The Trials of Agnes McAdam – Part 4
Tuesday 2nd August
10.30 am BST
As the kettle boiled, Sami looked at her daughter, in her combat jacket, t-shirt and jeans, and then at the unpacked boxes and things.
for the mess luv," Sami said as she looked round the small seventh floor
flat, "I know it ain't exactly wot yer used to nowdays."
darling, it's actually better then I remember," Kylie smiled as she made
them both mugs of tea.
going to try and be a better 'ousekeeper in the
Waltham Cross 'ouse."
seeing that it's Susan you are renting it from darling,” Kylie said as she
handed a mug over, “that might be a good idea."
know," Sami grinned, "seein' 'er place in New York, she's not goin'
to be 'appy if I wreck 'er
new investment is she?"
your new flat like?" she asked as they sat down.
not quite home yet, it's going to take me and Marina a little while to get it
just as we want,” Kylie said quietly, “but it's ideal in so many ways."
"I saw the
pictures you posted of yours and Marina's work spaces, plenty of room for both
"I know darling," Kylie's smile turned to a grin, "I actually have my own little design studio."
“Jus finking of that…”
“I hope you’ll come over soon Mother – but for now… Oh dear lord, is that me at primary school?” She looked at the photo, as Sami smiled. “You look so innocent then…”
10.30 am BST
Jack walked into the drawing room to see David hunched over his laptop.
are you up to bro?" Jack said as he came over.
a birthday present for Judith, since you asked, Viscount Millingham."
other girlfriend eh?"
complains," David smiled as he pressed send to complete the transaction.
"she's growing up so quickly you know."
looking forward to going to Furstenheim for the
"I guessed she would be, I told Annie it was a wonderful idea to invite her to be a godmother." David looked at his older brother, before he said “she really is becoming a lady of the manor, isn’t she?”
“I know – and isn’t she wonderful at it…”
11 am BST
Colin and Susan’s home
“I thought I’d find you here,” Kay said as Sue answered the door.
“You called the office?”
“And got no answer, so I came in. Any chance of a brew?”
“Sure – come in,” Sue said as she stood to one side, Kay walking in and removing her coat.
to get nervous Sue?" Kay asked as Sue ushered her through to the kitchen
of hers and Colin's house.
"Yes. What do you think?"
"Well… You guys did the first wedding so quick you
didn't get a chance to be nervous that time."
this is all so much bigger," Sue said with a smile as she flipped the
coffee maker on.
"So how comes you aren't working today?"
finishing that report for Torware at home, she
doesn't need my help with that so she gave me an extra day off."
helps you recover from last night as much as anything."
Sue smiled, "that actually went a whole lot better than I expected."
coverage in the papers wasn't bad."
"I know," Sue smiled again, "I loved that picture in the Daily Mail of the YC's wearing those 'I'm backing Sue' tee shirts.”
"Yeah, they were cute," Kay laughed as Sue put two mugs on the breakfast bar. “And completely out of left field. You know, you might actually win this one, Sue.”
“We’ll see – so come on, what are you going to do to me.”
“Us? Why would we plan anything for you?”
“Relax – it’ll be fun…”
The picture of the cheering young debs with Colin and Sue on the other side was a good picture – but it had the wrong intent in this place.
Backing Sue," Catherine fumed as she looked at the picture in the Daily
Mail. "That bitch is nothing but the whore friend of the biggest fucking
whore in London."
"I'll wipe that damn smile off her cheap face," Catherine turned her attention to the Daily Express. This time she'd make sure things got done right.
And then there was the person Carlin had put her in touch with – they think they were safe in Ireland? She’d show them…
"So, you are
going to model as Eve Priest and Aileen Priest?" Lizzie asked.
"We are," Aileen nodded as the four of them walked the horses down the country lane, the high hedges on either side making the road a bit like a tunnel. All four were wearing jumpers, breeches and long riding boots, as well as their helmets.
"Well Mummy modelled as Paula Priest," Eve smiled. "and a lot of people remember Aunt Eve, as Eve Gaunt, so as a tribute to Mummy, and to avoid confusion."
Priest as your professional name." Kit smiled. "Good idea."
thought so," Aileen giggled as she looked round. "By the way is it me
or can I hear a tractor coming?"
"I can't see
one," Lizzie stood up in her stirrups.
"If it is Ailsa I'm imagining it as well," Kit looked round. "Where is it? she asked just as a tractor burst through the hedgerow and frightened the horses.
“What the hell…” Liz called out as she struggled to control her horse, while Eve grabbed the reins of Aileen’s horse and tried to steady her. But it was Kit who struggled to maintain control as the tractor passed by her, her horse rearing and throwing her from her back as she landed in the hedgerow.
“KIT!!” Eve handed her reins to Aileen and jumped off as the tractor drove into the opposite hedgerow, and came to a halt. Liz jumped off and looked at the tractor as Kit shook her head, and tried to get out, only to cry out.
“what’s wrong,” Aileen said as she came over.
“I think I’ve broken my arm,” Kit said quietly as Eve helped her out. “What maniac was driving that?”
“No-one,” Liz said as she looked over, “someone jammed the accelerator down and let it go.”
“Who would… Oh no…” Eve looked at the others as a farmer drove along in his 4x4.
“Miss Gaunt – are you girls all right?”
“Not really – we need to get Kit to hospital, and the police here.”
“I’ll go with her,” Eve said as Aileen dismounted, “can I use your phone to call our parents, and they can come to get the horses, as well as the police?”
2 pm BST
"You know I thought I was the one made the rude phone calls?" Agnes laughed at just what Donald had been suggesting.
"I thought it was time for a change," Donald smiled. "Anyway, are you busy?"
Agnes glanced at the pile of papers on both the couch and the floor. "Aunt
Fiona and the girls visiting last night disrupted my schedule."
"I had to
read your e-mail three times earlier to make sure I was reading the news
"I know, it shocked me too darling," Agnes smiled to herself. "But I’m so glad they did it. Sitting round chatting and laughing like that, it was almost like the last twenty years never happened."
“I’m glad – so you will get done in time?”
“Oh yes – and then we can meet at Ardray over the…” Aggie heard her phone beep, and looked at the text.
“Aggie? What’s happened?”
“Someone sent a tractor into the path of the girls in Ireland – Kit’s broken her arm. Donnie…”
“Oh yes she would…”
West Central Park
are you up to Adam Ball?" Jan smiled as she walked into the kitchen
wearing just a New York Islanders hockey sweater.
sure that our present for Judith gets there in time for her birthday," he
said as he looked up from the computer.
I'd all but forgotten that's coming up," Jan said as she poured herself a
good thing then that I'm her god parent and not you,” Adam said with a smile.
is," Jan sat on a bar stool next to her man. "So anything else going
complaint from my Mom that she and Veronica lost at bridge to Leroy and the
Admiral again last night."
can't win all the time," Jan sipped her drink, "by the way I've
always meant to ask, how come Leroy is only a captain, surely with his
experience he should be at least a major, probably a colonel."
know," Adam said as he stood up and went to pour himself another mug of
coffee. "You are right of course, but while he's an amazing marine in the
field, Leroy Vance has a unique talent for rubbing the USMC brass up the wrong
way when he's back stateside."
"So let me guess they give him the shit tough jobs, but won't promote him?"
“Got it in one – he’s VERY good, but does not suffer fools gladly.”
Jan nodded as she looked at the paper. “Did you see this? Some bank manager got killed when his apartment was robbed. Someone whipped him for the combination to his safe.”
“Nasty – but not in our bulwark, for once,” Adam said, “it’s strictly a PD matter.”
6 pm BST
The Dower House,
“Now who could that be,” Kit said as she heard the doorbell, before the door to the main room opened and Agnes came in, removing her coat and gloves as she said “where is she? Kit, are you all right?”
The teenager looked at her, her arm in a sling as she said with a smile “you needn’t have rushed over like this Aunt Aggie, I only broke my arm.”
“Are you okay otherwise?” Aggie said, the concern clear as she gently hugged her niece.
“Yes,” Kit said with a smile, “that bitch thinks she’s frightening us, she doesn’t know the women of our family very well does she?”
“No,” Agnes said, embracing Tamsin as she came into the drawing room. “And how are you holding up Tippy Toes?”
“I’m doing better than I was when they phoned me to tell me they were taking Kit to the hospital in Eventon.”
“Aggie darling,” Tamsin said as they sat down, “you really didn’t need to fly over you know.”
“Yes I did,” Aggie gritted her teeth, “for too long I was excluded from your lives, now I’m making up for it. It was important to me to come.”
“I can understand that darling,” Tamsin said as she hugged her sister again. But she could also see the anger as Aggie rubbed her eyes.
“She goes after my school, my friends, and now my family,” she finally said, “Catherine must be truly psychotic.”
“I know darling.”
“We are right in assuming that this wasn’t an accident aren’t we?”
“So the Garda say,” Tam nodded. “The tractor was deliberately tampered with. They are treating it as a deliberate attempt to harm or frighten the girls.”
“They should also be concerned for the poor horses, who in their right mind attacks such beautiful animals?” Kit asked.
“I agree darling,” Agnes nodded, “but we are dealing with people controlled by someone who is out of her right mind.”
“I knew she was ill, but to threaten Kit and the girls…” Tamsin looked at her sister and said “did you phone Donald and tell him you were flying over Aggie?”
“I did Tippy Toes. I also phoned Augie van Roon and explained my report may be delayed. Luckily he understood completely.”
“That’s good of him. Given the circumstances…”
“Well, I gave him some pointers for the moment… So how did the Gaunts react?”
“Not well Aunt Aggie,” Kit shook her head, “Uncle Tom and Aunt Paula went ballistic when they heard.”
“Did they phone Catriona?”
“They did,” Tam answered her sister, “she’s tied up with work, and Lizzie talked her out of coming over, but she said her mother was livid.”
“I can imagine – Catriona is formidable when her back is up,” Agnes said as she shuddered and started crying.
“Aunt Aggie? What’s wrong?”
“I’m scared Kit – when it was just me, I could cope, but she’s lashing out at anyone and everyone now that she thinks has slighted her. First the school, then Edwina Treharran, now you – I swear, if I saw her, I would…”
“Don’t. This is not your fault, Aggie,” Tamsin said, “and they will find her. You must be strong, for all of us.”
“Aggie? Lizzie said you were coming over,” Paula said as she came in and hugged the sisters. “Kit, John’s outside.”
“Excuse me a minute,” Kit said as she stood up and walked out, closing the door behind herself.
“Right – what are we going to do about her?”
“She seems to have this network of people she can control and use at her will,” Tam said as she gestured for the other two women to sit down.
“Yes she does - dear DS Bennett it turns out was not the only pawn she had,” Aggie said as she wiped her eyes. “That man in Rosville, the school, Olivia’s place, now here… The police are doing their best to find out who she might have compromised in this world, but until they reveal themselves it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
“Well we know for sure who one of her allies is,” Paula looked deadly serious as she spoke. “I’ve heard from a couple of people that she provoked and pushed Carlin Kardecki to cause me personal grief.”
“Yes,” Aggie nodded. “I heard that too, and I’m sorr…”
“Don’t you dare, Agnes McAdam,” Paula said in a dangerous voice. “NONE of this is your fault.”
