Birthday Girl – Part 1
Friday 8th May
FBI Field Office, New York
“Do those two actually do this deliberately?” Tom Callaghan asked as Janice Carter and Jeanne Marais came back from lunch in their designer suits with short skirts, and expensive Italian stilettos on their feet.
“I don’t know.” Adam Bell smiled as they went to their desks, “but it’s funny the number of guys who gather in here to just watch them walk.”
“Anyway back to business.” Tom Callaghan shook his head as the crowd in the office dispersed. “Langley is not best pleased that we have found evidence that money from the last Pussycat job is being used to fund covert operations in Africa.”
“Tell me are they displeased because it’s not true? Or displeased because we’ve found out?”
“That I can’t say.” Tom shook his head before saying “but I’m willing to bet we will be getting visitors asking questions.”
“Well the deeper we dig, the more Jeanne’s theories regarding the existence still of that coalition of the willing that formed round the slavery thing is still operational.”
“You don’t have to convince me Adam, I thought she was crazy at first, but the evidence is piling up.”
Adam leaned back and watched as Jan and Jeanne talked to each other, laughing before they got back to work.
“Switching back to our two lovely colleagues,” Tom said, “do they ever say what they talk about on these long Friday lunches with the cream of society?”
“No…and I never ask.” Adam smiled again. “I’m not sure I want to know about the gossip they share.”
“Are you all set for Shirley’s birthday party tomorrow?”
“Yeah, my tuxedo’s laundered, shoes shined…and you?”
“Gale’s had me ready since Tuesday.” Tom laughed lightly.
“He’s here.” Adam gestured as Rupert Brooks the CIA liaison officer entered the squad room. “Do you want me and the girls to sit in on this?”
“Not yet – I’ll call you in if I need you,” Tom said as he stood up. “Rupert – good to see you again.”
“You too Tom,” Rupert said as they shook hands. “Adam.”
“Director Brooks,” Adam said as he shook his hand. “If you don’t need me, I’ll…”
“No – I want you and your colleagues in on this discussion,” Brooks said as he sat down.
“Jan, Jeanne,” Tom called out, “get in here please.”
The two women looked at each other before they walked in, Jeanne closing the door behind herself.
“Before I forget, Jeanne, this is Rupert Brooks, our CIA liaison. Rupert, Inspector Jeanne Marais is our new Interpol liaison officer. She’s currently monitoring to see if any of the stolen artwork from the Carlton Building has surfaced.”
“Any joy, Jeanne?”
“No – and we discovered on Monday the apartment on the third floor that was raided as well.”
“So what brings you to see us today, Rupert,” Janine said as she sat down, crossing her legs.
“The word is you suspect some of the money stolen in Philly may have made it’s way to certain groups in Africa.”
“It’s a suspicion,” Jan said, “based in some reports we’re hearing on the wire. Groups fighting to liberate women and children in Africa – there was that report of a group of women killing a mine owner on the Mazengwe border a couple of months ago. Given their known involvement in the Kimba affair, we were speculating if they were somehow funding these groups.”
“Unless, of course, you know any other sources of income for such groups we may not be aware of,” Adam said as he looked at Rupert. The CIA man brushed some lint from his grey suit, and then sat forward.
“The problem I have.” Rupert spoke gravely, “Is that we are seeing some of the same intelligence chatter that you guys have found.” For a moment he paused. “This is not official and it’s completely off the record, but I personally think you are exactly right in this.”
“So robbery and murder is being used by these people to raise funds for the causes they support?” Tom asked.
“I told you that it was ages ago.” Jeanne threw her hands up in the air.
“Well I apologise for not believing it.” Tom shook his head.
“So what do we do?” asked Jan.
“You guys investigate it as a straight criminal matter.” Rupert looked at her. “In the meantime the agency and some of its counterparts will be digging internally trying to find out who we can and can’t trust.”
“Got it,” Tom said, “we’ll set up some regular meetings to liaise.”
“I ask no more than that,” Rupert said as he stood up. “Now, I need to get going – people to see, places to be…”
Lily looked up from her seat in the den as the telephone rang. Shirley reached over, picked up the receiver and said “Miss Xavier here.
“Ah excellent – I am expecting them. Ask Miss Kirk and Miss Gordon to come straight up please.”
“Along with Charlotte,” Shirley said as she put the telephone down. “Would you let them in please, Lily, and bring them straight in here?”
“Of course,” Lily said as she put her paperwork down, and stood up, smoothing her skirt down before she went to the front door. She waited for a moment, and then opened it, beaming as the small redhead and the taller dark haired woman walked down the corridor.
“Welcome to New York, both of you,” Lily said as she hugged and kissed both of them, the dark haired woman slightly startled by her forward manner. “How was your flight?”
“Very good indeed,” Charlotte said as she took her coat off. “How are things here?”
“I can’t complain, especially after the visit to Philly a couple of weeks ago,” Lily said with a smile. “Come on through – Shirley’s in her den.”
“Her den? This I have to see,” the other woman said as they walked through, Shirley coming round the desk and embracing them both as they came in.
“Welcome back Charlotte – and Sandy, it is so good to see you here at last.”
Sandy Kirk looked at the auburn haired woman, in her cashmere sweater and slacks, and slowly shook her head. “Now I see you here, I can finally believe it,” she finally said, “Maddie wasn’t exaggerating.”
“Now why on earth would I do that?”
Sandy turned and saw Maddie standing in the doorway, wearing black leather trousers and a waistcoat over a black sweater. She came in and hugged Sandy, before saying “you haven’t met Emma have you? Emma, this is Sandy Kirk, an old friend of Shirley and I. Sandy, this is Emma Cromwell, my partner and soon to be wife.”
“A great pleasure to meet you at last,” Sandy said as she hugged Emma. “Good lord, when was the last time the three of us were in the same room at the same time?”
“More years ago than I care to remember – but I’m so glad you could come over for a few days,” Shirley said with a smile. “The three of us are going out to dinner tonight – no excuses.”
“So where’s Penny?”
“Minding the office – she’ll be around later.”
“Maisha has gone to meet Ama and the girls at the Richmond place – you, me and Penny are going round to Caroline’s place for dinner,” Lily said as she hugged Charlotte again.
“I’ll look forward to that – but I would murder for coffee. Any chance of some?”
“Come on – we’ll put a pot on and let these three gossip for a while,” Lily said as she took Charlotte by the arm.
West Central Park
“Well ladies I hear you have a big party to go to tomorrow night?” the receptionist at Susan’s hairdressers smiled as she showed Maeve and Rose back into the salon.
“My daughter’s bosses birthday party.” Rose looked round, still nervous in situations like this.
“Well, we need to make you look your absolute best, to impress the famous Miss Xavier, don’t we? Julio, this is Mrs. Walkers mother and aunt, ladies this is Julio who will be colouring and styling for you.”
“Hello ladies.” The Puerto Rican hairdresser flashed a big smile. “Welcome, welcome, welcome.”
“Thank you.” Maeve smiled.
“Now.” he said as he ran his hands through both women’s hair. “I can’t see this as being as problematical as Mrs. Walker said…you both have good condition in your hair, it’s just a case of brightening up your natural colours, and a chic new cut.”
“And that will be easy?”
“In my hands definitely.” Julio smiled reassuringly as he sat both women down.
“For you, my dear,” he said as he put his hands on Rose’s shoulders, “some blonde highlights, while for you, my dear lady, some subtle highlighting. Leave it all to me…”
FBI Field Office
“I think I found our two men from the Philadelphia robbery.” Jeanne spoke from the door to Tom’s office.
“Yes, two British men arrived the day before the robbery at Philadelphia airport, left the day after.”
“That’s great,” Tom started to stand up.
“Now do you want the bad news? Or the worse news?”
“I knew that sounded too good to be true.”
“Bogus identities, bogus passports, and the security cameras have mysteriously been wiped for their arrival and departure.”
“At both ends?”
“At both ends…what is worse, is that I ran the aliases past a friend at the Surete and those names are known aliases for a couple of freelance hit men known to have deep contacts inside British Intelligence.”
“And the British?”
“Are denying any knowledge, and certainly no complicity in all this.”
“Which of course they would.” Janice joined Jeanne in the doorway, smiling inwardly that Heather’s slight of hand tricks were working.
“Did you tell Rupert?”
“Adam’s breaking the bad news right now.”
“Okay well there’s little more we can do tonight, knocking off time.” Tom looked at his watch.
“Yeah we both need early nights.” Janice smiled at Jeanne.
“Long day at the track tomorrow?”
“Yeah, and then Shirley’s party.”
“Gale and I are looking forward to it.”
“So are we – it’s apparently the first time she and her two oldest friends have been in the same place for years.”
“Well how did Rupert take the news?” Tom asked as Adam approached.
“Not great, something unrepeatable in front of ladies.”
“You think we are ladies?” Jeanne laughed.
“Let’s just say he has something else to think about – knocking off time?”
“Yeah - I’ll see you all tomorrow night.”
“Wow- I almost wish I’d been able to make it, but I needed to meet with Piet in Cape Town with Maisha. She wanted to meet again with some of the girls who went there to get themselves together.”
Charlotte took a sip from her beer as she looked at Dominique and Annie, while Lily shook her head.
“I suspect you would have been shocked by some of the things that happened – and then I realize we are talking about you Charlotte.”
“How are you doing Lily?”
“I’m fine actually – Dom prepared me, and I know it had to be done. Plus, and forgive me for the cavalier attitude, but four million tax free in an off-shore account can do a lot to sooth the nerves.”
“So what did you get the boss for a birthday present?”
“What do you get the woman who literally has everything? A tough one, but I managed to find something – one of the Fitzstuart jumpers in her size.”
“Nice, Dom,” Lily said. “Uncle George and I clubbed together for something, and you should see what Penny found.”
“Well, it can wait until tomorrow,” Charlotte said. “Tonight I feel like kicking back,”
The girls looked round as the bedroom door opened and Ama came out, walking to the kitchen and taking out two bottles of soft drink.
“Having fun in there, Ama?”
“Oh yes,” the young girl said, “Maisha is telling me all about this show she went to see in London. It is apparently called Avenue Q?”
Dom raised an eyebrow, and then said “We need to get tickets for Spamalot – she might as well complete the set of irreverent musical comedies.”
Upper West Side, Susan and Clint’s Apartment
Susan smiled and shook her head as Kylie explained over the secure link how she had spent the day at school yesterday debating the relative merits of D’Arcy and Wickham.
“You know as each day goes by your voice changes Kylie?” Susan looked at the screen.
“Well there’s an example - how not ‘ow.”
“I guess so, both Cathy and Helen speak so well, I guess I’m learning it by osmosis.”
“There’s another change, using words like osmosis in conversation.” Susan smiled.
“Well I’m learning so much…”
“You know you’re beginning to sound like Mandy.” Susan interrupted, “that same languid upper class drawl.”
“You know very well you do.” Marina sat down next to the younger girl. “She’s chosen Mandy as her voice model, she’s found bits of her talking on YouTube and she’s practicing imitating it.”
“I aint Rina.” For a second Kylie slipped back.
“Well it’s still good to hear BOTH accents Kylie.” Susan smiled once again. “Just resist the temptation to address everyone as darling as she does.”
“Well Marina is sounding like Catherine more and more.”
“I thought I was starting to hear those Oxbridge vowels.”
“Well I’m in the office so much, I try and speak well so I don’t let her down.” Marina looked at the screen.
“So are you getting on top of things?”
“Gradually, my keyboard skills are getting better, and I can hold very short and simple conversations with Helen and Cathy in Cantonese.”
“It sounds like you are both working hard…Are you working out with Helen?”
“Twice a day.” Kylie replied.
“That sounds good too…you know I can’t wait to see you both in 6 weeks time.”
“We can’t wait either.” Marina answered. “We both have so much to show you and tell you.”
“So have I – April is getting bigger every day, and then there’s mum and Aunt Maeve.”
“Oh lord – don’t tell me they will be there as well?”
“No – not when you come back, but we have the christening fixed for the second weekend in July now, and they will both come back out for that.”
“I wonder if they will recognize us?”
“Actually, I wonder if you will recognize her.” Susan looked through the door to where Rose and Maeve were sitting, with their new hair styles.
The Palm Restaurant, 2nd Avenue
“Oh dear lord – I hope you paid that poor man extra for the flight time?”
“Naturally,” Shirley said with a smile, “and I assure you, both John and I were eternally grateful.”
Sandy laughed again as she sat back, and sipped her wine. “This has to be the strangest weekend I have spent in a long time – and I have to say, even though it’s only been six hours, I’m enjoying every second of it. Where have you put her?”
“She’s still here – I just have a more relaxed attitude to life now. Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to the woman who was really responsible for starting the transformation.”
“The redoubtable Miss Huntingdown?” Sandy smiled as Shirley raised an eyebrow. “You forget I work for the BA, and Dom is in regular touch with me.”
“Of course she is,” Shirley said with a smile. “I never really thanked you for the information you sent about my great grandmother as well.”
“The reports from the Jayes archives? Well, I’m glad they were of use, but what exactly happened that weekend?”
“A great deal, most of which I cannot tell you about here,” Shirley said with a smile as she stood up. “If you two will excuse me for a moment?”
The two friends watched as Shirley walked towards the restrooms.
“She seems so much more relaxed and at ease Maddie,” Sandy said as she looked over the table.
“I know,” Maddie replied as she looked round. “I found it amazing at first as well, but honestly Sandy I think she’s finally relishing life once again.”
“I know that apartment cost her a fortune, but it seems like a real home, coffee cups left out, newspapers laying half read, some honest to goodness clutter.”
“Yes it’s not absolute self discipline and precision anymore, she takes the time to potter in her garden, and of course she has John in her life now.”
“Talking of which – don’t tell her, but I have a very special guest coming to her party tomorrow.”
It was Maddie’s turn to raise an eyebrow, as she said “How did you manage that one?”
“Well, I needed someone to make sure my present to her made it here – and who better than a courier I trust implicitly?”
“I’m not sure if she is going to kill you or thank you for that.”
“Hark to the woman who is about to be happily married!”
Maddie laughed as Shirley came back. “What’s so funny,” she said as she sat down.
“I was just telling Sandy about the wedding plans – do you think Uptown Girl is a bit too passé for walking down the aisle to?”
“Depends – does Emma like the idea of being Billy Joel?”
The three women looked at each other, and burst out laughing.
Saturday 9th May
“Has it really been a year,” Bobbi Morse said as she sat at the table with Judy and Carina. All three girls were wearing polo shirts, jeans and short boots, as they looked round.
“Oh yes it has,” Judy said as she looked at the menu, “one hell of a year as well, agreed?”
“So how close did you come to flunking out Judy?” Bobbi asked.
“Contrary to my opinion before the academic year began, I was never close, good solid B average, I surprised even myself.” Judy looked proud of herself.
“Despite the distractions of being an international deb I still managed an A- average.” Carina nodded.
“David was a straight A average.” Judy continued. “What was your end of year grade Bobbi?”
“B+, Dad was a trifle disappointed, but I actually think it wasn’t bad.”
“Considering you were also on the campaign trail, and a debutante, I think he should have been very happy with that.” Carina glanced up as another myopic but stunningly beautiful girl joined them at their table. “Hey Holly.”
“Hey girls,” Holly squeezed her curves into a chair. “So what are you all chattering about?”
“School.” Bobbi replied, “comparing grades.”
“Well I think I shocked my whole family by getting a B average,” Holly smiled. “I’m sure my folks think I’m the stereotypical dumb blonde.”
“How did Tommy do?” Judy asked.
“Straight A’s as always.”
“Any word on the House?” asked Bobbi.
“Another guy averaging a straight A, and he flies in just after lunchtime according to what Jeannie told Abs.” Carina answered.
“So do you all know what you are going to wear tonight?” Holly switched the topic of conversation.
“I’ve got this black strapless number that I think will fit the bill,” Cari said as the waiter came over, and the girls placed their orders.
“Becca has finally persuaded Mom to let her wear the dress she got stopped from wearing for New Year – the black lace one – so I’m going for a red cocktail dress I picked up a month ago.”
“I hear Jo has something special picked for tonight as well,” Judy said as she looked over.
“Indeed – so we’ll just have to wait and see, plus she’s bringing Doctor Curt with her.”
“Yeah – I heard he got his PhD,” Holly said. “Do you know if she’s taking any of his classes next year?”
“Nope – according to Jo, he hasn’t been given any Freshman classes.”
“Good – last thing she needs is either of them falling foul of the rules,” Holly said as the waiter brought the drinks over. “Don’t worry Cari – I’ve got a white cocktail dress that will fit the bill, and not clash with yours.”
“So what about the holidays? Plans?”
“Well,” Cari said, “Annie and I are taking Judith to Munich and Vienna in June, to visit Dad and the family over there. We’re going to be based in Furstenheim for a few days as part of that trip.”
“Very nice,” Bobbi said, “I’d suggest a few places to visit, but I suspect you and Annie will find enough to do.”
“Oh I think we can,” Cari said with a broad grin.
“Did you see Jo in the magazine?”
“Oh yeah – word is she’s agreed to spend some time this summer as a model as well.”
“It helps with the college fund,” Cari said as the food arrived. “She’s also going with Abi to a few things over the summer, while Sandy and Heather visit Ab’s grandmother. The kids are going to Disneyworld with their Dad and Jennifer for two weeks.”
“All quiet in the Richmond home then?”
“You haven’t seen Vanessa Richmond recently, have you Holly?”
Holly looked at the others and shook her head as Cari laughed. “You’ll see tonight – just don’t say we didn’t warn you…”
Saks of 5th Avenue
“Are you sure about this Susan luv?” Maeve asked as she looked at herself in the mirror. “This dress is awfully expensive.” The black dress had a wide neckline, the lace sleeves just over the shoulders at the top, and came to just above Maeve’s knees. It had a small bow at the right side of her waist, gathering the material slightly there.
