The Trials of Agnes McAdam – Part 3
Saturday 30th July
2.30 pm BST
“Oh well hit,” Mick said, clapping as he sat in the deck chair next to Nell, while the batsman raised his bat in acknowledgement, and the umpire signalled a six.
“So that was a good shot,” Nell said as she shielded her eyes under her hat.
“Oh yes - brings the teams closer to their target,” Mick said as the scorer adjusted the board.
“So this is a Cricket match,” Daniel said as he stood in front of the bay windows, watching with Kelly, Ally, Charlie and Olivia. “Almost as long as a baseball match?”
“But with more strategy,” Charlie said as he looked on. “Where’s Fi?”
“She’s helping set up the tea tent with Charlie.”
“Edwina is in her room, but should not be too much longer…”
The focus of the crowd was on the cricket game, which allowed the flaxen haired man to walk unseen round the ground, and then slip into the hall itself. He stayed in the background to avoid any staff walking round, and then made his way into the parlour.
Closing the door as quietly as he could, he looked round the well furnished room, and then walked quickly over to where an oil portrait of the Treharran family was hung, Olivia and Charles sitting in chairs, Mike and Fiona behind them, and Charlie and Edwina in front.
“Nice looking family - wonder why she hates them so much,” he said to himself, as he put the small bag he was carrying down, and opened it before he took out a can of black spray paint. She had given very specific instructions about what he was to do, and what would happen if he did not do as she had commanded.
Shaking the can in his gloved hand, he looked at the painting, shaking his head as he…
“Who are you? Why are you in my mummy’s favourite room?”
He turned suddenly to see Edwina standing there, wearing a light blue smock over a pair of black jeans, and trainers. He stared at her, unsure of what to do, before she turned and started to walk out of the room – and then he ran over, dropping the can as he grabbed her round the waist and pulled her into the room, putting his gloved hand over her mouth to stifle her screams as he pushed the door closed with his foot…
“Well, that should be enough for the players,” Fiona said as she and Charlie walked across the main hallway. Fiona was wearing a white summer dress, and Charlie cricket whites. “We’ll tell Dad and then…”
They both heard the muffled cry as Charlie said “what was that?”
“I don’t know,” Fiona said as they looked round, and then she heard the cry again, realising it was coming from the parlour.
“Charlie,” she said quietly, “go and find Mum and Dad, tell them to come to the parlour, and stay there with Mr and Mrs Rochermann.”
“Please, do as I say,” Fiona said, “and quickly.” Charlie nodded as he ran for the front door, while Fiona took her glasses off, folded them and put them on a small table, and then walked to the room door. Grabbing the handle, she slowly opened it and looked inside.
She could see Edwina, lying on her side on a recliner, her wrists and ankles tied together with cords, and a cloth sticking out from between her lips. She looked at Fiona and then glanced to the side, Fiona slowly coming in as she saw the man spray black paint over the portrait. The message he was leaving made her see red – not just as an artist, but as a Treharran…
“Where did you hear the noise from,” Mick said as he and Charles came in with Charlie.
“The parlour, she…”
“YOU FUCKING SICK BASTARD!!!”
There was a crashing sound as both Mick and Charles ran in, to see Fi kneeling on the ground, astride the man, clawing at him as she said “you hurt my sister, and do THIS to our portrait?”
Charles ran over and pulled the cloth from Edwina’s mouth, holding her as Mick ran to Fiona and pulled her off, then pulled the man to his feet and twisted his arm behind his back.
“Fi,” he said quietly, “fetch Sergeant Bowles in for a minute. He’s going nowhere.”
“Why would he do that,” Fi asked as she looked at the obscene message sprayed on the portrait.
“One guess,” her father said, “go and fetch the Sergeant. We can discuss this later.”
As Fiona left, Edwina sobbed into her father’s chest as he held her, looking at Mick as he said “it’s her, isn’t it?”
“I think so – once he’s taken off, we need to talk.”
3.30 pm BST
“Boss, you need to see this,” Sue said as she passed Agnes her tablet, waiting as the redhead read the message.
gone beyond the pale," Agnes gritted her teeth as she looked up. “Going after me was one thing, but when
children like Edwina get caught up in her twisted vendetta schemes, that is
where I draw a line in the sand."
kid, she must have been terrified," Sue shook her head, "Catherine had
better be glad that Olivia can't get to her right this very minute."
"She better be bloody glad I can't get my hands on her either." Agnes handed the tablet back, a black look in her eye. “Sue, see if Tamsin is on line, will you?”
"Aggie have you heard?" Mike Babbage shouted as he entered the private box.
just sent me an e-mail. I never thought
she’d try something like that…"
at the Yard just upgraded the threat she poses."
Agnes nodded grimly.
you heard what has happened in Cornwall?" Sherry Babbage said as she ran
in, holding her hat on her head.
says her little one is going to be okay,” Agnes said quietly as she stood up, “though
the guy they caught might need a little patching up after what Fiona did to
good for Fiona," Sue smiled. “the
girl has the right attitude.”
next steps. Has anyone rung
Will to do it Agnes," Mike said as she sat down and rubbed his eyes,
Sherry putting her hand on his shoulder.
Mike,” Agnes said as she looked over the course, “I'll talk to Donald later
when I've pulled myself together a little bit."
aren't contemplating doing something stupid to get revenge are you?" the
policeman whispered in her ear.
that if anything happens to Catherine I'll be your prime suspect Mike, how
stupid do you think I am?"
"Oh I know
you wouldn't do it yourself Aggie, but i also know
that you know plenty of people who if you even intimated you wanted her killed,
would do it for you."
"I know you know Mike," the redheaded academic smiled, "just be assured I'm not ruining the rest of my life because of that bitch. I'll make sure though that she ends up nice and secure in Broadmoor or Rampton and never presents a threat to me or my friends again."
“That’s my hope as well…”
Shirley looked at Mandy as she sat next to her, and whispered “someone attacked her children?”
“I know darling – I never thought she would tell anyone to do that, but apparently whoever this man is tied up and gagged little Edwina. Fi apparently went slightly mad at him.”
Shirley nodded. “I’ve seen Fiona upset – she can be quite forceful. But they are all right?”
“Shaken up, but yes darling – they’ll need to get a new family portrait, but that is a small thing when you weigh it all up.”
“I just heard,” Catriona said as she joined them. “What is being done?”
“Will is talking to Donald, and the police have upgraded the notice for her arrest.”
Nodding, Catriona said “I’m going to advise Agnes to get a restraining order out against her, in terms of herself and Tamsin. It may not be much to her, but it sets the legal precedent.”
“Do that – Mandy, pass on to Olivia that if there is anything I can do…”
“Thank you,” Mandy said as she walked off.
“Catriona, contact our agents in Ardray. I want a full risk assessment.”
“What else are you going to do?”
“Make a call,” Shirley said as she took her phone out. “Jayne? Where are you?
“And Lily has assigned some help?
“Good – I need some additional information when you execute the plan…”
“Something up Shirley,” Penny said as she came in. “I just saw Sue and she looked angry.”
“Something is up – a man broke into Penhaddow Hall, tied up the younger daughter, and defaced a family portrait before Fiona stopped him.”
She looked at Penny as she stared to the side, and then said quietly “Madame, say the word…”
“No Penny – we cannot do this, much as it may solve all problems, in this way. We must concentrate on protecting Agnes, and making sure she is stopped by other means.”
4.45 pm CET
The British Embassy
Bro, young Edwina will be okay won't she?" Donald asked as he sipped from
the glass of whiskey that he'd poured to steady his own nerves.
to Charlie,” he heard Will say over the phone line, “and he said she'd be good. But just the fact she would do this…"
anyone told Aggie?" Donald said as he looked out of the window.
said he sent her a message personally."
ring him and Olivia in a bit,” Donald said quietly, “and apologise."
you got to apologise for Donnie?” He
heard Will take a deep breath, and say “You didn't do this."
know," Donald paused, "I guess I think I'm responsible because I'm
married to Catherine."
become an irrelevant detail Bro, the more she does the more obvious it becomes
that she married you under false pretenses, that she
broke you and Aggie up, and well if nothing else that she's raving
blame yourself Donald and I'm disowning you as my brother," Will took a
deep breath again. "A few weeks ago, you asked me what you should do about
Catherine and I gave you some advice. Well now I'm not advising you what to do,
I'm telling you."
are telling me to do what?"
thing Monday morning ring your solicitors in London Donnie and institute
divorce proceedings. You don't love her, and she's obsessed with you, not in
love, so start the divorce and hopefully very soon you'll be able to marry the
woman you really love and have that happiness you both deserve."
will take me."
"Now you are being just plain stupid Bro," Will laughed heartily.
“I know you’re right Will – but in diplomatic terms, I need to take this carefully.” Sitting down, he rubbed his head and said “let me talk to my superiors, get their advice, but one way or another, I need to do something for my own sanity. I’ll be back next weekend, Will – let’s meet at the club then.”
4 pm BST
“It is truly a magnificent place,” Natalya said as she and Cho looked out over the heath, Rory smiling as he stood beside them. “It reminds me of the grass plains in my home country.”
“A wee bit warmer though,” Rory said with a smile, “even now.”
“True – so the shoot on the twelfth?”
“We’ll have the guns lined up along here,” Rory said as he waved with his stick towards an area a few feet back. “The beaters will work their way down the moor, chasing the birds towards them.”
Cho looked down, and said “it is exposed behind.”
“Aye – but the focus of all here will be that way.”
Natalya nodded as she made a note on her pad, and looked up. “What about the luncheon?”
“Shelaigh and the girls will come in the SUVs, and serve along there.”
“Okay – so the journey there and back, that has to be taken into account.” She looked at Cho, who was scanning the hills in front of them.
“All the beaters have been vetted?”
“Aye – what are ye thinking lass?”
“Can we arrange some additional cover behind them?”
Natalya nodded as she said “good idea – thank you Mr McAdam, I think we have seen enough.”
“Do you shoot Miss?”
“Not for sport, no,” Natalya said with a smile as they walked back to the car.
