Crowning Achievement
Part 1
by Jan Hedblom

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in "The Thomas Crown Affair" remake, nor is it my intention to infringe on the work of all the very talented people associated with the production. Any quotes or situations used in the production belong to their respective authors and are mentioned here only to further the plot of my story. This story is written for entertainment purposes only, and is intended to pay homage to both the movie and the pioneering spirit of Irish Dreamtime Productions, Inc.

After their escape from New York, I wondered what Tommy and Catherine might do with the rest of their lives. This story is one outlet for all that pent-up energy. Note that this story has adult content.

"You'll break both my arms, huh?" Tommy whispered, barely managing to suppress a chuckle. His little firebrand. GOD how he loved her!

"You damn well KNOW I will!" she purred, lips poised at his right ear.

"Now WHY would you want to do that? Then I wouldn't be able to do THIS!" he crooned, slowly sliding both hands up her ribcage to rest at the bottom of her breasts.

"I'm WAAARNING yooooou!" she hissed seductively. His thumbs found her nipples, brushing gentle circles against the fabric of her coat.

"The world is watching?"

"Yes, they are!"

"Relax my sweet. I am nothing if not discreet," he said with mock gallantry.

Catherine's breathing quickened. "The bastard knows I'm a sucker for that move and he's playing it for all it's worth," she thought. "OoooKaaaay, you wanna play?"

Her tongue snaked out, caressing his earlobe. "Aaaaaah," he groaned, closing his eyes, enjoying the feeling. "If I can just keep him busy," she reasoned, reaching casually toward the seat she'd occupied moments before, "I might be able to get" She took his lobe between her lips, running her tongue along the lower edge. Rewarded with his deep sigh, she pressed on. She began a slow nibble-tug cadence, her teeth massaging the soft area dead center.

He'd abandoned thumbs for a full court press with his fingertips, enveloping her sides, sending shock waves down to her toes.

"Get away, get away!" she said, with a decided lack of conviction.

"You don't think we're finished do you?" he said sweetly, throwing her own words back at her.

Her fingers found the tray table. "NOW!" she thought. Giving his ear a sharp nip, she quickly secreted her prize by her left side.

"OW!" he yelped softly, drawing odd looks from fellow passengers. "You little." Grabbing a handful of her hair, he pinned her head to the seat back. "There's only one way to muzzle a vixen," he said, his voice husky.

"VIXEN is it!"

"Yes. My own personal, veeery lovely, veeeery sexy red fox." His lips dwarfed hers, shutting off breath as they found their target.

"Is he trying to get into the Guiness Book?" she wondered, dizziness beginning to take it's toll.

He had her. He could feel it. Just a tiny bit more and he'd win this round.

Her left arm began a slow arc, cresting above his head. All she needed was a little wrist action and..BINGO!

"WHAT THE!" Warm liquid dribbled down his face. Startled, he abruptly broke his hold on her mouth, trying not to sputter as he inhaled. He flicked out his tongue and tasted champagne.

"Told you I wouldn't back off," she smiled. She reminded him of a Cheshire cat. A very self-satisfied Cheshire cat.

"Where did you get..?" he asked, dumbfounded. So much for Plan A.

"Shouldn't leave your flank unguarded. For a corporate raider, you're awfully slow. Now, if you were a bounty hunter-"

"I think this is where I came in."

"Come on ahead." She gave him a sweltering look.

The jet hit turbulence, throwing them forward. All arms and legs, they tried in vain to disentangle themselves. The more they struggled, the more their efforts took on the look of a game of "Twister" gone berserk.

"Not quite what I had in mind," she puffed after a bit, pulling her coat into some semblance of shape. She attempted a ladylike slide back onto the seat.

"This NEVER happens on MY jet!" he said with emphasis, affecting wounded dignity. He joined her, attempting to smooth his now wet and spikey hair.

"That's because YOUR jet is too well bred," she cackled, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her laughter was infectious and he found himself giggling uncontrollably.

Spontaneous applause burst out. Caught up in their game, they'd failed to notice that the world was indeed, watching. To whistles and cries of "Encore!" and "Beats the hell outta the movie!" they sheepishly waved to their newfound fans.

