to brush them everywhere on her body.

She growled and pulled the satin sheet over her head, desperately – and in vain – trying to cool her heated body with it. This was gonna be a long night.

Maddie had gotten up early and was sitting at the breakfast table, stirring her coffee for at least five minutes without noticing what she was doing. She felt tired, physically and mentally. Emotionally. When she had left her bed, with its crumpled satin sheets that were still damp with her sweat, revealing her restless sleep, her eyes had gotten hold of the shimmering blue pile on the floor that was her gown. She had a major flashback of the previous night: the fight she had with David, the incredible scene that it had led to and the even more incredible act that had not happened; had not happened- only because David had taken a step back, she had to admit to herself.

She stirred her coffee fiercely and closed her eyes, feeling the heat and the blush of the sheer shame sweep over her when she remembered that she had practically pleaded with David to make love to her – if not with words, then surely with her actions. She remembered also, the sweet thoughts she had had about his retreat afterward – not being so sure anymore if this had really meant he cared about her, or if it had just been one of his usual, stupid jokes, destined solely to embarrass her. The more she thought about it, the more she was convinced about the latter. I must have been nuts, she thought desperately, how can I ever be in his presence, let alone look him in the eyes again without remembering this and dying from the shame?

"Are you going to drink that coffee, or will you just stir it until it's cold?"

David's voice made her nearly jump out of her seat. She opened her eyes and found him standing right beside her, looking down on her with both his weapons loaded, a smirk and a mockingly raised eyebrow. And those eyes, those green eyes again. Great. She swallowed and couldn't utter a word, she also felt the blush rise to her face and to her neck, always her stupid neck, and there was nothing she could do about it. Unlike on other occasions, though, she wasn't angry at him; she just felt a sting of regret and despair, and this shocked her.

David sat down opposite her and helped himself to coffee, all the time not taking his eyes off her with an expression she could not quite read. Like questioning, searching. Was that anxiety? Suddenly, she remembered what he had said to her the night before – that it would be perfect if she woke up this morning to find that she still wanted him. Her silly heart leapt. Was he really anxious to know if she still wanted him? God, she wanted him.

"So..." he finally started. "Slept well?"

Maddie cleared her throat. "Well..."

"Sweet dreams?" he asked and smirked. "I know I had some."

That's it. I knew it! He's laughing at you, and he will rub this in for the rest of your life! You can't evade this, you gotta face it and clear it up for good, or it will affect your working relationship with that disgusting jerk forever. Maddie drew a deep, angry breath. "David, listen, about yesterday..."

He surprised her by putting his hand over hers, interrupting her firmly and assuming a completely serious and honest tone. "About yesterday," he repeated, " – I just wanted to say thank you for the most beautiful evening I've had since... let's say..." - he paused shortly, and his lips curled into his trademark half-smile - "the welcome home I got from you, right after you saved my thick neck with your sheer ingenuity that wiped my slate clean of the accusation of murder."

He had swept her off her feet in that moment. By no means had she expected this. She felt touched and a little smile spread across her face, it widened when David took her hand and quickly kissed her fingertips, sending little flashes of heat shooting from her hand right to the center of her being.

"When we get home," he went on softly, "surely we don't have to wait until the next weekend to... let's say... go out and have some cheeseburgers, do we?"

She was stunned. He wasn't making fun of her. He was asking her for a date. Then – he had been serious the night before. Which meant – he really did care about her. Suddenly, she felt a lump in her throat. "Uhm... no... absolutely not..." she managed in a funny voice, and his smile widened too.

"Or... well..." he went on, maybe a bit nervously which warmed her heart, still holding her hand in his, "if you don't go for burgers, then maybe... not exactly seafood, but – maybe some surf & turf would be a good compromise?" he winked at her, and she was glad she was sitting, otherwise surely her knees would have betrayed her.

This may be the craziest thing I've ever done, she thought, but I just can't let go of this, or I may regret it for the rest of my life. This is definitely worth a try. "Surf & turf?" she repeated. "I'd be fine with that."