“All right – so what do we do?”
“So,” Paula said, “I set a private investigator in New York to work tracing what Kardecki was up to, and would you believe that of all things she’s currently in Dublin…What a coincidence.”
“Coincidence my arse,” Aggie grumbled, “my academic training makes me very wary of the mere concept of coincidence.”
“Ladies, I think it’s maybe time we had a chat with this Miss Kardecki.” Tam looked at the other two women intently.
“Last time I spoke to her, she did her best Malvolio,” Paula said quietly.
“Oh really? Well, I do a good Macbeth.”
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes?”
Aggie nodded as she smiled grimly. “I always like a Guinness in Dublin. Let’s do this – drive there tomorrow and surprise her.”
“Good – you and John stay for dinner, I think Kit may want to come as well…”
8 pm BST
“I’m home,” Mike Babbage said as he closed the front door.
“Did you hear Mike?” Sherry asked as her husband walked into the kitchen.
“I did, Aggie phoned me at the Yard when she heard from Ireland.”
“If she’s not caught and stopped soon, then someone is going to end up dead,” Sherry smiled as Mike poured himself a beer, “it’s getting beyond being a joke.”
“Agreed love,” Mike took a sip, “and the reason I’m late is that I had the Assistant Commissioner himself in my office bending my ear about the need to catch Catherine Fitzstuart.”
“Well Christine is his cousin’s daughter. I guess it’s now personal.”
“Yes,” Mike slumped into a chair, “well anyway as of the morning my team and I have been pulled from normal duties and given just the job of tracing Catherine, and capturing her.”
“Good, it shows that at last all this crap is being taken seriously.”
“Tell me about it,” Mike said as there was a knock on the door. “Now who could that be,” he said as he went and opened the door.
“Hello Mike,” Tom Gregson said as he stood there, “can I come in?”
“Of course – what’s wrong Tom.”
“I need to talk to you, in confidence – about Catherine Fitzstuart.”
10 pm BST
“Why have we been called in, darlings,” Louise said as she walked into the meeting room, wearing a blue leather dress and heels. “I was enjoying the show when I got the summons.”
“We all got hauled in,” Tracy said as she handed the young American a coffee, “which means something serious has come up.”
“Are we all here,” Lily said as she came in with Shirley.
“Sorry – had to get a cab,” Kelly said as she joined the group.
“No problem – be seated everyone,” Lily said as they sat round the table.
“Alright I hate to call a meeting at this time on a Tuesday evening,” Madame looked round the room, “but Catherine Fitzstuart just became the most urgent problem on our plate.”
“What happened,” Louise asked as she sipped her coffee.
“She orchestrated an ‘accident’ designed to hurt the daughters of three friends of mine. We need to take action.”
“Well it’s why you created this unit Madame,” Lily smiled, “rapid response to a crisis.”
“Yes,” Shirley looked down at her notes. “As some of you probably know, we as an organisation have access to both a kind of expert, and sources of information, that the authorities don’t have.”
“Yes,” Louise smiled. “Lovely as she is, what has happened to need us here?”
“One of our friends has been able to at least trace some of Lady Catherine’s movements via her financial records. She thinks that as of now Lady Catherine is somewhere in Lancashire.”
“Our friend can’t be more specific?” Lily asked.
“Only that she believes Catherine may have made a withdrawal from a bank machine in Preston two hours ago.”
“Has no one tried accessing the security camera on the ATM for visual confirmation?” Tracy asked.
“Charlotte is working on that as we speak.”
“So where do you want us to go, and what do you want us to do Madame?” Lily asked.
“Well I had a crazy idea come to me,” Shirley took a deep breath. “Lord Donald Fitzstuart owns a small country house called Edenwick Park, and it lies 10 miles from Preston.”
“And why is that significant Madame?” Kelly asked.
“Because how stupid would it be that every one assumes the last place Catherine might be hiding out is actually her own home?”
“Because people assume she wouldn’t be stupid enough to go there, nobody has checked the place.” Lily mused.
“Well that was my thought.”
“I guess we are hitting the motorway and heading for Preston?” Tracy smiled.
“Indeed – you have changes of clothing downstairs. As beautiful as that dress is, Louise, this is North West England on an August day.”
“So jumpers, jeans and jackets – trust me, this is my home area we are talking about,” Lily said with a smile.
“An unmarked SUV will be ready at midnight – I want you there by six tomorrow, in position to observe.”
West Central Park
Jan smiled as she sat in her favourite chair, a coffee by her side as she dialled the number.
“Hey Mom Janice.”
“Are you alone Kimberley darling?” Jan asked as she sat back.
“I am Mom,” Pepsi loved it when Jan called her by her original given name. “I’m just getting ready for bed, but I’m glad you called. How is everyone?”
“We’re good – look, I saw the reports on the things that Lady Catherine Fitzstuart might be having done, and I got worried about you.”
“We’ve all been talking about it here…” She could hear Pepsi sitting down, and then the young girl said “The Treharran’s and the Rochermann’s are our guests here at Ordford.”
“Is the young Treharran girl okay?”
“She is Mom, she was shaken up, but I think after what Fiona did to the guy she’s learned some true respect for her sister.”
“Well,” Jan said with a smile, “at least one good thing came out of it.”
“Mom,” Pepsi said quietly, “Will has hired some private security to watch the castle until this madwoman is caught. We are all going to be safe.”
“I’m praying for that Pepsi darling, and so is your Gran.”
“Oh? Katy isn’t?”
“Yes she is,” Jan smiled, “but she’s also making very dark threats about what she will do to anyone hurts you.”
“That sounds like my little sister,” Pepsi giggled.
“So how are you and Jack doing?”
“He’s threatening to call the engagement off,” Pepsi giggled some more.
“Oh - why?”
“Because I’ve had him playing soccer with me and some of the local kids so I can get fit for the school teams tour, and he doesn’t like it when I tackle him.”
“Poor Jack,” Jan laughed. “You know Pepsi you are beginning to get a bit of an English accent.”
“That’s what Ally said earlier. It’ll probably wash off when I get back – or Kylie will be conversing with me and we’ll both get laughed at.”
“So have you sorted out a Christening gift yet?”
“Mandy has offered to take me to look when we’re in Scotland. I wish you could be there though.”
“Well, I do have to work for a living,” Jan laughed, “but I will see you soon. Say hi to Kylie for me.”
“I will do Mom – love you and good night,” Pepsi said as the call ended, Jan smiling as her mother came in.
“As well as it can be…”
Wednesday 3rd August
7 am BST
Edenwick Park, nr Preston
It was a typical late Victorian manor house, grey, uninviting, and as Lily looked at the outside of the building she was glad it was a rare dry day in the neighbourhood. She was wearing a dark jacket over a jumper and jeans, but her focus was solely on the building – until she heard the footfall behind her and asked “Well.”
“Still nothing?” Tracy asked as she thrust the cup of coffee into Lily’s hand.
“No,” Lily put the high-powered binoculars down and sat up. “If she is in there, she’ll have to rise eventually. I’ve got Kelly setting up a link to the telephone and cable lines at the other side of the building.”
“Sorry it took us this long,” Tracy said as she squatted down, “but that McDonalds was busy.”
“Not a worry,” Lily sat up against a tree, and took a sip of the coffee, then looked at the cup. “Jesus H Christ, what is this stuff?”
“Still better than Starbucks.”
Lily laughed as she said “Did you get me something to eat as well?”
“Here,” Tracy passed her a bag. “I wish we could get a bit closer.”
“So do I, but this little clump of trees is the nearest cover. When Kelly gives the all clear, at least we’ll have extra monitoring.”
“Unless she uses a mobile, darlings,” Louise said as she joined them.
“Let’s just hope she feels secure then…”
7.30 am BST
“Right – Tammy will be here any minute,” Paula said as she pulled on her coat. “You okay with the girls?”
“We’ll be fine – but Paula darling you know very well how badly Carlin hates you” Tom hugged his wife, “please be careful.”
“I’ll be as careful as I can Tom,” Paula said with a grim smile, “but remember what happened yesterday, we are going to make her tell us just what she knows.”
“Just don’t end up doing anything stupid and ending up in serious trouble.”
“Now would we do that?” Paula laughed. “That’s why we’ve invited Roisin along.”
“Yes but while she may be a sergeant in the Garda, Roisin will not be on duty, and she can get in just as much trouble as you can.”
“Well just pray Carlin choses to co-operate then,” Paula smiled as they heard the honk of a car horn. “I’ll see you later darling,” Paula gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
As she left the hall, Tamsin held the rear door of the car open for her. Agnes and Kit smiled as Paula got in, Agnes saying “did we all have the same idea?”
“Denim and jumpers – how not to enter a fashion house? Oh yes,” Paula said as she fastened her seatbelt. “Morning Roisin.”
“Good morning your ladyship,” the redhead in the front passenger seat said as Tamsin got back in, “I hear we will be having an interesting day.”
“It could very well be – so be prepared Sergeant. It could get messy…”
8.30 am BST
“Okay Kelly, what have we got,” Lily said as she sat next to their tech expert.
“Definitely somebody resident – they’re watching Trumpy boy meeting with Nigel Farage on Sky News.”
“Two better suited people I do not know darlings,” Louise said with a sigh.
“Give him time, he might grow on you – any external contact.”
“Negative – orders boss?”
Lily looked at Tracy, and said “we need to get a proper visual if we can. You up for it?”
“If I’m not back in thirty, come after me,” the black skinned woman said as she slipped into the trees. Lily nodded as she passed the binoculars to Louise, and made her way into the trees for another reason.
“So Lily grew up near here?”
“A few miles south – but yeah, this is her base area. If we’re really lucky, and this gets wrapped quickly, we may have a cuppa at her mum’s place.”
Tracy made her way round the side of the building, keeping herself against the wall as she did so, and then looked in the large bay windows. There was nobody in the well furnished room, but she was sure she could hear sounds from somewhere. As she made her way round to the corner, she looked out to see a young woman in a grey dress, standing outside and smoking a cigarette.
“Probably the housekeeper or au pair,” Tracy thought to herself as she considered taking her out, but this was a time for discretion, not direct action. As she watched, however, the girl took out a pager and uttered a rather rude oath, before she dropped the cigarette, stood on it and walked back in.
“Okay then – time to report back,” Tracy said as she made her way back, not seeing the twitch of a curtain as she did so…
10 am BST
“So this is her current base in Dublin, is it,” Kit said as she sat at a roadside table, looking across at the old warehouse.
“Apparently,” Paula said as she watched through dark glasses, “and according to my man, she is in residence now.”
“So how do we get in, walk up to the front door and demand an entrance,” Tamsin said.
“Won’t work – and we can’t just get force our way in,” Roisin said as she looked round, “you need to be more – cunning.”
“Or more loving,” Agnes said as she saw Carlin’s assistant coming out, looking harried as she walked towards the coffee shop. “Paula, come with me.”
Carlin Kardecki was hunched over her drawing board, mumbling to herself as she sketched some designs out, and wondering where that girl had got to with her coffee. Since Catherine had headed home, she had been biding her time – the news conference announcing she was going to launch a new collection, but not the subject.
