The Trials of Agnes McAdam – Part 1
Monday 25th July
Castel San Pietro
9 am CET
Charlotte sat at the white table, looking out over the clear blue waters as she sipped her coffee, smiling as Piet came out to join her.
“Good morning, Mrs van der Byl,” he said with a smile as he leaned over and kissed her, “been up long?”
“Half an hour or so – Claudia, can we have some more coffee please?”
“Of course Madame,” the young housekeeper said as she walked off into the house, Piet sitting on the other side of the table as they looked out.
“I still think we’re dreaming, you know – sitting in our own castle,” he said with a smile.
“Tell me about it – but it had been heavenly so far,” Charlotte sighed as she looked at the paper on the table. “There’s a full page obituary to Father Bettega in there.”
“What does it mention?”
“Mainly his wartime record, and his time at the Basilica,” Charlotte said quietly, “and the eulogy spoken by Pope Francis at Mass yesterday. Apparently, according to his wishes, he is to be buried in the grounds of the Basilica in a private ceremony. I spoke to Mamma on the phone – she is attending with a few others.”
Picking up the paper, Piet looked at the inside page, and said “there is going to be a mass to honour him in a few weeks as well.”
“He’d have hated that idea,” Charlotte said with a smile, “all he ever wanted was for all to live in peace and humility.”
“True – but he deserves to be honoured as well,” Piet said, “for everything he did.”
“So what are they doing,” the young man said as his older partner tried to train a photographic lens at the castle.
“Drinking coffee – it took a few days, but we fina…”
His eyes shot open as he dropped the camera, both men falling unconscious as they were carried away by the women, and placed in the back of the van.
9 am BST
“Well, back to the grindstone,” Peri said as she and Hannah came into the office, “guess we’d better start with the mail.”
“Agreed – sort it into some sort of order,” Hannah said as she slipped her linen jacket off and hung it on the coat rack, and then started her computer up. “the world has moved on a little while we were away, it seems.”
11 am BST
“Did Grace arrive home safely?”
“She did,” Colin Gresham-Fox said as he sat down, “and is enjoying some down time this week before coming back for the wedding. Did you sleep well Agnes?”
“I did – treasuring memories of the weekend. May I say something?”
“Only if it is complementary,” Colin said as he sat down, the breeze blowing over both of them.
“Sue might lack a lot of the so called social skills Colin,” Agnes smiled as the two of them sat on the terrace at Nest Park looking out over the South Downs, “but what I hear on the grapevine is that she is good at backing racehorses when she goes to a course.”
“I know,” Colin smiled, “if she can see the horses it’s like she has some kind of sixth sense. I took her to Royal Ascot one year and she picked four straight winners, my friends couldn’t work out how she did it.”
“Did she?” Agnes shook her head, “Penny told me she was well up on the day when she went to Ascot this year.”
“Was she?” Colin shook his head as he said “all Kay told me was that she was gloating at putting my nose out of joint.”
“She probably was, and you know Colin you just gave away a secret I’d guessed.”
“Yes - I suspected that Kay was the one who you’d stayed in touch with and who you talked to about Sue.”
“Well she never told me about the baby.”
“No, that Sue made us all swear an oath never to mention.”
“It tears at my heart that my stupidity caused that.”
“Well you weren’t to know Colin,” Agnes held his hand to comfort the younger man.
“Hey hands off Aggie, you have your own man,” they both heard Sue’s voice from behind them.
“Well I sort of have my own man,” Aggie turned and smiled. “Until this Catherine thing is definitively settled, he’s at best my dearest friend.”
“You mean you two still haven’t?” Lady Davina walked out carrying a tea tray.
“Nope,” Aggie shook her head, “I’m still a virgin Daffy.”
“Well I think the whole thing is starting to verge on the ridiculous,” the aristocratic hostess said as she shook her head.
“It probably is,” Agnes sighed as she started to help Daffy serve the tea. “But we’re both too old fashioned in that regard. All I can hope is she is hiding…”
“What is it,” Susan said as she looked at Agnes, the older woman staring at the paper.
“Nothing – nothing, just something about Carlin Kardecki. I wonder if Mandy has seen it?”
11 am BST
The South Coast
Yvonne Leventhal smiled as she walked slowly along the gravel path with her house guest, wearing a white short sleeved blouse and pleated cream skirt. It was a beautiful morning, and as the blonde haired woman stopped to inhale the scent of her roses, she stepped back to watch.
April Broadhurst stood up, pulling her waistcoat round herself as she said “Yvonne I can’t thank you enough for inviting us to stay here at Anglestead, your garden is amazing.”
“Well I wish I could claim all the credit April,” Yvonne said with a smile, “but most of this was planned and created by Colin’s mother, she had a passion for roses.”
“Well I’ve certainly discovered that as I walked round, there are just so many varieties here, and it’s given me something to look at while Grant has been at your brothers stable.”
“William was telling me that Grant was very impressed by Acadaria,” Yvonne said as they started to walk back to the house, “and that they were discussing how he and your Saintz will match up come Breeders Cup time.”
“I know,” April rolled her eyes, “he’s been boring me and Pepsi stiff talking about it.”
“Talking of Pepsi, where did she and Jack go?”
“Brighton, my daughter wanted to see The Pavilion.”
“It is pretty impressive,” Yvonne nodded, “I’ll have to tell her that one of my Hyde-Andrews ancestors used to stay there with the Prince Regent.”
“That would interest her – she hasn’t really come down since she caught the bouquet last week.”
“You know,” Yvonne said, “I do wonder if it is not better for them to be public. It could cause fewer problems later.”
“I know, but it is their decision Yvonne. I suspect the press here and in the US would have a field day – and it also would hurt Jan as well.”
“Ah yes – Janice and Adam. I wonder how much longer it will be before they tie the knot.”
Catherine looked out on to the street below. Her initial idea of besmirching the daughter of the Marchesa di Cambrello had not been possible – not immediately at any rate. She had lived a charmed life, and the research had shown she had nothing to hide.
That was not a discouragement to her, though – she knew often the very absence of dirt could be used to spread rumours, but it would take time. Which meant she could move on to other matters. Her pet policeman had told her of how Donald and the bitch had acted – but she was untouchable for the week, and Donald was presenting his credentials at the French President’s office. Safely apart – for now, but there was work to do in that area.
But that did not mean she could not have revenge on others – starting with that bitch of a sister-in-law. She thought she was so above it – but a word in the ear of the right press people, the right threats, and a pile of manure would soon be landing on her doorstep.
And if it hurt some of those bitches in the US, so much the better.
In the meantime, she had business to conduct in Ireland with Miss Kardecki…
“Thank you everyone,” Shirley said as she looked round the conference table. “Penny, would you wait behind for a moment please?”
“Of course Madame,” Penny said as the rest of the senior team left. “I presume you wish to discuss security for this week?”
“I do – the school?”
“I talked to Kathy at Hopkins Street this morning – we’ve put a couple of girls in as support staff, and have a watch on the building. As for Daffy’s place, I think we’re covered there with Sue and Daffy in residence.”
“And our own inquiries?”
“So far, fruitless – but we have spread the word. You should know Sandy has been in touch – she will be at Goodwood as well.”
“Excellent – I know Mike Babbage and Catriona are doing all they can, but I would still prefer it if she found her way back in a discrete manner.”
“If at all possible,” Shirley said with a smile. “Helen?”
“She and Catherine have returned to Hong Kong, and Beverley has joined them. I imagine she is finding the orientation – tiring.”
3 pm BST
“And stop,” Jimmy said as he bowed to Sue, the young woman smiling as the music ended. “Right – break time I think.”
“Thank you kind sir,” Sue said as she made a little curtsey, and walked out of the large room, passing Agnes in the doorway.
“How is Sue doing with the dancing Jimmy?” she asked as Jimmy poured himself a glass of water.
“Not at all badly Agnes,” the tall man smiled, “I don’t have time to teach her much, but she will at least be able to dance some at her own wedding.”
“Well you boys all dance so well.”
“I’m not as good as Charlie,” he said as he swallowed some, “but I’m better than Tom and Harry.”
“I remember I saw Charlie dance a lot with my sister back in the day.”
“I told him I’d run into her at the wedding,” Jimmy said with a grin, “and he asked to be remembered to her.”
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” Agnes smiled. “You do know that he and Tam were a ‘thing’ for a while?”
“So I’d heard, my Mother always said that if it hadn’t been for…” his voice trailed as he looked at the redhead.
“You can say it Jimmy you know, if it hadn’t been for my scandal, that they might have stayed a couple.” Agnes sighed. “That is just another of those things that might have been if I hadn’t been such an idiot.”
“I guess so.”
“Well in the end Tam found Christopher, and Charlie married Sophie, so I guess it worked out.”
“Worked out? I guess no one has told you that Charlie and Sophie are getting divorced?”
“They are?” Agnes looked shocked, “well that’s another consequence of my disgrace, I’m not exactly au fait with all the news and gossip.”
“Oh yes – he might be coming to the wedding as well.”
“Should I warn Tamsin,” Agnes said with a grin.
“Oh no – I want to see what happens if he does come.”
4 pm BST
“That’s a good girl,” Lizzie said as she patted the neck of the horse she had been riding, and allowed the stable hand to take it away.
“Are you sure you are alright Lizzie?” Eve asked as they walked back from Lardarn Castle’s stable towards the private quarters.
“I’m fine…truthfully.” The Scottish girl grinned, “I’ve had a lot worse falls than that in my time – and the air and scenery more than made up for the shock.”
“Well you’ll probably have some bruises darling,” Cat put her arm round her daughter.
“Nothing too serious though.” Kit added. “You landed in the long grass, after all.”
