Alison stood before her mirror, trying to breathe slowly and calmly. In her hand she held the small, gilt-edged invitation that she had found pushed under her bedroom door. It read:
Mr Phil Collins requests the pleasure of your company for dinner this evening.
8pm sharp, The Genesis Banqueting Suite.
Dress code: No Jacket Required
This was, as Michael Jackson once said, ‘it’. In one short afternoon, she had been transformed from unknown skivvy to potential lover of one of the world’s greatest sticksmen.
Was she ready for this? As a soft, instrumental piano version of ‘In Too Deep’ played over the mansion’s speaker system, she wondered if the song’s title was all too appropriate.
Alison surveyed her outfit critically, chewing on the pillowy lower lip that had enticed so many admiring glances in the past. In honour of her European surroundings, Alison had selected a tiny black dress by Chanel, with a plunging neckline that left the viewer in no doubt of her pert, nubile figure. Her glossy brown hair was swept up high in an elaborate bouffant, exposing a pale, slender neck. In a last-minute homage to her famous host, she’d accessorised with a pair of silver Converse and a I <3 PHIL COLLINS pin badge. The effect was electric, like the signature keyboard stabs in ‘Sussudio’.
The clock struck eight, with all the forceful authority of a Phil Collins drum fill. A chattering outside her door announced that Abu the monkey butler was here to escort her to dinner. Opening the door, she took his hairy hand and proceeded to a velvet-lined elevator, which hummed them down to a subterranean door, marked GENESIS SUITE.
Abu whooped and chattered into a microphone, and the door slid noiselessly open.
Phil Collins was seated at the end of a table that must have been 80 feet long. . He was clad in a silk smoking jacket, and held a crystal glass of scotch, clasping it firmly in his brawny hand. He rose, and glided towards Alison with smooth, predatory intent, like a tiger on a polished floor.
“An I <3 PHIL COLLINS badge, eh?” said Phil Collins, tracing a hairy finger round the rim of Alison’s badge. She gasped a little. “A nice touch, young lady, a nice touch. Would you care for a drink?”
“Thankyou,” breathed Alison, her eyes sweeping round the magnificent room. The rich mahogany walls were lined with portraits of her famous host. Phil Collins standing by a golden drumkit, clad in a tuxedo, a teasing smile playing over his lips. Phil Collins with one hand on a giant mixing desk, a halo of light encircling his thinning hair. Phil Collins riding a unicorn, under a stormy sky of purple clouds, with YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE spelt out in the stars.
“What can I get you?” asked Phil Collins, touching a button on the wall. A revolving cocktail bar slid soundlessly into view, bathed in purple light. “I can recommend my signature creation – a mixture of 7Up, Cherry Brandy, and Malibu. I call it ‘Another Day In Paradise.’
“That sounds delicious,” murmured Alison, watching in awe as the multiple Grammy Award-winning drummer-vocalist proceeded to mix the ingredients, with his trademark sense of rhythm and grace.
As he handed her the martini glass, their fingertips brushed. She took a long sip and their eyes met. Phil Collins gazed long into her eyes, then raised his hands and clapped twice. The door of the Genesis suite hissed open, and Abu appeared, wheeling a large hostess trolley, atop which sat a single, gigantic dish, covered with a silver salver.
“Dinner,” said Phil Collins, with a wink, “is served.”