That was nearly to be revealed, and she smiled as she thought of how that bitch Paula Priest would react…
The sound of the studio doors opening and closing didn’t make her look up, as she called out “about bloody time, what happened – they had to go and fetch the beans from Peru?”
There was no answer, as Carlin looked up, and threw her pen down, leaving her table as she walked out and said “what happened – lose your tongue or your guts?”
“No – we offered to bring you your coffee, and give her a couple of hours off.”
Carlin stared at the two women standing there – one with dark hair, the other flaming red, as they looked at her, the coffee cup sitting on a side table.
“I didn’t think I had an appointment today – have we met?”
“I don’t think so,” the redhead said quietly, “although we have mutual friends. Allow me to introduce myself – I am Doctor Agnes McAdam, and this is my sister, Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt.”
“Gaunt? You’re not related to HER, are you?”
“Not directly, no.”
Carlin spun round to see Paula standing by the door to her inner office, her arms folded as she stared at Carlin.
“Okay,” she said quietly, “why are you trespassing here?”
“We’re not – as I said, we offered to give your assistant a couple of hours off – but to be certain, Roisin is here to act as a witness. We need to talk, Carlin DARLING.”
“I thought I said all I needed to say in New York, when you pulled that stunt,” Carlin sneered.
“Ah, but that was before I learned the truth about who put you up to annoying me, Carlin,” Paula said quietly.
“And that would be?”
“The same person who made my life hell,” Agnes said, “and who is trying to hurt those I love and care for. The one who arranged for someone to try and hurt four girls yesterday.”
“Oh? Do you know them?”
“You damn well know we do,” Paula said quietly, “two were my daughters.”
“One was a daughter of a friend,” Agnes said quietly.
“And the fourth?”
“Someone she really should not have upset.” Carlin looked at the young blonde as she said “I am Catherine Mahan-Gaunt, Knight of the Red Knife – and my arm was broken thanks to that psychopath’s vendetta against my family.”
Carlin looked at her as Tamsin said “this is my daughter – and we all want to ask you the same thing, MISS Kardecki.
“Where is Catherine Fitzstuart?”
Carlin looked at the women, and said “Catherine who?”
“Oh don’t give me the innocent look,” Paula said quietly, “I know, Carlin, and why I still can’t begin to understand why you listened to her, you must know she’s gone over the edge recently.”
“What she gets up to is no concern of mine…”
“It will be,” Agnes said quietly, “because it was bad enough when she besmirched my name…”
“The McAdam of McAdam, Lady D’Eath – or just you,” Carlin said quietly.
“All of the above – I am not going to deny what I had to do to survive for the years I was shunned,” Agnes continued as she sat down, “but when it was me she was fixated on, I could at least attempt to cope with it.”
“But she’s moved on, hasn’t she,” Paula said as she walked to where Carlin was standing. “And seriously, don’t play the innocent Carlin. I know she’s been here since she absconded from the clinic she was put in, for her own good.”
“The way she said it, she went for a rest cure.” She suddenly looked at the other women as she realised what she had said.
“So she has been here,” Tamsin said quietly, “and in that time, she has terrorised her sister, our friends – my daughter and her friends – and has caused no end of heartache and misery – and why?”
“More to the point,” Roisin suddenly said, “she now has a warrant out for her arrest in the UK – and we at the Garda are cooperating fully.”
“She’s going off the rails,” Paula said, “so you are going to tell us what you know – before I get serious…”
10.30 am BST
“Still no sign of anyone leaving?”
“None I have seen,” Lily said as she lowered the binoculars, “we need to go in. Masks on.”
The women nodded as they pulled the balaclavas down, only their eyes and red lips showing, as they made their way slowly down to the main house, Louise keeping watch from the rear as Lily and Tracy took point. They moved silently, carefully, keeping a wary eye out as they crossed the ground to the rear of the building and reached the kitchen door.
Tracy drew a weapon as Lily nodded, and then opened the door carefully. There was a smell of fresh baked bread, and as Louise put her gloved hand over the hob she could feel the latent heat. “This was on – maybe an hour ago,” she whispered as Lily nodded, and they made their way into the main hallway.
“Can you hear that,” Tracy said, Lily nodding as she sent Kelly and the fifth girl up the stairs. The three made their way to the front of the house, the sound of the television growing louder as Louise slowly opened the door.
The television was on, playing some antiques program, but there was no other sound as they walked into the room, Tracy and Louise taking point as Lily walked in front of the television. “Over here,” she said as Tracy and Louise joined her, and they saw the girl from earlier, lying on her side, her eyes wide open.
Lily checked her pulse at her neck, and said “she’s alive, but breathing is very shallow.” Looking at her eyes, she said “some sort of opiate…”
“We’re clear upstairs Boss,” Kelly said as they came back in, “but we found this note.” She handed it to Lily, who read “if you are reading this, well done for finding my little hideaway – but you’re too late.”
“What does she mean, too late,” Tracy said as Louise sniffed the air.
“Darlings, do you smell something…”
Lily inhaled, and then shouted “GET OUT!”
From the hillside, Catherine smiled as she dialled a number on her mobile phone, and flames erupted from the ground floor windows of Edenwick Park. “That will teach you,” she said quietly as she drove off…
11 am BST
Charlotte rubbed her eyes as she listened to the tale from her manager, silently cursing this side of her new responsibilities.
“Henry I’m sure the Imperial Forum has had difficult guests before, so what did you do back then?” Charlotte held the phone to her ear while she used her other hand to stir her coffee.
“Just what I’m doing right now Mrs. Van der Byl…We phoned the highest levels of the company for guidance.”
“Alright I understand that I guess,” Charlotte said, “but honestly - all I can tell you to do is use your best judgment.”
“Well matters aren’t helped by her being a personal friend of yours...”
“Sorry - Who says she is?” Charlotte interrupted.
“She does Mrs. Van der Byl.”
Charlotte looked up to the ceiling and controlled herself, before she said “Henry - she’s lying, I’ve never met her, and I’m not even that big a fan of her music.”
“Oh,” Charlotte could all but hear the man’s brain working. “She told us that you had personally approved her getting our Ultra VIP treatment.”
“Sorry, I approved nothing of the sort.”
“Mrs. Van der Byl, if anything that makes my problem worse. How do my staff and I call out a celebrity guest as a liar when she has the media hanging on her every word? I do anything and she’s going to blacken our name to the world.”
“I understand the position Henry,” Charlotte paused for thought, “Look bear with it today, she’s only staying one more night. But I’m going to authorize an internal memo that she is barred from ever staying at one of my hotels again. She tries to book a room and her patronage will be declined.”
“I thank you Mrs van der Byl. You certainly seem to be getting the hang of this business. There is one more thing…”
Charlotte listened, before she said “oh boy – all right, see if he can make other arrangements for tonight, and I’ll deal with any fall out.”
“Thank you Mrs van der Byl,” Henry said as the call ended, and Charlotte sat back, praying before she drank some coffee. Picking up the telephone, she said “Amanda? Get me Catriona Cuthbertson please.”
11.15 am BST
Inns of Court
Catriona was looking at the paper, wondering what she could do about Catherine when her telephone rang.
“Yes,” she said into the handset.
“Mrs. Van der Byl on the phone your Ladyship,” Mary, Catriona’s temporary secretary spoke.
“Put her through Mary,” Cat said as she sat back and waited for the click. “Hello Charlotte and to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”
“I’m just ringing to say I will see you later for sure.”
“Charlotte,” Catriona said quietly, “you sound agitated. Is anything wrong?”
“Oh nothing big I guess,” Catriona heard the South African sigh, “it’s just a problem customer causing problems at one of my hotels here in London. I’ve had my General Manager on the phone complaining.”
“Now I understand why she’s calling,” Cat smiled as the thought came into her mind.
“Without breaking any rules Charlotte, want to share the gossip on this awkward customer? You tell me and I can assure you my lips are sealed.”
“Oh it’s that American singer Michaela Jones, among other things she’s demanding that Evan English…”
“Isn’t he the executive chef of the restaurant in your hotel?”
“He is,” Charlotte sighed again, “and she’s only demanding that he personally goes to her suite tonight to cook for her and some of her friends.”
“Oh that is pushing things.”
“I know, any way I’ve begged him personally to do it. It will cause a lot of disruption, but rather then have her bad mouth my hotel to the media…”
“Understood.” Catriona smiled again, in a coded way Charlotte was giving her information that would mean she had to change her plans for tonight. “So he will have a late night?”
“An early one probably, but a tiring one. As I understand it, she wants him in place until ten.”
“Well, I am sure you will manage it with your usual aplomb. I’ll see you at eight.” As she ended the call, Catriona smiled. A few hours later – that was fine. She could wait.
11 am BST
Carlin Kardecki looked round the group of women, nervous, but still smiling as she said “whatever you may think, I have no idea where Catherine currently is. Yes, she was here a week or two ago, but she told me nothing of her plans.”
“Really,” Agnes said as she smiled – a dangerous smile. “Nothing at all? About Donald? About me?”
“Well, she did say a few things about you, Ms McAdam – she really does not like you.” Turning her head to look at Paula, she said “much more than she hates you and your friends – and she really does not like you.”
“Is that why she paid someone to threaten the eleven year old daughter of one friend – and try to kill me,” Kit said quietly.
Carlin looked at the young woman, and said “As I said before…”
“You’re lucky I didn’t end up in a wheelchair – you wouldn’t have been able to cope with that from what I hear.”
Carlin stared at Kit, and then lunged at her – only to be brought down by Roisin as she said “Now Ms Kardecki – you don’t want an assault charge on you, do you?”
“I’ll ask one more time, Carlin, and if you don’t answer I will call in the police – WHERE IS SHE?”
“Or what? You’ll kill me? You haven’t got the guts Paula DARLING. You’re weak.”
“There are more ways to hurt you than physically,” Paula said quietly, “do you really want to find out? How about a word with the Taxman about your off-shore accounts in the Canary Islands? Or perhaps about how you use hothouses to manufacture your designs for the better retailers? Want me to go on?”
Carline stared at her, and said quietly “she’s back in the UK, that’s all I know – although she said she might gatecrash a wedding.”
“See, you can talk if you want,” Paula said as Agnes and Tamsin looked at each other. “Now here’s my message – we are dead to each other. If anyone hurts my children, or tries to again, I go to the authorities – and I include Kit in that, as my future daughter-in-law. We’re done here,” she said as they turned and walked out, Tamsin watching as they did so.
1.10 pm BST
Shirley looked up as Penny came into her office, and saw the concern on her face.
“Best you see,” Penny said as she turned on the television, and the BBC news came up.
“An explosion in the Preston area has devastated an eighteenth century manor house. Emergency services were called to Edenwick Park, a few miles west of Preston, after reports of a loud bang and then fire. At this time, it is not known…”
Shirley looked at Penny and said “Lilian?”
“She hasn’t reported back in yet. I’ve got a local contact seeing to find out if they can get any more…”
The telephone ringing made them both jump, as Shirley pressed the speaker button and said “Shirley Xavier?”
“Are we secure?”
Both women relaxed as they heard Lily’s voice as Penny said “we’re secure. What happened?”