“It was nice to get such a good days hunting in before we all fly over for Goodwood though,” Tamsin said as she took her hard hat off, “and Cat darling despite what you said you are still an excellent rider, the Master himself commented on it to me.”
“Oh I think it was more a case of Cruella making me look good than anything else.”
“So did you all have fun?” John asked as the ladies went inside the main hallway.
“We did darling,” Paula said as she sat to remove her boots, “other than Lizzie taking a tumble we all had a great day’s sport. You and your father missed a good day.”
“Dad says he will be back from Dublin in time for dinner by the way.”
“Good,” Paula looked up, “at least he had the excuse of needing to go to the office, now you…”
“Mum you know I’m just too tall to ride well,” John laughed, “and anyway someone needed to keep an eye on Clodagh.”
“I can look after myself, you know,” the youngest Gaunt said as she came in.
“Not yet you can’t – right, let’s all shower and change for dinner…”
West Central Park
“So how does it feel to finally be in your new apartment,” Ama asked as she sat in the main room with Kylie, Nikki and Doc.
“It feels amazing, darling Ama,” Kylie drawled as she sipped her drink. All of the girls were wearing t-shirts and shorts, the sun coming in through the window. “Have you heard from Nicola?”
“She rang earlier,” Doc said. “Apparently they spent the day on the pier at Brighton. Ever been there Kylie?”
“Not really, darling,” Kylie said as the apartment bell rang, Doc going to answer it and coming back with Jeannie. “Hey,” she said as she wheeled herself in, “well met by sunlight.”
“Recovered from the wedding yet,” Nikki asked Kylie as she smiled.
“Just about – but I fly back out next week for the fittings for our final wedding.”
“Where’s Marina today anyway?”
“At the office – with Juliette and Janine still in Munich, she is needed by Anna and Mary.”
“I read in the paper about the priest who died after the wedding – he was a war hero?”
“Apparently darling,” Kylie said as she returned with a drink for Jeannie, “I met him briefly to talk to, and he complemented me on my designs.”
“Some gathering though – and this next wedding is in three and a bit weeks?”
“Indeed – in Scotland, so it should be romantic if nothing else…”
“You want to know the crazy thing about this? I’m sitting in a room with three current and one past Complete Style award winner,” Ama said, “and the most important thing on our minds is what we are going to do to pass a week or two?”
The others looked at her and burst out laughing, as the doorbell rang.
“That will be Katy – she said she might be dropping by,” Kylie said as she went to the door again, returning with the thirteen year old in a blue sleeveless blouse and denim shorts.
“Hey – so is today a busy doing nothing day?”
“It appears to be – fetch yourself a drink and join us, Katherine darling…”
9 am PT
“I still don’t know,” Dave Clarke said as he sat at the breakfast table, drinking his coffee, dressed for work, “I mean, after everything that’s happened…”
“Dad all your life you’ve dreamed of owning your own shop,” Mary Clarke said as she paced the small living room, wearing her old sweats and sneakers, “Gino wants to sell, I can easily afford to buy it.”
“Yeah but it don’t seem right.”
“Dad,” Mary smiled, “it’s a profitable little shop, if nothing else it’s a sound investment.”
“She’s right there Dad, you’ve said yourself that Gino has made that place into a little gold mine the past few years.” David looked up from his computer screen.
“If you don’t want to run the place, Mary and I can always buy it together and hire a manager.” Susie smiled broadly as she came in from the kitchen. “You can keep working for us you know?”
“Now hold on…”
“She has a point Dad,” Mary laughed.
“All right, all right! Ask Maddie what she thinks,” Dave sighed, “she thinks it’s a good investment, then just maybe.”
“Okay I’ll send her the details later. You can tell Gino you’re thinking about it.”
“Anyway with that outta the way,” Dave said with a smile, “what do all you kids have planned for the day?”
“That prom dress shoot Pop.” Susie smiled as she put her glass down. “The one John Nakamura booked me for the day I did the book shoot.”
“For Gumps,” her father nodded, “I remember.”
“Vicky and me are going to watch,” Allison said as she sat down carefully in the short skirt she was wearing.
“Dressed like that?”
“It’s gonna be a warm day Pops…”
“I was going to drop in at the hotel to see the girls.” Mary poured herself a fresh coffee, “catch up with the gossip.”
“And tell them all about Richard Poppit,” Dave grinned.
“Maybe,” Mary blushed. “What about you and the boys David?”
“Going to the ball game later – Bobby is playing short stop, so Tom and I are going to cheer him on.”
11 am PT
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
“Hey – working hard or hardly working?”
The maids turned and looked at the tall blonde who was standing in the corridor, smiling as they recognised who it was.
“MARY!” Heletia shouted as she ran and embraced her friend, “what the hell are you doing down here girl?”
“I thought I might do a shift. Got a spare dress?”
“Oh like hell you are,” Brenda said with a smile as she came out of her little office and put her arms round the tall blonde.
“What, you think I couldn’t do it any more?”
“No I know you could do it Mary,” Brenda said as she stood with her arms folded, “but I think the management might just skin me alive if they found out their spokeswoman was cleaning rooms.”
“I guess. Well, that screws that plan for the day…”
“So,” Heletia said, “what are you doing here anyway?”
“I have that rarest of things it seems, a whole day off,” Mary said, “so I thought I’d just catch up with how you are all doing?”
“Pretty much the same,” Brenda said as she checked a couple of the trolleys, “Guests come and go, but we do our best to keep the place spick and span.”
“That’s one thing which doesn’t change anywhere,” Mary nodded, “in hotels everywhere I’ve been there’s someone doing this job.”
“So where did you stay for that big fancy wedding in Naples?” Heletia asked.
“A hotel pretty much like this, the bride owns the chain, and they just emptied the place to give the guests somewhere to sleep.”
“WOW!” Heletia mouthed.
“And what’s she like?” Brenda asked.
“Charlotte?” Mary grinned, “she’s tiny, but tough as anyone I ever met, and she doesn’t make a thing of being rich, she actually works for a company in London in IT.”
“All that money…and she works?” Heletia looked stunned.
“Oh yes - but it was a beautiful place.”
“Did I hear Suzie is following in your footsteps,” Brenda asked as some of the maids took the trolleys off.
“We saw her and you in the show in Sydney,” Heletia said, “having real fun.”
“I told you you would not be the only one,” Brenda said with a grin as she looked at Mary. “Okay girl – who is he?”
“There’s a man in your life now,” she said quietly, “I know the signs.”
Mary blushed as she said “his name’s Richard, he’s Austrian, and he works as a stamp trader – rare stamps, I mean…”
“Well, he’s certainly made an impression on you – come and tell us all about him…”
12.30 pm PT
Xavier International, LA
“So what do you think,” Mary Clarke said as she looked out of the screen.
“What do I think Mary?” Maddie Moore said as she smiled at the computer, “knowing your father as I do and how important working in that place is to him, I think it’s a great idea that you and Suzie buy it.”
“He will never just let us support him, he needs to have a job, so why not become his own boss?”
“I totally agree,” Maddie laughed, “send me the details and how to contact this Gino guy and I’ll set Liz Applebee to conduct the transaction.”
“Just tell Liz to keep telling Pop that it’s a good investment, the last thing he will accept is if he thinks its charity.”
“Liz and I know your father well enough to know just what to say. Leave it with us Mary.”
“Thanks,” Mary smiled. “It would be a load off my mind.”
“So what are you up to?”
“Going out to lunch with the girls from the hotel, and then I might go watch Trina shooting her latest ColCol ads, and meeting the new guy in her life.”
“She has a new man?”
“So it seems, and for once he’s not an actor.”
“Wonders never cease – well, have fun,” Maddie said as she heard the knock on the door, “we’ll call you later.”
“Thanks,” Mary said as Maddie ended the call, and said “come in.”
“Look who’s back,” Tracey said as she came in, JD smiling as she followed her in. Maddie stood up, and walked round, hugging the young woman as she said “Welcome home – settled back in yet?”
“Just about – I had a fun day sorting my mail out, but it’s good to be back in the saddle, as it were. Missed much?”
“Actually,” Tracey said, “your timing is excellent. We were discussing our next move?”
“Oh – what did you have in mind?”
“We found an Australian film with a group of female robbers, who take over a hotel and rob it…”
1 pm PT
“Look at her,” Vikki said as she nudged Allison, both of them looking on as Suzie walked over in a light blue silk prom dress, her hair up and a tiara placed on it.
“She does look beautiful – but not as beautiful as Mary,” Allison said before she returned to looking at her tablet, Vikki shaking her head as she watched the dresser and make up artist at work.
“I’ve photographed you and Mary Suzie, but something tells me that you won’t eventually be the only Clarke sisters I shoot,” John Nakamura smiled as he posed his subject climbing out of the stretch limo.
“You mean Allison and Vicky John?” Suzie whispered, trying to look comfortable as she pretended to alight from the rear door.
“I do indeed, the camera is going to end up loving them the way it does you and Mary.”
“Well don’t tell my Pop, he finds it hard enough coping with having two models for daughters.”
“Oh don’t worry – it’s a few years away for them. Now, give me your best smile…”
Tuesday 26th July
10 am Local Time
“Ah, good morning Alexis,” Catherine said as the young woman walked into the office, “I trust you have recovered sufficiently from the flight.”
“I have, thank you Madame Lu,” Alexis Bronheimer said as she stood by the desk, wearing a grey jacket and trousers with a white camisole top, “where would you like me to start?”
“By meeting your partner for the next few months,” Catherine said as she pressed a button on the intercom on her desk, “would you ask Elaine to come in please? Be seated Alexis – we will begin in a few minutes.”
