Abigail’s Party – Part 2







9.30 am CET

Chateau de Ros


“All right,” Katy said as she stood in the hallway, “HOTS Roll Call.  Ireland?”


“Present,” Eve said as she stood with Aileen and Orion, all wearing t-shirts and shorts.


“West Coast?”


“We’re here,” Vicky said as she stood with Alison and Suzie.  “Big Bro is going on the tour with Pops and Mary later this morning.so we’re in the clear.”


“Same here,” Capricorn Delaney said with a smile.


“New York?”


“We’re here,” Poppy said as she stood with Jess and Erica.


“The other girls sent their apologies,” Sands said, “but there’s Katy and me.”


“Great,” Katy said, “so here’s the plan…”



“You know, Darlings,” Kylie said as she stood with Jo and Marina, “there is trouble brewing there.”


“Might be a little late for that – but we’ll provide a discrete shadow,” Helen said as she stood with Penny and Susan.


“Oh they’ll be fine,” Kit said as she came over with Eve, “let them try their wings a bit.  It’s not like somebody here is looking to hurt them.”


“True”, Tamsin said as she joined them with Paula.


“How on earth can you say that?”


The group turned as Kylie said “I do not believe I have had the pleasure darling?”


“No you haven’t.  Kylie, this is Lady Catherine Fitzstuart.”


“Ah – you are related to William then?  A great pleasure to meet you.”


“Whatever,” Catherine said as she walked over to Paula and Tamsin.  “How can you say they are safe?”


“Because they are,” Helen said quietly, “what reason would you have to doubt that?”


“With…  With… With that cesspool of immoral depravity here, no child is safe!  NONE!”


“I beg your pardon?”


“And you are?” Kylie asked with interest.


“The cesspool of immoral depravity,” Agnes said quietly as she looked at Catherine, “according to this vacuous little social climber, who should know no matter what I have done in the past, I have never, NEVER harmed children.”


“Perhaps we should take this somewhere else,” Mandy said quietly as one or two others came out to see what was happening.


“No – no it’s all right Mandy,” Agnes said quietly, “it would not be the first time Lady Catherine had spoken on matters she has no idea about.”


“I will speak on anything I think of as important,” Catherine said quietly, “and that includes letting people know who and what you are.”


“Who is she,” Kylie whispered to Helen.


“Agnes McAdam,” Helen whispered back, “she is a friend of Madame’s.”


“Agnes…  Oh my, I have heard of her…”


“Catherine, I was asked to come here, I am a guest of the Countess de Ros, and that should be enough.”


“She knows who you are?”


“She does, and she does not judge – unlike you.  But to imply I would hurt or harm children – that is beyond the pale.”


“You run a brothel Agnes DARLING.”


“Yes, I do – but that is not all I do.  But you would not know in your rarefied mountain top.  I do everything, EVERYTHING I can to give the kids of the street some sort of help.”


“Better there than the gutter,” Catherine growled.


"She should also remember that I've seen the depths of poverty in which these children of mine try to maintain their own lives"

"It's their own fault."

"Catherine you dare say that..." Agnes's eyes flashed. "One day I should sit you down and have some of them tell you their stories."

"And I should care? ...Why?"

"Because they are your fellow human beings Catherine, and we should ALL care."

"So you've never employed such young...ladies Agnes?"

"Only when I've exhausted other means of helping them Catherine. If a girl is 14 years old, she's been selling her body for food, then yes I've given them a place to work where no questions are asked, and that they can earn a living in. But believe that is my LAST resort."


“What’s going on,” Maggie said as she looked out, “is that Lady Catherine Fitzstuart?  And who is the woman arguing with her?”


“That,” Pippa said quietly, “is Agnes McAdam, Aunt Maggie.”


“The Angel of Soho?  I didn’t know Valeria knew her.”


“Actually, it was Shirley who got her over, but turns out the de Ros and McAdam families go WAY back.”


“But why are they arguing?”


“I have no idea…”


“Catherine, DARLING,” Mandy said in a quiet, determined voice, “stop this now.  You are embarrassing us and yourself.”


“That’s never stopped her before,” Agnes said in a quiet, dangerous voice.


“Perhaps we should get going,” Katy said as she ushered the girls out of the front door, Helen and Susan following them out.


“Not going Penelope darling?”


“No,” Penny said quietly, “I stand by Agnes.  I always have.  When you ran with the Vipers, did you know of her?”


“We had heard of her, and that if a girl or boy was ever in real need and alone in the City, point them in her direction.  Why would someone hate her so much?”


"Catherine dear," Olivia said quietly as she glared through her glasses, “the reason that poor Aggie has had to endure what she has for twenty years, is not because she's a bad person, but because we were bad friends."

"We were all out of the country and didn't realise how desperately she needed our help, or were too lazy and tied up in our own lives." Paula spoke.

"Or, we were bleating sheep who just followed the flock Catherine." Victoria spoke up as she came over.

"If just one of us had stood up at her trial, maybe she'd have got off with a fine, and then just maybe the scandal would have died down Catherine, and she just might have got her life back," Will spoke softly.

"I'm ashamed of myself, not of Aggie." Tamsin started to cry lightly. "my sister went to prison basically for the crime of caring for me."

"Rubbish," Catherine jeered, "she went to prison because she was a whore."


Penny said nothing as the two women stared at each other, others wondering who was going to speak first.


“Go back to your hovel, Agnes,” Catherine finally whispered, “nobody wants you here.”


“I do.”


Catherine looked past Agnes to see Terri standing there.  “I want Agnes to stay – we are old and dear friends, and I wish to catch up with her.”


“We want her to stay as well,” Paula said as she and Olivia stepped forward.


“So do we,” Tamsin and Victoria said together.


“As do I,” Francesca said as she walked over with Alex.  “Her friends want her to stay, and more to the point she is Valeria’s guest.  Do you wish to upset her and her family – today of all days?”

"Lady Donald, I only know the bare bones of what I've been told about Miss McAdam, but from what I've been told I consider myself a far greater sinner then her." Ally Rochermann spoke softly. "I've a well-earned reputation for being shall we say...easy? I also one weekend worked in a dungeon with my mother and sister to raise money for charity, and on top of that I perform striptease. I think compared to me, that Miss McAdam is actually fairly respectable, but because I'm a so-called lady everyone cuts me a pass. I do what I did for fun, back then Miss McAdam did it to put bread on the plate for she and her sister...I can never say that was wrong." Ally shook her head.


"I warned you Agnes to stay away from him," Catherine hissed.

"Catherine darling I was," Agnes laughed, "technically it is you and he followed me here...not the other way round."


Catherine looked round the group, and turned on her heel, Agnes shaking her head as she whispered “thank you.”


“We’re all sinners,” Paula said quietly, “so we cannot judge.”


“On which note,” Francesca said as she gently put her hand on Agnes’ shoulder, “may I introduce you to Father Alex Richmond?  I think you two should talk…”


“We should?  Why?“


“Father Alex was good enough to be my confessor,” Francesca said, “I am sure he can help you as well.”


“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Alex said as he shook her hand, “why don’t we go out onto the terrace with a coffee.”


As they headed out, Agnes said, “Francesca said you were her confessor – I’m purely a nominal Roman Catholic Father, It’s my sister who is the religious one?”


“Not important,” Alex said with a smile, “Francesca shared with me her past life, and I was able to help her.  She seems to think I can help you as well.”


“Help me with what,” Agnes said as they sat down.


“Unburden – I presume you know something of Francesca’s life before recent times?”


“If I did, I would not say so, Father.”


“Let’s just make it Alex,” he said with a grin.  “So, let me tell you what I know – you are known these days for something that happened over twenty years ago, correct?”


“Infamous is possibly more like it – well, you saw one person’s view anyway,” Agnes said with a smile.


“So – you were doing a job, to ensure you and your sister could live a comfortable life.  Then you were exposed, and after that?”


“Jailed when I was next arrested – I lost my dignity, my sister disowned me, my friends deserted me…”


“And you felt alone?”


Agnes nodded as she looked at Alex.


“That’s understandable,” he said as he sat back.  “My sister – have you met Nessa?”


“Not really no – what of her?”


“When she was eighteen, she discovered she was pregnant – and then one night, the father of her child in a fit of rage hit her so hard she miscarried.  That ruined her life as well for a very long time.”


Agnes paled as she said “oh my god…”


“Look at Francesca – she was a spy, was caught, and as a result a family was torn asunder.  It is only recently she has rediscovered herself, and not that much longer since Nessa finally put events behind her.  Now, I am aware of who you are, Agnes, and also what you do – you should hear what Cardinal Nichols says of you some time?”


“You know Cardinal Nichols?”


“Vincent?  In passing – anyway, my point is this.  There is one way in which you and Francesca and Nessa – and others here – are alike.”


“And that is?”


“You let the events overwhelm you, and bury your true selves.  But they also both know how much that hurts – and although I am probably stating the obvious, I think you’ve been seeking forgiveness.”


“How can you say that, Alex?”


“Because of the work you have done in London – whatever else you have done, that tells me your heart is in the right place.  The thing is, you’ve put your life into compartments, and tried not to let them mix, and that has not made you happy?”


“Yes,” Agnes nodded.


“I’m going to say something that will sound blunt, even perhaps rude, but you were a girl who had everything in front of you. You were an immensely clever young woman blessed also with great beauty, but a couple of fatal flaws, one a certain arrogance about you own abilities, the second a sense of duty and honour that went far beyond the norm.” Alex paused, “do you accept that Agnes?”


“Looking backwards now yes I do Alex.”


“You thought you could create a secret compartment in your life, and simply close it when it had served its purpose…Am I correct?”


“You are Father Alex.” Agnes had a slightly wistful look on her face, “up till then it had always worked, I’d been able to secrets hidden away.”


“But this time you were found out?”




“Agnes you realize that keeping your life in compartments like that, you weren’t leading a complete life?


“I’ve begun to understand that Alex,” Agnes paused, “but just as you are trusted in the confessional, my reputation as a keeper of secrets, has made me the repository and guardian of an awful lot of things that if I was ever to disclose might harm an awful lot of people, starting with myself.”


“Ah I can guess what kind of secrets,” Alex smiled.


“Father those are the circles I have moved in for 20 years…”


“I am not suggesting that you betray others confidences Agnes, just that you should learn to share ‘your’ secrets with ‘your own’ family and friends. Be open with them, let them into your life, stop hurting yourself and try leading that full life.”


“So if you were my confessor, is that all that would you say to me Alex?”


“Not my job, you haven’t come to me to confess, just advice – but these last few days, what has been uppermost – the pain, the hurt, or the love of your friends?”


Agnes looked at him, and then said “you…  You may have a point, Alex.”


“Well, for these next few days, let them be your guide Agnes.  Ignore those who would seek to hurt you, and embrace those who wish to help you.”  Standing up, he said, “if you want to talk later, find me, but for now, why don’t we go and join the others…”





10 am CET

Chateau de Ros


“Ah there you are,” Diana said as Abby came down the main staircase, now wearing a sleeveless green dress and shoes, “will you join me please darling?  I promise you, it will not take long.”


“Of course Mamma,” Abby said with a smile as she looked at Diana, wearing a dark grey dress coat and black shoes, “but are you planning to wear that all day?”


“Only for this,” Diana said as she opened the door to the drawing room, Valeria standing as they came in.  There were also two men, one old and grey, one younger, but both wearing dark suits, white shirts and ties.


“Please, be seated Abigail,” Valeria said with a smile, “I do not believe you have ever met the Family attorney, have you?”


“I have not – I am very pleased to meet you both,” Abigail said as they kissed her hand, and then sat down.


“Please, Monsieur.”


“Very well,” the attorney said with a smile, “may I first, on behalf of our firm, offer our congratulations on the occasion of your eighteenth birthday.”


“Thank you Monsieur,” Abby said with a smile.


“So, to business – the reason we are here today, Mademoiselle, is that we are required now to execute the next provisions of the will of your late father, the Comte du Ros.”


“My father?  What is this, Mamma?”


“Please,” Diana said as she put her hand on Abby’s leg, “listen to what he has to say.”


“On the occasion of your father’s death,” the attorney continued, “his will instructed that the bulk of his liquid assets, after legal duties and certain other bequests, be placed in a trust fund, of which,” he said as he looked at Abigail, “you are the sole beneficiary.”


Abby looked at her mother and grandmother, before she said “this is the first I have heard of this.”


“I asked your mother not to tell you of this,” Valeria said, “until you turned eighteen.  Our attorney and Diana have been the trustees of the fund since it was created.”


“So why now?”


“Under the terms of the will, the fund remains in trust until your twenty-fifth birthday,” the attorney continued, “but as you have now turned eighteen, you are entitled to an annual income from the interest on the trust fund.”


“And you have managed this fund, Mamma?”


“I have my child,” Diana said quietly, “and despite recent difficulties, the fund has remained healthy.”


“So I could use this money to pay for the Cooper Union fees?”


“Very easily, if you so desire,” Valeria said.


“If I may be impolite, how much?”




“At the current fund level, and allowing for current interest rates,” he said as he looked at a file, “the income for this year would amount to three hundred thousand dollars


“After fees and taxes.”


“I know you have mixed feelings about your father,” Valeria said quietly, “but he has provided for you Abigail.”


Nodding, Abby said “I am free to dispose of this as I see fit?”


“In theory, yes,” the Attorney said as Abigail stood up.


“I wish to talk to Mamma and others,” Abigail said, “and when I have done so, I will let you and Mamma know of my decision on how to proceed.  If I may have some time to think it over?”


“Of course,” the attorney said, “take all the time you need.”


“Mamma, Grandmamma,” Abigail said as she walked quietly out, Diana watching.


“Should we?”


“No – I will find her in a few minutes,” Diana said as she smiled.






As Abigail walked out, she stood for a moment, and then walked past Shirley and Agnes as they sat at a table.


"Don't worry about it Shirley,” Agnes said, “the day I let Catherine get really under my skin, is the day I end it all."

"She seems to truly hate you Agnes."

"Yes,” Agnes said as she nodded, “that's new since before my shunning, before that she merely disliked me intensely."

"Do you know why?"

"Donald I think...she always had the biggest crush on him, and she was always sort of jealous of me as well." Agnes smiled, "I remember her face when it was announced that I was being named Deb of the Year...pure disgust and loathing."


“But not as bad as earlier?”


“No – Countess?”


“Forgive my ill manners,” Abigail said as Agnes and Shirley stood up, “I wanted to greet you formally as well, and thank you for accepting the invitation to my party tonight.”


