It was ten past five in the morning when Lucy’s flight finally landed back at London Heathrow. She got up from her crew seat and put the doors in manual, as instructed by the captain then changed into her heels shoes and put her hat on, ready to say goodbye to the passengers.
As the sea of people started to move towards the front of the plane, leaving the last ten rows free, Lucy excused herself and hurried back to her handbag and turned her phone on.
She waited for it to connect to the internet and found herself holding her breath.
Once again, all the things she had imagined could happen just didn’t.
She shook her head and chuckled.
Drama queen, she thought.
Just landed. In desperate need of a nap. Can’t wait to see you this evening.Sorry for not replying yesterday, it got busy!
A little white lie never hurt anyone.
The Piccadilly line train was almost empty and Lucy took a seat near the door, where she could be next to her suitcases. She loved landing so early and then taking the train home while everybody else was rushing to work and she was instead about to put her pyjamas on and go for a well deserved long nap.
She put her headphones on and played some music to keep her awake on the journey. Not like everybody else, by The Kinks greeted her with its drums and guitar intro.
Hey baby. Finally, you’re back in London, I’ve missed you so much! My bed is already warmed up if you fancy a nap at mine. There could be takeaway and wine when you wake up...
Lucy smiled at her phone and considered the offer for a moment, then typed
Really tempting indeed but I’m still in my uniform and I’d like to keep it low profile for a little longer...will come around as soon as I wake up, I promise! :)
Then her phone rang.
“Good morning,” said a sleepy voice on the other end.
“Good morning” replied Lucy softly, muffling her voice from the other few people in the compartment.
“How was your flight?” James asked with a yawn.
“It was good, thanks! Why are you up so early?”
“I set an alarm, just wanted to make sure you were ok...after the picture and all”.
Lucy smiled again at how attentive James always was towards her.
“That’s sweet. I’m ok. Again, I’ll get used to it. Plus I look quite good in that picture,” she joked.
James chuckled and his low, hoarse voice resonated through her brain and sent shivers down her spine. He had that effect on her.
“Listen,” she added, “why don’t you come to mine? I really need to go home because you know, laundry etcetera. But we can have some more sleep and then order food like you promised”.
James was silent for a moment and Lucy could hear him stir between the sheets.
“That would be nice. Let me know when you’re home and I’ll hop on a cab”.
Lucy put on her flannel robe and sat on the sofa with a cup of steaming tea; her eyes were heavy and her mind fogged from the lack of sleep, but she had decided to stay awake until James arrived and thought of calling her parents, who, she knew, would be awake.
“Good morning honey!” greeted her mother through the video call.
“Hey mom, hey dad,” she said with a yawn.
“Is everything ok? You usually never call so unprompted...” her father voice was cautious.
“Yes. All is good. I just wanted to share some news with you”.
Lucy had thought it was time to share her new relationship with her parents, before any news may have come out. They weren’t the Hollywood gossip type of people, but their neighbours had daughters who certainly were. And they liked to talk.
Her parents were silent, prompting her to continue.
“As you might know I’ve finally ended it with Sam”.
Her mother shot her a thank god look.
“Well shortly after I started dating another man and, well... things are getting serious I think. We decided to make it official”.
“Oh that’s wonderful darling,” cheered her mother, “are you happy? That’s all we want to know”.
Lucy thought of James and immediately a smile appeared on her lips.
“Yes mom, I’m very happy”.
“Well then, good for you,” said her father.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
Lucy thought about how to explain her relationship.
“Well, the situation is...a bit complicated”.
Her father rolled his eyes in resignation.
“Tell us something new, darling”.
Lucy mocked a laugh.
“Ok, here it goes. He’s an actor. A famous one, I met him while working. Do you know James Kent?“.
Two blank expressions stared back at her.
“Nevermind. Just take my word, he’s famous like big time. Like George Clooney famous”.
She used her mother’s favourite actor so that they could understand.
“Well, not like Gearoge otherwise we would have heard of him”.
Lucy sighed again.
“That’s not the point, mom”.
She could see her father fiddling with his phone and mouth the words James Kent, as he typed his name.
The two of them then leaned on the screen and had a look at the results.
“Oh I know who he is!” her mother exclaimed. “He was in a BBC drama that I loved, he was a soldier or something! Do you remember, Richard?”
Lucy was silent, with little energy to help the conversation. She just wanted to deliver the news and go to bed, not have a debate about James’ career.
“Mom, dad,” she said trying to catch their attention again, “now that you know who he is, I just wanted to let you know that since we went public there have been a couple of pictures of us together out on the Internet”.
“What do you mean pictures of you together? What kind of pictures?”