Alexis took a seat, waiting until there was a knock on the door, Catherine saying “come” as the door opened a young Chinese woman walked in. Bowing formally, she said “You wished to see me, Madame?”
“I did indeed – I would like you to meet Alexis Bronheimer from New York. Alexis, this is Elaine Chan, who has recently joined us from Xavier International’s LA office. We felt she would be the perfect replacement for Marina in the long term, as she speaks Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, but she needs to learn the mechanics of working for Huntingdown, and the way we manage the business. The two of you will be working together for the next three months, under Helen’s supervision, to ensure the smoothest of possible transitions.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Alexis said as she stood and shook Elaine’s hand. “Where is Helen?”
“She will be here at noon – she is currently helping our house guest to understand her new duties as well.”
Catherine Lu’s apartment
Helen put her hands together, and bowed as Bev copied her, before saying “and relax – you have done well, Beverley.”
“That’s punishing,” Bev said as she picked up a towel and wiped her face. “’Ow long did it take Marina and Kyles to get good?”
“As long as was necessary, as is the case with you. The first two or three weeks will be the worst, but as your fitness and stamina improves, so you will realise the benefits, and actually find you look forward to the exercises.”
“Oi’ll believe it when I see it,” Bev said with a smile.
“Oh you will – did you know the session is already twice as long as when we started?”
“It is?” Bev looked at the clock and shook her head. “So – what’s next for today?”
“A shower, some lunch – and then I wish to assess your skill with some weapons…”
11 am Local Time
Meyerskop, South Africa
Marianne Vosloo walked out from the main house, wearing a buckskin waistcoat over a long sleeved blouse, tan riding jodhpurs and riding boots, smiling as she saw the groups of young women walking the horses round the paddock.
“Ariadne – how are they looking?”
The dark haired woman smiled as she walked over to join Marianne on the veranda. “Looking good, Amazone,” she said with a smile, “they’ve all settled in, no ill effects from the journey, and well fed. Now what they need is a little exercise.”
“Well, we’ll get them out in the country later today – I have a few friends coming round to help me map some routes for visitors out.”
“And the sisters?”
“Well, they need to learn how to care for the horses before they can ride them – which is why they need to muck out first,” Marianne said with a smile. “Bonding with the horses was the first lesson you learn as a Scout.”
“True – and thank you for inviting me to join this venture.”
“Well, it serves a dual purpose,” Marianne said with a smile, “and this is where I can make a difference. You?”
“A chance to serve – and to get revenge for those who were harmed in the name of greed.”
“Amen, sister,” Marianne said with a smile as they walked over to the paddock. Liz and Leader were watching from the fence.
“Looking good,” Leader said as she turned and smiled. “Karen is flying back tomorrow- she wished to pay her respects at the funeral in Naples.”
“Of course – he was a man of great spiritual leadership, it would only be right if she was there,” Marianne said as she smiled.
“Clearing a few things up in the office before he is officially discharged on Saturday – you coming for the ceremony Liz?”
“I hope to,” Liz said as a young woman came out of the house.
“Message for you Leader,” she said as she handed Itsy the paper.
“Not sure – Victoria wants to see me in Cape Town tomorrow. I must leave now.”
“Want company,” Liz said as she looked round.
“No – I will manage this myself…”
11 am CET
“There we go Mags,” Cari said as she fastened the dress over the baby girl, while Judith watched.
“She looks full Mamma – is Rudi full?”
“I think so,” Annie said as she put her son into the stroller. “So are you ready for a walk in the park, Judith?”
“Can we feed the birds again?”
“We can indeed,” Cari said as she fastened Judith’s coat. “Mom, we’re off to the park.”
“Have fun,” Juliette called out as Frau Strecher appeared in the doorway.
“Forgive me, Your Highness,” she said as she looked at Klaus, “A matter of estate I need to discuss with you.”
“Go on,” Juliette said as she poured coffee for Heather, “we’re planning our shopping trip for this afternoon.”
“Very well then, I am summoned, I go,” Klaus said as he stood up and kissed Juliette, then followed Frau Strecher out.
“So,” Heather said, “what exactly have you go it in mind Ju?”
11 am BST
“The plane just landed,” Daffy said as she looked at the information board, “they should not be too much longer now.”
“So why do they call it Glorious Goodwood?” Pepsi asked as she looked round.
“You know I’ve never asked Darling,” Mandy replied as they waited in Gatwick’s arrivals lounge awaiting the Irish contingent. “I guess I just have always known it as that.”
“It’s a lot more informal then Ascot is,” Agnes said as she tried listening to the announcements over the tannoy.
“Yes - no silly regulations that will keep you out of the Richmond Stand darling.”
“It’s also dressy without being as extreme as Ascot.”
“Well I hope I’ll be fine Agnes with what I have?”
“You will be dear,” Aggie smiled at the American. “Trust me – and in any case, Angel will be there as well, won’t she?”
“She will indeed,” Mandy said as she took out her mobile phone.
“Will darling – how is Paris at the moment?
“Ah-ha – I see. Have you told Jack yet?”
Pepsi looked round at the mention of her fiancé’s name. “What’s happened?”
“Nothing for you to worry about Nicola darling,” Mandy said as she put her hand over the phone.
“Hey there,” Pepsi said as she walked to join Eve and Lizzie, as Mandy said “We will make no comment if asked – I’ll inform Grant and April myself. I wonder who leaked it?
“That would not surprise me – thank you Will, we’ll see you both tomorrow.”
“Well, you look rested,” Tamsin said as she hugged Agnes, Catriona following with Paula and the rest of the family, “have we missed much?”
“We’ll bring you up to speed on the way to Yvonne’s home,” Mandy said as she kissed Paula on both cheeks, “come, much to do…”
“How many different house parties is everyone spread out to?” Shirley asked as she saw the car arrive with more guests.
“Oh at least a handful,” Bobbi Gresham-Fox smiled, “I’m just lucky that my daughter and Martin can put me up at their little country cottage.”
“While Colin and Sue stay at Daffy’s place?”
“Yes, and my dear husband gets to spend a few more days in the cauldron that is Washington.”
“Do you mean that politically?”
“Yes, and weather wise though, Washington gets hot and sticky this time of year.”
“True – and John is enjoying the down time as well.”
“Where is Maisha today?”
“I believe she is visiting an old friend, for some instruction…”
2 pm CET
do you think?" Juliette asked as she sat back, looking at her old friend.
we are going to be busy," Heather grinned, "Did you run this past
Juliette said as she raised an eyebrow. “Why - do you think I should?"
for one would love to know how she thinks her people will react if we do all
"Okay," Juliette nodded, "what else?"
“We’ll need to rotate – especially Doc and Katy – if we’re doing this during term times.”
“Agreed – and we need to ensure the girls are around as well, but I think we can work round it. We’d better let Catherine know as well – and Shirley?”
“Only to ensure we are not encroaching on her territory…”
2 pm BST
As she took her laptop into a small room, Shirley smiled as she saw Catriona sitting there.
“Oh – sorry Shirley,” she said with a smile as she stood up, “do you need to conduct some business?”
“I do need to contact the office – aren’t you meant to be off the clock Cat?”
“I am – Lizzie
is flying over from Ireland with the Gaunt girls, so I’m thinking a few things
over – on which note… Shirley, am I
required to clear any operations that I mount with you darling?"
asking as my old friend Cat? or as Lady C?"
"As Lady C
"Strictly speaking then no, but given the limits you've said your own people have then maybe liaising through Penny might be best." Shirley sipped her whiskey, "why do you have an idea?"
“I do have an idea – for after the wedding…”
“Oh – do I need to be in the area?”
“No - merely taking care of some outstanding business… I’ll let her know,” Cat said as she left the room, and Shirley connected to the secure net.
“Good morning Shirley,” Jayne said as she appeared on the screen, “how can I help you today?”
to check on how Lily's recruiting is going Jayne?" Madame asked her
Director of Human Resources.
all but finished, there is a girl from the New York office we are bringing over
to look at, but I think the rapid response team is basically set."
Shirley smiled, "are you coming down to Goodwood?"
"No," the assassin smiled, "racing isn't really my thing."
“Well, if there are any issues, let me know,” Shirley said.
“We also have the final accounts for our recent London work – I’ll fax the final balance through to your computer, after expenses and deductions.”
“Thank you Jayne – and enjoy your week,” Shirley said as John came in.
“All done – let’s go and join the others…”
4 pm CET
any thoughts on my idea for a night out?" Natalya asked Annie and Carina
as they walked in the garden.
"I love it
Aunt dear,” Carina said with a smile, “but remember I'm in training, would I
get home in time to get any sleep?"
about Carina darling."
"My German is still not great," Annie shook her head, "no way I can pass as local."
“We’re not going to – we are American tourists, looking for some fun of an – unusual variety…”
“Sounds good to me – so Thursday night?”
“I think that’s good,” Natalya said. “Shall we go and prepare for dinner?”
9 pm BST
The South Coast
watching this Made in Chelsea show," Pepsi shook her head as they sat in
the television room, "I thought the Upper East Side people from New York
were bad enough, but they are worse...Do you really know anyone like
yes," Lizzie said as she finished her orange juice.
worse," Aileen giggled, "girls who think that is just how they should
are all so vacuous," Pepsi complained.
"We know," Eve Gaunt looked up from what she was reading, "you should hear the arguments we've had about it at school."
“I can imagine,” Pepsi said as she watched the show.
“And then there’s that guy who claims he’s a New Yorker,” Aileen said
“Alik? Alik Alfus? I’ve heard of him – his family run Libra Leather.”
“You’re kidding – he is that rich?”