The flight attendant that had been so concerned for their safety hurried to help them clean up the aftermath of their fling with the champagne. They started to apologize, offering to pay for any damage to the plane's upholstery. Handing Tommy a towel, she leaned in close to the couple. "Not to worry. These planes are built to take it. Will you be needing anything else?" Thanking her profusely, they declined. "You're a joy together. Don't lose that," she said, giving them a warm smile. They watched her walk back to the galley.

"Nice lady," she said.

"Very," he agreed.

Sobered by her words, they pulled themselves together. Tommy leaned against the bulkhead, gazing out at the darkness. Catherine curled into a ball at his side, her head resting on his shoulder. He reached for her hand and she placed it in his. The cabin lights had been secured for the night, so she tried to keep her voice low. Sex with him was a dream, but she needed straight answers to some very hard questions if their relationship was to come out on solid ground.

"I should be furious with you. You literally left me holding the bag back there. A very LARGE bag. But all I could feel was hurt. Hurt that I'd been had, hurt that all it was to YOU was the painting!".

Tommy felt the increasing pressure as she squeezed his hand tighter. "How can I explain this to her? And still keep her? Better let her take the lead." He continued to stare at the skyline, taking refuge in the darkness.

"Was that meant to be a consolation prize? Nice try, too bad, better luck next time? Or did your little trinket serve to assuage your conscience?" she said pointedly. "Why won't he TALK to me!" she thought, tears starting to mist her vision. "I WON'T let him see me cry! He sees weakness and goes for the throat!"
She blinked rapidly and drew a deep ragged breath. Hoping to goad him into a response, her voice took on a sarcastic tone. "All that talk about trust, was that just all it was, TALK? Gentleman jockey's won the Derby, now he has no further need for the horse?" She pulled her hand away.

He felt her starting to shake, whether with hurt or anger he wasn't sure. Reaching over her head, he slipped his left arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. She tried fighting him, but he effectively pinned her arms with his grip. "I told you once before, take your hands off me!" she fumed, tears streaming. She knew it was futile to try to escape. He had her in a boxer's clinch.

"Shhhhh, calm down now, just calm down luv," he said soothingly, gently wiping her face with his free hand. Rocking her against him, he let her cry herself out. Feeling her relax a bit, he loosened his hold somewhat.

"I swore I wasn't gonna do this, she sniffled. I HATE being-."


"YES! I never felt this way before you turned my life upside down!" She backhanded his chest, catching his nose on the fly. Blood flowed, staining his jacket. Grabbing the towel the flight attendant had left, he pressed it to his face.

"One boxer in the family is quite enough, thank you very much," he said nasally, tipping his head back and pinching off his nostrils. "Forgot the first rule. Never take your eyes off your opponent."

"You had it coming!"

"Yes, I did," he said softly.

Geared up for an argument, she did a double take when she heard his words. "Did you just say FAMILY?"


"As in you and I?"


"And did I ALSO just hear you admit you were wrong? I mean, I'm not hallucinating or anything?"


"No, you're not wrong or no, I'm not hallucinating?"

Bringing his head forward, he gingerly checked his nose. "You DO know I'm getting too old for this? Blood doesn't clot the way it used to. Tend to bruise easily in midlife and all that".

"Bullshit! You're fitter than anyone I've ever known. Answer the question!"

"Ah yes, the question," he said, absently rubbing his left eyebrow. "Or was it questions? No my luv, you most definitely are NOT hallucinating. I know I've given you a rough time. But I'd like the chance to explain. Preferably BEFORE I'm too comatose to speak!" She sat in total silence. "I sense hesitation," he said cautiously.

"That line's getting old."

"Wasn't very effective last time was it?" he asked sheepishly.

"No." She waited a beat, just to let him know she had the upper hand. He was not yet back in her good graces. "Oh, all RIGHT! But this better be good!" she said forcefully. His eyes, downcast through the last few minutes, slowly met hers. She stared back intensely, not letting him off the hook. "Why do we manage to rub each other the wrong way?" she said, more subdued.

"It's a porcupine thing."


"Never mind."

He gazed steadily back at her, his expression soft. "I've always been driven," he sighed. "Always had to know the how and why of everything. It's like my mind had a mind of it's own."

"And you were just along for the ride."

"Exactly. In school, I always knew the answers before they asked the questions. But it was a working class town."

"And that little trait didn't endear you to your peers?"

