Back In Time - Part 5
Saturday 20th November
Sands and Holly’s apartment
As he sat on
the bed and rubbed the back of his head, Tommy looked round the room, before he
stood up and walked into the main part of the apartment. “Now where is the coffee kept?” Tommy asked
as he started to look in the cupboards of the well-appointed kitchen.
A good cup of
strong coffee was just what he needed after a night where he'd neither slept
well, nor really badly, a string of interesting, or should that be disturbing,
dreams, the proof he'd never achieved deep sleep state.
“There you are,”
he smiled as he found the Keurig pods and set the coffee maker going, and eased
himself onto a stool while he waited.
What had made the dreams so unusual was that they weren't really his dreams at all, subconsciously he had dreamed Krys's dreams somehow. Dreams of shopping in APCO, having a gossipy lunch with the ladies, and worst of all coping with having her period, weren't his normal thing. Something was screwy and Tommy couldn't decide whether that was bad...or good.
Slowly he poured himself a cup of coffee and tried putting the dreams out of his brain. As he sipped his beverage he looked round. This was actually quite an apartment. He wondered if anyone would mind if he explored it a bit?
Taking a sip, he walked round the front room, looking at the furniture and running a finger along the books on the shelf. “Lot of fashion books,” he said with a smile as he looked at the CD rack, “and whoever lives here had very similar tastes to Holly.”
Heading into the other bedroom, he opened the large wooden doors and entered the walk in wardrobe. “Very nice – very stylish,” he said as he looked at the dresses and clothes, “although a few sizes too small for me, I think…”
The Richmond Mansion
“Good morning,” Sands said as she stood in the doorway
“Did Holly make
it home safely last night sweetie?” Heather turned her head as she stood at the
stove cooking breakfast.
“Yes,” Sands stretched as she walked into the kitchen dressed just in an over-sized New York Rangers hockey sweater, “the Brewster's gave her a ride and saw her safely indoors.”
“Does she have a hangover?” Heather asked as she turned the bacon in the frying pan.
“She said her
head is throbbing.”
champagne will do that for you.”
“I know,” Sands
eased herself up on a bar stool. “Any chance of some coffee?”
“If you pour it
younger woman smiled as she reached for the coffee pot and a mug, “Where's Mom
by the way?”
Grandmother phoned, she took the call in her work room.”
“Did my brother
Heather said as she put a plate in front of her, “but I suspect Katy kept him
awake till late.”
“That was her
plan,” Sand's giggled.
though,” Heather said with a smile as she went back to her stove, “she was
sorry she missed the party, but she has a race today.”
understood that,” Sand's sipped her coffee, “did you see the skeleton Doc and
Bugs gave her?”
“I did. where
she is going to hang it without freaking out Denice I don't know.”
“In a cupboard
“SANDY, BREAKFAST!” Heather yelled.
As Sands and Heather looked to the door, Sandy came in – but one look told them something was wrong.
“Hmmm – oh nothing for you to worry about. Sands, your grandmother would like the two of us to call round this morning – unless you have other plans?”
“Nothing that can’t be changed,” Sands said as she looked at her mother.
“Good – we go in an hour.”
“I’ll get that,” Heather said as she headed into the hallway, while Sandy looked at her daughter.
“Something happened last night…”
“Are you okay
Krys?” Heather held the phone to one ear while she stirred her coffee.
Tommy's voice changed to that of Krys as he obviously clicked on the voice
“Did you sleep
want to talk about?”
“It can wait
till you get here...You are coming over still Heather?” the voice at the other
end sounded slightly worried.
“I am. Just
give me a chance to get some chores done quickly, and then I'll drive over.”
weekend is not going like I thought it would, and I need to talk.”
“Well my lover and Sands,” Heather said as she watched them walk quickly out of the door, “have gone over to see Nessa about something urgent, so how about we have a chat, and then I'll take you out to lunch.”
“Can I get away without wearing towering spiked heels?”
“Only if you want
to eat at BK, or the Golden Arches,” Heather laughed, “the place I had in mind
The von Furstenheim Apartment
“So was that
Missy?” Klaus asked as Juliette came back into the kitchen.
“It was,” she said as she sat down and let out a sigh, “she's still fretting about Krys Ernst and Mel Eckholm.”