"I'm sorry if my presence has disrupted your birthday in any way Abigail." Agnes looked up as the taller woman kissed her on both cheeks.

"Well it's spiced things up a bit,” Abigail laughed, “but I'm more than happy that its given you a chance to rediscover who your true friends are Agnes."

"On that subject I'm just amazed," Aggie shook her head.

"Well friendship is a wonderful thing...and now Dame Margaret asked me to personally introduce her.  Agnes McAdam, Margaret Harker."

"Dr McAdam,” Margaret said as they shook hands, “can I say that I think you work miracles."

"Oh I wouldn't say that Dame Margaret."

"Well I would...can I just ask why you work with the children as you do?"

"Because when they know of my 'celebrity' as some call it, it means they trust I'm not the law, or the authorities, then the kids let me into their lives, and I can give the real help they desperately need."  Aggie smiled, "and because I'm not a charity, or a government institution Dame Margaret I can cut overhead to the bone so virtually everything is spent on giving direct aid."


“I can see that – but what about where you are based?”


“It’s a house I was left by – well, let’s just say she started me on this road.  I moved the business out, and started the ‘school’ instead.”


“Well,” Margaret said with a smile, “if there is ever anything I can do to help, in an unofficial capacity, let me know Dr McAdam.”




As she looked over Margaret’s shoulder, Agnes paled slightly as she saw Donald standing there with Colin, Natasha and the Minister.


“Donald – has Catherine talked to you?”


“She said you were here – but she didn’t say how different you looked…”


“Perhaps you could introduce us, Lord Fitzstuart?”


“Of course – may I introduce Dame Margaret Harker, and Doctor Agnes McAdam.”


“Doctor McAdam?  The author of Management of Third World Finance?  You did not say such an august person was here.  Can you arrange for some coffee for the four of us?”


“Of course,” Colin said as he slipped off.


“I’m sorry – the four of you?”


“My apologies,” Gus van Roon said as he came in, “Margaret – and this is?”


“This,” the Minister said, “is Doctor Agnes McAdam – she is the author of the manuscript I told you about.  I must say it is indeed an honour Dr McAdam,” the Minister said as he kissed her, "I can't tell you too strongly how important I think your theory on the correct application of capital in the Third World is."


"You've read it Sir?"


"Indeed I have - and I've made officials handling our Foreign Aid programme at the Ministry read it as well."


"Well I hope they understood it."


"Tell me Doctor, why has your book never been published?"


“Well,” Agnes said quietly, “circumstances prevented that happening.  It remained a thesis, nothing more…”


“This cannot be allowed to continue – Mister Van Roon has a say in an academic publishing company.  I implore you to read and consider the publication – I will lend you my copy.”


Agnes stared at the group as Colin handed her a coffee.


“I was discussing with Gus the likely impact of the decision of the UK to leave on the US financial markets – I would very much like to hear your views.  Please, come and sit with us…”




As they walked to the corner, Colin stood, watching as he stirred his tea.


“Well, this is a meeting of minds, isn’t it?”


He slowly turned as he recognised the voice to see Sue standing behind him, her arms folded.  Staring at her, he stammered “Hooooooowww…”


"How does someone like me get invited to a birthday do like this Colin?" Sue stood hands on hip, almost seeming to breath fire, as Grace watched from the side.

"Ye.. Ye… Yes."

"Well actually it's pretty simple,” Sue said with a smile, “my friend Penny is a close friend of Abigail de Ros's believe it or not. You remember Penny, she and Kay were at our 'wedding'."

"I remember Penelope."

"Penny was also asked to bring another old friend of the de Ros family and so many of the other families here - Miss Agnes McAdam..."

Sue laughed inwardly as Colin went pale, and whispered "Lady D'eath?"

"Now why does it not surprise me Colin that you know Agnes's alter ego…  How long have you been going to her place eh?"

"I don't know what you mean Sue..."

"Oh you don't need to worry, I'll just ask Aggie," Sue smiled maliciously.  “But coming to why I'm here, I was asked by some friends of Agnes to come and give her support in cast the crowd turned nasty...you remember how that goes Colin, getting taken to the gates and kicked out.”


Grace shook her head as Sue continued “but it turned out it wasn't necessary, Aggie's real friends have welcomed her back with open arms...  So Kay and I just get to enjoy being guests at this wonderful whole weekend."

"Do they know what...?"

"What I used to be...  Well I knew the Countess Diana does for one and she could not have made me more welcome Colin."


Stroking his cheek, she said “I’ll see you later” and walked off, Colin sweating as Grace walked over and said “if I was you, cousin, I’d go and wash – your sweating does not look good…”





"Well at least for a while we seem to have lost Agnes the socialite again darlings," Mandy smiled as she watched her old friend in deep conversation in the corner.

"Yes but we have the third of my sisters here at this moment...the intellectual." Tam looked happy as she watched Agnes start drawing what looked like a graph on the minister’s pad.

"I loved Aggie the beautiful girl, I think I might even like Aggie the dominatrix in a way, but this Aggie always gave my inadequate brain a headache as she talked," Will chuckled.

"I know," Tam giggled, “when she tried to help with my vacation assignments she was talking so far above my head."

"The only person who ever truly could match wits with her was Donald darling," Mandy said sadly.


“What about Donald?”


The group turned as they saw Catherine staring at the group in the corner, and then start to walk over.


“Forgive me Lady Fitzstuart,” Natasha said as she walked over to intercept her, “but the minister asked not to be disturbed.  Come – join me in the tour of the vineyard.”


Paula mouthed “thank you” as the young woman led Catherine away, Victoria following them.


“I see – Doctor McAdam, I thank you for your insight.  If you will excuse me?”


As he and Gus walked off, Donald said quietly “I told you I would see you again – but you look so different…”


"Donald,” Agnes said quietly, “I have something in my purse that I always meant to give back in person, and I guess I should have done it yesterday or the day before."


"What is that Agnes?"


"This," Agnes pulled out a golden ring, with four half carat diamonds set in platinum.


"Your engagement ring," Donald whispered, "I always assumed you sold it."


"I was tempted to throw it in the Thames Donald, but no I'd never have sold it," Aggie started to cry gently again, "here Donald this properly belongs to you."


"No Aggie, it was bought for you, with you it should stay."


“I cannot accept this now – you called the engagement off.”


“Yes you can – if you must, sell it and use it to help those kids.  But you decide – I’d better go back to work now…”





"Will did I hear you talking as though there were whole different Agnes's?" Alex asked.  “Might she be schizophrenic, or is it just as I told her I thought, that she keeps her life in compartments."

"No she's not insane Alex, on many occasions you'll see the two old Aggie's at once,” Will said as he looked over.  “It’s just that ever since we were children, she found it hard to open herself up totally.”

"If you ask me, in those initial years after her being outed, she was still in deep shock that so much of the world knew so much about her.  She had so valued her secrecy."  Charles shook his head as he sipped his coffee.

"So what was in the story gentlemen?"

"Oh just who exactly famed dominatrix Lady D'eath really was Alex," Tom sighed. “They obviously had had someone go in pretending to be a customer. There were photos of her coming and going from work, extensive use of quotes from her own diary."

"How the hell did they ever get hold of that?" Alex looked extremely puzzled.


“What do you mean Alex?”


“People who compartmentalize, if they keep journals and diaries, keep them extremely well hidden so different parts of their lives never come into contact.  How did they find it?"






“Your highness,” Agnes said as she looked up at Juliette and Klaus.


“Agnes,” Juliette said, “I though Terri had made it clear all titles were off the table this weekend?”


“Sorry – I am getting there honestly…”


"Well, I don't know if my daughters have said this Agnes, but you will always be welcome in any of my houses."

"And I second that," Juliette hung onto her husband's arm.

"Thank you ummm Klaus? Juliette?"

"That's better Agnes," Juliette leant forward to kiss her on the cheek and whispered, "after all we are sisters."





“How much,” Carina said as she walked with Abby and Jo, pushing Rudi and Mags in their prams before they sat at a table.


“Enough for an income of three hundred thousand this year,” Abby said quietly.


"Well it's a decent sized inheritance Stick," Jo grinned as she passed round cans of coca cola.

"And it has the advantage over modelling contracts in that there is no fixed term to it," Cari smiled.

"And in the meantime it simply allows you to bank most of your fees...and your other income," Jo whispered “and you'll always have that if you need it."

"I know you are right girls,” Abby said as she shook her head, “but it just seems funny being grateful to my father for anything."

"We all know what he did to your Mom Stick," Cari put her hand on her friends, "and I cannot say how much if I was older I'd have enjoyed expressing that displeasure to him."

"Put Beast away," Abigail looked in her best friend’s eyes.  “ALL my guests go home safely...even her," she pointed at Catherine while Natasha showed her the fountain garden.


“Yeah, I know – but I think if she doesn’t watch her step, others will stop her…”



“So are you enjoying yourself, Agnes,” Diana said as she came over.


“Surprisingly yes,” Agnes said with a smile.  “I’ve been taken completely by surprise…”


“It is our pleasure to have you here,” Diana said with a smile.


"Anyway Diana - it seems I'm coming to the party tonight, but honestly I don't have anything suitable to wear."

"Perhaps I can..."

"No need Diana,” Tamsin said as she joined them, “I happen to have something that belongs to my sister here that she can wear."

"Tam darling I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Remember the skirts you had made for MY Eighteenth birthday party?"


"Well when I ran away I accidentally took both...I sent for them from home, along with a matching one that Kit wears...so we do as we did that night, white shirts, our long skirts, and our hair up."

"And you will all three look amazing," Diana smiled, "good at least that is settled.”

"Tam I haven't got a shirt..."

"No but Paula has and you remain identically sized, she said she will lend it."

"Is it really dressy enough?"

"Oui, I think it sounds as though all three of you will look amazing, and now this is the picture Valeria said I must show you, the gentleman on the left is the first Comte de Ros..and the man on the right is..."

"The 24th Laird of Ardray...Angus the Raven...”  Agnes shook her head.

"So our families really are connected," Tam whispered.





"So Lillian what did our people back home find out?"

"Well Madame," Lily looked at her notes, "the story appeared under the byline of one Trevor Derreck."

"And is he still with us?"

"Yes, he's retired and of all things lives in Stortbridge."

"Have you instructed them to send people to interview him?”

"Not yet I was waiting on your permission."

"Send Davina Hatton, and Jennifer Crawford please.”

"They can send Jennifer,” Lily said, “but Lady Davina is here."

"At the chateau?"

"Well she will be tonight Madame."

"Oh yes, I forgot that in a roundabout way she's a cousin of Abigail's.  Alright it will have to be Bev who goes with her then."

"I'll phone London right away..."

"And Lillian I would like to know just who his sources were on that story by at the latest mid-afternoon."

"Will do Madame," Lily reached into her handbag and as she walked away started talking into her phone.




“Agnes – how are you feeling now?”


“Busy - Shirley is there anyone here who is a more than capable mathematician?  I worked up some figures for Donald and the Minster to discuss, but my brain is a little rusty and I'd like to have the maths checked.”

Looking round, Shirley said “well, Anna Carlton from NYC is incredible, a true Math genius...but I might know someone even better."


"Don't I remember hearing your IQ was too high to assess and give a number to?"

"So they said Shirley, but I need help asap."

"Then you need this lady," Shirley said as she grabbed a woman by the sleeve. "Dr Agnes McAdam, meet Heather Smith, along with you someone whose IQ cannot be measured."

"You mean I’m not a total freak,” Heather smiled as she looked Agnes up and down.

"Aggie needs someone to check her math, who better then you Heather.” Shirley smiled.


“Several people possibly – what is it you wanted checking?”


“This,” Agnes said as she passed a pad to Heather.


“Hmm – give me five minutes?”


“Are you sure?”


“She’s sure,” Shirley said as Agnes shook her head, and then heard a French male voice say “Guy told me you had reappeared – how long has it been Agnes?”


"Good God Henri,” she said as she looked at the scarred face, “they told me you looked bad...I looked far worse though before I got a makeover last night."

"Bonjour Aggie, it is just so good to see you again.” Henri smiled broadly and kissed her.

"Oh still that magic kiss," Agatha laughed.

"And before she asks me to explain that," Henri's smile turned into a grin, "this is Janine...my companion."

"Hello Janine, its lovely to meet you, and that thing about the kiss is a very old joke."

"I'm sure it is… because if it isn't he knows I also have a thing on Nikki Lauda," Janine laughed.

"And you don't remember me do you Aunt Aggie," the second blonde woman grinned.

"No I'm afraid I don't...unless....no that is too silly for words...Jeanne, how can be that possibly be you, you are so grown up?"

"Well it is," Jeanne threw arms round the British woman.

"And what's more she's made me a grandfather already," Henri spoke truly proudly.


"She's also a police inspector working for Interpol in New York,” Henri added.

"You are a policewoman?" Agnes suddenly went quiet.

"Don't worry Aunt Aggie there are a handful of police of various kinds here, and none of them have you on their minds."


“Thank the lord,” she said quietly as Heather came back over.


“You forgot to carry a 1 there.  Minor, but I know where the blame lies when these things go wrong.”


“Thank you Heather – if you will all excuse me?”



11 am



“Are you absolutely sure you want me as the godmother, Aunt Pussy,” Blair said as she stood by the font in the small church.


“And why would we not,” Pussy said with a smile as she stood with Frieda.  “With you and Liz, I think we cover both sides of the equation.”


Sarah smiled and shook her head as she looked on, watching the rehearsals continue.  Eventually, Blair turned and nodded as the two women left the church, and walked out onto the main street.


“This is exactly how I expected a French provincial town to look,” Sarah eventually said as they walked along, and then sat at a café.


“I know – so beautiful…”


“It is, isn’t it?”


They both turned and looked at the grey haired woman who had joined them, her periwinkle blue eyes shining.


"So do you have them safe Blair?" Coco asked.

"Of course I do, but I'll be a whole lot happier when your fence gets here to take them off our hands.”

"Ditto," Sarah whispered.

"Just keep calm girls and this will soon all be history and you can get back to your lives."

"Who said we want to get back to our lives," Blair whispered.


Coco raised an eyebrow, and said “think carefully on what you are saying, Miss van Roon.  This is not a life you choose lightly.”


“But that thrill…”


Looking at them both, Coco whispered quietly “you need to speak to others, and forget about me.  I already have an apprentice, and this is not something you do by distance learning.  If you’re serious, let me know - later.  This is not the place, this is not the time…”




"These shoes are not the most comfortable things to go sightseeing in." Capricorn smiled as she looked at her own reflection in the window of a shop.