4 pm BST
“Olivia is bringing the family to Ordford on Monday – we’ll head up from there,” Mandy said as she ended the call, “I’ll let the staff know to prepare extra rooms.”
“Good,” Catriona said as she looked through her binoculars, “so, the last race, and the most important of all for us.”
“Indeed Darling – I wonder how she is feeling…”
“Nervous?” Guy asked as they stood in the parade ring, he in his “Office attire” and Angel wearing the silks.
“More like I’m worried I’ll let you and Uncle Andre down,” Angel whispered as she glanced over to where the stable girl was walking the leggy filly round. “This is the first time I’ve ever done this…”
“Win or lose Angel I know you’ll do your very best,” Guy smiled.
“I’m just hoping worrying about Fiona doesn’t distract me.”
“Now that I can guarantee will not happen, darling I know you well enough to know that when we put you up on her that will be all that matters for a few short minutes.”
“I suppose so – I’ll call her after the race is over and done with.”
“Just let her settle out of the gate Angel,” the trainer spoke softly in his heavily accented English, “then when you have her balanced and running just let her have her head.”
“Alright it’s time to get mounted,” Guy patted his jockey on her back, “we don’t know what’s going to happen angel, she’s a real unknown quantity, just give her her chance and let’s see if she really is any good.”
“Okay,” Angel smiled as the trainer lifted her into the saddle.
“So the riders are mounting their horses now,” the ITV commentator said as he looked on, “and there’s number 7, Baloosara from the Du Grechy stables. And she has a first time jockey here?”
“That’s right – but a well known face in the equestrian and modelling world, Angel Fitzstuart. The owners are taking a gamble here, with an inexperienced jockey, but it does have to be said she looks fresh and in control…”
“Baloosara is 20-1,” Francesca di Cambrello said to herself as she looked at the odds the bookmakers were offering.
“Sounds like fair odds to me,” Sue said in agreement as she reached into her purse for some cash, “purely on looks I had her the best of the field in the parade ring.”
“Agreed,” Francesca nodded, “she’s a nice filly, maybe still a little leggy, but I’m willing to risk a few pounds each way.”
“My daughter looks nervous as hell,” Will said as he looked through his binoculars, while Angel took Baloosara out onto the lush green track.
“It’s not her nerves that we need to worry about,” Grant looked down, “the filly is starting to sweat up just a little.”
“It’s her first time out, got to maybe expect that darling,” Mandy drawled, “it’s like a girl walking her first catwalk show.”
“Trust you to come up with an analogy like that Mum,” Jack grinned.
“And they’re starting to get into the stalls now – Baloosara is a little frisky.”
“To be expected – she s of a line of fast but nervous horses. The betting suggests she is a good outside bet for the race – and with the pedigree of the Duc du Grechy, certainly worth a shot…”
“She’s playing up a little going into the box.”
“Guy relax,” Valeria spoke, “there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“I know,” Guy said as a hood was put over the horse’s head, Angel patting it as it was led into the stall and the gate closed behind her.
Angel looked in the next stall as the jockey said “good luck.” She nodded in agreement and tensed herself as they waited for the gates to open.
Angel urged Ballosara forward, the horse taking a few moments to come out longer than the others as the others listened to the commentary.
“All made a good start, but it’s Kitemark that is making the early running from Lady’s Boy and Lady Peacock, and Baloosara bringing up the rear.”
“Come on Angel,” Will shouted as the horses turned into the straight.
“And Kitemark still has the lead from Lady Peacock, Lady’s Boy is fading – and Baloosara is starting to make run for the line now.”
“Oh she’s judged that well,” Grant said as he watched through his binoculars, Jack cheering with Pepsi. “Come on, my girl, come on…”
“And Baloosara moves into third with two furlongs to go, he’s catching Lady Peacock, and Kitemark is holding firm… Baloosara is passing Lady Peacock, but can she catch the leader with one furlong to go…”
“COME ON,” Mandy called out in a very unladylike way as the horses crossed the line…
“And it’s Kitemark first by a head from Baloosara, Lady Peacock third. A truly thrilling race…”
“Well done my girl, well done,” Guy said as he and Valeria came into the winner’s enclosure, the stable girl taking the reins.
“I’m sorry Uncle Guy,” Angel looked as though she was about to cry as she dismounted.
“Why?” the Duc laughed. “Second beaten by a head, that far exceeded my wildest expectations.”
“I couldn’t get her to settle,” Angel said as she removed her helmet, “if I’d maybe got her going right out of the gate I’d have won.”
“She showed some amazing speed,” Valeria said as she patted the horse, “and you brought her for her run at just the right time. Next time she and you will be a lot better for that experience.”
“Angel darling,” Guy said with a smile, “I think you and she will be a little team.”
“Will discuss it with you later.”
“How DO you do that,” Angel said as she saw Missy Auerbach next to her mother.
“It’s a gift…”
7 pm BST
“Simon, is that you?”
“Yes,” Sir Simon McDonald said as he came in, “that has been a busy afternoon.”
“Well? What happened” Lady Fiona said as she stood and looked at her husband.
“After Donald called me, I spoke with the powers that be. I’ve spoken with Donald again, and delivered both the official, and unofficial messages from the PM, and the Foreign Secretary.”
“Meaning what Colin,” Fiona paused, “you know that like most senior civil servants you can have an awful lot of words come out of your mouth, yet you say nothing.”
“I know, it’s an art form we are all trained in,” Sir Simon smiled, “what it means is that while we expressed to Donald what the consequences of news of what is going on with Catherine leaking out might be, I also passed on everyone’s best wishes and sympathy that he is caught in a situation he really has no control over.”
“Or in other words,” Fiona said with a smile, “Please, please, let’s all try and keep this out of the newspapers?”
“That pretty much sums it up darling. Off the record, he should have done this a LONG time ago, but this has brought it to a head.”
“What would have happened if she had gone to Paris, Colin?”
“I do not want to think about that.”
Fiona nodded as she said “anyway, I got hold of Aggie and asked her to pass on our sympathy to Charles and Olivia.”
“Good…that poor child.”
“I know,” Fiona said, “but according to Aggie other than a couple of bruises she is at least physically unharmed.”
“Thank God for small mercies.” Sir Simon said as he walked towards the kitchen. “Coffee or tea?”
“Coffee please.” Fiona said as she followed him.
“Did she say if the police have contacted her?”
“Mike and Sherry Babbage are at Goodwood, I think he’s acting as a go-between.”
“Michael is both a good copper, and a good friend to Agnes,” Colin said as he started the coffee maker, “it’s nice that just for once maybe the right man is in the right place at the right time.”
“Agreed darling. Agnes was saying he actually warned her against sending any of her underworld contacts after Catherine.”
“Aggie isn’t that stupid,” Sir Simon started the coffee maker, “she knows that if Catherine meets an untimely end, as justified as that might be, that’s the end of both hers and Donald’s hopes for happiness and success.”
“So the best thing all round is if she is quietly found and returned to a secure home?”
“Yeah – we can only hope…”
7 pm BST
“There you go,” Victoria said as she handed the telephone to Agnes, who took a deep breath before she said “hello Donnie. I take it you’ve heard the news?”
“Yeah – how are they?”
“Hopping mad, Donnie. I spoke to Tippy Toes a little while ago, and she’s keeping an eye out, but Edwina…”
“I know – she’s gone too far this time. Listen - I’m starting divorce proceedings Agnes.”
Agnes looked round before she whispered “And when did you decide that darling?”
“After Will told me that I had to.”
“Will said that?”
“Yes,” Donald laughed gently, “but he was only reinforcing what I’d decided to do anyway. I cannot be married to her any more, not after all this.”
“What about the scandal?”
“Well your godfather reassured me earlier that the powers that be thoroughly understand the situation, and other than asking me to try and keep it from getting too messy, that they understand I must do what I need do, and that all this will not adversely effect my career, or they hope the work I’m doing here in Paris.”
“I will cross my fingers Donald.” Agnes smiled, “at least if that happens, we have some freedom. In the meantime, I need to tell you that Cat has approached a judge she knows and is asking him to issue a restraining order on my behalf against Catherine.”
“Not that a restraining order of course will worry her,” Agnes said as she tried to laugh.
“Sadly no – but it’s the right thing to do. It will cover Tamsin and Christine as well.”
“It will. Also, Shirley has used her contacts with Caroline Jameson to hire some private security to watch over Sue and I.”
“Again that’s a logical thing to do,” she heard Donald say. “I wonder where she is now?”
“It seems that doesn’t matter – she has people everywhere. All we can do is watch out and take care.”
“Well, I’m joining Will and Mandy on Saturday next week at the estate, for the wedding. We can spend some time then?”
“Come over – I’ll be at Ardray for that week with Susan, after Colin has launched his campaign.”
9 pm BST
The three women sat outside the bar, looking at the building opposite as they sipped their drinks.
“Seriously, Jayne darling, this is a popular drink over here,” Louise said as she looked at her half of Guinness.
“Not your usual cocktail, I know Louise, but it helps us blend in,” Jayne said with a smile. The middle aged woman was wearing a red checked blouse over a grey jumper, grey slacks and brown suede boots, while Louise wore a blue short sleeved dress and flat white shoes.
The third woman, a redhead wearing jeans and a black leather jacket, looked up at the sky and said “I thought New York was cold…”
“Frances, my dear, this is Ireland – a hot day is a rarity,” Louise said with a smile. “So – our mission?”
“Third floor flat over there – the top one – is the home of one Gerard O’Kelly, a leading journalist in the area – and a patsy and supporter of a woman who has really upset Madame today,” Jane said. “So, while our original mission was for you to support me and watch my back, this just became a moe serious information gatherinf exercise. So drink up, ladies – it’s time to go to work.
“Frances, when we get in, your job is to obtain copies of his electronic records, and look for connections to any of the aliases you have been provided. Louise, get us in and secure him, then disable the security system and retrieve the records of the system. Ready?”
The two girls nodded as they stood up and walked across the road, slipping on leather gloves as they did so. Looking both ways, they slipped through the communal door and made their way to the top floor.