"Not by a long shot. They thought I looked down on them."

"So your fists became your fortune," she said, beginning to warm to him again.

"Yeah, the man with the golden gloves. Boxing gave me a leg up."

"And you've been fighting ever since."

"After a while it became a habit. The haves against the have not. I knew I had a head for finance, but I had to show everybody the wee lad had a brain," he said, lapsing into a Glaswegian accent.

"Defend the family honor?"

"Something like that."

"When we were on Martinique I noticed a woman's picture next to your antique locomotive. Was that your mother?"

She had to strain to hear him. "Yes." She was surprised to see the warrior she knew, the man that gave no quarter, start to cry. "She was a wonderful woman. Fought my battles when she could. Worked like a dog to support the two of us. It's not easy for a single mother in a small town." She nodded, remembering life in a house without a mother. "She never lived to see me graduate." He hung his head, letting emotion take him. "Sometimes I think she would have been disappointed in me."

"How could she be, you've come so far!"

"Yes, but at what expense? I told you the hard part was learning how to talk."

"I remember. At the time, I thought you were kidding."

"I'd never kid about a thing like that. I KNEW I could make it if I got the chance. And I GOT that chance. I made a conscious decision to turn my back on my heritage. She would have been ashamed."

"You're in good company. People have done that since civilized man began."

"She didn't raise me to be a deserter!"

"She raised you to be a survivor! She would have understood."

"I'm not ashamed of where I come from. I've NEVER been ashamed of where I come from!" he said, his voice breaking.

"I'm so sorry," she soothed, reaching up to stroke his face. Her fingertips brushed tears off his cheek. She opened her arms to him, inviting him inside. He snuggled close, unable to get enough of her touch.

"My therapist says I have a problem trusting women," he stated, in a matter of fact tone.

"Your therapist is an idiot."

"I rather thought that myself after she ridiculed me last time I saw her."

"She what! I thought therapists were supposed to be objective."

"So did I. But I guess I had it coming. I usually blew her off during each session. Sat there wrapped up in my own head games. I don't know why she bothered. I guess she'd just had a belly full," he said contritely.

"What kind of rapport did the two of you have?"

"She knew I wasn't serious about therapy. She'd try to get me to focus on my issues. I think I was too scared."

"That trust business."

"Yeah, that trust business. I'd only trusted one woman in my life," he said.

"Your mother."

"Yeah." He looked at the floor.

"What happened at your last session?"

"She knew I was seeing someone as dynamic as I was. She thought it amusing that I could be serious about anyone, let alone someone with my..inclinations," he said, trying to choose his words carefully. "She laughed in my face. Called me Peter Pan. Made some unkind remarks about the future of our relationship. And I didn't even see it coming. I guess it's true what they say. What goes around, comes around."

"Like I said.idiot," she said, as if to dismiss the woman as the quack she perceived her to be. "That's a no-no. You could have her brought up on disciplinary charges."

"Why bother? The damage is done," he said dejectedly.

She attempted to lighten the mood. "Maybe you were with the wrong women," she said, trying her best to be objective and failing miserably. He caught her tone and smiled. "I mean, who else could give you a run for your money? Not to mention the fact that I have the key to your hard," she giggled. "Oops, sorry. Freudian slip."

"You'd say more, but modesty forbids. Freudian slip, my ass!" he laughed.

"I'd be happy to slip your ass any day of the week. It's so CUUUUTE!" She reached around and squeezed his cheeks, making him lean into her caress.

She had to keep probing. Never had she wanted to know so much, so fast. "Tread carefully Banning. One wrong word and you'll spook him big time," she chided herself, as she prepared to drop the big one.

"Or maybe your mom was a tough act to follow. She left you. She didn't mean to, she couldn't help it, but she did. You never got to make amends for the times you felt you'd failed her. Maybe it was too risky trying to love someone else, knowing she could leave at any time."

His languid body at once became tense. But would it be fight or flight? She didn't have a clue. His expression gave nothing away. "No wonder he's so good in a boardroom," she thought.

"Care to let me in the game? That's one great poker face you've got on," she said softly.

He seemed to come back to himself. "Boy, you don't screw around do you?" he said, still in shock at her words.

"Yes, I do actually."

"Do what?" he said, still a bit confused.