“Why?” Klaus asked with obvious curiosity, “there are millions of beautiful girls in this world, why have these two in particular got under her skin?”
“I don't know if I can explain it,” Ju said, shaking her head as she poured herself a coffee. “There are certain girls who you only have to see for the briefest of times to know they have what it takes to be a success in the biz, and like Mary Thomas, Missy is damn good at spotting such talent.”
“As with Mary Clarke?”
Juliette took a sip, “she sees both Mel and Krys and exactly that same little
alarm bell goes off in her head.”
“So what is
Missy going to do about it?”
“I don't know, and to be honest I'm not sure I really want to. When Missy is like this you don't want to be in the way, she gets very single minded.”
“And we know what happens when Missy sets her mind to something,” Klaus said with a smile.
Mary Thomas’ Apartment
“It was good of you to let the family stay for the weekend, Aunt Mary,” Mel said as she sat down, “it means we can join them for breakfast.”
yourselves everyone,” Mary Thomas smiled as she looked round the kitchen table.
“Oh we will,”
Andy Eckholm reached for the cereal, “things like last night always seem to give
me an appetite.”
“That’s the good thing about parties – everyone gets to have fun and enjoy themselves,” Mary said with a smile.
“And it means
we don’t have to wonder about how we get food and wake up,” Denice said with a
“So what was the best thing about last night, Erica,” Eva asked with a grin.
“Dancing with Sir Tom – he’s a silver fox,” Erica said with a smile.
Mel asked softly, “is it true that Miss Auerbach thinks I can be a Norstar
“How did you
hear that?” Mary replied as calmly as she could.
“Poppy and some of the other girls were saying it at the party.” Mel took another drink from her mug, and then said “Is it true?”
“Let me say,” Mary said with a smile, “that it's something she has remarked about shall we.”
Eva looked bemused.
took a deep breath, “Missy sees heaps of potential in Mel, but we have all told
her to lay off while Melinda adjusts to her life as an Angel.”
“Is this a
joke?” Andy asked.
“No it isn't Andy.
Mel is a beautiful girl, and those eyes of hers are incredible.”
“But she's a
soccer player Mary?”
mean she has to be only that,” Denice smiled.
“A lot of top girls lead multi-faceted lives,” Mary looked at the Eckholm's, “but the consensus is that Mel could wait before being approached.”
“Well, I guess I do have to tell you something,” Mel said with a smile, “because it was done in secret – but there is another St Angela’s calendar this year.
“And I’m in one of the pictures.”
“What is that?” John asked as he looked at the crumpled piece of paper Shirley was looking at as she lingered at the breakfast table drinking coffee.
said with a smile as she spread the paper out.
“Oh just something I drew many long years ago back when I dreamt one day
of maybe becoming an architect.”
“This isn't bad
darling,” John looked closely, “how old were you when you drew this?”
Shirley sighed. “I used to do a lot of
drawings, this one for some reason I always kept.”
“You ought to work
on it you know,” John smiled, “maybe even get it built one day. It's not like
you can't afford it.”
Shirley looked at him as she said “you mean design and build my own house?”
“Why not? It would give you an interest outside of work, and as I said that sketch looks lovely.” John poured himself another cup, “do you own a suitable plot of land?”
“The house where I grew up near Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire burnt down,” Shirley shivered at the memory of that terrible night, “but I still own the land it stood on.”
“That isn't far
from Brocket Hall is it?”
“No, not far at
“Or where you
went to prep school?”
Lodge is also nearby.”
“How much land
“Just about six
“Well when we
get back to England see if you can get planning permission, and think seriously
about building this place.” John held up the drawing and smiled.
“Maybe.” Shirley smiled as Maisha came in. “Maisha, Kylie wishes to see us at Noon today – a dress fitting?”
“Of course, Mum,” Maisha said with a smile.
Sandy and Sands looked on the screen of Nessa’s phone, and then handed the phone back as Nessa sat in the armchair.
“Buffy McGeorge? How can you be sure?”
“Because she’s cocky enough to sign the e-mail,” Nessa said as she crossed her legs, the hems of her designer jeans rising up.
“Did you show it to Lowell,” Sandy asked as she leaned forward.
“No – he left before I woke up, and then I saw this.”