“Louise. Would you do the honours?”
“Of course Darling,” Louise said as she slipped a small cloth bag from her back pocket, selected her tools, and worked on the lock before she heard a soft click and the door swung silently inside.
“Nice,” Frances whispered as they slipped inside, Jayne closing the door behind them.
As they stood there, drawing pistols, they heard the sound of the television playing in another room. Jayne indicated the doors to the left as Louise walked round, opening each door in quickly and looking in with her pistol aimed forward, as Frances checked the doors on the right. As she opened one, she indicated to Jayne and Louise, as they walked over and looked in.
A large, broad shouldered man was looking at a television set, laughing as he watched a program. The three women looked at each other, before Frances quietly opened the door, and allowed Jayne and Louise to walk in.
The first he knew of their presence was the thin ring of metal pressed agains this head, as Louise said “hello darling – would I be right in thinking you are Gerard O’Kelly?”
“Who wants to know,” he said in a deep Irish brogue.
“I do – actually we all do, but I’d much prefer it if you answered the question.”
“And if I am?”
“Then we’re in the right place – just keep those hands where we can see them, please.”
He looked on as an older woman stood in front of him, while a red head started to search the room.
“Well, had I known I’d be entertaining, I’d have got drinks in,” Gerard said quietly, as he watched the redhead open a laptop. “Hey – that’s private.”
“Not any more Mr O’Kelly,” Jayne said quietly, “Louise, be a dear and find all security measures.”
“Of course my dear,” he heard the voice behind him say as the pressure was relieved, and the older woman held a gun to him instead.
“Look, I don’t know who…”
Gerard looked at the woman, as he said “Madame? I have done nothing to infringe on her world.”
“True – if you had directly, it would not be us who were calling. But you have dealings with someone who has – Mary Kelly?”
“Mary… Look, she made me handle her finances. Whatever that bitch has done…”
“What she has done? Apart from threatening good friends of Madame’s, you have been giving her funds and succour here in Dublin. We’re here to put a stop to her, and hopefully stop her.”
“Good luck with that,” he said as his eyes darted round.
“Got them – accounts, travel records, everything.”
“Good – download the details, and direct the funds to the school. It will be put to good use there, and it is an appropriate place for it to go.”
“Got the security tapes – and she is staying here,” Louise said as she came in. “I found her case – left her a note.”
“Good – our business is not with her tonight, but it is appropriate she knows we are watching. Would you be a dear, Louise, and fetch me a glass of water?”
Gerard was sweating as he watched the other woman walk to his kitchen, and return with a glass of water. Covering the man, she watched as Jayne tipped the contents of a phial into the glass, and handed it to Gerard.
“And what am I meant to do with this?”
“Drink it – it’s a drug that will ensure you forget you ever saw us.”
Nodding, Gerard took the glass and drained it, Jayne smiling as Frances picked up the laptop.
“Thank you Mister O’Kelly?”
“That’s it,” Jayne said with a smile as the three women left the apartment.
As Catherine got out of the cab, she saw the three women walk down the road, but thought nothing of it as she walked into the building. Entering the flat, she took her coat off and hung it up, smiling as she walked in saying “this has been a good day, Gerald, shall we…”
She looked at Gerald as he stared at the screen, his eyes wide and lifeless, and shivered as she checked for a pulse – but there was none. Walking quickly to her bedroom, she opened her case to start packing – and saw the single sheet of paper inside, with a brief message.
“We are watching you…”
“Good night Mom – I’ll see you in the morning,” Ama said as she went to her room, Caroline smiling as she sat with Doc and Sharon.
“Okay – you’ve had a chance to study the schematics and the notes from our contact, Doc – thoughts?”
“It’s actually a very simple system, despite the way it looks,” Doc said with a smile. “We just need to film the loop for five minutes and then patch it into the feed, and disconnect at our leisure.”
“And then we move in,” Sharon said, “and secure the place.”
“Yes – and then you get to cut loose.”
at Caroline and said “you mean?” As the
tall dark haired woman nodded, she whispered "Caroline are you sure?"
we don't let 'Bad Sharon' out periodically then you are going to do something
"But nothing, my clients want this guy dead, I'm pretty sure you need to release a lot of built up pressure inside, we might as well let you have your fun, and Doc and i will watch out for trouble while you do it."
“Okay then – I could do with some fun time,” Sharon said as she looked at them.
“Good – equipment check. We move out at nine.”
E 63rd Street
Alastair Cottrell was sitting in his den, looking over the papers from the day’s work as he sipped a large whiskey. There had been instructions from Head Office – cut staff – and as he reviewed the sheets he had a little black book by his hand, with names and symbols next to them.
“Well, he’s a dead man,” he said as he drained his glass and stood up, walking to the bathroom. He didn’t hear the window slide open, or the soft footfall.
When he walked back in, however, he was taken by surprise. She stood just over six foot tall, in high heeled black patent leather boots with a high heel, her black hair falling over the shoulders of the latex catsuit. Long opera gloves covered her hands and arms, and a black scarf the lower half of her face.
“Hello, dipshit,” she said as she aimed a Luger at him, “you’re going to do what I say.”
“And if I refuse,” Alastair sneered.
“Don’t.” He looked at her, and then fell forward as he was hit in the back of the head…
When he came to, Alastair was shocked to discover he was sat naked on a chair, facing the back, with his arms wrapped around the chair back, his wrists secured together and then tied to the central spar. His ankles were secured to the chair legs, and as he raised his head he saw two women, identically dressed to the first one, one taller than the other.
“What the fuck…. Who are you, it’s too damn early for Halloween!”
“Good evening Mr Cottrell,” the taller of the two women said in an English accent, “we are here to relieve you of what we believe you value the most.”
“Get stuffed,” he growled, and then his head was pulled back as a third woman ran a flagellum gently down his chest.
“That was not nice, dipshit – apologise to my friends.”
“No fucking way – this will all be recorded.”
“Oh that,” the smaller woman said, “your security system has you sitting and reading some papers, nothing more. I promise you this.”
He stared at them as the woman behind him walked round – the one he had seen at first – and said “I hope you refuse, but please – tell us the combination to our safe.”
“Not a fucking chance!”
“I don’t think he wants to cooperate…”
“His loss,” the woman said behind him, and then he felt the searing pain of the flagella as it hit his back. The pain was intense, but he gritted his teeth and growled “you’ll have to do better than that.”
“My pleasure,” he heard the woman say, and then he felt the leather things hit his back again.
And with each blow, he tried not to scream, to shout – but after the tenth blow, he opened his mouth to scream – only to say “you’ll never get the combination out of me.”
“We don’t need to – I opened the safe ten minutes ago,” the tallest of the three women said.
“Then why the fuck are uhhhmghhddd…” Cottrell’s voice was muffled by the sponge ball the smaller woman pushed into his mouth, before she wrapped silver tape tightly round his head, covering his lower head before the two women stepped back.
“Leave him to me,” he heard, and then the leather hit him again, harder, as he felt a dampness on his skin, the blood trickling as he felt the blows, harder, more painful. Something else was happening – something unexpected, but he was determined not to draw attention to it as the blow fell again.
“You little fucker – this is turning you on, isn’t it?”
He opened his eyes to see the masked woman standing in front of him, the anger clear in her eyes as he brought the leather things down on his shoulders, the blood flowing freely now as he closed his eyes and moaned.
Sharon was experiencing the sensations as well – stronger than usual, and she so wanted to make it last, to reach her climax as he groaned with each blow. He needed to be humiliated – but how…
She threw the whip down and picked up the special gift she had been given, switching it on as Alastair heard the low buzzing – and then felt the excruciating pain as she shoved the dildo between his butt cheeks, tearing his passage as he began to shake. He could not stop himself now, as the heat rushed through him, and Sharon rubbed herself between her legs.
“You don’t deserve this,” she said as Cottrell’s eyes shot open and he came – then looked into her eyes as she flashed the scalpel in front of him, and drew it swiftly across his neck, the blood spurting on her as he shook and then went limp. Sharon screamed out as she sank to the floor, shaking as Dominique came back in.
“Is it done?”
Sharon looked up and nodded as Dominique helped her up. “Breath – the first one is always the worst, but how do you feel?”
“I feel… I feel…” Sharon looked at her mentor, and said “I feel bloody fantastic, as if I could…”
“Save it, savour it,” Dom whispered as Doc looked in.
“Safe’s emptied – we good.”
Sharon nodded as she said “let’s go…”
Sunday 31st July
Colin turned over and looked at the time on the alarm clock, then turned back as he watched Sue, the young woman sitting up.
“Sorry,” Sue said with a smile, “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
"Sue… You've barely slept a wink darling,"
Colin said as he sat up, watching as his wife to be climbed out of bed.
"I know, I
know, but it's out there now Colin - I'm worrying what people are saying,"
Sue whispered as she sat on the edge of the bed, looking very pale.
either understand, or they won't,” Colin said quietly. “Come on Sue we've discussed all this."
"I know we
have,” Sue said as she turned round, “but it's still not helping with my
Uncle Rupert says he was at least impressed how honest you've been, then you
know you've done it right Sue."
Shaking her head, Sue said "he still doesn't approve of me though."
"He's just an old stick in the mud," Colin smiled, "now come back to bed and at least try and get a couple more hours of sleep."
try," Sue said as she climbed back under the sheets.
"Good," Colin said as he leaned over and kissed her, and then turned the light off.
7.30 am CET
know if I approve, but I can understand why she did it." Molly looked at
the story on Carina's tablet as they sat eating their breakfast in the
were in her position I think none of us have the right to judge," Kelsey said
as she chewed on her second breakfast sandwich.
“But she has had the guts to the truth, and that has to be admired.”
just my point," Carina said as she sipped her orange juice, "I didn't
have a father growing up, but at least I had a mom who loved me, and beyond
that a wider support group of family friends who I could always go to for care
and support. Sue had none of that really until she fell in with Penny and Kay,
and got to know Agnes McAdam. She had to literally almost fight just to stay
wasn't just faced with poverty,” Kelsey said, “the whole system failed and
"Agreed Kel," Molly nodded, "and that sort of thing
doesn't just happen in England, it happens back home in the US as well."