“I can’t have you and Mum looking like the poor relatives at Shirley’s party can I?” Susan looked at her Aunt, and then said “here – try these on with it,” handing her a pair of black high heeled mules.
“You’ve already bought us so many lovely things though?”
“You are both worth it…Oh dear lord!” Susan suddenly exclaimed as her mother emerged from the changing rooms.
“That bad Sooz?”
“No that great Mum, just take a look in the mirror.” Rose turned and looked at herself, the metallic silver material hugging her figure as it went from the neckline to her knees. It had an open slit at her left shoulder, with a brass clip above it over the material.
“Rose you look incredible,” her sister said as she hugged her.
“Do I Maeve?”
“You look like you did before…”
“Say it Maeve…the word is booze. I’m not afraid of it, it’s only a word.”
“Well yes…before the booze.”
“Mum I’ve never seen you look so beautiful.” Susan shook her head.
“Well I may not be a supermodel like Juliette,” Rose said as she smiled, “but I think I compare pretty well to Vanessa and Katherine.”
“In my eyes Mum you look far better.” Susan hugged her mum.
“Well let’s not go too over the top.” Rose twisted and turned to look at the dress from different angles. “Is it a little too tight?”
“No it fits perfectly.” Maeve smiled. “It’s just a pity we don’t ‘ave a coupla fellers who look as good to wear as accessories.”
“You’ll ‘ave to make do with Clint.” Susan laughed.
“All right, all right – who knows who else might be there,” Rose said. “What do I wear with these though?”
“Try these,” Susan said as she handed her mother a pair of high heeled sandals.
“Can you imagine what they will say on the estate if I turned up wearing this,” Rose said as she stood back up and looked at herself again in the mirror.
“Have you decided if you’re going back there,” Susan asked. There was genuine concern in her voice, her worries about returning there plain to both older women as they looked at her.
“No – No, I’m not going back,” Rose said, “I need to completely burn my bridges from that place. But I’m not going to Broxbourne either – Maeve has helped me find a little flat near her, and I move in when we get back.”
“Good – I’m glad,” Susan said as she hugged both of them. “We’ll take these dresses and the shoes,” she said to the assistant, who nodded as Maeve and Rose went back in to change.
The Brewster Townhouse
“Dad, can you give me a hand with these please,” Barbara said as she came into the front room, holding a string of pearls in her hand.
“Of course,” John said as he stood behind her, and fastened the clasp at the base of her neck, “and may I say how beautiful you look tonight Mrs. Brewster?”
“Flatterer,” Barbara said as she looked in the mirror, then down to where the electric blue dress sat just above her feet. “But I do look good, don’t I? Mind you, so do you.”
She turned and adjusted her father’s bow tie, enjoying the slight look of discomfort in his face. “Oh come on – how often have you worn a tux in the last few years?”
“Not that often, true,” he said as the telephone rang. “I’ll get it,” he said as he walked out and Barbara heard him say “Brewster Residence?
“Denise? How are you – I haven’t heard from you for a while.
“I’m not sure – let me just check with Babs.”
As John came back in, he saw Barbara looking at her. “It’s Denise,” he said quietly.
“I know who it is – what does she want?”
“She’s going to be in New York next week – she was wondering if she could come and see us one night?”
“I don’t know Dad – we’ve been out here nearly a year, and she only now decides to drop in?”
“I know, I know – but it’s long past time you two made up and put the past behind you.”
“Oh very well – I’m not going to let her spoil tonight for us.”
John nodded and went back out.
“Hello love – yeah that’s fine. Give us a call before you come round so that we can be ready.
“I’ll talk to you then – bye for now.”
As he put the phone down and went back into the room, the lift went up to the second floor.
“Thank you Barbara,” John said as he looked at his daughter, “at least she’s making the first step.”
“Well, how do I look?”
John and Barbara both looked at Jeannie, wearing a black strapless dress with a short skirt, her chest visible to all.
“Are you letting her go out dressed like that?” John asked Barbara.
“Dad,” Barbara laughed as she replied, “It’s only courtesy of the support built into the dress.”
“Granddad I’ve exposed far more on shoots.” Jeannie looked at her reflection in the mirror. “I do have to say though it does make my chubbies look impressive.”
“House should certainly notice them tonight.” Barbara said as she fixed her daughter’s hair.
“Does the poor boy have a chance?” John shook his head.
“He’s slow coming forward Dad.”
“He’s a gentleman.”
“Well I’m not a lady.” Jeans giggled, “And if a glimpse of my boobs finally gives him the idea, I’m not going to worry.”
“Hey,” Charlotte said as she came into the drawing room, wearing a red cocktail dress, “where’s the birthday girl?”
“Getting ready,” Lily said as she stood with her uncle George, wearing an off the shoulder pale pink sheath dress, while George was in his tux, grinning broadly. In one of the leather chairs Emma and Maddie were talking, both wearing matching black dresses with deep necks and split skirts, while Penny and Sandy were talking in another corner. Penny was wearing a sleeveless red dress that came to just above her knees, with a high collar and covering her back, while Sandy was wearing a grey long sleeved dress.
The doors to the balcony were open, allowing the spring warmth to come in and providing some extra room for the guests.
“So how do I look?”
The others turned at the sound of the deep voice to see Shirley standing there, wearing a black dress held up at her shoulders by golden clasps. The skirt flowed down to her feet, and she wore a set of pearls round her neck.
“I think she looks fantastic,” John Hammond said as he appeared behind her, “ but then I’m biased.”
“Yes, yes you are,” Maddie said as the telephone rang.
“I’ll get that,” Sandra said as she went out for a moment, returning with a big smile on her face.
“And what, pray tell, what was that about,” Shirley said as she looked at her old friend.
“Your present arriving,” Sandy said as there was a knock on the front door, and Maisha came in, wearing a blue strapless party dress.
“Shall I get that, Aunt Shirley,” she said as she looked to the door.
“No, Maisha – Shirley needs to answer the door herself,” Maddie said.
“I do? Just what is this present,” Shirley said as she walked to the front door, and opened it. Sitting outside the front door was a small marble statuette, in the shape of a woman dressed in a formal Victorian gown.
As Shirley picked it up, she saw the jewellery that the statuette was wearing.
“The Netterton Jewels,” she whispered, “but who…”
“Happy birthday Shirley.”
Madame suddenly looked up to see a tall, grey haired man standing there. He was broad shouldered, and impeccably dressed in a black dinner jacket, white shirt and tie, as well as the regulation trousers and shoes, but his smile was warm and real.
“Uncle John? What are you doing here?”
“Delivering your birthday present,” he said as he took Shirley by the shoulders and kissed her on both cheeks. “And besides, when Sandy asked me to come, how could I refuse?”
Shirley looked at him for a moment, before she said “where are my manners – come in, come in.”
As she walked into the drawing room, smiling broadly, she looked at Sandra and said “Thank you – for both my presents. I think you know most people in the room, Uncle John.”
“John? John Jacobs? Now there is someone I never thought I would see here,” Maddie said as she came over and hugged him. “It’s been far too long, you old reprobate – how have you been?”
“I keep well, Maddie – and it’s good to see you again,” John said as he looked round. “Well, I know you Sandra, and you Lily, and you as well Penny – but is that George over there?”
“It is,” George said as he shook the new arrival’s hand.
“It’s good to see you again,” John said as he looked to the couch, “and who is this vision of beauty?”
“Emma, my partner,” Maddie said. “Emma, this is John Jacobs, a very very old friend.”
“Charmed,” he said as he kissed Emma’s hand, and then turned. “Do I have the pleasure of finally meeting the man who has stolen your heart, Shirley?”
“John Hammond,” he said as the two men shook hands. “I’ve heard of you, but I didn’t know you were Shirley’s uncle.”
“Strictly in a family friend sense – and it is a pleasure to meet you as well.”
The doorbell ringing made Shirley stir. “Our first guests – enjoy yourself everyone,” she said as she went to the door.
Shirley waited as one of the helpers she had hired went to the door, letting in Susan, Clint, Rose and Maeve.
“Welcome,” Shirley said as she hugged and kissed Susan, “welcome, all of you. Thank you for coming tonight.”
“John, this is my mother Rose and my aunt Maeve. Mum, Aunt Maeve, this is Shirley’s partner John Hammond,” Susan said as John greeted them both.
“For you,” Clint said as he handed over a bottle.
“Thank you – can I offer you a drink of some form?”
“Would it be rude if I asked for a cup of tea Shirley?” Rose asked. “Clint is a great cook, but he can’t make a decent cuppa to save his life.”
“Come on back to the kitchen Rose we’ll have one together.” Shirley smiled at her fellow Englishwoman.
“So where is Rose going with Shirley?” Maddie asked as she brought over a tray of champagne glasses.
“To have a cup of tea.” Susan looked happy, “She swears this is the only place in New York she can get a decent one.”
“That’s because Shirley has her tea imported from Harrod’s.” Lily smiled as she sipped her champagne.
“Did you see the portrait over there?” Clint asked as he joined the little group.
“I did,” his wife answered, “John got a friend to paint it from some photographs he took.”
“Only John would be deprecating enough to describe Richard Hirst merely as a friend.” Penny spoke.
“I take it he’s not just an amateur painter then?” asked Clint.
“Clint have you never seen his portrait of the Queen?” asked a shocked Lily, “even I know how famous he is.”
“Even as a friend I bet John paid a pretty penny for the commission.” Penny sipped her drink. “I think the hardest thing now will be for her to decide whether to hang it in here, or in their new place in London.”
“Have you seen the London house yet Maddie?” asked Sandy.
“No, but I hear it’s rather special.”
“Right down by the river, and it even has an attic John can use as a studio.”
“That sounds pretty cool.” Maddie smiled as Shirley and Rose emerged from the kitchen with their tea in hand.
"So all her friends Maddie,
tell me about some of them please?" Sandy said as she sipped her drink
"Oh you'll meet an eclectic group tonight."
"Not just socialites?"
"Far from it, but what's nicest in a way is there
will be lots of young people, I think Shirley enjoys having girls around who
are leading that life she never got to have."
"But I am right there will be a large slice of
the European nobility?"
"Just a few Sandy."
Maddie smiled. "Princes, Princesses. A Marquess and his Marchioness, assorted
Dukes and Duchesses and Counts and Countesses."
"And don't worry they are great fun, just watch
out for Guy du Grechy and his wandering hands, he's
rather an old devil, even though he and Valeria are a couple."
"Do I need to curtsey?"
"You do Sandy and you'll soon find out that informality is the rule." Maddie smiled.
“Pay attention, Miss Moore doth speak truth,” John Jacobs said as he joined them. “So what do you both think of the new Shirley?”
“I like her,” Sandy said, “I can’t remember the last time I saw this side of her.”
“It has been far too long, but I for one am glad she… Good lord, is that…”
“It is,” Maddie said as the tall blonde in a sliver sheath dress was greeted by John and Shirley, accompanied by a slightly smaller blonde haired woman in a blue cap sleeved mini dress and a young African girl. The girl was hugged by Maisha, who took her off to one corner.
“Hello Sandy,” the blonde said as she came over, and then realized who was standing there. “John, it is so good to see you again.”
“And you, Caroline,” John said as he kissed her on both cheeks, “you look fantastic. I take it that is your daughter Ama?”
“It is,” she said as the other woman came over. “Annie, this is Sandy Kirk and John Jacobs, old friends from the home country. Folks, this is Annie Kelly, my roommate.”
“A great pleasure to meet you,” Annie said as she shook their hands.
“So what brought you over John?”
“Believe it or not, delivering her present,” John said as he nodded to Sandy, “but I wanted to see the New York scene Shirley told me about for myself.”
“So what line of work are you in?”
Sandy and John looked at each other, Caroline laughing as she whispered “don’t worry, she’s one of us.”
“Ah,” John said, “in that case, I’m an antique dealer, and I do a sideline in home security.”
“While I run the training group for a large organization you may be a member of.”
“Oh… OH,” Annie said quietly. “Right, I understand now.”
“Don’t worry, we’re all off duty tonight,” Caroline said as she grabbed a drink, “especially given who has just arrived.”
Annie looked round and smiled at Carina as she came in with Juliette and Klaus, the smile returned to her.
"Happy Birthday Shirley." Juliette said as she embraced her friend.
"Thank you Juliette."
Klaus embraced her.
"And I wish you the same." Carina giggled as
she kissed Shirley.
"I have a couple of friends I'd like to introduce you to.” She took them over to where John Jacobs and Sandy Kirk were standing. “Sandy and John, may I introduce His Serene Highness Prince Nicklaus the Third of Furstenhiem, Juliette Huntingdown, and their daughter Carina von Furstenhiem Huntingdown."
"Now why did you need do to all that rigmarole Shirley." Klaus laughed, "Hello I'm Klaus, just forget all the other bits."
“An honour,” John said as he shook Klaus’ hand. “John Jacobs, and my lovely friend here is Sandra Kirk.”
“The pleasure is mine,” Klaus said as she kissed Sandy on both cheeks, making her blush. “Are you old friends of Shirley’s?”
“Very old friends,” Sandy said.
“Furstenhiem,” John said, “I remember passing the area at rather high speed recently, when I paid a visit to Ruritania.”
“The high speed train from Brussels to Berlin? Yes it does pass nearby. What took you to Strelsau?”
“Personal business,” John said with a smile.
"I've been so looking forward to meeting you Juliette." Sandy spoke softly. "I understand Klaus doesn't know?"
"No." Juliette smiled.
"I also know I have you to thank for the
marvelous changes in Shirley?"
"Well I helped a little."
“A little may be a mild understatement, but as one of her oldest friends, thank you.”
“Welcome Jeannie,” John said as Barbara pushed her into the hallway, “you look stunning tonight.”
“Yes, she does,” House said as he lifted her in his arms and carried her in, depositing her gently on a couch before he went to fetch her a drink.
“You look stunning tonight,” Janice said as she came over with a glass of champagne.
“So does Adam,” Barbara said as she looked at him talking to Ken Boyd, while Karen talked to Juliette, “he’s a keeper that one.”
“Oh yeah,” Janice said as she sipped her champagne, “he is a real keeper.”
“So how did the practice go today?”
“Very well, Clint seems to have solved the problem we had, so we’re good for the race in two weeks time.”
“I understand Jeanne and her father are coming tonight,” John said, “I have fond memories of watching him race in the day.”
“You can tell him now,” Janice said as she saw Jeanne and Henri come in, greeting John and Shirley.
“Quite a view, isn’t it John,” George Simpson said as he joined John Jacobs on the balcony.
“Oh yes,” John said as he sipped his champagne, “I will say this for Shirley, she has always had impeccable taste.”
He turned and looked at George, then said “so this is where you ended up. How was Basel?”
“Oh I love the place – but I got an invitation to come out and have Christmas with my niece, and ended up staying on.”
“An invitation? Someone has friends in high places.”
“Well, Shirley has,” George said with a smile. “Anyway, I’m a respectable man here, number two to a very well respected security consultant.”
“You work for Dom?”
George nodded. “Took a leaf out of a book of this guy I know – poacher turned gamekeeper, stuff like that.”
John smiled. “Sounds like a sensible man – but I presume you keep your hand in?”
“Opportunities arise from time to time, but I’m happy, and Lily is happy as well.”
“What are you two doing out here,” Caroline said as she came out.
“Can’t two old friends catch up,” George said as he and John looked at her.
“Talking of which – your hair?”
“Long, long story – come and meet Ama John.”
“There you are,” Jeannie said as Doc came in with Pepsi and Nikki.
“Well, we’re not too late,” Pepsi said as they sat with her, “and I understood a certain pair of boys are on their way over now.”
“Did I hear our names mentioned?”
“Well hello there,” Nikki said as she saw Jack and Billy Fitzstuart standing there. “Want to dance?”
“Oh yes,” Pepsi said as she took Jack’s hand, “that I would like very much…”
“I see the juniors are happy,” Jude and Bobbi said as they stood with Abby and Carina.
“Well the replacements for the Rochermann twins have to come from somewhere – they’re going to fresh fields, as I understand it.”
“Oh yes – watch out Cambridge, they’re coming,” Judy said with a smile.
“God the Yale-Harvard match next year is going to be hell,” Cari said as Annie came over, and kissed her.
“So Germany and Austria next month for us, I hear?”
“Dad says yes, and Ingy will be along later to confirm.”
“So where’s Jo?”
“Where do you think,” Abby said with a smile.
“Happy Birthday Shirley.” Curt greeted her as he kissed her on the cheek. “This is from us,” he then said as he gave her a gift.
“It’s your book Curt, oh and such a nice message inside.” Shirley smiled happily.
“Fresh off the presses, and just look it’s by Doctor Curtis Richardson,” Jo looked proudly at her boyfriend.
“Congratulations on your doctorate Curt.” John shook his hand, “and on the book.”
“Well it won’t be a best seller, but I think it’s a solid piece of work on the problems of Penology in our time.”
“I’m sorry,” Shirley giggled, “I do honestly know the meaning of the word, but it does sound just a trifle saucy.”
“You are better than my mother Shirley, when I told her that I was studying Penology she threatened to shut me in my bedroom and throw away the key.”
“Oh dear.” Shirley giggled again.
“So I hear Missy finally ground down your resistance Jo and signed you up to model.” John spoke.
“Well I saw the pictures Adam took for the APCO sweater campaign, and talked it out with Sandy and my sister, if I’ve got to have a part-time job I guess it’s as good as any.”
“Well I’ve asked Missy to book you for a shoot I’m doing in August.”
“What’s it for John?” Curt asked.
“I’m shooting pics for Oddwears next campaign, and I see Joanne here very much at home in the great outdoors.”