“Oh yes – and slumming it on this, I think…”
"I see the
serious business is underway," Catriona laughed as she walked in the
drawing room to see everyone with their noses either in the racing papers, or
looking at their computer screens.
straight it is darling," Mandy looked up, "for once it might be nice
if I could back a couple of winners."
couldn't pick a winner to save my life at Ascot," Will took a sip of his
me Will," Colin strolled in, "but I'm reliably informed my wife to be
made a nice little sum."
"You need to
look at the horses," Sue looked up, "the form book only tells you a
little, your eyes can tell you more."
after my own heart," Angel said as she smiled, "horses aren't
machines, and they have ways of telling you if they are right to run."
"Talking of running," Will looked up, "when's your formal adoption meeting as the Tory candidate at Kensal QP Colin?"
“Next Monday – they applauded our bravery, and the following Sunday the story goes in the papers,” Susan said. “Then the fun really begins…”
“Jack,” Angel said as her older brother came in, “is it true?”
“Is what true,” Catriona asked.
“We’ll tell you later – Mother, Father, we need to talk to Pepsi and her parents.”
10 pm BST
The Gordon Estate
“That was an amazing meal,” Samantha Gordon said as she walked into the lobby, her mother and father following. The young student was wearing a light coloured jacket over a rose print dress, while Victoria Gordon was wearing a black jacket and skirt with a white blouse, and Archie a grey suit with a shirt and tie.
“Well, I have to agree,” Archie said as he closed the door. “I’ll see if Mrs McTavish can rustle up some cocoa.”
“We’ll go and get changed,” Victoria said as she walked up the stairs with Samantha, heading into the master bedroom as Samantha entered her room. Taking her jacket off and putting it on the back of her chair, she looked round the room, noting everything was in the proper place.
Even the clothes she had left on the floor had been folded neatly and placed on top of her laundry hamper, neatly stacked, neatly arranged…
“That’s funny,” Samantha said to herself as she looked at the pile, and on an impulse looked in the wardrobe. Everything was neat and tidy, her shoes neatly arranged…
“Oh, sorry Dad you frightened me,” Samantha said as she turned round. “Is Mrs McTavish still here?”
“I found her asleep in the kitchen,” Archie said. “She’s fixing the…”
They looked at each other, then ran into the master bedroom, finding Victoria standing in the centre, looking round.
“What’s wrong darling,” Archie said as he looked at her.
“I came in, and everything was perfect, in the right place, neatly arranged,” Victoria whispered. “But not as I do it now, but as I used to do it when I was younger.”
“What do you mean Mummy?”
“I found this, on the pillow,” Victoria said as she held up a small stuffed dog.
“What… What is that,” Samantha asked.
“Scottie – Archie, Catherine was in here…”
West Central Park
Janice Carter sat back in her chair as she digested what she had just been told.
Juliette said from the screen, “Katy is keeping busy then?"
"She is Ju," Janice smiled at her computer. “Which is just as well – stops her fretting over other matters. She spoke to Sands today – they’re joining you for the christening this weekend?”
right. Anyway… getting back to my
proposed itinerary, what is your opinion?"
chin, Janice said quietly "That we will be busy."
"We as in
the Pussycats, or we as in the FBI?"
Janice took a deep breath.
bothering you Janice?"
I know that you love setting challenges, but really a couple of these are so
difficult, and potentially so dangerous."
Jan,” Juliette said with a smile, “but let’s be honest - routine bank robberies
are rather easy, and the rewards from these jobs are commensurate to the
"Oh I get that Ju, but this is going to be a roller coaster ride..."
“Ah, there are you darling,” Kylie said as Marina came into the apartment, “have you had a good day?”
“I have,” Marina said as she hung her jacket up. “How was the afternoon with the girls?”
“We gossiped and traded stories – Helen called, she will be dropping in next week. I also got this today.” She held up a thick white envelope, Marina nodding as she said “I take it that is the information from St Angela’s?”
“Indeed – we should go shopping before we head to Scotland. Now, what shall we eat tonight?”
“Hark the sound of a tired footballer,” Harriet said as she heard the front door of the apartment open and close, and footsteps coming up.
training going?" Grace asked as Sarah came in.
all badly," the English teacher grinned as she sat down, "Bugs really
is already a first rate keeper you know."
about the other freshman girls you are taking on the tour?"
"They'll all eventually be good players. Taking them to Europe like this gives me more time with them to see just what the new material looks like."
“Missing Pepsi for training?”
“A little – but she’ll meet up with us over there, and I’m sure she will fit right in.”
“Good,” Grace said. “So, let’s unwind for the night…”
Wednesday 27th July
9 am Local Time
Catherine Lu’s Apartment
“Good morning Beverley,” Catherine said as the young woman came in, towelling her hair, “I trust the session this morning went well?”
indeed,” Beverley said as she sat at the breakfast bar. "Mistress Catherine, I have a question
to ask if I may."
Bev," Catherine smiled at how Bev's manners were already improving.
"Pru Stratton is playing in that poker tournament in Macao
next week,” Bev said as she poured some orange juice, “and she's said she will
stake me as well...Would it be possible for me to go and play?"
"Hmmmm," for a few seconds Catherine thought, "I
think it should be, but I'll ask the Honored Fathers first."
"Thank you," Bev smiled. “It is important I am seen in that world as well, true?”
“That is correct – I wish for you to come to the office with Helen today,” Catherine said, “to observe a business meeting.”
“Of course, Mistress,” Bev said with a smile.
11 am CET
Guy smiled as he watched the jockey riding the bay down the track, and then slowing before they walked over to join him.
Uncle Guy, where the hell have you been hiding her?" Angel asked as she
climbed off the leggy filly.
I've been hiding her," the Duc smiled happily at the young model’s
reaction to her exercise.
do," Angel said as she shook her head, and patted the horse on her
neck. "I read the French as well as
the British racing papers and there hasn't been one whisper."
been keeping her secret,” Guy said quietly, “Andre and I have just been
bringing her along quietly, and there have been a few little problems."
she's the best two-year-old filly I've ever sat on," Angel removed her
helmet and shook her long hair out. "I did what Uncle Andre said and
opened her up for those last two furlongs, she almost flew."
noticed." Guy turned to his trainer, "she did it again."
did," the slightly hunched former jockey looked over his shoulder as he
supervised the stable lad looking after the filly. "We have some thinking about
what we need to do - and quick."
running her Saturday?" Angel asked as she took a sip from a bottle of
planning to," Guy shook his head, "if we can find the right
filly this special I think you'll have no shortage of volunteers," Angel
grinned, "and I'd kill to be in their place."
Guy said as he locked eyes with his trainer, "do you want the ride
teasing Uncle Guy," suddenly the models voice got quiet, "don't joke
joking," Guy put his arm round the young woman, "the reason you've
not heard about her is that for some strange reason she will not go for men. We
put a man up on her and she's at best ordinary, a woman riding her and she's
being serious Cherie,” Guy said, “would you like to ride her, that's the best
this morning she's ever run."
serious aren't you?" Angel cocked her head, "I mean, I’d love
to. But I can think of two huge
objections. I don't have a Jockey's license...and can you imagine what Missy
both to me Angelique."
"This trial this morning," Angel had a sudden thought, "it wasn't her being tried was it? It was me."
“Correct, so let us go and discuss over coffee…”
11am Local Time
As she sat at the café, looking at Table Mountain, Leader smiled. For all her travels, all her fighting, she still missed her home, the country where she had grown up. And whatever her family may feel, she was there now.
The passing people only saw the tall African woman in a khaki blouse and shorts, sipping coffee as she looked round. She blended in, and that was the way Leader preferred it – unnoticed, watching, noting…
“You look well, my sister.”
She suddenly looked round to see Victoria Buthelezi standing beside her, wearing a blue short sleeved denim dress. Smiling, Leader said “I did not hear you coming – how do you do that?”
“Natural talent, I guess,” Victoria said as she sat down, and ordered a coffee. “How are you?”
“I am well – and your course?”
“It goes well too,” Victoria said as a coffee was placed in front of her. “I saw the pictures of the wedding in Naples – I know you tried to keep to the background, but I recognised you. You were there with your colleagues?”
Leader nodded, and took a drink from her own cup as she said “I was invited along with those I work with. We have a – connection to the bride, through her support for the girls taken from this country.”
Victoria nodded as she looked round. “Thank you for coming, Itzy” she said quietly, “I was not sure if you would.”
“Well you said it was important – is all well with the family?”
“Indeed – although I do not think Mother and Father know you have been seen.” Looking round, Victoria said “will you take a walk with me? I have something to tell you in private.”
“Of course,” Leader said as they stood up, leaving some money on the table as they walked down the street.
“I have rented an apartment here for a few days – I wanted some time to work on my dissertation away from the family, and we can talk there,” Victoria said as they entered a high rise building, travelling to the tenth floor before Victoria opened a door, and said “will you come in?”
Leader nodded as she walked in, admiring the décor as she entered the main area – and then dropped to one knee, bowing her head as she saw the grey haired man sitting there, smartly dressed, smiling as he looked at her.
“My king,” Leader said as she kept her head bowed, “how may I serve you?”
“You can start by standing up, my granddaughter,” he said with a smile. “This is not a place for formality. Let me look at you, Itsy.”
“But why are you here? I thought I was…”
“Whatever my son may have said, and the tradition dictates,” he said as he put his hands on her shoulders, “I wanted to see you, and to thank you. I have heard of the work you have done since you left, and I wished to honour you for it.”
“But grandfather, tradition…”
“Is their problem, not mine. I thank you for the women, and ask you to let your superiors know I do so as well.”
As a tear rolled down her cheek, she said “thank you – thank you, grandfather.”
“Now, sit – tell me what you have done.”
11 am BST
The South Coast
“What’s wrong,” Paula said as Mandy came into the drawing room, where Catriona and Eve were also sitting.
