A Friend in Need








Thursday 12th March

1 pm

The Refectory


“So what are you doing after school Jeans?”  Becca asked as they sat eating their lunch.


“I’m filming a public service commercial about girls never giving up on their dreams despite the obstacles things such as a disability throws in their way.”


“That’s a very worthwhile thing to do.” Pepsi nodded.


“Well strip away the makeup…”


“Cover up those wonderful legs.” Becca smiled.


“And I’m just an ordinary 14 year old facing all the problems of misunderstanding about disabilities everyone else does.”


“I couldn’t help but overhear Jeannie.”


“Sorry,” Jeannie said as she looked round, “were we too loud Miss Tennant?”


“No not at all,” Miss Tennant said as she sat with them, “but you gave me an idea, do you think we could borrow some wheelchairs such as your own?”


“I’d have to ask, but probably.”


“I’m thinking,” she said, “how would it be if some Angels volunteered to spend a week in your shoes so to speak Jeannie, and the movie club made a documentary about it as this year’s school film project.”


“That would be wonderful Miss Tennant, can I ask if we’d be able to enter it in the Inspirational Film Festival in early May?”


“I can’t see why not Jeannie.”


“I’ll be involved” said Pepsi, “it sounds like a great idea seeing how we could cope with the problems Jeannie faces every day.”


“Alright I’ll make an announcement at assembly and we will hold a meeting tomorrow lunchtime before you depart for Spring Break.” Wilhelmina Tennant looked rather proud of the idea as she walked off.


“She’s serious, isn’t she,” Becca said as she looked at Jeannie.


“Well, you can volunteer if you want, but it will be after the break,” Jeannie said.  “On which note, I need to give you all this.”


She handed out some envelopes, the girls opening them as they looked at the invites.


“This looks like fun – party at your place after a matinee of Book of Mormon.”


“Let me know tomorrow – Ama, Annie already said there is no problem with you.”


“Good – I look forward to it as well,” Ama said with a smile.  “Mom gets back from her business trip on Saturday, so it makes my joy complete.”




Friday 13th March

11 am GMT

Xavier International, London


“Welcome back,” Shirley said as Dominique came into her office, accompanied by Natalya and Helen.  “I understand you had a successful conclusion to our business?”


“The local leaders have agreed not to interfere,” Dominique said, “What news of Boronov.


“I believe he is seeking refuge in the United States – Janice informed me the CIA are talking to him.  Financially, he is finished.”


“Good – he deserved my bullet in him, but the humiliation is complete,” Natalya said.  “Is it true he pissed himself?”


“Indeed – our associates were very descriptive,” Shirley said with a smile.  She stood in front of Helen and bowed.  “You have my thanks and that of Mistress Lu.  She instructs you to rest here, and return with me when I visit Hong Kong next week.”


“I would be honoured,” Helen said with her eyes down.


“In the mean time,” Dominique said, “Join me for dinner tonight, both of you.  I return to New York tomorrow, and wish to share my gratitude with you.”


“I would be honoured by that as well,” Helen said as she raised her eyes.  “Will you join us Madame?”


“I regret I cannot – John and I have other matters to attend to.  Natalya, if you are still in need of employment, I have an opening for you.”


“Allow me to consider it, Madame,” Natalya said, “but I am grateful.”


“Good – then I will allow you to enjoy the rest of the day.  Dominique?”


“I will call tomorrow before I head to the airport, Madame.  If you will excuse me?”


1 pm EST

The Refectory


“Spring break, here we come,” Pepsi said as she sat down at the table.


“Yeah – would be nice to have a total holiday,” Jeannie said, “but still, Roma in the spring…”


"So before your birthday you have to go to Rome then fly back Jeans?" Becca asked.

"Yeah - Lerrabella are having a product launch, would you believe they timed everything around my school holidays?"


"So Mum and I fly to Rome, I get all prettied up, do a press conference, the launch, then I come home."

"Sounds busy."

"It will be, at least they are flying me first class."


“Oh yeah – personal attention, choice of food…”


“Believe it or not I don’t eat that much on flights – it makes me airsick.  Mum, however – she likes her drink on the flight.  Still, Sunday night we’re pulling an all nighter so we sleep on the flight over.”


“So you get there Monday, work Tuesday, fly back Wednesday…”


“And partay Friday once I get over the jet lag.  So when’s your camp girls?”


“Wednesday and Thursday next week.  Annie is planning to be away with Caroline – only Caroline does not know it yet…”


“Surprise Trip?”  Doc smiled as she said “That will be nice for her.”


“What about you Anna?”


“I wish – Mom and Dad have to work, so I’ll be doing some of the local things with Nikki.”


“And me,” Pepsi said as she sat down.  “We may even head down to the beach one day.”


“So who volunteered for the project?”


“I did,” Nikki said, “so did a few others.  Could be interesting.”



7 pm

The Inn in the Park


"So what plans for spring break Annie?" Kelly Rochermann asked as the young teacher joined the ladies in the booth.

"Well the girls and I are thinking of going climbing...Charlotte should be in town and we were thinking of a couple of days up at New Paltz and do a two day climb with a guide."

"Sounds exhausting darling."

"Well it will make a change from climbing at the gym."

"So what about Ama?"

"She has a two-day soccer camp organised by the school, so while we climb she kicks."

"I think I'll avoid both." Kelly laughed.

“I also hear dark rumours of a sleepover at Pepsi’s on Wednesday.”


“Becca said something about that,” Claire said as she sipped her drink.


“Keep me out of it,” Heather said with a laugh.


"Don't forget to vote for Tom on Tuesday." Claire reminded the gang.

"I wish I could but the Village is not in that district." Annie nodded.


“You are excused, you young voter you,” Claire said as she looked round the table.  "So who else has plans?"

"Well Carina, Judith and I are going up to Manchester for a couple of days,” Juliette said.  “I have a show to walk in Boston, she's filming some sunglasses commercials, but we will be home for Jeannie's birthday."

"Jo and Curt are having their first trip away as a couple." Heather smiled.

"Oh somewhere nice?" Tonia asked.

"Philadelphia, they are going to sightsee..."

"If they ever get out of bed." Kelly laughed.

"True." Heather laughed.


“So where are they planning to visit?”


“No idea – and I know they’re going out for at least one day, because they booked those city pass things.”


“You staying home Heather?”


“Yeah – Sandy and April need my help with a big redecoration project.  The kids are going with George for a few days as well.”


“So some time together, hmmm?”


“No comment,” Heather said with a smile.


Saturday 14th March

4 pm

The Village


Caroline breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped out of the cab, and paid the driver as he placed the bags on the sidewalk.


“Hey there,” April said as she walked past with Pepsi, “just back from your trip?”


“That’s right,” Caroline said with a smile, “”and boy, am I glad to be home.  Want to come up for a drink?”


“Well, since you’re offering,” Pepsi said as Caroline opened the door, “we’ll help you up with these bags.”


“Thanks,” Caroline said as she walked up the stairs, and then stopped as she saw Annie and Ama waiting.


“Welcome home mom,” Ama said as she came over and hugged her, “I’m so glad to see you.”


“And I am glad to see you,” Caroline said.  “I brought you a present back, but right now what I need is coffee – my body thinks it’s nine at night.”


“Well, we’ll leave you to it,” Pepsi said.  “Ama – don’t forget, you and I are meeting Doc tomorrow in town.”


“I have not forgotten – I will see you tomorrow morning,” Ama said as she showed Pepsi and April out.


“How was it,” Annie said as Caroline sat down.


“Tiring,” she said as he removed her wig, “but I am so glad to be back.”


“Are you all right, Mom,” Ama said as she came back up.


“Just very tired – I had a busy week, but so did some of you.  Let me unpack, and you can tell me what’s happening.”


“Spring break next week – and I am going to Jeannie’s party.”


“Jeannie’s party?”


“Her fifteenth birthday,” Annie said as she passed Caroline a coffee.  “She has a group booking for Book of Mormon on Broadway, and then a party at her place.”


“No objection on my part then,” Caroline said as she sipped her drink.  “How’s everyone else?”


“If you mean Doc, she’s fine.”


“What about the others?”


“I’m seeing some of them tomorrow – Jo wants to discuss something with us.”


“Anything I need to worry about?”


“I don’t think so, but I’ll let you know.”


“Right – wait there,” Caroline said as she put her mug down, stood up and wheeled her case into her room.  She returned a short while later with a bag, which she handed to Ama.


“What is this,” she said as she took out a short fox fur jacket.  “Oh my – it is beautiful.”


“For special occasions only, all right?  Now, I seem to remember promising we’d go out tonight…”




Sunday 15th March

2 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Hello Sandy,” Katy Carter said as she came in, “thank you for asking me round to tea tonight.”


“I’m glad you could come,” Little Sandy said as she took Katy by the arm, and led her up the stairs, “I want your help with what to wear to the prom…”


“Proms?  At their age?”


“It’s more of a glorified tea party,” Heather said as she leaned against the side of the kitchen door, wearing jeans and a white blouse, with the sleeves rolled up.  Janice was wearing a gypsy skirt and white top


“Am I the last one to get here then,” she said as she hung her coat up.


“Yeah – Sandy’s out with Vanessa, and little George has gone to the pictures with a friend    Come on in, the others are in the kitchen.”


She stood to one side as Janice came in, saying “Well, not who I thought would be here?”


Annie was sitting with Doc and Abby, the two younger girls wearing hoodies and jeans while Annie had on a blue and green polo shirt and leggings.


 “Okay I think we are all here.” Jo said with a smile as she passed Janice a coffee.


“Is this group related?” Doc asked quietly as she looked round.


“Only insofar as we are all members Doc,” Jo said as she sat down.  “No this is a meeting about helping a friend, an innocent.”


“Who Jo?” Annie Kelly asked seriously.




“You mean Letty Kinman the girl who high jumped with the broken ribs?”


“I do Janice.”


“So how can we help her?” Heather asked as she put a fresh mug of coffee on the table.


Jo took a deep breath, and said “I don’t think her injuries are the results of accidents.”


“You don’t Jo, but what then?” Abby asked as she nibbled on a cookie.


“I think she’s being abused, badly and regularly.”


“Jo before you go on surely this is a case for Child Protective Services? …Not for us?” Janice looked concerned.


“But what if I’m wrong Janice, the authorities could ruin her life and her parents if they just barge in.”


“What I think my little sister,” Heather said, “is that within this room we have the perfect team to investigate this very quietly, and IF something is wrong, then we can call in the authorities.”


“Thank You Sis.”


“The thing is, we need to do this in a way that means if Jo is wrong, no harm done, and no suspicions raised.”


“So a virgin burglary at the Kinman house by you and I Jo to establish monitoring.” Annie nodded.


“Heather and I can check the official and unofficial record for past incidents and if anyone ever raised a red flag.” Janice nodded.


“Doc and I will work the Angel rumour mill, and see what if any gossip we can pickup.”


“Leaving me to do what Jo?”


“What you do best Abs - be her friend, you worked up a rapport while she trained, just keep being her friend, if I’m right she needs one, and really bad.”


“Tricky when it’s Spring Break, but I’ll give her a call, see if she wants to get together Tuesday or Wednesday.”


“Great – you free tomorrow night Annie?”


“Yeah – I’ll pick you up about eleven.”


“Hey – what’s the gathering for?”


“Can’t we plan Jeannie’s presents in isolation,” Jo said as Juliette came in with Sandy and Diana.


“Of course you can,” Sandy said as she put a new pot of coffee on.


“So what did the three amigos do with Vanessa,” Heather asked.


“An old friend came over to talk – we left them conversing over a bottle of Chardonnay,” Diana said.


“You can tell they go way back,” Jo whispered to Doc, who couldn’t stop her self giggling.


“Was that an age crack?”


“No – but can I ask a question?”


“Of course,” Juliette said as she sat down.


"If you met Diana in Paris Juliette, how did you come to know Sandy?" Doc asked.

"Believe it or not the families have known each other for years - my great-grandfather’s sister was her great-grandfather’s sister’s best friend. They roomed together at Smith, and if family legends are true may not have been above a little bit of larceny themselves."

"Our family used to visit hers in Manchester when we were on vacation, so Juliette was sort of like a distant cousin." Sandy smiled.


“Just how much history does your family have, Juliette?”


“Very good question,” Ju said as Heather and Jo went over to the sink.


"Okay my curiosity won't stop little sis, why Philadelphia?"

"The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, all that history.  Rock and Roll Museum, etc, etc, etc…"

"Okay I'll give you that, but what else?"

"Juliette wants a report on a certain bank that may or may not be next to our hotel." Jo smiled.

"She hasn’t mentioned it to me."

"It's one of the banks the girls got info on in Greenwich, she just wants me to look before she gets you to research it."


“Fair enough, I suppose.  Have fun anyway.”



Monday 16th March

10 am CET



“Welcome to Rome ladies.” Giorgio Mancini the head of Lerrabella’s International Division said as he embraced and kissed both ladies.


“Thanks Giorgio.” Barbara smiled, “it’s lovely to see a familiar face.”


“The photographers here are insane.” Jeannie said as she shook her head, “One guy climbed onto the car trying to get some photos…while it was moving.”


“I heard about that, and can only apologize –the paparazzi are an occupational hazard here.  Still now, you are here and I hope this suite is suitable?”


“It’s great,” Jeannie said as she looked round, “perfect for my wheelchair.”


“The hotel redid the suite just for you, so it would be wheelchair friendly.”


“All this trouble…just for me?”


“Well for a visiting supermodel, they go all out.”


“I guess so.” Jeannie said as she looked round, and then wheeled herself over to the window.


“So what is the schedule like for tomorrow Giorgio?” asked Barbara.


“Well, first comes the press conference.”


“They do know I don’t speak Italian right?” Jeannie looked up.


“I’ll be there to translate for you.”


“Okay, then after that what do I do?”


“A photo opportunity and some TV interviews.”


“Then the launch party?” Barbara asked another question.




“It’s going to be a verrrry long day.” Jeannie smiled.


“Which is why you have today to relax.  Is there anything you desire to do?”


“Well, if it is possible, I’d love to visit the Vatican City.”


“I’ll have a car arranged to take you there – and the good news?  No press allowed in – the Swiss Guard is very protective.”


“Sounds ideal – but first a shower and change of clothes.”


“Me as well – we’ll see you later,” Jeannie said.


“As you wish,” Giorgio said.  “Just call if you need anything.”




10 am

Complete Style


“Hey Caroline how’s the jet lag?”


“Gone, thankfully,” Caroline said as she sat at the conference table.  “So is she on line?”


Juliette nodded as she logged into her computer, and said “Good evening Cathy.”


“Good morning, Juliette,” Cathy Lu said, “is Caroline there?”


“I am Cathy.”


"Well I must say I am so impressed Caroline." Catherine spoke from Hong Kong, "Just purely as a trip for Huntingdown's you and the girls did an amazing job, and that's without all the other things."

"I've told her that myself Catherine." Juliette spoke.

"So when will the advertisements start appearing?"

"If Bats gives the heads up, the agency says they can be ready in three weeks."

"Can I just register one mild note of surprise, why did you choose to name the bag after me?" Dominique asked.

"Because you are a modern, fashionable, sporty, but also businesslike person, you fit the profile of the woman Alice sees the bag being marketed to." Catherine smiled.

"Well, I'm not sure what to say, I just think a more famous person perhaps?"

"Dom, Caroline Jameson is becoming extremely famous." Juliette slipped her glasses on. "Our test marketing scores on your name were off the chart."

"Really? May I see?"

"Here look."

"Wow, these are high." Dominique shook her head as she looked at the document.


"And the other matters, may I ask your impressions of Helen?"

"Catherine, she's cool, she's calm, she's highly skilled, really the perfect assassin."

"She is indeed."

"I didn't realise she was an explosives expert as well."

"Helen has many talents."

"Not least as a company employee," Juliette smiled, "The e-mail from Dimitri was very effusive in his praise of her work, organising the products, making sure Caroline was dressed in the right thing at the right time."

"She was a pleasure to work with on shoots I have to say." Dom answered.

"You are lucky having her as an operative you can use Catherine." Juliette slipped her glasses on again. "Now her financial compensation..."

"I will organise that from here Juliette."

"Make sure she gets a bonus, she earned it." Caroline smiled.


“I expect her to come with Shirley tomorrow – I will pass on your good wishes.”


Caroline’s cell phone went off, and as she looked at it she said “Excuse me one moment.  Go ahead Susan…”


“While you are here,” Catherine said, “I received the photographs you sent of young Anna.  I intend to visit New York over Easter – if we can arrange a fitting then?”


“That would be good, Cathy – she still has a lot to learn before we use her on a full event, but I wish to be prepared.”


“Sorry about that – Susan wants me to call in.  Apparently the owners of the Prince of Siam wish to discuss me taking over the security when the tour resumes.”


“Is young Susan not due at any time?”


“She still has two months to go – but given what happened with Carina?”


“Indeed – I think Clint is on permanent watch when he is off duty.”


“On which note,” Juliette said, “you heading off with Janice and Heather on Wednesday?”


“So I was told – much to my surprise.  They’ve booked a guide, and we hit the mountains first thing that morning.  Should be fun.”


“Your definition of fun and my definition may differ slightly,” Juliette said, “but I have work to do, so do you, and so does Dom.  I’ll let you know when the adverts are a go Cathy – I’m seeing Alice on Wednesday”


“Sounds good, Juliette – I will talk to both of you soon.  Until then.”