“Oh brilliant,” Jo laughed, “Not a model really five minutes yet and I’m already stereotyped as Miss Outdoorsy.”
“Well Caroline’s also doing it, so I think you’ll enjoy yourself.” John laughed back.
“All right, all right – my last fling before William Smith,” Jo said with a smile, “come on lover – I want a dance.”
“Hello Shirley, and Happy Birthday.” Ingrid smiled. “May I present Adam Cabot?”
“Hello Adam it’s lovely to meet you.” Shirley replied.
“Hello Adam.” John shook his hand.
“It’s been a while John.” Adam spoke.
“I don’t think I need to introduce you round Adam, I think you know a lot of people already.” Shirley assessed the handsome young photographer.
“There are a few people I know, even a relative or two.”
“Oh who?” John enquired.
“Sam Lodge is my cousin.”
“Oh of course I’d heard that, I forget all you Bostonians are interrelated.” Shirley smiled.
“I better get him circulating Shirley.” Ingrid said as she pulled Adam in with her.
“I heard she couldn’t stand him didn’t I?” John whispered in Shirley’s ear.
“Well she seems to like him well enough now.” Shirley whispered back.
“I have to learn to keep up to date with the gossip.” John gently kissed her.
“Well hello Paulie, Gus,” Shirley said as she greeted the van Roons, “I see you came en masse tonight.”
“Well, the situation demanded it,” Pussy said as she put her arm in Freida’s. “I hear the band playing, I see the champagne – let’s party.”
“Where’s Nessa?” Paulie said as she looked in, and then she saw Vanessa Richmond, wearing a tight green dress with the skirt slit from waist to hem.
“Alex, my man,” Gus said as he joined Alex Richmond, “our ladies are dressed to impress tonight.”
“Oh yes, and she’s really, truly happy again. I am so glad of that,” Alex said as the girls went on the dance floor.
“One down, two to go.” Susan sat down between Karen and Natasha and sipped her champagne.
“Bitch!” Natasha laughed, “You know very well we still have to drink this crap.”
“I know, and I just couldn’t resist.”
“So how is April doing?” Karen asked.
“Very nicely, it helps with Clint not being on call or on shifts, means we can take turns getting up when she cries.”
“That’s a blessing.” Karen said as she winced slightly. “I don’t think baby likes 7Up. I’ll have to switch to Coke.”
“Be careful Karen, how long is it now?” Susan looked concerned.
“I’ve got at least two weeks to go Susan.” Karen smiled.
“As long as you are sure.” Susan made a mental note to alert Ken.
“I am the professional here, ladies – I’ll know when it’s time,” Karen said as she stood up, holding her back.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking,” Natasha said as she looked at Susan.
“Oh yeah,” Susan said, “I’m thinking it.”
"Are Sigi and Dieter
coming Klaus?" Shirley asked.
"They should be here any minute." Klaus
glanced at his watch, "My sister will be late for her own funeral."
"Don't say that Klaus, Sigi
is adorable, so much joie de vivre."
"Are we late?" Sigi
"No you are easily on time." Shirley
"Happy Birthday Shirley."
Dieter kissed her and gave her a present.
"Now what might this be? ... Oh my? ... Thank you
both so much."
"What is it Shirley?" asked John.
"Oh my dear lord."
"We have a friend who makes cameos so we got her
to make one up and then got it mounted." Sigi
"Then these are real?" Shirley looked amazed
at her own profile etched in jet framed in amber, surrounded by diamonds.
"Of course they are real." Sigi laughed. "Here let me pin it on"
"Just thank you both SO MUCH." Shirley said as she admired the brooch.
“Please, go on through,” John said as they went in, Sigi waving at Klaus as they came over.
“The great and the good are here,” John said as he put his arm round Shirley.
“Even a congressman,” Shirley said with a smile as the maid opened the door, and George Graham came in, looking nervous as he played with his tie.
“Hello George.” Shirley smiled a genuine greeting. “I’m just so glad you came.”
“It was lovely of you to invite me.” George looked round as he listened to the music and chatter. “I guess I need to be back in circulation.”
“Are you back at work yet?”
“Just about, I’m still trying to find a nanny, but Heather and Sandy have both been so wonderful looking after Jennifer.”
“Just beware in there, a lot of the girls are concerned about you, just don’t let them bully you into anything you aren’t ready for.”
“I know, one or two have already tried to fix me up with dates.”
“Well you know the problem then.” Shirley smiled, “Please just have fun and enjoy yourself.”
“I will.” George passed on into the main room.
“You know, there goes a very brave man,” John said quietly, Shirley nodding in agreement.
“Father Alex did Yale contact you?” Judy asked.
“They did,” Alex said, “and I’ll be delighted to let you use the church to rehearse.”
“Rehearse what Jude?” Bobbi asked.
“Oh just something for school.” Judy smiled shyly.
“She’s being modest Bobbi, Yale are putting on a night of Handel’s music in September and Judy is to be one of the featured soloists playing the organ.”
“Oh Wow...Well done that girl.” Bobbi hugged her friend.
“Tell me well done when I come round to sell you tickets for the concert.” Judy laughed.
“Oh you know we will all be coming.”
“Good,” Carina said as she came over, “We look forward to…”
“Cari? Cari, you look as if you have seen a ghost.”
"Oh dear Goddess."
Cari nearly lost her champagne. "That's my Great
Aunt and Great Uncle arriving with Guy and Valeria."
The group looked over to where the four people were
talking to Shirley.
"Thank you for letting us come to your party Miss Xavier." Count Buchenwald said before he kissed her hand and shook John's. He was dressed, like the other men, in a tuxedo, while Natalya was wearing a gold evening dress.
"My name is Shirley, and I think you have enough friends and relatives in the room to already be part of the group."
“This is an unexpected pleasure,” Carina said as she came over, “I did not even know you were in the city.”
“We sought to surprise everyone,” Willy said with a smile. “Guy and Valeria were kind enough to invite us, and we are staying in the same hotel as them.”
“Please,” Carina said, “allow me to make some introductions.”
Juliette almost choked on her drink when she saw Carina lead the couple across the room. “Klaus,” she said as she touched his arm, “look over there.”
Klaus looked in the same direction, and then gently steered Sigi’s head that way as well.
“Oh my…” she said quietly, “did you know they were coming?”
“No – no, I did not,” Klaus said. “I am as surprised and shocked as you are, dear.”
“What’s got you two…? Great Aunt Natalya? Here?”
“So it would appear, Ingrid,” Juliette said, “so it would appear.”
“Uncle Wilhelm, Aunt Natalya,” Carina said as she came over, “can I present my roommate from Yale Judy McNally and her boyfriend David Fitzstuart.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” Wilhelm smiled.
“I knew your grandmother David - you favor her.” Natalya spoke as David kissed her on the cheek.
“So I’m told.” David replied.
“Are your parents here?”
“Not yet, they are coming with Judy’s parents Countess.”
“Just call us Wilhelm and Natalya young man, from what I understand informality is the rule here.” Wilhelm twirled his moustache.
“That it is sir.” David smiled.
“So may I enquire what you are both studying at Yale?” Natalya asked.
“Well I’m a history major.”
“Like my great niece?”
“Yes…and Judy is a music major.”
“What instruments do you play Judy?” Wilhelm asked.
“My main instrument is the church organ, but I play piano as well, and I’m learning the harp.”
“She’s to be one of the featured soloists at the Handel concert at Yale in the autumn.” David said proudly.
“You must be quite accomplished then.” Wilhelm smiled.
“Oh I’m not sure about that.”
“Uncle she’s being far too modest.” Carina looked proudly as well at her friend.
“Will you introduce me Carina?”
“With pleasure,” Cari said as she put her arm round Annie’s waist. “Uncle Wilhelm, Aunt Natalya, my girlfriend Annie Kelly.”
“It is a great honour to meet you both,” Annie said as she shook their hands, “I regret I was unable to come to Vienna, but now you get to see where we live and work.”
“Indeed,” Natalya said with a smile, “it is a pleasure to meet you at last as well.”
The two women looked at each other, Carina watching closely, before Natalya smiled. “So what are your plans for the summer, Annie?”
“I will be accompanying Carina and Judith while they visit Klaus and Ingrid, and also visiting Vienna.”
“Good,” Natalya said as she nodded, “perhaps you can find time to visit us? I feel we have a lot to talk about.”
As Carina walked off with her relatives, Caroline came over.
“So that is the fearsome Great Aunt Natalya? What was it like meeting her?”
“Like looking into a mirror,” Annie said quietly. “There’s more to her than meets the eye.”
"Hey Pattycake having
fun?" Liz laughed as she joined her sister at the buffet.
"Elizabeth PLEASE stop
calling me that." Pussy groaned.
"Okay, but old habits die hard." Liz
"I see Tonia and Kelly are both here?"
"Yeah it's lovely getting to hang out with my
best friends again."
"I think Mom and Vanessa agree with you."
Puss smiled at her parents dancing with Father Alex and his sister.
"More seriously I hear Frieda is trying to get
"She is, we have an
appointment booked at the fertility clinic this week."
"Well I'll keep my fingers crossed Pattycake."
"I only do it because I know it gets a rise out
"I know, and thank you for the kind
"Hey what are big sisters for." Liz hugged her sibling.
"Who's the boy with Blair van Roon?"
Doc asked Carina.
"Let me look." Carina played with her
glasses as she looked at the young man in the grey suit, talking to Blair.
"I think that's her brother Chet, been a few years since I saw him, but it
looks like him."
"He's pretty cute." Doc smiled.
"And age appropriate, he'd be a year older then you... Come on I'll introduce you."
“Hey, I didn’t mean…” Doc’s complaints were useless as Carina took her by the arm and walked her over.
"Hey Blair." Cari kissed her friend as she walked up, "Welcome back from Chicago, and I hear Cooper Union did find you a place."
"They did, so I'm moving in with Aunts Puss and
Frieda over the summer."
"Hi I'm Chet." the younger man held out his
"I'm Carina, it’s been a while, and this is my
young friend Anna who SO wanted to meet you Chet."
"Carina!" Anna looked
"Would you like to dance Anna?" Chet asked.
"Please." Anna smiled shyly as she was
"Isn't she the girl who...?"
"Yep," Carina smiled, "She's easy, but
she's also a very, very nice kid."
"Little brother finally gets lucky eh?" Blair laughed.
“I think they both do – the last guy let Anna down badly.”
“Well, if Chet tries anything, I have the blackmail material ready…”
“Ladies and gentlemen if I may beg your attention?”
The room went silent as they looked to the corner of the room, others coming in from the balcony as Shirley smiled. She then spoke into the band’s microphone. “First, thank you all so much coming to my birthday party.”
Shirley paused while the guests applauded. “Tonight I think we may have some fun, it turns out we have some accomplished amateur musicians in the room, and for one night…let us pray it’s only one night…they have agreed to play for us.”
Shirley looked at everyone’s eyes, the surprise obvious.
“So, on the drums can I present Lord William Fitzstuart.”
Billy sat down at the kit and picked up the sticks, twirling them in his fingers before he did a quick drum roll.
“On piano, Miss Judith McNally.”
Jude sat down and played a quick set of chords.
“On bass guitar, Amanda, Marchioness of Ordford.”
Applause broke out as Mandy picked up the instrument, settling it with the strap over her shoulder as she played a few notes.
“On lead guitar, Doctor Kenneth Boyd.”
Ken smiled and waved as he slung the guitar strap over his shoulder, and nodded to Mandy before they both played a riff.
“And finally our singer for tonight, Miss Vanessa Richmond.”
Huge applause rang out as Nessa took the microphone.
“Alright,” Nessa said with a smile, “I’m a little rusty at singing in public, but let’s give this a try…One, two, a one two three.”
Slightly tentatively at first, but quickly gaining momentum, the band started to play Rock Around the Clock, with Vanessa belting out the lyric.
“Did you know your Mother could sing Rock and Roll?” Heather asked Sandy.
“I didn’t have a clue.” Sandy laughed, shook her head, and started dancing.
“That was kind of fun after all these years.” Vanessa gratefully accepted a glass of champagne from Gus as they came off the stage.
“Oh that took me back a few years.” Paulie smiled. “Ness and the Monsters.”
“What was that?” George asked.
“The band Nessa used to sing with when we were at St Angela’s” Paulie laughed.
“We were pretty terrible, but we had fun, we even played a few school dances.” Vanessa emptied her glass.
“Mom you kept that secret all these years.” Sandy embraced her mother.
“You were AMAZING Nessa.” Heather hugged her too.
“Well I just hope I didn’t ruin Shirley’s party…”
“You dare say that Vanessa, you and the others were brilliant.” Shirley passed her friend another glass.
“I told you that your Mom was the first girl on the Upper East Side to know who the Beatles were.” Paulie reminded Sandy. “She was really into music back then.”
“Mandy I never knew you played bass.” Caroline sat down next to her fellow model.
“You go look on YouTube you can see me in some music videos, and unlike the other models I could actually play darling.”
“That’s not you on Addicted to Love is it?”
“Dear God no darling…Robert Palmer and I never did really get along, and though I was booked for it, he and Will got in a fight a few days before they shot it, so no I’m not in the video.”
“Well I learn things every day.”
“Your mother could play guitar beautifully.” Karen joined the conversation.
“Yes, that I do remember.” Caroline looked wistful for a second.
“Ooh!” Karen looked pained for a second. “This gas from all this fizzy drink is bad.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is?” Alice stopped dancing to ask.
“Yes, remember I’m the obstetrician, I’ll know when the baby is coming.”
As she walked off, Ken came over to join them.
“Ken darling,” Mandy said as all three looked at him, “I think you need to keep a close eye on Karen.”
“Oh – why?”
“Because,” Susan said as she came over, “she’s complaining of mild stomach cramps and blaming it on the soda.”
“Ah,” Ken said as he looked over, “thanks for the warning. I’ll keep an eye on her.”
Wilhelm was enjoying himself enormously talking to Vanessa, Paulie and Mary as he held his drink.
"Your Uncle Wilhelm is as bad as Guy." Katherine laughed as she stood by Ingrid at
"He is a bit of an old rogue." Ingy laughed.
"I like him though, and I think the girls and I
can keep him out of trouble."
"I saw...Changing the subject though how is
"Well I've not known her that long like Mary and
Missy, but she seems a lot calmer."
"I can't believe how that bastard cheated on
"I know, back in Ireland he'd have been run out
"And who is this young man?" Katherine asked
as Adam turned round from the bar with his and Ingrid's drinks.
"Katherine Carter meet
Adam Cabot." Ingrid made the introductions. "Katherine’s daughter is
Janice Carter, one of the drivers in the Richmond-Carter racing team."
"Hello," Adam smiled, "I'm hoping for
an invite to watch so I can do some photographs."
"Just ask I'm sure the girls would love you to do so." Katherine smiled back.
“So how are the upgrades at the chateau going, grandmother?”
“They’re progressing really well,” Valeria said as she stood with Abigail and Diana, “and the crop this year I think will be exceptional.” She looked round the room, smiling as he said “This is an wonderful birthday party, I must say. How did you celebrate last week, Diana?”
“Quietly,” Diana said with a nod. “I went out to dinner with the ladies, I guess at my age a birthday is very like any other day.”
“Natasha is blooming at the moment as well, is she not?”
“Yes she is,” Guy said as he brought a drink over for her. “With Susan now a proud mother, and Karen giving birth soon, we await our own happy event with great interest.”
“I am impressed with Susan’s mother and aunt as well,” Valeria said, “but why does her mother drink only tea?”
“She finds it the only drink she can have,” Diana said diplomatically.
“Ah – then it is consistent with Shirley she would take that into consideration,” Valeria said with a smile.
“So Henri what are the plans for tomorrow?”
“Tire changing practice, driver changes, re-fuelling.”
“Okay I was wondering.” Tonia smiled, “The girls don’t look as though they are restricting their drinking.”
“No tomorrow is all about crew work, I told them to enjoy the party tonight.”
“I’m looking forward to Pocono.” Roy spoke, “From what I’m hearing the girls should run well.”
“I think so…I also here the same about you and the guys’ horse.”
“You mean Saintz and Sinnerz? He runs at Aqueduct on Tuesday. We will see if our trainer is right in his assessment.”
“My father said I should have kept to horses and not horse power.” Henri smiled.
“Oh? I didn’t know you had a racing connection.”
“I rode a few steeplechases as an amateur rider, I even won a few races, but my employers didn’t want one of their drivers breaking his neck on a racecourse…and well c’est la vie.” Henri shrugged his shoulders.
“Well you must come to the track Tuesday then, be good to have another racing man with us.”
“Okay I’ll try, it might be fun.” Henri looked happy and contented.
"Are you a racing man as well Wilhelm?" Roy
asked as Cari’s great uncle joined them.
"For my sins yes...I inherited a family quest,
though we've had some very good horses, we as a family have
never won the Grosser Preis von Baden."
"It's like my families quest to win the
Arc." Guy nodded.
"Exactly, certain races achieve an importance
that makes them almost like the Holy Grail." George Simpson spoke as he
sipped his drink.
"Well I think I'd settle even to have something
good enough to run in the Kentucky Derby." Roy looked thoughtful,
"winning it would just be a bonus."
"I remember Nananita
breaking down days before the race Roy." Grant spoke. "She really
might have upset the colts if she'd run."
"That will always be one of the saddest moments
of my life when they phoned and told me she was lame."
"Well she won some very good races afterwards..."
"I know Grant, but Saratoga and Belmont Park
aren't Churchill Downs on that magic Saturday."
"I don't think you can be a racing man without knowing heartbreak." Wilhelm nodded.
“Would you care to join us on Tuesday George?”
“Thanks for the offer,” George said, “but I need to be in the office on Tuesday. Maybe next time…”
“So are you enjoying the party, great aunt,” Carina said as she stood with Natalya.