“That was Victoria Gordon,” Mandy said as she sat down, “she thinks Catherine was in their house last night.”
“Catherine… Are they all right,” Paula said as Catriona looked over.
“They’re fine – they got home last night to find their housekeeper asleep in the kitchen, and some things moved around in their bedrooms. And a little gift – a stuffed Scottie dog.”
“I don’t get it,” Catriona said quietly.
“Get what,” Agnes said as she walked in, and saw everyone look at her. “What? Is the grey showing again?”
“No – no, we just wondered if you were ready for a drive later,” Eve said as she stood up. “We’ve been asked to take you to collect something in confidence, so Paula and I will go with you.”
As they escorted Agnes out, Mandy rubbed her eyes. “I need to let you all know something else, darlings – there will be an announcement in the Times tomorrow.”
“David and Judy,” Catriona said, then watched as Mandy shook her head.
“No – we have been warned that a redtop is planning to publish a story about Jack being engaged to an American golddigger, and not in a positive way as with Harry and Meghan.”
“Oh my god – you mean…”
Mandy nodded as she said “the Court page will have a notice that William, Marquis of Ordford, and Amanda, Marchioness of Ordford, announce the engagement of their eldest son, John, Viscount Millingham, to Miss Nicola Jane Broadhurst of New York. April and Grant are in agreement, and I need to tell Jan later to be ready. Because a lot of questions are going to be asked…”
1 pm CET
at the e-mail she had just received, shaking her head as she said "Oh… This is going to cause an eruption."
my love?" Klaus said as he looked up from the papers he had spread on his
Angel Fitzstuart to ride a horse for him in a race on
Saturday." Juliette shook her head and sat back, before she continued, "It
will violate some of her contracts I think if she does, and you just know what
Missy is going to say."
"No, but I
can guess." Klaus smiled, "so what will happen?"
ask for permission for an exemption from the risk clauses in her contracts, and
at least we at Norstar should let her ride. I know
Angel well enough how much it will mean to her personally to get to ride in an
Missy feel the same way?"
"That Klaus my love is the Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar question. I’ll find out in about ten minutes."
“That fast – why?”
“She was copied into the e-mail…”
2 pm BST
“Will my boy – come join us,” Guy said as he and Valeria stood to welcome the first of the party to arrive.
“Guy darling – where is my daughter,” Mandy drawled as Guy kissed her on both cheeks.
“I believe she is at the paddock – where she usually gravitates to on these occasions…”
"So why my
daughter Guy?" Will asked as they sat in the private box that Shirley had
taken for the meeting.
simple really,” Guy said with a smile, “I have a highly temperamental, but
brilliant, filly, and for weeks Andre and I have been trying to work out just
what to do."
that I get, but why Angel?"
talking with William Hyde-Andrews about the filly, and he remarked how
impressed he'd been with Angel when she's ridden work for him. He was praising
how quiet she is on a horse’s back, how gentle she is with difficult to ride
where this is going," Will smiled broadly.
"So, I phoned
Toddy in New York, "and he agreed that he's noticed how good Angel is with
highly strung animals."
decided to have a look yourself darling?"
"We did, and she certainly showed Andre and I this morning that she can get this little one to run for her."
“But it will cause a few problems for some people…”
“Nothing that is without a solution, I am sure…”
“Now this is a perfect way to spend a day,” Vicky said as she sat with her mother, Agnes and Sue on the balcony.
just think it's nice that we can come here, enjoy ourselves, and for once not
be even remotely the centre of attention," Agnes agreed as she sipped from
is nice," Sue looked out over the rolling landscape of the racecourse,
"I never even dreamed a few weeks ago that something this good could
remember that after the story comes out at the weekend, that after that yours
and Colin's lives are going to be a whole lot different, at least for a few
knows," Susan sipped her champagne, "but if the price for bein' with Colin is tellin' moi story, then oi'll pay
you will," Bobbi said quietly as she joined them, "and I'll be honest
I'm so proud of you Sue."
"As am I," Agnes smiled.
The group were all wearing sundresses with hats, talking amongst themselves as more arrived in the area.
“So – when do we look at the horses,” Sue said as she looked round.
“In a short while – let us discuss other things first.”
“Our little dinner tomorrow night to celebrate matters…”
From below, the crowd were paying little attention to the guests above – save for one woman, wearing a dark coat, who was staring up intensely.
"Look at them up there," Catherine growled as she stood on the lawn in front of the stand and looked up, "Bobbi Gresham-Fox talking to those whores as though they were decent human beings."
“You asked to see me?”
Catherine turned sharply to see the middle aged man standing beside her, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and red tie.
“Where is Donald?”
“Still in Paris,” he said quietly, “why?”
“Good – I have a little job for you…”
“Mike,” Sherry Babbage said as she looked over the balcony, “isn’t that Inspector Gregson down there?”
Mike looked over and nodded as he said “yeah – wonder who he’s talking to? His wife is in hospital still.”
“I don’t recognise her – and I thought he was with Donnie this week?”
“No – different branch. I may go and have a word with him…”
3 pm CET
“And here we go,” Juliette whispered to herself as she looked at the incoming Skype call, and then accepted it.
“Missy – how is New York this fine morning,” she said with a smile.
“New York is fine,” Missy Auerbach said quietly, “Munich?”
“Quiet,” Juliette said with a smile, “so what can I do for…”
“What in the name of creation is Guy doing,” Missy almost screamed down the line. “Angel? Riding in a proper RACE?”
“Well, to be fair, she has done eventing in the past Missy…”
“The key words there, Ju darling, are in the past,” Missy sighed. “What does Guy expect – a miracle?”
“From what I understand, he says this is the perfect melding of horse and rider – and it is for one race,” Juliette said as she rubbed her eyes. “How much trouble would she be in?”
“A couple of her endorsements may have an issue…”
“Listen – can we spin this as a positive? How difficult would it be to get her companies to the course, provide some hospitality? Maybe get a shoot set up there, and provide some support?”
“And her insurance?”
“Let’s see if they are open to the idea – as a one off,” Juliette said.
“Well… I’ll talk to them, but no promises,” Missy said. “This HAS to be a one off, though.”
“I’m sure it will be,” Juliette said as she crossed her fingers.
Complete Style Magazine
As Mary Thomas stepped out of the elevator, she smiled as she saw Marina coming in, wearing a long blue coat over a grey dress.
“Late start today,” she said with a smile.
“More like a late finish Mary,” Marina said with a smile. “Where are you off to?”
“Meeting Casey – she’s helping with a shoot in Central Park, and I said I’d drop in and answer her questions.”
“Kylie said she would be in this afternoon – she needs to go to Saks this morning with Susan,” Marina said as she headed to the elevator doors.
“Oh? Why there?”
“Uniform shopping – see you later,” she said with a smile as she pressed the button for the executive floor.
Stepping out, she hummed to herself as she entered the outer office – only to see her senior colleague standing there, wearing a blur pinafore dress over a white jumper.
time do you call this?" Anita stood tapping her watch as Marine arrived,
took off her coat, and yawned.
"I call it
ten past ten,” Marina said as she glanced at the clock on the wall, “what time
do you call it?"
know Anna gets here at Eight Thirty, and that we should be here well before
do." Marina smiled as she sat at her desk, and looked at her diary.
admit you are late?"
think that depends," Marina smiled again.
on what Sowkowski?" Anita's voice turned nasty
as she walked over, not hearing the door open behind her.
fact that Marina was up till three thirty this morning working," Anna said
quietly as she came out of her office, "and I told her to come in late
Anita because of that."
Anita looked at Anna before she said "You didn't tell me that boss."
"I didn't tell you,” Anna said quietly, “because I assumed you would have caught up on the correspondence – and if you had, that you'd realise that the memo finally confirming that both Shanghai and Moscow now know when they must let me have the online copy of their daily book, meant Marina had finally finished the negotiations."
“Oh – right,” Anita said quietly as she looked at Anna, then sneered at Marina before she went back to her desk.
3.30 pm BST
“Mike – do you have a moment for a private word,” Will said as he took the inspector to one side. “We had a call from Victoria Gordon - someone went into their house last night, took nothing, but left their mark.”
“She thinks so, but can’t prove it. Any word from your side?”
“No – she hasn’t surfaced publicly yet, as far as I know, but I’ll check in…”
a nice tip darling," Mandy turned and smiled at Angelica, "I've won a
few pounds on that race."
did you spot Angel?" Grant asked, "he had no chance on the form
just a feeling," Angel grinned, "he looked trained right up to the
second, and just ready to run a very special race."
think I know horses," Grant smiled, "but I failed to spot that."
winner and most of us were on it," Agnes joined the little group,
"despite other things I get the feeling this is going to be a wonderful
that to Mike," Sherry Babbage laughed, "he dismissed Angel's little
tip and was on the favourite instead."
that horse had no chance," Mike shook his head.
the policeman in you darling," Mandy drawled, "you look for things to
be logical and based on evidence.... sometimes you just need to follow gut
"Or in this case a young lady's instincts about horses," Guy started to pour fresh drinks for everyone.
“By the way, Nicola,” Sherry said as she looked at the young girl, “is that what I think it is on your left hand?”
“Yes it is,” Pepsi said as she held it up, “Jack and I have decided not to let the British Press take their pound of flesh, so we’re going public tomorrow.”
“Good for you,” Sue said as she returned with her winnings. “If I can share one thing, it’s that been open is the best way forward. Not the easy way, but the best…”
“Well, you and Simon inspired us as well,” Jack said with a smile as Will walked over to join John Hammond.
know you aren't here to work,” he said quietly, “but can I beg you to take some
pictures of Jack and Pepsi for public release?"