“She was there all right - but she must have spotted us. When we entered the house, we found the person who had been acting as her housekeeper drugged – and she had rigged the gas supply to explode after a certain length of time.”
“What about your team?” Shirley said.
“A few cuts and bruises, and Louise is complaining of Tinnitus, but we got the girl and ourselves out barely in time. We had to get her to a hospital first, hence the delay in contacting base.”
“Any sign of where she may be going next?”
“Sorry Madame – but my guess is, she’s heading north.”
think she guessed who you worked for Lillian?"
"I don't think so Madame," Lily paused, "I think she thinks we were either private police, or the security services."
“Understood – return to base Lilian, and we will talk then.” As she ended the call, Shirley looked at Penny and said “call Charlotte in – we are going to need that extra security sooner rather than later.”
7.30 pm BST
Fletcher’s Wine Bar
In their chic suits, they could have been any group of professional or business women meeting for an after work drink. In an upscale wine bar like Fletcher’s they attracted no attention at all. In fact there were at least a half dozen similar groups sitting around the area.
Catriona smiled inwardly to herself, she’d been watching Madame’s operation long enough to know the value of doing things in open view, people looked for crimes to be plotted in hidden hideaways, not completely in public like this.
“So, we are going to be doing our thing three hours later then you originally told us Your Ladyship?” Corinne Michaels spoke in a voice that betrayed her transatlantic origins.
“Too much risk of harm to innocents otherwise,” Cat paused, “I don’t mind if we frighten a few of her friends and guests, but we will let the chef and his people leave first.”
“So what do we do until then?”
“Share a bottle of wine,” Catriona said with a smile, “and then move later…”
11 pm BST
Michaela Jones had a frown that could freeze a steel furnace as she watched the catering staff leave her suite. “Michelin starred? Only if it tastes like burnt rubber,” she sneered as she slammed the door, and then laughed. “Honestly, the look on his face,” she said as she sat down, her black leather trousers squeaking as she did so. The only other item of clothing she wore was a black boob tube, and a pair of four inch heeled sandals.
“Well, they’re the hired help – they do as they’re told,” her friend Sabrina said as she sat cross legged on the Turkish ottoman. Wearing a pair of stiletto heeled over the knee boots, black leather leggings and a cropped hoodie, she had no regard for the material as her heels scraped over the velvet. “so where’s that man of yours?”
“South of France, living it rich,” Michaela said as Sabrina stood up, and walked to the bathroom. As the water started running, the singer poured a large scotch and drank it, then dropped the glass on the table as she heard a knock on the door.
“What – forgot your petit pois, little man,” she called out as she walked to the door and opened it – only to step back in as the business end of a Magnum was pressed against her head, and three women walked in, wearing tailored suits, blouses – and stocking masks.
“Shut it bitch,” the woman with the gun growled, one of the other two putting a large shoulder bag down as the third closed the door. “Not the same when it’s a real gun, is it?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“Your worst nightmare, you stupid cunt,” the armed woman said, Catriona smiling under her mask as Corrine pulled a plastic zip tie from the bag. “now turn round before you gain a new way of making that foul din you call music.”
“Hey Micha, who was – ohfuckshitwhothehellareyouuuuhmmmggdddd.”
“Shut it, bitch,” the third woman said as she pushed a red rubber ball into Sabrina’s open mouth, and then hit her on the back of her knees, making her drop to the floor as her arms were yanked behind her back, and Corrine forced her elbows together with the zip tie. A second one secured her wrists together, as Michaela said “you don’t scare me bitches.”
“We should – now turn the fuck around, cow, and face the fucking wall.”
“You can’t talk to me like that,” Michaela growled, and then gasped as the gloved fist was driven into her stomach.
“I think I just did,” Cat said as she pushed Michaela onto the floor and forced her arms behind her back, holding them while Corrine secured her wrists and arms while the third woman used more zip ties to secure Sabrina’s ankles and legs, and then took from the shoulder bag several lengths of long rope.
“Pllssdnthhrrmmm,” the blonde moaned as her top was pulled open and down her arms, revealing her bare full breasts underneath. Michaela could only watch as the masked woman wrapped the rope around her friend’s arms and chest, framing her breasts with ropes as it went above and below, then between her arms and body, forcing them up and out as she watched.
“So you’re big fucking bitches with big fucking guns,” she grunted as she looked up, “whatcha gonna do – kill me?”
“Not unless you force us to – get her jewellery for starters.”
The third woman nodded as she stripped Michaela of her necklaces, rings and earrings – not to gently as she cried out, wondering why help wasn’t coming. This suite had CCTV…
Charlotte sipped her coffee as she watched the two windows on the screen. On one side, she could see the three armed women going about their business – on the other, Michaela and Sabrina talking and drinking, talking and drinking, talking and drinking…
The Imperial Hotel
Michaela grunted as the ropes were pulled tighter, forcing her arms into her sides as her chest was forced up and out. She glanced over at Sabrina, who was now hogtied on the floor, a band of silver tape encircling the lower half of her head while she squealed as she wriggled round, the ropes pressing firmly on her crotch with each move.
“I will not ask again,” Cat said quietly, “the combination to your safe.”
“Oh well – I guess I do get to have some fun as well,” she said with a smile as she produced a thin knife, and cut through the material of Michaela’s top, pulling the lurex to one side as the masked woman behind her reached round and started to massage her chest.
“Whatcha doing, bitch – getting off on me?”
“Actually, she might well be,” Cat said as she stroked the singer’s cheek with her gloved hand, and then slapped it hard. “Combination!”
“Get fucked… Fucked…”
Michaela was getting aroused as she felt her breasts firming, and her nipples harden under the touch of the gloved hands, especially when she squeezed them. Cat smiled as she said ‘”enjoying it?”
“What’s it to you, you mother fuckingOHHSHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!”
“I won’t ask again,” Cat said as she fastened the metal clamps over Michaela’s nipples, and lengths of tape were stuck over them to keep them in place, “the combination.”
“Get… Go to fucking hell…”
“Oh well, I gave you fair warning,” Cat said as she knelt down, and nodded to the woman behind, who crossed and bound Michaela’s ankles, and then secured her legs above her knees, her pants squeaking as Cat pulled on the chain linking the two clamps, and then looked over.
“Bring me that please,” she said to Corrinne, who nodded as she brought over the lit candle. Michaela stared at them as her head was held back, and Cat gently let the flame heat the chain…
“Good evening Madame,” Charlotte said as she looked at the video window, “all quiet with you?”
"Indeed. How is it going Charlotte?" Madame asked
on the secure computer.
pretty routine," Charlotte said as she glanced at her screens, "Lady
C's people seem to know what they are doing."
complaining because I'm working this late on my first full day back at
know," Madame smiled, "and in a way it was an imposition Cat asking,
but this is a worthwhile cause she's pursuing."
"Oh, on that I agree," Charlotte laughed, "Michaela Jones is a monster pain in everyone’s arse. She deserves this – and I can make it up to the big lug later."
“Still, do not work too late.”
“Oh I think we are discovering her limits, Madame…”
The Imperial Hotel
Michaela’s breasts were getting hotter and hotter, the metal under the tape heating as she sweated, and tried to remain calm, to say nothing – but she could hold it in no longer, as she screamed out “ALLRIGHTILLTELLYOUJUSTSTOPTHEFUCKIGNHEAT!!!”
“Combination,” Cat said quietly, and as Michaela gave a seauence of numbers Corinne typed them into the safe door, smiling as it opened and she bgan to ptu the contents into a sack.
“Pllssdhnthhrrhrhrr,” Sabrina moaned as she wriggled on the floor – and then shook involuntarily as she felt an orgasm sweep over her.
“Oh I wouldn’t worry, we’ll soon have her cooled off,” Cat said as she ripped the tape away and pulled the clamps off with her gloved hands, Michaela screaming – and then screaming more as an ice cube was pressed firmly on each blistered and cut nipple.
“There – isn’t that better,” Cat said as she pulled Michaela’s trousers down, cut her panties away and stuffed them into the singer’s mouth, before she wound silver tape tightly round her head, sealing her gag and trapping her hair.
She panted through her gag, the pain from the ice almost as unbearable as the heat, as she mumbled “Hllklllubhsshsss.”
“No you won’t,” Cat said as she looked at Sabrina. “Can you ladies take her into the bedroom and close the door? She does not need to see this.”
“Whrrudhnnn,” Sabrina groaned as she was lifted by Corinne and the third woman, and carried into the bedroom, Cat squatting in front of Michaela as she stroke dher hand between the singer’s legs.
“Hmmm – you feel hot there,” she said with a smile, “are you hot?”
Michaela stared at Cat, and then groaned as her finger slipped into the passage.
“Hmm – I see that you are,” she said quietly as her gloved finger moved around, Michaela feeling herself shaking as she did so. She didn’t want to react, but…
“Oh yes – that does feel good, doesn’t it,” Cat said quietly as she moved her finger in and out while reaching into her pocket for something, Michaela nodding – and then screaming into her gag as Cat forced the dildo in, and turned on the vibrator. As it went in and out, Michaela screamed in pain and pleasure, Cat with one thought in mind.
“Much as you deserve this, bitch, for what you have done, I wish I was doing it to someone else – but you’ll do nicely…”
Michaela was crying now, as she felt her body shake and the orgasm overwhelm her, Cat smiling as she pushed the dildo in one last time, and then tied a crotch rope between her legs before she pushed the singer onto a side and hogtied her as well, the blood and fluid flowing from between her legs.
“Now you know how it feels to be brutally fucked,” Cat whispered as the other two women came in. “We’re done here – collect our takings and let’s go.”
“Have you ever been to Scotland Annie?” Ama asked as she sat on a chair, her legs tucked under herself as she looked at her laptop.
“Nope, it’s one of those places on my list,” Annie smiled at her computer screen as she fed Rudy. “I’m sure your Mom has been plenty of times though.”
“A few,” Caroline called out from the kitchen, “but usually not the nice parts.”
“So where Mom,” Ama asked.
“Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee,” Caroline came in carrying two mugs of coffee. “Most of my visits were as Dominique.”
“Now I understand. Work issues?”
“Yes – and visits you are better off not knowing about Ama.” Annie smiled as she moved Rudy to her other breast.
“I know. But we are going to a more beautiful place this time.”
“Madame at times had problems imposing her authority with the groups up there,” Caroline said as she sat down beside Ama. “You know, they seem to grow every time I see them.”
“The babies? Or my boobs?”
“Oh definitely the children,” Caroline laughed, “knowing Carina, I know better than to make any comment about your breasts.”
“Will I be allowed to feed them from the bottle when you get home?”
“Of course Ama,” Annie smiled at the screen. “I’m relying on you helping me out.”
“Will it help with my Math grades?”
“That I can’t promise,” Annie laughed.
“Ah well – such is life,” Ama said with a smile.
Thursday 4th August
10 am BST
April smiled as she watched the eleven year old walking round her room, and opening the doors as Pepsi and her sister watched.
“Some of your dresses are so beautiful Angel,” Edwina smiled as she looked through the wardrobe.