"Yeah, just hopefully one day things will get better," Carina said as she stood up, "anyway girls back to our world, training awaits."
“Then cry Excelsior!” Molly said as the three of them headed out.
8 am BST
Margaret Harker’s Apartment
Lady Amelia Ashley finished reading the article, folded the paper and put it down, the headline “From the Lowest to the Highest: One Woman’s Journey” showing.
Amy - now you've read it what do you think?" Margaret Harker said as she looked
across the breakfast table at her sister.
Amelia said as she took her glasses off, folded the legs and placed them on the
table, “I know you want me to say I understand, but be honest I still think -
even knowing what she had gone through - that prostitution is wrong."
Maggie said with a smile as she poured her tea, “at least you didn't say she
should be tarred and feathered."
I'm not that bad," Amelia smiled, "I'm just glad though that my
Pippa, and Poppy, aren't ever likely to end up doing that."
Amy,” Maggie said as she sat back and smiled, “there are those who say that
models selling their image is a form of prostitution."
"Are there?" Amy paused for thought, "I can see that in a way they are selling themselves, but it isn't grubby sex really though."
“Still, it is a fine line. Tea?”
“Well, it’s out there now,” Penny said as she and Kay looked at the paper.
“No names, no pack drill, just the unvarnished and anonymous truth – good for her.”
“It’s going to be tough for a while, but better to have it all out there – Helen sent a note of support as well…
“’I think it was an incredibly brave thing to do, both on a personal level and as the Conservative presumptive candidate in our by-election. But it does show her as one with some of the people who live in that area.’
of the background of Colin Gresham-Fox’s fiancée, Susan Fletcher, has been the main headline this morning. A spokesman for Number 10 Downing Street
referred us to Conservative Party Central Office..."
could be a whole lot worse," Martin Milnford said
as he turned the television off.
could," Victoria stood up, "tea of coffee everyone?"
please darling," Bobbi Gresham-Fox sat looking thoughtful for a
please Mum," Antonia and Ambrosia said in sync.
do you think the political fallout is going to be Roberta?" Martin asked
honest most people will want to sweep it under the carpet Martin. A lot of individual Tories
are going to be morally outraged, but as a party they aren't in a position to
condemn Sue outright without getting into a full discussion of the failures of
the care system in helping children like she was, and the things that drove her
to homelessness and then into the brothels."
rather say nothing?"
"Exactly," Bobbi smiled, "and the Liberals and the Socialists after hammering away for years on the plight of children in care and the homeless are going to find it hard condemning Sue just because she's the Tory candidate's wife."
“so what is Aggie saying?”
“No idea – she and Cat went to London…”
11.40 am BST
“Welcome to the Daily Politics, London – I’m Jo Coburn,” the dark haired woman said. “The upcoming by-election in Kensal and Queen’s Park had already generated some post-Brexit interest, with the naming of two very different candidates for the Conservative and Labour party, but the publication in today’s papers of the background to the fiancée of the Conservative candidate, Susan Fetcher, has caused much comment. The story of how she was abandoned as a child, forced to live on the streets and make money for food as a prostitute, has thrown sharply into focus the problems with the care system today, and exposed again a light on the underbelly of our society.
“Another woman who has recently told her story of surviving in that underbelly is the economist, and coincidentally a friend of Sue Fletcher, Dr Agnes McAdam, and she joins us in the studio now. Thank you, Dr McAdam, for agreeing to talk to us.”
“It’s my pleasure Jo,” the redhead said as she sat opposite, “and please call me Agnes.”
“Alright Agnes, now the big news of the day, the revelation of the past life of the wife-to-be of the Tory candidate for the vacant Kensal-Queens Park seat Colin Gresham-Fox. Can I ask you your opinion?”
“Well as you can read in what she says,” Agnes said as she crossed her legs, “I’ve known Sue for several years, very little of what she says I didn’t know.”
“And she works as your PA?”
“That’s correct – we share a common bond, if you will.”
Jo Coburn looked across and said “Did you advise her to go public like this?”
“I did,” Agnes said with a smile. “I was among several friends of hers and Colin who urged her to tell her story in her own words, and to head off the flood of rumour and innuendo that would have happened otherwise if she had not been totally honest. I know from my own experience how important that is.”
“The same thing you did yourself?”
“Exactly Jo.” Aggie paused, “What both Sue and I have done in our lives is disturbing I know to many people, but the difference between she and I is that I had a choice, Sue’s circumstances gave her very little in the way of options.”
“Understood,” the interviewer looked at the camera, “can I now bring in renowned barrister Lady Catriona Cuthbertson and ask her opinion.”
“Hello Jo,” Catriona said as she appeared on the screen, “perhaps I had better say before I start that Agnes and I are old personal friends, and it was she introduced me to Sue.”
“Alright. So what is your opinion about all this?”
“Honestly? That Sue Fletcher is one of the bravest women I’ve ever met. Going public with her life story like this took tremendous courage.”
“So you don’t condemn her then?”
“For what she had to do to survive Jo? No - I’m just glad as a Mother that my own daughter has never had to endure what Sue did.”
“I think all parents would agree on that.” Jo Coburn looked at her pad, before she said “I guess what I’m getting at is that a lot of people will make a moral judgment concerning what Miss Fletcher did.”
“Did you read how she came to first work in a brothel Jo?” Agnes asked. “if we, as a society, turn a blind eye to girls who need our help that is what will happen.”
“I did, and speaking personally can I say that was both terribly honest, but also heartbreaking, that what tempted her wasn’t money, but simply two cooked meals per day.”
“I defy anyone to say that little story doesn’t make them think twice about what they might have done in the same situation,” Cat nodded.
“Agreed,” Aggie spoke.
“So do either of you think that this should become an issue in the forthcoming by-election?”
“It shouldn’t,” Agnes spoke slowly, “but I’m sure that there will be those who chose to attack Sue, and to therefore hurt Colin by association.”
“I think it’s actually a strength – someone who can speak from Sue’s experience is prepared to listen to the people of that borough – one of the most deprived in the city.”
“From City Hall, we have the mayor Sadiq Khan. Mister Khan…”
The television was silenced as the heavy book flew through the screen, sparks flying as Catherine glared at it. Bad enough she had had to flee back here, but to arrive to that? She was going to die now…
2 pm BST
“That looks amazing,” Jimmy said as the roast was brought in, and people gathered at the table.
"Can I say
thank you to you all for being so supportive and understanding," Sue stood
as everyone stood, "this has been a hard day, but thanks to all of you it
looks like that maybe Colin and oi will survive it."
you will Sue darling," Daffy smiled as she hugged her, "was there
ever any doubt?"
while I was tossing and turning in bed in the early hours, there was an awful
lot of doubt in my mind at least."
"I think a
lot of people are shocked," Jimmy said as he started to carve the beef,
"but just the reactions that my friends and family have had Sue is
virtually entirely positive in your favour."
"See - I
told you this would be fine," Colin whispered with a smile as he squeezed
said as she sat down, and accepted a plate, “I’ll be happier once the adoption
meeting tomorrow night is over, and people have had their say at that."
Simon smiled as he said "I showed you what Mrs Bremner wrote."
"I know, and she sent me a lovely little personal message as well," Sue smiled, "I think she thinks that I might actually be an electioneering asset now."
be Sue," Shirley spoke up, "you can talk about the social problems
that so many people in an area like KQP face from genuine experience. No one
can accuse you of talking down to them."
very good point Shirley my love," John nodded. "Sue talks a language
oi tork loik this oi
don't" Sue thickened her accent up.
"No one understands when you speak like that," Colin laughed and kissed the woman he loved.
way, did you catch Dad before he left for the airport Mum?"
did," Bobbi smiled, "and he told me to tell you how proud he is of
both you and Sue."
both you and him to support us that meeting tomorrow mum means a whole lot you
isn't exactly every day that my son is adopted as a candidate for
parliament." Bobbi smiled again happily.
and Dad won't be the only the family members there either Little Bro,"
Colin grinned, "It's going to as much a family reunion as a political
meeting, even Cousin Grace is going to be there."
"She said she
wasn't going to miss it for anything," Bobbi laughed lightly, "her
exact words were, that after all those years of missing major family events,
just try stopping me being with you all."
"Having Dame Margaret there as well is going to help," Colin paused for a second, "she brings credibility in the public’s eye with her."
West Central Park
met this Sue Fletcher yourself Janice?" Katherine asked as she passed the
passing,” Jan said as she took a drink, “I know she's a close friend of Penny,
but that’s about it."
about her on the BBC News so I dug out the article online," Katherine
shook her head, "That poor girl has not had an easy life."
"You and I
both faced tragedies darling,” Katherine said, “but we always had family there
to give support. To just be alone like that…"
despair when those bikers had me Mom, but I think I
was always in some way I'd get back to you and dad, and that you'd help make
things right. To be living in a cardboard box in an underpass like that,"
Janice shook her head.
"I know it
chills you to the bone."
"I guess I'll not look at the homeless kids on our streets in the same way maybe after reading this"
The Morse Apartment
it Clare," Tom Morse glanced at what his wife had printed and put in his
place at the breakfast table.
phoned me and told me," Clare shook her head, "I had to read it twice
before it fully settled in. To think that someone who we share mutual friends
with went through that in her life."
Tom said as he shook his head, “really brings it home doesn't it?"
really must incorporate a call for action to do more about neglected and
homeless children in your campaign speaking. According to Brooke we have an
even worse problem here in Manhattan then they do in London."
statistics say," the congressman nodded. "But it’s one of those
problems the electorate would rather ignore, and they certainly hate the idea of
their taxes being used to help people."
Clare stared across the table, and said quietly "Are we that heartless?"
“In far too many ways, we are…”
Mary Thomas’ home
“It’s an all too familiar story unfortunately Denice,” Mary Thomas said as she sipped her cup of coffee, “kids fall through the cracks in the system and they end up homeless like she did. It’s not a new thing either, it’s been a problem that’s been around for ever almost.”