Will," the photographer said as he started to assemble his camera.
don't seem too unhappy about the news coming out?" Shirley smiled as she
looked at the young couple.
aren't...tell the truth all that secrecy was beginning to fray their nerves I
"I can understand that Will." Shirley nodded.
“So what do you think the press will do now?”
“Hopefully retire gracefully – except I can’t shake the feeling I know who tipped them off.”
Will nodded as he said “the sooner she is found, the better…”
Saks, 5th Avenue
A number of mothers and daughters were looking through the racks, but one by one they turned their heads as the tall, thin blonde haired teenager walked in, looking round through her large glasses, wearing a fawn jacket over a cream floral print short dress. With her was a young woman with brunette hair, who smiled and nodded at the onlookers as they passed.
“Now I understand how Jeannie feels at this time of year,” Kylie said as she looked round.
"Well we are used to having famous models buying school uniforms, but I think I can honestly say this is the first time we've ever had to serve a famous designer." Louise the department manager smiled as she walked over and said, "it's a pleasure to meet you Kylie."
darling," the English girl blushed.
she's tall and thin," Susan smiled, "do you have any of Abby de Ros's
"You aren't quite as tall as Abigail," Louise looked Kylie up and down, "but yes like her you need a long blazer. Elaine – will you take Miss Mitchell’s measurements please, and then find a suitable uniform for her to try?"
“Of course – this way please,” the assistant said as she took Kylie to the changing rooms, Louise smiling as she said “well, given the models who come here, I suppose it was only time.”
“Casey comes as well, doesn’t she?”
“If you ask Mary and Casey, she will say she is a stylist, not a designer,” Louise said with a smile. “How is April?”
“Walking and talking – we’ve managed to get her into a nursery two days a week now,” Susan said as Kylie came out, looking at herself in the white blouse, tartan skirt and crimson blazer.
“Hmm – very different from white and green – but I think I can make this work,” Kylie said with a smile.
“May I ask why you are in now, rather than later in the month, Kylie?”
"I'm off to England in a couple of days,” Kylie drawled, “so Susan thought I ought to have my uniform sorted early."
"Yes, there's a wedding shortly that I've designed most of the outfits for. I need to be there for final fittings – and as a guest, of course. Hmm – a little long, but I can adjust that myself. Growth room and all that.”
“Good – now for the remainder of your uniform Kylie…”
for coming over Wilhelmina, and you too Kate," Grace said as she put the
coffee things on the table, and sat down.
Kate asked as Grace poured, “you said it was a near emergency Grace."
maybe that's a slight exaggeration on my part,” Grace said as she passed the
mugs round, “but a story is breaking in England that St Angela's needs to be
informed about, and that we need to shape an official response to."
Wilhelmina said as she sipped her coffee. "And what might that be?"
“One of the
Sunday newspapers over there,” Grace said as she sat down, “is going to publish
the news that Pepsi Broadhurst is engaged to marry Jack Fitzstuart."
"Ouch," Kate shook her head, "well we all knew of course, but I thought they were waiting till after she was 18 to announce it?"
“They were – but the only way to spike this is to pre-empt them, so an announcement will be in the Times tomorrow. After that, we can expect questions.”
“Fair enough,” Wilhelmina said, “we cannot comment on the personal life of our students, under any circumstances?”
“It’s a start,” Kate said, “what else?”
West Central Park
speak to Pepsi and Aunt April Mom?" Katy asked as she sat at the breakfast
"I did darling." Jan poured the mid morning coffees. “They have had to accept this is the only way to defuse the situation.”
"What did they have to say about it?" Katherine asked.
you can imagine they aren't entirely happy that this has come out right now,
but better they get out ahead of this damn newspaper and tell the world
like it’s a lie," Katy tried a cookie, "most of their friends
Angela's know though?"
"Officially no Mom, but unofficially of course Grace and Wilhelmina knew."
“So what happens next?”
“We expect the questions – and I talk to Brook about what happens if there is fallout my way…”
6 pm BST
The South Coast
Missy, and I'll do whatever they want," Angel smiled as she hung up the
phone and sat down.
darling?" Mandy said as she looked over.
to have to do some publicity and other bits,” Angel said as she grinned, “but
yes basically at least from that side I'm clear to ride Mummy."
a case of getting my jockey's license in time."
"Well if I
know Guy then he's already been pulling strings," Mandy smiled as she
hugged her daughter. "I know this is a dream come true."
is," Angel smiled again happily.
way you can do the weight can't you sis?" Billy grinned from where he sat
in the corner.
"You are cruising for a bruising brother dear," Angel glared at her youngest sibling, "Yes I can do the weight, and Guy has had a set of silks made up for someone my height."
“Well, let’s dress for dinner – we are celebrating…”
bitch is going to be the death of me..."
Anna?" Mary asked as she walked over to the coffee machine and joined
cow Anita," Marina whispered as she shook her head, "she's been on my
case all morning after Anna gave her a dressing down for not realising why I
came in late this morning."
needs a kick in the ass."
“Mary, such language,” Marina laughed.
and I want to be the one to do it."
Sipping her coffee, Mary said "We have to work the hours to meet our work commitments, it is as simple as that.”
"Well,” Marina said quietly, “you are both reasonable women who understand time differences. Anita either forgets, or is deliberately ignoring that well over half my work is liaising with Shanghai and Moscow."
The de Ros Mansion
"How was your shoot darling?" Diana asked as she saw her daughter walk in.
"Torture," Abigail collapsed in an armchair, "the sooner that Ingrid returns from Europe, the more likely it is that Adam Cabot will unwind a bit and remember that models are human beings."
dear," Diana smiled. "Well I have news, the Fitzstuart's
and the Broadhurst's have had their hand forced by the British press and they
are announcing Pepsi and Jack's engagement."
"Ugggh,” Abi said with a sigh, “that could have been better
have, but anyway can you spread the word among your friends darling that a
discrete silence might be the best thing."
"Agreed," Abby stood up, "let me get changed and then I'll ring Jo and the others."
“Good – I will have Edith prepare some lunch for us.”
The Brewster Brownstone
“Have you all got the same message,” Jeannie said as she looked round the room, Doc, Becca, Erica and Nikki all nodding.
“They’ve had to go public – why,” Erica asked.
“They had a tipoff the British gutter press were going to print the story – and not in a complimentary way,” Doc said as she sipped her drink. “So they’re posting the announcement in the London Times, and then offering some photos to the press after that.”
“Can they really be that bad?”
“Trust me, they can,” Jeannie said. “So how was Wales anyway?”
“It really did feel like going home,” Erica said, “especially meeting some of granddad’s family. Very special indeed.”
“So what are you doing for the rest of the holiday?”
“No idea – just see what happens, especially when Jess gets back…”
11 am PT
“Why on earth did we agree to this,” Suzie Clarke said as she sat on one end of the two seat couch, crossing her thin legs as the skirt of her silver silk dress fell over them.
“It’s in the contract,” Mary said as she looked nervously round. She wore a grey jacket and skirt with a white blouse underneath, as she sat next to her younger sister.
“MAKE UP! We’re getting too much shine.”
The make up artist came in and checked Suzie’s look, as the two presenters came and sat opposite them.
“Just relax,” the man said as he smiled at them, “this will be fun.”
“I remember Abi telling me about doing something like this in the UK,” Mary whispered to Suzie, “they surprised her there with an ad she had done. At least that’s not going to happen to us…”
“Welcome back to Good Morning, with Steve Norman and Teresa Lopez. We’ve been joined today by one of the fastest rising stars of the Fashion world, who exploded onto the scene earlier this year, and one of the newest to emerge. They’re both from the city, and both took part in the Complete Style awards show last month in Australia. Please welcome to Good Morning Mary and Suzie Clarke.”
“It’s a pleasure to be here, Steve,” Mary said as she sipped her water.
“Now Mary, you were discovered last year by legendary agent Missy Auerbach, and have now appeared in a number of fashion spreads and fashion shows, as well as becoming the face of Cadeau Aphrodite.”
“That’s right Steve – it’s something of a whirlwind for the last year, but I have enjoyed almost every second of it.”
“And Suzie,” he said as he looked at the younger girl. “You literally exploded out of nowhere at the CS show. How did that happen?”
“Well,” Suzie said, “we were at a birthday party as a family, and Mary was heading to Sydney from there – but just as I was about to return home with the rest of the family, I was asked instead to go with another friend to London and join Mary there – and the next thing I know, I was walking the show with her.”
think it's fair to say Mary that you are a supermodel, and that Suzie is a
you could say that Steve," Mary blushed as she remembered to smile at the
both manage to remain so down-to-earth...How do you manage that?"
just by being ourselves," Mary felt herself squirming a bit, even a local
San Francisco daytime chat show like this was still outside her comfort zone.
pretend to be what we aren't," Suzie added, "we are both still just
two girls from Oakland Hills who got lucky."
beautiful as you both are though, I'm not sure that is merely luck girls,"
Teresa the other interviewer spoke.
"I think we were both in the right place at the right time Teresa," Mary tried to relax. “Me in the hotel, and Suzie in France.”
"So this is all down to luck?" Teresa said as a series of stills of the two girls flashed on the screen.
"Well it also has a lot to do with amazing photographers and makeup artists," Suzie laughed, "they do most of the work making us look that good."
“And natural talent,” Steve said, “so there are two more sisters at home – will they follow in your footsteps?”
“I think our father may have something to say about that,” Mary replied with a smile.
“Well, thank you for joining us, Mary and Suzie…”
Mary," Maddie shook her head as she closed her computer down, "she
looked like she hated every single second of that."