"Screw around." She rubbed his thigh, trying to take the sting out of her bombshell.

He couldn't help laughing. "What a wild ride. If I'd known a woman could be this much fun, I've given up my catamaran long ago!" he thought.

"You know me too well," he said tenderly, relaxing once again.

She let out the breath she'd been holding. "Thank God he's got a head on his shoulders!" She knew at that moment that he was hers.

"Takes one to know one. I do the same thing. I just never knew it until I met you. If I HAD known it, I wouldn't have admitted it, even to myself."

Sensing she wanted to talk, he said, "Tell me about it."

"I don't know. I never needed, never wanted, anybody serious. My life was my job. The almighty JOB," she said, with a hint of disgust.

"Men make women messy?"

"What a memory!"

"Mind like a steel trap, remember?" he said, touching a finger to the side of his temple.

"They had. They sure had. When I knew you'd pulled that heist my only goal was to take you down. I was going to use any and every trick to put you away. You were the symbol that threatened everything I'd been raised to believe." She paused, looking at the opposite bulkhead to avoid his eyes. "Only you beat me at my own game," she admitted, her voice taking on a childlike tone. "You knew I'd try to break into your house didn't you?"

"I had a small inkling, yes," he teased.

"I'm serious!"

"Sorry. Yes, I knew it. I relished it, wanted the challenge. NEEDED the challenge. I was running out of options," he said with a note of defeat.

"How do you mean?" She couldn't imagine this man running out of anything.

"At first it was great."

"Hurrah for the underdog?"

"Yeah. But I got too good at what I did. Just steam rolled over everybody. After a while it wasn't enough. Didn't fill the empty places. But I kept on. Like if I stopped moving, started thinking, I'd die."

"You became the Evil Knievel of Wall Street."


"I saw that little thrill show you put on with that boat crew."

"You mean the cat? When?"

"When I was checking you out. Nice gentleman and his wife were kind enough to offer the use of their yacht for the afternoon."

"How DID you get onto me anyway? I thought I'd covered my tracks pretty well."

"Oh, you did. But you counted on dealing with ordinary investigators."

"And YOU are anything but ordinary,"

"Nice of you to notice."

"You're welcome. So, how DID you home in on me?"

"You left a paper trail."


"You're on record with every auction house in this city. Bid on Monets on several occasions."

"Ah, it's the little details."

"That spell our downfall, yes."

"Only that?"

"That.and the fact that I knew no rank amateur could have planned something so elaborate. Ooooh, there was a mind behind it all right. I just had to find him."

"Him? For all you knew, it could have been a her! Admit it. You'd still have been grasping at straws.."

"If you hadn't come barreling out of police headquarters, throwing your arms out like you were about to break into a chorus of "The Sound Of Music!" she said triumphantly.

He rubbed a hand over his face, letting out another sigh. "See, that's just what I mean."

"What are you talking about?"

"I told you once you like the chase. No, I take that back," he said, holding up a finger. "You damn well LOVE the chase! Every time you take somebody down, you feel vindicated."

"I don't need to feel vindicated! I'm good!"

"Very good. But you're still not opposed to giving as good as you get once in a while are you?"

"I just-."

"Do my job," they finished in unison.

After a while he continued, "I'd become jaded. Been everywhere. Done everything. Could buy anything."

"Anything's obtainable?"

"When you're in MY tax bracket it is. No matter what I did, there was no joy left."

"So you decided to try for the ultimate brass ring?"

"And it would have worked too, except..."

"Except I dealt myself a hand?"

"You sure came out of nowhere. Any woman brazen enough to buy a man a drink AND call him a thief in the space of ten minutes deserved a second look. I knew you liked a good game as much as I did. If anybody could crack my code it was you. And just to make it a sporting proposition--"

"You just HAPPENED to take me on that little museum tour before our first dinner."

"Can I help it if I love to show off a good painting?" he asked, all innocence. She rolled her eyes.

"And just HAPPENED to leave your house keys in the pocket of your suit coat?"

"I had to put them somewhere," he said, a self-satisfied smirk lighting up his eyes.

"Keep it up and I'll think of a few places you can put them!" she thought, exasperated. "I cracked your code all right. Then YOU cracked ME! I didn't like being played for a fool. After you pulled that "Dogs At Cards" stunt, I called you a sack of shit."