“Thank you Eddie, I wish I could say that I chose them all, but a lot are gifts from designers whose shows I’ve walked.”
“Fi has lots as well,” Edwina sat on the bed, “you are both just so lucky.”
“I agree,” Pepsi sat on the bed as well, “you models just get to wear such amazing things.”
“Your wardrobe isn’t exactly second-class Peps,” Fiona said as she looked the American girl up and down. “You’ve become quite the country lady this summer.”
“Well Mandy has been too kind,” Pepsi blushed.
“And you have the world’s hottest young designer as a personal friend,” Angel added. “Even I’d kill for a couple of the things Kylie has done for you personally.”
“Well after I let her stick pins in me, she owed me,” Pepsi giggled.
“I’d pay that price in a second.”
Edwina smiled as she said “Mummy says maybe in a year or two she will treat me to some nice things.”
“I will too Eddie,” Fiona smiled, “let your body grow a little and I’ll take you shopping.”
“Just try and avoid growing as quickly as my little sister.”
“Amen to that Peps,” Fiona laughed, “The last thing we need is a second Katy.”
“It’s going to be so hard keeping the secret that Katy Carter is your sister.”
“Just please do it.”
“I’ll try Pepsi,” Edwina shook her head. “Is she really as beautiful in real life as she looks in her pictures?”
“Is who as beautiful?” Nell asked as the Rochermann twins came into the bedroom.
“She’s asking about Katy,” Fiona looked up.
“Oh in that case the answer is yes.”
“I’d really like to meet her sometime.”
“My little sister has a tiny girl crush on Katy,” Fiona smiled broadly, “she even has a couple of Katy’s posters on her wall.”
“Fi!” Edwina blushed as all the others laughed gently.
“Changing the subject,” Angel intervened, “did you see about that house belonging to Lord Donald blowing up?”
“Yep,” Ally shook her head, “no chance it was an accident I suppose?”
“With all that’s been going on?” Fiona’s face darkened, “if I ever get my hands on that bitch.”
“You are just one of many saying that Fi.” Angel nodded.
“Donnie! Welcome back!”
Mandy hugged her brother in law as he walked into the main hallway, Will coming over and shaking his hand as well as he asked “how are you?”
“Worried – have you heard any more about the fire yesterday?”
“Officially or unofficially? Officially, they say there was a gas leak. Unofficially – it was her, I spoke to the investigating officer, who talked to the woman who got pulled out of the house.”
Mandy put her hand to her mouth as Will said “someone was in the house?”
Donald nodded and said “she said she was drugged, and then some woman pulled her out before the explosion. She cannot give a clear description, but someone else must be looking for her as well.”
“One of our groups?”
“I don’t know,” Donald said as he rubbed his eyes, “but right now, I just want to relax for the weekend.”
“That might be difficult, darling,” Mandy said, “we have some guests…”
As he turned and saw Charles Treharran standing there, Donald swallowed and said “Charles, I am so sorry…”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Charles said quietly, “but we need to find her and quickly.”
10 am BST
“Lilian,” Shirley said as Penny’s assistant came into her office, “how is everyone?”
“We’re fine Madame – but angry as hell, and ready to act when requested.”
“I understand, and I actually approve,” Shirley said as she indicated the leather seats. “What of the unfortunate innocent?”
“She is recovering in hospital. I managed to talk to her without the police present – she was employed by Lady Fitzstuart for a week, but had no idea of her plans, or where she may have gone next.”
“I fear I know,” Shirley said quietly. “I want you and the team in Glasgow from Saturday, ready to come as soon as called – and prepared for any action.”
“As you wish Madame,” Lily said quietly.
Friday 5th August
11 am BST
As she turned off the main road into the driveway that led from the high gates, Catriona was breathing slowly, a mixture of fear and joy inside her.
"Just smell that air," Catriona talked to herself as she wound down the window of the Range Rover, "so fresh, but with that scent of pine." She looked up at the tall trees on either side of the little private road and smiled. “So many memories coming back, why did I leave it so long to return…”
As she drove through the trees, the road suddenly opened up to the front lawns and drive of Dunmarnock House. "Well it might not be the prettiest house in Scotland," Cat looked at the rather grim granite facade, "but be it ever so humble, there really is no place like home."
As she came to a stop at the front of the house, the door opened and a thin, red haired woman in a blue dress came out.
“Welcome home Miss Catriona,” she said as she curtsied when Cat got out of the car, “it has been far too long.”
“Aggie said Rory said the same to her at Ardray, Mrs Bannerman,” Catriona said with a smile as she opened the back of the car.
“Allow me Miss Catriona.”
Cat smiled as a tall blonde haired man came out, dressed in a tweed suit, and walked to the back. “Fergus – how are things?”
“Looking good Miss Catriona – we’ll talk later, but right now ye’ll be wanting a drink.”
“Well, coffee at any rate,” his wife said with a smile as they went in.
extra visible security," Catherine said to herself as she looked across
Loch Rechin, through the high-powered binoculars at Dunmarnock.
expected to see Catriona Cuthbertson at least arrive with a bodyguard, and
she'd been a little surprised when the barrister got out of the car alone. Over
the years she'd been wary of making trouble for Cat even though
she was such an old friend of the whore. To tell the truth there was just
something about Lady Sithwell that scared even her,
just like that bitch Shirley Xavier.
Now though… Now, they were all going to pay.
11.30 am BST
Catriona smiled as she put her cup down on the side table, looking round the drawing room, the furniture clean and glistening, and her housekeeper smiling.
“Well Mrs. Bannerman, you’ve done a fine job in such a short space of time,” she finally said with a smile. “Thank you.”
“It’s nae that big a problem Miss Catriona,” the housekeeper said, “all we’ve really had to do is to take all the covers off and do the dusting.”
“I know it really entails a lot more than that. You and your daughters must have been here to all hours the last couple of nights.”
“Well not quite all hours Miss,” the redheaded woman blushed and smiled.
“Anyway, I’ll make sure there is a little extra for you all above what we agreed as a sign of my gratitude.”
“Thank you Miss Catriona. It’s just so good to have you back.”
“Now you understand that it will be the groom’s party staying here before the wedding, and that then we will be entertaining some friends for the shooting as part of the event?”
“I do Miss, and Fergus and me have been consulting with Rory and Sheilagh on
the arrangements. We’ll help on the Friday and Saturday at Ardray as well.”
“Good,” Catriona stood up, walked over and looked out of the window at the view over the loch. “You know it really feels so good to be home again.”
“You say that every time you are here Miss Catriona.”
“I know,” Cat smiled, “I really must make more of an effort to come home.”
“So when will Miss Elizabeth get here?”
“In a couple of days Mrs. Bannerman. She will be coming at the same time as her grandmother, my old friend Shirley Xavier and her party, and the bridal party arrive a day later.”
“It will be nice to see her,” the housekeeper said, “I bet she’s a real young lady now.”
“She’s getting there,” Catriona smiled, “she’s realised that she and I now are the same size, and that makes raiding my wardrobe fair game. On which note – I will be going out to Ardray later this afternoon, after lunch.”
“Ye wanted to see me, Miss Catriona,” Fergus said as he came into the room.
“Ah’ll see to your clothing,” his wife said as she left the room, Catriona sitting down and indicating to Fergus to do the same.
have the police and the private security people been in touch."
have Miss Catriona, we are trying our best to accommodate them. Miss Jameson said her staff would be out in
the field most of the time."
true - I know it’s a huge disruption, but with the danger posed by Lady Donald
I'm afraid it's necessary."
the older man nodded.
is apprehended we all have to be on our guard."
"That we do Miss," Fergus removed his cap and ran a hand through his hair, "I guess I'm just used to doing things my own way."
“I’m sure Rory up at Ardray feels the same way,” Catriona said with a smile
2 pm BST
The white jumper, the kilt/skirt in the Cuthbertson tartan, the thick black tights, and the sensible brogues. Catriona smiled at her reflection as she turned from side to side - she might not win many prizes for chicness, but she felt comfortable that what she was wearing was very appropriate here on her own estate.
Putting on her gilet, she walked down the main staircase as the housekeeper came out. “I’m going to call in on Ardray – I will be back for dinner,” she said as she left the house.
2.30 pm BST
As the bell rang, Mrs McDonald looked up and smiled at the woman walking in.
Catriona," the elderly, white-haired woman curtsied then smiled as
Cat entered the little village shop, "its lovely to see you home
to be home Mrs McDonald. Not much has
changed I see." Catriona smiled as
she looked round.
Agnes said we might be seeing you."
opening up Dunmarnock for the wedding of Aggie's
friend, and the shooting...I'm on way there now."
stopped in on your way to buy these," the old lady laughed gently as she
reached up to retrieve a large jar.
"It wouldn't feel like being home otherwise," Cat smiled broadly.
2.30 pm BST
your practice go?" Tamsin asked as John and her daughter came in the front
door, John carrying an open shotgun over his arm.
he said with a smile, “but she's certainly a better loader then she is a shot."
could hardly be worse," Kits shook her head as she took her jacket off.
the women in our family seem to be able to shoot worth a damn. I'm terrible and
your Aunt Aggie is even worse." Tam shook her head, "it must be
the way Mummy Lizzie was saying that her Mother has promised to
teach her how to shoot."
"Catriona is a truly excellent shot. She tried to help teach Aggie and me, let's hope that Lizzie is a more apt pupil then we were." Tamsin stood up, "did Lizzie say if Cat had got to Dunmarnock safely?"
“She has – she was driving to Ardray to pay her respects…”
2.30 pm BST
"I wonder what people will say about our little convoy of Range Rovers and a small bus Bro?" Will laughed as he and Donald stood watching Mandy and Pepsi supervising the loading of the bags.
"Not sure anyone will even notice, will they?"
till we stop to eat on the motorway, that many people coming in at once,
guess," Donald suddenly smiled to himself. "You know being round so
many people, hearing them laughing and enjoying themselves, makes me realise just
how joyless my life with Catherine has been."
bitten our tongues Donnie,” Will said as he looked round, “but yes - Mands and
I have noticed that over the years,"
great having so many youngsters..." Donald's voice trailed off as he
lowered his head and shook it.
have made a great father Bro... Who knows you might still, Aggie is only in her
mid 40's after all."
doctors told her she's infertile, even if the risks weren't so high, Agnes
can't have children."
always adopt you know?" Will looked at Pepsi. "Between you and Aggie
you have so much love to give."
thought about it."
asked Agnes what she thinks?"
"Maybe you ought to?"
Donald nodded as he said “I will do – once everything else is settled…”
“All right – everyone into the respective cars, we need to get going…”
why do we get to travel in this little bus, while the oldies get to travel in
the cars?" Nell asked as she sat directly behind Mick.
starters because I'm the only one with a license to drive this thing," the
singer laughed, "I had to be here, and more importantly because the older
generation - as represented by your Mother darling Nell - said they could do
without several hours cooped up in a car with people of our generation."
an excuse...a lousy one...but still an excuse." Nell smiled.
"And it means we get to listen some decent music, and not my Mothers beloved opera," Billy shouted.
“Oh – and who gets to choose,” Pepsi said as she sat with Jack.
