I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous. Danny Johnson! THE Danny Johnson, is coming to my house! Okay, yeah, I know that doesn’t mean much to anybody else. It isn’t like he’s a famous celebrity or royalty, or some important religious figure. The Pope isn’t coming for tea… just Danny.

So why am I so nervous? Well, he’s a multi-millionaire. He’s ‘high society’ and well educated. He’s also impossibly good looking and has a body that makes me go weak in the knees. Oh yeah, and he’s XJ5. You know, one of those genetically modified killing machines, like Edel. So, you know, this guy is superior to me in almost every way. Money, looks, genetics. I don’t know what he’ll make of my normal life in a cramped little house in the middle of an old Yorkshire pit village.

I fluff my cushions again and smooth out my shirt and try to shake away this nervous jittery energy that is building in my chest. This is different to when Edel came. Danny isn’t frightening in the same ways, yet I find myself shaking with nerves. I’m not usually one for worrying too much about what people think of me, yet here I am, suddenly overcome with an intense sense of inferiority.

I look up and he is standing before me. A pleasant and confident smile graces his lips, revealing a row of perfectly polished teeth, and he looks directly at me, making sure he catches my eye.

“Good morning, Ashleigh.”

I feel a flutter in my heart. His voice is deep and has a pleasant quality to it that makes my chest hum, and his eyes are hypnotising. Large and brown, and endlessly deep, yet there is a softness to them.

He steps forward and sticks out his hand to offer me a handshake, while that self-assured smile stays firmly in place. His hand feels warm as it envelopes mine and I’m struck by how large his hands are compared to my own.

“Hi Danny.” Is it okay to address him as Danny? Should I have called him Mr Johnson? I nervously clear my throat and gesture to my sofa, offering him a seat.

Danny obliges, sitting gracefully. “You have a beautiful home.” he says, gesturing at my living room.

“Er… Thanks.” I know this is standard rich people manners. He doesn’t really think this at all. His house is all polished up and perfect. And there is a lot of room. There are no children’s toys littering up the place or dog hairs embedded in his carpet.

“So…” Okay, I was prepared this time. I planned this interview. I’ve practised and practised, reminding myself of the questions I would like to ask. But now he is here, sitting in my living room, I can’t think what to say. I’m a disaster.  “Thank you for coming,” I say. I wonder if he even had a choice? Could he say no to this if he didn’t want to be here? My characters having free will is a rabbit hole I am not prepared to dive into today, so I quickly shake the thought away. “Can I get you a drink?”

He forces a smile. “Water, thank you.”

I remember now. Danny doesn’t like to accept food or drink in strange places, because he doesn’t like the sensation of new flavours. New flavours used to send him into meltdown when he was a child, so he has a bit of an aversion to trying new foods. Water should be fine though, right?

I hastily go to my kitchen and pour him a fresh glass, then place it on the coffee table.

“Thank you. You’re a gracious host.”

Whoops! There go my knees again.

Danny’s manners are impeccable. He only accepted a beverage because that is what his society expects and it is the polite thing to do. I notice how he doesn’t actually drink it though. He stares at it suspiciously, and I’m pretty certain I just saw him give it a sniff on the sly, when he thought I wasn’t watching. It’s only water. Can it really taste so different to the water from his home?

“So! Tell me about what’s been going on? Your readers are very excited to hear about what you get up to in the next book!”

A sadness crosses his face. “Why did you do it?” he asks.

Uh-oh! I was hoping to avoid the difficult stuff until we had a chance to talk. I shake my head and mutter, “I didn’t do anything.”

The sadness turns to a hint of aggression as his jaw tightens and he leans forward. “You’ve ruined everything,” he growls and the hairs at the nape of my neck stand to attention.

He’s blaming me? Seriously? I look up at him, and somewhere I find the courage to argue back. “I gave you everything! Everything you ever wanted. It isn’t my fault things didn’t work out perfectly.”

“I’ve never asked you for anything!” he snaps.

His words are like a red rag to a bull. A tidal wave of fury crashes over me and I am no longer afraid of upsetting him, of embarrassing myself in front of a millionaire. It’s time Danny Johnson heard some home-truths.

“You? You are the one who is always wanting! The one who is always needing something. The one who won’t allow me to sleep at night for your incessant whining. You are so spoiled and so privileged you have no idea how to be grateful for what I give you! Do you have any idea what it’s like to be drifting off to sleep and then have you banging on the inside of my brain AGAIN because you want a girlfriend, you want a job, you want your dad to stop controlling your life, you want answers, you want to understand who you are and where you came from, you want, you want, YOU WANT!!!” I’m panting when I’ve finished yelling. I never realised how much Danny takes from me until today.

“Grateful? What should I be grateful for?”

I can’t believe he asked me that. It’s like he is totally blind to the things I’ve done for him.

“You wanted a girlfriend. Not just any girlfriend, but you were adamant it had to be Gemma. You have her. She’s yours, even though she has had to give up everything she treasures to be with you. And by the way,” I add scathingly. “Seeing you show some appreciation for the things she has given up to be with you would be nice. None of this has been easy for her.” I fold my arms and offer him my best ‘disappointed’ face. It doesn’t seem to have any effect on him, so I continue my rant.

“You wanted to learn more about yourself. You wanted to meet another XJ5. I gave you one. It’s not MY fault you stabbed her! You wanted a friendship with her. I’ve allowed you to explore that. It’s not MY fault things didn’t turn out how you wanted them to.

“You wanted your dad to start respecting you as a man and treating you like a grown-up. I facilitated that. It’s not MY fault YOU make bad decisions and can’t control your temper.”

He stares at me. The softness I saw in his eyes before has vanished and is replaced by a cold, murderous glare.

“What else do you want?” I yell in frustration.

He continues to glare at me in silence for a moment, then he folds his arms across his chest. A ripple of nerves flutters through my chest. Antagonising a XJ5 isn’t a smart move. Especially one as volatile as Danny. A moment of tension passes, then he speaks in a controlled sentence that sounds nothing like his voice before. “I think I should leave.” He leans forward and pulls himself to his feet. “Thank you for your hospitality.” He almost spits the words at me. He turns and makes his way towards my front door.

“Danny, wait!”

I chase after him, but by the time I reach the door, he is gone. I look uneasily into my quiet street, wondering how insane I look to the neighbours while I’m peering out of my front door for no apparent reason.

It wasn’t my intention to upset Danny. He may be gorgeous, but Danny can be quite vindictive and the idea he is angry with me makes me uneasy. I wonder… will I sleep better now? Or will this make things harder?