“I am,” her older relative said, “the friends you have here are mixed, but they are all comfortable with each other. Shirley,” she said as she looked at the hostess, “has an air around her of one who commands respect, and I respect that.”
“It is more that that,” Carina said quietly, “in many ways we think of each other as family, and family looks out for each other.”
“Indeed,” Natalya said. “I look at your partner, for example, and I see why you are attracted to each other. She has a strong desire within herself, correct?”
“When the need arises, yes. I trust any demons are safely hidden away for your visit?”
“Do not worry child,” Natalya whispered, “I do not think there is a need for them to meet each other on this visit.”
“Countess,” Juliette said as she came over, “It is an unexpected surprise to see you here. Klaus and I would like to invite you to dinner tomorrow, to give you a chance to meet Judith.”
“Of course,” Natalya said, “what time?”
“Shall we say five?”
“I will inform Wilhelm,” Natalya said as she nodded to both women and nodded off.
“Remind me to have a drink before they arrive,” Juliette said to Carina, “I may need it.”
“You and me both, Mom, you and me both…”
"Well it's a very small world indeed." Rose
shook her head as she sipped her tea.
"It is indeed." Katherine smiled.
"Alright why is it a small world?" Susan
"We were talking about the old country, and
Katherine mentioned her family lived in Waterford when she was a child, it
turns out she remembers your Great-Aunt Mary Murphy."
"It is a small world." Susan smiled.
"We Irish fetch up everywhere." Katherine
"Did you hear that Aunt Maeve?" Susan asked
her aunt who was sipping champagne.
"I did, and if you'd ever met Aunt Mary you'd realise she was a very hard woman to forget." Maeve
"Oh that she was." Katherine smiled,
"Your poor uncle - if there was ever a man who was dominated by his wife
it was that poor man."
"Her weighing about 16 stone, him
about 8 stone if he was dripping wet." Maeve laughed broadly.
"She might have bullied him, but I think she
loved him really" Rose laughed again.
"Ladies if we aren't interrupting, would you like
to dance?" Jack asked on behalf of his brothers. "The
bands about to play the Londonderry Air as a slow dance."
"What do you think Maeve? Katherine? should three good Irish girls dance with three wicked young
"Oh I think we can risk it." Maeve stood up.
"And I agree." smiled Katherine.
From the other side of the room, Susan and Janice watched the three older women as they went on the dance floor.
"Your mother and aunt seem to be getting on with
my mom like a house on fire Susan."
"They do don't they Jan?"
"Their Irish accents are all getting
"I'd noticed." Susan smiled happily, "In
the old days it would be about now Mum would be falling down from the drink,
but she seems to be having a fabulous time just on tea."
"Shirley was giving one of the caterers
lessons earlier on making tea just as Rose likes it, so I think that's helping."
"She did? Well that explains the no complaints
from Mum, and she's even been dancing, I can't remember the last time I saw her
"I know it's been lovely, Alex, Klaus, John,
young Jack...she's not wanted for partners."
"While I've barely danced with my husband whilst
he and Henri discuss the damn car."
"I know, do you need the
loan of Adam?"
"I might." Susan laughed.
“Adam,” Janice called over, “your services are called for. There is a lady who needs a dance partner.”
“When a damsel calls, a gentlemen must answer,” Adam said as he took Susan’s hand and led her out onto the dance floor.
“A most eclectic group of friends indeed,” John said as he stood on the terrace with Maddie looking over the skyline.
“Come on John – don’t deny she’s the better for it.”
“Oh I’m not denying it,” John said with a smile, “I mean, look at her, she’s like a giddy schoolgirl, but in the right way.”
“Oh yes – she has never, and I mean never, been this happy since that day back in ’84.”
Maddie nodded as Juliette walked out with Diana. “Shirley is looking for you inside John – there is someone she wants you to meet.”
“The hostess calls, and I must answer. If you will excuse me ladies,” John said with a slight incline of his head as he went back in.
“A fascinating man – does Shirley really call him Uncle John,” Diana said as Caroline joined them.
“He is the closest thing she has to a living relative,” Maddie said, “John was very good friends with her father. It was him who found us in Paris and brought us back to the UK.”
“Indeed? So he was not always an antiques dealer?”
“Oh no he wasn’t,” Caroline said with a smile, “but he walks easily between both worlds now. A good friend to have in any circumstance.”
"Can I push by Mr. and Mrs. Callaghan please?." Pepsi asked as she tried to push towards the
"You can Nicola." Gale made space. "And
are you and the other girls enjoying yourself?"
"I ALWAYS enjoy myself when Jack is in
town." Pepsi winked.
"You know some people would say I'm abetting a
crime by not doing anything about a 19 year old boy sleeping with a 15 year old
girl." Tom spoke softly in his wife's ear.
"You could find a lot more crimes in here if you
wanted to darling, but most of them like drinking under age fall in that no
harm...no foul category."
"Why spoil a good party and cost us the best friends we've had since the bureau moved us here from Omaha."
"Blair van Roon, can I
introduce John Jacobs." Shirley made the introduction.
"Hello." Blair smiled and shook his hand.
"I understand you want to be an industrial
designer?" John asked politely.
"I do." Blair replied.
"Do you know I own a piece of silver made by your
ancestor Jakob van Roon?"
"You do?" Blair asked with real interest.
"You know as a family we only have two pieces of his work?"
"Well I have a ewer he made, I bought it at an
estate sale a couple of years ago intending to sell it on, but I liked it so
much I kept it."
"Oh you are an antique dealer then?"
"Yes," John smiled.
"Did you know a coffee pot by old Jakob comes up for sale in Vienna later this summer?"
"I'd read about it."
"Well my father has his heart set on it."
"Oh," John smiled, "I had better not
bid for it as I'd planned, I don't have nearly as deep
pockets as a van Roon."
"I think father is prepared to pay an awful
"So what are your interests if I might ask
"Silverware of most kinds, I enjoy designing and creating
"That sounds interesting,
did you see the Academy of Industrial Art show when it was in Chicago?"
"Did she see it? she was
there every damn day looking and sketching." Chet said as he and Anna
brought over drinks for his sister and John.
"Chet you are embarrassing me." Blair
"Never worry about having a passion for beauty
dear, I share it myself."
"Okay Blair is in heaven." Chet grinned to Anna as she and John started talking about designs and antiques.
"Winston it really is time you got your finger
out man." Tony shook his head. "Jeans has made it pretty damn clear
she wants you to make love to her...what is holding you back?"
"I guess it's just I don't want to ruin
"She is so damn HOT! Wheelchair
or not." Simon Leventhal, Tony's friend from school shook his head.
"I presume we are talking about the goddess in
the wheelchair," Harry Cameron, Tony's other
friend from Harrow looked at Jeannie admiringly.
"Hey stop ogling MY lady." House looked daggers at the Brits as they looked back at him.
“Guys, bad form,” Tony said as he looked at them. “I need to introduce you to a few more of the young ladies here.”
"It's such a pity he's not two years older,"
Bobbi shook her head, "He's rich, Jewish, will be a baronet one day, but
he's only 17."
"Are you talking about Simon Bobs?" Abigail
"He's a really nice boy." Carina looked at
where the boys were chatting.
"I know." Bobbi half smiled, "but I
don't cradle snatch."
"He's two years younger then you, that's hardly cradle robbing Bobs, and you said yourself he's a great dancer."
“True – oh what the hell,” Bobbi said as they walked over.
“What are you boys talking about,” Abby said as she kissed Tony.
“I was explaining to Tony’s friends about the importance of marking and defending your territory in American Football,” Winston said with a smile.
“Simon, my friend Bobbi here was wondering if you would go with her to the bar for a drink.”
“It would be my pleasure,” Simon said as he walked off with Bobbi, Tony and Harry watching.
“Could be, Tony, could be…”
"Thank you for chatting to Blair so politely
John." Paulie van Roon said as she ate her canapé.
"Well it was actually quite interesting."
John replied. "She's really a very knowledgeable young lady about her
field...It's a pleasure meeting a young person with a genuine interest in a
"Well as long as she didn't bore you." Paulie smiled.
"Far from it."
"She's my brothers
granddaughter." Gus brought over a couple of whiskey and soda's for he and John.
"So she told me, you know a geneticist might find
this crowd interesting, you have girls like young
Angel Fitzstuart there following their mothers as
models. You have Jeanne Marais racing cars like her father, and young Blair
reaching back into your family history to old Jakob."
John sipped his drink. "This is a fine whiskey you know."
"Typical of Shirley...nothing but the best." Mandy said as she reached for some food.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, a moment of your time please,” John said as he stood in front of the band. “It is the time when we ask the star of the evening to cut her cake. Please join me in singing the right song for the occasion.”
The band started playing as the doors opened, and the room started singing.
"Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Shirley,
Happy Birthday to you."
Everyone clapped as the huge oversized cake was wheeled in.
"Oh you shouldn't have.' Shirley blushed.
"Surprise!" everyone jumped as the Rochermann twins came out of the cake in Vegas showgirl outfits.
"Oh dear Lord." Shirley laughed loudly, “I'd wondered where those two had got to tonight."
“We bring greetings to the birthday girl,” Nell said, “and the real cake is right here!”
April wheeled in the three tier cake as Ally handed Shirley a large knife.
“Well, when in New York,” Shirley said with a laugh as she cut into the cake, and the room applauded again.
“All right,” Nell shouted out, “let’s par-TAY. Maestro, the June Bug, if you please!”
“Aunt Sheila does seem to be enjoying her birthday party,” Maisha said as she and Ama watched Shirley and John dance with the others.
“Indeed – have you danced?”
“The Fitzstuart boys were kind enough to ask, and Winston also showed me how to waltz.” Maisha looked over at the House as he held Jeannie in his arms. “he is a very gentle man.”
“Indeed – I wish Nick had been able to come.”
“He is away this weekend, is he not?”
Ama nodded and then smiled. “But I have many friends here, and Mom as well, so I have no reason to be unhappy.”
“Enjoying yourself Maisha?”
“I am indeed Uncle John,” Maisha said with a smile, “this is my friend Ama. Ama, this is John Jacobs.”
“It is a true honour to meet you at last,” John said. “Of all the fine people here tonight, I think you are two of the bravest I have met.”
Both girls blushed as he smiled at them.
“Come – sit and tell me of your plans for the summer…”
"Susan love, don't you think that's a bit
magical, the way that big feller just so gently holds her and dances her
round." Rose almost had a tear in her eye watching House and Jeannie
"I know, he's just so
"We are being looked at and talked about you
know?" Jeannie smiled at Winston.
"I can see and hear."
"Were the guys giving you a hard time about
"Sort of, I think they've heard gossip from the
"About what I said after gym?"
"Well you know already I want you to make love to
me Winston, and it's not like my family objects. Mum says you can take me home
"Do you want the truth Jeans, about why?"
"Please." she kissed him.
"I'm afraid of breaking you, of hurting
"Mum guessed that." Jeannie smiled, "Honestly you big ox as long as we are careful you can do whatever you want with me...and please let it be tonight?" She kissed him passionately.
“Well,” Winston whispered in her ear, “Let me know when you wish to go home, and I’ll call a cab for both of us.”
“Thank you,” Jeannie whispered as she put her head on his shoulder.
John looked over and nodded as he saw what Barbara had seen. “I guess we should expect a guest for breakfast tomorrow,” he said with a smile.
“Hey hey, looks like Jeannie may get it tonight,” Pepsi said as she nudged Doc.
“Jeannie?” Doc looked round as she stood with Chet. “Well done that girl!”
“I know them,” Chet said as he looked over, “Jeannie Brewster and Winston Brewster. They’re not related, are they?”
“No – but they make a wonderful couple,” Doc said with a smile.
"You know Shirley, I can
see why you adore John like an uncle." Juliette said as she looked at the
older man talking to Ama and Maisha.
"He's rather an elder statesman isn't he? I’ve known him since I was a little girl, and
he always, always put me at ease."
"Yes in a way, such lovely manners, and able to
draw even someone like Blair out of herself to talk...That's a talent."
"I know, I saw her looking a little out of it and
asked what her interests were, John was perfect to talk with her."
"Well she doesn't know a lot of the people, but
she's joining in well now."
"Did you believe Nessa
singing like that?"
"You could have knocked me down with a feather, I
also found out how good a dancer Klaus is, jiving like that." Ju laughed.
"She's another person coming out of
"Rather like you darling." Sandra smiled as
she joined the conversation. "Can I just ask who the two young girls in
the costumes are?"
"Do you want to explain Nell and Ally to her Ju?" Shirley giggled.
“Oy,” Juliette said as she rubbed her head. “Allyson and Eleanor Rochermann, the party girls of the Upper East Side. I think the easiest way to explain them is to say their nickname is the New York Sluts. They’re lovely girls, but with a mother like Kelly Rochermann, their titles were almost inevitable. There is hope for them though, Kelly, Liz and Tonia were just as notoriously promiscuous in their teen days, but each settled down to happy matrimony.”
“Ah,” Sandra said as she looked at them, “you mean they are your own personal Hooray Henrietta’s?”
“Nice way of putting it,” Shirley said with a smile, “but they have hearts of gold.”
“Yeah – when Jo was kidnapped last year, they rallied round with all the other girls to support Heather and Sandy.”
“Not quite tarts with hearts of gold then?”
“Oh no – much more refined,” Juliette said. “They are both going to Harvard next year.”
“Is Boston ready for them?”
“Good question – very good question.”
“Is this really the first time these three have been in the same room for over ten years,” Lily said as she sat with Penny and Caroline, looking at Maddie as she and Emma walked to Shirley and Sandra.
“Nearer fifteen years, if you want the honest truth,” Penny said. “Hard to believe it when you see them, isn’t it?”
“They must have been formidable in their day,” Susan said as she joined them. “Yet look at them, just old friends together.”
“Do you think that will be us in twenty years time,” Caroline said.
“I would hope so,” Susan said as she looked at the others, “we happy sisters, we band of few?”
“So do I,” Penny said. “Maybe it will be our daughters we are talking about at that time.”
“Ama will be a young women then,” Lily said as she looked at Caroline. “April and Judith will be twenty, and who knows what other…”
Susan suddenly looked at Karen as she held her stomach. Alice noticed it as well, as both of them came over with Caroline.
“Find Ken for me will you,” Karen said quietly, “I think…”
“Come with me,” Caroline said as she and Alice helped Karen out, while Susan looked round the room, spotting Ken talking to Kelly Rochermann. Walking over, she said “Sorry to interrupt your conversation, but you’re needed Ken.”
“I am? Ah,” Ken said as he gave his glass to Susan, “forgive me Kelly, but…”
“Go,” Kelly said as she took out her cell phone from her purse and dialed a number. “Helen? It’s Kelly – I think Karen Boyd is coming in.”
“Ken,” Karen said as she looked up, “I think we need to go now…”
“I’ll get the doorman to hail a cab,” Caroline said as she left the apartment, Alice helping Ken to take Karen after them…
"So Will I hear you had a fight with Robert
Palmer once." asked Klaus.
"Someone asked my wife about Addicted to Love didn’t they?"
Will laughed. "He was a big headed bastard, but he fancied Mandy, and I
heard him make a comment about her, so I gave him a knuckle sandwich...we got
into it right on the dance floor at Annabel's."
"Damn dad I never knew that you had it in
you." Jack shook his head.
"It cost me a night in the Bow Street cells, but
it was worth every minute and every penny of the fine from the
"Damn dad." Billy looked at his father with
some new won respect.
"Would you like to dance?" Harry Cameron asked Angel.
"As long as you don't step on my feet like last
"You don't remember do you? Oban, three years ago, you asked a skinny girl
to dance on a dare from your friends then proceeded to step on my toes
deliberately to make me look even worse."
"Oh God did I?"
"Yes you did."
"Well I swear I dance better now."
"You had better."
“Where did Karen and Ken go,” Juliette asked Sandy as she looked around.
“They left with Caroline and Alice – I wonder if…”
“I think her time came,” Kelly said as she came over, “Susan came to fetch Ken, and that was the last I saw of them.”
“Then good luck to her,” Sandy said, “I would imagine they’ve both gone to support her as well.”
“Mum, would it be all right if Winston was to escort me home?”
Barbara looked at Jeannie and nodded, smiling as she said “Will you be taking your chair with you?”
“I’d better,” Jeannie beamed as she nestled in the House’s arms.
“I’ll go and fetch it for you,” she said as Winston turned to Shirley and John.
“You will have to forgive our early departure,” he said as he blushed slightly, “but Jeannie wishes to…”
“Say no more, Winston,” Shirley said, “thank you both for coming tonight.”
The two teenagers smiled as Winston carried her to the chair, then draped her coat over her shoulders as he wheeled her out of the door.
“You all right Babs?”
“Yeah Dad,” Barbara said as she put her hand on John’s, “just realizing she’s a young woman now.”
“Listen, about Denise…”
“It’s all right Dad – it’s about time we sorted things out anyway.” Barbara turned round and kissed him on the cheek. “After all, you came out with her didn’t you?”
“True, but with what happened, and then she moved…”
“Dad – leave it till she comes round, all right?”
There were wild cheers as Nessa came back to the microphone.
“Alright everyone, I’ve been asked to sing again.” Vanessa smiled. “We have had about 10 minutes to rehearse this, so pardon if we crucify this lovely song.”
Vanessa smiled as the people laughed.
“I’m going to sing with the professional band, but my back up singers will be Dieter, Sigi and Diana, so please welcome them up here.”
To applause and catcalls the three took up position round a microphone.
“Okay maestro if you don’t mind playing as we discussed?”
The bandleader nodded.
“Alright,” again Vanessa laughed, “here we go, and fingers crossed.”
Vanessa started to croon the lyric, the others harmonising with her.
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.