As Juliette closed her laptop, Dom put her face into her hands.  “I’m not sure this level of fame goes well with security work you know,” she said as she looked at Juliette.


“Well, you are moving more into the management side of that anyway – at least for the public facing work.”


“Yeah – anyway, I need to get over to the office.  I’ll give you a call later in the week.”


“See you Caroline,” Juliette said as she showed Caroline out, and Janine came in.  “Your schedule for the shoot this week, Juliette,” she said as she handed over a sheet of paper.


“Wonderful,” Ju said as she glanced down the list.  “I’m heading up to Manchester tomorrow afternoon, but you can contact me by phone if anything happens.”


“Got it boss,” Janine said as she turned. 


4 pm CET

St Peter’s Square


The tourists walking past were not paying too much attention to the young girl being pushed in a wheelchair by her mother.  She was wearing a long blue denim skirt and a brown jumper under a leather jacket, while her mother wore a long grey coat, a pair of black boots visible underneath.


“It’s an amazing place,” Jeannie said as they slowly made their way across the vast open space, “and yet so peaceful and quiet.  Giorgio was right – it is a little oasis of peace and calm in the city.”


“Oh I agree,” Barbara said, “and it was very good of him to arrange a guided tour of the Vatican gardens as well.”


The young priest had taken them through the walled gardens, Barbara and Jeannie breathing in the air at the Cortili del Belvedere and the della Biblioteca, as well as pointing out some of the history of the site.  He’d even taken them to the grotto dedicated to the Lady of Lourdes, and asked Jeannie if she wished to be prayed for healing.


“No, but thank you,” she had replied, “I am happy as I am.”


From the gardens, they had made their way to the Vatican, and viewed the artworks – but not before they had bought April a book detailing the history of the gardens and the plants therein.


“It truly is an amazing place,” Barbara said as they walked over to a street vendor and bought two cold drinks, settling at a table as they slowly sipped.


“Excuse me – are you Jeannie Brewster?”


Jeannie looked to her left to see a young teenager standing there – one arm on her t-shirt empty.


“Guilty as charged,” Jeannie whispered, “but don’t shout it out, all right?  This is the only downtime I’ve got on this trip.”


“It’s all right – I just wanted to say thank you.  When I had my accident, and,” she said as she looked at her arm, “it was reading about you that helped me get through.”


“Well, thanks – I think,” Jeannie said with a smile.


“Would you sign my autograph book?”


“It would be a pleasure – what’s you name?”




Jeannie scribbled a message and said “there you go – and good luck.”


“Thanks,” she said as Giorgio came over.


“The car is here to take you to the hotel – we have a reservation at L'Archeologia at seven thirty for both of you.”


“Pity – I could stay here forever, but I guess real life still calls.”  The two women finished their drinks and then followed Giorgio to the waiting car.



1 pm

Xavier Holdings


“Hail the conquering hero,” Susan said as Dom came into the office, “glad to be back?”


“Looking forward to a couple of days away as well, if truth be told.  I need to recharge my batteries,” Dominique said as she sat down.  “I presume the computer problems are all sorted out now.”


“They appear to be, thanks to you and others.  You’ll have to ask the expert though.”


“Hey there,” Charlotte said as she came in, “I hear you had a fun time in Russia.  Really set the town alight by all accounts.”


“Oh yeah?  And how, pray tell, does that compare with a midnight raid to liberate an entire mine?”


“I only watched – others did that one,” Charlotte said as she sat down.  The young South African was wearing a pair of grey culottes and a matching blouse, with knee length grey leather boots.


“Who on earth are they anyway?”


“Trust me – better you don’t know,” Charlotte said, “all I will say is they are a resource at our disposal.  So, up for some hill walking this week?”


“You two are welcome to it,” Susan said as she held her back.


“Still two months to go?”


“Yeah well – anyway, Caroline, your proposal for security of the Prince of Siam as been accepted.  I need you to meet with the representatives of the owners tomorrow morning.”


“No problem – Can I use the meeting room here?”


“It’s already booked for you.  George still around?”


“He is – I’ll bring him to the meeting as well.”


“Excellent – now, there is something else I need you to do for me…”


11.30 pm

The Astoria Waldorf Main Ballroom


“And so, I say to all of you now, if you want to be represented by a man who knows this city, who knows the needs of the people of this district, and who has your best interests at heart, go to the polling station tomorrow, get your family going, your friends going, and return a man of New York City to represent New York City.


“Vote for Morse, and I will be the man you can trust in the Capitol.  Thank you for your support, thank you for your vote, and God bless you all!”


Tom Morse waved to the crowd, Clare standing by him in a blue coat dress, Bobbi there in a grey trouser suit and Becky in a light blue dress, while the crowd cheered and waved placards.


“Poor Tom, I think his voice is just about going.” Rachel McNally nodded towards the stage.


“I know,” Sandy looked round at the crowd. ”Hopefully the size of this rally is a good sign.”


“Well Jane says it’s too close to call.” Tonia waved her placard as Tom made his way off the stage.


“Well as my Grandfather used to say, it’s all about turning the voters out now.” Rachel smiled.


“In your Grandfathers day darling, even the dead voted.” Tonia laughed.


“I know.” Rachel laughed out loud, “Those were the good old days of New York politics.”


“Well I volunteered to drive some people to the polls tomorrow.” Sandy spoke, “and Heather’s doing the same.”


“And thank you for doing that,” Katherine applauded, “some of the ladies in my Daughters of Erin chapter need help getting round…but they are all good Irish Democrats.”


“Even when the candidate is Jewish?” Tonia asked.


“Well he knows a lot of good Irish ladies.” Katherine smiled, “So I talked them all into it.”


“So what are the families plans if he does win?” Rachel asked.


“Claire and the kids are staying in NYC and Tom will come home on weekends.” Sandy replied.


“That sounds sensible.” 


“So where will the election be decided Jane?” Tonia passed the reporter her brandy flask.


“Not in Manhattan, it will be those parts of the district over the East River in Queens and Brooklyn that will decide things. That’s where most of the swing voters are.” Jane took a swig from the flask and passed the brandy back.


“So a prediction Jane?” Sandy asked.


“I’m a reporter not a prognosticator darling, but if I was forced to give an opinion?  Tom by less then fifteen hundred votes.”


“And I predict it will be a long night then.” Sandy looked as Tom came down off the stage shaking hands. “I think we all maybe need go grab some sleep, then get up, vote and do what we can.”


“And hopefully that gathering in the Altamont tomorrow night will be a victory party.” Rachel laughed.


“If not, it will be a wake to remember,” Katherine said.




11.30 pm

Washington Heights

The Kinman Home


The first floor apartment was in darkness and silence, as the window that looked out from the kitchen was slowly moved up, and two black clad figures slipped through, closing the window to as one of them looked round, their pen light flashing around the room.


“Okay, the window’s closed,” Annie whispered as she looked round, the balaclava covering her head and only showing her eyes and mouth.  “Where do we want to start?”


“Main room,” Jo whispered as she walked through the kitchen, noting how tidy everything was, and then opened the partitioning curtain and looked in the other room.  It was a reasonably large open space, with a number of chairs and cushions scattered round, and a large bookcase to one side as well as a television mounted on the wall.


“You take this room,” Annie said, “I’ll place devices in the bedrooms.”


Jo nodded as she looked round the room, and walked over to the bookcase, slipping a listening device into the bookcase and then working her way round.   Annie slipped into the first door off the room, and found herself in Letty’s bedroom.  The walls were covered in travel posters, and Letty herself was asleep on her bed, a book by her side.


Annie looked at the cover.  “Around the world in 80 days – interesting,” she thought to herself before she slipped a listening device behind her chest of drawers, and then slipped back out.


The second door led to another bedroom, this one with a ten year old girl asleep under a duvet.  Annie put the device in her bookcase, and then went to the third bedroom.


Letty’s mother was asleep under a silk sheet.  She was in her early forties, but Annie could see the grey hairs in her light brown bob, and the lines around her eyes.  “I wonder what’s causing her so much worry,” Annie thought to herself as she slipped the device behind the bedside table, and then slipped out again, closing the door behind herself.


“Well,” she whispered to Jo.


“Two devices – one in the bookcase, one in the pot plant over there,” Jo whispered.  “I put the camera on top of the television.”


“Okay then – damper?”


“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I hid it behind the dresser over there.”


“Good – then let’s…”


Annie suddenly noticed the door to the younger daughter’s bedroom opened, and dragged Jo over behind a long couch as they heard her walking through to the kitchen, and a tap running. 


They then heard the sound of feet padding back across the room, and then the door opening and closing.


“That was close,” Jo whispered as she stood up.


“I didn’t know Letty had a younger sister.”


“Neither did I – come on, let’s get out of here.  Leave a device somewhere in the kitchen as well.”


The two women slipped back into the kitchen, Jo fixing a device to the underside of the table before they slipped back out of the window, Heather closing the window behind them.


“Hey Heather,” Jo said as she called on her cell phone, “have you done any digging on Letty yet?”


“Not beyond the basic birth records, no.”


“Are there any records that she had a sister?”


There was silence for a moment, before Heather said “no – why?”


“Tell you when we get there,” Jo said as she looked at Annie.


Tuesday 17th March

10 am Local Time

Huntingdown’s, Hong Kong




Cathy looked up at her assistant as she bowed and said “Your guests have arrived.”


“Show them in, and bring some tea for all three of us,” Cathy said as she stood up and walked to the coffee table, smoothing down the skirt of her cream coat dress as she did so.


“Madame, you honour me with your visit,” she said as Shirley came in, bowing her head in recognition.


“The honour is mine, Cathy,” Shirley said as the door was closed, “and please, do we need to stand on formality?”


“OF course not,” Cathy said as she came forward and shook Shirley’s hand.  She then turned to the blonde who had followed them in. “You as well, Helen – you may relax, today I am your friend, not your mistress.”


“As you wish, Mistress Lu – my apologies, Cathy,” Helen said as she raised her head.


“Come, sit – I am having some tea brought in, and I am anxious to hear your news.  I presume all is well?”


“As well as can be expected,” Shirley said, “the Russian has been neutralized, we have submitted a suggested recompense amount for the safe return of the Prince of Siam, and things are returning to normal.”


“Excellent,” Cathy said as the tea was brought in, and set down on the table.  As Helen poured, Cathy said “Dominique has asked me to pass on her most grateful thanks to you, Helen, and Juliette has asked me to ensure you receive a bonus for your work.”


“They are most kind, but I do not seek additional payment,” Helen said.


“Nevertheless, you shall have it, and Dominique has indicated that, should the need ever arise again, your help as an assistant in all matters would be most gratefully received.”


“And I would be most grateful of the opportunity to work with her again, if permission is given,” Helen said quietly.  “She is a true master of her craft.”


“Well, now that is settled,” Cathy said as she sipped her tea, “I have to tell you I am very pleased with the results of the shoot.  Alice is discussing advertising material with Juliette tomorrow, and all will hopefully be settled soon.”


“Good,” Shirley said, “and on the other personal matter?”


“Ah yes – after we have drunk our tea, I will take you for a personal fitting.  I think you will be very pleased with the results.  Perhaps you will both honour me by joining me for dinner tonight?”


“I am honoured, Mistr… Cathy, but will not my head have something to say on the matter?”


“I think she will give her permission,” Cathy said quietly.  “You will meet with the Honoured Father later, but I can say that he has a new, permanent assignment for you – one I think you will enjoy.”





10 am CET



“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Giorgio said in Italian as he sat at the front of the room, Jeannie beside him at the table, “Lerrabella is proud to announce the launch of our New You range of makeup for the younger woman, and we are proud to welcome today the face of New You, Jeannie Brewster.”


Barbara stood to the side, watching as the cameras flashed, nearly blinding Jeannie as she sat and smiled.  She was wearing an open necked white silk blouse under a light brown jacket and skirt, the table hiding her wheelchair.


“It is a great honour for me to be here today,” Jeannie said, pausing as Giorgio translated, “and to be the face of this exciting new range of cosmetics for the younger woman.  I hope it proves to be a great and popular success.”


“We are also proud and happy to have Jeannie as the face of our range,” Giorgio said, “and as the pack you have received shows, we have an amazing advertising campaign to support the launch.


“We will now take a few questions from the floor.  Yes?”


“Miss Brewster,” Giorgio translated, “a year ago you were an ordinary schoolgirl in the United Kingdom, and now you are an internationally recognized model.  What do you attribute your success to?”


“Apart from my face,” Jeannie said, waiting as the room laughed.  “Two things, I am afraid – pure luck and being in the right place at the right time.  Having said that, a flight did help.”


The room laughed again, as Giorgio said “next question please.”


“Miss Brewster, what was it about this offer in particular that led to you accepting it?”


"Why did I accept the Lerrabella offer?" Jeannie paused. "Other then they offered me a huge amount of money?"

Giorgio translated and the press laughed.

"I only asked my agent one question, and that was would Lerrabella be open to hearing my ideas."

Again Jeannie paused.

"When I was told they would, then I knew this was the company for me."

Giorgio smiled as he spoke.

"I am above all a typical teenager who is also a model, so I’m happy that the company was good enough to listen to my suggestions, and believe it or not agree with some of them."

Giorgio spoke again.

"I think Lerrabella understands that younger women are looking for something in particular in their cosmetics, and I like to think I talk for consumers to them, and for Lerrabella to women."


“Next question.”


“Miss Brewster, may I ask a personal question?”


“To quote my friend Abby de Ros,” Jeannie said, “no I won’t do nude shots.”


The room laughed again, as the reporter said “do you believe you have been held back by being confined to a wheelchair?”


"People say I'm unlucky because I broke my back." Jeannie waited for Giorgio to translate. "But in truth I am happy that I am who and what I am."

Jeannie stared at the journalists.

"Yesterday a girl with an amputated arm asked me for an autograph in St Peter’s Square...She told me I'd been inspirational in helping her cope with her accident."

Giorgio spoke the translation.

"God made me lucky enough to be considered beautiful...and even though I sit in a chair...need help dressing...sometimes help with the most basic of things...I am still so very lucky that I can show people that being different from normal in some way or another, doesn't mean you cannot have a life that is wonderful and fulfilling."

As Giorgio finished Jeannie added, "Does that answer your question?"


“Yes, thank you.”


“Another question?”


Jeannie listened as another question was asked.


"He wishes to know what hobbies you might have Jeannie?" Giorgio translated the question.

"This is going to make me sound like a fan-girl," Jeannie giggled, "But I collect old fashion magazines. When we lived in England Mum used to bring the old ones from the waiting room of the doctors she worked at home for me, that's why I got interested in modeling and models, now I live in New York I go in a lot of thrift shops and to the flea markets and buy them."

As Giorgio translated Jeannie watched the smiles on the journalists faces.

"He says he can tell you some good places to buy them here in Rome." Giorgio translated the reply.

"Tell him to let you have the address Giorgio and next time I'm in Rome I'll go look."

"He says give him a phone call he will take you."

"Tell him my boyfriend might object." Jeannie laughed.

"You've broken his heart." Giorgio laughed with the reporters.

"Another question please?" Jeannie asked as she laughed along too.

"Do the girls at school treat you differently because you are a famous model?" Giorgio translated the next question.

"Hmmm that's a difficult question. I think the fact that Abigail de Ros was already at the school helped in that girls were used to her being famous. As I said earlier I'm just a normal teenager six days out of every seven, it’s on that other day I get to be the model, so no I don't think I get treated differently."

Jeannie watched the looks of surprise as Giorgio translated her answer.

"What do you do when you aren't at school, or modeling?" a journalist asked.

"Well I spend a lot of time on the phone talking to my boyfriend who's studying in California, talking to friends, and we get lots of homework."

"Anything else?" Giorgio translated the follow-up question.

"I go swimming a lot, my girlfriends and I go to the movies as well, shopping, just well normal things."

"He says he is glad he doesn't have to pay your telephone bills." Giorgio laughed.


Barbara laughed as Giorgio said “That’s all we have time for, but Miss Brewster is available now for photographs if you would care to take them.”


10 am

Manchester Beach


As the crew were setting up on the beach front, Carina stepped out of the caravan, a very uncalm and unladylike expression on her face as she approached the crew.


“Blake a moment please.” Carina said as she stood in her robe, her arms folded.


“Sure Cari what’s the problem?” The director said as he looked up from his notes.


“I thought we were selling sunglasses?”


“We are.”


“So who had the bright idea of dressing me in this?” Carina opened the robe to show the bikini underneath. “I wear this, who will see the glasses?”


“Ummmm.”  Blake was lost for words as he looked at Carina.  “Well…”


“And besides a bikini outside on a day like today, my Goosebumps have Goosebumps.”


“Cari you are a professional model, you know damn well we always film these things this time of year…just act like its brilliant 90 degree weather.”


“That I can try…but this bikini Blake?”


“Just swing with it please,” Blake said as he rubbed his forehead, “the damn advertising agency supplied it.”


“Okay, I’ll try…be it on their own heads.”


She took her robe off and took up her mark as Blake called out “All right everyone, first sequences.  Quiet on the set, and – Action.”


Carina took a deep breath and walked slowly down the beachside path, taking off her glasses at one point and looking out over the sea, before replacing them and walking towards the camera.




The assistant ran up with the robe as Blake looked at the playback.  “Good – next set please.”





10 am

Central Park


“Hey there,” Abby said as she waved to Letty, “I’m glad you could make it today Letty.”