“Did you tell Heather anything darling?” Sandy said as she looked at her daughter.
“No I didn't Mom,” Sands said quietly, “you asked me not too and I honored your wishes.”
“I love Heather Sandy,” Nessa said quietly, “but this is my trouble, and I want just Richmond women to clear it up.”
“I am Alexandra darling. Why?”
“Because this is the second time Buffy has offended me,” Sands said quietly, “and this time we must do something.”
“The second time?”
Nessa looked at her daughter and granddaughter, before Sands said “earlier this year, she threatened to expose me and Holly unless Holly – helped her with something.”
“Do I want to know more?”
“No, you don’t,” Sands said quietly, “but yes, we do need to do something…”
Sands and Holly’s Apartment
“Come in,” Krys said as she opened the door to Heather, wearing a jumper and pants. “I’ll put the coffee on.”
“Sounds good,” Heather said as she went into the kitchen with her. “So how are you feeling?”
“How am I feeling?” Krys shook her head as she said “if I said I have no idea, would “that be dodging the question?”
“Sounds like it would be honest,” Heather said as she sat at the breakfast bar. She watched as Krys poured two mugs of coffee, before she said “start at the beginning – you said you didn’t have a good sleep?”
“More the dreams I had – well, the dreams Krys had. Even in my subconscious, I was her,” the blonde said as she took a sip from the mug. “It’s almost as if there’s another me that this has let loose.”
“A little disconcerting?”
“You think – Heather, this is going to sound like a loaded question, or more likely a stupid one, but…”
“No I can’t ask?”
“No, I don’t think you’re gay,” Heather said quietly, “but I think you are learning a few things, especially about walking that mile in someone else’s shoes.”
“Yeah – how do you manage that anyway?”
“Practise – how are your heels?”
“Don’t ask – Heather, I think I can understand a bit what Holly has been going through, having to keep a secret, but…”
“Oh I don’t know – I guess I’m seeing a lot from different angles. So – lunch?”
“Yeah – let’s get you ready for that…”
4 pm GMT
“It's a rare pleasure to see you down here on a Saturday afternoon Lady C,” Penny said as she opened the door to her home, to find Catriona Cuthbertson standing outside.
“Well you did invite me to drop in any time I was in the neighbourhood Penelope.”
“I thought you were up to your neck trying a fraud case?” Penny gestured for her visitor to come into the cottage.
“I am, and I
really should be going over what I'm saying in court next week.” Cat took a
breath, “However something has come up that is more important.”
“And what might
that be?” Penny lifted an eyebrow, “and while you tell me can I offer you a
coffee, tea, or a drink.”
“I'd like a
whiskey, but since I'm driving it had better be coffee.”
Penny headed to the kitchen, “while I'm making it tell me what persuaded you to
drive all this way?”
“In one word,
started the coffee maker, and said “Is something wrong with Madame?”
“Only insofar as she's re-evaluating her life and thinking about what might have happened if she hadn't been kidnapped. Juliette Furstenheim phoned me first thing this morning our time to tell me the kind of mood Shirley was in at a party last night, and I then took a chance and phoned Shirley myself.”
“Is she alright?” Penny looked concerned.
very quiet and reflective. I think she's thinking it's maybe time she tried to
do some of the things she'd dreamt of doing way back then, of broadening her
life out to include more than being just Madame X.”
“Hence why she
has adopted Maisha, and given me a lot more responsibility and control over the
“So what exactly is she thinking of?”
“Well – did she ever tell you what she would have studied if she had made it to Cambridge.”
“No – what?”
Penny looked at Cat for a moment, before she said “seriously?”
“Oh yes – well, she does have exquisite taste in offices…”
Sands and Holly’s Apartment
“That should do
nicely,” Heather stepped back and admired her handiwork. “I might not be in
Mary Thomas's league as a stylist, but I have learned a few things since I
moved to New York.”
For a couple of minutes Krys looked at the reflection in the mirror, she had to admit she looked wonderful in a chic, dressy, but relaxed style that was perfect for a Saturday lunch in Manhattan. From the black stiletto heeled pumps that peeped out under the white satin dress pants with their slightly flared leg, to the white cashmere turtle-necked sweater worn under the black silk jacket, her outfit looked perfect. Her hair hung loose to just blow her shoulders, and the designer sunglasses were the perfect accessory.