“I never thought of myself as particularly privileged or fortunate,” the black woman said as she sat down next to her friend on the couch, “but compared to her I had an awful damn lot.”
“Everything is relative Denice. Your family, my family, we didn’t have a lot of material things growing up, but at least we both always had family. This girl didn’t even have that, all she had was herself, and later luckily friends who loved and supported her.”
“Erica pointed out that bit to me where she was illiterate until her friends really taught her how to read and write. You can almost say she’s self educated.”
“Ai you can.” Mary took another sip. “This Sue is that rare example of a kid who was able to overcome the shitty hand she was dealt in life, but as she writes in the end, she considers herself lucky because she’s survived and made a life for herself.”
“True – makes her all the more remarkable…”
The de Ros Mansion
Diana sipped from her cup as she read the transcript. Even in her darkest days, when the Goddess called her, she had never truly been alone. A tear started to run down one cheek…
Diana looked up and wiped her cheek as Edith stood in the doorway.
“My apologies, Madame, but Doctor Reichmann is here.”
“Ah – bring some more coffee please, Edith,” Diana said as the housekeeper nodded, and showed Helen Reichmann in. “Helen – thank you for agreeing to come over today.”
“Not a problem, Diana, but I am curious,” the doctor said as she sat down, “is there some charitable role you wish me to fill?”
“No, nothing like that,” Diana said as Edith brought in the coffee, and then left, closing the door behind her, “I wish to consult with you.”
“Consult with… Diana?”
“No – and no, it does not involve Abigail either, but I need your professional advice – and in doing so, I need to take you into my confidence.”
Helen nodded as she sipped her coffee, while Diana walked to the bureau and retrieved a brown file. “My doctor in Paris died earlier this year, and as a result I need to seek advice on – a long standing condition I have.”
Diana handed Helen the file, watching as she skimmed through it, and then looked at Diana. “My god,” she whispered, “but why now?”
“I was warned, when I reached my age, something may be required for me to undergo. Helen – I need to know.”
Nodding, Helen said “does Abigail know?”
“No-one else does, not fully. May I count on your discretion?”
“Of course – I’ll make a private appointment in a few days, but I pray nothing is required?”
“As do I,” Diana said as she sipped her coffee, “as do I…”
“Hey take a seat at the table,” Caroline called out as Ama showed Sharon up the stairs. Ama was in her NY Bulls strip, while Sharon wore jeans and a blue polo shirt.
“thanks – something smells good,” Sharon said as she sat down, while Caroline brought two plates with a full English breakfast in, and Ama went to her room.
“How are you feeling?” Caroline asked as she served herself and Sharon and poured fresh coffee into mugs.
“Scared, frightened, exhilarated, sexually aroused, all at once,” the younger woman sipped her coffee. “It’s like my whole life has been leading up to what I did last night.”
“Well I know enough about you, and this weird condition that you have Sharon, to say that that is probably true.”
“It keeps replaying in my head. The look in his eyes, how it made me feel…”
“Killing can do that,” Caroline said as she took a drink, and put down her mug. “Look Sharon - I’m a professional assassin, I’ve always done my killing either because I was paid and ordered to, or because circumstances gave me no choice. With you it’s always going to be different Sharon, for you murder will always be a thing of passion, you’ll do it to satisfy an inner demon, and ultimately you’ll kill because you love and enjoy doing it.”
“And the torture?”
“It’s part of the same thing, you get pleasure from causing hurt and suffering to others.”
“Caroline… you once told me there are others, relatives of mine, who do this as well.”
“Can I ask a huge favor of you?”
“You can try Sharon.”
“Can you ask if they will talk to me please? I know you know an awful lot about all this boss, but really I need talk to talk to someone who knows exactly what I feel inside. I need to learn how they cope with all this.”
“I guessed you might,” Caroline finished her coffee, “it’s why I’ve asked someone to drop in.”
Caroline smiled as the doorbell rang.
“And there she is.”
“Hi Mrs. Callaghan,” they heard Ama greet the visitor.
“Hello Ama – Caroline asked me to… Sharon? Nice to see you, but why…”
“Coffee, Gale?” Caroline poured a cup as Gale sat down, and said “I wanted you two to meet, for a couple of reasons.”
“Okay,” Gale said carefully as she took the mug, while Ama went back to her room. “Why?”
“Because I know who you are Gale.”
“Who I am? Well of course you do, I mean…”
“Look please Gale, don’t ask how I know, but just accept that I’m privy to the secrets of who and what the daughters of Hildegarde are.” Caroline spoke slowly. “I know about both Carina and Natalya…”
Sharon all but spilled her coffee as she sputtered “The Countess Buchenwald? Are you serious, boss…”
“Yes,” Caroline nodded, “I’m also a close friend of Penny’s, and well you know I room with Annie.”
“They told you about me?” a very shocked and nervous Gale looked round as though she expected the police to come out of the walls.
“They did,” Caroline took a deep breath, “will it help if I tell you that I’m a professional assassin codenamed Dominique?”
Gale looked at the two women, as Sharon noticed a subtle change in the look of the FBI Director’s wife. “Her husband is aware of you, I have read that name in his files,” a strange voice came out of Gale. “Why have you summoned me here?”
“Because Sharon here is one of your relatives, and she needs to talk.”
Gale turned and looked at Sharon for a moment, and then smiled as she said “so I see – although with you, I see it is merged, internalised, even as it has recently blossomed. Would I be right in thinking last night was your first actual kill?”
Sharon slowly nodded as she said “there was a woman, but she survived. You sound so different…”
“Ah yes – my cousins explained it to me. Some of us reveal ourselves with changes in voice, in stance, in other things, others they are more integrated. You are young, but you are already integrated – I congratulate you. So, how may I help you?”
Sharon swallowed some more coffee as she said “last night… I killed for the first time… Is it wrong that it felt so powerfully… So…”
“No – some of our friends, and I will not say who, apparently have the same feeling after their work. But for us, you and your cousins, it is a part of our life, and yes, the feelings and the desires can overwhelm. It is right, it is natural – it is us. Do not feel shame, but accept and revel in it.” Tilting her head, Gale said “do you have a partner?”
“Yes, but he is away at the moment…”
“Ah – if he were here, I would suggest him as an outlet. For now, you may have to – fantasise a little, but do not deny it. If you need to talk again, simply ask Dominique here to call me, or call yourself – we can then meet and talk.”
“Thank you – I mean it,” Sharon said as Gale sighed, and opened her eyes, then said in her normal voice “Okay – that happened, right?”
“It did – your secret is safe with us…”
4 pm PT
"So Cassie what do you think?"
"Brian," Cassandra Stone said as she sat back, "I think that sometimes your manners and timing are appalling"
"That with all this so raw and current, the last thing Sue Fletcher needs is an approach about turning her life story into a movie."
"But come on Cassandra you have to admit it would make one hell of a movie?"
"Give it a year Brian, give a chance for the controversy to have died down...It's barely started yet."
"And by then everyone will have forgotten her and it will be meaningless."
"You know Brian, Juliette is right about you, you are an absolute bastard."
"You won't be saying that in your Oscar acceptance speech Cassie."
Monday 1st August
“They’re here,” Jack called out as the SUV pulled up outside the main doors, Charlie and Edwina getting out first and looking round as Charlie and Olivia got out of the front. All were casually dressed, as Mick started to remove the bags and Angel came down to embrace Nell and Ally.
“Welcome to Ordford,” Will said as he shook Charlie’s hand, “we’re glad you could stop here for a few days on the way to Scotland.”
“It’s good of you to invite us – how was Goodwood?”
“Profitable for some,” David said with a smile as he went to help Mick with the bags.
“But not for others,” Fiona said as they walked into the hall. “So have the parties dispersed?”
“They have, Sue and Colin to their meeting tonight, Shirley and Catriona to London to prepare for Ardray, and the Irish contingent home for a brief visit.”
Olivia nodded as she held Edwina’s hand as they walked into the hallway.
“THERE you are,” Pepsi said as she came out of the drawing room. “come in here – all of you.”
“Come on,” Angel said as she led the girls one way, as Will said “right – come with me and meet the ladies?”
“He means the pigs Mick,” David said with a laugh, “come on – best to get it over with…”
“Mandy’s in the morning room,” Will said as he pointed the way to Olivia, who smiled as she walked in and saw Mandy in a chair.
“Olivia darling…welcome,” Mandy said as she rose and kissed her visitor on the cheek. “How are you doing?”
“About as well as can be expected I suppose Mandy,” Olivia said as she sat down, “I think we are all still more than a bit in shock.”
“That’s inevitable.” Mandy poured her guest a cup of coffee, “we’ve heightened our security here just in case she tries something here at Ordford.”
Olivia took a sip and put her cup down. “Did Donald tell you that he phoned us to apologise?”
“Yes, he did.”
“I told him that it wasn’t his fault, but I’m not convinced that he doesn’t fell he has to share some of the blame.”
“Agnes has told him just that,” Mandy said with a sigh, “but like you say in his heart I think because he’s married to Catherine that somehow, and in some way, he bears some responsibility.”
“I know Mandy…Poor Donald,” Olivia shook her head. “Anyway - thank you for inviting us all to stay, I think we needed to get away for a few days.”
“Well we do have plenty of accommodation darling,” Mandy smiled. “And it’s not like either your family, or the Rochermann’s are exactly strangers.”
“True,” Olivia took a drink.
“If nothing else it gives my daughter-in-law to be more people to show her engagement ring off to.”
“I know,” Olivia, laughed, “she dragged my girls, as well as Nell and Ally away pretty pronto to show them.”
“At least it wasn’t for a tour of the sty’s like Will is giving to Charles and the Rochermann’s.”
“That is true,” Olivia laughed.
In another room, as Ally and Nell looked at Pepsi’s ring, and Edwina watched quietly, Angel and Fi sat and looked on.
“Weren’t you scared Fi?” Angel asked her old schoolmate.