“Well, it gets me out of the apartment,” Letty said as she walked over, wearing a loose fitting denim blouse over some blue leggings and trainers.  Abby was wearing an old checked shirt over a grey t-shirt and jeans, her hair pulled back in a pony tail and her glasses on.


“How are you anyway?  We haven’t really spoken much since the meet?”


“Oh I’m getting by,” Letty said as she rubbed her side.  “The ribs still hurt a bit though.”


“So when do you think you’ll be back in training?”


“Hopefully in the next week or two, if I get the all clear,” she said quietly as she looked round.  “So what do you want to do today?”


“Hey, I’m entirely in your hands – you tell me what you want to do?”


“Well, it may sound daft, but can we head down to the zoo?  I used to go there a lot with Dad, but – well, it’s been a long time.”


“Come on then,” Abby said as she started to walk down the path, “my treat.  I think I can afford it.”


“Oh har har miss supermodel,” Letty said with a laugh, and then a groan as she held her side.  As she did so, the wrist of her blouse slipped up, and Abby could see the rope marks on her wrist.  Letty pulled it back down, and looked at Abby as if she was daring her to say anything.


“Fancy a cold drink on the way?”


“Yeah – yeah, that would be nice,” Letty said as she relaxed.


“So what have you been doing so far for Spring Break?”


“Not a lot – Mom’s working all day, so I usually have Tess to look after.”


“Who’s Tess?”


“She’s my ten year old cousin – she lives with us at the moment, because her mom and dad are away.”


“Oh you should have said – she could have come as well.”


“NO,” Letty said loudly, and then quietly “she doesn’t get out much, and – well, today she’s with mom.  They wanted to go down to Coney Island.”


“Okay then,” Abby said as they stopped at a kiosk, and bought two iced drinks.  “Let’s go to the zoo.”


7 pm CET



“Does it ever stop being noisy out there,” Jeannie said as she looked out of the window.


“I very much doubt it,” Barbara said as she out in her earrings.  “Ready?”


“Yeah – can you help me put my dress on?”


Barbara watched as Jeannie pulled the blue satin dress over her head and arms, yawning as she did so.


"Tired darling?" she asked as she helped Jeannie to change for the launch party.

"A bit,” Jeannie said as she smoothed her dress down, and watched as her mother slipped her heels on her feet.  “The problem with TV interviews are they are so repetitive, same questions, same answers...I get bored."

"Well I was so proud of you at the press conference."

"Well I just said what I honestly feel."

"I know and that's why I love you so much." Barbara hugged her daughter.

“Any idea how long I’m expected to be at this party for?”


“I’m not sure – but say the word, and I’ll get you out of there as discretely as possible.”


“If it is possible to be discrete in a wheelchair,” Jeannie said as her cell phone buzzed. 


"Am I interrupting?" Giorgio asked as he knocked on the room door and came in.

"Not at all." Barbara smiled as Jeannie whispered into her phone, and then put it away.

“Sorry – a friend calling from the States.”


"May I introduce someone to you Jeannie?"  Giorgio was wearing a dinner jacket and white shirt with bow tie, and looked strangely proud.

"Yes, of course,” Jeannie said, “here or in the sitting room."

"She's out in the sitting room."

Jeannie wheeled herself into the sitting area and was surprised to see a girl aged about 10 sitting in a wheel chair.  She was wearing a pale green dress with short puffed sleeves, and was plainly excited to see the guest of honour.

"Jeannie can I present my daughter Sandra...Sandra this is..."

"Jeannie Brewster." the younger girl smiled..."I'm just your biggest fan." she said in accented English.

"You never told us you had a disabled daughter Giorgio?" Barbara asked.

"Sandra has Multiple Sclerosis."

"Oh that's a horrid illness." Jeannie wheeled herself next to the younger girl and hugged her.

"It was Sandra who told me all about you Jeannie." Giorgio smiled proudly. "She told me you modeled despite being in a wheelchair like her, and that maybe you'd be perfect as our spokesmodel."


“Well, I suppose I should thank you and pay you a commission,” Jeannie said, “it’s a real pleasure to meet you.”


“Oh no, the pleasure is mine,” Sandra said, “you are a real role model to me and girls like me.”


“All right, now you’re making me feel embarrassed,” Jeannie said with a smile.  “Are you coming to the party as well?”


“May I papa?”


“I insist you come – as my guest of honour alongside my mom.  Is your mother here?”


“She is waiting downstairs,” Giorgio said, “she wanted Sandra to have this moment for herself.”


“Well then, let’s go and join her,” Jeannie said as Barbara handed her daughter her purse, “she has a daughter to be very proud of.”


2 pm

The Richmond Mansion


Heather stood in the doorway of Jo’s bedroom, watching as she folded some jeans and placed them in her small bag.


“Look at you – all grown up and going for a few days trip.”


“Is that jealousy I hear, O sister of mine?”


“Oh no – I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to some time alone with Sandy over the next couple of days.  Nah – I was just thinking back to this time last year, and everything that happened after that.”


Jo put her toilet bag in the large bag, closed it and then turned to sit on the bed.  “I know – so much has happened since then”




“A little – but not as much as I’m going to be in three weeks time.”


“OH come in – you’re a shoo-in for the place.  I know you are.  You go and have fun with Curt – where’s he meeting you?”


“At Philly airport – we both fly into Terminal C, so he’s going to wait by a coffee cart for me.”


“Well then,” Heather said as she looked at her watch, “I’d better get you to the airport.”


“Hey – have you voted yet?”


“I did so this morning – and I’m going to the Altamont with Sandy tonight, so I’ll pass on your commiserations or best wishes either way.”


“Fair enough – I’ll call you when I get back.  Any luck on Letty yet?”


“Nothing I can find, although the younger girl is a bit of a mystery.  I’ll check in with Janice later.”


“Right then,” Jo said as she picked up her bag, “On to Philly!”


4 pm

Beverley, Manchester


Juliette looked over from the sink as Carina came in, putting her bag on the table as Judith waved.


“So how did filming go darling?” Juliette poured her daughter a coffee.


“Don’t ask.” Cari said as she put Judith in her high chair.


“That bad?”


“If they hate it then it’s their own fault.” Carina said as she shook her head and sat down.


“What happened?”


“The advertising agency supplied this tiny black bikini as my costume.”


“Oh,” Juliette said, “I think I see the problem.”


“Well I may be short, but I am what Blake calls spectacularly endowed…”


“You have curves to die for darling.”


“So even though I’m freezing, I do my poses, I wear the different glasses, but I know the company will not be happy.”


“Well that’s between them and the advertising agency, you did what you were told.”


“I know…only nice thing was Judith made her modeling debut, Blake had me carry her walking down the beach in one shot.”


“That’s my little angel.” Juliette lifted her granddaughter up, “Barely 6 months and already showing her stuff.”


The telephone call made both women look over as Juliette picked up the handset.


"Hey Missy, we were expecting a call...Here let me put you on speakerphone."

"Thanks Ju...can you both hear me?"

"Can now Missy." Cari called out.

"Well what happened Cari?"

"You heard already?"

"I heard you and Blake were not happy."

"They put me in a tiny bikini Missy, to do sunglasses commercials."

"So Blake told me...I have to tell you though the agency is extremely happy."

"But what about the company?" Juliette asked.

"They are waiting to see the edited material, but I'll be honest their reactions seemed positive."

"Well it's their decision." Carina shook her head.

"Just remember you did your job Cari, any fallout is not your fault..."

"Missy..." Cari giggled, "fallout was an imminent problem with me in that bikini top."

Missy's laugh came down the line, "Well you and Blake should just relax, and let them see if it works."

"Talking of work, I think my granddaughter needs an agent." Juliette chuckled.

"I heard, Blake says she looked adorable,'

"She did," Carina laughed.

"So all set for the show tomorrow Ju?"

"Yep, I'm expecting Mandy and Angel later tonight."

"Missing Klaus?"

"More than anything." Juliette sighed.

"Well he has to spend some time working, you'll see him at Easter."

"Ingy said by the way that Erich Bettermann did those portfolio pictures Missy." Carina remembered. "He’s sending you them tomorrow."

"Okay, I'm putting her card together."


“And with that, I need to get down to Boston – call you tomorrow Missy.”


Juliette ended the call, and let out a long sigh.


“Want some company?”


“Nah – you stay here with Judith.  I need the thinking time anyway.”



5 pm

The Village


“Okay,” Dom said as she looked at the equipment laid out on the table, and then at the other three, “final checks.  We know the guide is providing the ropes and crampons, so clothing?”


“Two changes, and a third for luck,” Jan said as she looked at the contents of her bag.


“Good – plenty of socks?”


“Check,” Charlottes said.


“Water bottles?”


“Filled and chilling,” Annie called through from the kitchen.


“Emergency supplies and first aid kit?”


“Got them in my bag.”


“All right then Jan – that leaves special measures.  Charlotte?”


“Alarms are in each of our bags, and on my wrist watch.  Any problems, Susan knows.”


“And the alarm at Madame’s house?”


“Ama will pop in tomorrow night, but mainly it’s the monitoring unit and Susan to cover.”


“Right then – leave your bags here, and we meet at seven thirty tomorrow morning.  Hopefully, we’ll be back in time to get a few hours kip before then”



9 pm

The Richmond Mansion


Heather picked up the phone as she adjusted the strap on her cocktail dress.


“Hello, Richmond residence?”


“Hey Heather – checking in as promised.”


"Hey Sis how's the hotel?" Heather asked.

"It's nice, not too upmarket, but perfect for me and Curt."

"So no problems meeting up?"

"No we found each other fine...How's your day been?"

"Busy...I ran a lot of Katherine Carter's friends to the polling booths."

"I saw on CNN that it's too close to call."

"I know...we all worked our asses off today getting voters to turn out."

"When are you guys going over to the hotel?"

"Soon, I was just waiting for you to call, Sandy is changed, and I just need slip some shoes on."

"Well tell the Morse's I have my fingers crossed."

"Will do Sis...You have fun...LOVE YOU."



9.30 pm



“Mom – they’re here!”


Juliette smiled as Carina opened the door and went to meet the Carrow’s.


"So how was the flight Angel?" Carina asked as Mandy paid the cab driver.

"Not too bad Cari, but flying in Shirley's private jet can spoil you for commercial airlines. It’s good to have my feet on solid ground though – I’d forgotten what the constant flying could be like.”


“And she expects me to survive this,” Angel laughed as she took her coat off.  "I know – come away in."

"Well darlings we are here." Mandy kissed both Carina and Juliette. "How are all the Huntingdown's?"

"Come into the kitchen, leave your bags by the stairs and I’ll tell you." Juliette spoke.

“IT looks a little different in the spring.”

“Less snow, more chill,” Carina said as she looked down at the sleeping Judith.  “She’ll wake up in a few minutes.”


“How can you tell,” Angel asked as she looked at the young girl.


“Her nose wrinkles a little when she’s starting to stir,”


"I thought Boston's traffic was supposed to be improved by that huge tunnel?" Mandy looked tired as she eased herself onto a bar stool.

"It was supposed to, but sometimes I know people wonder." Juliette put cups of Jasmine tea out for her guests.

"So how is Judith Cari?"  Angel asked.

"She's teething again tonight, but she stole the show making her modeling debut today on my commercial shoot."

"Oh?" Mandy asked.

"We shot a scene with me walking down the beach carrying her."

"I bet she looked cute." Angel smiled.

"She did...the crew were oohing and aahing over her all day."

“So how is the final revision going Angel,” Juliette asked.


“Slowly – all the project work is in now, so it’s just the dreaded final exams to work through.”


“Well, if it’s any consolation, I need to start revising for my finals as well,” Carina said as she picked the now awake Judith out of her seat, sitting her on her knee.  “Weeks of hard slog ahead – the one joy been David and Jude have to share in my pain.”


“Then we can suffer together,” Angel said with a smile. 


"What's the schedule for the morrow Pelican?" Mandy yawned as she sipped her tea.

"Rehearsals at eleven and two, the show is at seven."

"You said these guys are pretty way out there?"

"Both very inspired by Issey Miyake." Juliette smiled, "VERY nineties in their feel."

"Well we should both feel very much at home then." Mandy smiled.

"I featured their first collection in the magazine as designers to watch, and it's why I begged you and Angel to walk tomorrow."

"Well that sounds like I better be at my best in the morning...same bedrooms as before Ju?"

"Yeah you and Angel go up Tufty, I'll bring you both up some cocoa shortly."

"Lead on Mother." Angel yawned as she stood up.


“Oh by the way, what’s the word on Tom?”


“The polls only closed half an hour ago – they’re saying on line it’s close.”



10 pm

The Altamont Hotel


“Quite a crowd gathering,” Sandy said as she and Heather walked into the ballroom, and she waved to Toni and Kelly.


“Early days though,” Heather said as she took two glasses from the passing waiter, handing one to her partner as they walked over.


“So where are they,” Heather said as she looked round.


“Somewhere upstairs I think – you know how these things work.  They won’t come down until it’s called one way or another.”


"Did I just see Roy?" Sandy said before she kissed Tonia, "I thought he was a Republican?"

"He is, but he's supported Tom, he even donated to the campaign."

"Well good for him." Sandy smiled.

"Tom's not the kind of Democrat who is anti Wall St, so it's not hard for Roy to support a friend instead of a party."

"So many other members of the gang here yet?"

"The McNally's are here I know darling, and I've seen Puss and Liz as well."

"Old Senator Lodge is probably turning in his grave seeing a descendant’s wife supporting the Democrats." Sandy laughed.

"Hello ladies." Katherine said as she and Janice came over bringing glasses of wine for their friends.

"Hello Katherine darling." Sandy kissed her, then Janice.

"Well we are maybe just leading I hear." Katherine smiled.

"Oh Inside information Katherine?"

"A friend’s grandson is a very bright young politics grad student at Fordham, his friends have worked today as a case study, and he's telling me that by his exit polling Tom is winning the vote where he needs to."

"Did you pass that info onto to Tom and his team upstairs?" Tonia asked.

"I did, they said it matched their own polling."

"Well fingers crossed then." Sandy allowed herself a smile.


“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the announcer on the stage said, “please welcome to the stage a special friend, Sting!”


“He can’t vote, but he can support,” Kelly Rochermann said as she listened to him start to sing.


“Oh wow – Uncle Gordon came after all,” Abby said as she came in with her mother.


“Good – I know Tom likes him, and I hope they can hear him,” Diana said as she looked round.


As Sting came to the end of his set, the televisions were turned up.


"Well with just under ten percent of precincts having reported so far, Deputy Mayor Tom Morse has a slender 33 vote lead on his Republican opponent, and the election remains far too close to call." Everyone listened to Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

"This is going to go down to the wire." Heather looked up from her tablet.

"This special election is far too close to call." everyone quieted to listen Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

"Any idea where the polls are that have declared already are?" Rachel asked.

"Mainly in Queens." Heather looked up again.


“That was always going to be Tom’s weak district – when they start declaring for the Manhattan precincts, he should pull ahead a little.”


“Which means the question becomes what happened in Brooklyn,” Sandy said.  “This really is getting to be too close to call.”


11.30 pm



Juliette was curled up in her favourite old armchair, watching the coverage on CNN.


“What are you doing mom – I thought you had a full day tomorrow?”


"I'm going to sit up a bit longer and watch the results." Juliette smiled at Carina.

"Okay I must admit I'm pooped."

"Walking up and down a beach can do that."

"Little one here has settled down." Carina smiled at her daughter. "I'm going to put her in her crib and then get undressed. I'll see you in the morning Mom."

"See you then darling."

"I can report that with 21% of precincts reporting Tom Morse has a 234 vote advantage..."

"Well that's good news." Juliette nodded as Cari headed upstairs.

"I'll keep my fingers crossed."


“So am I,” Juliette said as she kept watching.


Wednesday 18th March

1 am



"How is your friend’s Dad doing?" Curt asked as he poured them both some wine.  He was wearing a pair of boxer shorts, while Jo was wearing what nature intended.

"His lead is down to 101 votes." Jo lay on the bed watching TV, "52% reporting."

"It's a close election." Curt kissed her naked shoulders.

"Hey unfair...how can I watch the results when you do that?" Jo giggled.

"You aren't supposed to..."

"Oh that feels nice." Jo responded as he kissed her neck.  “You are a horrible man, Curt.”


“But you love me for it, don’t you?”


“Yeah, I guess I do,” Jo said as they kissed and lay together.


1.30 am

The Altamont Hotel


“We now have 75 percent of the precincts reporting, and Tom Morse still holds a slender lead of just over two hundred votes.  We still are unable to call this election…”


In the suite, Tom was sitting with Clare and the girls, wondering what was happening.


“We’re not panicking,” his election agent said, “the remaining precincts are mainly in Manhattan, so don’t give up just yet.”


“And we have three more precincts ready to call the results…”




On the ballroom floor, the cheer went up as the results were posted.


“That’s what our man needed,” Kelly said, “it means he has a bigger lead now.”


“True, but the two big districts in Brooklyn are still to – oh crap.”


As the results were called, the total numbers moved again, showing a lead to Tom now of four hundred.


“What’s left?”


“The big Manhattan precincts,” Roy said as he and Adam stood behind them.  “Either way, it will all be over soon.”


“Ladies and gentlemen, we are getting in the results now for the largest of the Manhattan districts…”


In New York, in Manchester, in Philadelphia, everyone waited with baited breath…



"We are still waiting on most of South Harlem to declare, that's Tom's old stomping grounds, should be a huge democratic block vote." Heather smiled as she looked at her tablet.