"You were right". He took her face in his hands, turning it slowly. "Look at me" he said softly. She raised her eyes to his. "It's no accident you chose to become a bounty hunter. You've been trying all your life to be a better man than your father." She started to protest but he held a finger to her lips. "He did his daughter an injustice. Took a perfectly beautiful, intelligent, passionate lady and systematically stepped on her spirit. AND, to add insult to injury, he had the willing cooperation of her brothers."

He sensed she needed some breathing room. Getting up from her lap, he braced himself for the explosion he knew was coming. "You know what? You're absolutely RIGHT!" Her self-revelation energized her. "All my life I busted my ass trying to get a break in that house."

She became more agitated, waving her arms for emphasis. "If I don't watch it, she'll nail me again," he thought, ducking to protect his already battered nose. "Didn't see this much action when I was in the ring!"

"He didn't even know I was alive! Sonofabitch didn't even care when I left home. And FORGET my brothers. Assholes all." `Why don't you forget all this shit and learn to cook? No one's gonna take a woman seriously. You're not smart enough.' She aped them with saccharine sarcasm, venom pouring out with every word. "That LAST one used to REALLY get to me. They'd start in just because they knew it bugged me. Like THEY"RE any great shakes. NONE of them bills more than $50,000 a year gross! Know what I CLEARED last year?"

"Seven figures."

"You've been busy again."

"Just helping to set the record straight," he shrugged.

"Thank you. I wish you'd tell THEM!"

"I'll send them a telegram."

"You would too," she laughed. Emotion spent, she paused for breath. The old feeling of inadequacy, a feeling she'd fought so hard to conquer, came unbidden. "He wouldn't let me in," she cried, her voice small.

"He couldn't. Your father was a hard man. There was no room for a woman in his life. Any woman. In his world, a woman's place is to give a man sons, then do a fadeout. You were the sacrificial lamb."

"I just wanted his respect."

"I know. And maybe a bit of his love too?" he asked, drawing her to him. She nodded slowly. "But you've proven you're worth more than all of them combined. Especially to me." He kissed her, his feather soft lips on hers. "I knew you from the first time I met you. Knew what drove you, because I saw myself in you."

"I knew you too."

"I sensed that. I'm not the only one that did the cracking; you did a fair bit yourself," he said humbly.

"What do you mean," she asked, puzzled.

"I've always been the aggressor. I'm used to it. Hell, I'd have been dead in the water fifty times over if I wasn't a ball buster."

"Hit and run?"

"You got it."

"Enter me."

"Enter you. The master safecracker. You cracked my house..and you cracked my heart. And do you know the best part?" She shook her head. "You never took any of my shit. Threw it right back at me."

"And I must say, it was considerable. I was beginning to wonder if I should invest in a pair of hip boots. It was getting deep!" she crowed. He laughed, throwing back his head in delight. "I played it straight you know."

"Yes, you did. And I played down and dirty. I'm sorry for that. I thought you'd caught on, were with me. When I saw you cry tonight, it tore me to pieces."

"It did?"


"Then what was with all that elaborate crap at the museum?"

"That night in the park, when I asked you to join me in exile, you hesitated."

"I represented the law!" she yelled, but he calmed her, stroking his hands on her back.

"I know luv. That's just the point. I knew you couldn't come away with me then. It would have gone against everything you believed. I had to set it up so you could do your duty. Get you off the hook with the cops, AND square with your conscience as well."

"You did that for me?" Her eyes began to tear again. "So the second painting was just a forget-me-not? You KNEW I'd return it?"

"Of course."

"But why couldn't you let me KNOW? Why leave me hanging out to dry at the heliport? My world came to an end right there!"

"I had to keep you in the dark, so you'd come across as believable. At that point in time, my only thought was to protect you."

"Like you protected Anna? Made sure she was in the clear before you left?"

"You know about Anna? ALL about Anna?"

"Yeah. Mike & I had gone to see her father in prison, trying to track down your forger."

"It was YOU who made the connection wasn't it?"

"I'm almost sorry now that I did. At the time, I was angry with you for rubbing my nose in her every time I turned around. I gave him the border photographs of the Monet. I thought he'd dropped that angle. I had no idea of her true relationship to you. He hit me with it at the museum. I felt like a heel."