“I was seeing red, I didn’t take the time to think enough to be scared. I took my glasses off and I just charged at his outline.” Fiona laughed, “I really couldn’t even see him without my glasses, as I said I just attacked this human shape that I could see. Next thing, I’m sitting across him and scratching the life out of him before Mick dragged me away.”
“Well you were braver then I would have been,” Angel shook her head.
“Oh like you are a coward Angel Fitzstuart,” Fi called out, “riding in a real race like that, I could never have done that in a million years.”
“I have to agree with Fi,” Nell smiled, “I think I’d prefer in some ways to attack a burglar then have all that responsibility as a jockey.”
“I think you were both brave,” Edwina spoke as she looked over. “I’m just thankful for what my sister did.”
“Talking of brave though, what did you make of Sue Fletcher’s confessions?” Ally asked.
“I admire the girl,” Fi said, “to make a life from that bad a start, and to get where she has got…”
“Her meeting is tonight isn’t it,” Pepsi said as she sat down.
“Yup – should be interesting…”
Mick and Charlie stood with David as Will and their father looked at the pen, the young suckling on their mother.
“So are the pigs a hobby Will, or a paying proposition?” Daniel Rochermann asked as he looked on.
“They started out as a hobby,” Will said as he looked at the creatures, “but nowadays the pigs have gone from being my little eccentricity to being a decent money maker.”
“Because both restaurateurs, and the general public, are prepared to pay premium prices for organically produced pork, especially given the slightly different tastes the meat from some of these breeds have.”
“You’re in a niche market,” Kelly Rochermann smiled.
“Very much so.”
“So can I presume you are serving pork for dinner tonight Will?” Charles asked.
“A casserole with locally produced cider and cream… Come, lunch will be nearly ready. I should tell you we will have guests tonight.”
“Oh – who?”
“My Lord Bishop and his wife…”
12.30 pm BST
9 Pall Mall
“Well,” Catriona said as she looked at her old friend.
"Well it looks a little more stylish then the old jeans and wellington boots I wore last time I was invited to a shoot at your place Cat," Shirley said as she turned to look at herself in the mirror. She was wearing a brown jumper with dark grey breeks, a Laksen quilted shooting vest, a tweed cap and long boots.
"You know I have a photo somewhere of that," Catriona ran an expert eye over Shirley's outfit. "You know we are going to have to distress that a little if you buy it?"
it looks too new," Shirley swung her arms to check freedom of movement,
"but I think I can make this work."
- how rusty are you with a gun?" Catriona paused and smiled, "sorry -
I'm not thinking straight am I?"
clay pigeons fairly regularly," Madame smiled, "It's one thing i have a lot of my staff doing. Amazing how it helps with personal
development. But game shooting? It has been a long, long time. I’ll take these, thank you."
what I was thinking," Cat grinned, "but I understand."
"I got what you were getting at darling," Shirley smiled. “Where’s John?”
“He went to get some new gear – but seriously Shirley, do you need to get a new gun?”
“For this purpose, yes – let me get changed first.”
As they walked to the changing rooms, Shirley said “we are meeting with our people later, correct?”
“That’s right, 3 o’clock at my chambers,” Catriona said. “After what happened at Penhaddow, I want to be sure everything is covered as far as possible. When is Aggie planning to go up?”
“End of the week – Susan will travel with her.”
“We should arrange further cover,” Cat said as she sat outside the changing booth.
“I agree – I will discuss with Charlotte.”
“When is she due back?”
“She and Piet are flying back today, and she’ll be in the office tomorrow,” Shirley said as she came out, and the two women walked to the guns section, passing John as he looked in the mirror.
“I must say, Major Hammond, the jacket does suit you,” the assistant said as John adjusted the jacket.
“Can it be let out slightly?”
“Of course – we will arrange that for you sir. May I suggest this particular bag will go well with the tweed?”
John looked at the dark brown shoulder satchel, and nodded. “Excellent – now what do you have by way of boots?”
“What will Maisha be wearing,” Catriona said as Shirley examined some shooting stick seats.
“She feels she will be more comfortable in a gilet, leggings and Hunters,” Shirley said as she smiled, “given she is not shooting. Ama, however, visited with Caroline before they flew back.”
“I hear she will be flying back, then returning with the school football team.”
“While Caroline reads the script for her film,” Shirley said as she opened one seat and sat down. “Yes, this will do.”
“Ah – all fitted out my dear?”
“I am indeed,” Shirley said as John joined them, “and you?”
“I have my new boots and jacket,” Cat said, “and Shirley is fully equipped.”
“Good – then let’s go and grab some lunch before you have that business meeting.”
3 pm BST
“So,” Shirley said as she sat in the leather armchair, “report.” She was now wearing a cream jacket over a yellow dress, while Catriona was in a light grey blouse and skirt. Natalya wore a white blouse and leather trousers, while Cho wore a blue tunic over black leggings, and slippers.
“I must say, my Lady, it is a truly inspiring place for a wedding,” Cho said as she stood, her hands behind her back.
the things that make it such a beautiful place to live and hold the event
Madame, make it something of a security nightmare," Natalya sipped a
little of Catriona's excellent whiskey.
all that open ground, and the easy access to and from the loch?"
"Yes. Particularly for the shoot, it will be next
to impossible to ensure complete security."
doesn't help that the home farm is so close," Cho added. "The factor,
his wife, their children, farm workers, etc. There are a lot of people coming
and going unchecked."
a working estate, and given that they've never needed to worry about security,
what do we expect?" Catriona looked up from reading her notes.
be even worse with the shoot going on," Shirley said as she sat back in
her armchair, "with all the beaters, and with the extra staff at the
news is that with Mr McAdam having been a soldier, he's aware of a need
for security," Natalya finished her glass. "He can keep a wary eye
open for strangers."
news though is that Rory can't be everywhere at once," Cat shook her head.
"Now did you go look at my place?"
Cho nodded her head. "Dunmarnock looks easier to
guard, at least to me."
check everyone coming in and out via that single access road, and a couple of
guards walking the forest edge should be able to close down access out of the
Natalya," Madame finished her glass, "but if I remember the approach
across the loch is as open as at Ardray."
my biggest concern Madame."
talk to the cathedral people, and to the Oban police?" Catriona asked.
"We did Your Ladyship," Natalya answered, "and they've promised to work with us. After the incident in Cornwall i think they are fully aware of the potential for trouble."
“So, to summarise, the key weak points?”
“The open ground, Madame, your Ladyship,” Natalya said. “We will require some form of rapid response, but I do not believe this is a matter suitable for our Rapid Response unit.”
“I concur, Natalya,” Shirley said as she nodded, “I may call on some specialist help. The temporary staff?”
“Rory has given me their details – I will have the office do a full check,” Natalya said with a smile.
“Excellent – so, on to other matters. How does the field look?”
7 pm BST
were just so shocked," Martha Heller said as she kissed Lady Treharran, "How are you all doing?"
"We are getting over it," Olivia smiled at the bishop’s wife. “Edwina had a little trouble sleeping, but she seems to be getting better.”
a while since we've you seen you in this part of the world Charles," the
bishop said as he shook his hand.
Clive, but with Olivia resuming her career, I think we might just be visiting
old friends a little more often." Charles smiled a little. "So how is
John doing up at Cambridge?"
well thank you," Clive looked across to where his son was sitting with the
younger people, "he's not a natural student, but he applies himself to his
work very seriously."
was never really going to be cut out for academia..."
made a nice career for himself anyway," Martha interrupted. "Even I
adore his music."
have to tell him," Olivia smiled again. "So changing the subject,
what did you make of Alice when you first met her?"
Clive was a trifle shocked by the purple hair," Martha laughed gently as
she looked at the young woman sitting with , "but underneath her exterior
she's actually a lovely girl."
remember Mandy at her age?" Charles asked.
"I do," Martha laughed again, "and i'll agree compared to Amanda she's actually not that shocking."
“They’re talking about us, aren’t they,” John said as he looked at Jack and Pepsi.
“Almost certainly,” Jack said with a smile. “Don’t let it bother you.”
“I heard from Luke,” John said, “he hopes you’re enjoying your stay Nicola.”
“I am,” Pepsi said as she sat in her dress, “but it will be over soon. After the wedding I join the others for the football tour, and then it’s back to New York for the Junior year.”
“And I head back for my final year,” Jack said with a smile.
“I wonder what’s going to happen next…”
7.30 pm BST
“Busy,” Charles Gresham-Fox said as the cars drew up, and the photographers began to snap pictures.
“So I see – well, best get it over with,” Colin said as the driver got out and opened the door. He and his father were wearing dark suits, light shirts and ties, while Susan had on a light blue jacket and skirt, and Bobbi a dark jacket over a grey dress.
“Fuck, I rather
hoped the media might find something better to do on a wet Monday evening then
to cover a political meeting in West London," Sue shook her head as she
glanced at all the reporters and television crews, both inside, and outside,
Kensal Conservative Club.
"You knew they'd be here, just bear with it darling," Colin gave her hand a reassuring squeeze as they walked into the building, his parents walking behind.
"It's all part of the plan to get your story out there Sue, and out of the way," Bobbi Gresham-Fox smiled at her. "And I think it’s encouraging what that snap poll done in the constituency showed about people’s reactions."
five percent saying that my background didn't worry them, still means that for
forty five percent then it is a concern," Sue shuffled nervously. "Do
I look alright?"
"You look perfect darling," Colin grinned as they entered the hall, to be greeted by hugs from Margaret Harker.
“Well, this is it,” she said as she went with Susan, Charles and Bobbi to the front row of seats, while Colin went and sat with the committee at the front. The room filled up as Mrs Bremner hit her gavel on the table.
“The meeting of the Kensal and Queen’s Park Conservative Association will come to order. Mister Secretary, the minutes of the last meeting?”
8 pm BST
“Well, at least you all got back safely, Tippy Toes,” Agnes said as she sat down and looked at her papers arranged on the coffee table.
"We did –
and Olivia is at Ordford with the others now. So - did Donald ring his solicitor today
Tamsin," Agnes said as she shifted her phone from one ear to the other.