Lucy massaged her temples, this was proving much harder than expected.
“Not that type of pictures, dad. Us walking down the street, you know paparazzi kind of pictures”.
Her mother looked at her, and she seemed to understand what Lucy was trying to say.
“And are you ok with that type of attention, honey?”
“I am. I mean it’s weird but I’ll get used to it, I guess. I really like him”.
“And what are this actor’s intentions?” asked her father now protective.
“His name is James, dad. And he is genuine”. She didn’t go into details and didn’t tell them he had said he loved her, because she didn’t have the energy for that.
“He treats me with respect and values me. He’s a gentleman”.
Her parents looked at each other and then back at her. They always had this ability to understand each other with just a glimpse.
“We’re happy for you darling. Be careful, ok?”
“I will. I need to sleep now, ok? I just wanted to let you know now as the pictures are out and I didn’t want you two hearing weird rumours from the Cavenaughs or the Rylies”.
“Ok honey,” said her father “have a good sleep and please call us soon, ok?“.
“Will do. Love you”.
And she hung up with a sigh of relief.
When Lucy woke up it was dark, classical music was playing softly, barely audible from the living area and a dim light illuminated the ceiling in a circular shape. She wrapped herself tightly in her duvet, unwilling to let go of any warmth she had created under the covers, and stayed like that for a while, enjoying the knowledge of James downstairs.
Eventually, she stirred and tossed the duvet on the side, quickly putting on her robe.
“Hey, look who’s up?” James turned to her as she descended the stairs.
Lucy walked to him and placed a kiss on his forehead before making her way to the kitchen for a cup of tea.
“Hey. Why are you sitting in the dark like this?” she pointed to the small, dim lamp on the little table next to the sofa.
“Didn’t want to wake you up. I know the music doesn’t bother you...” he hinted at the record player.
“Honey, after a night flight I could sleep in a nightclub! What time is it?” she asked then, still confused after the long sleep.
“Four-thirty,” said James, putting the script he had been reading back into its folder.
“Shit! I’ve slept for seven hours!” Lucy let herself fall on the sofa and placed her socked feet on James’ lap.
“I’m sorry sweetie, you must be bored out of your mind!”
James shook his head.
“After I took a nap with you this morning, I’ve spent the afternoon going over the script and the notes. There are like a billion of them...so much work to do!“.
Lucy nodded and smiled.
“I like the way your eyes light up when you talk about this project!”
“Well, it’s a role I had in mind for a while so, yeah I’m freaking proud!”
Lucy leaned over and gave him a sweet kiss on the lips then went back to her place and grabbed her phone, as James lifted the pin and flipped the vinyl to start the B side.
“Oh, bloody hell!” Lucy exclaimed.
James gave her an inquisitive look so Lucy showed him her phone where was their paparazzi picture and a message from Jack.
Hey babe, I know it sounds crazy but this lucky lady looks a lot like you. And I remember you wearing a very similar sweater in Tokyo. I’m only gonna ask once because I do feel a bit delusional...is that you? Are you fucking my James?
“Well that’s a way of putting it...” said James giving Lucy her phone back.
“What are you gonna say?” he asked then sweetly.
“The truth I guess? I mean, I don’t want to advertise it but I can’t lie to a blunt question”.
“I agree,” he said.
Lucy opened Instagram and typed a reply message to Jack.
Hey sweetie. I don’t know how to put it really but yes, that’s me in the picture. I promise I will tell you everything next time I see you but for now, can I kindly ask you that you keep it to yourself? It’s still a very new situation for me...thanks xxx
“On that note,” started James “I need to talk to you about something. I spoke to my agent yesterday and he suggested that we come clean about our relationship”.
“What do you mean?” asked Lucy, confused.
“Well, he thinks that keeping the mystery about you it’s going to spark more interest in the press than just being honest if asked”.
Lucy was silent, obviously pondering the idea.
“I know you value your privacy but they’re gonna find out about you anyway. Might as well tell them something so that they will leave you alone”.
He could see sudden apprehension in her eyes.
“Do you think they won’t leave me alone?”
James shook his head vehemently.
“No, honey that’s not quite what I meant- he took her hand- I’m very jealous about my private life so I wouldn’t volunteer any specific information regardless. I don’t intend to do anything that I wouldn’t normally do. What I meant is that it’s probably best for me not to be over mysterious about us, if asked. I’ll just admit we’re together and that I’m very happy-he smiled- and that’s about it”.
“Yeah, it makes sense. I mean I’m no state secret. I’m ok with you telling them whatever the hell you think it’s appropriate, I know you’re private anyway and I trust you”.
James smiled and gave her a deep kiss.
“You’ll be fine!” he said.