"Shut up Heather, the update..." Sandy stopped her

"Okay with that latest batch of results, Tom Morse's vote lead has stretched to nearly 4,000 votes, we at MSNBC have seen enough that with 88% of precincts reporting we can call this election for Democrat Tom Morse."  Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC.


There was a moment of stunned silence in the ballroom, and then attention switched to the CNN screens as the next precinct reported.


"Ladies and Gentlemen,” Wolf Blitzer said, “with 90% of precincts reporting CNN now feels confident in calling the New York congressional special election for Democrat Tom Morse, with his lead currently at 5,204 votes."



HUGE APPLAUSE rang round the ballroom as volunteers and friends celebrated.

Champagne corks popped.

Streamers were thrown.

Women got kissed by complete strangers.


And in the suite upstairs, Tom Morse was talking on the telephone.


“Rupert, thank you, and I wish you well.  Who knows – maybe one day we’ll meet on the floor.


“I’ll pass on your best wishes to them, and thank you for running a good campaign.”


Ending the call, he turned round to be enveloped by Clare, Bobbi and Becca.


“Congratulations sir,” his aide said, “we’ll miss you at City Hall.”


“I’ll miss all of you, but time enough for that later,” Tom said as he put his jacket on.  “Let’s go talk to the room.”


“In a minute Dad,” Bobbi said, “He’s doing his concession speech.”


They stopped and watched as the screen said “Rupert Brooks concedes race…”


“I can’t hear this,” Clare said as she grabbed a remote and turned the volume up.


"… That I have rung Tom Morse to concede. We have fought a great fight in a district that traditionally is not fertile GOP territory."

The audience watching him applauded.

"May I thank Congressman Elect Morse for his efforts to prevent this election turning into a mud-slinging contest, and for his honest decision to keep the election focused on the issues, not the personalities and personal lives of the candidates."

Further applause.

"Can I thank all of you for giving so much of your time and effort in fighting this election."

Large applause.

"Can I above all though thank my wife and family who I love above all."

"Bullshit" Becca whispered under her breath as she watched with her family on TV, "that's not what you told me in bed."


“Thank you once more, and God bless you all,” Brooks said as he hugged his wife and daughter, and waved to the cameras.


“Right – let’s go,” Tom said as they left the room and went down to the ballroom.


“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the announcer said, “it has been a long night, and I know you are all tired, but this is what makes it all worthwhile.  Please welcome your new Congressman Elect, Tom Morse!”


The crowd went wild as Sting sang New York, New York while Tom and his family made their way to the stage.

Claire waved as she spotted the Sinners all standing together.


Sandy and the girls were amongst the loudest to cheer as they watched, Claire in the Donna Karin dress she had specially made.


Eventually, Tom waved the crowd down and looked across the floor.


“Long night, wasn’t it,” he said, getting a laugh, “but what a Night!”


There were loud cheers again as he said “I could not have done this without the support of all of you, but I hope you will forgive me if I say without the total support of my wife and daughters, this would not have been possible, so tonight is not just my night, it is Clare’s, it is Roberta’s, it is Rebecca’s, and it is every one of you who share in the victory!”


As the cheers carried on, Tom waited before he said “I also wish to thank Rupert Brooks, my esteemed opponent.  It would have been all too simple to make this election about us, but he joined me in focusing on the issues, and I wish him every success for the future.  Please, join me in congratulating him, because he ran me close, and he deserves that congratulations.”


The room all applauded again before Tom spoke once more.


"I'd like to thank Sting for keeping you all entertained during this long night. It was a tough election that honestly could have gone either way. thankfully as my good friend and opponent said, we fought on the issues, not on personalities, and I think the turnout today proves that voters were prepared to vote for and against ideas, not for and against personalities, and without rancor and without resort to divisive ideology."


There was more cheering as Tom said “It has been a long day and night, and later today the real work begins, but now, in this moment, I say thank you, all of you, and I am proud to be your new congressman.  Please, enjoy tonight, and may God go with each and every one of you.”


The band started playing as Tom and the family waved through the ticker tape, and then left the stage.


“We’re invited upstairs for a private drink,” Rachel said as she turned from an aide, “gather the girls and we’ll go up together.”


"Well Jane, he won by a little more than you thought." Heather sat in a corner with the reporter.

"A little, but the President's unpopularity and the whole national situation never helped him."

"He should have a bigger margin at the next general election." Heather sipped some champagne.

“Well, he’s very popular locally.  That’s what swung it for him.  Hopefully it will keep him in office.”


"Hey what are you two doing over here out of the party?" Pussy came over.

"Resting our feet." Heather smiled.

"Tell me about it Tee." Pussy sighed as she sat down.

"Where's Frieda tonight?" Jane asked.

"Believe it or not doing some work for German TV as an analyst."

"A physicist talking politics?" Heather asked in surprise.

"Well the producer knew she knows Tom and they asked, and she said yes."

"Good for Frieda." Jane smiled.


“There you are,” Sandy said.  “We’re invited upstairs – and Jane is invited to get the first interview with the new congressman.”


“No rest for the wicked,” Jane said as she stood up.  “Sinners one?”


“Sinners all,” Jane said as they headed for the stairs and walked up, knocking on the door of the suite.


“There you are,” Claire said as they came in, “grab a glass and let’s dance the night away!”


“Well, I’ll drink to that,” Pussy said as she hugged Claire.  “So how does it feel to have an absentee husband from now on?”


“Given how often he works late at City Hall, I’m not sure I’ll notice the difference – just kidding dear.”


“I know you are,” Tom said as he shook Roy’s hand.  “I’m going in as a junior here – should be fun again.”


“How are you two,” Heather said as she went over to where Bobbi and Becca were sitting.


“Is it possible to be exhausted and happy at the same time,” Bobbi said as she looked at her cell phone.  “Jo just sent her congratulations.”


“Really?  What’s she doing still awake?”


Both girls looked at Heather as she said “I know why, before you say anything.  I’m sure she and Curt were watching the results intently.”


“Right,” Bobbi giggled as she grabbed a glass of champagne.  “I’ll tell her that at the weekend.”


"Well I was watching on my tablet." Heather was conversing with one of Tom's political people. "Those huge turnouts in Harlem were what won it."

"I know, over 80% in some places."

"Three cheers for Irish old ladies." Claire embraced Katherine. "You know guys how hard this lady worked these last few days?"

"I know, she's been working the phone constantly." Janice hugged her mother.

"Oh be gone with ya." Katherine smiled.

"Well your local precinct was one of the few that the party lost last time that we won this time." Claire looked proud, "And don't underestimate how much of that was your doing Katherine."


"Well Tom you did it." Roy slapped his friend on the back.

"I was nervous there for a long while."

"Hey who let a reporter in?" Roy laughed as Jane came in the room.

"Who let an old Republican like you in Roy?...No I'm off the clock, I've filed my story and now I'm just here as a friend."

"Well grab a drink Jane." Roy pressed some champagne into her hand.

"Congratulations Tom." Jane kissed him.


"So Diana, what are you up to now the election's over." Sandy asked.

"Abby has two days shooting pictures for a South American magazine chain."

"Here in town?"

"Yes, I just hope it stays fine."

"What are you two talking about?" Abby came in sipping her champagne.

"Good thing no one could see the underage drinking before the election," Sandy smiled, "We were talking about your shoot."

"It's with Antonio so it should be interesting as always." Abby remarked.


"Mom can you make your own way home?" Janice asked, "I need to send Doc home from babysitting, and I have a drive to the Catskills and I'm climbing in just a few hours."

"You go darling..."

"I'll run her home." Sandy volunteered.


“Thanks, Sandy,” Janice said as she made her way out, kissing Claire as she left.



8 am

The Village


“Good morning Janice,” Ama said as she opened the apartment door, “Charlotte has not arrived yet, but Mom and Annie are upstairs.”


“Good,” Jan said as she came up, wearing a grey fleece over a white t-shirt, leggings and white socks with trainers.  She put her bag on the floor and yawned.


“Just what time did it finish last night,” Annie said as she handed Jan a mug of coffee.


“Try about two thirty this morning when I got to bed,” Janice said before she sipped on her drink, “but it was worth it to see Tom and the family so happy.”


“Indeed,” Dom said as she came in and fastened her rucksack.  The ring on the doorbell led Ama down, and then to come up and grab her bag as Charlotte joined them.


“Enjoy your trip – I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said as she ran out of the door, Charlotte looking after her.


“Soccer camp?  Not for me thank you – give me a nice rock face any day.”


“On which note, finish your drinks, and everyone into the car,” Dominique said, “let’s go do this.”



10.30 am

New Paltz, NY


The journey had passed pleasantly enough, Dom taking them up through Union City and Palisades Park on the I95, then upstate on the I87.  They’d passed through Sloatsburg and Southfields, and eventually into the town.


“I’ve rented a cabin in the park,” Jan said as they drove through the town, “I brought some basic supplies with us, and we should be able to get some food delivered later.”


“So long as you have coffee, bacon and beans I’ll be fine,” Annie said as she looked out of the window.”


“Oh god no – not beans all weekend, please,” Charlotte said as they drove up to the front of a log cabin.  Stopping the car, Dom and the others got out and looked round.


“Hi – which of you is Janice Carter?”


“That would be me,” Jan said as she looked at the tall, well built man.  “Are you Dirk?”


“That’s me – let’s get you settled in and then we can go and hit that mountain face.”


“Good - I need to stretch after that drive,” Jan said as she opened the trunk, and they got their bags out.


11 am



“Can we say it’s an honour that you agreed to do the show.” Brian Regan beamed as he hugged the ladies.


“Well thank you darling.” Mandy drawled. “I hear that your clothes are pretty wonderful.”


“Well let’s see if you still think so when you see them.” Devon Murchison chuckled nervously.


“So what is the theme of the collection?” Juliette watched racks of outfits being wheeled in.


“We are calling it space age jungle.” Devon indicated to an assistant where to put something. “We’ve mixed in furs and animal prints with lots of angular shapes…I hope you’ll see it as the logical progression from our last collection.”


“Well do you want to show us where we dress boys?” Mandy spoke.


“In here please ladies.” Brian showed them.




“I like these a lot.” Mandy looked at the voluminous black satin harem trousers she was wearing in the mirror. “Especially with this jacket.” She looked admiringly at the fur trimmed gold satin rain poncho.


“I thought you might darling.” Juliette stood looking appraisingly at her own reflection in a similar outfit but all in metallic silver satin.


“Sorry we are late.” Alice came running in with Maggie Fife, “The shuttle up from NYC was late.”


“We’ll forgive you…eventually…” Brian pouted.


“Don’t listen to him, it’s just great you are walking our show Alice.” Devon smiled.


“Hey Maggie, how are you?” Angel called out from having her outfit fitted.


“I’m fine Angel…and you?”


“I’m jetlagged and my feet hurt, so I guess I’m doing pretty normally.”



“I like the silk cargo pants, not so sure about mixing in the leopard print vest.” Carina whispered to Judith as she sat out front watching the rehearsal.


“That’s better,” she looked at the next outfit, which matched a sky blue silk vest with similarly coloured cargo pants.


“Playing critic darling?”


“Oh you made me jump Karen.” Cari laughed. “And yes I was.”


“Sorry,” the pregnant doctor eased herself gently onto a seat.


“You look disgustingly chirpy compared to how I looked at the same stage…”


“No chili cravings darling.”


“That might explain it.” Cari giggled.


“Now that’s interesting?” Karen put her glasses on to inspect a hunter green satin evening dress trimmed in mink with angular pointed shoulder padding.


“It would overwhelm someone like me with those pads.” Carina looked intently, “Now on Maggie though it looks fabulous.”


“It does…you can tell she graduated from the Mary Thomas School of Catwalk Walking, she moves beautifully.”


“Yes she does.”




“So what were your impressions of the clothes girls?” Juliette asked as they ate a late lunch at Mulligans on Canal St.


“I can see what you see in their work darling.” Mandy ate her steak sandwich.


“The odd clunker, but at least two outfits I might buy myself.” Karen sipped a diet coke.


“I’m definitely getting some of those satin Harem pants.” Maggie wiped her mouth.


“You haven’t said what you think Mom?” Carina asked.


“Well I was just a tad disappointed, I’m not sure I like totally the fur and animal print bits, but the satins and silks, oh yes those I liked hugely.” Juliette reflected.


“Well it is only their second collection, give them time to learn what works and what doesn’t always.” Mandy sipped her coffee.


“I want that black satin slashed blouson.” Angel spoke,“ Beautiful to wear and the contrasting gold fabric under the slashes, that really would look amazing on a dance floor.”


“I agree.” Carina smiled, “wear that with a pair of those harem pants and you’d stand out in any club as stylish.”


“Well as always we will see what the reviews say my darlings.” Mandy finished her meal.


1.30 pm

New Paltz



“Here we are ladies – the Shawangunk Ridge.  This afternoon, we’re going to try to reach that shelf halfway up, and then there is a path we can take to come back down.  I’m told you’re all experienced wall climbers, so this should be a challenge for you.”


“He not know us too well, do he,” Charlotte said with a smile as she adjusted her gloves.  “All right then – lead on.”


Dirk took hold and started to work his way up the cliff, smiling as the four ladies followed him up finding the lower footholds with ease.  Charlotte and Annie kept pace with him, Janice and Caroline following on more for safety than lack of experience.


“You’ve done something like this before,” he said as he looked at Charlotte.


“Could be,” she said with a smile as they slowly made their way up.


3 pm



Jo smiled as she walked past the town hall, Curt’s arm round her shoulders as they looked at the buildings.


“This place really does have an old world charm about it,” Curt said as they hailed the city bus and climbed on, making their way through the streets and back to the Independence Centre.


“Why don’t we go up to Chinatown for dinner tonight,” Jo said as they walked back to the hotel.


“Sounds good to me,” Curt said, “but I need to draw some money first.  Mind if we stop at the bank by the hotel?”


“No problem,” Jo said as they walked into the bank entrance, Jo clutching her purse as she looked round, taking note of the guard placement and the business floor.


“All done,” Curt said as he came over, “let’s head back and get changed,”


4 pm

Central Park


“Hi Abby – how’s it going?”


"You are the only model I know who gets home from an overseas trip and immediately goes to watch another shoot." Abby shook her head as she turned and looked at the unexpected arrival.

"Well when Antonio photographs you the results are always incredible, I thought I might learn something." Jeannie replied.

"I'm learning from him as well...you know underneath that flamboyant Latin style, he is actually a great technician."

"I've noticed,” Jeannie said.  “So you’re beginning to think seriously about the photography side of things?”


“Possibly – I’ve signed up for the yearbook next year as a photographer.”


“I heard Diana saying this was becoming a real interest for you.”


“How was the launch?”


“Good actually,” Jeannie said as she looked round.  ”Well, actually I learned something in Rome."


"Yeah why I got the Lerrabella contract?"

"Again Oh?"

"Giorgio Mancini's 10 year old daughter has MS and needs a chair, it was her who suggested me."

"Well that's actually a pretty great reason." Abby smiled, "It shows that he and the company thought it out carefully."

"The Mancini's are a nice family."

"Jeannie my darling...how are you?" Antonio came into the tent.

"I'm great...and you maestro?"

"Exhausted...the world expects too much from me."

"Well at least you are shooting Abby." Jeannie grinned.

"True she seems to understand me a little."

"I think I understand you a lot." Abby laughed.


“Then come – let us create magic together!”


5 pm

New Paltz


The sun was just starting to set as they walked back to the cabin.


"So ladies I heard you were just good wall climbers...the real story please?"

"Well Charlotte's from South Africa, she's climbed a lot in the Drakensberg range with her university mountaineering club."

"Oh that explains her...and you Caroline?"

"Oh I did some climbing when I lived in France, not a lot of mountaineering as such, but rock walls."

"And you Annie?"

"Not as much as those two...but I climbed for fun when I was at Brown, we climbed a bit in Vermont."

"Just leaves you Janice?"

"Well I'm an FBI agent, I learned to climb when I was training at Quantico...I've done a couple of search and rescue courses in the mountains as well."


“Fine,” he said as he rubbed his head, “tomorrow we do a real climb.”


“Will you join us for a drink, Dirk,” Annie said as she went up to the cabin door.


“No thanks – I need to get back to my family.  Enjoy your evening, and I’ll see you in the morning.”


“Nice guy,” Janice said as they went inside.  “So how do we get some food up here?”


“Well, there’s the steaks and beers I brought with me,” Janice said.  “Fire up the range and I’ll sort some vegetables out.”


“Coffee first,” Charlotte said as she filled the coffee pot and lit the range under it, “the old fashioned way.”


A short distance away, they watched as the smoke began to rise from the chimney, and waited for dusk to fall…




“Wow – it’s so quiet out there,” Annie said as she looked out at the darkening wood.


“Well, it’ll do us good to have a quiet night,” Caroline said as she opened a beer and sat back in the old seat.  “And I don’t know about you girls, but I feel wonderful after that today.  It’s just what I needed.”


“What, after blowing up half of St Petersburg?”


“First, that wasn’t me, that was Helen,” Caroline said.  “Second, it was only three buildings.  I will take credit for the shoot up in the bistro, the two robberies and the final meeting, however.”


“Want to try a diamond mine sometime?”


“You have to tell us about that,” Janice said, “who are these women?”