“I meant to ask,” she said as she looked at Heather, “whose apartment is this?”
“A friend’s”, Heather said as she opened the door, Krys following as they walked onto the sidewalk.
180 Ludlow Street
“Alright after dropping in on a couple of our girls working this morning I think we've earned a nice long lunch,” Missy said as she picked up the menu.
“Agreed,” Rhenia smiled.
“Do you get why
“I think so, it
gives us a chance to network with photographers, stylists, magazine and
Missy looked up, “we want people who might hire our talent to know who we are,
and that they can contact us if they want to book Norstar girls.”
talent side of things is your gig Missy, I'm just here to make sure the
business side of the operation runs smoothly.”
“It's still important though that potential customers know your face Rhenia.” Missy relaxed, “now can you see anything you fancy eating?”
“The Meuniere looks interesting…”
Krys told herself that she was never going to get used to being looked at like this. At first she had worried that it was because people could see it was a man under the wig and makeup, but now she could tell it was other women checking her out as competition, while men looked at her with looks of desire. It was so confusing, especially as she caught herself playing to her audience, putting an added wiggle in her walk, and smiling at people she caught glancing at her.
“Stop it,” Heather both hissed at Krys, and simultaneously giggled, “You are having far too much fun doing this, despite what you told me earlier while we chatted.”
normally don't get a second look from people, it's...”
“I know very
well what you are feeling Krys, it's just how I felt when I finally learned the
ins and outs of dressing well and presenting myself. Till Sandy, Juliette, and
Diana took me in hand I was pretty bad, they taught me so much.”
taught me a lot,” Krys stopped for a second to think. “Is this how women like
Carina and Holly think?”
“I guess so,
but in their cases I don't think either of them needed lessons, that natural
sexiness and the power they know it gives them, came naturally.”
“This way Miss Smith,” their server beckoned for them to follow. As they walked to the table, Heather said “We’ll look at the menu, and I’ll explain a few things.”
“Your menus,” the waiter said as they sat down, “to drink?”
“de Ros Chardonnay – the ’03 if you have it?”
“Excellent choice,” he said as he bowed and walked off.
“You sounded confident.”
“You have to,” Heather said as she looked at the menu.
“So – have you watched Holly eat, really watched her?”
“Yeah – she prefers salads, things like that, and she eats slowly. I could murder a steak, but not today, right?”
“Right – go for something you can eat slowly, savour,” she said as the server returned with the wine, opening it and pouring. Krys watched as Heather sipped from the glass, then nodded as both were filled. She perused the menu, then said “Share some crudité?”
Heather nodded, and said “the Banh Mi to follow.”
“Poulet Roti,” Krys said as she looked round, enjoying the atmosphere, the quiet conversation, and then whispering “shit…”
“Missy Auerbach at five o’clock – and she’s seen us…”
“That woman really does have it all,” Missy stared at Heather and Krys while they ordered their lunch. “I refuse to miss out on signing her.”
“Oh whom?” Rhenia asked.
blonde with Heather Smith over there.”
Rhenia turned her head slightly and looked over to the other table. “Mmmmm she is pretty special looking,” Rhenia paused for thought and wondered why this woman had triggered something in her brain?
“Presentation and confidence is so important,” Heather grinned as they ate their food, “and you are already pretty good at it Krys.”
Krys raised an eyebrow and said “I am?”
“Yes, why do you think Missy is hot on your trail, you project so well. I know enough models to know that you compare very well to them.'
“So she really
is interested in me as a model?”
“I think we are about to find out,” Heather said as she stood and kissed both Missy and Rhenia on the cheek.
“Heather – I didn’t think we would bump into each other. Hello again, Krys – my I introduce the NorStar comptroller and business manager, Rhenia Trapp.”
“It is a real pleasure to meet you,” Rhenia said as she looked at Krys, “Missy and I were just talking about the fact she had made you an offer?”
“And, as I said to Missy last night, I’m not really interested,” Krys said with a smile as Missy’s phone went off.
“I need to take this – I’ll see you in a minute,” Missy said as she walked off, Rhenia shaking her head as she said “well, I can see what Missy sees in you, and one other thing.”