JD nodded as
she looked across the table. "Talking
to people she's not comfortable with isn't exactly her strong point, is
not JD. Given her story and background,
that shyness can be both an asset, and a hindrance. She’s not as quiet as when we first met, but
can teach her a few tricks about how to talk to the media?" Teresa asked
as she looked up from her pad.
can't do any harm," Maddie smiled. "Mary and Suzie are coming down
Friday to see Liz, can you spare some time JD?"
"I think I
can Maddie,” JD said as she checked her diary, “maybe I'll take them to lunch
at the hotel you are thinking about?"
"Good idea, a little reconnaissance will not go amiss."
“Good,” Maddie said with a smile, “now, other matters. I’ve reviewed the script you sent JD – I think it’s a bold next move. Let me know when it begins shooting.”
“Thanks Boss – and LadyDown?”
“Starts next week…”
8 pm BST
The South Coast
“Well,” Will said as he stood at the front of the room, “I had thought it would be a couple of years before I did this, but this is for the best, so I ask you to raise your glasses, and join me in a toast to one of the finest and most wonderful couples I know.
“The toast, Ladies and Gentlemen, is John and Nicola.”
“JOHN AND NICOLA,” the room replied as the young couple blushed, sitting at the head of the table.
“Thank you everyone,” Jack said as he stood up. “As Dad said, we had hoped we would be able to wait a couple of years, but I am so glad we can be open about it now, because it means we can tell everyone just how happy we are. I know it will be a long distance relationship, but Peps is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and we are determined to make this work.”
“Or I’ll kill him,” Pepsi said to a round of laughter.
“Gentlemen – let us leave the ladies to their talking,” Will said as the gentlemen left the table, while Bobbi and Vicki went to pour the coffee.
“So come on – let us see the ring,” Eve said as she, Kit, Liz and Aileen surrounded Pepsi, while Cat sat with Tamsin and Agnes.
“Am I seeing things,” Shirley said as she joined them, “or are you wearing your rings as well Catriona?”
“Well, like Francesca, it was well past time I did,” Catriona said as she showed the others her hand.
New York Times
“Oh come on,” Jane Molloy said as she sat on the opposite side of the desk, “they’re friends who asked me to keep a secret. What was I meant to do?”
that… Well, I'm not happy that you knew
and never gave me a heads up," the Editor of the Society Page grimaced,
"but least we can scoop everyone else with details now they are going
the days when a British lord marrying a New York girl was big news passed over
a hundred years ago," Jane smiled.
but when she's only sixteen, and his mother is a supermodel, I think our
readers will still find it somewhat of interest."
so," Jane looked up from the notepad, "well that is just what I know,
and the public details."
"And we got the photos John Hammond released, so I guess we are good," the editor looked quickly at Jane's notes. “But why go public now?”
“To spike something worse is what I hear, but no more than that. Still, we do get a scoop in that sense.”
West Central Park
“Now that does smell good,” Marina said as she sat at the table. “What is it?”
casserole - I sent Pepsi and Jack our congratulations darling," Kylie said
with a smile as she served dinner.
Marina sounded tired as she replied, "I've had a pig of a day and I'm not
sure I truly want to reboot my computer."
and then an early night then," Kylie said as she poured them both a glass
of white wine.
like a plan to me," Marina said as she took a sip of her drink. "So
how did the uniform buying go?"
Susan treated me to lunch as well." Kylie sat down and put a napkin over
her lap, before saying "I'm assuming that Anna was ecstatic that you
finally got Russia and China to see things her way, so what ruined your
you one guess."
"Got it in one kiddo." Marina ate a forkful of the casserole, before she said “the old me would have had words with her by now, with a switchblade to make my point.”
“That was the old you Darling – we have another way now.”
“True,” Marina said as she thought, “Dom’s coming tomorrow with Sharon, isn’t she?”
“To discuss the plans for the wedding yes,” Kylie said, and then she looked at Marina. “Why?”
“oh, just thinking…”
“Wilhelmina by the way is ecstatic over your latest piece of news Sarah,” Grace said as she glanced at TV Guide to see what was on.
“What’s that the third, or the fourth, of the online soccer magazines to either rank St Angela’s in its national Top 100, or to give the team an honourable mention?” Harriet asked as she looked over.
“It’s actually the fifth, but who’s keeping score.” Sarah grinned.
“Well Wilhelmina certainly is,” Grace said as she took a sip of her tea, “the positive publicity is the sort of thing she loves.”
“I hope you told her though that I got lucky in finding a couple of outstanding players to work with?”
“I did, but as she said, you’ve also drawn improvements out of a lot of other girls.”
“Yeah,” Sarah smiled, “I’m sort of proud of that…and them.”
“So other than football, and Pepsi’s engagement announcement,” Harriet said, “what else did you discuss?”
“Teaching assignments, and other such matters.”
“Well I’m happy that I will largely still be teaching Freshmen and Sophomores,” Harriet sighed as she finished her cup.
“No Anna Carlton,” Sarah smiled.
“That is a bonus,” Harriet laughed, “just a few ordinary geniuses to cope with, not an extraordinary one like her.”
“While I consider what I’m going to do for the Juniors next year – I’m considering the joys of Wilkie Collins.”
“The Woman in White and The Moonstone,” Grace said with a smile, “to what end?”
“Move on from there to Conan Doyle, and then Elmore Leornard. Too much of a jump?”
“Stick Chandler in the middle there, and it makes sense…”
Upper West Side
“So Susan Cherie,” Diana said as she looked at her friend, “what do you think?”
“What do I think? I think I’m glad that I’m not one of Lily’s team so I don’t have to do this Diana.”
“Well,” the French noblewoman said as she sipped her drink, “Shirley said she wanted them to be severely tested.”
“Oh I think Madame will be more than pleased at what you have planned. Tracey’s LA team would think they were at a weekend garden party compared to this.”
“I just hope that all the ‘guest instructors’ I have in mind can make it.”
“I’m sure they will at least try. With Penny being one of the trainers you know that Helen will enjoy coming to teach bangs for sure.”
“And Heather said just tell her when we want her to come and evaluate tech skills and she will be there.”
“You’ll do the firearms section yourself?”
“Oui,” Diana nodded.
“Talking of shooting by the way,” Susan said, “Janice was telling me how ecstatic Katy was after winning the silver medal on Sunday.”
“Well really it should have been the gold,” Diana said as she sat back, “but I think she started to get excited when she realized how well she was doing, and she lost her focus a little bit.”
“Did she?” Susan shook her head, “well if I know Katy she will have absorbed the lesson and won’t make the same mistake again.”
“She’s still a novice, but her progress I’ll admit has been amazing…”
The Burton Apartment
“That was a nice win on Sunday for RCM Denice,” Ian Nelson said as he pushed his plate away.
“Yeah,” Denice said as she started to collect the plates, “after our little European hiatus it was nice to get back to racing.”
“My husband loves to see his friends doing well,” Marti Nelson smiled.
“Well Henri I know appreciates Ian’s help and advice.”
“Henri has always been an amazing person.”
“So I’ve come to learn. Erica, will you take the plates in please?”
“Sure Mom,” the young girl said as she started to collect them.
“And talking of learning,” Marti said, “you have to teach me how to make that leek soup Denice.”
“And how she prepares her lamb.” Ian smiled.
“Family secrets,” Denice laughed, “but I’m glad you both enjoyed it, you’ve both been so kind inviting me over, I thought it was time to reciprocate.”
Thursday 28th July
1 am BST
Catherine seethed as she looked at the Times on her computer screen, "who
blabbed to them and gave them a chance to announce it first?"
reread the announcement in the highly structured formal prose of the court
"It should read that he's marrying some absolutely nobody America slut," she whispered to herself angrily. “Well, one plan fails – another can take its place…”
Hopkins Street, Soho
The sash window moved up, squeaking as it did so, and for a moment he thought the noise would be heard – but when nobody came, he lifted the window all the way up and climbed in.
He was dressed in dark clothing, with gloves and the woollen hat, and as he shone the penlight round he realised he was in the main office. On any other job, he would have headed straight for the safe, but she had been very particular on her instructions, where to go, what to leave – and he was too scared of her to do otherwise.
So he opened the door of the office, and walked down the unlit corridor, opening doors and looking in until he found the store cupboard, neat stacks of clothes on shelves, rows of shoes and boots on the floor.
“Right,” he said as he slipped off the rucksack from his back, and took out a plastic bag packed densely with what looked like tobacco. He hid it under a pile of coats, and then took out a white block wrapped in plastic, which he slipped into a pile of new underwear.
“I hate this,” he whispered quietly, “but she insisted.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I will forgive you.”
He suddenly turned round, and saw the Asian woman looking at him, as at the same instant he felt the dart in his arm. As he fell unconscious to the ground, he managed to say “shit…”
Cho walked over and looked at him, before she took her cell phone out and dialled a number.
“My apologies, my Lady, but you did ask to be informed if anyone tried to do damage to the school. I caught an intruder hiding various – presents. Your instructions?
“I understand – I will await their arrival and assist with the clean-up,” she said quietly as she ended the call, and looked round…
8.30 am BST
The South Coast
“’Viscount Millingham and Miss N J Broadhurst. The Engagement is announced of John, Viscount Millingham, eldest son of William, Marquis of Ordford, and Amanda, Marchioness of Ordford, and Nicola Jane, daughter of Grant and April Broadhurst, of New York.’ Well, it’s official now.”
“I’ll be honest - I expected there to be more of a bang,” April said as she sipped her orange juice.
“Meaning what April?” Colin Leventhal asked as he folded the Times and put it on the table.
“I guess I had a vision of screaming front page headlines,” April said, “but I just looked at a pile of newspaper sites before breakfast, and yes the engagement is mentioned, but none of the papers are screaming with outrage that my 16 year old daughter is engaged to be married.”