"Yes but have you seen how many boys have checked us out," Allison Clarke giggled.

"Do you think they know how old we actually are?"

"With this makeup on, and these clothes?" Allison smiled as she saw how two boys on the opposite side of the street reacted as she pretended to adjust the hem of her dress.

"You are such a tease Allison...'

"I know, but isn't it FUN!"



11.30 am

Chateau de Ros


“Again, our thanks Doctor McAdam,” Tam heard through the open doorway as Agnes came out.


“The very person I wanted to see,” she said with a smile.


“Good – I need to talk to you as well,” Agnes said quietly.  "Tam about your wedding?"

"Aggie I am just so sorry I never invited you."

"Tam Darling I understand why I couldn't be a guest," Agnes took a deep breath or two. "Father Alex says I shouldn't keep secrets from my family.''

"Meaning what Aggie."

"Tam I stood outside the church and watched you arrive and leave...please forgive me? You looked so beautiful."

"Aggie,” Tam said as she held her sister’s hands, “it’s I who should be asking your forgiveness that you stood out there in the rain and weren't where you should have been in the front pew."

"Well I've got used to being outside that lovely little church a bit Tippy Toes...I stood there for both Christopher's funeral, and Christine's baptism."

"Why Aggie after what I said to you before I ran away?"

"Because you had made it pretty plain that you never wanted to see me again, but I’m your big sister Tam, as a guest or not I thought it was important to be there for you."

"Oh Agnes, you really are incredible," Tam cried and smiled at once, "you travelled all that way each time just to watch from a distance."

"I did for Donald and Catherine's wedding as well, and cried my eyes out...I think people there thought I was a lunatic."

“Aggie, being serious,” Tam held her sisters hands and looked straight in her eyes.  “You tortured yourself then, you are still doing it aren't you?"


"And your finger twitches," Tam shook her head, "Darling I heard about your annual pilgrimage to Ascot you know?  Please, for me and Kit – stop torturing yourself."


“Yeah – if this weekend has done anything, it’s given me something to think about,” Agnes said as Mandy came along.


“If I was you, I’d come with me in the other direction darling,” she drawled as she took her friend’s arm, “Will is currently entertaining my sister in law.”


“I’ll see you after lunch,” Tamsin said as they headed in the opposite direction.


"Darling why did you never have sex with Donald?" Mandy asked as they walked round the chateau looking at the paintings. "It wasn't as though either of you was exactly religious."

"It was a test we set ourselves to prove our love Mandy, if we could both resist the temptation until our wedding night, then we would know that it truly was forever."

"Can I say darling that sounds a bit romantic...but a lot stupid."

"I guess looking back it was," Agnes sighed, "especially in light of what I was doing at Sylvie's."

"My point exactly."

"And it’s not that Donald didn't quickly jump into Catherine's bed from what he told me.”

"Oh and I can tell you a few other names as well." Mandy stood in front of Valeria's famed Van Gogh.

"Did he?" Agnes shook her head, "well I can't blame him."

"It's no wonder that Heather raves about this picture..." Mandy whispered

"It is pretty amazing," Agnes nodded. "Did you know Catherine told Donald she was pregnant?"

"Oh dear God,” Mandy whispered, “is that how she trapped him?"

"Yes, Donald being Donald did the right thing, the decent thing...and well of course she later told him it was a false alarm."

"The BITCH," Mandy snarled.


“History, Mandy – if I am learning anything, it is to let this pass…”  As she spoke, however, she saw Colin walking past, and said “although… Excuse me a minute – one thing about the past I need to release now.”


“Of course, darling,” Mandy said as Agnes followed Colin, and then said “Mr Gresham-Fox, may I have a word please?”


Colin turned, and said “I’m sorry?”


"Mr Gresham-Fox, you are an idiot."


"You heard me." Agnes smiled. "You, sir, are an idiot."

"May I beg your pardon...”  Colin stared at the smaller, red haired woman and said quietly “what exactly are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about Susan, and how you treated her."

"And what business is that of yours?"

"It's my business because I've known Susan for a number of years."

“Ah!”  Colin looked at her and said “You are Lady D'eath?"

"Yes I am Mr Gresham-Fox, and I know you know a lot of my story, and of Susan's... But I also know a thing or two that you don't know."

"Like what?"

“That you and Sue had been having sex regularly for quite a while before your wedding."

"And I'm sure now I wasn't the only man."

"Oh you were the ONLY one Mr Gresham-Fox, Susan was in love with you, and she also long since gone off the game anyway."

"She was,” Colin snorted.  “Well she needn't have bothered, she had me very much in love with her."

"Until the embarrassment of you finding out her personal history, and she had to make her own way back to London." Agnes paused and looked at the young man.  "Do you know she cried for 48 hours Mr Gresham-Fox, until they got the ambulance to come."

"To take her to the psycho ward?" Colin snorted.

"No - to the pre-natal unit Mr Gresham-Fox."

"The…  I don't understand?"

"Susan was 8 weeks pregnant Mr Gresham-Fox, she was carrying YOUR baby."

"Oh my God!"

"The stress caused her to miscarry that night, I was there with her friends to try support her...Where were you Colin?"


Colin just stared at Agnes, and then walked quickly off as Agnes watched.






“Oh boy,” Kay said as she turned round with her friend, “want me to…”


“No, you’re good – something wrong Colin?”


He stopped in front of her, looking on as he said "Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant Sue?"

"Why are you worried?  I'm pretty sure you would think it was someone else's kid anyway."

"Lady D'eath told me the truth, you'd quit a long while before."

"Well Agnes has a big mouth, but what difference does that make?" Sue looked daggers at her ex-husband.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I was going to tell you when we got home Colin...but of course we never did...Anyway it didn't change what I'd done in the past Colin."


"I was still a whore Colin, I was and I always will be just that...But I was stupid enough to believe in Cinderella."


"Yeah that the Prince could see past the rags Colin." Sue snorted, "and boy was I wrong about that."

"Sue if you'd have just told..."

"You'd still have kicked me out Colin, your self righteous inner self could never live with the thought that there were men who were friends of your family had had me for money." Sue sniffed, "now run away Colin...go back to your friends and just be glad that your child doesn't have an ex hooker for a Mum."


She watched Colin turn and walk away, as Kay put her arm round her.




“Well, we finally made it.”


“Indeed,” Bobbi Morse said as she walked into the main hallway, “how the booking agent got that so wrong I’ll never know.”


“At least the hotel allowed us to stay an extra day,” Clare said as the driver put the bags down.  “Valeria – I am so sorry we were delayed.”


“Not a problem – you at least made it for lunch,” Valeria said as she embraced Clare and Bobbi, and kissed Tom.


“May I present Sir Clive and Lady Yvonne Leventhal, and their son Simon.”


“Thank you for extending the invitation to us, Countess,” Clive said as he formally bowed and kissed her hand.


“You are most welcome – my staff will take your bags to your rooms, so feel free to mingle.  We have a tour of the vinery underway now, and there is another this afternoon, but plenty of the other guests are milling around.”


“Thank you,” Yvonne said with a smile as she saw Janice and Adam come out into the hallway, “let me start with these two.”


“And we’ll find the birthday girl,” Bobbi said as she went off with Simon.


“Come with us Clive,” Tom said as he and Clare guided him to the large dining room, “I’m sure if we look round enough, we’ll find the others.”





“I see you have had a busy morning.”


“Francesca,” Agnes said as she looked up from her chair, “I’m just getting a few minutes of rest and processing time.”


“Quite different from what your plans were for this weekend, I imagine,” Francesca said as she sat down.


Agnes chuckled before she said “That’s still waiting for me, though.”




“Francesca… you are fabulously wealthy, you have your daughter, you even have a plausible explanation for your behaviour...  I have none of those," Agnes smiled.  "I'm very lucky that somehow this weekend so many of my real friends are gathered here, and even a few people who seem to appreciate my work as an economist."


"But come Monday it's back to London, do you think people there will be so willing to forgive and forget?"

"No I guess not."

"I will not embarrass my friends by having them have to explain themselves why they are seen in my company. I will not abandon my work with the children."

"What about your dungeon?"

Nodding, Agnes said "that I might do something about. Cherry who is my manageress is very good at it. It's probably time an old domme like me gave up the active side of the work, and I just drop in occasionally to look at the books and check on things."

"And Paddington?"

"That I will have to think about,” Agnes said as she looked round.  “If I'm honest I've not only been living there because its cheap, but as yet another form of self-punishment...Maybe I need find something just a little better."


“I could help…”


“No – I don’t think Lancaster Gate is ready for me.  But somewhere a bit nicer would be good.”


“I think that is a very good idea – Lord Donald.”


“Forgive the interruption ladies – the Minister wondered if you could make yourself available, Agnes, in case there are any questions from other parties.”


“At any particular time?”


“As needed.”


“Please tell him I would be honoured,” Agnes said as she stood up.


“May I speak with you on – another matter?”


“Shall I go,” Francesca asked, but Agnes shook her head.  “It is all right, Francesca, I know what he is going to say.  Nothing has changed since yesterday Donald, other than a cosmetic makeover. I'm still notorious, and you are still likely to be the next Ambassador, I don't think the FO would have sent you otherwise." Agnes sighed deeply, "I can tell the minister has been very impressed by your briefings and your thoughts on what happens next...I'm proud of you Donald."

"You are Aggie?"

"Yes… this is the man I always dreamed I'd be alongside."

"You can still be you know?"

"No," Agnes shook her head, “I gave away my future when I took the risk of taking that job at Sylvie's. I made my bed..."

"But you don't have to continue to lie in it."

"Be honest Donald - are you just remembering the girl I was? That proud, arrogant, little bitch, with her posh flat overlooking Kensington Gardens, her high flying boyfriend, and her wonderful friends?" Aggie smiled sadly as she continued "because the one thing I can tell you for definite is that I'm no longer her. Twenty years have passed Donald and our lives have parted, you went your way, I went mine. Yes I still love you with all my heart...and I always will...but I know it can never be, and honestly I can put up the hurt of living my life, but I'd never ask you to come down to my level."

"I wouldn't be going down..."

"Oh yes you would Donald, yes you would," Agnes tried a smile, "better you stick with Catherine eh? and make me happy by making the success of your life that I've failed to do with mine.  Alright?"



"You'd better go Donald,” Agnes whispered as she heard the female shout, “Catherine is looking for you."




Colin Gresham-Fox found a quiet corner, sat down and dialled a number on his phone.


“British Embassy.”


“Colin Gresham-Fox for the Ambassador.”


“One moment please,” the female voice continued, and then he listened to the recording of Britten’s Peer Gynt for a moment.


“Hello Colin – I heard you had been dispatched with Lord Fitzstuart to France for an emergency meeting.”


“Indeed Dad,” Colin said as he talked to his father, “we got here early this morning, and straight to work.”


“So how are things going Colin?”


“I’m keeping the Minister up to date on the political changes Dad, just as I’m sure you’ve been on the phone most of the day talking to the Americans.”


“Yes it’s been pretty hectic,” Charles Gresham-Fox said, “but the panic seems to be settling a bit.”




“Anyway, other than to exchange that little information why did you phone Colin?”


“Dad,” Colin said quietly, “just how big an idiot am I?”


“Who has been saying you are an idiot Colin?”


“Oh a few people…including myself.”


“Alright give me the background, what exactly has been happening there?”


“Well for starters Cousin Grace is a guest?”


“She told me she would be.  Not your biggest fan you know.”


“Neither is Penelope, you remember her from my wedding? It turns out she’s a good friend of Abigail de Ros.”


“Is she now?”


“Yes and in turn she has brought a friend of hers along.”


“Who… Oh no now I can see where you are going Colin,” Charles said quietly.  “Susan is there as well.”


“Yes Father.”


“Have there been words?”


“Oh you might say there have been a few…Yes.”


“Colin, while I might have done things differently myself, in the end you had no choice but to separate from Sue.”


“Even though it cost you the chance to be a grandfather…”


“Can you please run that past me again?”


“It turns out Sue was pregnant…she planned to tell me when we got home.”


“What happened?” the Ambassador’s voice quivered.


“She miscarried two days after I chased her away Dad, her friends tried getting to the hospital but it wasn’t in time.”


“Colin are you sure it was…”


“Yes it was mine Dad, Sue had been going straight for two or more years at that time.”


There was a silence for a moment, before Charles said “I don’t know what to say Son.”


“Just tell me like everyone else has dad that I was, and am, a total idiot.”


“I can’t do that Colin – there is no point in wondering what may have been.  Do you still have feelings for her?”


“I don’t know Dad – but she still hates me, I can tell you that.”


“Then all you can do, Son, is apologise and leave it at that.  She may accept it, she may not, but do that, and then learn from it.  You have work to do that cannot be affected by that today.”


“You’re right Dad – thanks.  I need to get back now.”



Jeanne was walking with Annie in the gardens, pushing Adam in one chair, and Rudi and Mags in the other, when they heard a voice say “A beautiful morning for a promenade, is it not ladies?”


“It is indeed,” Jeanne said with a smile, “May I make the introductions?  Prince Nikolai Barskov, may I present Her Serene Highness Princess Annie von Furstenheim.”


“A pleasure,” the octogenarian said as he took Annie’s hand and kissed it.  “Of course you would both be here on this wonderful occasion.  And who are these delightful children?”


“May I present Prince Rudolf and Princess Margaret von Furstenheim, although they prefer Rudi and Mags.”


“It is a very great pleasure to meet both of you,” Nikolai said as he leaned over and let them shake his finger.  “And this – this must be young Prince Adam.”


“It is indeed,” Jeanne said as Nikolai leaned over and looked at the sleeping child.  “Je suis ravi de nous avoir rencontré correctement, mon fils” he said quietly, and then he smiled at Jeanne.


“Father and I wanted to thank you for what you sent when Adam was born, Nikolai.”


“It was nothing,” Nikolai said with a smile, “but I hope to speak with both of you later.  Until then,” he said as he bowed, and then walked on.


Annie looked at him, and said to Jeanne “is he?”


Jeanne merely nodded as they walked on…





"You are both American's?" the taller boy asked Allison.

"Yeah we are both from California...we are here for Abigail's party." Allison smiled as the boys hand tentatively tried exploring up under her dress.

"So you are both models?" the other boy asked Capricorn.

"No," she giggled as he tried to look cool as he felt her ass. "Maybe one day, but at the moment we are both still students."

"You have some famous friends though?"

"Oh you might say that," Allison wormed her tongue into her boys mouth.



"So Heather, Shirley says you also bust the IQ system?" Agnes asked as they watched the civil servants and politicians looking at Agnes's calculations.