"So now it’s
only a matter of waiting till his divorce is finalised, and you can finally be
just hope it's that simple," Agnes paused to take a deep breath,
"unfortunately dear Tippy Toes, when has my life ever been simple?"
I need to fly over to smack you upsides the head?" Tamsin laughed,
"stop being so negative."
"I know, I
know...but I guess I cannot finally believe it’s going to happen till I walk
down the aisle and Donald is standing there at the other end."
"Don't worry darling,” Tamsin said, “your time is coming, even Catherine isn't going to stop it this time."
"I hope so. I really hope so…" Agnes said as she looked at one paper.
changing subjects - what is Sue up to tonight?"
Colin candidate adoption meeting."
"Oh yes I
remember you saying."
gone along and added my support,” Agnes said as she made a note, “but I really
must get this report for Torware finished before we
leave for Scotland."
"How does it
finally feel to be doing the work you always dreamed of doing darling?"
Tam,” Agnes said as she sat back, Tippy Toes nestling on her lap, “it's truly
wonderful. Even though this is only an early preliminary report, it feels nice
that someone is appreciating my brains and expertise in this manner."
I have ever guessed that in a million years...Not," Tamsin laughed.
"That is the work you were born to do sister dear."
"Well it is when combined with what I'll be doing for Charlotte's charity." Aggie paused a second. "Targeted investment like she wants to do is central to my whole way of thinking about third world economics."
“Fair enough – I need to go. Don’t work too hard.”
“Moi? Sleep well, Tamsin,” Agnes said as she ended the call, and sat for a moment, stroking her cat. She then stood up and went to her bedroom, pausing before she opened a drawer and took out a small ring box.
hope one day that it will be right and proper for me to wear this again,"
Agnes smiled at the 4 diamonds set in the engagement ring that Donald had
bought her all those years ago. He had refused to take it, and now, now…
if he will get down on his knee again?" She remembered how Donald had proposed that
day at Ordford. It was one of those special memories
that she had cherished for all those years that she had lived a life in exile.
One of those beautiful, and happy, memories that not even being outed as Lady D'eath could take away from her.
"It will be just as magical when he does it a second time," she smiled as she heard the telephone ring. Putting the box back, she walked into the front room, picked up the handset and said "Agnes McAdam."
"Hello Agnes..." a voice with a faint Antipodean accent said before it trailed off.
this?" Agnes was suddenly very alert, in case Catherine was calling…
to disturb you,” the voice continued, “it's Arabella Potter-Smyth...Your cousin
Arabella Lomax that was."
God...” Aggie sat down in the chair, in
shock as she said “Arabella how are you darling?"
you know I live in Australia nowadays?"
heard...Anyway to what do I owe hearing from you again?"
that I need to apologise for what I've done all these years Aggie."
didn't do any more, or any less then what most other people did," Agnes
replied softly and slowly.
but I was still in the wrong."
water under the bridge darling."
"Look Aggie, are you busy?"
"A bit,” Agnes said as she looked down, “I'm working on a report for a client."
it wait? Olivia de Sally and I are at Fiona Douglas-Warren's place..."
my bridesmaids together," Agnes whispered to herself.
"We'd like to come over and talk to you please."
“You would? Well… All right, you know where I am?”
“Resplendent in the Bayswater Road? Shall we say nine?”
“Of course, I’ll see you all then,” Agnes said as the line went dead, and she looked round. “I’d better put this away…”
8.30 pm BST
Kensal Conservative Club
“If there are no further comments from the floor?”
Sue looked quietly round as the room sat in silence.
case, I move that we adopt Colin Gresham-Fox as our candidate for the by-election
to be held on 15th September," Mrs Bremner
said as she stood to move the motion.
Mrs Patel called out.
Colin smiled as
most of the hands went up.
Sue looked at
the faces of the few objectors.
"The result seems overwhelming," Mrs Bremner smiled, "can I therefore formally declare that Colin Gresham-Fox has been chosen to be the Conservative and Unionist party candidate for the constituency of Kensal and Queens Park."
As there was applause in the audience, Colin stood up and came to the microphone.
"Thank you for your trust and support in choosing me to be your candidate," Colin said as he looked round the room. "and I look forward to working with each and every one of you as we endeavour to win the forthcoming election."
Colin waited while the applause died down.
many of you consider me an unorthodox candidate, and that Sue and I might not
be everyone’s ideal" Colin took a deep breath, "can I ask both you,
and our opponents, though to put aside your personal feelings about myself and my
wife-to-be, and instead make this an election that we fight cleanly, and
strictly on the immense issues facing both the people of Kensal and Queens
Park, and the nation."
paused while people clapped.
"Can I say
that the core issue that I wish to try and campaign on is with regards to both
improving the quality and availability of both affordable quality housing, and
the provision of effective social services that meet the real needs of the
people of this constituency. For too long the Labour party has offered one size
fits all solutions that have in practice failed in their purpose. As Conservatives, we believe that socialist
dogma isn't the solution to the situation, it is instead part of the
Colin smiled as people stood and applauded.
“Many of you will have read Susan’s story, and made your own judgement, but I ask you to consider this – nobody is better placed to listen to and understand your needs, your concerns, your worries than someone who has lived them and more. It is on that basis we stand together, and on that basis that we will win in September. Thank you, and good night.”
As the room applauded, Margaret whispered into Sue’s ear “now that is a rag to a bull, ready?”
“More than,” Sue whispered back, “more than…”
8.30 pm BST
if Susan is having fun at her political meeting?" Kylie asked as she and
Rose sat watching television in her flat.
not love,” Rose said as she drank some tea, “that sort of fing
really ain't her scene is it?"
"No - but
as Lady Bobbi was saying this afternoon now that she's openly out there and
supporting Colin, it's something she's going to have to get used to."
is." Rose took another sip of tea, ''ave to say
though, she looked a picture in her outfit while you did the final fittings
this afternoon Kylie."
them looked wonderful,” Kylie said with a smile, “just as i
imagined they would when i did my first sketches that
day in the haberdashers."
it's that imagination of yours that is a true wonder," Rose smiled
broadly, "I've been round the rag trade on and off for a lot of time
Kylie, but I ain't sure I ever even 'eard of another designer who can capture ideas as quickly
as you do."
Darling," Kylie drawled with a broad smile on her lips. "That is one
of the most wonderful things anyone has ever said to me."
away," Rose blushed. "Changing the subject, are you going to 'elp your Mum wiv 'er packing in the morning?"
"Yes," Kylie nodded, "she wants me to go through my old bedroom and see what I want to keep."
“Will there be much?”
“To tell the truth, Rose darling, it will be like going back to a foreign country.” Kylie drew her knees up to her chin, and said “that Kylie is long gone. Still, it is going to be interesting…”
8.30 pm BST
“Well, we’re back,” Charlotte said as she put the door keys down, and Piet pit the cases on the floor.
"Oh it is
nice to be home," Piet smiled as he glanced at the mail that had built up
while he and Charlotte had been away.
is," Charlotte sighed as she took off her jacket and threw it over the
back of the couch. "Anything urgent?" she asked as she headed
towards the kitchen.
bills that i need to pay, but other than that,” Piet
said as she sorted the envelopes. “it looks mainly like junk, congratulations
cards and letters, or business stuff for you."
Charlotte yelled from the kitchen, "that I am going to try and ignore even
thinking about tonight. Coffee or tea darling?"
please." Piet suddenly had a thought, "and how does it feel making it
yourself again? and not just asking the servants?"
strange," he heard Charlotte laugh, "but good in so many ways. It
means that it's just us two together again."
"Ja Babe, I get what you are getting at," Piet laughed
anything on the answering machine that MUST be dealt with?" Charlotte
asked as she came back in holding two mugs of coffee to find Piet listening to
from my Mother and yours as well to ring them and let them know we got safely
"Yeah that we can't put off until tomorrow," Charlotte passed her husband a mug, "lets drink these and then we better ring them."
8.30 pm BST
want to be a doctor Alice?" David asked as he sat next to John Heller's
girlfriend at the dinner table.
do," she smiled, "my parents are both GP's, I guess medicine is in my
understand that. While there are no
medics in our family, we have our traditions as well."
are your plans?"
truly sure," David paused, "I want to work in the field of foreign
policy, but I don't want to join the Foreign Office like my Uncle Donald."
want to work where then?" the medical student sounded interested.
"I want to
maybe do some postgraduate work in Europe, then maybe go work for one of the
think tanks," David paused, "but a lot I suppose will depend on what
Judy I end up doing."
“That's your girlfriend? she's a musician right?"
"Yes. She might decide to be elsewhere."
“So let me get this right – Eleanor and Allyson…”
“They do prefer Nell and Ally,” David said with a smile.
“They are one year down at Harvard?”
“I met Jack’s girlfriend at the May ball – I’m glad they have gone public now. She’s only sixteen?”
“Seventeen in a few weeks – so she’s still at high school, but she is very mature.”
“I wondered what had made Jack knuckle down – good for her…”
9 pm BST
“But you are rested,” Shirley said as she swirled her glass of brandy, “and you have called Francesca?”
Mama and told her we are home, and I'm ringing to say I'll be in to work in the
she said with a smile, “you can take a couple of more days
vacation if you want."
suddenly that dispensable?"
"No," Madame laughed, "it's just that other than the Catherine thing everything is running pretty much routine. Look on it as being a tribute to how well you've trained the staff in your department."
"Yeah they are pretty good," Charlotte smiled to herself, "but no I want to get back into my routine so expect to see me in the office first thing."
but don't say I didn't offer."
"So I take it Lady Catherine is still evading re-capture?"
“Indeed – and we are worried about other matters. Charlotte, we may need the assistance of the Sisters to protect one of their own.”
“Ask and it shall be done Madame.”
“Good – rest now, we will talk tomorrow…”
9 pm BST
It was the last thing Agnes had ever expected to happen – the three former friends sitting in her front room, watching as she poured four drinks. Arabella Potter-Smyth had that sunburned skin living in Australia gives you, her sun bleached hair long, and wearing a cream coloured shift dress and heels. Olivia was wearing a grey leather jacket over a jersey dress, and Fiona a blue blouse and trouser suit.