“That’s the point though,” Yvonne smiled as she sat opposite, “they are ENGAGED, not married, and they’ve made it pretty clear that they won’t be getting married for at least two years. It’s newsworthy, but it’s far from scandalous.”
April nodded as she said “I guess that’s so.”
“And for the tabloids at least it’s the fact that he is Mandy’s son that they have latched on to, not who Pepsi is really.”
“I noticed that Colin,” Grant sipped his coffee.
“So where are they anyway?” Yvonne sipped her tea.
“Answering messages from friends.”
“Oh wow – Kylie sent a lovely message,” Pepsi said as she sat with Jack, “and so did Caroline and Amma.”
“There’s one here from Mick and Nell – they say they’ll see us to congratulate us properly later.”
“Of course – the Trehannan contingent are coming to Goodwood this afternoon, aren’t they,” Pepsi said with a smile. “You know, it’s actually good we can do this now.”
“Who’s this one from – Uma and Ruth?”
“Uma – that’s Ama’s sister,” Pepsi said, “she lives with her adopted mother in Harlow.”
“Of course – I had forgotten you met them when you visited.” Jack looked up as April came in.
“This huge bunch of flowers just arrived for you Pepsi – from Munich.”
“Oh wow – Mom will love them as well…”
11 am BST
The line of cars waiting to board the Irish Ferry was slowly moving forward, one driver in particular taking furtive glances to her side as she inched forward.
“Don’t they get it? She’s nothing but a cheap American slut,” Catherine mumbled as she sat looking at the computer and seething. “The heir to centuries of history is marrying a little whore from Greenwich Village.”
“You can park in that line Miss,” the parking attendant on the ferry gestured as she moved on.
“Thank you,” she said as she remembered to smile, and parked in the position allocated. So far nothing had worked out how she intended, perhaps Carlin Kardecki would prove a more efficient tool in her hands then others had…Yes, she thought as she glanced at the picture of Jack and Pepsi, maybe this was the right time to be going to Ireland. Closing the laptop, she picked it up and left the car, making her way to the coffee lounge.
1 pm BST
The tall, thin blonde smiled as she entered the box. Wearing a white jacket over a pale yellow slip dress, with white heels and matching hat, she walked with true grace to join the others who had already arrived.
“Francesca darling,” Shirley said as she stood and greeted her friend with a kiss on both cheeks, “how was the flight?”
“Tiring – I spoke to Carlotta today, and they are enjoying their honeymoon. May I have some of that wine please?”
“Of course,” Catriona said as she poured some into another glass. “How was the ceremony?”
“Simple and beautiful – there were only a few of us here, but the respect was clear. His Holiness actually came to conduct the blessing, and the General read a posthumous declaration of his appointment to the Order of Merit First Class in recognition of his life and work.”
"Do you think Father Bettega would have liked being described as a war hero Francesca?"
"Probably not Catriona," the Marchesa smiled, "first, like all true heroes, I think he hated being called that. To him he just did his duty in ministering to the dead and dying on that terrible mountainside. And secondly if he had admitted to being a hero I'm pretty sure he would want the word peace, not the word war to be associated with him."
true," Shirley said as she made a note on her race card, "from what
Alex told me he didn't discriminate between the allied and the German boys who
were suffering and dying, to him they were all God's children regardless of
nationality and religion."
he would dance at Carlotta's wedding," Francesca smiled, "and he kept
his promise to your Mother as well, Francesca - to make sure Carlotta had the
"True Catriona," Francesca smiled, "and I suspect in his own heart, with his promises duly honoured, he knew that his time had come."
“And he faced it with calm serenity – I read they discovered him smiling,” Catriona said as she looked at her phone.
“No - just something that happened last night…”
“The school,” Shirley whispered as they turned their backs for a moment.
“Indeed – that’s why Agnes and Sue aren’t here. They’re meeting there…”
Hopkins Street, Soho
“Okay Dame Margaret – the window’s been repaired, and new locks fitted.”
“Thank you Andrew – send me the bill,” Margaret Harker said as the workmen left her with Agnes, Sue and Penny talking to some of the girls outside the office.
“Drugs? Someone tried to actually plant drugs here? And they’ve admitted it was her who told them to do it?”
“I know she hates you Agnes, but no one in their right mind surely would want to harm this place?” Dame Margaret said as she shook her head.
“She’s not in her right mind,” Sue muttered as she came in with Penny.
“She wants to hurt me,” Agnes said as she sat down, “and I guess she knows just how important these children, and this place, are to me.”
“This school is important to a lot of us,” Penny glanced round, “and if I ever get hold of Lady Catherine I intend to tell her that rather forcibly.”
“It’s such a pity that all this has interrupted your trip to Goodwood,” Maggie shook her head.
“Maggie, this is important – going for me is one thing, but the kids? That’s beyond the pale. Miley – what is it?”
“There’s a man here to see you Agnes – DCI Babbage?”
Looking at the young girl, Agnes said “it’s all right Miley – where is he?”
“In the kitchen – Becca is watching him.”
“All right – let’s go back together.”
“We’re going to talk shop with Maggie,” Penny said as Agnes and Miley walked to where Mike Babbage was sitting.
“Agnes – what’s the damage?”
“A couple of forced windows – they’re sorted now though. Becca, can we get a pot of coffee please?”
“Coming up,” the black haired girl said as she went to the kettle.
“So who did it?”
“A low level punk called Topper – whoever was here on security last night tranqued him, and held him until what he had done was ascertained.”
“And that was…”
“Weed and happy powder – he won’t turn over who supplied him, but he’s singing like a canary about why he did it.”
Nodding, Mike said “he admitted to doing some of her dirty work in the past – she called him two days ago, told him to collect a parcel, then break in here and leave the contents for a police team to find.”
“Why? Why did he agree to do it?”
bribery, and blackmail Aggie, it looks like Catherine used all of them to build
herself up quite a little network of people willing to do her bidding."
Mike Babbage tried to smile, "I think when all of this comes out there are
going to be several people who will need to do a lot of explaining."
beginning to agree Mike," Aggie poured herself a cup of coffee and sat
down, then saw the way the young girl was looking at Mike. "Miley, don't
worry dear,” she said quietly, “DCI Babbage is actually one of the real good
sure Aggie?" the young redhead asked doubtfully.
sure," Agnes smiled, "can you go find Sue for me please?"
the girl said as she walked away.
is her story?"
Mike, her father started abusing her when she was just 6 years old."
find proof...I found her hiding in an alley and near frozen to death."
God," Mike shook his head.
"She's scared that you are going to send her back."
“No – this is neutral territory, and anyway I would never do that to one of your children.” Sipping the coffee, he said “Donald has been told, of course. He says he’ll call you later.”
Nodding, Agnes said “Where the hell is she Mike? First her sister’s home, then London. What’s she going to do next?”
“If I knew, Agnes, I’d be a lot happier. I had thought she’d do something at Ardray, and Police Scotland are looking out, but so far nothing.”
“I’m worried she may do something very serious Mike…”
Putting his hand on hers, Mike said “we will find her – what on earth…”
2.30 pm BST
“Oh my,” George said as he saw Mike Babbage come in, “a pint, Mike?”
“Thanks,” Mike said as he sat down, “I need one.”
“I’ve been dealing with an incident at Agnes’ school – someone tried to plant drugs, got caught, I went to talk to them.” He drained his pint and put it down, sighing as he did so.
“WHAT? Was it her – the mad Lady?”
“Is that what they’re calling her? Yeah – it was, she tried to hurt Agnes through them.”
“The innocents – why are they always the ones who get hurt first?”
poor children, they don’t deserve to get dragged into this" Mike Babbage
shook his head as George poured him a second pint.
know," the female impersonator shook his head, "this bitch must be
truly sick if she's trying to hurt Lady by going after those children."
burst in while we were talking, and started threatening me with what she would
do to me if I took another girl and had her sent back to her parents. I've
never quite seen a look like the one she had on her face."
leaned on the bar. "I can
understand that - Lady has tried to tell me about the fierce loyalty these kids
feel to each other and how protective some of them can get. I imagine you got a first
hand taste of that today."
girl… her name is Laura, she's 13 years old and she's on the game," Mike
took a sip of his beer. "Aggie told me that Laura sells her body so that
Miley her friend will never have to."
is Miley Mike?"
the policeman shook his head, “poor kid - her dad was abusing her from when she
was just six years old... When she heard
who I was, she was petrified I was going to return her home.” Taking another sip, he said “How can any
parent? No, how can any human being do that to a kid?"
know Mike, there are a lot of very sick, very evil, people out there. Aggie
does her best at least to try and help the casualties."
for the first time I truly understood what this was all about, to see Laura
with her arms round Miley so determined to protect her, and them both only
calming down when Agnes explained I wasn't there to try and enforce the
sad fact of our society, Mike. The system
fails these kids badly, but at least Lady understands what these kids feel.
She's not judgmental and she's a realist."
Mike took another sip, "she explained to me that Laura prostituting
herself means that she can pay for a little room for her and Miley to live in.
She puts food in their stomachs, and they both spend as much time as they can
at the school, not just learning, but helping as well."
"It's pretty admirable in a way," George said as he poured himself a whiskey. "The so-called grownups of the world have failed them and they are just doing the best that they can by caring for each other."
“I don’t know what’s worse though – that Laura has to be a pro to survive, or that there are people who pay for that. Sometimes I wonder if I am in the right business, George.”
“DCI Babbage,” George said quietly, “never doubt you are in the right place for people. If you weren’t, things would be much, much worse. And in the meantime, thank God for people like Lady and Maggie Harker.”
“Amen George,” Mike said as he raised his glass, “Amen.”