"So they said.  All I know is they kept testing, and gave up."

"Where did you go to university?"

"At Yale."

"Ah America's Oxford."

"Well with Harvard being in Cambridge, we couldn't be them," Heather laughed.

"So are you a mathematician?"

"No, I'm an art historian," Heather looked at the surprised look on the other woman's face, "and yeah that does surprise a lot of people.  Math would have been too easy, art history was a challenge."

"No wonder Shirley said you were the person to check out my calculations then." Aggie looked even more intensely at the younger woman, "so that is what your doctorate is in?"

"No - I only got a bachelor’s degree."

"And might I ask why?"

"Oh I had a kid sister to support,” Heather said, “so it was imperative I got a job."

"That sounds familiar...So which museum did you go to work at?"

"I didn't...the only job I could get was as a nanny to the Richmond children, and that's what I still am."

"You are a nanny?"

"Well nowadays it’s more a formality than anything, my boss Sandy Richmond is nowadays also my girlfriend."

"I suppose that makes sense...and your sister?"

"Came to live with us...Sandy paid for her to go to St Angela's school in New York, and Jo just completed her freshman year at William Smith College."

"Jo...now why does that sound familiar?"

"Because she's Jo Smith the fashion model." Shirley said as she joined her two friends.

"Now I place her," Agnes smiled.

"Agnes was just asking why I majored in art history at Yale?"

"It's not a story one usually hears,” Agnes said with a smile, “that she considered Mathematics too easy."

"Computer Science would also have been too easy," Shirley smiled, "But then Heather is an exceptional young woman."

"Not really Shirley," Heather blushed.

"Heather, Agnes is a person who above all I trust with any secret...May I tell her yours?"

"Is she yet another Sister?" Agnes whispered.

"Yes, but rather more than just that..." Shirley smiled.  "What do you know about the fine art of hacking Agnes?"

"Relatively little, other than I don't trust any computers ability to keep anything secret."

"Well you are right in that, as my organization learned the hard way."

"Alright, but what does that have to do with Heather."

"Did you ever hear of a hacker called either Van Gogh, or the Hidden Hand?"

"Yes, but I thought they were large groups," Agnes paused, "are you a member of those groups Heather?"

"No Agnes, she is those groups, Heather is the world’s greatest computer hacker."

"You are?"

"Yes," Heather blushed again.  “But I do try and keep it quiet.”




Noon BST



Sitting in the rear garden of the house, the grey haired man listened quietly to the cricket playing over the radio, the warm noonday sun beating down as he dozed with his eyes closed.  A half drunk bottle of lager sat on the table next to him, and all was quiet in the world.


So when he heard the front door bell ring, he frowned while opening his eyes, stood up and rubbed the back of his head, and walked through, fastening the front of his striped shirt as he said “All right, all right – I’m coming.”


He opened the door to see two women standing there.  The smaller of the two had short dirty brown hair, the taller long dark hair, but both wore smart pant suits and blouses, the top of them open just a little.


“Good afternoon, would you be Trevor Derreck?” the dark haired girl asked.


“Yeah – how can I help you?”


“Oh sorry,” the smaller girl said as she flashed a ID card.  “My name is Beverley Martello – my colleague Jennifer Crawford.  We’re doing research on some of the greatest exposes of the last fifty years in the British press, for a possible documentary.”


“Oh,” Trevor said as he looked at them, “and you are here because?”


“One of the stories we are looking at including,” Jennifer said, “is that of Lady D’eath, and as you had the byline on that story, you are the obvious person to approach first.”


“Lady D’eath?  Now that is going back…  What do you want to know?”


“At this stage, an idea of the history of the story.  If we do decide to include it, we would naturally want to interview you, and there would be a fee involved,” Jennifer said with a smile.


“A number of your old colleagues have also talked to us,” Bev said with a smile, “Stan Thorpe, Jack McGregor…”


“Okay, okay,” Trevor said as he stood to one side.  “Come and join me out the back – want a beer?”


“No thank you – but if you have some water,” Bev said, “that would be good.”


As they walked through the slightly disorganised house, Bev and Jennifer both took careful notes, then sat in the old chairs as he brought out two glasses of water.


“So – Lady D’eath.  That was a story and a half, finding out who she was.”


“How did you get a start on the story,” Jennifer asked as Bev took out an iPad and started to take notes.


“Same way I got a start on a lot of stories – a private tip off. This one was a bit different though.  I was down the Olde Cock Tavern when I was slipped a note.  When I read it, it said if I was interested in finding out how Lady D’eath was, to call this number.”


“She was infamous even then,” Bev said as she looked up.


“Well, this was a decade after Cynthia Payne and the Luncheon Vouchers, but we knew of this top class dominatrix who was reputed to have some very high placed clients.  This was just before New Labour swept to power, and Major’s government was going through the start of the troubles, so anything that could cause them trouble was fair game.”


“But still, an unusual way to be given a tip?”


“That was just the start.  I got back to the office, made the call, and this posh female voice asked if I was interested.  When I said it depended on what she had to offer, she told me she had documentary proof of the real identity of Lady D’eath, and she wanted ten thousand pounds for it.”


“A lot in those days,” Jennifer said.


“Yeah – I told her I needed to see a sample I could take to my boss.  The line went dead – and I thought that was it – but when I got to my desk two days later, there was a large manilla envelope waiting.”


“May we ask what was in the envelope,” Bev asked.


“Two pictures – both taken outside a building we knew to be the place of business of Madame Sylvie.  One was of a very senior Cabinet Minister at the time – and it was possible to tell the date of the copy of the Times he was carrying.  The other was a stunning redhead, wearing a headscarf and dark glasses, carrying a copy of the Guardian with the same date.”


“And was anything else in the envelope?”


“Three photo-statted pages of a diary, written that day, describing what the writer had done to the Cabinet Minister.  In very great detail.  And dated the same date.”


Bev and Jennifer looked at each other, before Jennifer said “so someone had followed his person, and got their diary.”


“Yeah – which was the hook my editor needed.  I was authorised to call back, and say if the diary was offered, and the name, and it checked out, the money was there.  I offered to meet her in a place of her choosing – she chose a little pub in St James.”


“So you met?”


Taking a drink from his bottle, Trevor said “a few days later.  She came in – Ice Cold Blonde, dark coat, dark glasses, but she walked right up to me and said ‘well?’


“’What do you have?’


“She opened her large bag, and passed me a brown envelope with a diary.  She also handed me a file – and when I opened it, I recognised the woman from the first photo.  And the name.”


“Agnes McAdam?”


“Oh yes – the McAdam of McAdam, Laird of Ardray, one of the most prominent noblewomen in Scotland and engaged to Lord Donald Fitzstuart.  There had been a rumour when her father died he had left massive debts, and we were going to publish, but the debts managed to be paid off.  I wondered then if this was how she had done it – so I figured whoever this was, she had the goods.”


“So she was paid?”


“Yeah – I remember the name to this day.  Catherine James.”


“What did you do then?”


“A colleague with – similar tastes - booked an appointment and managed to get a recording of the session.  Another colleague went to a lecture she gave, and recorded that as well.  The voices, the description of the physical build – they matched.  The diary listed enough about her clients to make it clear she really was Lady D’eath – so we wrote it up and published it.”


“Did she ever say how she got the diary?”


“Never asked – didn’t care.  She was paid, job was done – then we heard she was jailed for prostitution, and then – well, the rest is history.


“So – got enough to work on?”


“I think so,” Bev said as she put the iPad away, and left a business card on the table.  “We’ll be in touch, Mister Derreck.”


“I look forward to it,” Trevor said as he showed them out, watching as they walked to a nearby car.


“So – got it all Bev,” Jennifer said as they set off.


“Yup – lemme send it off now…”




1.30 pm CET

Chateau de Ros


As with the breakfast, a large buffet had been set out – the main difference been the group was now expanded by the arrival of more guests who had been staying at the hotels, as well as some models who had flown in for the day.


"Mr Gresham-Fox, I probably need to apologise for my outburst earlier," Agnes spoke softly as they both ate their luncheon at a side table.

"No,” Colin said as he shook his head, “you said some things Dr McAdam that maybe I needed to hear."

"Colin...may I call you Colin please?"

"Please go ahead."

"And please call me Agnes, Dr McAdam was another woman once."

“Alright Agnes it is."

"Colin, Susan dreamed the dream all whores dream, that sometime they will meet someone to whom their past means nothing, and who will love them as they are right at that time in their life."

"Sue said she thought for a while she was Cinderella..."

"Yes she did Colin, you made her feel very special, and very loved.... It's why she married you... But she forgot the essential rule that given our past, no whore should ever allow herself to fall in love, unless it is with that rarest of all creatures, the person to whom their past is irrelevant."


As Colin took a drink, Agnes patted the young man’s hand. "You gave Sue hope, but as we all learn sooner or later, for whores far too often hope is an illusion sent to punish us for our misdeeds."

"You know that I still love her in many ways Agnes?"

"I guessed you might, but please don't offer to marry her again Colin, she'll spit in your face. Marry some really nice girl from Chelsea, and offer to make Susan your mistress. That she could probably live with, because inside the truth that Susan will not say is that she's still in love with you."

"With all my faults, and my true blue Toryism as Cousin Grace calls it?"

"Yes, she loves you despite that, and you captured her heart young man... she was so proud she was going to give you a child."

"I think I know that now." Colin looked very sad, "I just wish I'd known it then..."

"Better you didn't in some ways Colin, you did what you were bred to do... What Donald Fitzstuart did to me.  Women like Sue and me have no real right to what most women take for granted. We should learn to accept what society had made us into, and just live in the shadows where we belong."

"That's very bitter sounding Agnes," Colin looked concerned. 

"Yes I'm bitter Colin, but not at people like you, or Catherine Fitzstuart, but at myself for what I did to harm all those who loved me back then."


"I had a choice Colin, Sue didn't. She used the one thing that really belonged to her and sold it so she could survive." Agnes looked straight out as tears once again came to her eyes. "I have known hundreds of Sue's Colin, and most of them never make it."

"Never make it Agnes?"

"Many are dead before they are twenty-one years old... More develop addiction problems that mean they can never hope to live a real life... But then there are the Susan's who scratch and steal, and do whatever it takes to escape the streets. They are fighters because they have had to be just to live... They are the girls I try and teach others to emulate so they can escape too one day, and just maybe get a reasonably decent life."


“Agnes, I fear I have been guilty of underestimating you as well.”


“A lot of people do Colin…”




At another table, Abigail was sitting with Mary Clarke and talking with some of the male guests.


"Monsieur Dorleac,” Mary said as she sat in her summer dress, “up to a few months you'd have never given me a second look."

"Oh Mademoiselle Clarke I'd have given you far more than just a second look."

"Well that would have made you a unique person Monsieur, because everyone else barely gave me a first look."

"That isn't possible..." the Frenchman smiled.

"Monsieur I was the gangliest, skinniest girl in town. I worked as a chamber maid in a hotel in San Francisco, and anytime I wasn't there I was at home looking after my family."

"And I suppose the next thing you'll try to tell us is that you've never had a date in your life?" the Frenchman laughed aloud.

"Gentlemen,” Mary said with a smile, “believe it or not, I have never had a date in my life."

"Oh it is an outrageous...what is the words...Fairy Tale."

"No Monsieur Dorleac I believe she's telling us the truth," Richard Mest said quietly.

"Yes I am, Herr Mest." 

"The fairy tale is the ugly duckling."

"Ugly Duckling?" Luigi Perloni laughed, "as if as beautiful a creature as Mary Clarke could have ever been ugly... My, the mere thought is an affront to nature."

"Not really Cousin Luigi," Abigail answered, "my story was pretty much the same as Mary's till Mary Thomas something the rest of the world was missing."

"She's right in that," Tony gently kissed his girlfriend, "I've seen the pictures."

"And I can show you some of mine to prove my point gentlemen." Mary smiled.


“Unnecessary,” Luigi said, “I believe in fairy tales.”





“You all right Sue,” Penny said as she sat with her and Kay.


“Yeah,” Sue said quietly, but the other two knew that was a lie as they looked over at Colin talking to some of the models.


“We need a distraction,” Kay whispered.


“And I’ve got one,” Penny said as Grace came past.  "Grace, did you meet Sue yet?"

"No I didn't Penny," Grace smiled and shook Sue's hand, "I have to apologise for not being at your wedding Susan."

"You know I actually believe you mean that."

"I do, what Colin and most of the rest of the family did was unforgivable."

"Well thanks but even if you'd been there I'm not sure you could have changed anything."

"At least I could have tried."


“I hear you tore him one when you heard – thanks.”


“Don’t worry – you’re amongst friends here,” Grace said as she moved on.




In another corner, Agnes was surprised to find herself surrounded by some of the younger generation.


"Aunt Aggie was what you did, or do, always exciting?"

"Young ladies,” Agnes said as she smiled at Kit and the others, “I hate to disillusion you, but it soon becomes very old."

"Old?" Katy asked, "I'd have thought it was always thrilling."

"No Katy," Agatha laughed, "it's like performing a play you have done hundreds of times. There are only a very limited number of scenarios you do, and while the men might change, your lines, your choreography, your props rarely do. I often told others that if I hadn't come back in a set amount of time then they should come wake me up."

"Truly?" Allison Clarke asked.

"Very much so. You might be abusing someone, say whipping his back as you have him stretched on a frame, but while the right words are coming out of your mouth, inside you are doing your shopping list, or looking forward to a cup of tea...Do you get the picture girls?"


"I do hope Tam your sister isn't telling those young girls things they shouldn't know?" Victoria looked concerned.

"No, she's telling them just what I wished she had told be way back then." Tamsin grinned, "It seems that far from being sexually exciting for the women, it’s actually a very dull routine in which the merely play a role. She's making it sound just like a day working in an office."




“Beverley – what do you have for me?”


“We know most of the story now - the journalist was flattered to be involved in a documentary – and the potential fee.”


“A good cover as well – so the salient details?”


“They had her diary Madame, and it seems Agnes wrote down in great detail what she did with some of her clients.”


“How the hell did they get that Bev?”


“Well from what he was saying this mystery blonde sold it to them for ten thousand quid.”


“Yes, but how did said mysterious blonde get hold of it?”


“I guess for that Madame you’ll need to ask Agnes.”


“If she herself knows,” Shirley mused. “Alright Bev you and Jennifer did well, head back to the office and I’ll let you know what I can get Agnes to tell me.”


For a few seconds Shirley stood on the spot thinking deeply.


“Penny for them?” John made her jump.