“They call themselves the Sisters of Maisha,” Charlotte said.  “Some of the girls who went back formed them from the sisters, mothers, aunts.  They watch, and they protect in the name of the Strength and the Heart.”


“Maisha and Ama?”


Charlotte nodded as Annie cleared up the last of the rubbish from the table.  “Let me get this out and we can get the card game coming,” she said as she went out of the rear door of the cabin.


“Got it,” Jan said as she picked up the deck of cards and started shuffling.  “Ladies, the game is Texan Hold ‘Em, get your money out.”


“Fine by me,” Charlotte said as she sat forward and Caroline sat down.  “You done yet Annie?




“Don’t move,” a male voice said, and all three turned to see Annie been forced in by two men in orange coveralls.  One of them had a shotgun, while the other had a knife next to Annie’s throat.


“Not a word, just stay real still and real quiet,” the one with the shotgun said.  “We just need a place to stay the night, and some money.”


Caroline looked at Annie, who nodded as she looked at them.


“All right,” she said as she looked over, “just calm down, we’re not going to do anything stupid.”


“Good – hands where we can see them.  Got any tape?”


The four women looked at each other, before Janice said “I don’t know – we’re renting this place.”


“All right, sit with your friends,” he said as Annie was pushed over.  “See what you can find while I cover them.”


Annie looked up and tearfully said “Please, don’t hurt us…”


“Then shut up and keep quiet,” the armed man said as the other one came back with a roll of duct tape.  Walking behind Annie, he pulled her hands behind her back and started to tape them together.


“Who are you anyway,” Janice said as she felt her wrists been taped, “escaped prisoners?”


“The outfit’s a dead giveaway isn’t it,” the first man sneered as Charlotte allowed her wrists to be taped, then Caroline.  “You keep nice and quiet, and we’ll get along just fine for the night.  Once you’ve done that, tape their ankles, then we’ll see if they have any food left.”


Ten minutes later, the four women were watching as their captors raided the cupboards.


“Do you think these two idiots know just how much guano they’re in,” Charlotte whispered to Caroline.


“No I don’t think they do,” Caroline whispered back.  “Jan?”


She shook her head as she concentrated on trying to rub the edge of the tape holding her wrists together with her fingers, while Annie started to quietly sob.


“You all right,” Caroline whispered.


“Yeah – but one of us has to play the scared one, make them think they are in control,” Annie whispered back before she sobbed again.


“Hey – shut up or I’ll shut you up,” the man said as he looked over, waving the tape roll around.


“Where do you think they broke free from anyway,” Charlotte whispered.


“Sing Sing at a guess,” Janice said quietly.  “That looks like the outfit for there.”


“Having any luck?”


“Not yet,” Caroline said, “shuffle over and see if you can do anything.”


Jan shuffled slowly over and tried to reach for Caroline’s wrists, but stopped as the two men walked back into the main room.  She looked at them carefully.  The one with the gun was tall, early thirties, and had short black hair.  It was the other one, the one with the knife that worried her – she had finally recognized him, and she knew they were in real trouble.  His red hair and untidy beard were new, but the face was recognizable.


“So who have we got here anyway?” the one with the gun said as he picked up a purse, and started to look through it.  Janice rolled her eyes as he took out her badge, and looked closely at it.


“Hey Bodie – this one’s a fed,” he said as he looked at Janice.


“Really,” he said as he looked at the badge.


“Yes, really, Bodie Quinn – how did you get out anyway?”


“Mark here – extortion’s his game, he ‘persuaded’ a guard to look the other way, we stole a car, but ran out of gas a mile down the road.  So now we need a place to stay tonight – where’s your gun?”


“Got it,” Mark said as he drew the weapon out.


“All right, seems we need to make sure you can’t bother us at all, Agent Carter,” Bodie said.  He knelt down and started to tape her legs together.


“You know this guy,” Caroline asked Jan.


“By reputation – convicted of armed robbery and murder.  Just let him do this, and don’t do anything stupid.”


“Who, me?”


"So what do you broads do other than your pal the Fed?" Mark said as he looked at them, Jan squirming as Bodie taped her arms to her sides.


"I'm a school teacher." Annie looked scared witless as she stared at them.

"I'm an IT manager." Caroline looked hostile.

"I'm a model."

"Hey listen to that Bodie, this one’s a fuckin' model."


Bodie got up and stood in front of Caroline.  “Maybe you and I need get better acquainted later cutie."


“I’m not sure you would enjoy the experience.”




9 pm

The Village


"So how do you think your Mom is enjoying her climbing trip Ama?"


Ama turned to look at April as they sat in Pepsi’s flat.

"I think she's loving it, peace, quiet, exercise, and her friends for company."

"Plus she's a better poker player then all of them and is probably cleaning up." Pepsi looked away from the TV.

“Very true – but Annie will keep her feet on her ground,” Ama said as she turned back.


"It was good of Jeannie to bring this book over." April smiled as she looked up, "It's fascinating to look at and well - it’s given me so many ideas already."

"Jeannie's lovely." Ama stretched. "You know we worked hard today at soccer."

"Tell me about it." Pepsi yawned, "And another full day tomorrow."


“Well don’t sit up too late – make sure you get enough sleep.”


“We will,” Pepsi said as she winked at Ama, “once we finish talking.”


9.30 pm



The applause was still ringing as the ladies made their way back to the changing area.


"Well another milestone Mags, your first out of town gig." Carina smiled as she watched the Angel remove her makeup. "You're staying with Karen tonight and flying home in the morning on the shuttle?"

"I am." Maggie yawned, "And you guys?"

"Back to Manchester, climb into bed, a late breakfast, then we'll all drive down after lunch."

"See how many tickets Cari can get this time." Angel laughed.

"Hey three gorgeous girls in the car including Judith, we should be able to talk our way out of any speeding ticket."

"Why am I suddenly happy I'm flying home." Maggie giggled.


“It’s not that bad – it could be Sandy,” Juliette said as she put her wipes in the waste basket. 


“Is she really that fast a driver?”


“You do know she and Jan are having trials at the racing club next week?”


“Wow – Richmond and Carter.  Sounds like a racing team already.”


10 pm

The de Ros Mansion


"Anything on the late news Mama?" Abby asked as she came into the drawing room in her dressing gown.

"Plenty about Tom, interesting bit about some prisoners who escaped and were last seen near New Paltz." Diana looked up.

"Well if they go anywhere near our friends they'll regret it."

"So how was Antonio?"

"Near hysterical at times." Abby smiled, "So pretty normal."

"He gets worse." Diana shook her head.




"I think I'll phone your Mom to see she's okay Ama." April said.  She was concerned at the late news.

"I think I'll try calling Annie." Diana spoke to Abby.



10.30 pm

New Paltz


Caroline watched the two men as they stretched Jan out on the couch, her mouth covered with tape as she stared at the two men.  She was now sitting on another chair, while Annie and Charlotte were sat back to back.  Their upper bodies had been secured together with tape, while their legs were taped at their calves and thighs.


“Well, this is another fine mess you’ve got us into,” Charlotte said as she looked at Bodie while he was looking at her purse, emptying the contents out onto a table as he pressed his thumb on the clasp.


“Hey – that’s a genuine Jimmy Choo,” she growled, “leave it alone.”


“You talk too much,” Mark said as he rolled up a towel and pulled it between her lips, tying it around her head while Bodie used a second one to gag Annie.  “Pity we ran out of tape,” Bodie then said as he looked at Caroline.


“Oh I’m not complaining – I just hope they forgive you,” she said as she looked at the other three.


“I’m going to get some sleep,” Mark said as he looked at them, “can I trust you to behave yourself with these four?”


“I’ll be a good boy,” Bodie said as he sat down, the gun over his lap as he looked at the four women.  Mark looked round and then headed for the bathroom.


“You’re kind of cute, you know,” Caroline purred as she looked at Bodie, “maybe we could have a little fun, hmm?”


“Shut up or I use the last of the tape on you,” Bodie growled.



11.30 pm

Upper West Side


“Whothellsringingnow,” Clint said as Susan turned on the bedside lamp and picked up the telephone.




“Susan, it’s Kate at the office.  I’m sorry to wake you up, but we have a situation.”


“What sort of situation?”


“The alarm on Charlotte’s bag went off.  We’ve tried contacting her, but no response.”


Susan was suddenly very awake as she said “The recording?”


“We can hear Caroline, and a man, but nobody else.”


“Shit,” Susan said as she got out of bed, “I want a team on their way to her location ASAP.  Advise extreme caution.”


“Done and done,” Kate said as she signed off.


11.30 pm

Adam Ball’s Apartment.


Adam woke up and turned the bedside light on, picking up the phone as he did so.


"Hey Tom...late for you to be calling?" Adam looked at his bedside clock.

"Adam I don't want to worry you, but two convicts who escaped Sing Sing may have gone to ground near where the girls are climbing."

"Did you ring Janice?" Adam shot up in bed.

"Yeah, it might just be they don't get a signal there..."

"But, I hear a but Tom?"


“But, since when did you know Jan not to answer her phone?”


“Any idea where they were staying?”


“Some cabin in the park.”


“Get me the cabin location,” Adam said as he jumped out of bed, “I’m heading up now.”



11.40 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Don’t answer that,” Heather said as the phone went off.


“Oh it won’t take long,” Sandy said as she rolled over and picked up the phone.  “Yes?”


“Sandy, it’s Diana.”


“Hey Diana, what’s up?”


"Sandy I'm worried about the girls. Adam just rang to see if I'd heard from them."

"Calm down Diana." Sandy replied.

"Some escaped cons are in the area and we can't raise them."

"Okay,” Sandy said as she sat on the edge of the bed, “Heather and I'll be there in 10 minutes, you and Abby meet us outside, bring some toys and we'll hit the road."


“Problem,” Heather said as Sandy put the phone down.


“Goddess I hope not.  Get dressed – and bring the GPS tracker.”


11.50 pm

The de Ros Mansion


"Doc are you still up?" Abby asked into her cell phone.

"I'm on my way home from babysitting.  Why – what’s up?"

"We'll pick you up outside your place ASAP...no explanation, just be there Doc."


“Got it,” Doc said as Sandy screeched to a halt.


“Get in – we need to move,” Sandy said as they jumped in.  “Brought things?”


“In the bag – Doc’s waiting to be picked up.”


“Through the tunnel, then head to the I87,” Heather said.  “And for once, Sandy, stuff the tickets.”


“Once I’m clear, gotcha,” Sandy said as she made her way to the Carlton house, picking up Doc before she sped off.


“So what’s going on,” she said as she buckled in.


“Friends in trouble – we’ll explain on the road.”


Thursday 19th March

1.15 am

New Paltz


Sandy stopped the car a short way from the cabin, her headlights off, as they got out.


Popping the trunk, Heather handed each of the girls a bullet proof vest to put on.


"So what's this?" Doc asked as Abby got her into the bullet proof vest and Heather handed her a pair of what looked like telescopic glasses.


"Night Vision Goggles, so we can see in the dark."


"Cool." The younger girl grinned as she put them on, seeing everything clearly.


"Got your ear coms girls?" Diana asked.


"Roger." Abby answered.


"Copy." Doc answered.


“Arm up,” Sandy said as she gave each of them a handgun.


"We do a quick reconnaissance, we assess the situation, we act." Diana sounded grim. "Doc remember this is not a training exercise."


"I understand."


“Good – let’s go,” Heather said as they walked up to the cabin, the one light shining out through the window.


Diana held up three fingers and indicated the front of the cabin, as she and Heather walked to the back.  Doc, Sandy and Abby walked to the front, Sandy looking in the lit window as Doc and Abby looked in the other window.


“I got one male sleeping on the bed,” Doc whispered, “asleep, but he has a rifle by the bed.”


“Copy that,” Heather said back.  “The rear looks quiet, no sign of the other escaped prisoner.”


“That’s because he’s in the main room, with the girls,” Sandy whispered.




“Janice is lying on a couch, Charlotte and Annie back to back on the floor.  Dom is in another chair, one male, redheaded, looking at her.  He’s got a hunting knife.  All four secured, only Dom able to talk.”


“All right,” Diana said, “we need to take care of him without waking his friend up.  Thoughts?”


Sandy looked in the window again, and noticed Caroline looking in her direction.  She gave a slight nod and then looked at the redhead.


“She’s seen me,” Sandy whispered.  “I think she’s going to try to distract him.”


“Good – Doc, we need you to slip in quietly.  Wait until we give you the nod, then make sure the bastard stays wherever he is while Dom takes care of him.”


“What do you think she will do?”


“Time for you to see Dom at work, kiddo,” Abby whispered.  “Go to the door and enter on Sandy’s mark.”





Annie and Charlotte were silent, their eyes closed as Bodie looked at Caroline.  She had been moving round, but now was staring back at him.


“Is there something you want,” she purred as she looked at him.


“You really a model?”


“Yeah, I’m really a model,” Caroline said, “Why?”


Janice watched closely as Bodie stood up, and walked over to stand over Caroline.


“You’re really pretty, you know that?”


“Yes, I do – do you like what you see,” Caroline said as she wriggled her body.


Bodie rubbed his chin as he looked at her, Annie slowly opening her eyes as she looked up.


“Yeah – I like what I see,” Bodie said as he stood up and walked over.  “What are you going to do for me, model lady?”


“Cut my legs free,” Caroline said as she looked at him, “and you can do whatever you want.”


“And you won’t try and run?”


“I won’t get off this seat unless you make me.”


Bodie rubbed his chin again, before he picked up his knife and walked over, kneeling down as he stroked Caroline’s legs.


Charlotte slowly opened her eyes and watched as well, Caroline smiling as she said “oh that does feel good, but you can’t feel my legs properly if you don’t cut them free.”


Bodie smiled as he sliced through the tape with his knife, Caroline smiling as she said “thank you,” spreading her legs before she said “come closer…”


Bodie shuffled forward, not noticing the door open and close again at the front of the cabin, so intent was he at looking over Caroline’s body.


“That’s right big boy,” Caroline said as she wrapped her legs round his waist, “come closer, I have something oh so very, very special to give to you.”


“Oh yeah,” Bodie growled as he brought his face closer to hers, “and what’s that?”




Bodie grinned as he came closer still, and said “Well?”


“Choose, asswipe – live or die.”


Bodie froze as he felt the gun at the back of his head, and then Caroline’s legs tighten suddenly round his chest, dropping the knife in surprise as her legs gripped so tightly it was hard to breath. 


“Whoooooo   Hhhhhh nnnnnnnnnn,” Bodie could only moan as he slowly blacked out, Doc keeping the gun level at the back of his head the whole time until he slumped to the side.


Caroline indicated the door to the bedroom, Doc nodding as she opened the front door, and allowed Sandy and Abby to come in, while Heather and Diana entered from the back door.


“Morning girls,” Caroline whispered, “how did you find us?”


“GPS on your phone – but we got here first,” Heather whispered as she untied Caroline.  “Susan’s sending a team up – I think they’re just arriving – and we’re damn sure Adam is on his way as well.


“Dmm?  Hbbee,” Jan mumbled from her position on the couch.


“The other one’s asleep in there,” Dom said as she stood up, and then used Bodie’s knife to cut Charlotte and Annie free, smiling as they brought their hands round and pulled the gags from their mouths.


“Stupid berks, putting us back to back,” Charlotte said as she used the knife to cut her legs free, and then passed it to Annie.  “Nice acting by the way.”


“Thanks,” Annie whispered back, “but it’s time for my pound of flesh.  Abby, Doc – with me please.”


She took the knife in her hand and walked to the bedroom door, nodding as they went in.  Mark was lying on the bed, sleeping peacefully as the three women looked over him.


The first he knew of the changed situation was when Abby clamped her gloved hand over her mouth, Doc placed her pistol to his head and Annie flashed the knife around.


“Hello, big boy,” she purred as she looked at him, “I owe you something for tonight.  I hope you have the ability to pay…”




The door to the cabin swung open as the two black clad women came in, saying “nobody move” as they aimed their guns.


“Stand down girls,” Charlotte said as she rubbed her wrists, “the situation is in hand.”


“The handbag,” Heather said as she looked over.


“Yeah – the NY office picked up the alert, and Susan sent us.  How did you know?”


“My partner Adam is on his way,” Janice said as she stood up, helped by Diana and Sandy, “so I suggest you do the clean up quickly – starting with him.”


The two women nodded as they grabbed Bodie and dragged him out, then came in as they heard screams from the bedroom, while a fifteen-year-old girl walk out.


“Doc, what’s happening?”


“It’s Annie – she’s not happy.”


“I can imagine,” Dominique said as she walked in, and then back out again.


“She’s really not happy,” she said to the two women as they came back in, “I suggest you wait until…”


The door opened as Abby and Annie came out.  “You might want to use the sheets to take him out,” she said as they went in, and she placed the shotgun on the side.




“Much, thank you,” Annie said as she looked round.  “Bit of a mess here – and in there.”


Janice opened some beers, and said "So how were you sure you'd beat Adam up here?"

"Oh come on...My driving versus his? ...who do you think is going to win the race Jan?" Sandy looked at her friend in disbelief.

"Alright," Jan laughed, "point taken."

"We have to get everyone and everything out before he arrives." Caroline fussed. "He gets here he finds us asleep in bed unaware anything happened."


They turned and watched as the two women carried a white sheet out, and then came in.




“Clear this lot up quickly – black bag job.”


As one of them cleared the tape and cloths away, the other said “and the men?”