“And that is?”
“Heather, whoever this is good – damn good. Something I don’t want to know about?”
“How did you…”
Rhenia smiled as she said “I hope to get to meet you another time – I’ll tell you then” before she returned to her table.
“Oh my god,” Krys said quietly as she sat down, “how… I thought…”
“You are,” Heather said quietly, “but – well, I know Rhenia’s sister.”
“Now – her brother originally. He transitioned a few months ago, but it meant Rhenia is – well, attuned to people like you. Don’t worry – she is a very rare breed…”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh yes – trust me, I can read people extremely well…”
The von Furstenheim Apartment
“So where is Heather?” Carina asked as she looked out from Juliette’s screen, Judith playing in the background.
“She's taken her friend Krys to lunch at Dirty French.”
“Since when can a nanny afford to eat at places like that?” Carina laughed.
“Cari darling you know that Heather's status is purely nominal...and I know you have a pretty good idea what she has in her bank account.”
“I could make a
“Anyway,” Juliette said, “to return to Shirley's party weekend, Heather as I said is doing the detailed planning of how to get everybody there.”
“And thanks to Gus van Roon owning a jet charter company amongst all his other holdings, it's not going to cost us a fortune.”
“So who is working on the final guest list and invitations?”
“Maddie and myself. Klaus is more than happy to look after Judith for the weekend…”
Merlin's Cave, Complete Style Magazine
“So any news from Heather about how Krys is doing Merlin?” Kylie asked as they waited while Shirley and Maisha changed.
“Only that after a disturbed night’s sleep, and a long chat while they made Krys look presentable they were going to have lunch at Dirty French.”
“That's a nice place to eat,” Kylie smiled, “Alice and Duncan took me and Marina there.”
“It's the sort of place where Krys can see and be seen.”
“Yes her education proceeds darling.”
“Kylie you are a miracle worker,” Shirley's upper class English tones were heard from the dressing area.
wouldn't quite say that Shirley darling.”
Madame's smile brightened the whole room as she came out in the wedding dress.
“Mum you look amazing,” Maisha shook her head as she followed her out.
“As do you Maisha darling – so last minute adjustments…”
“So why the hell is young Buffy such a nasty piece of work?” Nessa asked quietly as they sat at the table, “I've known Sukie since she was a baby and I've always found her to be rather nice.”
“Sukie is Mom,” Sandy replied, “but Buffy is impulsive, greedy, tough, and rather ruthless going after just what she wants.”
“And she's not
always afraid about hurting, or using, people to get what she wants,” Sands
“It's time then
that maybe she was taught a few lessons then.”
“I agree Mom, but the question is how?”
Nessa looked at both of them, before she said “Is there something either of you wish to tell me?”
“No Mom – just that we may both be thinking of something illegal,” Sandy said with a smile.
“Don’t rule that out just yet – I do have one thought. Would it be possible to ask Nell Rochermann for some help?”
“Well it sounds
like the dress fitting went perfectly darling,” John said as he brought in
“It did,” Shirley sighed, “Kylie is making one of my dreams come true.”
“Mum and I were also talking about her house idea,” Maisha smiled.
daughter has just one request,” Shirley laughed.
“And that is
that you build her a tennis court?” John broke in.
“Am I that
predictable?” Maisha started to giggle.
“In a way
darling,” John looked at the black girl affectionately, “but it isn't exactly
hard to envisage you wanting to invite some of your friends for a weekend
“If you both tell me what you'd like I can include them in my plans,” Shirley sipped her coffee. “I presume some studio space for you darling?”
“Actually no,” John smiled, “if this is to be our retreat from London it would be nice we made it a no work zone.”
“Mmmmm,” Shirley said with a smile, “that sounds nice.”
“It applies to you as well Mom,” Maisha looked serious for a second, “you don't get to do business there either.”
“No excuses,” John laughed, “a complete sanctuary, all right?”
“All right,” Shirley said with a smile, even as she considered how to make it secure as well…
Sands and Holly’s Apartment
“So what do I wear to have dinner with my girlfriend, and her girlfriend Heather, all while I'm disguised as a woman myself?” Krys said as she looked in the wardrobe.
“You keep it simple, you keep it classic.”