“Oh John darling…don’t do that please.”


“You were miles away weren’t you?”


“Yes…and also about twenty years.”


“Ah - so you are still thinking about Agnes.”


“Very much so,” Shirley said with a smile, “I just found out that someone sold her story to the News of the World for ten thousand pounds back then.”


“Oh…so they didn’t find out all that on their own then?”


“No, someone gave them her diary in the proverbial plain brown envelope at a mysterious meeting in a pub, took her cash and vanished.”


“So it was another woman sold her out?”


“So it seems,” Shirley removed her glasses and idly chewed on one of the earpieces.


“Should I ask how you found this all out?”


“Actually reasonably legitimately, a couple of my people simply knocked on the reporter’s door and asked him questions.”


“Well however they got hold of the information, none of it proved to be untrue.”


“John you knew Agnes back then, being a cross between her cousin and her uncle, would someone have been that jealous that they might have gone out of their way to do the dirty on her?”


“Oh Shirley my love who knows? All I truly remember is the shock when I heard, and then the fuss when my colonel called me in and told me that I was taking some leave whilst he investigated if I, and somehow the regiment, might be tangled up in all of it.”


“Which of course you weren’t?”


“No, but Aggie had been a guest of ours at enough regimental events that I suppose he had to make sure we weren’t tainted by association.”


“Just what was Agnes like then? I’ve known her for several years, but I get the feeling she was rather different then.”


“The first thing you noticed was that wonderful red hair,” John sighed, “if young Maggie Fife has the finest head of deep red hair I ever saw, then Aggie had the finest Golden Red.”


“Better than Lily Cole?”


“Better than Lily, better than Nicole, better than Leslie Mann.”


“So what else?”


“She was beautiful, confident, poised, self-assured, supremely intelligent.”


“The true golden girl.”


“As you say darling…The Golden Girl.”


“Did other young women hate her?”


“I suppose some did…I think many envied her all she had.”


“Including the heart of Lord Donald Fitzstuart?”


“Including that.” John closed his eyes before continuing, “it’s what made finding out what she had been doing even more of a shock then perhaps for another less-blessed girl it might have been.”


“John did you know she kept a diary?”




“Who might of known?”


“Oh girls she was at school with perhaps, maybe one or two friends at Oxford, but beyond them I suspect even Donald didn’t actually know.”


“Well that narrows the suspects,” Shirley whispered to herself.


“Now darling I’ve told you about Aggie as she once was...now you tell me how she is today please?”


“Agnes? Well at first I thought she was rather shy, but you soon find out how passionate she is about the causes…and people…that she believes in. I’ve never known her betray a confidence; I’ve never known her to refuse to give any help she can, especially to children. But you scratch the surface and it soon becomes obvious that she’s very unhappy in her own life, that she punishes herself endlessly, that she…”


“You don’t need to say more,” John interrupted in a decidedly doleful tone, “I get the picture.





"So who is the bleach job talking to Colin?" Kay asked as they looked over.

"Don't know...Don't fucking care," Sue looked the other way.

"Like hell you don't Sue." Kay grabbed her friends arm. "Whatever comes out your mouth I know what's going on inside your head, you are still in love..."

"With that prick? He was only ever good at one thing."

"You can say what you want Sue, but I know better."

"Her name is Serena Watson-Carleton...with an e in the middle of Carleton, and she's related to the de Ros's." Sue sighed, "I asked Grace Gresham about her. According to her they've been seen around London quite a bit together."

"So you do still care?"

"Of course I fucking do, he would have been the father of my child for godsakes Kay." 

"And at this moment in time you'd like nothing more than to have her tied up by the China Dolls, and you doing something indescribably bad to her."

"I wouldn't waste my time...If that's the sort of idiot he wants, what business is it of mine?" Sue shrugged her shoulders.


“Well, think fast – he’s coming over.”


“Sue, do you have a…”


"Look Colin, you've been giving me shit since this morning?" Sue looked daggers at her former husband. "I want to finish my lunch without feeling you looking at me."

"Me looking at you?"

"Yeah, YOU!" Sue snarled, "so what's going through that microscopic fucking brain of yours Colin? Seeing me makes you fancy a fuck for old times sake?"

"SUSAN!" Colin looked outraged.

"Cos if you want me, all you have to do is ask...and pay me fifty quid just like any other john."

For a couple of minutes there was silence as the two glared at each other.

"Well come on...make up your mind...Are you buying or not?" Sue stood in a classic hookers pose, hand on hip.


"Well if you aren't sure look me up when you are big boy," Sue walked away deliberately swinging her hips provocatively till she went round the corner of the chateau out of view, and she stopped and started to cry.


"Kay...What was that all about?" Colin asked as Sue walked away.

"It was a show for your benefit Colin."

"Is she...is she back...?

"No Colin she's not back on the game, and before you ask, nor has there been another man since you turfed her out." Kay smiled, "and if you didn't get that little charade she's still in love with you."

"Then why say..."

"Colin," Kay this time shook her head, "because she'd rather drive you away thinking she's whoring again, then let you hurt her, and yourself, by saying what is actually inside her."


“That she does love me?”


Kay slowly nodded as Colin looked round.  “So what do I do now?”




“Excuse me – are you all right?”


Sue looked up to see Donald standing there, looking at her.


“I was just finishing a call and heard you – has someone upset you?”


“Must be the season for it,” Susan said as she dried her eyes.


“The season for what?”


“Stupid men to ask if a woman is all right.”


“Yeah – not going to disagree with you on that.  I’ve been a bit of an idiot myself over the last few days.”


“You’re Lord Fitzstuart – the man who dropped Agnes?”


“I take it you are in the Agnes camp?”


“I’m a friend of hers, yes.  But I see you are genuinely sorry.”


“How can you tell,” Donald said as he sat down.


“It’s a gift,” Sue said as she looked at him, “just as I can tell you want to do the right thing, but can’t.  Agnes won’t let you?”


As Donald nodded, he said “I was one who hurt her a great deal.  Is it wrong to want to make up for it?”


“If you truly want to do that, respect her wishes – and find a way to support her,” Sue said as she stood up.


“and you?”




“The stupid man in your life – what are you going to do?”


“I have no idea…”




2 pm BST

Xavier International


“Madame,” Jennifer said as she and Bev sat at her office desk, “what can I do for you?”


“Jennifer you know Georgette George don’t you?”


“A little Madame, why?”


“I’ve arranged for you and Scarlet to go talk to him at his club in an hour’s time.”


“Why Scarlet?” Bev asked.


“Because she’s an authentic writer with the press credentials to match.”


“Alright Madame, so is this an undercover interview?”


“No, George is an old acquaintance, and he knows you both work for me. I want though a thorough report though on what he remembers about the outing of Lady D’eath.” Shirley chuckled, “and Scarlet being a trained reporter might pick up on things you don’t.”


“Understood, but why are we talking to one of the world’s most famous drag artistes?”


“Because it’s a little known fact, but George back in those days before he hit it big, also worked for Countess Sylvie. I want to know what George knew, and what he saw?”


“I get that Madame.”


“Okay good luck Jennifer, and remember I do need this like yesterday.”


“I’ll be as quick as I can Madame.”




3 pm BST

Chez Georgette

Soho, London


“Well, now there’s a nice sight for these old eyes,” the tall man said as he stood in his dressing gown, “come in, come in.”


“Hello George,” Jennifer smiled, “it’s been a while.”


“It has been Jennifer my love,” he kissed her on the cheek. “Still working for Madame?”




“And you must be Scarlet?”


“I am.”  She smiled as he shook their hands, and then indicated an old ottoman.


“Mind if we do this while I start putting on my makeup for the early show girls? It takes rather longer these days you know…I’m getting old.”


“Never George,” Jennifer allowed herself a smile. “Did Madame tell you what we wanted to talk about?”


“The Lady…”


“Lady D’eath,” Scarlet said as she started taking notes.


“I knew her as Lady, and the Lady is what she will always be to me.”


“Tell me about her please George?”


Leaning back, George closed his eyes and said “She was the classiest, most beautifully stunning woman I ever knew…I loved her with all my dear gay little heart.”


“When did you meet her first?”


“The day she came looking for a job dear,” he smiled at Scarlet as he pulled a stocking cap over his own hair, then sat down and looked in the mirror. “I’d been at Sylvie’s for about two years at that time. In came this stunning redhead wearing huge dark glasses that hid her face. To be frank I was SO jealous of that hair.”


“And she obviously got the job?” Jennifer asked.


“Yes,” George smiled fondly, “it was obvious from the start that she was hiding her real identity.”




“Yes love, I don’t think I ever really saw her face, all we ever saw were the glasses, or her mask.”


“Weren’t you curious about who she was?” asked Scarlet.


“At first, but she was so damn nice, and business improved so much for all of us once she became Sylvie’s star, that we all just bought into and even talked about the mysterious Lady D’eath.”


“You talked about her?”


“Scarlet darling the pubs and clubs of Soho were a gossip factory. Didn’t take long for people in that world to get to know the legend of Lady…And I know I talked a lot about her to people.” George smiled in the mirror as he started to apply pancake makeup to his face.


“George to jump forward to 1996, did you notice anything different?”


“Like what darling?”


“Well,” Jennifer paused a second, “outsiders asking questions about Agnes, people who didn’t fit?”


For over a minute George paused and thought.


“Not especially…Lady was virtually counting down the days until May 4th, but business was pretty much as normal…same poor buggers wanting to be buggered, the pain junkies…no one unusual.”


“May 4th?”


“The day she retired…poor thing…next day it was all over that rotten scandal sheet.” George touched his face, “now look you’ll have me ruining my makeup by crying.”


“The News of the World said they’d had a reporter posing as a customer George.”


“Well if they did Jennifer, I never picked him, nor did Lady.”


“Do you know if they’d been trying to get at Countess Sylvie?” Scarlet looked up from her pad.


“If they did she never said…I’d say ask Mary… but…”




“She was our receptionist…nice girl.” George looked sad again. “She died a couple of years ago in a car smash on the M25.”


“Have you kept in touch with any of the others who knew Agnes at that time George?”


“Fraid not Scarlet love, I left while Lady was in prison, I got a gig playing a club in Berlin…”


“And from there your career took off George.” Jennifer laughed.


“I’ve seen her a few times over the years,” George this time started to cry, “but she’s not MY Lady any more, she’s just this rather sad shell of a woman. I know she does amazing things for homeless kids…but just personally I prefer to remember her as she was before May 4th 1996.”


“Thanks George,” Jennifer stood and kissed the man. “We will be going now.”


“Alright, I hope what I said can be of some help in identifying the rat who sold Lady out.”


“I hope so too George,” Scarlet and Jennifer headed out the door.


“Hold on…HOLD ON!...There was someone strange, this blonde bird we all saw her outside taking pictures at one time or another…and funny I remember she talked with exactly the same accent as lady did.”


“Now that might be useful George – break a leg, darling.”


“Always Darling,” George said as he went back to applying his makeup.”


“So what do you think, Scarlet,” Jennifer said as they headed to Six Corners.


“From what he said, and you learned earlier, I would think this blonde is someone from Agnes’ social circle.”


“And the diary?”


“Stole it somehow – that Madame needs to ask about.”



3 pm CET

Chateau de Ros


"So where is Tommy?" Alexandra asked breathlessly as Holly kissed her.

"He's taking the winery tour...he is interested in fermentation."

"Goddess it's been torture seeing you two together these past two days."

"I know Sands, but I'm in love with him as well...You said you were cool with that?"

"When I can't see you darling then I am, but when I'm with you all I want is you just to myself."

"Well you have me to yourself right now," Holly giggled as Sand's hand lifted her dress.

"Commando darling?" Alexandra giggled as she found flesh rather than panties.

"They are in my handbag...I figured it might save a couple of minutes...YES!" Holly threw her head back as Sands started fingering her pussy. "How the hell at your age are you so good at doing that?"

"I practice a lot on myself...dreaming of you." 

"Well the practice is paying off," the older girl gasped as she felt the moisture trickling down her thighs.


"Hey Kitten darling looks like we weren't the only ones to see the possibilities of this place," Kylie laughed as she and Doc found Sands and Holly.

"I think you are right Kittycat," Anna laughed.

"Doc! Kylie! what the hell are you doing here," Holly whispered as she tried to pull her dress down.

"More to the point why are you here?" Alexandra smiled, "Are you two...?"

"Yes darling," Kylie smiled, "we have a teensy little affair going."

"Well I live and learn." Sands laughed.

"It wasn't what you thought girls?"

"Oh I know just what it was Holly darling."

"Hey I already knew about you guys," Doc grinned. "Doesn't shock me."

"Well it would shock Tommy," Holly tried to gather her modesty, "just as Chet would be surprised to know about you two."


“Indeed – so two mutual secrets to keep.  Now, darlings – where were we…”



In one of the downstairs rooms, some of the young mothers and nannies were watching the children at play.


"Okay young lady it's nap time for you." Annie said as she lifted Judith up.

"Do I have to?" the youngster asked.

"The way you've been yawning? Then yes, especially if you want to wear that pretty dress at Aunt Abby's party later."

"Okay..." Judith yawned again.

"So where are the twins?" Orlanda asked.

"Carina is taking them up to the nursery that Valeria has so thoughtfully provided," Annie looked down at Jennifer, "and it looks like this one isn't the only one who needs her nap."

"She's been trying to look at everything, and yes I think it's time to put her to bed for an hour or so."

"Where's Allan Gale?" Annie asked as Gale joined them.

"Upstairs, he's teething and my husband drew the short straw...for once he gets to see to him."


"What is this the young mothers club?" Valeria smiled as she approached with both Jeanne and Natasha, the two young Mom's pushing strollers.

"It's beginning to look like it," Gale laughed, "now all we need is...and speak of the devil," she laughed again as Karen, Susan, and Freida all approached from the opposite direction.

"We have to stop meeting like this girls."

"Can I thank you for laying on the nurse maids Valeria," Susan said as she let the older woman kiss her on the cheeks.


“Well, it made sense with so many young families here – and it allows you all to attend tonight.  You must forgive me, ladies, I need to check preparations for tonight…”



Chateau de Ros


"All the models who were here last night," Diana shook her head, "and yet more are still arriving."

"It's a convention as much as a party," Jack Linklater said as he kissed her on both cheeks.  "And is it true what I heard whispered that at long last a certain group gave you the recognition that you'd have earned if you hadn't been silly enough to quit modelling?"

"They did Jack, and I have to say it was very moving."

"Well it is long since overdue."

"Can I thank you for inviting my parents," Luke said as he kissed Diana in turn.