Well, it's three o'clock in the morning,
And baby, I just can't do right,
Well, I hate to leave you, baby,
I don't mean maybe, because I love you so.
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.
Well your mother and your father,
They won't like it if we stay up too late
Well, I hate to leave you, baby,
I don't mean maybe, you know I hate to go.
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's time to go,
I hate to leave you, but I really must say,
Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight.
“Dieter sings a more than tolerable bass doesn’t he?” Klaus applauded as he and Juliette stopped dancing.
“And I’d forgotten both Diana and Sigi have nice voices to sing harmonies.”
“That was beautiful.” Carina kissed Annie as they finished their slow dance.
“Yes, it was,” Annie whispered, “May I accompany you home?”
“I thought you would never ask…”
"You loved that didn't you Mom?" Sandy said
as she hugged her mother.
"Yes...very much so, I think of all the things
your grandparents made me give up when Nessa had to
become Vanessa, singing was the hardest." Nessa sniffed back a tear, "I used to sit in the
bathroom and just sing softly to myself, just to remind myself I could still do
"And do it very well darling." Mandy hugged
"Well like you and Will
I also adore opera, so at least I could support that form of music without
anyone criticising me."
"But your true love was still rock and roll."
Sigi hugged her.
"I guess so."
"Well that was a truly lovely end to a truly wonderful birthday party." Shirley smiled, as John held her close.
“Folks, if I can have your attention for a moment?”
The room turned to see Caroline and Alice standing at the microphone.
“Before we all, sadly, start to go our separate ways,” Alice said, “can we have three cheers for the birthday girl, Shirley. Hip hip…”
“We also have one more announcement to make,” Caroline said. “Karen and Ken Boyd asked us to apologise that they had to leave early, but they had to go and meet someone. John Royce Boyd arrived at just after eleven, checking in at seven pounds ten. Baby and ecstatic parents are all fine.”
The bandleader turned to the band and motioned as they started to play “Congratulations” while everyone joined in.
The Brewster Townhouse
Winston closed the door behind him, and then helped Jeannie out of her coat, looking at her as he said “Have I told you how fantastic you look in that dress?”
“Several times – but don’t let me stop you saying it again and again,” Jeannie said as she put her head to one side. “Nervous?”
“Does it show?”
“Lift me out of this, will you,” Jeannie said, holding her arms up and waiting until House had her in his arms before she pressed her lips against his, their kiss continuing as he carried her up to her bedroom.
Sitting her on the bed, he smiled as he knelt down and slipped her shoes off, looking back up as she placed her hands either side of his face, and kissed him again.
“Don’t be afraid,” she whispered, “I trust you completely and totally.”
She pressed her lips against his again, and then started to open his jacket, smiling as she removed his bow tie and then opened his short as well, tracing her fingers down his chest.
Winston smiled in return as he reached behind her, and slowly pulled down the zip on her dress, kissing her neck as he did so, Jeannie smiling and gasping at the gentleness and the caress.
She pulled her dress down, and then started to kiss his chest as her hand went between his legs.
“Hmmm – that fells good,” she said as she caressed his crotch, hearing him gasp before he ran his hands slowly down her back, kissing her lips and neck as he did so.
“Oh yes,” she breathed, and then she reached behind herself, unfastening her bra and exposing her chest to the cool air. Winston looked at her as she breathed in and out, and then gently, gently placed his large hands on her breasts and stroked them down.
“Oh,” Jeannie gasped, “do that again.”
He nodded as he held her chest again, this time holding them for a moment before he stroked down them. Jeannie nodded and began to stroke him between his legs as he did so, hearing him groan a little.
“Does that feel good, my House?”
He didn’t answer, instead looking into her eyes before he leaned down and gently kissed the front of her neck. He then looked at her and said “Would you like me to continue?”
“Only if you let me do this,” Jeannie said as she unfastened his trousers, pulling them gently down as he removed his shoes, and leaving him in his boxers, and her in a pair of panties and her stockings.
Jeannie was sweating a little, and then shivered as he leaned over and began to kiss her chest, gently caressing them with his lips as she began to stroke between his legs. She could feel little electric shocks running through her as he did this, shocks that only seemed to increase in intensity as his lips covered her chest, his tongue playing gently with her nipples as she felt them hardening.
It was not the only thing that she could feel hardening, as he groaned more loudly, and Jeannie was both surprised and pleased to hear her own voice joining in. She leaned over and started to kiss the side of his neck as he started to gently suck on her nipples, saying “oh god” under her breath as the shocks seemed to gain in intensity, to merge into a feeling she was enjoying immensely.
He then moved and started to kiss her neck as he ran his fingers around her nipples, Jeannie biting her lips at the way she shivered to his touch, the way the tip of his finger seemed to make her dance to a tune of desire.
As he gently pressed down on her nipple, she drew him close and kissed his ear, her tongue tracing round it as he continued to caress her chest in his hands.
“Oh my lord, is this what it feels like,” she said as she looked into Winston’s eyes, and saw the same realization in him, as he laid her on her back and covered her neck and chest with his kisses.
“OH god,” Jeannie moaned, as his kisses made her feel more and more excited, “oh yes keep doing that…”
She opened her eyes as he stopped for a moment, to pull his boxers down, his hard penis making her smile as she looked at it, reaching up and caressing it as she felt the throbbing in her hand.
“I love you Jeannie Brewster,” Winston whispered into her ear, before he started to nibble on it as well –an act that made Jeannie scream in delight, as she started to use her hand in him, gasping more and more as the hardness and throbbing increased.
She didn’t notice as he slipped his hand into her panties and pulled them down, or as he touched her there, but she saw his smile as he said “Are you ready?”
“Of course I am, my love,” she whispered as he leaned over and used his lips and tongue on her body, her gasps getting shorter and shorter as she felt a totally new feeling for her.
“I want you to put this on me.”
Jeannie nodded as she tore the small foil square and slipped it over Winston’s manhood, feeling it as it pulsed in her hand.
“In the top drawer,” she gasped as she felt it, “there’s some jelly. May I put some on you – to make it easier.”
Winston nodded as he opened the drawer and handed the small jar to Jeannie, gasping softly as she took some KY jelly and smoothed it onto his covered member, using her touch not only to spread the lubricant, but also to make him more ready.
“OH god, do it,” she whispered, watching as Winston gently moved her legs apart and moved between them. Leaning down and continuing to caress her body with his mouth, she panted more and more, feeling the electricity getting more and more intense as he slipped into her, his smile growing as he moved in and out.
“God, I wish I knew what it you felt like in there,” Jeannie gasped as his hands caressed and played with her breasts, “because the rest of my body feels fucking fantastic.”
She looked down and saw the little trickle of blood as he came out, then nodded and wrapped her arms round him as he went back in, and kissed her neck, nibbled her ear, and then heard her go “OH MY FUCKING GOD” as she arched her back, and he came to a climax as well.
They looked at each other and then gently kissed as they relaxed, Winston coming out and holding her for a few minutes.
“Thank you,” she eventually said as she stroked her cheek, “thank you for loving me.”
“Of course I do – and thank you.”
“Will you hold me?”
Winston nodded as he lay on his back, Jeannie putting her head on his chest as he put his arm round her and rolled her over so she lay next to him.
"Now did I or didn't I take my birth control
pill?" Jeannie's eyes contained devilment as she looked up at her man.
"Oh Christ you did...didn't you?" Winston
"Of course I did silly," she giggled, "But thank you for still remembering I can have a baby."
Sunday 10th May
“Morning Dad,” Barbara said as John came into the kitchen, “Coffee is freshly brewed.”
“Thanks,” he said as he sat down and accepted the cup from his daughter. “Any sign of Jeannie up and about yet?”
“Not yet – I deliberately did not go into her room last night when we got back, but I presume Winston got her home safely.”
“I’m sure he did,” Barbara said as she sat down, “the question is, did he stay?”
The sound of the lift coming down made Barbara and John look at each other, and then to the kitchen door as Winston wheeled Jeannie in, the young girl wearing a dressing gown and Winston in his shirt and trousers.
“Morning,” Jeannie said with a huge smile, “can I have some coffee please?”
“You can both have some,” Barbara said as John looked at him. “Do I need to change the sheets?”
“I’m afraid so,” Jeannie said as Winston sat down, “sorry, mum.”
“Young man,” John said quietly, “I trust you…”
“I did, sir,” Winston said, “have no fear on that score.”
“Good – can I offer you some pancakes, Winston,” Barbara said as Jeannie shook her head.
The McNally Apartment
“I hope you didn’t mind Aunt Rachel, but Harry brought me home last night, and he sort of stayed.” Angel blushed as she and Harry came into breakfast.
“We have plenty of room.” Rachel smiled as Abby came in with Tony wearing nothing but an oversized rugby shirt.
“My brothers didn’t get home last night.” David smiled as he nibbled on Judy’s ear.
“It was…. well safe?” Abby whispered in Angel’s ear.
“He wore something.” Angel whispered back.
“We better get you on birth control.”
“I couldn’t agree more darling.” Mandy laughed gently as she surprised the two girls from behind.
“Hmmm Lord and Lady Ordford, I think I ought to…”
“Harry I’m too hung-over for apologies.” Will gratefully took a coffee from Rachel’s hands. “Consider yourself chastised for sleeping with my daughter, then sit down and enjoy your breakfast.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Harry whispered as he sat down, smiling at Tony and Angel.
“John – thank you for joining us,” Shirley said as she allowed John Jacobs to come in.”
“Well, an invite to brunch should never be refused,” John said as he came in to join Maddie, Sandy, Emma and John Hammond.
“The younger generation has gone to Caroline’s place in the village,” John said as he shook his fellow countryman’s hand.
“Which allows us to sit and talk as serious adults about serious things, correct?”
“Well, we were thinking more of discussing the others, but if you want to talk politics, feel free,” Maddie said as she sipped her orange juice.
“I jest – and I am on holiday anyway,” John said as he took a seat, and thanked the maid who brought him orange juice and coffee.
“Hey,” Lily said as she came in with George, “I hope we’re not too late.”
“Of course not,” Sandy said, “but I thought you were with the others.”
“I asked her to stay,” George said as they sat down, “we have some family matters to discuss.”
“I’d just like to say how wonderful it is to see two such lovely couples in this room.” John Jacobs smiled. “John, Emma, you have both made old friends of mine very happy, and I thank you both for it.”
“Well Emma and I just hope as many of our friends as possible can make it out to the West Coast for our wedding.” Maddie said as she held her partner’s hand.
“Of course we will be there.” John Hammond held Shirley’s hand as well.
“I hope to be there as well,” John said, “if I can work my schedules out.” Sipping his coffee, he then said “I have to say Lily and Penny had warned me I’d meet a wide selection of people at your party, but I think even I was surprised at how eclectic a selection of humanity was assembled.”
“I wish I could claim credit for the group Uncle John.” Shirley sipped her orange juice, “but in this case I was taken into the group by others and welcomed.”
“Aristocracy, Academia, the Arts, all were so well represented.” John Jacobs reflected briefly, “and I certainly think it’s the first time I ever attended a party and had a detailed discussion on 18th century American silver with an 18 year old.”
“I didn’t realize Blair was such an expert,” Shirley smiled, “When she was here as a debutante though, I’m thinking that there was never the time or opportunity to get to know her better.”
“I still can’t get over Nessa’s singing.” John Hammond spoke. “She really was good.”
“I know.” Lily looked up from her breakfast. “Tom Callaghan danced with me to her version of Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’ and he had me in stitches laughing as he tried to copy the way Klaus was dancing with Juliette.”
“I know Gale was saying Tom was born with three left feet.” Penny joined the talk.
“He’s certainly not the most nimble dancer.” Shirley reflected.
“Unlike young Winston,” John Jacobs smiled. “The way that boy was dancing with young Jeannie, so beautifully, so tenderly.”
“I know, and she finally got him into bed last night.” Lily replied. “The texts have been flying all morning about who left with whom last night.”
“These young people have a very healthy attitude towards sex.” John Hammond spoke up. “It’s not underhand, it’s not secretive, and they all take precautions….”
“And they all seem to enjoy it.” Sandy smiled as well.
“They do.” Shirley joined in.
“So what are the plans for today?” John Hammond asked.
“Well my love, you are taking me out to Monticello to visit with the racers.” Shirley kissed him gently.
“Xavier International are one of the sponsors of the Richmond-Carter car team, and we’re going to see where the money was spent.”
“Sandy, Maddie and I are going to go to Central Park and take in the sights,” Emma said, “What about you, John?”
“I thought I may take in some of the antique stores in the village, in a professional capacity of course.”
“Well, George and I can take you down,” Lily said, “and we can drop in on Caroline as well.”
“Sounds good to me,” John said with a smile.
The Carlton home
“So what do you want to do today Anna?” Chet asked as they stepped out of the Carlton house into the spring sun.
Anna looked at him and smiled.
“Oh no, we did that all last night…I need a break and some fresh air.”
“Spoilsport.” Doc laughed. “But if you don’t want me in bed again yet, how about we go for a nice walk in the park?”
“That might be nice.” Chet smiled as she put her arm in his.
“I know a good place you can buy me lunch as well,” she looked at him happily.
“That sounds okay,” he stopped and gently kissed her. “You know I owe Carina a thank you for introducing us.”
“I’ll be sure to pass it on.” Anna grinned as they walked arm in arm towards Central Park. “And to your sister as well…”
Central Park Cafe
“There you are,” Carina said as she and Bobbi watched Holly walk in. “We just ordered – he’ll be back in a minute.”
“Who was that gorgeous man with your sister last night Cari?” Holly asked.
“Adam Cabot the photographer.”
“That is my idea of a handsome man.”
“I saw you slipping your glasses on to check him out.” Carina smiled. “Holly you have to accept that in our case men WILL make passes at girls who wear glasses and keep them on.”
“I know, Tommy’s always telling me I’m vain.”
“He was quiet last night?”
“We had a bit of a fight.”
“Anything serious Holly?”
“Oh I guess not really, just he has a summer internship here in the city and won’t be coming on vacation.”
“That’s playing with fire leaving you to your own devices all summer.” Bobbi eased into the booth.
“I know, I said if guys ask me out I’m not going to say no.”
“And he said?” Cari asked.
“That it was fine with him.”
“Ouch no wonder things looked a bit strained.” Carina turned to look at Bobbi. “So did you cradle snatch last night?”
“Yes,” Bobbi blushed, “I took Simon to my bed, and for a 17 year old he made love pretty damn well.”
“Well done that girl.” Cari grinned.
“Did Becca bring Billy back?” asked Holly.
“She did, my mom just takes it all in her stride.”
“Mine did too…Adam and Annie both there for breakfast she didn’t say a word, nor did Dad.”
“Well, you’re lucky,” Holly said.
“I can’t stay too long – Mom and I are going to see Karen this afternoon, say hello to the new baby.”
“Well say hello from us – now, that drink…”
“Hey Clint,” Heather said as she looked at Mario Andretti and another man walking over, “we’ve got company.”
“Really – who,” Clint said as he turned round and looked, and then smiled as he recognized the stranger.
“Hello Boss, what perfectly good car are you trying to destroy today?” Clint said as he shook hands with the tall blonde man.
“Hey Clint, good to see you, I heard you’d got back into racing,” the tall man shouted as he embraced him. “Jaguar have me testing a new prototype…Hello Henri, it’s been a very long time old friend.”
“Ian, nice to see you, what car are you ruining today?” Henri smiled.
“Okay I have to ask, what do you both mean…Destroy? Ruin?” Sandy enquired.
“Sandy Richmond, this is my old boss Ian Nelson, Ian tests cars and components on experimental prototypes and sees if he can break them.” Clint replied.
“You can only test so much on computer simulations and on test benches, before you need someone like Ian drive a vehicle and test it to its limits.” Henri nodded. “A lot of the features you take for standard nowadays on cars Ian here initially tested on the track.”
“Well! Now that does impress me…you are a sort of car test pilot then?”
“It’s one way of putting it Miss Richmond.”
“If you don’t want me calling you Mr. Nelson, then it’s Sandy.”
“Okay Sandy it is.”
“Ian does what Colin Chapman had his GP drivers doing in races early on in Lotus history.” Henri paused. “He would make components progressively lighter till they broke in a race, then he knew where the limits were.”
“It sounds dangerous.” Heather joined the conversation.
“But it’s often the only way forward.” Ian smiled again. “So what are you guys doing here on a Sunday afternoon?”
“Practicing pit work for our opening race in a couple of weeks.” Sandy smiled.
“Ah yes, the six hour – I’m looking forward to that, but surely with Clint and Henri on your side you have no problems?”
“As you will testify, Ian, practice makes perfect,” Clint said, “on which note – Jeanne, bring her in next time and we’ll do a tire change.”
“Roger that,” Sandy heard Jeanne say on her com. “Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure, but if you will excuse us?”
“Of course – see you soon, Clint,” Ian said as he and Mario headed off.
Temple Hill Hospital
“Hey,” Juliette said as she, Carina and Judith came into the room, “how are the new mother and father?”
“Exhausted,” Karen said as she looked over from her bed, “I’m never going to complain about the language some of my patients come out with.”
“She taught me a few phrases I don’t know,” Ken said with a huge smile, “including a few in Welsh I suspect.”
“These are for you,” Juliette said as she handed Karen a large bunch of flowers.
“And this is for John,” Carina said as she laid a large plush toy on the bed, then looked round at the cards and flowers. "This room is as bad as mine was."
"I know," Karen smiled. "A lot of very old friends have been far too kind."
"Oh dear Goddess, this is from Wormhole, it's
been years since I saw her." Juliette looked at a blue teddy bear.
"A lot of people must have been working their
phones very hard last night." Ken smiled as he sat on the edge of the bed.
"Well little John reverses a trend," Cari smiled, "a lot of little girls recently, but a
shortage of boys."