Heather smiled as she held up a dress. “Every woman's best friend in her
closet, a little black dress.”
“Is this a
little too severe?” Krys held the dress up against herself.
perfect. Mary really did know what she was doing when she chose these bits for
your weekend wardrobe.”
“So I boost up
my makeup a little for night-time?”
learning,” Heather smiled again.
“I think I am,”
suddenly Krys looked serious. “I'm also thinking that I may not be able to just
put Krys away and forget about her come Monday.”
“I was starting
to wonder,” Heather sat down on the edge of the bed, “you do seem to have
discovered something inside yourself.”
“I guess I
have.” She turned round, putting the
dress on the bed, before she said “I also know that I want, no I need what
being Krys gives me to stay part of my life.”
raised an eyebrow.
“And I guess
I'm also starting to see something about Holly.” Krys took a deep breath. “She
needs Sands in her life, she needs her love, but she also needs to keep it
secret because most people wouldn't understand...”
Tommy?” Heather interrupted.
nodded and smiled a small smile, “I don't think he could understand that
sometimes our desires, loves, and choices, mean we have to keep secrets”
“So are you
going to come out to her as Krys?”
“Am I allowed
to say that I don't know?”
“Yes you are, and don't worry about Sands blowing this all up, I'll warn her not to tell Holly anything.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Welcome to my home, Krys,” Sandy said as she held the door open, allowing the blonde to come in on her four inch heels.
“Thank you, Miss Richmond…”
“Oh please, it’s Sandy,” she said as Krys removed her coat and hung it up. She was wearing a blue dress, and smiled as Heather came in, wearing a grey dress.
“Hey – come on in, we’re just having some drinks,” she said as she walked Krys into the main room. “I think you met Holly last night, and Sands, but this is her brother George.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” George said as he kissed her hand. “So you knew Heather at Yale?”
“Indeed – hello again Holly. How are you feeling tonight?”
“Better than I did last night, thanks,” the petite blonde said as she held Sands’ hand. Both girls were wearing black dresses as well, while George was in a suit, shirt and tie. “I hear you had an interesting encounter with Heather at lunch?”
“I was telling them about bumping into Missy and Rhenia at lunch?”
“Oh that – that was a surprise as well,” Krys said as she accepted a drink from George. “She must see something in me I do not see.”
“We all have hidden depths,” Sands said as she smiled – then saw the warning look in Heather’s eye. She then smiled and said “Well, shall we go in and eat?”
“I don't know
what she's seeing in me?” Krys sipped her wine as she walked into the dining
“I do,” Sandy smiled, “there is a young Dutch model called Romee Strijd who Abby knows and who has done the VS show the past couple of years. That perfect face and full lips of yours are very reminiscent.”
“I'll have to look her up on Google some time.”
“You'll see there is more than a little similarity Krys.”
“And you think
that is why Missy seems so keen on signing me?”
“I have to say
I envy you your height Krys,” Holly looked at her, “I've done some odd bits of modelling
but I'm too short really to make a career of it.”
doing so,” Sands spoke.
“I know but the difference is that she has always wanted to be a model just like her Mom whereas I'm just not that driven.”
“So what are
your ambitions Holly?” Heather asked as she served the food.
“Well not to be
either a doctor like my Dad, or to be like my Mom and mix charity work with
being a socialite.”
“So what then?”
Krys asked with genuine interest.
“I have to say
I’ve never heard you say want to do after college either,” Sands spoke quietly.
in fashion, but I don't see myself modelling or doing fashion journalism.
However the courses I'm doing in marketing at NYU do really interest me, and
I've been thinking about maybe trying to get a job in fashion retailing, then
maybe one day owning my own little store.”
“You do know
APCO offer a graduate training program?”
“Yes,” Holly smiled, “and I've thought that maybe when I'm a senior I might apply for a place.”
“I say go for it,” Krys smiled, while inside Tommy wondered why Holly had never told him any of this.
“Well, let’s eat…”
The von Furstenheim Apartment
“Sorry I should
have got you to sign these at the office Juliette,” Alexis looked tired as she
sat in her boss's kitchen, watching Juliette as she looked through the papers.
“Well I'm sure
these could have waited till Monday morning, so what really brought you to my
door on a Saturday night? No date or
“Yes… No… I think I needed to talk to someone...”