"Well it would have been rude not to, especially since they have had to put up with Jack for a couple of days or more."

"Diana you can be such a BITCH!" Jack giggled.

"Actually my father had him working shooting photos of the cathedral for the new guidebook that's going to be published."

"It's out of my usual line," Jack suddenly switched to serious, "but I hope I did such a beautiful subject justice."

"I'm sure you did Jack." Diana smiled.




“So,” the Minister said as he looked round the room, “many unanswered questions.”


"The biggest danger, and I still think it's a legitimate question to ask how a successful parting of the ways can be negotiated, is that the financial services industry simply ups and leaves London Minister."

"Would they come to Paris Dame Margaret?"

"Ask the Baron, I'm sure he has more idea then I do."

"No, I think we in Frankfurt are better placed to pick up all that work." Dieter nodded.

"Pity," the Minister nodded.

"Yes it will be an awful lot of jobs lost in London," Maggie shook her head.

"Do you wish to see the research that my wife and her associates have done on the legal framework for a British exit Minister?"

"If she's willing let me see it, then certainly yes."

"I'll go ask her and Francesca then." Dieter bowed slightly before walking away.


“I’ll see if I can find my assistant and get any updates from him,” Donald said as he stood and left the room, walking down the corridor.


“Lord Fitzstuart?”


“Colin,” Donald said as the two men met in the corridor, “any further news from London?”


“Only shock from some people at the events still sir.  How are the talks with the minister going?”


“Well – Doctor McAdam has provided much food for thought, and we are getting material provided by the Baroness von Manschenn.  Then…”


“Gentlemen – may I interrupt for a moment?”


“Forgive us,” Colin said as he looked at the slim, grey haired American, “you are?”


“My name is Glenda Verducci – and I’ve been hearing a lot about the events of today involving both of you for both sides of the argument.  May I say something to both of you?”


“It is a little inconvenient.”


“This will not take long.  Gentlemen, take it from an old lady who has lived almost a whole life living with regret in her heart, that you two are about the biggest pair of idiots that I've ever come across." Glenda shook her head. "I allowed myself to be bought off and turn down the most wonderful man I ever met, and instead marry his best friend, because I wouldn't allow the Richmond's to ruin my family...What is YOUR excuse?"

"My excuse Mrs Verducci..."

"Young man,” she said as she looked at Donald, “and yes I'm old enough to you call that, did you ever give Dr McAdam a chance to explain herself before you threw her away? What did you say when you went to see her?"

"Well I actually..." Donald shuffled awkwardly.

"You did it by letter didn't you...Why you no good son of a bitch, you didn't even give her a chance to tell her side of the story did you?"

"Well no."

"And you Mr Gresham-Fox did you ever give your wife a chance to tell you her real life story?"

"No...not really...but hang on Mrs Verducci she admitted she had been a prostitute...what else was I supposed to do?"


“Give her a chance to explain.  To tell her side of the story.  Be a man and listen.”


“It is very well for you to say that Mrs Verducci,” Donald said, “but you also said you did not do what was right either, so your regret is probably as great as ours.”


“True.” Glenda said, “but I have started to make amends.  Be men, and do the same.”




Alex turned and smiled as the middle aged couple walked into the chapel.


"Welcome - I'm not sure if we have met at all, but I'm Alexander Richmond."

"I think we've seen each other somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember where," Count Paul von Melz smiled. "This is my wife Maria."

"Charmed," Alex said as he kissed the German lady.

"And of course you know us far too well Alex," Gus laughed as he and Paulie joined the group.

"Well we have the grandparents...and one of the mothers," Alex laughed as Pussy ran down the aisle her already unruly hair flying everywhere.

"Patricia darling," her Mother-in-Law kissed her, "so where is Frieda?"

"Trying to get baby to sleep." Pussy caught her breath, "she said start the rehearsal without her."

"Now can I have the godparents then please?" Alex asked.


“You sure you want me,” Heather said as she walked over.


“Never surer Tee,” Pussy said, “and the same goes for you Blair.”


“Which means I’m the bloke for some reason,” Chet said with a smile, “so where do we stand?”




Chateau de Ros


“Our song?”


Tony and Abby looked at Francesca and Agnes as they sipped their drinks.


"James and mine song was Louis Armstrong singing 'We have all the Time in the World'." Francesca shook her head, “and wherever I go I seem to keep hearing it."

"You do?" Abigail asked.

"Yes, it's almost like somehow he is sending me a message."

"For Donald and I 'THE' song was that early sixties song 'Hey Paula'." Agnes smiled, "I know its schmaltzy as the saying goes, but those about true love and waiting till you were married...It just sort of summed up our love."

"It's such a romantic song," Abby cuddled up to Tony.

"Do you and Tony have a certain song that is all yours?" Francesca asked.

"Not really.  I guess it’s something we still need to discover."



As the men were gathered around a table, with some of their girlfriends,


"Boys just a thought for you all...who might be up for a game of rugby on Saturday against the town team," John looked at faces, "the town mayor is also chairman of the club and he wondered if we could get a team together for a social game."

"Hey count me in then," Piet grinned, "and sign Winston up to play alongside me in the second row."

"Coach won't like it if he gets to hear," Winston shook his head, "we aren't supposed to play other dangerous sports."

"What he doesn't know, can't hurt you," Jeannie smiled.

"Alright we need twelve more," John looked at faces.

"Well Bill plays a tolerable game at scrum half," Jack spoke, "so include him, me, and David."

"We have six players then."

"I played a little at Groton," Jason smiled as he lifted an arm.

"On the flank?" John asked. "any preference which?"

"Loose side I prefer."

"Alright," John wrote the name down.

"I'm the skinniest wing you ever saw," John Gaunt put a hand up, "but I'm reasonably quick."

"We have the beginnings of a team boys."

"Put me, Simon, and Harry down, we haven't played since Harrow, but we will try."

"Okay four more guys,” John looked up, "Any ideas."

"I'm an athlete," Miranda grinned, "and I think I could play."

"Rugby is not a girl’s game," Piet looked at her.


"I'm not a girl,” Miranda said quietly, “I'm a soldier Mr van der Byl."

"She has a point Piet." John laughed.

"Well if she plays then I will," Todd Verducci smiled.

"Just two more players then...and he won't like it, but I think young Luke might just fit the bill." John chuckled.


“Which leaves one – and Alex is busy tomorrow so he can’t play.”


“I know who can,” Todd said, “if we can convince him the forward position is less dangerous.”


“David Clarke?”


“David Clarke…”



"Well in my life I never thought I'd be drinking coffee with Linda Evangelista," April shook her head.

"Do you know there was a time when you'd probably not deigned to talk to me even," Linda smiled at the other women.

"And why would that have been?" Denice asked.

"Because I was that tall, skinny girl that none of the 'popular' girls would even talk to."

"I can't believe that," Rachel McNally shook her head.

"Alright let me ask a question...How many of you were cheerleaders or something like that?"

Linda and Juliette looked round as a lot of hands went up.

"Okay we have a small, but reasonable cross-section of models as well. Girls how many of you were cheerleaders?"

For a few seconds Linda closed her eyes.

"I don't need to look to know no hands went up."

"But you are all so famously beautiful?" Claire Morse spoke.

"Well let's ask shall we...Ju, before your face started appearing in magazines, what did the 'cool' girls call you?"

"Kareem," Juliette grimaced, "because I was so much taller."


"Ally Long Legs."


"Queen Kong."


"They called me The Martian at first at St. Angela's."

"And you of course all know Abigail was the Stick," Linda paused, "what I was called back home in Canada is unrepeatable in this polite a company."

"You can ask most models, up until that time someone decides that your body and face will photograph well, most models have a very poor self body image," Karen spoke. "Most of us will say how we always envied the 'cute' girls who all the boys were interested in."

"Well I live and I learn," Jan shook her head.

"Who'd of thunk it," Eva Eckholm looked a trifle bemused.

"Well just think about the only girl on our year at St Angela's who modeled professionally," Elaine Colman sipped her coffee.

"I didn't know you had a model?" Juliette asked. "Who?"

"The Judge," Tonia laughed.

"You mean Brooke?... You never told me you were a model?" Juliette looked hard.

"Oh I wasn't the big star you all were,” Brooke said, “but it paid for law school."

"I thought I knew your face," Linda grinned, "didn't we walk a Tom Ford collection together?"

"We did, and I'm honestly surprised you remember Linda," the judge shook her head.

"Wasn't there a...problem...you had?"

"Yes, I was outed as being a lesbian and work offers sort of dried up."

"I remember," Linda looked studious for a few seconds, "But today you are a judge?"

"She's a federal judge," Emma Carlton chipped in.

"Well at least you found a life after modeling Brooke."





"Agnes,” Shirley said quietly, “you know Georgette George don't you?"

"I used to Shirley, but he rather tends to avoid me nowadays."


"Because he cannot cope with the woman I became after prison." For a second a brief smile came to Agnes's face. "I think he was in love with the original Lady."

"But George is as queer as they come?"

"He is, but it didn't stop him proposing marriage to me."

"When the hell was that?" Shirley looked actually shocked.

"The day I should have married Donald. He actually got down on one knee and asked in quite the proper fashion. He said that Donald was an idiot and that he'd make an honest woman of me," the smile returned to Agnes's lips.

"Did you accept?"

"I said I'd think about it."

"And when did you turn him down?"

"I never did," Agnes shook her head, "that was the day I got busted for propositioning that undercover cop."


"It was also the day George was given 24 hours to get his arse to Berlin to appear in cabaret. After I spent a night in the holding cells and been bailed out, he had already left. We didn't meet for another six months, and of course by then I'd changed a lot."



“So,” the Minister said as he sat with Colin, Margaret Harker, Donald and Francesca, “I do not think there is much more we need to discuss at this stage.  May I ask a question, and I would appreciate your honest thoughts.”


“Of course,” Donald said, “your question?”


“Under your governmental system, with Mr Cameron’s resignation, the Conservative Party elects a new leader, and they assume the role of Prime Minister, correct?”


“That is correct Sir,” Colin said quietly.


“Then who are the likely candidates, and what are their chances?”


Margaret looked round the table, and said “if they are looking for a charismatic leader, I suspect BoJo is in the frame.  It’s no secret this is his ultimate aim.”


“Boris Johnson?  The man is a buffoon,” the minister said.


“Not quite – he is highly intelligent, but perhaps a little old-fashioned in the way he expresses this,” Donald said.  “Remember he is a compatriot of David, through Eton and Cambridge.”


“He has the intelligence, and does demonstrate it at times,” Margaret said, “and in private he is a serious thinker.  It’s the public image however…”


“What of the other Leave supporters in the Conservative Party?”


Margaret leaned forward and started to think on her fingers.  “Iain Duncan-Smith has done the job, and will not want to be leader again.  Liam Fox stood when David stood, and I think will stand again.  The one that I wonder about is Michael.  What do you think Colin?”


“Michael Gough?  He and Boris have been a double act throughout – wouldn’t he support a Johnson candidacy?”


“He might, he might not – the referendum has made strange bedfellows.”  Margaret took a sip from her drink, and said “I think if one declares, the other does not.”


“Okay,” the Minister said, “what of those who wished to remain?”


“Margaret is going to hate this,” Colin said, “but the buzz in Central Office is Teresa may be the best choice.”


Margaret raised an eyebrow and said “our esteemed Home Secretary?”


“Madame May?  She would certainly be an – interesting choice,” the Minister said.  “Not a true Europhile, as you call them, but one who may unite both sides.  Would she try to reverse the referendum decision?”


“No, that will not happen,” Donald said, “if elected, she will argue the electorate has spoken, and we follow the dictate of the electorate.”


“Stephen Crabbe may throw his hat into the ring as well,” Margaret said.




“The advice we drew up allowed for a range of leadership styles,” Francesca said, “but it would be unwise to amend until we know who has won, and their plans.  For now, we watch and wait.  This will not be a quick or simple process….”



“Mister and Mrs Summers,” the footman said as Abby and Diana greeted the new arrivals.


"Uncle Gordon...Aunt Tru...You made it?" Abby said as she threw her arms round both them.

"We did," the singer gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"I hear I should have been here last night," his wife whispered in Abigail's ear as she kissed her as well.

"You missed a hell of a ceremony," Abby whispered back.

"So am I expected to sing for my supper? I've heard about your groups birthday parties."

"Only if the urge takes you Gordon darling," Diana let him kiss her as well. "Otherwise just relax and watch."

"And do I get the same privilege darlings?" Graham Norton asked.

"Of course," Diana laughed as he kissed her on the cheek.



"Madame Comtesse, I still do not understand."

"I know you don't Charles, but I can assure you that the title is correct," Valeria smiled at her butler. "just announce them as i have written it out please."

"But Madame how can a young lady be Le Maître d'Ardray?"

"Because in Scotland the heir or heiress to a very, very old lordship bears the title of Master irrespective of gender."

"It's CRAZY!" the butler rolled his eyes.

"Be thankful Christine is not using her other title tonight Charles."

"And what would that be Madame?"

"Her Irish title is Le chevalier du Couteau Sanglant," Valeria laughed as she saw Charles's face, "and no Charles I will not explain that."

"Et les gens disent que les Anglais sont fous, ces autres personnes sont pires". The Butler shook his head as he withdrew.




"So Ju,” Linda Evangelista asked as they looked round, “who are the girls standing talking with Cari and Ingrid?"

"They are a couple of Carina's friends."

"Are they both fitness models?  I don't recognize either of them."

"No they aren't models Mother," Juliette looked amused, "but I think they'd both think it a great compliment if you said that to them."

"Okay they aren't in the biz...Who are they?"

"They are the two rowers Cari is coxing for...they are in her college at Yale."

"Okay...they are both beautiful girls, if slightly muscular."

"They are training in Munich and hoping to be nominated for the US at the world championships."

"So you have them as house guests eh?"

"We do, they are driving the kitchen staff insane with all the food they eat.'

"Well you can hardly call them fat Pelican."

"Oh no...  I've seen how hard they workout...made ME tired just watching."



"This is so fantastic," Melinda smiled as the girls sat drinking cokes, "and I get to come back later in the summer."

"Haven't you been to Europe before Mel?" Pepsi asked.

"Not to France...I've been to Sweden several times though for holidays with my grandparents."

"It's my first time here as well," Doc said as she slipped her sunglasses on.

"What about you Bones?" Mel asked.

"It's my first time outside the US," Erica sipped from her can. "From here we are going on to Wales to see if we can find any relatives of my father."