"I know." Karen smiled happily. "In 17
or 18 years time he will have a lot of beautiful girls to dance with."
"So what about our bet?"
"You won, I gave up and
asked for drugs." Karen laughed. "I'll pay up next week."
"Easiest twenty bucks I ever earned."
"So did we miss a lot?"
"Further proof that Nessa
can sing beautifully." Juliette looked up from reading labels.
"She sang Goodnight Sweetheart and it was
beautiful." Carina looked as the nurse brought the baby in.
"Oh he's adorable Karen." Juliette said as
she looked at him, wrapped in a blue blanket.
"He's going to have the Boyd chin though,"
Karen looked up at Ken as she cradled the baby in her arms.
"Well no man should be totally perfect." Carina laughed softly.
“Hey, it never did me any harm,” Ken said as he lowered his glasses and looked at Carina, “but I take the point.”
“Well after a birthday party like last night, I didn’t expect to see you guys out here this afternoon.” Roy Razinski shook John and Shirley’s hand as they entered the pit area.
“No hangovers?” Tonia smiled as she kissed both newcomers on the cheek.
“No, I never do.” Shirley smiled. “Plenty of water before retiring for the night – among other things.”
John smiled at the memory of the previous night.
“Hi guys.” Heather came over and hugged everyone. “How are you all?”
“We are all doing well Heather dear,” Shirley took the sights and smells in, “I’ve been to the British Grand Prix a couple of times, but always in executive suites, I always wondered what went on behind the scenes.”
“A lot of hard work.” Heather smiled as Jan brought the BMW screeching to a halt. They watched as the pit crew leapt over the wall and changed tires and simulated putting fuel in.
“That’s not bad chaps.” Henri clicked his stopwatch, “but we can do better. Okay Jan, take her round again, and let’s try this time with a driver change as well.”
“Roger that.” Jan spoke in her com.
“Sandy you are up.” Henri shouted.
“I need to get my camera out.” John smiled, “This action needs capturing.”
“I’ll take some prints for one John.” Roy called out.
“Hello Aunt Shirley.” Katy came over in her Richmond-Carter overalls.
“Hello Katy what are you doing here?”
“We’re working,” the young girl replied with a grin. “Sandy and I look after the drinks, the energy bars, the bits you don’t need an adult to do.”
“I’m impressed.” Shirley smiled back at the youngster. “So where is George?”
“He’s helping the mechanics by fetching and carrying.”
“It sounds like we stand still too long Shirley, they’ll find us jobs to do.” Roy laughed.
“I think we’re safe,” Shirley said, “but I am impressed with the organization and the team you have assembled here.”
“Indeed,” Henri said as Jan came to a halt, and unfastened her harness, jumping out and helping to secure Sandy in place before she drove off.
“Good, good,” Clint said as the team came back over, Jeanne clapping Jan on the back as she removed her helmet. “The car’s really moving well Clint,” she called out, “I think you’ve ironed out that problem.”
“We’ll find out in practice in two weeks time,” Clint said.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Come on, little one,” Carina said as she rubbed her nose on her daughter’s stomach, Judith giggling and waving her hands about, “who’s a lovely little girl, who is, who is…”
Juliette shook her head as she went into the kitchen and started the coffee machine, opening her laptop to check the on line editions of the newspapers. She sat and looked at the screen, and then looked again.
“CARINA! COME IN HERE NOW!”
“Mom?” Carina came in and looked at the white face of her mother, “what’s wrong?
“You promised me no more.”
“No more what mom?” Carina came round and looked hard at the screen.
“Christmas Eve killer returns.” Juliette read the headline.
“Burned, tortured body found in apartment after fire.” Cari read aloud.
“Mom this one wasn’t me I promise, I spent all night in bed with Annie, and she can probably tell you in detail what we did.”
“Oh crap…but then who?”
“Great Aunt Natalya springs to mind.” Cari grabbed a mug of coffee for herself.
“And she just happens to repeat almost exactly a murder you did?”
“Hey I researched her, she’s not dumb, and she could have worked out that killing was me.”
“We will talk more later.” Ju whispered as she heard the door open.
“We are in the kitchen Dad.” Carina called out.
“Hello,” Klaus said as he came in with Sigi. “We thought we would form the advance guard before our uncle and aunt get here. Everything all right?”
“Fine,” Juliette said as she closed the laptop. “Coffee?”
“Thank you,” Sigi said as she sat at the table. “Where’s the most beautiful woman in this apartment then?”
“Right here,” Klaus said as he kissed Juliette.
“I think we got played,” Sigi said as she shook her head, Carina nodding in agreement as she went to the apartment door.
“Come on Pepsi, it’s not that bad.”
Pepsi looked at the two girls as they all heard the apartment door open and close.
“How were Karen, Ken, and little John?” Ama asked as Caroline and Annie arrived back from the hospital.
“All looking wonderful.” Annie smiled.
“Any calls while we were out?”
“Both your boyfriends called while you were out Mom…you know you really need to choose?” Ama looked knowingly at Maisha as she spoke.
“Perhaps you should talk to Bobbi Morse,” Annie said, “although I think she might have a different view after last night.”
“I’ll phone them both in a bit,” Caroline took off her jacket, “Is that coffee fresh?”
“I made it ten minutes ago.” Pepsi answered.
“Should still be good then.” She made her way to the kitchen to fetch a cup.
“So Jack and his family got away on time?” Annie asked.
“Yes, and that’s why Pepsi is here sulking and crying on our shoulders.” Maisha laughed.
“It will be weeks now till I see him again.” Pepsi pouted.
“Aww, poor little Miss Broadhurst – perhaps we should arrange some extra end of year lessons for you?”
“NO – I mean no, I will be fine,” Pepsi said with a smile.
“So tell me about John?” Ama said as her mother came back from the kitchen.
“Well he’s small, pink and adorable.” Caroline sat in an armchair. “It’s just so wonderful that Karen is at last a mother, she’ll be a great one.”
“Oh, before I forget - Great Granddad phoned and I told him, he said he was going to send Karen a little something.”
“I’m just glad you and he get along so well my darling.” Caroline looked at her daughter. “I’d forgotten for all those years how important family is.”
“Of course it is,” Ama said, “it is everything. You have shown me that so clearly.”
“Thanks, Ama,” Caroline said with a smile. “But you’re right, I do need to pick between them. I just wish it wasn’t so difficult…”
Monday 11th May
As John helped Jeannie into her wheelchair outside the school gates, he noticed her friends waiting outside the school gate.
“I guess they only have one question on their mind,” John said as Jeannie put her bag on her lap.
“Yup – see you later Granddad,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself over.
“Well, Miss Carlton,” Jeannie said to Doc, “what is this rumour I hear you were seen in the park yesterday with a certain young van Roon, gazing adoringly into his eyes?”
“I don’t trade in rumours,” Doc said quietly, “but Chet was special. Don’t dodge the issue, however, you know what we all want the answer to.”
“Yeah, I know what you want to know,” Jeannie said as they walked in.
“Sorry Ama,” Jeannie said with a smile, “I’m afraid you’re it now?”
“Do not worry,” Ama said as she hugged Jeannie, “my time will come.”
“All right, so how did he…”
The girls turned to see Jo and Abby behind them. “You’d better get going,” Jo said quietly, “lot of things to do this week...”
“Good morning ladies,” Miss Tennant said as she walked into the Senior common room, “thank you for meeting with me here today.”
“Good morning Miss Tennant,” the replied in unison as she sat down.
“It is the time of year again when I hear your suggestions for the head girls of the class of 2016,” Miss Tennant said, “but I cannot begin the process without acknowledging the exceptional job the current head girls have done.”
Kathy, Suzie and Jo blushed as the room cheered.
“So, who do you suggest?”
“Before we begin,” Kathy said, “we all would like to say that had it been possible, Abigail de Ros would have been at the top of our list.”
“I would agree,” Miss Tennant nodded in reply, “but her place as a patron of the Jamie Kirkham fund is invaluable to us, and in addition she will have other duties next year which will take her time. So, who do you wish to propose?”
“Our first nomination,” Kathy said, “is Annabelle Petrie.”
“A good choice – one of the most academically gifted girls of the Junior class.”
“Our second nomination,” Suzie said, “is Rachel Merriman.”
Wilhelmina Tennant nodded as Jo looked at the other two,
“Our third nomination,” she said, “is Letty Kinman.”
“Letty Kinman,” Miss Tennant said as she thought for a moment, “explain.”
“I know she seems an unusual suggestion,” Jo said, “but she is one of the leading athletes of the Juniors, and she has life experiences which will prove invaluable as the three seek to lead next year.”
Miss Tennant nodded as she stood up. “Very well, I will take your suggestions forward. The prom?”
“All is in readiness – tickets will be available from tomorrow.”
“Excellent – thank you ladies.” She walked out of the room, the girls talking amongst themselves.
The Brewster Brownstone
“I’ll get it,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself to the front door, pressing the button that allowed the front door to swing in.
Standing on the top of the stairs was a woman with short brown hair, wearing a long brown coat, a pair of brown Ugg boots on her feet. She turned and looked straight ahead, and then down to see Jeannie smiling at her.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Oh my,” the woman said as she looked at Jeannie, “I…”
“Who is it love,” Barbara said as she came to the door, and then looked at the woman standing there.
“Hello Barbara,” she said, “it’s been a long time.”
“Denise,” Barbara said quietly, “you look well.”
“So do you – New York obviously suits you. And this is Jeannie?”
“Mum, who is…”
“Jeannie,” Barbara said quietly, “this is your Aunt Denise.”
“Aunt Denise – the same Aunt Denise Granddad came out to live with when I was a baby?”
“The same – may I come in?”
“Of course,” Barbara said as Jeannie wheeled herself back, watching as her aunt removed her coat. She was wearing underneath a checked blouse over a grey t-shirt, and electric blue leggings.
“This is a nice house Babs,” Denise said, “how’s Dad?”
“He’s working at the moment, but he should be back by six – would you like a drink. We’ll go through to the kitchen.”
The two older women walked through, Jeannie following as she looked at them. Side by side, it was obvious her mother and Denise were sisters, but while Barbara had her light brown hair cut in a tight bob, Denise had her hair hanging loose and long.
“So where do you live now, Aunt Denise,” Jeannie said as she stopped by the dining table.
“Tulsa,” Denise said, “I work for a television station down there. I had some vacation time coming, so I thought I would come back to New York, see some old friends, and – well, see you as well.”
Jeannie watched her mother as she switched on the coffee machine, and then stood, her hands gripping the work surface.
“Mum? Are you all right?”
“Yes – yes I’m fine,” Barbara said. “Jeannie, would you give me and your aunt a few minutes alone please?”
“Sure – I’ll be in the front room,” Jeannie said as she looked at both of them, and then wheeled herself out.
“She’s a bright kid – takes after you,” Denise said as Barbara handed her a coffee and then sat opposite her. They stared at each other for a few minutes, before Denise said “so what do you work as here?”
“I’m a hospital administrator at Temple Hill,” Barbara said as she sipped her coffee.
“I’ve seen Jeannie in the magazines and on television – she’s a strong girl, isn’t she?”
“It’s a Bolden family trait, as you know Denise,” Barbara said as she put her mug down. “Denise, there is something I have to ask.”
“Go on, I can guess what it is?”
“Where the hell were you when he died,” Barbara whispered, “even Dad came back for a couple of weeks, but from you – not a peep. So where the hell were you?”
“What did Dad say?”
“He said you couldn’t get the time off. But I want the truth, Denise – what happened?”
“Denise, just tell me the truth please.”
“All right – I was too embarrassed to come back. I came out here to be a huge success, and instead I was doing bit parts in crap television shows. When he died, I wanted to come back, but – I was too scared of what people might say.”
“It hurt,” Barbara said, “it hurt so much. My own sister was not there for me when I needed her the most…”
“I’m sorry,” Denise said as she reached over and held Barbara’s hand in hers, “I know I let you down, and I’ve never forgiven myself for it. But now – now I hope you can forgive me.”
Barbara looked over the table, tears forming in the corner of her eye as she said “Yeah – I can’t hold grudges anyway. Come on – you need to meet Jeannie properly.”
Tuesday 12th May
The Astoria Waldorf
The lift doors opened, allowing the people riding in it to get out, including the tall grey-blonde haired woman in a grey jumper and pants. She looked round and made her way over to the coffee bar, seeing Carina sitting in the corner as she walked over.
“Good morning,” she said as she stood up, Judith sitting in a high chair with her, “thanks for agreeing to meet me, Great Aunt Natalya. Where is Uncle Wilhelm?”
“He is making preparations for his trip to the racecourse this afternoon – not a pursuit that interests me, but I allow him his hobbies. A large black coffee, if you would be so kind.”
The waitress looked at Carina, who smiled and said “Another iced tea please.”
As she walked away, Natalya sat back and smiled. “So, pleasant though it is to see you and the delightful Judith again, I suspect there is another reason you asked to see me this morning – something you do not wish to discuss in front of the others?”
“There is indeed,” Carina said as she leaned forward, “do you read the local newspapers while you are staying here?”
“I tend not to read any newspapers – I prefer to hear the news on the radio. Why?”
Carina took out a copy of a newspaper from her bag, and laid it on the table, Natalya looking over the report she pointed to.
“Interesting,” Natalya muttered as she took in the details. “And this is reckoned to have taken place in the early hours of Sunday?”
“As far as the reports say yes,” Cari said as she took the paper back, and the waitress brought the drinks over. Natalya picked up her cup and took a sip, looking at Carina the whole time.
“No,” Carina said quietly, “it wasn’t me. I need to know if…”
“It was not me either,” Natalya said as she put her cup down.
“Forgive me, but…”
"Carina look into my eyes,” Natalya said, waiting until the young woman was looking at her before she said, “I am not responsible for this. Now, am I lying to you?"
"No… No, I'd sense it if you were." Carina looked befuddled for a few seconds. "But if it wasn't you, and it wasn't me Great Aunt Natalya, who the hell was it?"
"Your little friend Annie?"
"No, she was in bed with me."
"Well,” Natalya said as she sat back, “I'm afraid
that you two are the only others I know here in New York, now if it was back
home in Germany I might know a couple of possible suspects. So why would this concern you Carina?"
Quietly Carina explained her activities that Christmas
"So Judith's father...ah now I understand fully." Natalya nodded.
She watched as Judith picked up a biscuit from the tray of the seat and started sucking on it.
"Well whoever it was knew the details of what I did on that Christmas Eve." Carina was deep in thought.
"What disturbs you most Carina, the killings? Or
the fact that people will assume it was you?"
"I just loath the idea that my beast will be
blamed for something she didn't do."
"That's what I thought." Natalya smiled,
"Well then dear niece I suspect that you and I will have to catch this
killer and expose her."
"Us? Isn't that a bit
screwy, two psychopathic serial killers trying to catch another one?"
"I will admit it's a challenge, but it might help
pass the next few days here in New York in a fairly amusing fashion."
"Alright,” Carina said, “where do we start?"
"Well while your uncle is at the races this afternoon, how about we visit the scene of the crime? I will meet you here at three – I suggest casual clothing."
“So who have you got lined up for the prom,” Jo asked Ally as she came back with a pair of tickets.
“Not telling – but it will surprise all of you. Mom’s tearing her hair out at the moment with the fact our proms are one after the other – I go first, then Nell.”
“So is Curt coming down to accompany you, Jo,” Kathy asked as she walked past.
“Of course – I need to go and sort the gown out later with a little help from my fashion advisors.”
“You called,” Abby said as she sat and joined them. “Still on for after school?”
“Sure am – what about Cari?”
“She cried off – something about a business thing she needs to sort out…”
Aqueduct Raceway, Queens
“Well for the lesser of the two city tracks, this still isn’t a bad facility.” Henri smiled as he joined the party in the grandstand.
“Welcome Henri.” Guy embraced his countryman. “Our horse is in the next race.”
“He’s not much of a secret though.” George Simpson glanced at the Pari-Mutual board, “he’s barely going to start at evens.”
“Well I brought some cash to place on him.” Henri looked round, “so where are Roy, Wilhelm and Grant?”
“Down in the saddling ring with the trainer and jockey.” Guy explained. “Ah here come the ladies.” He smiled as Tonia, Valeria and Katherine returned.
“Good afternoon Henri.” Valeria said as she embraced him.
“Well we added the gang’s money.” Tonia watched as the odds trimmed even more.
“I hope it wasn’t too much.” George looked up from his race program, “as Grant has been cautioning, it’s first time out, we aren’t sure how he will react.”
“Well, it is out of our hands now,” Roy said as he Grant and Wilhelm came up into the stand. The group watched as the horses were led out and walked to the stalls.
“Which one is our horse,” Katherine said as she looked down.
“Blue silks with white diamond on the back,” George said as Saints and Sinnerz was led to the stalls, the jockey sitting across his back.
“He’s loading nicely.” Grant whispered to himself, “no need for the hood or blinkers. Always a good sign.”
They watched in silence as the remaining horses were loaded into their stalls, and the starter mounted the stairs.
“And they’re off.” The track announcer called as the gates opened.
“Okay just let him run his own race Jorge.” Grant muttered as he watched through his binoculars.
“He broke smartly out of the gates.” Wilhelm nodded as he trained his glasses.
“That’s nice early speed.” Henri whispered.
“Now let him go Jorge.” Roy urged as they rounded the bend.
“Come on my Son!” George started yelling.
“Come on my Beauty!” Katherine screamed as the horse pulled away down the stretch.
“Magnifique!” Valeria smiled as he pulled away.
“YES! YES!” Tonia screamed as he crossed the line.
“And the result,” the announcer said “First Saints and Sinnerz, second Galloway Boy, third Philly Lady…”
“Well he idled a little in front when he got there.” Grant tried to find something critical to say despite the broad grin on his face.