“As the only truly independent person here, I pick,” Ally said with a smile. “And I pick Into the Heights…”
3 pm BST
“Miss Catriona,” Sheilagh said as she opened the large front doors, “it’s a real pleasure tae see you again.”
“And you Sheilagh,” Cat said as she came in, “you and the family are well?”
“Aye – Rory is due in a few minutes – would ye like some coffee?”
“Only if you have time for a chat,” Sheilagh said as she followed her to the kitchen…
“Miss Catriona – welcome back,” Rory said as he came in, and took a steaming ug from his wife.
“Thank you Rory – I arrived today, but I wanted to pay my respects, and make sure all was in readiness for this coming week.”
“Aye – I hae the beaters trained and waiting, and the ground is ready.”
“Good – I have a message from Agnes for you. Two extra guests…”
3 pm BST
Hopkins Street, Soho
“Come in,” Agnes called out as there was a knock on the door of the school office, and two young girls looked round.
wanted to see us Agnes?" the younger of the two girls asked nervously as
she stepped in.
Miley," Agnes smiled, "how would you and Laura like a holiday in
Laura asked as though she couldn't believe the word.
holiday. Sue as you know is getting married, I'm opening up my house in
Scotland for her to have as a base, and I'm asking if the two of you would like
to come and stay."
"Us? Go to
Scotland? Stay at your house?" Miley asked almost in disbelief.
Miley," Agnes smiled again, "so would you like to go?"
the catch Agnes?" Laura asked with a look of suspicion on her face, "what
are we supposed to do?"
nothing Laura, just come along, and I hope relax, and have a good time."
isn't a trick is it?" Miley asked.
not Miley,” Agnes said as she hugged the young girl, “the two of you have just
worked so hard helping out round the school and I thought you'd like the
your posh friends say about the likes of me and Miley?"
"Laura… You read Sue's story in the newspaper, if
people aren't judging her, what makes you think they'll judge you?"
girls, you are coming for a stay, and that's me ordering you as Lady D'eath," Agnes grinned.
about clothes Agnes?" Laura asked practically, "me and Miley we don't
have a lot, and what we have I'm pretty sure isn't right for a holiday like
"I will take you shopping in Selfridges tomorrow. Now, no more complaints – get back to your work."
As they walked out, Agnes smiled as Laura said “well, this is going to be a fun time…”
3 pm BST
London Metropolitan University
Kylie stood back and cleaned her glasses as Sue looked at the other girls, and then at herself in her dress. The teenager was wearing a pair of flared tan pants and a short sleeved blouse.
“Well is everything just as you hoped Sue?” Kylie smiled as she watched the bride-to-be checking out just how she looked in the floor length mirror.
“It’s perfect,” Sue said with a distinct sigh of pleasure. “Just how I dreamed it would be.”
“My son is going to be knocked out when he sees you Sue,” Lady Roberta stood next to her future daughter-in-law, “you look wonderful.”
“Thank You Bobbi,” Sue smiled.
“See that is why the veil was a terrible idea,” Kylie smiled again, “when you smile those amazing eyes of yours shine. No way you should cover them.”
“They really are your best feature darling,” Bobbi nodded in approval.
“Thank you both so much,” Sue hugged the two other women. “I… I don’t know what to say…”
“Now before you get that dirty doin’ that,” Rose stood up and spoke, “strip off so I can iron that and then pack it.”
“I suppose I better,” Sue took a last long look at her own reflection, and then started to remove the dress as Rose helped her.
“And as for the rest of you?”
“I think they’re in heaven – even Bobbie,” Helen said as she looked at the four current and former Dolls.
“Right then – same goes for all of you, darlings. Get changed, and we’ll pack them for shipping this weekend.”
“How was everything with your Mum Kylie?” Penny asked as she and the other bridesmaids undressed.
“It was actually great darling,” a huge smile crossed the younger woman’s face. “We talked like we should have done a long while ago.”
“You both had things you needed to do first,” Penny said as she put her blouse on, “The time was finally right.”
“It was,” Kylie took the dress and put it on a hanger ready for Rose to pack. “She’s going to try and come see me in New York reasonably regularly.”
Nodding as she put on her skirt, Penny said “Does she understand why you’ve chosen to live in America?”
“Yes. She knows that is where my life is currently, and where I am happy. After that, everything is a bonus, darling…”
does actual campaigning start Sue?" Helen asked as Kylie closely inspected
the dress in the bag.
Two days after I get back from my honeymoon."
give you a lot of down time." Helen smiled as the bag was closed.
Sue shook her head, "and I fully expect Colin will spend half our
honeymoon working on politics."
important question is, what will you have him doing the other half the
time?" Kay giggled as she put her old shoes back on.
"That will be telling," Sue started to giggle as well.
finalised arrangements for Sue's hen party Kay?" Lady Roberta asked as the
women relaxed while Rose and Kylie boxed all the outfits up. "My daughter
wants to know what is going to happen."
promised Sue it wouldn't be too loud and over the top, and I think I've
worked out a way I can keep that promise, but we can still have a lot of
little place in Oban can accommodate us?"
"Seems like it."
“Good – Tuesday will be fun…”
5 pm BST
The M6, North of Keswick
The sun shone down from the blue sky over the hills of the Lake District, and onto the lake that sat beside the service station. As people walked to and from the building, they noticed the line of Range Rovers and the old minibus as it came up the slip road, and pulled in side by side into the parking spaces, sitting at a diagonal to the road.
The doors of the first Rover opened, as Will and Mandy got out of the front, and Donald out of the back. Olivia and Charles with Kelly and Daniel got out of the second car, while Angel and Fiona stepped out of the third car with Charlie and Edwina.
“Wow,” Pepsi said as she got out of the minibus, “this is spectacular. And cold!”
“It does get a bit windy up here,” Jack said with a smile as Nell and Ally got out, “but it cannot be beaten for food and drink.”
“Indeed darlings,” Mandy said as she pulled her scarf up over her head, “and I want to pick some things up in the farm shop as well. Shall we go in?” The party formed up, Edwina holding her mother’s hand as they walked through the main doors.
“I’ll come with you to the shop,” Olivia said as she, Kelly and Mandy went one way, while Fi led the way into the main canteen. The two young women behind the first counter looked up, and then looked again, as Angel said “Wonder what’s bothering them?”
“I’m not sure,” Mick said as he came over and looked at the menu. “Well, it all looks good – what do you guys…”
“Forgive me, Mister Harran.”
Mick looked at the smartly dressed woman beside him, and said “Yes?”
“We can set aside an area in the main canteen for your group if you want…”
“Well, some tables would be good, but please, let us get our food,” he said with a smile as Jack, Billy, Nell and Ally grabbed some trays.
“Am I seeing things, or these Ordford pork sausages,” Donald said as he stood in front of the chill cabinet with Will.
“Yeah they are – I didn’t know they were sold up here - and where’s your shadow?”
“He said he had to take a call outside…”
“Where is he?”
“At Tebay services, Your Ladyship,” the detective whispered into his phone, “we hope to be at the estate by nine tonight.”
“Well, I am nearby – and the whore?”
“Still in London I believe – look, Lady Fitzstuart, I think…”
“You don’t think – you do. The present.”
“I brought it, but…”
“Good – I’ll be in touch,” Catherine said before the call ended.
"God I could so do him," Nell heard a young woman say as she looked across the room at Mick as she returned from the rest room, "he is so handsome."
"He is," her friend agreed, "but did you take a look at the girls he's with? No way anyone like me or you would even get a second look Jacqui."
"Yeah," the first girl looked down at herself, "we aint exactly in his league."
"Would you like me to introduce you?" Nell found herself saying.
"And how could you do that?" the second girl asked.
"Well I just happen to be his girlfriend," Nell grinned, "I'm Nell Rochermann," she extended her hand and let the two other women shake it.
"I'm Cath and she's Jacqui, and for real you are his girlfriend?"
"I am," Nell laughed, "Now come on I'll get Mick to sign some autographs for you."
The two girls stood and walked with Nell, Fi looking over and saying “hey big bro – adoring fans alert.”
Mick looked round and smiled as he greeted the two girls, Nell sitting down and smiling as she said “you need to share the good things, right?”
7 pm CET
The Furstenheim Townhouse
did your shopping go Mom?" Carina looked up from her computer as her
mother came into the drawing room struggling to carry about half a dozen large
found something perfect to wear for the wedding darling," Juliette said as
she dropped the bags and collapsed into an armchair, "and the people at
that place Frau Strecher sent me to say what i bought is perfect for a shooting party."
better 'age' them a bit you know," Cari stood up and went and looked in
the bags, "you remember what Shirley said about things looking brand
remember," Juliette smiled, "I'll start working on them later."
"Oh I have
to get one of these for myself," Cari held up a shirt in the softest
chamois leather, "this is amazing, so soft."
one of the other bags darling, I got one each for you and Ingrid."
you are almost one step ahead Mom?" Cari laughed as she started to look in
the other bags.
"Can I get
you anything Your Highness?" one of the maids came in.
please Birgitte, and is there any of that wonderful
cake left that Helga brought me this morning?"
"I will ask."
“GRAMMY! It’s my birfday soon!”
“Yes it is Judith,” Juliette said with a smile as she picked up her granddaughter. “Ready for it?”
“So I can see – come on, you can have some cake as well.”
8 pm BST
Colin and Sue’s Flat
were going to tell me how the final fittings went today?" Colin asked as
he brought the tray into the lounge.
sure if there are good enough words to describe it," Sue smiled as she
picked up the mug of Horlick's, "Kylie has made my dream come true."
that was my job," Colin laughed.
what I mean," Susan laughed back as she curled up next to Colin in the
"I do my
get your kilt and the rest back from the cleaners?"
"Tom and I collected them together."
“Good – listen, tomorrow I’m having lunch with Margot Harman and some of the girls before we head up on Sunday. Don’t wait up for me…”
9 pm BST
"Oh and in
further news darling,” Agnes said as she looked at her laptop screen, “Terri
and Rudi finally confirmed they are coming. They will stay with Uncle Simon and
Aunt Fiona at Invermuir and after Rudi has had his
fill of shooting my birds then they are going on to Balmoral."
sounds perfect," Donald said as he sat down on the screen. "Did you
ask your two young friends Aggie?"
and I'm not sure they either truly believed me, or that if the invitation was
true that I wasn't taking them to Scotland for immoral purposes."
what you've told me about them I can understand that," Donald sighed.
"Let's just give the two poor things a holiday to remember."
what I want to do. Sheilagh
will spoil them rotten."
Sherry, and family still coming?"
that we can put them up in an estate cottage."
Aggie smiled to herself, "as Mike said, ‘it gives them a touch of
independence and to not feel bound what the house party is doing.’"
take the children sightseeing."
"Precisely. How was the trip up?"
“Not bad – we got mobbed a bit at Tebay, but arrived safely. Hopefully, all will be quiet now…”
9 pm BST
The White Lion, Chelsea
believe that you got a star like Georgette to come all the way to Scotland for
Sue's hen party Kay," Bobbie shook her head.
was Agnes's idea, she's known him for years and she put me in touch. I went to
see him and asked, and he agreed to come."
his act," Jane finished her drink, "you remember that time we went to
see him at his club Kay?"
literally fell off your chair you were laughing so hard?" Kay grinned,
like it’s going to be a fun night," Bobbie poured herself a last small
glass of wine.
safer than your idea of us doing a job to celebrate Sue getting married,"
Kay looked at the youngest Doll.
say she would have enjoyed that."
probably would have," Jane stretched, "but Penny was right, this is a
time for us all to play everything straight."