"It's OK. She's safe. I'll never let anyone hurt her. I made a promise to her father. She's like my own daughter."

"She loves you, you know." It was a statement of fact.

"I'm like her surrogate daddy, she HAS to love me," he joked.

"No. I mean she REALLY loves you. Couldn't you feel it? She shot daggers at me every time she looked at me. I just hope someday she'll forgive me."

He seemed taken aback by this news. "Why would she be mad at you?"

"I took her man."

"She never had me."

"Ooooooh yes she DID. Every time you needed an escort, every time you allowed her to share your home."

"She always knew-."

She cut him off. "Did she?"

"I mean, she's my ward for God's sake! I'm twice her age! It would have been like incest! She had to know it could never be."

"Know WHAT? That you cared for her? That you'd invited her to share part of your life? Was it that much of a stretch to presume you felt as she did?"

"I never intended to hurt her," he ventured.

"But you did."

"I never knew!" he said, feeling self-defensive.

"That's because you refused to see," she countered.

"You're saying I used her?"

"BIG time."

"But if she felt this way, why did she agree to leave?"

"Simple. You asked her to. The only reason she didn't claw my eyes out is because she knew you were happy with me. She was willing to give you up to insure that happiness." She paused a beat to let the force of her words sink in. "And you can't love anybody more than that."

"Forgive YOU? Seems I'm the one that should beg her forgiveness." He slammed his fist on the upholstery.

She knew her insights had taken the starch out of him. Shoulders slumped, he folded his hands between his knees, lost in a moment of private grief. "Well, when we see her, we can both tell her how we feel," she said, laying a soft hand on his back.

"You'd like to do that?"

"Yes, if she'll have me. I owe her that. We both do."

"As soon as I'm sure the bloodhounds have lost her scent, I'll arrange it."

"Speaking of bloodhounds, we may need a few moves ourselves when we get off this plane. We're not exactly unknowns you know. I'm sure Interpol would like to have a nice fireside chat."

"Didn't I tell you?"

Suddenly suspicious, she treated him to her best bounty hunter manner. "Tell me WHAT?"

"This plane's going to Rio."

"But I distinctly saw the gate sign ..."

"A slight alteration. Didn't think I'd chance either of us in Europe right now, did you?"

"How did you manage to, shall we say, "divert" a jet?"

"Piece of cake. This airline's CEO is a golfing buddy of mine. He owes me one. I dropped a hundred grand to him on a bet right after I took the Monet. I told him the whole story last night and, voila!"

"That's it?"

"Well, no..I had a little help from my pilot. He's in the cockpit actually. The chief air traffic controller is HIS buddy.

"But what about the other people onboard?"

"I picked up their tabs."

"And the flight crew?"

"They're officially on paid vacation."

"Courtesy of Crown Acquisitions?"


"I reiterate. DID YOU SET THIS UP?" Totally unrepentant, he grinned like a jackass eating briars. "Just how many wayward souls were in on this little scheme of yours?"

"Just tonight, or from the beginning?"

"You've got TWO crews working this thing?" she asked, unable to believe her ears.

"NO, no, no!" he laughed, enjoying her reaction. "Just one. Consisting of Anna, Jimmy, Paul, Wallace, my pilot and the aforementioned CEO."

"And a cast of thousands."

"Thousands?.Oooooh, you mean the unknown businessmen?"

"The very same."

"Some of my top execs."

"And the lone unknown?"

"The messenger?"

"That's the one."

"My personal manager."

"They ALL knew?"

"They're my friends. I have no secrets from them. I'd trust them with anything I've got."

"Even your freedom?"

"ESPECIALLY my freedom. Wallace used to be a crack criminal attorney before he came to work for me."

"And THEIR freedom?"

"Assured. They'll be joining us."

"What about the houses. Your holdings?"

"On hold."

Knowing it was useless, she uttered a final feeble protest. "I've got appointments in Monaco."

"Wanna keep `em?"

"I guess not, seeing as I'd rather not bail out at 35,000 feet!" He chuckled.

She continued giving him her lock-`em-up-and-throw-the-key-away look. He favored her with a hooded gaze and cunning smile, guaranteed to get her back up. Lunging for his shoulders, she yelled "But I DO wanna break both your arms!"


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