“Spoken like a true horseman.” Roy smiled. “But he won by 12 lengths.”
“He proved what he showed in training wasn’t false.” George said as he poured champagne for everyone.
“So now we try him up in class, that race at Belmont in the opening week we discussed?” Guy asked.
“Oh I think we have to.” Roy kissed his wife.
“Well while you and the gentlemen work on plans, I think I’ll accompany Wilhelm and the ladies to collect our winnings.” Henri grinned.
Carina and Natalya stood on the sidewalk, looking over at the scene on the other side. Cari was wearing her old Angel hoodie, the hood over her head, jeans and Ugg boots, while Natalya had on a brown jacket and long peasant skirt, with a headscarf tied over her hair.
“Such a waste,” the older woman said as she shook her head. “No real style or elegance, but that is the point isn’t it – to use it to hide the real details?”
“Well we can’t exactly claim the moral high ground Aunt Natalya.” Carina said as she looked at the half burned out tenement building. “It’s not as though either of us has never done something just like this.”
“Exactly so we bring an experienced eye to the situation.” Natalya looked upwards. “Am I right in thinking this was a pretty shabby place in a shabby part of town?”
“Yes, this is not exactly a place even I’d like to be after dark.”
“Alright then - logical question. Where would she have found this man?”
“I found mine right out on the street.”
“Yes,” Natalya said with a smile, “but you yourself said that she was reckless that night, that Carina had to clean up her mess. This woman planned this, it wasn’t off the cuff like yours.”
“Okay that sounds logical,” Carina said as they turned and walked slowly down the street, “where do you find your victims Aunt?”
“Bars, clubs, the sort of places where no one looks at anyone too closely.”
“Well there’s plenty of bars round here might fit that description.” Carina craned her head, “I can see five from here.”
“Come on Cari, reach inside, what do ‘her’ instincts tell you?”
Carina closed her eyes and thought for a moment. “These bars out on the avenue are too public…on one of the side streets?”
“That was what I was thinking as well.”
“Okay - she picks him up in a bar, they go back to his place…”
“She springs her trap.” Natalya looked round. “This is not the sort of place I would guess that she could count on her victim owning the toys that she’d want to play with.”
“So she’d bring her own,” Cari nodded, “cuffs, whips, knives. She would have been carrying a fairly large bag.”
“I concur.” Natalya smiled.
“I wish we could access the crime scene photos.”
“I would rather like to look at the body itself.”
“Because every bitch has her own way of torturing a man, the pattern is usually as good as a fingerprint.”
“I still don’t see.”
“With our, what might you call it…professional knowledge, we might see clues that totally escape both the coroner and the police.”
“Well the body will be in the morgue.”
“Which is where?”
“I’m not sure, I’d have to look it up…” Carina suddenly stopped and looked at the older woman. “Oh no Aunt Natalya you aren’t thinking what I think you are?”
“Why not? About four in the morning, things will be very quiet, I’m sure between us we can get in.”
“Oy,” Carina rolled her eyes, “I’m going to break into the morgue.”
“I’ll sedate Wilhelm and then I’ll slip out to cruise the bars. I may be able to find out if anyone has seen a woman carrying a large bag round – they should stand out like a sore thumb around here.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’ve done that before?”
Natalya smiled a very knowing smile. “I’ll meet you in the parking garage of your building at three thirty. I’m pretty sure you know how to dress for a break in.”
“I do…” Carina paused a second. “Do you want me to bring guns?”
“Messy things, but yes I suppose you should.”
“Very well then – three thirty tomorrow morning. I need my head examined…”
“No – I think you have a very good grip on who you are, my dear, as I do. For now, let us find somewhere to wash the taste out of our mouths.”
APCO, 5th Avenue
Abby held the door to the store open as Maggie, Ally and Jo walked in, closing it behind herself. All four looked out of place in their school uniforms, amongst the fashions and accessories.
On one side, Jo could see a display of Fitzstuart Woolens – and behind the display, the picture Adam had taken of her playing with an Old English Sheepdog, laughing as he tried to lick her.
“Okay this is weird,” she said quietly, “coming into a store and seeing huge pictures of myself on the walls.”
“You get used to it Jo.” Abigail smiled.
Jo turned and looked at Abby, before saying “You do?”
“Well,” Abby said with a shrug, “you get used to it a bit.”
“Hello ladies can I help?” an associate said as she approached.
“Can we look at prom dresses please?” Ally asked.
“Of course, this way please.” She led them to an area of the store with mannequins wearing a range of dresses, as well as the accessories.
“Nice of Alice to give us all discounts.” Maggie smiled.
“Well you three are famous, and I’m infamous.” Ally laughed. “I guess it’s good advertising.”
“That is certainly one way of looking at it,” Abby said as a black hared woman in a coat dress walked over.
“Hello Miss de Ros. Miss Fife, Miss Rochermann, and of course Miss Smith, welcome.” Betsy the store manageress smiled as she approached.
“Hi Betsy.” Abby smiled. “The girls need prom dresses.”
“Alice warned me you’d be in.”
“Can we have a look, and then try on a few?” Jo asked.
“Of course ladies, follow me please.” She led them through the collection, pointing out some suggestions as they looked round.
“The detailing on this bodice is wonderful.” Maggie looked closely at her own reflection as she turned from side to side, the green silk moving like a wave as she did so.
“You’ve come back to that dress three times Mags, I think it’s the one.” Abby sat looking.
“Maybe a couple of tiny alterations…ummm? Perhaps a little higher in the skirt…”
“Well Mary said she would do them for us.” Jo looked at herself in a shimmering ivory and silver fishtail evening dress. “Oh yes this is the one,” she whispered to herself.
“Damn be glad you found that dress first Smith.” Ally grinned as she checked herself out in a strapless red gown.
“Oh Ally that’s THE one for you.” Abby smiled.
“The colour supports my devilish nature you mean?” Ally turned and looked at different angles. “I must admit though it is damn near perfect.”
“You’ll all need the right gloves of course.” Betsy looked closely.
“Yes.” Maggie spoke as she tried piling her hair up to get the impression of an updo. “Yes I will take this,” she finally convinced herself.
“All greens look good on beautiful redheads.” Betsy added her approval.
“Are you all set?” Abigail asked.
“For dresses yes.” Jo looked again, “now for shoes, gloves, bags…”
“We can help with all those.” Betsy looked at her assistants. “Girls can we also beg autographs for the staff…and myself.” She blushed.
“Sure.” Jo smiled, totally happy now that she’d found THE most beautiful dress in New York.
The Huntingdown Apartment
"Well if it wasn't Natalya then who might it have been?" Annie said as she turned and looked into
Carina's eyes while they lay in bed.
"The only other possible suspect I could come up
with is Penny, she's shown she can get plenty
"I guess....but still…Penny?"
"I know,” Carina thought hard, "But we need
to eliminate her as a suspect just in case."
"I'll try having a word...I had a thought. What about Abigail?"
"Not really her style, and
I’m 99% certain she and Tony were together all night, but I guess we also need to
"So Natalya doesn't know you are Miss Lynx
"And she's not to Monster Lady, but I think we
may need Heather and Jan's expertise in this."
"All without Natalya suspecting they are
helping." Annie paused, "That won't be easy."
"I know, but it’s necessary. I’ve already got the fridge number through Heather for the corpse, and I’ll talk to both of them tomorrow." She turned and gently kissed Annie’s lips. “Can you hold me for a little while? I have no idea what my aunt is up to, but I need to rest before I prepare to meet her.”
Wednesday 13th May
Cari stepped out from the lift, pulling up the zip on her leather jacket, and looked round. She was dressed in black, knee length boots over leggings, and short gloves as well as a woolen hat on her head.
“Very practical,” Natalya said as she stepped out. She was wearing a pair of dark brown pants; the legs tucked into suede boots, a brown fleece, and also had a hat on her head. “Did you get what you said you needed?”
“Borrowed from a friend,” Carina said as she took the .45 from her pocket and handed it to Natalya. “How was your night?”
“Fruitless, I regret to say, but there are so many bars and so little time. Shall we?”
“We’ll take a car – we need to get over to Staten Island,” Cari said as she took a set of keys from her pocket. “There’s a Chevy over there we can use.”
Coroner’s Office, Staten Island
The office was in darkness, as the two dark clad figures waked past, entering the storage area. The smaller of the two looked at the numbers on the doors, before she stopped in front of one in particular.
She turned and nodded to the other woman as she opened the door, and they opened the door, pulling out the male body into the air.
They shone the torches on him, looking at him with a professional, almost detached air. Eventually, the taller woman looked over, her eyes blazing in the holes in the balaclava, and said “Well Carina what can you see?”
“She made a true mess of him. She either left covered in blood, or carried fresh clothes and showered.”
“I would lean towards the shower theory.”
“She had shackles on him of some sort, I’ve seen those abrasions on my own victims wrists.” Carina lifted the left wrist in her latex gloved hand and shone the light on the red bruises.
“Those are pretty obvious, and ropes tying his legs.” Natalya looked at the ridged marks on his ankles.
“She’s used disinfectant and fire to destroy any fluids she may have left that could be identified…just as I did that time.”
“Whoever did this,” Natalya whispered, “was clearly using your killing as her template.”
“I can see one difference, she was left-handed, and I’m right-handed.”
“The way she cut his throat?”
“Yes, she was behind him and drew her blade from right to left.” Cari traced along the wound in his neck.
“It looks like that.” Natalya looked at the skin closely. “I also think she burned him as well…look?”
“Those aren’t match burns.”
“No she was smoking and using her cigarette to burn him.”
“Okay we are looking for a left-handed smoker.”
Natalya nodded before she said “Turn him over.”
“Yuck,” Carina looked pained but did what her Great Aunt asked. Natalya looked at the red weals and wounds on his back, nodding as she recognized the imprints.
“She used a riding crop, and heavily, she really hurt this thing. All right, lay him back down.”
Carina rolled him back and then looked down.
“Have you looked at his feet?”
“Ah,” Natalya said as she looked at the matted soles of his feet, and also the nail beds, unprotected and exposed, “she did that to him as well.”
“He would have been begging to die by the time she started to cut him.” Carina looked at the wounds.
“A scalpel I’m guessing, and designed to be very painful, but not fatal.”
“She was determined to enjoy it as long as possible.”
“Yes, this woman loves inflicting pain.”
“I know what you are thinking Great Aunt,” Carina said quietly, “yes I love to hurt, but this wasn’t me.”
“I know,” Natalya said with a smile, “you are neither left handed or a smoker.”
“So can you see a fingerprint?”
“Yes, her choice of tools, the way she cut him, the pure sadism. I’ve never seen this work, but if I did see it again I’d know her.”
“The opening up of his guts?”
“After death Carina, I think she paid a little homage to the Ripper by laying his organs like that.”
“So anything more?”
“No I think I’ve seen all I need to.” Natalya smiled under her mask. “Let’s leave him to his rest – and I need to get back before Willy wakes up. Can we meet for lunch?”
“Sounds good,” Carina said as they pushed him back in and then closed the door. “I’m following up some leads this morning – I’ll tell you more later.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Hello Jennifer,” Carina said as she brought Judith in, “are you ready for the play date?”
“I’ll take her,” Vanessa said as she took the baby from her arms, and looked at her. “Are you all right, you look tired.”
“Long night,” Carina said as she went into the kitchen, Heather handing her a mug of coffee without a word.
“Drink that first,” she said, “then we’ll take a walk down to the park. You look like you need the fresh air.”
“Yeah – I had a night to remember,” Carina said as she sipped the hot drink.
Thirty minutes later, Carina and Heather were walking through Central Park, their jackets open as the warm spring air blew over them.
“Where did we say we would meet her,” Heather asked as they approached a café.
“In here,” Carina said as they walked in, taking a booth in the corner and ordering two coffees. They then looked to the door as Jan walked in, her coat over a grey trouser suit and silk blouse.
“Hey,” she said as she sat down, “can I get a coffee as well please?”
“Coming up,” the waitress said as the three women looked at each other.
“Right,” Carina said as she took a deep breath, “I need help from both of you, but I’m going to ask that this is between the three of us – nobody else must know.”
She kept silent as the waitress brought the three coffees over, and then slipped the newspaper over to Heather and Jan.
“I heard Tom mention this,” Janice said as she reviewed the story, “he felt it was a NY job, especially given the similarity to the Christmas Eve slaying year before last.”
“Well, it’s not the same person.”
Jan looked at Carina and Heather, before she said “and you know this because?”
Carina just looked at Janice, before saying “The details of what happened to cause it are another story, but that was the one night The Beast was allowed to get loose without any self control.”
Jan looked at Carina, before she whispered “Judith’s father, the one who skipped town…”
Heather and Carina both nodded before Jan said “If not you, then who?”
“That is the question,” Carina said, “I had another person in mind as the possible sadist, but it wasn’t them. We’re working together to find out what we can, but we need help – I need help. I do not want to be blamed for this.”
“I can imagine,” Jan said, “what do you need?”
“We need to get copies of the crime scene photos if we can,” Carina said, “and to know if the details match any other slayings in the last couple of years.”
“What do we know?”
“We know she’s a sadist, she likes to burn her victims, torture them, whip them, cut them – then kill them by slicing their throat and eviscerating the corpse.”
Heather looked at her coffee and then pushed it away. “What else?”
“Don’t ask how I know, but she is a left handed smoker.”
“You say she,” Jan said, “How do you know it’s not a he?”
“Trust me, it’s not.”
“From what you say,” Heather says, “it’s a mash up of you, Penny and Annie, with a dash of Abby.”
“I know – which is why we need to find them. It’s not me or Annie, and I’m certain Abby would not do this.”
“Annie’s going to talk to her later.”
“All right – I can get the crime scene report, send it on to you and Heather. I’ll see if the profilers at the precinct house have any thoughts as well.”
“Thanks Jan – and not a word of this to anyone else please.”
“I’ll be in touch soon,” Jan said as she walked out, Heather looking at Carina.
“Long night? Where did you and Natalya end up?”
“Staten Island – whoever did this is a Beast like me and her, but it’s neither of us. The body was – informative.”
“I don’t want to know,” Heather said, “I’ll find out later.”
“Does it match any of the ones we were worried Ingrid had a hand in? No, I double checked when I guessed this was what our meeting was about. Let’s see what the report points to.
“Come on – let’s go and play with the girls for a while, clear your mind.”
Vanessa Richmond’s Apartment
Nessa looked up from her chair to see her maid standing at the doorway.
“Yes Maria, what is it?”
“A Mrs. Maureen Gardiner is here to see you.”
Nessa put down the book she was reading and stood up, brushing her trousers down as she said “please, show her in.” Maria went out, returning a few minutes later with Maureen Gardiner. She looked at Allyson’s mother, wearing a black silk blouse and knee length skirt, and said “hello Mrs. Gardiner – I’m sorry you weren’t able to come after the funeral, but I am glad you came today.”
“Well, both Tony and I felt after the funeral that we had to spend some time away, grieving,” she said as she sat down, “but I really did wish to talk with you, so thank you for agreeing to meet me.”
“Of course – Maria, coffee for two please,” Vanessa said, the maid nodding as she left the room.
“Please – we must not stand on ceremony. It’s Vanessa – Nessa is preferable, but I’ll accept Vanessa.”
“Very well, Vanessa – sorry Nessa. I prefer Mo, if truth be told,” her visitor said as she sat back.
“Nessa and Mo it is then,” Nessa said as Maria brought in a tray with the coffee, and left it on the table. “Sugar or cream?”
“I drink it black thank you,” Mo said as Nessa poured her a cup and handed it over, taking the handle in her left hand and sipping.
“Can I say once again how much I mourned Allyson’s passing,” Nessa said as she sipped her own coffee. “When I invited her and George with Jennifer for the weekend, I hoped it would help her, but instead…”
“Nessa, you must not blame yourself for what happened,” Mo said as she put her cup down. “Allyson – my daughter had been unwell for sometime, ever since that horrible invasion of the charity event nearly two years ago.”
“Sandy was there as well,” Nessa said quietly.
“Yes, I know – I’m afraid our family and yours do have a habit of…”
Mo put her head in her hands for a moment, as Nessa said “What’s wrong?”
“Nessa, there is something you need to know about Allison – and my father, her grandfather.”
“Your father? What about him?”
“Nessa, there is no easy way to say this - my father was Freddie Hughson.”
Nessa looked at Mo for a few minutes, before she whispered “you do know what he did to me?”
“I learned when I was eighteen – I grew up in the Midlands in England, born in 1966. When I found out that he had almost killed someone, I asked him about it, but – well, he got violent with me. I left home that night, and immigrated to the US, cutting off all ties with my family. Three years later, I met Tony, and we were married soon after. Allison was born in 1989.”
“Did she know about him?”
“I didn’t tell her – but last year, I learned my father had died, and he had left some family papers to us. I wanted to destroy them, but Allyson said she would take care of it.”
“When last year?”
“May – after you all visited at Easter. Ever since then… Well, we tried to help her, but then that horrible break in happened, and we thought she was getting better.”
“We all did – Sandy, all of us. Mo, you can’t be held responsible for what happened to me back in 1964 – it was a lifetime ago.” Nessa walked round and sat next to her, taking her hands in her own. “What is important now is we are both there for George and Jennifer – he is, after all, the father of my grandchildren as well.”
Mo looked into Nessa’s eyes and said “what was the last thing she said?”
“She was barely coherent, but – she did mention emeralds and family. Had I realised at the time… May I be honest, Mo?”
“I think she had gone by that point – and I was scared for my own life as well. I tried so hard to talk her down, but…”
Nessa started crying as Mo gripped her hands. “Perhaps we can be friends now – let me try to make up for my father’s hatred fifty years ago.”
“Thank you,” Nessa said quietly, “I would like that very much.”
Natalya looked up and smiled as Carina walked over to join her.