“Are you still not sleeping well, and having those 'Ripper' dreams?” Juliette interrupted slightly.
Nodding, Alexis whispered “yes.”
“Didn't talking to Carina help?”
“We didn't get to chat,” Alexis said as she held the mug, “she had to stay in New Haven for the weekend and she cancelled our Friday lunchtime chat.”
“Yes she decided that she had to work on a paper,” Ju nodded.
“I don't know what's happening to me, boss,” Alexis said as she looked over the breakfast bar. “I'm beginning to let this effect my work. I'm starting to get afraid you are going to fire me.”
“Well don't worry about that...”
“You know what is worrying more,” Alexis spoke over her boss, “it's no longer just Carina's face I'm seeing, it's other women...including your friend Mrs Callaghan. Why am I having these dreams?”
Juliette looked at her, before she said “I think you do need to talk to Carina, and a couple of others. Gale is coming next weekend as well – and so are you…”
The Richmond Mansion
“Well I personally think that both Heather and I experienced something that none of you did,” Krys smiled as they sat round the table, “I'm willing to bet we are the only ones who ever got labelled as nerds and saw themselves as outsiders when compared to the 'cool' kids.”
“I think even at Yale we were both pigeon-holed as 'Plain Jane's',” Heather nodded her support as she sipped her wine.
“Oh come on,” Holly rolled her eyes, “just look at you both, you are both gorgeous.”
“In my case
only because Sandy and her friends took me in hand and did a makeover,” Heather
said with a smile.
“While in my
case I put myself in the hands of a professional 'coach' who taught me to make
the most of myself,” Krys smiled, “I was sick and tired of the fact that I'd
gone through all those years studying, not getting invited to parties, etc. So
before I went to BU to do my masters I made a decision to make a complete
“Can I say it
has paid off incredibly,” Sandy spoke, “I can see just what about you has Missy
Auerbach in a tizz.”
“That amazes me,” Krys blushed.
“So what are
your grades like this year Holly?”
believe that they are a lot better,” Holly cut her food, “I'm actually
maintaining an A minus average so far this semester.”
“Good for you.”
“It helps that
Heather has been tutoring me for the computing class I have to do, but because
I'm now a junior and I have most of the required stuff out of the way I'm
largely doing electives that I enjoy doing.”
grades are reflecting that?” Sandy asked.
“I think so.”
Krys,” Holly for a second laughed, “I'm not sure my parents don't think I'm
cheating, they've always rather stereotyped me as a dumb blonde.”
strike me as dumb.”
“I think my problem has always been motivating myself in subjects I don't really enjoy.”
“I was the same,” Sandy smiled as she took a sip of wine. “At Smith my grades in my core courses were always higher than in the ones I was forced to take.”
“You have to keep that overall average up though,” Heather spoke, “it's why Jo fights so hard with math even though she hates it.”
your sister, how did her race go today that you mentioned?” Krys asked Heather.
“Not badly, she didn't win individually, but William Smith did when the team race.”
“Well, that’s good news. I'm dying to ask Holly some things about her and Tommy, and Sands,” Krys whispered in Heather's ear, “is it safe to do so while George is in the room?”
“Wait till after we have finished eating, he will probably go ring Katy, raise the topic then.”
“Alright I can wait.”
“So tell us
about your boyfriend Krys?” Sandy asked.
someone I met in Boston. He just
finished his masters last semester and is starting on his doctorate.”
“He's a botanist,” Krys replied, while inside Tommy remembered the guy who he was using as a template for a boyfriend, and wondering if he'd be flattered, or displeased, at being talked about like this.
“He sounds nice,” Heather smiled.
wonderful,” Krys let out a little sigh.
“There is a
problem with him?” Sands asked.
“Oh only that
he is dedicated to his studies and that there are nights when I want to be
taken out and he says he has to work.”
“Oh I know that feeling,” Holly rolled her eyes.
“Yeah – my boyfriend, Tommy, he gets so into his studies he develops a tunnel vision, and there have been times when I was the one who lost out…”
As Judith lay on the seat, sleeping, Cari looked at her mother explaining what had happened.
“So?” Juliette stared at the screen after she finished telling her daughter what Alexis had said. She could see the concern on Carina’s face as she sat back.
