But she also knew he was no pushover. There wouldn’t be chance after chance. This was it. More than anything she didn’t want to disappoint him. Ultimately, she knew she would. She always did.
Still she was determined to try and make the party the best it could be. So when she was gone he’d look back on this time and not see her as a complete failure, a complete flake. She didn’t want him to send her away but it was inevitable—she’d do something stupid—or not do something sensible—and it would all be over. Or he’d simply fall out of lust with her.
She tried to forget him—for a few minutes at least while she fixed the party. Entertainment was now the biggest problem. She wanted something sophisticated in the early part and then the funkiest DJ to kick up the dance floor later in the evening. But none of her old contacts were interested so she’d have to try some of the newer clubs in town. And she’d have to go and listen to them to see if they would be OK. She could sneak out and listen to part of the set and be back in an hour or so. No way would James want to go with her—he was so busy and she could see the strain of tiredness in his eyes. She wouldn’t bother him with it.
After all, it was her mess to sort out.
In the middle of the night, as the club scene was starting to swing, she crept out. She hated leaving the warm cocoon that was his bed. He was sleeping soundly, relaxed, so attractive. For once she didn’t want to be in a crowded atmosphere, the music blaring. As it was the DJ was dreadful and she was ready to cry with frustration.
When she got back into bed, almost two hours later, he stirred, rolling towards her, half waking as he felt her hands.
‘You need warming up,’ he muttered.
She did because inside all she felt was the coldness of failure and the disappointment of being let down by people she’d thought she could count on.
The next day she trawled the streets, finally finding some success for the lighting at the local amateur-dramatic society. There was a kid there, who looked about sixteen, who’d done a ‘marvellous job’
for the local panto show. All Liss could hope was that he wouldn’t wire the place funny and burn it down in some freak accident.
She spent hours talking through the plans with the head chef and maître d’.
‘Last week it was all the best the world has to offer. This time, with the media on us, let’s showcase Aristo —the best we have to offer. But we’re on a tight budget.’ She grinned. ‘It’s a real test for you.’
‘I’ll say.’ The chef still looked anxious, despite having had a few days to get used to the idea.
‘You get what I’m after, right?’
Walking back through she noticed the unusual asymmetrical skirt Stella, the hotel secretary, was wearing. ‘
Where did you get your skirt?’
Stella looked pleased. ‘My boyfriend made it. He’s a designer.’
Liss looked a little closer at the outfit—checking the clean cut, the tight stitching, the young and funky style.
Interesting. ‘Does he have a shop?’
‘Oh, no, nothing like that. He’s only just finished at design school.’
‘You mind if I get his number?’
Looking surprised, Stella gave it to her and Liss arranged to see him right then.
‘Princess Liss.’ Tino, Stella’s man, greeted her casually, as if it were every day that a member of royalty visited his ‘coolly ramshackle’ apartment. She looked at his sketches and the pieces he’d made for his final portfolio and made up her mind immediately.
‘You want me to what?’ he asked a few minutes later.
‘The most glamorous party dress you can come up with.’
‘In two days?’ He didn’t sound staggered, but he did seem a little sceptical—of her. ‘You don’t usually wear unknown designers.’
True. It was always exclusive and unbelievably expensive.
She smiled. ‘After this, you won’t be unknown any more.’
He looked her over critically. ‘You’re even thinner in real life than you are in the photos.’
She knew she’d lost a little weight this week. It didn’t take much for it to be noticeable. ‘Will you be able to do it?’
‘You know I can’t say no.’
‘You have to let me do my thing though—no interference.’ He came across very sure of himself—but, judging from his work, Liss thought maybe he had the right to be.
She took a deep breath. ‘So long as I look decent, you have free rein.’
‘Great.’ He suddenly looked like a kid in a candy shop and she hoped like hell she could trust her instincts.