“There you go,” she said as she handed the glasses round, “I have to say, it is good to see all of you – and totally unexpected.”
“Well, when Olivia, Ari and I were talking after dinner,” Fiona said, “we decided to pay a social call…”
husband will envy me this?" Arabella sipped the whiskey that Agnes gave
her, "he regards himself as something of a connoisseur."
your address in Australia Ari,” Aggie said as she sat down, “and I'll send him
part of Uncle Angus's stash at Ardray?"
Aggie said as she swirled the amber liquid, “he and my grandfather stockpiled
rare and old whiskey in the cellar. It wasn't really till Donald went and had a
look round down there that I realised just what they'd put aside."
father may have been an old devil Aggie, but damn did he have good taste,"
Olivia giggled as Tippy Toes jumped up on her lap and purred.
fine Aggie," Olivia said as she started to stroke the cat.
For a few
seconds there was a silence as the women sipped their drinks.
better say it," Arabella broke the quiet, "I'm sorry I sent you to
Coventry like that Agnes. I didn't give you a chance to explain just why you'd
done what you did, and that was wrong of me."
"It was wrong of us all," Lady Fiona said quietly.
“It’s the past,” Agnes said quietly, “but thank you. I hope… I hope we can be friends again.”
“Is it really true that it was Catherine,” Fiona said as she put her glass down.
“I’m afraid so – and she’s somewhere out there,” Agnes said with a sigh. “Donald is filing for divorce.”
“Best thing I ever did,” Olivia said with a laugh, “when I found out about him and the singer, that was the end of that.”
“Funny how you’re the only one who stayed married, Ari,” Fiona said with a sigh. “With me, it was his secretary.”
“Isn’t it always the way,” Arabella laughed.
“Well, he was a handsome young secretary,” Fiona said as they all burst out laughing.
“Anyway,” Ari eventually said, “Are you still…”
“Nope – I was invited to sit on a couple of boards as a financial adviser, and I’m helping young Charlotte di Cambrello set up a charity to fund small businesses in the third world.”
“So the old Aggie is back?”
“As much as possible yes,” Agnes said as the doorbell rang. “now who could that be?”
She walked slowly to the door and looked through the peep hole, then smiled as she opened the door. “Aunt Fiona – what brings you here? Come in – I’m entertaining.”
the others heard an older woman say as she appeared in the doorway. "Good Grief, now I never expected to see
all of you here tonight," Lady Fiona McDonald looked both shocked, and
happy, as she recognised the three younger women sitting in Agnes's lounge.
Fiona," Arabella stood and kissed her relative on the cheeks, "good
to see you."
good to see you Ari darling, but why didn't you phone that you were coming
Lady Fiona," Olivia smiled, "I decided after Naples that it was time
all three of us made our peace with Agnes."
Fiona smiled, "Simon and i did it after her
article appeared, and the more we've learned since about how Catherine Fitzstuart deliberately ruined Aggie's life, the more I've
come to hate myself for being so rude and ignoring her all these years."
"As I said,
it's all in the past, and we can't change the past," Agnes walked to her
bar counter, "a small one Aunt Fiona?"
Fiona said as she removed her coat, "I dropped in to check on arrangements
for Sue's wedding, and now I'm glad I did."
putting up some of the guests Fiona?" the other Fiona enquired.
"I am indeed dear. Cat Cuthbertson is putting up Colin and his supporters, while Will and Mandy host more of the party at their place."
"So who is
dressing you for this wedding Aggie?" the younger Fiona asked.
and I have to say what he's made for me is gorgeous."
"Yes...Olivia Treharran is his spokesmodel and she put me in touch with him."
“I heard about what happened at her place – why her daughter?”
“I think she got caught in – her web,” Aggie said quietly. “She needs to hope she stays away…”
9.30 pm BST
Shirley was in her study at her home when she saw the red light on her phone. Securing the line and the room, she picked up the handset and said “hello?”
“Madame, it is Lady. Are we secure?”
“we are secure – what can I do for you, my Lady,” Shirley said as she sat back.
“Do you know who Michaela Jones is Shirley?”
“American singer, used to be married to Unca Sam the rapper?”
“You’ve placed her.”
“According to what I’ve read she’s a thoroughly nasty bitch who has used and abused people all her professional career.”
“You’ve definitely placed her,” Catriona smiled. “I represented those two British songwriters in that plagiarism case against her.”
“One of your rare defeats if I remember Cat darling.”
“Well I thought it was going to be decided on purely legal grounds, I didn’t factor in that that thug of an ex-husband of hers had somehow bribed and intimidated a lot of the witnesses.”
“And you know that for a fact?”
“Yes,” Cat said over the line, “but can I prove it? Not a chance in hell. Meanwhile those two guys were bankrupted, and have been black balled within the music industry.”
“There’s a reason they call it Gangster Rap Cat.”
“I know,” the barrister gritted her teeth.
“So why are you asking if I know her?”
‘Because she, and about four million pounds worth of jewellery are going to be staying at the Imperial Forum hotel on Wednesday night.”
“Okay, and why…” suddenly Shirley shook her head. “I’m dense tonight aren’t I?”
“A little,” Catriona giggled. “I want to separate her from all that bling, and at least in part recompense those two lads.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“A little hotel room invasion, we go in masked and armed, and if she’s stupid then I’m happy to torture her to force her to open her safe.”
“I understand,” Madame smiled, “I wish you and your girls luck.”
“Shirley I need a favour before I can do this though.”
‘What darling? As Lady C you have your own crews.”
“I don’t have a good enough tech though.”
“Ah,” Shirley smiled.
“Do you think Charlotte might do it for me? She does own the hotel after all, and its not like I need her on site, she can do all she needs from her office at Aldwych.”
“You know Francesca would have a fit if Charlotte went out in the field now?”
“I do, it’s why I’m asking her to do it remotely.”
“Look she’s coming into the office in the morning, I’ll talk to her then. Can you drop in about Ten Thirty?”
“I’ll be there,” Cat nodded. “By the way you haven’t given me an opinion about the job?”
“It’s a good idea – we’ll talk more tomorrow…”
Tuesday 2nd August
9 am CET
The Furstenheim Townhouse
“Are your arrangements done darling,” Klaus said as Carina came in.
about. So, while we are competing in the
wilds of Poland and Rumania, you and Pops get to go to yet another wedding, and
to shoot some poor helpless little birds?" Carina laughed.
about sums it up darling," Juliette smiled.
while you are both away, Ingrid, Sigi, and me will be
at Furstenheim organizing the christening,"
Annie looked up from feeding Mags, "and I get to work on my lesson plans
for the coming year."
we've lumbered you a bit Annie," Juliette said as she stroked her younger
granddaughter’s hair, "but our being at the wedding and the shoot helps
know," Annie said as she hugged her baby and burped her.
"And you know that the only reason we are doing these two regattas is that US Rowing insisted that if we want to be seriously considered for the World's that we had to do these races."
“Momma,” Judith said as she came in, “My birfday is soon, right?”
“Yes, it is,” Klaus said as he picked his granddaughter up, “and what would you like as a present?”
“A pony,” Judith beamed, “and a cawwige, and a new dwess…”
“I’ll leave you to the negotiations,” Carina said with a grin as she walked off…
9.30 am BST
“Hey,” Lily called out as Charlotte came into the lobby, “back to the grindstone?”
“Oh yeah – hopefully a nice quiet morning of not much happening…”
“In this place,” Lily said as the lift went to the third floor.
“I can dream – right, let’s…” Her talk was drowned out as she went into the IT department, to the singing of “she’s a jolly good fellow…”
shouldn't have," Charlotte blushed as the women in the IT department all
stood and applauded, while Phoebe presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
"Welcome back Charlotte," several of the girls called out.
“Thank you,” she cried as Lily hugged her. “you have a 10.15 with the boss – find us after that…”
10.10 am BST
"So what are the China Dolls planning as a hen party for one of their own Penny?" Charlotte asked as she sat on the edge of Penny's desk.
“Now what makes you think we’re planning anything? Maybe we’ll just visit a couple of houses, for old time’s sake…”
“Relax – we’re going for a meal tomorrow night, and I’ve got tickets for the Kinks musical, and that’s all. Quiet, respectable night out.”
“Yeah – and mine was a quiet night in as well,” Charlotte laughed as Amanda put her had round the door, and said “she’s free now.”
“Catch you at lunch,” Charlotte said as she walked in, Shirley walking round and hugging her as she said “welcome back. You look like you had a good time.”
“Ten days waited on hand and foot? Can’t complain, but it’s good to get back to normal – whatever that is here?”
“Fair enough – coffee,” Shirley said as they sat at the low table.
“So – what can I help with today Madame?”
“Two things – first, we have been reviewing security at Ardray for next week, and we have a potential issue.”
“Too much open ground,” Charlotte said as she accepted a coffee.
“Indeed – we will ned help of the most discrete and effective kind.”
Charlotte nodded as she said “I’ll get Sunshine and Liz over with some sisters, set up a perimeter. It will be a change from their current work.”
“Where is Liz at the moment?”
“Northern Nigeria with Teacher – dealing with a possible sighting.”
Shirley raised an eyebrow as she said “Boko Haran?”
“We hope so – and the other problem?”
“Ah – that needs you with your other hat on,” Shirley said as the telephone rang. Picking it up, she said “show her in” and watched as Catriona joined them.
“Charlotte – enjoy your honeymoon?”
“I did – so what’s going on?”
“Well,” Shirley said, “Catriona wishes to stage a little invasion in your hotel tomorrow night, and she needs some tech support?”
“Oh – you’re not planning to rob me, are you,” Charlotte laughed.
“No – a guest of yours,” Catriona said, “one Michaela Jones.”
“Oy,” Charlotte said, “I had an e-mail from the general manger about her demands. I think she needs taking down several pegs – what do you need from me?”
“Tech support – security camera overrides, that sort of thing.”
“I can arrange that – tell me more…”