Dom looked at Annie.  “He needs to be found somewhere in a way he can’t be recognized.  The redhead too.”


The woman nodded as she picked up the bag and took it out – just as Annie’s phone started ringing.


“I’m presuming all our missed calls are from you lot?”


“April as well,” Sandy said, “but I think I know who that is.”


“You’d be right,” Annie said as she answered the call and said “Hello?”


"Well?" Carina said down the phone.

"Hey Lover?" Annie laughed, "You're angry?"

"When I get woken in the middle of the night by Abby telling me my girlfriend’s in trouble.... What do you think?"

"We got caught unawares,” Annie said, “but the alarms kicked in..."

"What would I have done if they had killed you?" Carina started to cry.

"Then The Beast would have avenged me." Annie said as she sat on the seat.

“And you’re all right?”


“Some friends dropped in to help,” Annie said as she looked at the others, “and the problem has been taken care of.”


“But you’re all right?”


"I guess...oh Cari I love you so much."

"And I love you too Monster Lady."

"I think we need give them some privacy." Caroline whispered as she ushered everyone out of the cabin.


“We’ll contact Susan, let her know everything’s clear,” the woman said as Dominique walked with her and her partner to the van.  “Anything else?”


“I’ll text Ama – she’ll be worried as well.”


The two women nodded as they drove off, and Dom turned to Doc.


“Good work tonight Anna – you held your nerve and did the right thing.”


“I wanted to pull the trigger you know – but I realized at that range, it would have hit you as well.  Where did you learn that trick anyway – I thought that only happened in Bond movies?”


“Later – you lot need to be gone.  Now.”


"I need be in makeup at eight." Abby looked at her watch.

"Abs you better tell my Mom I spent the night." Doc looked at hers.

"Come on we have moments till Adam arrives." Sandy got everyone in the car.

"Pray that back road out is clear." Heather looked at the SatNav.

"Go, Go, Go." Diana hustled everyone.

"Okay in bed clothes, in bed guys.” Caroline screamed.

"I think he'll be here very soon." Jan dived indoors, bolting the door, throwing off her clothes.


“Gotta go lover – we’re expecting more company.  I’ll see you tomorrow night,” Annie said as she ended the call, and ran to her bedroom, the cabin plunging into darkness.


Two minutes later, a car screeched to a halt outside the cabin, Adam jumping out and running to the door.  Thumping on the door with his fist, he called out “JAN!! 



The light inside the cabin came on, and as Adam drew his gun he watched the door slowly open, the lock turning.


“Adam?  What the hell are you doing up here?”


“Are you all right,” Adam said as he looked at Janice, standing there in a set of blue silk pajamas.


“Well, apart from being woken at two in the morning, yeah – what’s wrong?”


“Can I come in?”


Jan stood to one side as Adam came in, and looked round the cabin.


“Who the hell was that knocking,” Annie said as she came in, rubbing her head.  She was wearing a vest top and shorts, while Charlotte came in wearing a white nightdress.


“Adam - and he still hasn’t told me what he’s doing here at two in the morning.”


“I’m sorry,” Adam finally said, “but we’ve been trying to contact you all night.”


“Sorry – I switched my phone off so I wouldn’t get disturbed.  What’s happened?”


“Hey Adam,” Caroline said as she came in, wearing a long black t-shirt, “what’s going on?”


“A couple of high risk prisoners broke out of Sing Sing today,” Adam said as he holstered his gun, “and police reports had them in this area.  Tom tried to call Jan, but when he couldn’t make contact he called me…”


“… And you came up on your white steed – well, your Caddy, but you came to the rescue anyway?  Sometimes, Adam Ball, you can be the sweetest man around.”


“So you’ve heard or seen nothing?”


“Not a thing – but a steak dinner and beer, plus being fleeced by Caroline ‘Golden Arm’ Jameson at poker after a day’s climbing, can kinda make you sleepy.”


“Do you mind if I poke around outside?”


“Want me to come as well?”


“No – I’ll do it.”


“Well then,” Jan said, “at least let me get you some coffee sorted out before you head back.  I’ll call Tom and apologise.”


Janice made her way to the stove and put some coffee on, while the other three girls looked at each other.




“She said she’s happy we’re all right.  Cari?”


“Gone back to sleep, hopefully.”


“What did you do to him, Annie?”


“You don’t want to know,” Annie said as the coffee pot started to bubble.


“Looks clear,” Adam said as he came back in, “and I’m sorry.  When Tom said he couldn’t contact you, I feared the worst.”


“Hey, I’m flattered,” Jan said as she brought over a mug.  “Driving all the way up her to protect little old me…”


“Well, I was worried,” Adam said as he looked at her, and placed his hand gently on her cheek.


“All right – if you’re gonna do that, I’m going to bed,” Caroline said as she turned round.


“Me too,” Annie said.


“Me three – see you Adam,” Charlotte said as she yawned and went to bed.



8 am

New Paltz


“Hey, is that bacon I smell,” Janice said as she came out of her bedroom.


“Sure is – we need a hearty breakfast for…  Adam?  I see you stayed the night?”


“Yeah, well, it was late,” Adam said with a smile as he came out.  “But I do need to get back to the office.  See you later tonight, Jan.”


“You betcha – I look forward to it,” Jan said as they tenderly kissed, and she waved to him from the cabin door.


“Lucky you,” Annie said as she went back to the cooking.


“Yeah – so how are you?”


“I’m fine – honestly.  I wonder what Susan’s girls did with them in the end?”


“We’ll find out eventually,” Jan said as Caroline and Charlotte emerged.


“I’m starving,” Charlotte said, “so what do you think he has lined up for us today?”


“Can’t be as bad as last night,” Caroline said as she poured some coffee.  “In fact, it may be more relaxing.”


“True – so eat up, pack up and get ready.   Dirk is coming at about half nine.”



8.30 am

The de Ros Mansion


“Good morning,” Diana said as Doc came in, rubbing her head, “did you get some sleep?”


“A little yeah,” she said as she sat down.


“What would your guest like for breakfast, Ma’am?”


Diana looked at Doc, who said “Coffee and some toast, if that’s all right?”


“Very well then,” Edith said as she walked out.


“I’m sorry I wasn’t awake before Abby left,” Doc said as Diana looked at the paper.


“Oh don’t worry, Anna – my daughter is never at her best in the morning anyway,” Diana said before she looked up.  “If you wish, I will run you home after breakfast.”


“Thanks – what did my mom say?”


“She was glad you were safe – and hopes you will call her earlier if this happens again.”


“Bit difficult doing that speed down the freeway, but I take the point,” Anna said, before thanking Edith as she placed the plate of toasted bread in front of her.


"If I might Countess can you take me to Abby's shoot, she invited and my Mom said yes."

"Okay, I can do that."


“Thank you – I’ll call her and let her know.”



8.30 am



“You’re up and about early,” Carina said as she carried Judith in, sitting her in her high chair.


“For some reason I was woken early,” Juliette said, “when Diana told me what happened.”


“They had a fun night,” Carina said as she came to join her mother at the stove.


"So did everything work out?" Juliette whispered to Carina as she cooked breakfast.

"Other then my beloved going 'beast' on one of the cons you mean?"


"Yeah Annie phoned, they even managed to get some sleep before climbing today."

"Good Morning Darlings." Mandy stretched as she came in wearing just a dressing gown. "Is that real Turkish coffee that I can smell brewing?"

"It is." Carina poured some cups.  “Here you go.”

"So what were the reviews like on last night’s show?"

"By and large pretty good," Carina sipped her coffee. "Some comments like mine as to wearability by normal sized women...and a few critiques of the combining in of fur...but the boys phoned sounding ecstatic."

"Good for them...Good Morning Darling." Mandy smiled at Angel.

"Coffee Angel?"

"Please...so what were you talking about?"

"The Show." Juliette dished up bacon and eggs.

"I was thinking last night about getting those harem pants in velvet." Angel sniffed the food.

"Funny I had the same idea." Carina laughed.

"Get the boys to make you up some darlings." Mandy glanced at the papers as she ate.


“Hmm – very nice reviews,” she said as she looked down them.  “So we are going to see Alice this afternoon, while you girls go back to the city early?”


“That’s right,” Angel said as she gave Judith a piece of bread.


“Good – we’ll be back at the apartment later.”




10 am

Independence Square



“There,” Curt said as he took the picture, “proof positive you have touched the Liberty Bell.”


“Be sure to send ‘em that so I can prove to the others I’ve been here,” Jo said with a smile as they made their way back round the grass square.


As they crossed the street, Jo took out her cell phone and said “hey sis – what’s up?”


“I’ll tell you when you get back later tonight,” Heather said, “but I think I’ve come across something to do with Letty and her family.”


“Oh yeah – what?”


“Not over the phone, we’ll talk later tonight, all right?”


“Sure – see you tonight,” Jo said, looking at her phone before she put it away.


“What’s up?”


“Nothing – just Heather acting a bit weird,” Jo said as she smiled.  “Come on – let’s go to the zoo for a while.”


10 am

New Paltz


“All right then - I’ll meet you there at eight,” Caroline said as she ended the call, and then stowed her phone in her backpack.


"So who was that on the phone?" Annie smiled as they checked their climbing gear.

"It was Dan Amatrescu inviting me out Saturday night if you must know." Caroline said with a laugh as she fastened a bandana over her hair.

"What's that, a third or fourth date?" Janice asked teasingly.

"Number three if it’s any of your business Jan."

"Ladies can we forget boyfriends, etc and concentrate on the map." Dirk called. "We work our way up here," he pointed," then we climb the first wall, pause on the shelf, then climb the next wall up from there. It should present a far better test to you all, so I hope you all slept well last night?"


“Oh we’re fired up for this,” Charlotte said with a smile.  “So where do we start?”


“This way then – it should be a good climb,” Dirk said as they walked off.



10 am

Xavier Holdings, NY


“Good morning Madame,” Susan said as she sat at her desk.


“Good evening, Susan,” Madame said from the hotel in Hong Kong.  “I understand there was a small problem last night?”


“That is the case, Madame, but it was dealt with.  My team was beaten to the location by the ladies, and the situation had been neutralised.”


“And the two men?”


“I believe they had a disagreement and a fight, and fell down a ravine after one of them was stabbed through the throat.  He managed to shoot the other man in the neck before he fell.”


"A pity – but given what the report said of what Annie did, necessary.  Now, on to other matters.”  Madame smiled as she said “Susan I may have some ideas as to where to place Kylie and Marina."

"That's good."

"Did you know Marina speaks three languages fluently, and another reasonably well."

"I know her Mum spoke Polish at home,” Susan said quietly.

"Well,” Madame said as she looked at her notes, “Marina speaks Polish, Ukrainian, and very fair Russian."

"All with a cockney accent..."

"As you say with a London accent."

Susan smiled at her end of the call.  “What else do the assessments say?”

"Well her IQ is in the 120's..."

"I always told her she wasn't dumb."

"Oh she's not that...My thought is with her languages, a secretarial course as it used to be called, she could prove an invaluable PA in the legitimate businesses."

"Now why didn't I think of that?" Susan shook her head

"Possible because you still think of her as the gang leader.  Anyway, she can undertake this, all while honing and training her other skills."

"That sounds good to me...Now what about Kylie Madame?"

"Her IQ is in the high 130's."


"We really do need find a school where the work will interest her and challenge her."

"Do you have one in mind?"

"I do actually, Catherine pointed out there is an International School here in Hong Kong, that specializes in girls with problems."

"Hong Kong?"

“I know it is not quite what we discussed, but I'd feel confident putting them under Cathy's wing as trainees. It would be for a year while they trained, then home to London, Marina to head office, and Kylie to a good private day school...Do you think they'll find such an arrangement acceptable?"

"If they got school holidays with me, then I think so." Susan smiled again.


“Excellent – I understand they are staying with Lily at the moment, so I’ll ask her to come into the office for – shall we say 1 pm your time?”


“Thank you Madame – I will give them the good news then.”


“Excellent – now, on to other matters…”



10.30 am

Central Park


“Excuse me, Abby de Ros asked me to come and join her today?”


The security guard looked at her, and said “What’s your name, kid?”


“Letty – Letty Kinman.”


He turned and spoke into his lapel mike, before saying ”Okay kid – come with me,” unhooking the rope and letting Letty through.  The young girl walked past the crew, in her old jeans and t-shirt under a hooded jacket, and then walked into the tent.


“Errrr – hello?”


Abby looked round from the table and smiled.  "Hey Letty, nice you could make it...You know Doc don't you?"

"Yeah I do, Hi Anna...Wow you look beautiful Abby."  Abby was wearing a silk gown over her outfit.

"Well thanks to Imogen here I do." Abby smiled at the makeup artist.

"Abigail dahlin' you look beautiful all the time..."

"Yes but there's beauty – and then there's what pleases Il Supremo."

"Well I defy even HIM to complain about this."

"Who's Il Supremo?" Letty whispered to Doc.

"Antonio Bell..."


"Yeah....Abby's mother calls him the 'temperamental little queer'. I get the impression they don't like each other much."

"I remember his cover photo of Abigail, I got her to sign it the day it came out."


“Right then,” Abby said as she stood up, the gown coming off to reveal a cream silk top with a cowl neck, and a pair of skintight leather pants, “let’s go to work – come and watch.”


The girls followed her out as Antonio said “Ah, my darling Abigail – let us make magic together…”



11 am



“Right – bags in the back,” Angel said as she shut the lid of the trunk, while Carina was in the back of the car.


"Do you want to drive the first leg Angel?" Carina asked as she strapped Judith in.

"Drive this?"

"You have your license don't you?"

"I do."

"Well you drive I'll navigate."

"If you don't mind Cari?" There was a glint of excitement in the English girl’s eyes.

"Go ahead then." Carina climbed into the passenger side.

"Oh wow." Angel strapped herself into the driver’s seat, "A big difference to my old Fiat that I drive at home."

"Well not so much different....they are both Italian."

"I guess." Angel giggled as she started the Maserati.

"See you both in New York." Juliette and Mandy waved them off.  “Right then – we’d better get on the road to Alice.”



1 pm

Xavier Holdings


Susan looked at the screen as the connection was completed, and she saw Kylie and Marina sitting there.  Both girls were wearing polo shirts, Kylie with her hair pulled back.


“Hey you two." Susan said as she smiled at the screen.

"Hey Sooz." Marina looked intently at her screen, "so how come we got an urgent invite into the offices from your friend Lily?"

"Madame has come up with your placements." Susan watched as her friends suddenly become alert.

"And?" Kylie asked impatiently.

"First Marina..." Susan smiled again. "I'd forgotten how good your Polish is...Madame wants you to train as a multi-lingual personal assistant and eventually work there at Head Office...That okay?"

"Is that okay?" Marina replied as she hugged Kylie.  “It’s better then okay?”

"There is a catch though."

"Oh?  Woz dat?"

"Madame wants Kylie to attend an International School that helps children whose education has been disrupted."

"And that's a problem why Sooz?" Kylie asked.

"It's in Hong Kong..."

"Hong Bleedin' Kong" both girls in London exclaimed together.

"It would be just for a year,” Susan said.  “You'd be guests in the home of Cathy Lu, a friend of ours...and during holidays you'd come stay with me in New York."

"I don't know Sooz,” Marina said.  “Hong Kong? I was thinking Birmingham was a long way away."

"Marina this would be silly to turn down..."

"I bloody well know that...just let me get me 'ead round the idea of a year in Hong Kong."

"This school?" Kylie asked.

"It would be hard work, but I know you can do it....get through the year you both return to London, you to a good private school, Marina to Head Office."

“And I’d enjoy it?”


“I think you would – Madame sent me some information, and it will be a challenge for you.  And there are other benefits to your spending time there.”


“Apart from being well away from me mum,” Kylie said with a smile.


"Cathy has said you'll get the chance to work with a lady called Helen, who Caroline knows Kylie. She's one of the world’s foremost assassins, but she is also a mistress of martial arts, we want you both to learn self-discipline by working with her to learn some Oriental fighting skills."

"Damn she sounds something..."

"Indeed she is Kylie, that she'd agree to train you both is an extreme honor."

"Phew!" Marina breathed out. "So when Sooz...I mean Susan?"

"Fly to New York next week and stay with me till after Easter, meet Cathy and Madame, we outfit you with new clothes, and you fly to Hong Kong with Cathy when she returns...That okay?"


“Me passport is a little non-existent Sooz.”


“Trust me – arrangements are already in hand on that matter,” Susan said with a smile.  “You’ll have to share a room, but it should be all right, and we can keep you both occupied out here.  Now, for the time being, you need to say your goodbyes to the other Vipers.  Tell Lily you can have ‘em round one night.”


“Fanks Sooz,” Marina said.  “Will we get to meet yer posh frends as well?”


“Almost certainly – right I have work to do, and you need to get back.  Put Lily on for a minute will you?”


“Sure Sooz,” Kylie said as they slipped off, and Lily sat down.


“I take it they said yes?”


“They did – you’ll have the passports, ESTA authorizations and tickets tomorrow.  And thanks for putting them up.”


“Hey it means I’m not alone – did you just say they could have friends round for a goodbye party?”


“I did – just make sure they understand it is Dominique’s house, all right?”


“Got it – how are you?”


“Aching – junior cannot come a moment too soon.”


“I can see that – I’d better get off.  See you in a few weeks.”


Susan ended the call and then sat back.  “Clint is going to love me,” she said quietly as her assistant came in.