Kay nodded, "so when do we finally get to meet your new girlfriend
meet us at Heathrow...and when on the same topic when do we meet this new guy
of yours Kay?"
flying up the day after we do."
"Well at least you both know your dates," Bobbie downed what was left of her drink. "I have no clue who this bloke is that that Lady Bobbi has fixed me up with."
“I’m sure he will be handsome – right, come on – we’ve packing to do…”
Saturday 6th August
10 am BST
John Lewis, Oxford Street
Laura and Miley looked round the store, eyes wide as Agnes walked behind them, holding each other’s hands. The two girls were wearing hooded tops and jogging bottoms, with trainers, while Aggie wore a black jacket over a fawn jumper and pants.
“I’ve never been in here,” Miley said, “looked in from outside, but never…”
“I know,” Laura said quietly, “it looks so big.”
“Okay,” Agnes said as she looked round, “we got some basics – I think it’s time to branch out a little. Let’s see… Now I'm told that Sharamel jeans are 'the' in brand for girls your age, so let’s go over there and we'll get you both a pair.”
"Are you sure Agnes? They are very expensive."
"I'm sure Laura," Agnes said as she pushed her way gently through the small crowd. "I wonder what's going on?"
“Not sure – someone
doing a public appearance – Miley?”
"That… That's Orion O'Ryan,"
Miley said slightly in awe as they got close to the front and could see what
all the fuss was about. "She must be doing an appearance."
indeed," Aggie grinned.
wish I looked like her," Laura shook her head.
even more beautiful in real life then she is in her pictures," Miley
both like to meet her?" Agnes asked as they watched the Irish redhead
posing for pictures and signing autographs.
know her Agnes?" Miley asked unbelievingly.
"Slightly, and I think if I have a word with this gentleman..." Agnes smiled as she tapped a tall man on the shoulder.
"Hello Agnes," the man smiled as he turned and recognised her.
Mick, I was hoping you'd remember me."
were among the more famous people I met at Abigail's party," he said as he
gently kissed her on a cheek. "Of course I remember you."
you," Aggie smiled again, "look Mick this is Laura and Miley, they
both come to the little school I run...Girls meet Mick O'Ryan,
to meet you girls," the Irishman shook hands.
Mr O'Ryan," Laura spoke quietly.
to buy them some Sharamel's, but I was wondering if
there was any chance of them meeting Orion Mick."
say there's a pretty good chance," Mick grinned as he pushed his way
towards the counter.
darlin'," he tugged at his daughter’s arm, "some people I'd like you
the model turned and looked. "Hello Dr McAdam – it’s nice to see you again."
Orion," Agnes smiled as the younger woman kissed her on both cheeks.
fine," Aggie turned, "can I present two young friends of mine? This
is Laura. this is Miley, and I brought them in to buy some clothes for a
holiday in Scotland."
want them to have some Sharamel's?" Orion looked
at the two only slightly younger then herself girls.
"Well I think Nancy here can help with that," Orion beckoned one of the sales assistants over. “Nancy – will you take these two girls and measure them up for a pair each?”
“Of course, Miss O’Ryan – if you girls will come with me?”
“They go together,” Agnes called out as they were led off, Orion shaking her head as she said “nice girls – street kids?”
“Yeah – a couple of really good girls,” Agnes said with a smile as she watched them.
“Give me fifteen minutes, then we can go and join them…”
“They’re amazing,” Miley said as she handed them over.
"Good - I think those should fit nicely," Orion smiled as the assistant put the jeans in the bag.
"Thank you so much Miss O'Ryan," Miley shook her head as she looked at both the signed photo and the jeans.
is Orion Miley."
do I pay?" Aggie looked round.
don't," Orion grinned again, "these are my treat."
"Really?" Laura asked.
“Really - just make sure you enjoy wearing them. Where to for them next Aggie?”
“Dress shopping I think – why?”
“I’ll call ahead – drop into ACPO and they’ll see you both right.”
“I thought that other place was posh,” Miley said as she gripped Laura’s hand, looking round.
but look at these dresses… Do you really
know her as well?" Laura asked as she looked at the pictures of Jo on the
slightly dear,” Agnes said with a smile, “but I do know her sister Heather a
"Is she a
model as well?"
isn't Miley," Agnes smiled, "Heather is an art historian and computer
"She is Laura.
You know those art history TV shows that Mrs Warburton has you watch?"
with Lily Cole?"
if you look at the titles you'll see Heather Smith is listed as a technical
adviser on a couple of them."
that's HER sister?" Miley pointed to the pictures.
help you?" one of the assistants said as she approached.
hoping you can, I'm Agnes McAdam..."
“Oh yes Dr
McAdam,” the assistant said with a smile, “Miss O'Ryan
phoned and said you would be in."
"Good," Aggie smiled, "well anyway my two young friends are coming to my home in Scotland for a holiday and they need something to wear for a wedding reception and a couple of small parties. Can you recommend anything?"
“I think so – if you will come with me?”
“We go together…”
“Of course – come with me…”
"So have you enjoyed settling into our little Highland home?” Angel asked the other younger members of the house party as they sat in the drawing room.
"Little?" Ally shook her head, "We couldn't see a lot last night arriving after dark as we did, but I went and looked round this morning, and if this is your idea of a small house I'd hate to see what you consider a big house to be."
estate is nowhere near as big as it once was. My Great-Grandfather sold most of
the land to pay the death duties when he inherited."
estate and a couple of others were really peripheral holdings. He sold them to
keep the estate at Ordford intact."
and I both also had to make some sales to pay inheritance taxes," Will
walked in, "but touch wood we still own most of the really important
"This is a beautiful location Will?" Kelly Rochermann spoke, "with everything Scottish Highland so fashionable because of Outlander my friends are all going to be so jealous of us staying here."
“Indeed,” he said as he saw Donald walk past the room, looking at some papers. “Excuse me a minute,” he said quietly as he left the room, Mandy joining him as they followed Donald into the library, and found him sitting in an armchair.
the report from the police on the explosion Bro?"
is," Donald looked up from what he was reading, the concern clear in his
"So was it
Donald said quietly as he rubbed his eyes, “the police are going to keep that
quiet till Catherine is caught, but yes she tied that poor girl up and rigged
the house to blow up."
Will," Donald shook his head, "How did I never realise I was married
to a complete psychopath?"
"Because she was incredibly good at hiding it darling," Mandy shook her head. "I never really liked her, but I had no idea that she was capable of all this."
“I’ll be much happier when Aggie is up here, when we can all watch her…”
1 pm BST
believe I got to meet a real life celebrity," Laura shook her head as they
took their burgers and sat down.
was so nice," Miley took a sip of her coke as they took a table looking
out on the Oxford Street crowds.
a nice girl," Agnes smiled. "Now before we think about getting you
home, is there anything we forgot to buy?"
never had so many new clothes," Miley said as she looked down at the bags
between her feet.
never be able to pay you back..."
that thought out of your mind." Aggie took a bite of her burger. "You
don't have to pay me back. this was my treat."
"Why did I
need three pairs of shoes?" Miley asked.
trainers are for ordinary, the boots are for wearing with your new jeans
sometimes, and the pumps are for best."
"Precisely Laura." Aggie took a sip. "You can wear the dress and shoes for a couple of the evening things we will be doing."
“You’ll help us back?”
“Of course I will,” Aggie said before she dropped her voice. “Do you have to work tonight Laura?”
“’fraid so Aggie – the rent is due.”
“All right – make sure these are put securely away, and Miley – keep your door locked until she gets home, all right?”
Miley nodded as she said “What else are you doing today Agnes?”
“Seeing a man about a problem…”
Catriona picked up her whisky glass and took a sip, before she made some notes in pencil in the margin of the document she was holding. She didn’t hear the knock on the door as her housekeeper came in and stood beside her?”
deep in concentration Miss Catriona?"
Mrs Bannerman," Cat said as she looked up, "I was miles away."
that legal document you printed up earlier?"
is," Cat said as she took the offered cup of coffee, "it's an opinion
from the Marchesa di Cambrello
on whether we can make a successful appeal to have Agnes's criminal conviction
what I've heard Miss it does sound like the whole thing was rigged against
what the Marchesa says,” Catriona said as she looked
over, “she agrees that there is clear evidence that Catherine Fitzstuart tampered with the judge to ensure Aggie went to
will you do Miss?"
"I'll talk it out with Agnes and Donald, but I think we have to ask for the court to overturn the conviction given the circumstances surrounding it."
“On another matter, Miss Catriona, Lady Elizabeth called to confirm she will arrive on Monday.”
"Good. The original plan was that I'd go and spend
some time at Melhorn with Lizzie, but with so much
going on here we switched it so Lady Elizabeth would come here."
and she get along better now Miss? if you'll pardon my impertinence."
Bannerman," Cat smiled at her housekeeper. "She understands that my
problems weren't really with her, that it was mainly to do with me hating to be
reminded of Jamie."
still miss him just as bad Miss?"
"I do," Cat took a little sip of her whiskey, "but for too many years I let my grief and regrets taint how I dealt with my daughter. I needed to finally come to peace with Jamie's death."
“Well you seem much happier, Miss – I’ll get on with dinner…”
5 pm BST
need something done and I have a choice whether I call in a favour from you and
get you to help, or I ask someone I know to do it in maybe not quite as legal a
fashion." Agnes sat down in the armchair and put her mug of tea on the
I'm not going to like this Aggie, but I guess I better do this favour then,
even if it’s only semi-legal. What do you need doing?"
met Miley and Laura?"
did," Aggie thought for a second she heard a catch of emotion in the policeman's
"Well as a
treat I'm taking them to Scotland when I go and giving them a holiday."
sounds wonderful Aggie, so what is the problem?"
by air means they are going to have their names go through the system Mike.
They are both runaways remember?"
"Now I get
it, you are afraid someone is going to try taking them back when you get to the
am," Aggie sipped her tea. "As I said Mike I know someone can just
make their names vanish..."
someone called the Hidden Hand?"
couldn't possibly say," Aggie laughed lightly, "but I'd rather not
ask them for this if you can somehow make this a non-problem."
understand Aggie, let me see what I can do eh?"
owe you for making sure the China Dolls were there to protect us that
"And what makes you think I had anything to do with that?"
Mike Babbage smiled, and said “anyway, we’re travelling up as well. I need to pick my suit up tomorrow…”
10 pm BST
Miley heard the footsteps outside the door, and waited with her knees drawn up to her chin before she heard the special knock. She got up, and brushed some crumbs off her old pyjamas, before she unlocked the door to the one room flat.
“Hey kiddo,” Laura said as she came in, wearing a silver boob tube and tight leggings, with high heels and a matching shrug, “you can relax now.” The older girl came in as Miley closed the door, and looked round the barely furnished room, a canvas wardrobe on one side and an old black and white television on.