“If she's seeing Gale's face,” Carina finally said, “then I'm willing to bet that the other faces she's seeing are other 'daughters'.”
“You think so?”
“I'd bet on it,” Carina said as she leaned forward, “and I'm prepared to go further and say that she is seeing faces of women even I don't know about.”
Juliette sat for a moment, before she slowly said “Meaning what Cari?”
“That she's tapping into that invisible connection that somehow seems to bind us all together. I've never told you this Mom,” Cari said quietly, “but occasionally I can sense they are out there myself.”
talked to Natalya about it?”
“Not really,” her daughter said quietly, “but I guess with what is happening I must.”
“I agree,” Juliette paused for thought. “Alexis thinks she's going insane.”
“To most people
she would probably sound that way, but when you know just what many of us are
capable of, then actually she's pretty normal in comparison.”
“So what needs
to be done darling?”
“I wish I knew
Mom. I like Alexis, but the last thing I want is her talking to outsiders about
this and then someone investigating.”
Mom, it would be like killing part of myself, but things continue going as they
are and I may have no choice.”
situation never arisen before?”
“How the hell would I know Mom?” Cari said as she threw her hands in the air. “It's not like there is a book recording this aspect of family history.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Call Aunt Natalya – and in the meantime, Mom, get Alexis on that plane on Thursday.”
“Okay then,” Juliette said, “call me when you’ve talked to her.”
As the screen went blank, Carina went to the couch and picked Judith up, kissing her on the head before she carried her to her bed. Coming back in, she made some fresh coffee, and then placed a new call.
“Carina – this is an unexpected pleasure?”
“My apologies for the late hour, Aunt Natalya – did I wake you up?”
“No, I was taking care of some business,” the German noblewoman said. “Let me guess - you are calling to talk about that assistant of your mother Carina?”
“How did you guess Aunt?” Carina asked as she sipped her coffee.
“I could sense it,” the German lady smiled, “so I take it the situation has developed?”
“You can say
that. Alexis is now seeing a variety of faces as belonging to the Ripper,
including our 'Cousin'.”
Natalya looked at the screen, before she said slowly “Is she now?”
“Yes and I get the impression from what Mom told me, she's seeing faces of women I'm unaware of.”
“That would be logical.”
“I've never asked Aunt,” Carina said, “but when our Cousin first made her presence known you said that if it had been happening in Europe that you might have known who was responsible. Are there others that you know and who you've never told me about?”
“There are... Our cousin in Paris for example – you did not
meet before we dealt with Bretz, remember?”
“And you never
told me who they are?” Carina interrupted.
safer for us all that as few people as possible know.” Natalya took a deep
breath, “and it's safer for us all that we don't know who each other is.”
“When we first
met in Vienna I could sense it in you Aunt, have you sensed it in others?”
“Carina I'm not going to answer these questions,” Natalya said quietly, slowly, as her voice took on a dangerous edge. “It is neither appropriate or safe to do so. Do you understand?”
“There's no need to get angry Aunt,” for a second Cari was shocked at hearing her aunt speak that way.
“We need to concentrate on doing something for Alexis?” Natalya eventually said as she composed herself.
“Yes but what?”
“I will talk to someone I know, and yes she is a fellow daughter. I respect her opinions and she is more understanding of our collective psyche and history then I am. I will seek her guidance.”
“And in the meantime?”
“She is still coming this weekend? I will speak to my friend tomorrow – she is near to here. And pray, Carina – pray she is still ready by the weekend…”
Sunday 20th November
3.30 am CET
Natalya sat in the chair, her eyes closed for a moment, before she felt the phone vibrate in her hand. She looked at the screen, and then said “Mistress – it has been a long time.”
“It had indeed, Natalya – why do we need to talk on this occasion?”
“You are aware of the American branch of our family?”
“Your niece and the others? I have heard of them – is there an issue there?”
“A situation – we have a distant relative, who has somehow managed in her subconscious to access the network.”
There was a moment’s silence, before the voice said “A very unusual occurrence – is she aware?”
“No – there has been no blossoming, merely the feeling of one covered in shadow. May I ask – has this happened before?”
“It has – join me for coffee tomorrow at my favourite café. We will talk then.”