David finally released her hand, only to raise his hand to her face and run a gentle finger over her lower lip, making her stomach flip and her pulse quicken. "Oh, and maybe..." he continued almost casually, lowering his voice, "we should carry on with what we started yesterday... and soon too." His voice sent shivers down her spine. "What d'you say?" he added, an inviting twinkle in his eyes. He wasn't licking his lips, but Maddie knew he was doing this in his imagination.

She lowered her eyes for a moment, slightly embarrassed both by the feelings and the memories of the previous night that were welling up in her, but that only lasted for a second. Then, she looked at him openly, her lips curled into a promising smile. "I'd be delighted."

David leaned back, smiling broadly now, obviously pleased, and rubbed his hands. "So! Now that we've settled this, we should talk about... the charge."

Her jaw almost dropped. "The charge?" she echoed in disbelief.

He nodded in fake seriousness. "The charge," he repeated. "I've been thinking about what you said yesterday- right before you left the dancefloor and we had that... uhm... little disagreement about the progress of the evening..." He was clearly mocking her now, but in a pleasurable way. "I mean," he went on, "what you said about this not being a date but business, and – well, I hate to say it, but – you are right. We should keep this weekend strictly business." He tried to look serious, but she could clearly detect the playful smile lingering in the corners of his green eyes where it always first appeared before curving towards his mouth.

Maddie was secretly amused by his behavior – this was so him. After that earlier sweet moment, he had to do something to keep his face. "Do tell."

"I will if you just listen. Especially now that we are about to take a step forward, to break new ground, to push ahead into... virgin territory..." his voice drifted off dreamily.

"Watch it or you won't be pushing forward into anything," Maddie warned, at the same time feeling elated that this bantering was still possible even if their relationship was about to essentially change – some things would never change, and somehow that gave her a good, a reassuring feeling.

David cleared his throat. "Sorry, just got carried away by the prospect of that... maiden voyage."

"Maiden voyage?" she echoed and added dryly. "I have one word for you, Captain Hook: Titanic."

Suddenly, she noticed that the people sat around them had started staring at them, at their fast ping-pong conversation. It was drawing a crowd of curiosity.

David nodded. "Good point, Tinkerbell. We'll have to take care of that iceberg for good." For the last remark he assumed his bedroom voice again only to go on matter-of-factly: "Anyway, I think we should not mingle business and pleasure and we must now put a close to this current... let's call it deal... neatly before we plunge really deep into..."

"Addison!" she hissed and beckoned him near with her finger. He bent forward, and they put their heads together in an almost conspiratorial way, stares closely locked.

"Yes?" he whispered.

"You are a jackass," she whispered back.

He nodded. "I know."

"And I despise you."

"I know."

"Can I pay you in kind?" she finally whispered, at the same moment thinking: Did I just say that?

"I'll think about it." He smirked, obviously pleased with her remark.

Maddie leaned back again and smiled, still surprised with herself, about how easily she could suddenly let her hair down and banter with him on that innuendo level, now that she knew what where they were headed. "Good."

"Good."

"Fine."

"Fine." He winked at her again. After a short pause, he asked: "Just being curious... how kind is kind gonna be?"

She smiled a meaningful smile with slightly parted lips. "Very kind."

This time he could not hold himself back from licking his own. He nodded slowly, smirking again. "Then we have a deal, I guess."

"But that will be the last time I pay you," Maddie declared, quite pleased with herself.

David shrugged. "I can live with that. From now, consider me free of charge."


To be continued in "Moonbeams in a Jar"


"Anything Goes" by Cole Porter, sung by Cole Porter

"You Can Get It If You Really Want" by Jimmy Cliff, sung by Desmond Dekker

"Private Dancer" by Mark Knopfler, sung by Tina Turner

"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison & William Dees, sung by Roy Orbison

"Tell It Like It Is" by George Davis & Lee Diamond, sung by Aaron Neville

"Chances Are" by Bob Seger, sung by Bob Seger & Martina McBride


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