"Been practicing your Welsh Bones?" Poppy grinned.

"No, but Mom and Mary Thomas have been," the dark girl grinned back.

"You know what we need to give serious attention to girls?”


“No, O font of all wisdom,” Nikki said with a laugh, “what?”


“A nickname for Mel?" Ama smiled.

"Seconded," Doc laughed. "All Kirkham girls need a great nickname."

"We could call her Meatballs because she's Swedish," Jess ventured.

"Too obvious..." Pepsi looked as though she was concentrating hard.

"I want to be an OBGYN, Erica wants to be an Orthopaedic surgeon...What's your aim Mel?"

"I'd like to be an Epidemiologist or a Virologist...working basically to fight new diseases."

"Yuck...all those bugs?" Becca shook her head.

"And ladies I think we have a winner," Doc grinned from ear to ear.

"What?" Mel looked from face to face, "oh no...not Bugs? Anything but that..."

"Sorry Melinda, but Bugs it is." Pepsi laughed at the expression on the goalies face.



"And what are you grinning like that for Sarah?" Harriet asked whilst she and Grace sat drinking tea.

"I overheard the girls sorting out a nickname for Melinda Eckholm."

"Oh?" Grace asked.

"Yeah," Sarah started to laugh, "because she wants to work in disease control, they've lumbered her with Bugs."

"Oh that poor kid," Grace too started to laugh as she shook her head. "Like a model nickname that will stick for life."






"And where have you been for the past couple of hours John my darling?" Shirley asked as she kissed him.

"Getting this," John opened a brown bag and got out a whisky bottle.

"Oh no, not more old whisky," Shirley groaned.

"Yes, but this is not primarily for me and my friends to drink...It's more for Agnes and the others."

"But Agnes barely drinks?" Shirley knitted her brows.

"Oh she will drink this..."

"What's so special about this? Glenalba is a fairly well-known brand of single malt."

"It's not the brand," John smiled.

"Are you going to tell me what is going on or not John Hammond?"

"No...just for once you'll need wait and see my love...just like everyone else."


"I'll be back in a second darling," John grinned, "I need to have a word with Archie Gordon and the Fitzstuart's."

"Now what the hell is he up to?" Shirley looked closely at the label on the bottle, but there was no obvious clue there."




“Archie, a moment.  May I ask a question?”


"Yes of course I have one John," Archie Gordon spoke after John had whispered into his ear.

"I had to send home for mine, and get it out here in time." John replied.

"You know I don't normally travel with one, but for some reason, almost like a premonition, I packed it, and told the boys to as well."

"Excellent Will...and your brother?"

"I'm not sure, I'll have to ask him...as I said it's not something you bring to a party normally, and Donald wasn't invited to the party originally anyway."

"Well ask him, I think it's important that those here do this...Now who else?"

"My daughter’s boyfriend?" Will ventured.

"Oh yes I'd forgotten the young Master of Gilloch... Can you ask Harry as well Will?"

"I can only try."

"That's all I ask," John smiled slightly.  “Now I need to ask our hosts for an indulgence…”



"I was reading in my ancestors book about Agnes's forefather...did you know he was a Jacobite rebel in both 1715 and 1745?"

"I'd never heard of him even till you told me his name Abs." Jo shook her head as the woman worked on her hair.

"Did you know any of that Angel?"

"Not a clue darling," Angel smiled as her hair was blown dry.

"I'd have guessed," Harry Cameron looked up from the magazine he was reading. "The McAdam's were unreconciled to the overthrow of old King James, and they kept the old religion as well."

"What of your family Harry?" Abigail asked.

"The Cameron's of Gilloch were out in 1715, but refused the burning cross in the 45."

"Alright a translation please?" Jo smiled.

"He means that they rebelled in 1715," Angel laughed, “but in 1745 when the crossed burning sticks were delivered, that was the traditional call to arms, the then Laird of Gilloch refused to commit his clan to the cause."

"What about the Fitzstuart's Angel?" Jo asked.

"Some did under Lord William Fitzstuart, but the main body of our people stayed loyal to the Hannoverians."

"But I thought you were an English family," Abby looked confused, "Ordford Castle and all that."

"Yes, but we also had a large West Highland estate as well."

"Ah the Stuarts of Killcreg" Harry smiled.

"Exactly Harry darling," Angel smiled, "and its why we wear a differentiated version of the Royal Stuart Tartan."








"Oh good i found you together," John smiled as he came into the drawing room, "and by the way Happy Birthday Abigail," he added as he kissed her.

"Thank you Uncle John."


"Today...Yes," Abby smiled as well.

"Alright John you have us together, I presume to ask us something?” Valeria spoke.

"I do," John suddenly was a tad nervous looking.

"What is you want John?" Diana asked.

"I know that it's Abigail's party, but there is a short ceremony that I'd like to perform for Agnes."

"Ceremony? Agnes?" Valeria looked puzzled.

"It will take about ten minutes if you don't mind ladies, but it must be done as Agnes arrives."

"Well I guess it's alright," Valeria looked at her daughter-In-law and her granddaughter.

"Well I have no problems,'" Abby smiled again, "but I am intrigued."

"Thank you ladies, it will mean the world to Agnes and show she has been reaccepted."

"Oh in that case go right ahead John," Valeria's lips started to smile. "Reaccepting the McAdam of McAdam is something I highly approve of."


“Thank you,” John said as he stepped outside, to see Will and Harry waiting.


“Rehearsed it John?”


"Well I hope she understands an Ulsterman saying it."

"Oh I'm sure she will Sir John," Harry Cameron replied, "it sounded right to my ears."

"By some miracle, and I'll never know why other than a higher spirit moved us all, but yes Donald bought one as well." Will shook his head.

"Good, well then I suggest we all go prepare ourselves gentlemen."




Slowly, the rooms emptied as the guests went to prepare for the evening, three in particular repairing to a large bedroom with Aileen Gaunt.


"With all the hairdressers for miles round booked for tonight, just be thankful that Aileen can do hair so well Aunt Aggie." Kit smiled.

"But what about your own preparations Aileen darling?" Agnes looked concerned.

"I have my dress here...I have my makeup, and really it shouldn't take me too long to put yours, Kits, and Aunt Tam's hair up in chignon's."

"Well as long as you are happy," Agnes looked dubious.


“And the skirt, Aggie?”


"I'm amazed it still fits," Aggie shook her head as she looked in the mirror at the reflection of her wearing the long black, grey, and red tartan skirt, that fell to floor level.

"Mine does too," Tamsin smiled.

"And just look at 'The Master'” Aggie glowed as Christine emerged from her room with Aileen. "I'm so happy you had one made up for her as well Tam."

"Well it might not seem like it at times, but our heritage is as important to me as it is to you Aggie."

"Thank you," the older sister smiled as she hugged the younger one.

"Now get those off before I spoil them doing my thing," Aileen clapped her hands, "dressing gowns on please ladies."




“The hall is amazing, grandmamma,” Abby said as she looked round.  She was wearing a gold gown with white trim, while Valeria wore a royal blue off the shoulder dress with dark velvet shoes.


To one side, the band was starting to play, as a few of the early arrivals and guests were mingling, Charles standing at the door waiting to collect the cards and announce the guests.


“Ah my dear, you are truly the belle of the ball tonight,” Guy said as he came in, adjusting the cuffs of his shirt as he did so.


“Thank you, Grandpapa,” Abby said with a smile as he kissed her on both cheeks, and then watched as Willy and Natasha came in with Diana.


“Roger and Yvette will be here shortly,” Willy said, “and Alain is entertaining Jack at the moment.”


“I am sure he will be along shortly,” Diana said as Charles announced “Their Serene Highnesses Prince Klaus and Princess Juliette von Furstenheim, Princess Carina von Furstenheim, Princess Ingrid von Furstenheim, Princess Annie von Furstenheim, and Princess Judith von Furstenheim, with Mister Adam Cabot.”


“I am going to have to live that down, am I not,” Adam said as he came in with the others.


“Yes – but don’t worry, you’re probably not the last,” Abby said as a maid whispered into her ear.


As Kylie came down the staircase, in a silver scoop necked dress, she smiled at the late arrivals.


"Mum...Aunt Kerry darling...you finally made it?"

"Only just," Kerry shook her head, "that is the very last time I go anywhere with your Mum doing the navigating Kyle's."

"Well you said you wanted to do all the drivin' Cuz." Sami laughed.

"Thank God we picked up Gio in Paris, at least 'e can read a bloody map," Kerry shook her head.

"So are you and he still...?" Marina said as she passed Kerry a glass of champagne, and Sami some cider.

"Yes they bloody are," Sami shook her head, "embarrasses the 'ell out  of me seeing them kissin' like a pair of bloody teenagers all the time."

"Samantha, Kerry, Gio said you had all finally made it." Abigail came over with a big smile on her face.

"Happy Birthday Abby," Sami smiled. "And thank you for the invitation."

"Not a problem Samantha, especially as your cousin and one of my favourite photographers are now...walking out together, shall we say?"


“True – where can we change?”


“The maid will show you where you can wash and change – then please, slip in and join us.”







"Aggie I know this is a stupid question, but do you carry 'it' everywhere?"

"Not to work Tippy Toes, nor if I'm going somewhere less than salubrious, then its kept in a safe...but yes other than that I carry the box with me just as father did."

"Is it in your handbag? Can I show it to Kit."

"Yes and yes," Aggie smiled whilst Aileen braided her long red hair.

"Come look at this Kit," her mother slipped on gloves and then reverentially opened the small case and unfolded the tattered material inside laying it carefully on her bed.

"There is so little of it," Christine shook her head.

"Well it's an ancient thing Kit darling," Aggie looked behind herself in the mirror.

"What is it?" Aileen looked carefully.

"You've heard of the MacLeods 'Fairy flag'?" Kit whispered.

"I've seen it at Dunvegan yes, Mummy told me and Paula the stories about it."

"Well this is even older, and to McAdam's even more precious." Tam smoothed the material out slightly. "It's so delicate and old it can only be touched with gloves on."

"It is the remnant of the Black Flag Aileen," Agnes stood up and walked to the bed. "As I am its guardian today, so one day Christine will be."

"Shouldn't it be in a museum? I presume from what i've read this is the flag that flew over the first Ardray during the siege by the Lord of the Isles?"

"It probably should Aileen, but since i swore an oath to protect it when my father was dying, just as he did, and so have others for generations...I carry it in that small casket."

"We need all be thankful that when you had your home invaded aggie it was in the safe and didn't burn." Tam gently folded the cloth and put it back in its small casket.

"Amen to that," Agnes bowed her head before putting the case back in her bag. "Now to change the subject how much longer on my hair Aileen?"


“Relax – it’s going well…”




“Their Graces The Marquis and Marchioness of Ordford, Lady Angelica Fitzstuart, Viscount Millingham, and Lord David and Lord William Fitzstuart.”


“Looking good in the tartan,” Guy said as he shook Will’s hand.


“Well, it’s necessary for what comes later,” Will said as he greeted Valeria.


“Lord Charles and Lady Olivia Treherran, Lady Fiona Treherran, and Lord Michael Treherran.”


“Best behaviour, O brother of mine,” Fi said as Mick smiled at Nell, standing with her family.


“Always, dear sister, always…”



Slowly the room filled up, the ladies in their silk gowns, the men in their dinner suits or other formal attire.


“Lord Archibald, Lady Victoria and Lady Samantha Gordon.”


“Excellent – I see we are all correctly attired,” Charlie said as he walked over to join Will and the boys.


“Sir John Hammond and Miss Shirley Xavier.”


Abby smiled as Shirley came in, the wrap matching her royal blue off the shoulder dress, and John in the full kilt.


“I do not understand why you have to wear that,” Catherine Fitzstuart said as they waited in line.  She was wearing a pearl silk evening gown, while Donald was in the family tartan.


“I was asked to – and it is important to honour your host in these things.  It’s called diplomacy, Catherine.”


“Mister Grant, Mrs April and Miss Nicola Broadhurst.”


“What on earth is that you are wearing,” Pepsi said as she saw Jack in his kilt.


“The family tartan – you’ll see why in a little while,” Jack said as Charles read out “Lord Donald and Lady Catherine Fitzstuart.”


“Good – I think everyone is nearly here,” John said quietly as he saw Harry accompany the Morse family in.  “Now we need the guest of honour…”



“Apologies for the interruption, Shirley,” Lily said as they stood to the side, “the report from the girls.”


As Shirley glanced down, she looked up and around the room, and then said “thank you Lily – we can do nothing about it tonight unless events allow.  For now, keep this to yourself.”


“Of course…”




“Why on earth are we doing this together,” Agnes said as she, Tamsin and Catherine walked down the staircase, in their white blouses and long skirts, their hair in the same style.


“Moral support,” Tamsin said with a smile as they approached the doors, Charles smiling and bowing as they waited.


"The McAdam of McAdam...The Master of Ardray...Mrs Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt," Charles announced the entry.

"Oh dear God, almost everyone is here before us," Agnes whispered to her sister as they walked in.

"I think there might be a reason for that Aggie," Tam smiled as John led Will, Jack, Archie, Donald and Harry forward, all in full formal Scottish dress.

"Tam, what is going on?"

"Just go with the flow Aggie," Tam smiled again as she and Christine ceremonially stepped back a pace.

"Oh!..." Agnes turned round to see Sir John Hammond step forward.

"Tha mi a 'cur fàilte air na nigheanan dubh chridhe." John recited in Scots Gaelic.

"Oh Dear Lord," Agnes thought to herself and panicked...just for a second.  "Tha mi a 'cur fàilte mic Clann Chinaeda Meic Ailpín," she gave the ritual reply in a strong clear voice.

"Donald?" Agnes whispered as he presented all three women with small glasses.

"Uncle John?" she whispered as he filled each glass with whisky.

"You know the ceremony Agnes," he whispered back.

"God I hope I remember the words right," Agnes thought as she gulped.  Stepping forward she raised her glass in a salute.

"Airson an luchd-dìon na bratach dhubh." she gave the toast.

"Tha sinn a 'toirt urram do na neach-gleidhidh an bratach dhubh." Aggie heard Tam and Kit behind her, as well as the men return the toast.

"Alright now the hard bit," Agnes whispered to herself.  In one go she drank the entire glass of whisky.

"Gus urram do," she heard the reply as she turned to see Tam and Kit empty their glasses in one swig.

"Gus urram do." Donald and the men emptied theirs.

"Oh my!" Agnes shook her head as Donald collected the glasses, and everyone else hugged her and kissed her on the cheeks.

"John and I planned this darling." Tam whispered in her ear, "to welcome you home to your family."