1.30 pm

Central Park


“Are you sure it’s all right for me to have some of this, Abby?”


Letty looked at her friend as she was handed a plate.  “Of course it is – you’re my guest today, so help yourself.”


“Thanks,” Letty said as she went up to the table.


"Did you see the fresh bruises on Letty's forearms?" Doc whispered to Abigail as Letty went through the buffet line.

"I did...I think Jo is definitely on track, something is not right.  We’ll meet up tomorrow morning and compare notes.”


Letty came back and smiled as she nibbled on a vol au vent.  “This is such a different world, to…”


She suddenly sat down, Doc sitting as quickly as she could next to her.


“Letty are you all right,” Abby said as she sat on the other side.


“Sorry – just a funny turn I think.  I’ll be all right, honestly.”


“Well, we’ll sit here until you’re feeling better,” Abby said as she looked at Doc, the youngster nodding.


2 pm

APCO head office



"Well Girls is this business or pleasure?" Alice said as she kissed both her visitors.

"Maybe a bit of both darling." Mandy drawled.

"Sounds interesting..."

Mandy nodded as she continued "Will's Uncle Fergus died a couple of months ago...he had an estate in the Western Isles of Scotland that he left to Will."

"Okay" Alice put her glasses on.

"Well we went up and looked, it's in pretty poor condition, but I did find a mountain of these." Mandy opened her large bag and put a couple of woolen sweaters on the desk.

"Oh wow this is tremendous quality home knitting Mandy." Alice ran her hand over them.

"That's what I said," Juliette nodded.

"Uncle Fergus spent years buying the product of the locals using his fortune to support the local economy, not I think realising how good this work is."

"You say there is a mountain of this Mandy?" Alice asked.

"I reckon well over 2,500 garments."

"Oh my God." Alice went pale as she examined them carefully.

"Could you sell them in your stores?"

"Darling you know damn well I can."

"Well I want to try and revive the knitting up there, so if these sell?"

"I'll order more...if the price is right?" Alice smiled.


“Let’s discuss over a coffee,” Juliette said.  “We have to get back to New York by tonight.”


"Are the rest that good?" Alice asked.

"Amazingly good, he stored them in the old ice room, it's dark, it’s dry, very cool, and he kept it moth proofed."

"This is like finding buried treasure." Alice stroked the wool.  "I presume the two colors, the dark brown and the ecru?"

"The natural color for Hebridean Sheep yes."

"You know,” Alice said quietly, “for woolens of this quality I can charge nearly a thousand dollars a garment?"

"Oh God...NO I didn't." for once Mandy was lost for words.


“Nice little inheritance for Will, right?  If these sell as I think they will, Fitzstuart Woolens may become a sought after brand.”


7.30 pm

The Village


“Home again,” Annie said as she pulled in.  “It’s good to be back.”


“Ama must be in,” Caroline said as she saw the light in the window.  “Come on – we can have a drink before you head off.”


She opened the door as the four women walked up, coming into the front room to find both Ama and Carina waiting for them.


“Thank God you’re all right,” Ama said as she ran over and hugged Caroline.


“Don’t ever do that to me again,” Carina said as she embraced Annie, the blonde kissing her head as she held her.


“Hey, it wasn’t my fault,” Annie said as she stroked Carina’s hair from her eyes. 


“Even so,” Ama said, “what happened to the men?”


“We heard a report as we said goodbye to Dirk, the guide – they found two bodies.”


“I am just so glad you got back safely,” Ama said as she hugged Caroline again.  “Come – sit down, tonight I am looking after you.”


“I should say the same to you,” Carina said, “but we have house guests tonight.  Tomorrow, however – tomorrow we are going out, understood?”


“You got it,” Annie said as she kissed Carina again.


“Ever get the feeling we should quietly slip away,” Janice whispered to Charlotte.


“Yeah – any ideas?”


“Let’s go to my place – I’ll open a bottle of something”


“We’ll leave you to rest,” Jan said as she and Charlotte picked up their bags, “see you over the weekend.”


They walked down the stairs and along the sidewalk, while Carina and Ama made the other two sit down, and got them both drinks.


8 pm

The Richmond Mansion


Jo closed the front door behind her and placed her bag on the floor, hanging her coat up before she went into the drawing room.


"Hey Little Sister," Heather looked up from her book.
"Hey to you back,” Jo said as she sat down, “I hear I missed out on some excitement last night?"

"A little." Sandy brought Jo a drink in. "So how was Philly?"

"Historic...we took the tour and saw so much."

"And the bank?"

"Interesting...it's not easy to access quietly, but I shot some film."


“Good, we can discuss further later.  So what did you find out about Letty?”


“Well, the younger girl is called Tess, and she is Letty’s cousin on her mother’s side.  She was born in Poughkeepsie, and moved down here a year ago when her own father died in a car accident.”


“Well, that explains – hang on, she told Abby Tess’s parents were away.”


“Both might be true.”


“Huh?  Am I just tired after the flight, or does that not make sense?”


“I’m hoping Jan can clear some things up when we meet tomorrow – the official report was they died in a car crash, but no bodies were recovered.”


“Sounds like something the feds would do to protect a…”  Jo looked over and said “Oh shit.”


“Yeah – which is why we say nothing until we have talked to Jan.”


9 pm

The Village


“Hey,” Dominique said as Ama showed Susan into the apartment, “what brings you round here?”


“Checking on you,” Susan said as she looked at her old friend, sitting on the couch in a dressing gown with her legs curled under her.  “Madame’s orders.”


“Tell her I’m fine – just very tired.”


“Where’s Annie?”


“She went off with Carina to see Angel and Mandy.  Want a drink?”


“Thanks,” Susan said as Ama fetched her a bottle of water.  “If you will excuse me, mom, I’m going to bed – I’m tired, and it’s the party tomorrow.”


“See you tomorrow, Ama,” Dom said as her daughter went to her room.  "I hear Madame is going to send your two friends to Hong Kong Susan?"

"Yeah, I think they were in shock at first, but it really is a great idea."

"On many fronts - their accents for example, I'm sure daily exposure to Cathy's voice will soon knock some of the London edges off." Dominique sounded happy.

"And for Helen to say she will work with them..."

"I know, Helen's an amazing woman."

"It will be like Diana teaching Jo discipline through shooting practice."

"Very similar I think Susan."

"So what happened to Annie last night?" Susan asked.

"She seems to have become more than just Carina's lover...she cut him up pretty bad."

"Sounds nasty."


“I know – she played the scared girl until she was free, and then let it out on him.  Abby said that’s why Doc left – the girl still has a sensitive stomach for some things.”


“Penny’s coming over to meet Madame here in a week’s time – maybe she can talk to her?”


“Might be an idea – that and them having some time away from here together after the schools close.”


“So what is this school like?”


“Interesting – they tailor the curriculum to the girl, so the first week they literally try different things, and then gradually they focus on their strengths and skills and move to improve them, while also teaching basic skills like math and English  They also do a little Cantonese – always useful in today’s society.”


“And your friend Marina?”


“As I understand it, she’ll work in Cathy’s office during the day, learning business skills and organization, and attend some evening classes.   Along with Helen’s lessons, it could be a very different Marina who comes back.”


Friday 20th March

10 am

The Richmond Mansion


“Hey Jan,” Jo said as the FBI agent walked in, “thanks for coming over today?”


“Yeah well, I’d booked this off as a recovery day anyway,” Jan said as she accepted a cup of coffee from Heather.  “Abby on her way?”


“Yeah – she was going to call in on Letty first.”


“She fainted at the shoot yesterday, didn’t she Anna?”


“Yeah,” Anna said from the computer screen.  “Both of us could see fresh bruises on her arms as well.  Have we had anything from the surveillance Heather?”


“I haven’t picked up anything unusual in terms of sounds – but Letty does play her music in her room…  Oh bugger.”




“I should have seen that one – play music loudly it will drown out any other sounds the bugs could pick up.  We should have put cameras in all the rooms.”


“Hey – you’re human,” Jo said as she sat down, “but you’d better tell Jan what you found out.”


“Letty’s father died three years ago,” Heather said, “and she’s lived with her mother ever since.  Mom works in an insurance office.  Then there is Tess, her cousin.  She came to live with them three months ago, after her parents died in a car crash – except that’s not what Letty tells people.”


“What did she say?”


“She said that Tess was staying with them while her parents were away.”


“Perhaps they say that to ease the loss.”


“Jan, I pulled the records of the crash.  No bodies were found.”




“Maybe they would say that to Tess, but she does not seem upset or anything.”


“Some of the girls have little brothers and sisters who know Tess,” Doc said, “and she hasn’t seemed as if she was grieving.  When they ask about her parents, she says they’re on a trip and will be back later this year.”


“So we have two contradictory stories, how would that happen.”


“It happens,” Heather said quietly,” when government agencies can’t get their act together trying to hide someone.”


Jan put her coffee down on the table and looked at them.


"All right," Jan said, "run that past me again?"

"Is Letty under witness protection, or is her cousin?  Or her cousin’s parents?"


“No idea – but I can easily find out.  In the meantime, any visitors to the house?”


“One regular one – the mom’s boyfriend.”


“Tall guy, well built, slicked back blonde hair?”


“How did you know,” Heather said as Abby came in.


“He came out of Letty’s apartment when I called to see her.  Her mom said she was in the shower, but she’d tell her I’d asked to meet up with her at the park this afternoon.  Who is he?”


“I’m hoping Jan can find out,” Heather said as she passed over a photo.


Doc then said "How does being in Witness Protection excuse the injuries?"

"I don't know," Jan grimaced, "Something is going on in that apartment that even I am having trouble understanding."


“Let’s try and find out then – I want this to stop before it gets worse.”


“What about Jeannie’s party later?”


“We’ll still go later – we just may have to deal with other things first.”


“On which note, I need to get ready – I’ll see you and Jo at the party Abby.”



1 pm

Central Park


“Hey there,” Abby said as she sat with Jo at the café table, waiting for Letty to walk over and join them.  Both girls watched as she walked slowly over and sat down, grimacing slightly as she did so.


“Hey,” she finally said, “sorry I’m late – I had to do something before I left home.”


Jo and Abby looked at each other, before Jo said, “Letty, can I be honest with you?”


“Sure,” she said with a weak smile, “what’s bothering you?”




“Of course.”


Jo took a deep breath and said “you are, girl.  I heard about yesterday from Abby.”


“I just felt a little unwell, that’s all…”


“It’s a bit more than that, Letty.  Look, we’re out of school, I’m not the head girl here, we’re just two friends of yours who are worried about you.”


Abby leaned forward and put her hand on Letty’s.  “Look, you can tell us it’s none of our business if you want, but somebody is hurting you – you try and hide it, but I saw the bruises yesterday, and I see you limping today.”


Looking at Jo and Abby, Letty shook her head and said “I appreciate what you’re saying, but…”


“Don’t lie to us, Letty.”  Abby looked straight into her eye and said “we can see someone is hurting you, and we want to help.”


“I don’t think you can,” Letty said quietly, “if I say anything, then he’ll hurt Tess and then…”


“Who’ll hurt Tess, Letty?”


Jo and Abby watched as Letty started crying, and said “Help me – please…”


1.15 pm

FBI Field Office


“Hey Jan,” Adam said as he looked over, “I didn’t think you were coming in today?”


“I wasn’t, but I wanted to check something,” Jan said as she looked up from the computer.  “Related matter on another case, and I needed to check if we have a Witness Protection situation going on.”


“Oh?  Got a name?”


“A couple from up Poughkeepsie way – name of Parker.”


“Find anything?”


“Not sure,” Jan said as Adam picked up the picture.  “Now that’s a face I recognize?”


“You do?”


“Yeah – Marco Boyen, he was one of Maroni’s lower echelon runners.  Bit of a case, if I remember correctly.  Why have you got his photo?”


“What do you mean, bit of a case?”


“Had a thing for younger…”


“Jan – step in a moment please?”


She looked at Adam and then went into Tom’s office, watching as he closed the door behind him.


“Rupert, I have her with me now,” Tom said as he sat down, Jan hearing the familiar voice of Rupert Brooks as he said “How are you, Agent Carter?”


“I’m fine, sir,” she said as she looked at Tom, “is there a problem?”


“Only that you’ve raised a red flag, Janice.  Why are you interested in the Parker case?”


“The name came up in an investigation, and I was trying to clear up an apparent discrepancy.  Is there a problem?”


“A small one – the Parkers are under secret service protection.  Mister Parker is helping with some information related to the problems last summer, and is known to be wanted by several remnants from Mazengwe and other places.”


Jan looked at Tom, and then said quietly “They had a daughter?”


“Yes – she’s staying with relatives in New York.  Is she in danger?”


“No – as I say, it was clearing up a discrepancy. I’ll lay off for now, Director Brooks.”


“Good – saves me telling you to.  Thank you, Janice.”


As Tom ended the call, he looked at Jan.  “You okay?”


“Yeah – I need to get back to Katy.  Thanks for giving me the chance to back out gracefully Tom.”


“No problem, now do me a favour.”


“Sure – what?”


“Get out of here?”


As Jan left, Adam said “What did he want?”


“To answer one of my questions,” Jan said.  “What were you going to say about him?”


“Boyen?  He likes them young.  Why?”



1.30 pm

The Brewster home


Jeannie finished buttoning up her blouse and watched as her mother knelt in front of her.


“Jeannie can I ask a very personal question?” Barbara looked up as she put her daughter’s shoes on her feet.


“Sure Mum.”


“Have you and Winston?”


“Have we what?” Jeannie checked her makeup in the mirror.


“Have you? …Jeannie you know very well what I’m asking.”


“Yes.” Jeannie laughed, “and the answer is no we haven’t.”


“Can I ask why?”


“Because he’s a gentleman.”


“Does he kiss you?”


“Do you mean does he use his tongue,” Jeannie laughed again. “Yes Mum we do French Kiss, we’ve just never had time or opportunity to do more.”


“You know I started dating your dad when I was 13?”


“You’ve said.”


“I gave up my virginity to him when I was 13 as well.”


“You slut Mum!” Jeannie giggled.


“What I’m saying is that I’m not going to judge you if you and Winston do want to make love. You’re older then I was, you are on birth control that I wasn’t, and I think you are far more mature then I was…Besides I think Winston is wonderful.”


“He is…isn’t he?” Jeannie smiled at her Mother.


“Yes…so what I’m saying is that on your birthday tonight if you want to, then I’ll give you the space and the time.”


“Thanks Mum.” Jeannie reached up and embraced Barbara. “Let’s just see what happens eh?”


“Is the birthday girl ready?”


“Hey there you two,” Jeannie said as she saw Nikki and Becca standing in the door of her bedroom.  “How’s your dad Becca?”


“Just about recovered, I think – he heads off to Washington on Tuesday next week to find a place to stay and then has to be sworn in.  And his boss needs to find a new Deputy Mayor.”


“Still, imagine that – the daughter of a Congressman…”


“Shut up Nikki – I’m still me,” Becca said with a smile.  The two girls were wearing smock tops over leggings, and ankle boots. 


“Anyway, today is about fun,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself into the front room.


“So what did you mom and grandpa get you for your birthday?”


“Apart from the clothes I’m wearing?  A new stereo unit for my room is the short answer.  But the real treat is this afternoon – front row seats yet!”


“So where’s Pepsi,” Nikki asked.


“She’s meeting us at Ama’s place – all we need now is…”


“Hey there,” Anna said as she came in, and handed Jeannie a present.  She had on a knee length denim skirt and waistcoat over a grey silk jumper.


“Thanks,” Jeannie said as she hugged Doc.  “Right, are we all ready?”


“I hope so,” John said as he stood in the doorway.  “Come on – we have to get to the Village and then the theatre.”



A few minutes later, John pulled up in the village as Pepsi got in.


“Thank you for coming with us Caroline.” Barbara relaxed as Ama and her mother climbed into the limo.”


“Not a problem,” the blonde British woman replied. “So is everyone here?”


“I think so.” Barbara glanced round. “Are we missing anyone girls?”


“Jeans is missing House.” Becca shouted out.


“He’ll be here later.” Barbara laughed, “No I think we have the gang.”


“Can I leave then?” shouted John.


“Please Dad.”


"So where is Winston?" Nikki asked.

"He'll be at my place later, he had an early Friday morning class he couldn't skip before he flew home."

"Pity he'll miss the show." Becca spoke up.

"I know, but at least I'll see him all weekend."Jeannie looked out the window happily. "You do know where the Eugene O'Neill Theatre is don't you Granddad?"

"How many years have I been driving in this city?"

"I know...I was just checking."


2.30 pm

The Richmond Mansion


Sandy was walking from the kitchen to her office when she saw the front door open, and Jo and Abby walk in, Letty following them.  She took one look at the young lady, and said “is everything all right?”


“You come with me,” Abby said as she walked Letty into the drawing room, while Jo motioned to Sandy to come into the kitchen with her.


“Hey,” Heather said as she looked up, “what’s happening?”


“You’re not going to like it,” Jo said as she went to the fridge and took some cold drinks out.  “We found out what’s happening.”




“The bastard is going to pay – I’ll tell you in a few minutes,” Jo said as she went back into the front room.


Sandy and Heather looked at each other as Jan came into the back room.  “Get Annie online,” she said as she closed the door, “and where are the girls?”


“In the front room with Letty – she seems upset.”


“I’m not surprised – I think she’s been assaulted by the boyfriend.”