“Want a hot drink?”
“Oh yes – and then a good night’s sleep,” Laura said as she sat on the old wooden seat, and took her shoes off. Miley poured some milk into a small pan, and put it on the single ring of their Belling stove.
“Have you eaten?”
“I managed to get a burger - you?”
“I was still full from lunch, but I had a doughnut from Ali’s shop.” She found two chipped mugs and put them down as Laura rubbed her feet, then opened a pair of doors and pulled the bed down.
believe that we got to meet Orion O'Ryan," Miley
gave Laura a mug of hot milk as she took off her 'working clothes'.
today has to be one of the best days of my life," the slightly older girl said
as she took a sip, and then sat down at the little dressing table and started
to remove her heavy makeup.
bad tonight?" Miley asked as she sat on the edge of the bed and sipped her
really, a couple of fucks and a couple of blow jobs," Laura answered in a
you'd let me help, I feel guilty that..."
we've talked about this before,” Laura said as she looked over. “I do this so you don't have to."
but it's not right that you have to let those creeps do those things to you
least for two weeks I won't have to."
know," Miley shook her head, "it's just so great that Agnes is taking
us on a real holiday." Miley finished her drink and climbed under the
"I've never had a real holiday," Laura pulled a long T-Shirt over her head and climbed into bed next to her friend. “It’s different – but we deserve a break, don’t we kid?”
“Yes we do… Good night Laura.”
“Good night Miley,” Laura said as she turned off the bare light, and went quickly to sleep.
Sunday 7th August
9.30 am BST
McAdam Consultants, the Bank
“Morning Aggie,” Sue said as she came into the office, “ready for the last day before the holidays?”
raring to go - So what did you do last night Sue?"
up going out to a pub with Tom and Serena, and Daffy and Jimmy."
all have fun?"
we did Aggie," Sue sat down and got out her note pad, "we talked
about the wedding, and Serena and I tried to persuade Jimmy that it was time he
made an honest woman of Daffy."
did he take that?"
keeps asking her," Sue giggled, "but that she keeps turning him
Davina is quite happy with things as they are." Agnes smiled as she opened
her own notepad.
way I told Jimmy to invite his brother Charles to the wedding if he wants to
be a surprise for Tam," Aggie smiled.
heard she and he were once an item."
so. Charlie Winmouth was Tam's first real
said he's getting divorced...any chance?"
run a consultancy, not a match-making company," Agnes smiled again.
moods later in the week. Let's see what
happens shall we, and in the meantime?"
meantime," Sue glanced down at her pad, "Liz Egwegwe
phoned from Windhoek in Namibia."
somehow news has got out that she's doing some field work on the Torware project, and the Namibian Ministry of Economic
Development wants to make a pitch to her regarding their country."
Aggie closed her eyes. "What did Liz tell them?"
contact you directly."
"Good, it will do no harm to read what they have to say...Next?"
12.30 pm BST
Hopkins Street, Soho
“Hello Aggie,” the red head said as she looked up from the office desk, “What brings you here today?”
I'd just drop in and see how things are going Kathy, before we head north for
well Aggie, we got that donation of clothes in this morning and Jane and I will
go through it later and check it out."
all the bills for gas, electricity, etc, this morning."
all that to you," Kathy smiled.
patrolling go last night?"
a couple of young lads in one of the alleys and talked to them. I'm hoping that
they will come see us."
you know they are out there, and they know we are here to help."
else going on that needs my immediate attention?"
needs to see a dentist,” Kathy said as she looked at her pad, “but she's
petrified that he will report her."
to take her to see George Pepper, and tell her if she doesn't get that bad
tooth and abscess seen to, she's going to end up killing herself."
a small voice said as there was a tap on the door.
Miley," Aggie said as she turned round and smiled, "how are you
the youngster smiled, "we put our pictures of Orion up on our wall this
wasn't too late getting home last night, so we both got a good sleep."
"In the library reading."
“I’ll just drop in and see her,” Agnes said as Miley made her way to the common room. Entering the shelf-lined room, she saw Laura looking intently at a large book. Like Miley, she was wearing an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.
you reading Laura?" Agnes asked as she closed the door.
"Oh – Hi
Agnes. I was trying to find bits in the encyclopedia about Scotland, particularly the bit we are
going to." the youngster looked up, "so much has gone on there in
some bits about Ardray Castle, all the battles."
you'll see yourself soon, nowadays it’s a very peaceful place," Agnes
you working today?"
"I am, but
I decided to take a long lunch break and drop in a suitcase each for you and
Miley so you'll be able to pack your things for your holiday."
Aggie, you are being so great to Miley and me."
"Well you both work so hard, not just studying, but helping, you both deserved a treat."
“When do we go?”
“I’ll pick you up in the car at two tomorrow – now enjoy your reading…”
1.30 pm BST
looking forward to meeting them Aggie."
Donald laughed as he stood by the telephone in the hallway, having
returned from a meeting.
think you'll like them Donald darling. Laura is really very bright. With her
brain she should really be at school studying properly, she'd be in the top
stream for everything. Miley finds her school work a little harder, though
she's still far from dumb. Laura can be a little aggressive at times, but
Miley, I have to say, is one of the sweetest children I ever met."
I definitely want to meet them both my Love, if they can draw compliments like
that out of you Aggie they must be exceptional."
think they are," Agnes felt herself smiling. "Anyway changing topics,
how did the meeting with the police go today?"
"Not as well as I hoped, they still have no real idea where Catherine is," Donald sighed. “I can’t shake the feeling she is nearby though…”
“Don’t worry – they’ll find her. Concentrate on your job on Saturday instead.”
“All right – I have to go. I’ll talk to you when you arrive tomorrow. Good afternoon, my love.”
“Stay safe,” Agnes whispered as Donald replaced the phone, and walked into the front room
you talking with Agnes darling,” Mandy said as she looked up, “just who are
these children Agnes is bringing?"
of the girls from her school Mandy," Donald sat down, "I think Agnes
is quite fond of them."
"I look forward
to meeting them then."
heads up, Laura the oldest one works as a prostitute to support both herself
and Miley the younger one."
Grief darling, how old is she?"
Miley the younger girl is only 12."
"It's not something pretty Mandy." Donald took a breath, "please don't tell anyone other then Will all that please."
wants them to have something they have had precious little of in their
perfectly normal two weeks."
they?..." Mandy's voice trailed off.
"Yes they are both survivors of abuse...and poverty...and not being loved."
“Then I say nothing…”
2 pm BST
Catriona looked at her laptop screen as her old friend and rival looked over some papers.
"So,” she said as she sipped from her teacup, “what is your opinion Clarissa?"
"My personal opinion,” Clarissa Latimer said as she looked up, “is that if you and I were to make a joint representation to the Ministry of Justice and the other relevant parties outlining the facts of the case, that the likely result is they would not contest a motion to have the verdict and sentence annulled."
opinion is a wonderfully written summary of the case and the relevant precedents.
If we submit that as well, then I think we have an overwhelming case for having
Agnes's conviction overturned due to outside interference and corruption."
you'll be here later this week for the wedding. I'll set up a formal meeting
between us and Agnes and Donald and we will get their permission to
sounds like our logical next step."
Catriona said as she put her cup down, “is Peter bringing his guns?"
is," Clarissa Latimer laughed gently. "Whatever his reservations regarding
Sue, there was no way my husband was ever going to turn down a couple of days
need to find someone to load for him?"
In years past I did it, but my bones are getting a little old for standing out
in the middle of a moor for hours on end like that."
he joins you all, I'm going to take advantage and have some nice long lies
eat some of the wonderful lunches that I'm sure Sheilagh
McAdam will be preparing?"
"Of course. What else can one do?"
“Forgive me, Miss Catriona – a delivery for you by hand?”
“Let me see it,” Cat said as he took the envelope from her housekeeper, and opened it to take out two sheets of paper. One was a blown up photo of her on Ardray High Street. The other was a piece of A4 paper with four words made from newsprint letters.
“I’ll be watching you.”
“Clarissa,” Cat said quietly, “I’ll see you at the weekend.”
“A matter I need to deal with – talk to you later,” she said as she ended the call, and then dialled a number on her phone.
“Cho? I need you and the girls – be here tomorrow morning early.”
“It’s good of you to ask us round for coffee,” Barbara said as Jeannie settled on the couch, and Ama sat next to her, talking about the next few weeks.
“It’s no problem – we’re not going to get a chance to talk much between now and the new semester anyway. Uniform sorted?”
“Oh yes – you?”
“We’re going tomorrow before we fly over…”
"Did you get your shotguns shipped today Mom?"
"I did Ama. The couriers collected them and the permits while you were out this morning."
"Ama says you had to submit a mountain of paperwork
Jeannie. The difference in gun licence
laws and all that…"
"Why didn't you just agree to borrow a pair of guns in Scotland?" Barbara asked as she held her mug.
"Because like most people I'm used to shooting with my own guns Barbara. I'm used to them, I'm comfortable with them."
be like Granddad borrowing someone else's car Mum, it takes time to learn the
little idiosyncrasies and quirks. I understand what she means," Jeannie
you looking forward to seeing Scotland Ama?"
"I am Aunt
Barbara. I've been looking at things online and it all looks incredible."
been looking at bits on China."
trip is my first visit there," Jeannie smiled again, "I'm looking
forward to seeing things like the great wall."
"Well just remember the air pollution is terrible BS," Caroline shook her head. "When I was there a few months ago i was coughing and spluttering."
“I know – we’re going to be VERY careful,” Jeannie grinned as they heard the bell for the front door.
that is,” Caroline said as she walked down and looked out, then smiled as she
opened the door. "Hello Sarah, to
what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I have a
question I need to ask, Caroline?" the teacher said as they came up. “Hey girls.”
do?" Caroline ushered her visitor into the kitchen. "Tea or
please, and yes I do."
ahead and ask," the tall blonde said as she switched on the coffee maker
to brew a fresh pot.
remember rightly that you once told me you father was born in Stirling?"
Caroline said as she found a fresh mug, “my grandparents moved to England when
he was about six months old. So why did you want to know?"
was talking with a girl I used to play club football with."
"Alright." She passed Sarah a mug and refilled her own.
know Jess made her debut for Spain's Under 15 women's team last weekend?"
"Yes, Ama got me to watch the film of the game on Youtube with her." Caroline nodded.
Alice Irvine, the girl I used to play with, is one of the coaches of the
Scottish girls team the Spanish beat."
Sarah, but I don't see where this is all going?"
rang me to compliment me on Jess,” Sarah said as she took a drink, “and I told
her I have an even better player on my team."
do," Sarah took another sip as Caroline drank from her mug.
sure Ama would appreciate the compliment."
cut a long chat short Alice said if Ama is really
that good she wished she was Scottish, and that was when I remembered you
saying your father was born in Scotland."
don't see Sarah."
simple Caroline, if your father was born in Scotland, that makes Ama eligible to play for them."
Caroline suddenly got what this whole conversation was about. "You
"Alice is going to see Ama play when we are on tour, and I thought I had better give you a heads-up that they were interested in her."
“Even though she’s my adopted daughter?”
“The rules allow for that – should be interesting…”