"Oh Tam," tears started to flow from Agnes's eyes as from the side Catherine glared at her in anger.


“Is there something you need to tell me,” she heard Victoria say as she stood beside her.


“How dare they welcome her back into society,” Catherine growled.  “I will have…”


“You will do nothing,” Victoria said quietly, “and if you do, you will find out just how many friends she does have here.”  Turning so she was looking at her sister with her back to the others, she whispered “and if I find out you had anything to do with what happened to her, I will never forgive you, is that clear?”


Catherine looked at her sister and nodded as she looked on.


"That plaid is so dark," Juliette whispered to Fiona.

"Thaat it is Lassie, but black is their family colour," Fiona smiled as the ceremony unfolded. "In legend tha McAdam's first ancestor sprung from an egg hatched by an eagle called Dubh Chride, which in English means Black Heart."




“Come,” John said as he took Aggie’s hand, and led her onto the dance floor, others joining them as the band started to play an eightsome reel.


“Well done that girl,” Aileen said as she, John and Kit came over.  "So how did you manage it Kits?"

"What the responses Eve? Mummy taught them to me phonetically."

"No stupid,” Eve laughed, "I meant how did you drink all the whiskey down in one gulp?"

"With difficulty," Christine laughed as well, “but Mummy said I had to do it that way, so I steeled myself and just let it burn its way down."

"It was that strong?" Jo asked her Irish friend as she kissed her on the cheek.

"You might say so.  I see why they may like the taste, but still…"

"At least you didn't look like Billy, screwing his eyes tight as he drank." Aileen spoke.

"As you say Ails, at least I did it with a touch more style then he did."




"Why is our daughter squatting like that?" Carina looked concerned as she saw Judith talking to Jennifer, April and John Boyd watching on.

"No she's not doing anything like that." Annie laughed.

"Well at least that's good."

"No she's trying to explaining riding her pony to Jennifer."

"Okay now I see," Carina watched as Judith tried to mimic how she sat on the pony.

"Do I want to know?" Juliette looked at her granddaughter.

"She's explaining to Jen-Jen about riding Ju."

"Well,” Juliette said as she watched Judith jump about, “as long as that is all she is doing Annie."

"And I've told her if she sits on the floor in her new dress to explain rowing and gets it dirty then she is in deep trouble."

"And from me as well," Cari smiled contentedly at her daughter.

"So the plan is?"

"To let her enjoy herself till she's tired Mom, then I'll take her upstairs and one of the nurses will check on her regularly."


“Good plan…”







"So who is the young man dancing with Mary Dave?" Emma asked as she and Maddie circulated, sipping champagne from their glasses.

"Well according to my son...who asked...his name is Richard Mest, he's from Vienna, he's a stamp dealer, and his grandmother is the cousin of Countess Valeria our hostess."

"He looks a nice young man," Maddie smiled.

"I'll tell you after I've met him," Dave grinned.

"And what makes you think you'll meet him Dave?"

"Because the band has played four songs, and my Mary has danced to three of them with him."

"She has?" Maddie put her glasses on to look closer, "Has Mary even danced three dances at something like this before...let alone with the same man?"

"Just my thoughts Maddie, as i said I get the feeling this guy Mary will introduce me to." Dave laughed. "Now in the meantime can I beg a dance from your wife?"

"You can Sir," Emma smiled broadly as she gave Maddie her drink to hold, and they went onto the dance floor, Emma’s blue robe slowing as they turned.



"Alright Mother how did you work it out?" Sandy asked as they watched Mary dance with Richard.

"As I always do - by observation and calculation darling," Nessa smiled.

"Yes but we still have no proof." Heather pointed out.

"Darlings we all know and love Mary," Mandy laughed lightly, "have you ever seen her acting like this?"

"That was the point I was making," Juliette looked very happy, "I think our Mary has finally found a man she likes as much as he likes her."

"It's overdue," Carina laughed as she and Annie came back from dancing with her father and Dieter.

"I think everyone who knows Mary is probably VERY happy right at this moment." Abby came back from dancing with the Minister.

"All I know is that my daughter is going to have to pay up," Nessa held her hand out...palm up.





"So did you bring your kilt just to honour the strumpet Donald?" Catherine glared at her husband.

"No,” Donald said quietly, “I brought this because my dinner suit is at the dry-cleaners after you deposited that red wine over it Catherine, and this was the only appropriate outfit I had.  So sorry – it was a coincidence, nothing more."


“You still did not have to do that.”


“Yes I did, Catherine – it was necessary and right.  And I will thank you to remember we are guests here.”


"Who is that man with the scared face Donald," Catherine tried to change subjects.

"The Prince de Aucigny...you know the ex racing driver."

"Oh Henri Marais," Catherine nodded. "And the two blondes?"

"One I believe is his girlfriend, the other his daughter."

"And no one comments on why he has a girlfriend who looks as young as his daughter? Or asks why she ties herself to such an ugly...but rich and titled, man."

"Catherine dear Sister-in-Law," Archie Gordon spoke softly as he came alongside. "I know young Janine very well, and yes she is in love with an 'ugly' man as you can put it, but she can also see behind the scars at the wonderful man Henri is. Everyone tells me she has made him VERY happy."

"She still looks like a gold digger to me."

"Maybe another thing you might be better not saying aloud darling." Donald whispered.





"I never asked - how the ColCol shoots went Trina?" Brig Karonsky asked her friend as they stood by the side, Brigitte in a figure hugging black dress and Trina in a sea green mermaid dress.

"Do you mean how did I like them? how my sorority sisters liked them? or how they liked them?"

"All three I guess."

"Well,” Trina said, “speaking as a model I truly enjoyed the shoots, and the pictures they are using are great."

"I know I've seen them."

"They liked them well enough that I'm probably going to sign a contract with them in the morning.  Missy says I really must do it"

"Like how big a contract?"

"Well it's not in Mary's league, but it's one point two million over three years.'

"As you say not in Mary's league but still a very nice retainer."

"My problems lie in the fact that pictures of me in blue and yellow, on the Cal campus have truly offended my sorority sisters...I have to wear a Stanford beanie all the time for the first month of the new semester."

"Well it could be worse," Brig laughed as she snagged glasses of champagne for both she and Trina from a passing waiter.  “I’ve been asked to consider a marketing campaign for a swimsuit range in Europe.”


“And the shoot?”


“In Kiev – cold…”






"You look harassed Marina?" Helen said as she took her some food.

"Do I...”  Marina smiled as she said “Sorry, I don't mean to look troubled."

"What is the problem Mongoose?" Helen whispered.

"Oh it's not that sort of problem, it's more than anything a question of time management."

"Meaning what?"

"That I need to talk to Shanghai, Moscow, and New York in the next few hours...enjoy this party, and still get some sleep."

"Ah now I understand," Helen smiled, "Marina there will be times when you need to completely separate the duties that you face. The job you are taking on with Anna is not an easy one, as you are already seeing you are going to have to adapt to dealing with several time zones at once, and that's not easy."

"And your advice Honoured Sensei?"

"Take a deep breath, calm down, enjoy yourself, and just set the alarm on your watch for when you need to make the calls. I trained you not only physically well Mongoose, but I also hope mentally...Keep your self-discipline high for work, but for now just relax and enjoy yourself...and I'm sure everyone else will tell you just the same you know."

"Alright I'll try," Marina smiled.


“Marina,” Winston said, “may I have this dance?”


“With pleasure,” she said as she walked to the floor, Helen smiling.



"So do you speak any Gaelic Charles, or is that a silly question of an Englishman?"

"Actually Grace,” Charlie said, “I do speak a few words, but not Welsh, Erse or Scots Gaelic..."

"No he speaks a little Cornish," Olivia smiled proudly.

"He's made me learn a little as well," Mick smiled equally.

"There may no longer be anyone left who speaks it as a first language, but it’s an important part of our Cornish heritage."

"Well in that I can totally agree," Grace sipped from her glass.





"Well Samantha darling that is quite a dress," Mandy looked at the strapless black evening dress the Londoner was wearing.

"A gift from my daughter...can you just tell me though Mandy 'ow I wear these?" she indicated the long black gloves she was carrying. "I aint ever worn anyfing like these in me life."

"Come over here and I'll help you put them on," Mandy indicated a quiet corner of the hall as they both walked over.

"So how's business Gio?" Adam asked as they watched the scene.

"Not so bad mate," the Londoner said, “and 'avin' Kerry in me life is a major plus."

"She looks like she's having fun." Adam smiled, "and just like her cousin she will be getting so many jealous looks for that dress."

"It was a gift from Kyles," Gio laughed softly, "by way of a fank you for supportin' Sami durin' 'er re'ab.  She designed ‘em both specially."

"And would you two fine gentlemen be chatting about me?" Kerry said as she walked over carrying a tray with some food on.

"We were Kerry luv...if you don'r remember 'im this is Adam Cabot...one of me competitors."

"I fink we was introduced at Shirley's New Year’s party," Kerry let him kiss her on the cheek, “you go out wiv one of the Fursten'eim girls?"

"That I do Kerry."


“Did I ‘ear they had twins now as well?”


“They do indeed,” Adam said, “Rudi and Mags are in the nursery upstairs.”




"And who might those three beautiful young women be who just came in Lord Donald?'" the Minister asked as he put his glasses back on.

"Well Penelope is a very good friend of Abigail's I'm told, whilst the other two are girls she used to share a house with when they were younger. and who she invited because they are also close friends of Agnes."

"Ah - they are moral support as you say?"

"Indeed, but Susan though has run into a slightly nasty event since she came here?"


"Yes, our man from Conservative Party Central Office, is her ex-husband."

"You mean she was married to Mr Gresham-Fox?"

"Yes she was Colin's wife."

"Is that perhaps who she looks for?" The Minister pointed out Sue's eyes scanning the room.




“There he is,” Sue said quietly as she saw Colin talking to Charlotte.


“And what are you going to do?”


“Watch,” Sue said as she walked over and took Colin by the hand.  Walking him onto the dance floor, she waited for the band to play a tango before she started to dance.


“What the hell Susan…”


“Shut up and dance – you remember how to dance, don’t you?”


“Yes but…”


“I am woman,” Sue said as she dipped Colin, “here me roar…”





"Aunt Tasha,” Abigail said as she walked over to where Willy and Natasha were standing, “thank you so much for the present."

"It's our pleasure Abby," Natasha kissed her on the cheek.

"So you've been busy all day?"

"Yes, but it’s been a wonderful chance to impress the Minister and his top aides with what I can do."

"So maybe a promotion?"

"Who knows Abby darling, but at least I hope something complimentary in my file."

"They will owe you at least that my love," Willy kissed his wife.

"I've tried to be as efficient in my duties as I can."

"Whist still looking stunningly beautiful," Guy kissed his daughter-in-law.  “Willy, have you seen your brothers?”


“Alain is taking a turn with Caroline’s assistant, Sharon, and Roger is dancing with Marie.”


“Ah – then I must attend to Yvette…”




Paula and Olivia walked into the rest room with Grace to find Aggie standing there, crying quietly as she looked at herself.




“Oh – sorry Paula, didn’t see you there,” Agnes said as she looked round.


"Why the tears Aggie?"

"Because Paula, this is like a wonderful dream, but on Monday morning I revert back to being Agnes the ex-con, and go back to my real life."

"Can I ask why you go back Aggie?"

"Because Olivia most people in this world do not have this much of a forgiving nature," Aggie wiped her eyes. "I fully expect an unannounced visit from dear Sergeant Bennett, I will probably read a lot of negative news in the newspapers about myself, and more to the point I know I will have more children who have fetched up on my doorstep and need Lady D'eath's help."

“I understand that – but surely none of us are going to tell the press you are here,” Olivia said as she put her arm round Aggie’s shoulder.


"Why don't you come visit us in America Agnes," Grace extended an invitation.

"Former felon remember Grace...they'll never give me an entry visa, even if I am just a tourist."

"And you know that why?"

"Because Grace darling, I've been twice invited to go show the black flag to members of the McAdam Clan Association, and on both times they all but laughed as they returned my application."

"That sucks," Paula shook her head.

"It's a fact of my life," Agnes looked at the large mirror on the wall, "and I suppose I need repair my makeup so no one sees I've been crying...again."


“Well, at the very least you are coming over to Dublin – I insist.”


“And Cornwall as well,” Olivia said, “we are not losing touch again…”




"My dance I believe Master," John Gaunt bowed as the band started to play again.

"I believe it is your Lordship," Kit held her arms out as her boyfriend swept her onto the floor.

"Are you sure you aren't related darling?" Karen nudged her husband.

"As far as I know," Ken watched as John twirled Christine round the floor, "if for nothing else then no one in my family could ever dance that well."

"True," Karen smiled up at her husband, "but you must admit he's as long and thin as you dearest."

"Well almost," he grinned, "but I'll bet you every tall girl in the room has noticed that there is an even taller man who CAN dance."


“Two actually,” Karen said as she looked at Piet dancing with Charlotte, and House with Mary Clarke.


The couples laughed and talked as they danced round the floor, Valeria and Nessa beaming as they watched from the side.


"Well what do you think Letty?" Abigail stood next to her friend whilst Tony and Jason went for food.

"It's so magical Abs...Like a real fairytale."


“Well, you’re living the dream in that dress,” Abby said as she looked at her friend, in a light blue dress with elbow length sleeves.


“Yeah – your grandmother’s place is amazing…”

"I know...the original plan was that my party would be at Grechy, but it really had to here just because so many people can dance in this hall at once."


“And everyone is enjoying themselves…”






“I wonder why we can be so cruel to each other at times,” Rachel said as she stood with some of the sinners.


“We’re human,” Kelly said, “but at least some of the truly terrible things we hear about have not happened to us.”


"You don't think abuse goes on in even the most unsuspected places ladies and gentlemen?" Karen asked quietly.

"Does it?" Claire replied looking round.

"Well what if I told you that one of us standing right here was first raped by her father when she was just 13 years old."

"I'd say you were lying Karen darling," Kelly shook her head.

"Maybe I was, but maybe I'm not," Karen looked at faces. "What then if I tell you there are two women here who I know for a fact were sexually molested when they were still children?"

"You are just trying to make a point Karen, if there was we'd all know," Rachel said. "Most of us were at school together or we've been friends for a very long time...Secrets get out."

"Again maybe they do and maybe they don't." Karen smiled, "so just don't think because you all live such nice lives, that even among your closest of friends, abuse has happened - it isn't just a problem amongst the so-called lower classes."







Return to the Pussycat Gang index


Return to the main index