“I identified him – he was one of Maroni’s thugs, but he has a taste for young girls.  And he likes to use his fists.”


“You’re half right.”


The three women turned to see Jo as she closed the door.  “I need to go back, but this guy is assaulting Letty – and she’s letting him do it.”




“To protect Tess – he threatened to tell certain people where she was if Letty didn’t do what he told her.  The injuries are his idea of fun – and she hasn’t told anyone.  She doesn’t want to frighten her mom, and she wants to keep Tess safe.”


Jan and Sandy stared at Jo as Heather grabbed her coat.  “Do you have an address for this fucker, Jan?”


“Yeah – why?”


“I’m going to see Annie – this guy’s ass is mine.  Jo, stay with Abby and Letty for the moment.  Tell her she’s safe, and nobody will ever know.”


6 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


"I think I damaged myself laughing that hard." Jeannie smiled as Becca pushed her up the ramp into the house.

"I know that was hilarious...easily the funniest thing I've seen on stage...ever."

"The songs were pretty good too."

"So I take it you enjoyed yourself Baby?" asked Caroline.

"I did, and thank you so much for coming and helping Mum Face."

"It was my pleasure."

"I think I ought to add my Thank You's Caroline." Barbara hugged the tall blonde, "It would not have been easy with this many girls on my own."

"Not a problem."

"What I can't believe is them singing "Happy Birthday" for you before the curtain went up Jeans." Nikki shook her head. "I know you are a star, but still...?"

"That was a LITTLE embarrassing," Jeannie blushed at the memory.

"It was nice though being able to go backstage afterwards though." Doc looked at her programme, "I managed to get so many autographs."

"Yeah sometimes being famous has its benefits."


“It was funny, even if the language was strong,” Ama said as she came in, “I guess the way to deal with problems and evil sometimes is to laugh it, is that so wrong?”


“No, sometimes the only way to understand is to laugh at it,” Caroline said as she closed the door.


“Right – go into the front room until…”


“Hello Gorgeous.”  Jeannie grinned from ear to ear as the tall young man, wearing a Stanford sweatshirt, stood up and looked at her.  “It sounds as if I missed a fun time at the theatre.”


“HOUSE,” Jeannie said as her boyfriend came over and hugged her, “you made it!”


“Of course I did – here,” he said as he handed her a long thin box.  Opening it, Jeannie took out a gold heart locket, and said “thank you – it’s wonderful,” before leaning up to allow him to kiss her.


“So how on earth did you get into the house Winston?”


“Ah – that would be my fault,” John said as he came back in.  “When I returned to the house, Winston had just arrived in a taxi.


“I hope you don’t mind me waiting Mrs. Brewster – your father said it would be all right.”


“No that’s fine Winston – join us for some pizza, please.”


“I would be honoured to,” Winston said as Barbara said “Girls, come and get some drinks please.”


“But we – oh,” Doc said as she and the others left Winston alone.


“Missed you today, you know,” Jeannie whispered as her boyfriend lifted her into his arms.


“Me too,” he said as she placed her arms round his neck, and they exchanged a passionate kiss.


“Oh – my apologies.”


“It’s all right Ama,” Jeannie said as House placed her on the couch, “come on in.”


"So who is coming to the party tonight Jeannie?" Ama asked.

"More of the girls from school, some boys, a few parents and some model friends said they'd drop in as well."

 “Right – pizzas are on their way, and we can start the party then.”


“Thanks Mum,” Jeannie called out.


“Hey there,” Abby said as she and Jo came in.  “I hope you don’t mind, Jeans, but Letty has been with me today, and I said it would be alright if she came for a while.”


“I’ll go if you want me to,” Letty said as she stood in the doorway.


“No, come on in – it’s all right,” Jeannie said as the young girl came in.  “How are you feeling?”


“A bit better thanks.”


“Carina will be here once she’s dropped Judith off at her mum’s place,” Abby said as Doc walked up to Jo. 


“What’s happened,” she whispered.


“I’ll tell you later – right now, keep her here and be a friend to her, all right?”


Doc nodded as Jeannie opened the present from Ama.  “Oh wow – you found another one,” she said as she held up the Mary Quant top.


“I did – I hope you like it,” Ama beamed.


“She has been scouring flea markets for weeks looking for that,” Caroline whispered to Barbara.


“Where did she find it in the end?”


“Mary found it – and I’m not asking how.”


"So open another present Jeans." Abby urged.

"Oh look girls this is amazing." Jeannie held up a framed photograph.

"You wore that at the Dior." Barbara looked.

"I know…It’s from John Hammond...look he signed it."

"You know black and white photos have an amazing quality sometimes." Abby held the picture.

"I know...this is going to be a special treasure."

"I'll hang it in your bedroom tomorrow." John looked proud as he took the photo from Abby.


6.30 pm

W 110th Street


Marco Boyen was sitting in what passed for his apartment, sipping on a beer when the knock on the door made him look round.  He wasn’t exactly known for having visitors, and he knew that, as he drew his gun and stood behind the door.




“Mister Boyen? Marco Boyen?”


“Who wants to know?”  He knew it was a female voice, but didn’t recognize it.


“We got a package for you Mr. Boyen,” a second female voice said, “but you gotcha sign fer it.”


“Who from?”


“Look, Mr. Boyen, if you don’t want the crate that’s fine, we’ll take it back, split it amongst ourselves…”


“All right, all right, just set it down and I’ll sign,” he said as he unlocked the door and opened it, the chain only allowing it to open a little as he saw the crate of Coors in the doorway.


Closing the door, he unhooked the chain, and opened the door wide, bending to pick up the crate.  What he got instead was a booted foot to the chin as he was hurled backwards, and two women walked in, wearing brown overalls, baseball caps and stockings pulled down over their heads.


“What the fuck,” he said, but before he could grab his gun there were two soft ‘phuts’ and he screamed when the bullets passed through his kneecaps.


“Guess what you child beating little bastard,” Heather said as Annie closed the door, “your fucking reign of terror is at a complete end.  You’re never going to hurt any girls ever again – especially those who are trying to protect the even more vulnerable.”


“What the fuck are you fucking bitches talking about…?”


“Letty Kinman, Boyen,” Annie said as she walked over, crushing his hand under the heel of her boot.  “We know.  We know what you’ve been doing, and we know you’ve been enjoying it.”


“But here’s the thing,” Heather said as she stood over him, and aimed her silenced pistol at his groin, “I have a very low tolerance for anyone who hurt children, and an even lower tolerance for those who would threaten to fuck them if someone else does not give them what they want.”




“Payback’s a bitch,” Heather said as she pulled the trigger.






7.30 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


"Oh my God Jeannie who is that just coming in?" Doc whispered in her ear as as tall dark skinned man came in.

"Who?" Jeannie glanced round, "Oh that's Ivan Melnik."


"Quieten those hormones Doc, he is also unfortunately gay."

"What a waste." Doc sighed as the tall, blonde muscle man came over and kissed Jeannie.


"The best wishes to you my dear,” he said as he handed her a small present, and then went to join some of the other models.

"Where did you meet him?" Nikki watched as Ivan walked away.

"We've done a couple of shoots together."

"Did you see the Muscles?" Becca asked.

"We did, but Jeannie says he is gay." Doc shook her head, "That's the only problem with the fashion industry. You need a guide book to who is in play and who isn't."


“Or you could just ask,” Jeannie said before she swheeled herself over to where her mother was looking at some of her presents with Carina.


"What was Fiona's present?" Barbara asked.

"Some twenties and thirties copies of British Complete Style and Vogue Mum."

"That was good of her."

"I know, just a perfect thing for me to sit and read in bed."

"Who was the fan from?" Carina asked.


"She's in Hong Kong, I bet she found it there." Caroline looked. "You know this is hand painted silk?"

"I thought it was." Jeannie smiled.


“Hey Jeans – still some pizza here if you want it?”


“Coming,” Jeannie said as she went to join Becca, while John gave his daughter a hug.


"She's had some amazing presents Dad?" Barbara stood with John watching as Jeannie and her friends were eating the leftover pizza.

"Who was the big heavy one from?"

"Lerrabella...It was a specially made chest with her initials on, containing the whole new range."

"That was pretty special of them."

"It was...she got a new bag from Juliette...some Chateau de Ros from her birth year from Guy and Valeria, Adam and Janice gave her a pile of DVD's...just so much."

"She's a lucky girl darling."

"Yes she is Dad," Barbara said as she wiped a tear away, “yes she is.  Where on earth has the last year gone, eh?”


“She’s enjoyed every second of it – even the overnight flights.  She’s with good friends – so let’s just enjoy the moment.”






“Hey, come on – there’s a party to be had,” Jeannie said as she looked round, “music, someone – PLEASE!”


“You got it, birthday girl,” Jo said as she started the CD player, and models and friends mingled and talked.


“Now who could that be,” John said as the front doorbell rang.


“I’ll go and look,” Barbara said as she went into the corridor.  As she opened the door, she saw a tall young man standing there, in a leather jacket, shirt and jeans, holding a small bottle.


“Hello,” the young lad said, “Is Ama here?”


“Why yes she is, Ama?”


The young girl smiled as she came out.  “Come in Nick – I am glad you could come,” she said as another car pulled up.


“A friend of yours Ama?”


“Yes – I hope it is all right that I asked him to come as well.”


“Of course it is,” Barbara said as the Rochermann twins got out of the car.


“Evening Mrs B,” Ally said, “hope we’re not too late?”


“Of course not – come away in,” she said as the twins made their way through.


"Okay who invited you two?" Jeannie reached up to embrace Nell and Ally as they came in.

"After a greeting like that, I'm not sure you deserve this." Nell giggled as she pretended to hide a present.

"It's from all of us, Mom and Dad included." Ally smiled.

"Oh bloody my!" Jeannie exclaimed as she opened the small box.

"What is it darling? OH!" Barbara exclaimed as she saw the contents.

"These are amazing." Jeannie held one of the diamond drop earrings up to sparkle in the light. "Oh thank you so, so much." Jeannie reached up and hugged the twins.

"You are welcome." Nell looked happy. "Here Ally and I will put them on for you."



"Oh dear God they are so beautiful," Jeannie wheeled herself to the mirror. "I MUST send your parents a Thank You letter tomorrow."

"Yes you must." Barbara smiled.


“Well come on in – there’s drinks and snacks around, and you know most of the others here.”


“Oh wow – some nice looking guys here.”




“Hey Jeannie – sorry I’m late.”


“That’s all right, Annie,” she said as her teacher came in.  She walked over to Jo and Letty and said “There you are – your mom called to ask if I knew where you were, and I said you’d come to a party.  I’ll run you home later.”


“Thanks,” Letty said as she smiled – a genuine smile.  “Did she sound all right?”


“She sounded fine – why, are you worried about something?”


“No – no, I’m sure she was,” Letty said quietly. 


“Whatever it is,” Jo said as she handed her friend a drink, “I’m sure it won’t bother you again.”


“I agree,” Annie said quietly, “enjoy yourself tonight, Letty, all right?”


The girl nodded as Abby sat next to her.  “Look, whatever happens, you know you can come and talk to us, right?”


As she nodded, Jo said “You know I was kidnapped last year?  I was referred to a counselor for a while – a very good, very discrete one.  I can give you her number if you want.”


“Thanks,” Letty said, “I may take you up on…”


“Hey,” a young man said as he came over, “I was wondering if you’d like to dance?”


Looking at him, Letty nodded as he took her hand and led her to join the others.


“What happened?”


“He’ll never hurt her again,” Annie said quietly.





"So that is Ama's Nick is it?" Doc watched as the black girl danced with the boy with the dark curly hair.


"And does she still insist they aren't dating?"

"Yes," giggled Pepsi.

"Someone needs tell her when she brings a boy to a party they are definitely dating." Abby smiled.

"We've tried." Pepsi shrugged her shoulders.


“She’s really happy though – which is good.”



“All right,” Barbara said as she took the microphone, “there are glasses coming round, but however old she is, I still like to have one thing happen at my daughter’s birthday party.”


“Oh no mum,” Jeannie said as she shrunk into her seat, “you’re not going to…”


“Oh yes I am,” Barbara said as she looked at her daughter, “yes I am, my beautiful, talented and incredibly lucky baby girl.”


“How much has Mrs Brewster had to drink, sir,” Winston whispered to John.


“Nothing at all,” John said as Barbara started to sing Happy Birthday to Jeannie, the others joining in as well as the young girl blushed.


“Excuse me,” Winston said as he walked over and lifted Jeannie, her arms round his neck as they started to dance to a song.


“Quiet little party, isn’t it?” Ally said as she stood with Jo.


“Yeah, it is,” Jo said as she watched the young couple dancing round.


“Listen,” Ally whispered as she turned her back to the group, “I’ve been considering your suggestion for the end of year.”




“I think I can get a couple of others involved.  Have you talked to Annie yet?”


“No – that’s on the agenda for the Easter weekend.”


“Oh yeah – the Hamptons get together.  That should be quite a party, by all accounts.”







11.30 pm


“Thanks for coming,” Jeannie said as the last of the girls left, leaving her with Winston and her mother.  John had already headed to his rooms.


“Okay I’m off to bed, don’t stay up too late you two.” Barbara smiled as she carried her hot milk drink out the door.


“That’s my Mum’s idea of making a subtle exit.” Jeannie smiled broadly.


“So how was your birthday?”


“It was brilliant, and it got even better when you arrived big fella.” Jeannie leaned on Winston’s shoulder.


“I’m glad,” he answered as he put his arm round her.


“Winston,” she looked up into his eyes, “does it bother you that I’m not like other girls?”


“In that you are extraordinarily beautiful?”


“No in the fact I’m a paraplegic and can’t do things other girls can.”


“Like what?”


“Well dance normally, go for walks with you, make love normally.”


“Now where did that last one come from?”


“From watching other couples, doesn’t it worry you that I’ll never feel you…you know in there?”


“I can’t say I ever thought of…”


“Liar!” she laughed as she punched him in the arm.


“Jeans I’ve thought about it a lot, but let’s be honest, I love you for who and what you are, both the supermodel, and the girl with the broken back…so I have accepted that I’ll have to make love to you if we ever do, in a fashion that’s going to ensure your enjoyment and participation…just as much as mine.”


“Did you look at that website I sent you?”


“I did, my roommate thought it hilarious I was getting information from my girl on how to make love to her.”


“How so.”


“He wondered why he’s never met a girl who would do that.”


“Oh.” Jeannie giggled.


“Jeannie there’s one thing I’ve never told you…”


“And what’s that?”


“I’m a virgin too.”


“You mean you and Abby never?”




“Oh so when we…?”


“It will be a bit like the blind leading the blind,” he smiled as he leaned over and kissed her.


“Well you’ve got the kissing part down pretty good,” she kissed him back.


“We don’t have to hurry you know, I’m still 18 for another 6 weeks, you’re only just 15…We have a long time.”


“I know…I guess I worry too much.” Jeannie leaned into him.


“Well don’t.” House gave her another long deep kiss.


“Oh that feels so special.” Jeannie smiled up at him.


“For me too.”


“So that’s why you’re starting to make a tent in your trousers?” Jeannie giggled again.


“Well I never said you didn’t excite me? What do you expect to happen when I’m sitting here kissing one of the world’s most beautiful women?”


“Can I?”


“Can you what?”


“Do this?” she ran her hand lightly over his trouser front, feeling something jump as she did.




“Winston do I excite you that much?”


“You know very well you do Birthday Girl.” He gave her another long kiss. “Now I better get home.”


“So you can deal with that?” again she giggled.


“If it’s any of your business…then yes.”


“Well I think it’s very much my business if I’m the person causing that.” Jeannie rubbed his erection through his pants again.


“Jeans this is unfair.”


“Why?” she smiled up at him.


“Because we’ve just got through discussing…”


“Making love?” she stopped him with a long passionate kiss.


“Yes…” Winston’s breath shortened as he felt the sensation of being touched by her hand.


“Do you want to go Winston?”


“No…Yes…No…but I think I ought to before we do something we will regret one day.”


“Coward.” She kissed him again.


“Jeans this is going too far.”


“Oh we could go a lot further yet.” Jeannie reached for his trouser zipper.


“NO!” he held her hand.


“No like?” she fluttered her eyelashes at him.


“Very much like…and that’s the problem.”


“Don’t worry I’m on birth control.”


“How many glasses of champagne have you had?” he suddenly asked suspiciously.


“About six…it is my birthday party after all.”


“Well that’s another good reason I should leave, I’m not sure you know exactly what you are…”


“Doing? – Winston darling I can assure you I know precisely what I’m doing.”


“You…” his words ended as she unzipped him and started touching him through his boxer shorts.


“Mmmm that feels huge.” She smiled as he twitched.


“NO!”  With the maximum of willpower he lifted her up and put her in her wheelchair.




“Yes, but we will both feel better for me doing this in the morning.”


“We will.”


“Yes.” He zipped his pants up and gathered up his coat.


“Bastard.” She pouted.


“Believe me Jeans this is for the best.” Winston leaned over and kissed her. “I love you with all my heart Jeans.”


“And I love you Rat.”


“I’ll see you in the morning…. bye Baby,“ he said before waving as he let himself out.


“Was that Winston leaving?” Barbara came downstairs and asked.


“Yes it bloody well was…”


“I take it you didn’t?”


“No he was the perfect damn gentleman.”


“Come on I’ll help you into bed and you can tell me all about it.” Barbara smiled.









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