“Did you manage to get any sleep dear,” she said as he niece sat down.
“No, I’m afraid not. How much time do we have?”
“Klaus and Ingrid will join us in fifteen minutes. Have you given the matter any more thought?”
“I’m hoping to get a copy of the SoC report – I have a friend who is dating a criminal psychologist, who is doing some work for the NYPD. Strictly off the record – I told her it was for a drama project.”
“I approve – tell me, are you and your partner free tonight?”
“I can check – why?”
“I think we can benefit from visiting some of those bars we identified yesterday – could you find out now?”
“In disguise, of course?”
“Naturally,” Natalya said as Carina sent a text to Annie. “Ah Klaus, Ingrid – so glad you could make it.”
“Thank you for inviting us, Aunt Natalya,” Ingrid said as she sat down, “where is Uncle Willy?”
“Talking horses with Henri and his friends – shall we order some wine?”
FBI Field Office
Jeanne came over as Jan returned to the office.
"How was lunch?"
"Oh I just had a coffee with Heather and Carina
in the park."
"Sounds fun." Jeanne paused.
"This isn't our business, but Mr. Kennedy the Philadelphia bank manager
has filed a missing persons report on his daughter Sharon."
"I remember her...poor kid." Janice looked
"Well he feels like she may have come to New
York, and NYPD cross-referencing her name thought we needed a heads up."
“Apparently his first wife had some relatives in the area – but he doesn’t know the name. They weren’t very close. It’s a long shot, but you never know.”
"I understand...there's nothing we can do but
maybe pray for her safety."
"I know Jan, I totally agree."
“Hey,” Adam said as he sat down, “did you tell her the other news?”
“What other news?”
“We all have a dinner invite to Natasha’s house on Friday – just the three of us with her and Guillieme.”
“Janine, where’s Alexis?”
“On a break Juliette,” Janine said as she looked up, before they both saw her walk back in.
“Sorry – I needed a cigarette,” she said as she came in. “A menthol one,” she then said as she looked at both of them.
“Right – I need you both in here for a minute. There are some upcoming dates we need to block out in diaries.”
“Coming,” they both said as they followed Juliette into her office.
The Waldorf Hotel
“You must tell me what you use on Uncle Willy,” Carina said as she sat on the chair, pulling on the tight leather boots and zipping them up the back. She was wearing a black leather split skirt, and a tight black blouse open at the top three buttons, while she had covered her blonde hair with a brown wig that came to her shoulders.
“A simple concoction,” Natalya said as she finished applying her lipstick. “I do like your disguise however – so different from the normal Carina,”
“Thank you – it’s a pity Annie cannot be here, but she did say this needed the true professionals. Nobody will recognize me in these.”
“Wigs, different makeup, it’s amazing how we women can disguise ourselves,” Natalya adjusted her wig in front of the mirror, the black hair falling down her neck and shoulders with a hint of grey.
“Those pants look like they’ve been sprayed on you Aunt.” Cari shook her head.
“One has to be comfortable,” she purred as she looked at herself. Her tight black leather pants were paired with a black bustier top and velvet jacket, and four inch heel sandals on her feet.
“Well,” she finally said as she turned around, “do I pass inspection?”
“If you want to be a fabulous looking cougar on the prowl then you do.” Carina had a thought. “But your voice? The German accent.”
“What German accent?” Natalya spoke with a neutral American voice.
“How the hell do you do that?”
“Practice…I used to find the odd target among American servicemen, this voice helped.”
“Aunt Natalya the more I learn, the more you amaze me.”
“As you do me child.”
“Alright, well no one would associate the real us with these two women.”
“Yeah, so let’s go and see where our instincts take us, and not Carina and Natalya, let her out niece, as I’m letting mine, let’s see what ‘they’ can discover in the slums.”
Carina nodded as she closed her eyes, and then opened them again, grinning as she said “thank you, aunty – let’s go on the hunt.”
The customers looked up as the doors to the bar opened, and two women dressed to impress walked in.
"This is where she found him." Carina said as she sniffed the mixture of alcohol, sweat and cheap perfume inside the subterranean tavern.
"I think you may be correct, if this was me this is a place I'd chose to find someone."
"Well..." Carina smiled at the few glances
they attracted from patrons, "Let's buy a drink and see what the bar staff have to tell us."
"What will it be ladies?" the barman asked
as Carina hiked her tiny skirt up further, and crossed her legs as she sat on
Natalya answered..."for both of us."
As the bartender poured the drinks, both Carina and Natalya looked round. The clientele were the type you’d expect to see around here – none of them paying attention to anyone except themselves.
“Quiet night,” Carina purred before she sipped her drink.
“Yeah – you hear about that guy got killed round here?”
“I saw it on the news – why?”
“He was a regular here – came as a real shock.”
“So was he in here Saturday night?”
“Yeah, but he left alone.”
The two women looked at each other, before Natalya said “Did you know him well?”
“I’m a barkeep lady – I know a lot of people well.”
“Quite – two more, and one for yourself,” Natalya said, watching as the barman poured three more drinks.
“Your very good health,” he said, as he drained his drink and then called out “Mick – I’m on a break, back in ten.”
They watched as he went out of a back door, finishing their drinks before they followed him out.
“Hey – private moment,” the bartender said as Natalya reached into her bag.
“Well, forgive the intrusion,” she said as she produced a .45 and pointed it at him, “but we need to know who the man left with Saturday night?”
“Hey, if you’re cops, show me your badge.”
“Gladly,” Carina said as she pushed him against the wall, and produced a scalpel, “who did he leave with?”
“I told ya, no-one…”
"You are lying to me." Carina held the blade
of her knife to the mans
throat. "I can sense it....SHE was here wasn't she?"
"Yes....YES!" he screamed as Cari nicked his cheek starting it bleeding. "Blonde, short hair, great little
figure...she kept to a booth, but I remember she carried a large shoulder bag
as she left."
"Would you recognise
her again?" asked Natalya from behind the .45.
"No she made sure she stayed in the dark, I never
got a clear look..."
"Never?" Cari nicked his other cheek.
"NO!" the man almost started crying, “but
I'll tell you what..."
"Yes?" Natalya asked.
"She was chain smoking...in her booth...I found lipstick smeared butts. Not many even try to smoke inside now."
The two women looked at each other, before Carina caressed his face.
“Very good – if you see her again, call the police.”
“Oh – and if we hear talk of two women here tonight, you’ll wake up with your ball sac in your mouth. Capiche?”
He moaned and nodded before Natalya pistol whipped him, the two women walking back into the bar.
"The smoking?" asked Carina.
answered. "Our killer was either a frighteningly skilled neophyte, or
someone returning to this who hadn't done in it in
"Can you stop?"
"If you are like us?
Then no...But a pure psychopath driven by different motives, yes I've heard
tales of them being able to stop themselves for extended periods."
"I wish I'd thought of this before but it just
occurred to me...Does 'she' have any American descendants I don't know
"Now that is an interesting thought...I may have
to pick Wilhelm's brain about the blood lines."
"I could do the same with Valeria."
"It's work for the morning, but at least we have gathered ideas on her modus operandi as the police call it."
As they walked out, they failed to notice the overflowing ashtray, red lipstick marks on the butts…
Somewhere in the Bronx
“It’s not much, but it’s home – what do you think?”
She looked round the apartment, nodding as she put her large brown shoulder bag on the floor.
“Not bad – you live here alone?”
“Yeah – not that I’m alone, but it’s all I can afford. So,” he said as he turned and looked at her, “can I get you a drink?”
She looked at him as he took off his leather jacket and threw it over a dirty chair cover. Early twenties, looked as if he kept fit, short brown hair, six foot tall – all she looked for in a man. He would be perfect.
“So what do you want, beer or water?”
“I’ll have a beer if you have it,” she said as she felt in her pocket, and took out something she wanted to show him. He made his way into the kitchen, coming back through as he said “I only got Bud – I hope that’s…”
“All right,” she said as she leveled the gun straight at him in her left hand, “put the cans down, nice and slowly, and then look at me, keeping your hands in view at all times.”
“Hey, is that a toy gun?”
“Oh no,” she said with a smile, “it’s a very real one. Now, put the drinks down, and then stand nice and still.”
“I don’t believe…”
He heard the phut and then saw the feathers fly form the cushion, before he put the cans down and raised his hands.
“Better,” she said as she reached into the bag, and took out a blue ball gag. “Take this,” she said as she held it up, “and fasten it into your mouth.”
“Are you into kinky games or something?”
“Something – nor do it, or I kill you right now.”
She could feel the fire starting to build as he walked slowly forward and took the gag from her right hand, opening his mouth to push the ball in and then fastening the straps round his head. “Tightly,” she said, “or you die.”
“Whrruggngtddd,” he said as she walked round him, looking at him.
“Oh don’t worry,” she whispered, “we have all night to find out. Now, strip.” She waved the gun at him, reveling in the fear she could see as he removed his shirt, shoes, socks and trousers.
“The boxers as well,” she said, smiling as he pulled them off as well.
“Good – very good,” she said as she reached into her bag, and took out a pair of steel manacles, linked by a heavy chain. “Now, put your hands behind you, there’s a good boy.”
He stared at them and then meekly turned and put his hands behind his back, her fire rising as she slammed the manacles closed around his wrists, and then stroked her gloved hand down his body.
“Oh we are going to have so much fun,” she said as she grabbed his arm and pulled him into the bedroom, dropping her bag on the floor again as she pushed him down on the bed. Taking some rope from the bag, she grabbed his right ankle and wrapped one end of a length round it, before she tied it to the leg at the foot of the bed, and then repeated the process on the other side.
“There now,” she said as she stroked her hand up the inside of his leg, “I think we’re ready to begin.” She drew a packet of cigarettes from her pocket and put one into her mouth, lighting it up and drawing on it as the tip burned red.
“Do you smoke?” She watched as he shook his head, and said “Quite right, filthy habit, it kills people and hurts them.”
She then drove the lit end into his stomach, seeing his scream and hearing his muffled cry as she said “see – but I do enjoy a good smoke.”
She drew in again, making the top glow red before she pressed it into his stomach again, smiling as he squirmed to get away.
Again she made the tip grow red, again she pressed it into his skin, and again she loved the sound of his screams. She lit a second and continued, dotting his abdomen and chest with burn marks as she screamed and sweated.
“There, that’s lit up the evening,” she eventually said as she smiled at him, “but we’re only just getting started. Would you like to see what other toys I have for you?”
He shook his head, burning from the cigarettes and his mind racing, but she just smiled and went back to her bag, pulling on a pair of latex gloves before taking out a riding crop. She walked over and pulled him up by his neck, kissing and biting his neck before she said “lean forward. If you move an inch, I’ll kill you.”
“Shhh,” she said as she stroked his back. “Yours not to reason why, but to experience.”
He felt the leather as she brought it down against his back, gasping in pain, and then gasping and screaming again and again and again as she rained blow after blow down on his back…
Thirty minutes later, she threw the crop away, and pulled him down, looking at him as she said “Well, that really has woken something in me. How about you lover boy?”
“Plsstpppp,” he moaned, looking at her. She looked down at her white blouse, and said “Oh my – I did work up a sweat didn’t I?”
“Language,” she said as she pushed him onto his back, the covers rubbing against the red raw flesh of his back, and picked up the crop again, “you need to be taught a lesson.”
He felt the crop as she brought it down on the soles of his feet, and screamed in agony as she turned them into a bloody pulp, the anger in her face evident as she rained blow after blow down.
“See what happens when you don’t say thank you,” she finally said as she went back to her bag, and took out a pair of pliers. “You need to be punished for that now.”
He shook his head, and then rolled his eyes as the agony of feeling his toenails been ripped out flashed into his mind. He screamed in agony as the fire spread through his feet, and she smiled even more, aroused to a new peak by the experience.
“OH god, you are so hot,” she screamed as he watched her reach under her dress, and pull her panties off, before she tore open a silver square and started to massage his cock. He hadn’t realized in the fog of the pain how firm it was, but her gloved hand on it working him, and eh realized to his horror he was getting more and more aroused by this.
She paused for a moment to pull the sheath over it before she jumped on the bed and mounted him, throwing herself up and down on him as she felt her grip on his member, and started to throb more and more.
“Hswwetjsssssntlkthssss” he moaned out as he started to move as much as he could, pushing himself up to meet her as she pushed down on him, hearing her moans and gasps as she brought both him and herself to a climax.
He was powerless to stop himself climaxing in her, as he shot out, the pleasure overwhelming the pain for a moment before she screamed in her orgasm, and then climbed off the bed.
“See,” she said as she lit up again, “Obedience will be rewarded, and you will have your reward.”
He screamed again as she brought the end down between his legs, and then put the cigarette out, pushing in firmly in as it burnt him.
“Oh don’t cry,” she crooned as she took something from the bag, and made him sit up, kneeling behind him as she stroked down his chest with her hands, “you are a very special young man, you know that don’t you?”
He nodded, too afraid not to, and hoping this would soon be over, but then he caught the glint of light in the object in her left hand, and felt the first incision as she sliced the scalpel across his chest.
“Such a little cut” she whispered into his ear before she kissed it, and cut him again, loving his pleas as the scalpel worked over her chest, never going far in, causing him the exquisite agony her lovers all deserved when they had satisfied her.
“Oh dear,” she suddenly said, “look at all that blood. We need to clean all that up, yes we do.”
He stared straight ahead as she slipped off the bed, too scared to do anything else as she listened to her opening a bottle, and then screaming again in agony as the bleach flowed down his body, across the cuts, the burns, his cock – everything.
“There, all nice and clean,” he heard her say as she held his head with her right hand, “how does that feel?”
“Plsssss,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“Of course – and thank you,” she whispered as she sliced into his throat from right to left, the blood spurting as his jugular was severed, his death quick. She held him until she was sure, and then allowed him to fall back onto the bed, his lifeless eyes staring into the ceiling.
“You were magnificent,” she whispered as she took the scalpel, and sliced down his abdomen, the blood flowing as she opened him up…
She glanced at her watch as she looked at herself in the mirror, freshly showered and cleaned, her blonde hair toweled dry. Opening the plastic bag, she put on the panties and bra, the leggings and the jumper, and the flat shoes, before picking up her shoulder bag and walking out, turning the lights off.
Her blood stained clothes were in a pile at the foot of the bed, with her skirt lying to the side. She looked at him for one last time, and then took out her lighter, holding it the hem of her skirt and waiting until it caught aflame.
Walking quickly, she left the apartment and then the block itself, heading down the road as small flickers of flame started to appear in the window. Two blocks away, she hailed a cab and got in, giving her destination to the driver without a look back.
Thursday 14th May
“Jo, Suzie, have you got a minute?”
The two seniors stopped and waited as their fellow head girl joined them.
“I need a favour,” she said quietly, “a cousin of mine has turned up from out of town, and is staying with me for a few weeks. I know the prom is meant to be for Angels only, but would you mind if I got a ticket for her as well? My brother will be her partner.”
“Well, I guess we can stretch a point,” Suzie said as she looked at Jo, “where’s she from?”
“Philly – and thanks. I’ll tell Sharon when I get home.”
“I think that’s the first time she’s asked for anything in four years here,” Suzie said as Kathy walked off.
“Yeah – must be a really good friend,” Jo said as they headed to their class.
“Do you know what is really bothering me at the moment,” Pepsi said as she walked to the English class with Ama.
“No – what is?”
“The fact that although she has every right to after this year, Jeannie is not crowing it over us about the fact her boyfriend is here and ours isn’t.”
“Why would she? After all, she was patient enough with us – as were you, young lady.”
“I know,” Ama said with a smile, “but I am happy for her and for all of you. Even Anna – she and Chet really seem to have hit it off.”
“Were my ears burning,” Jeannie said as she came up behind them.
“Yes they probably were,” Doc said as they sat down.
“Settle down girls – before we begin, I know the school year has finished by then, but I wish to hand out these programs for Shakespeare in Central Park this summer. As we will be studying Macbeth next year, I urge you to go and see the production at some point in June.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Have you seen the Post?” Heather said as Carina came into the room.
Heather handed her the paper without a word, watching as Carina read the report.
"Crap!" Carina dropped the newspaper on the
table and looked at Heather. "While we were a handful of blocks away, she
was doing another."
"This body was rather more burned by the fire
then the previous one." Heather pulled up the crime scene photos that Jan
"Can you show me the neck Heather?" Cari asked as she cradled Judith in her arms and looked
over her friends shoulder.
"I can try." Heather started to enlarge and
improve the picture.
"Okay I can see now...Right to left, that's her
"I've tried matching to older crimes."
Heather looked at another screen she pulled up, "I can find elements of
similar crimes in Detroit, Omaha, Philadelphia, Boston, and here in the city,
but the closest remains your Christmas Eve killing Cari."
"What about internationally?"
"I've not run my trawl program yet...do you want
"It will take three or four hours for the
computer to scan all those crime reports."
"Well shall we take these two little ones out for
a walk in their strollers then? Maybe eat some lunch before we come back?"
"Just give me 10 minutes to set all the parameters for the search, and I think Jennifer and I will like that." Heather smiled as she started typing.
“Hey,” Annie said as she walked into Susan’s office, looking to where Penny was sitting, “got time for a sub and a chat?”
“Yeah, I could do with a break from reviewing staffing memos anyway,” Penny said as she laid a sheaf of paper to one side, and joined Annie at the coffee table. “Whatcha got?”
“Beef and mustard on rye, or chicken salad on wholemeal?”
“I’ll take the beef,” Penny said as Annie handed her the wrapper, and took a bottle of lemon tea.
“So what brings you to visit me,” she said as she unscrewed the top, “apart from treating me to lunch?”
“Well, I have a free period after lunch today, and I was in the area…”
“St Angela’s is a fifteen minute drive from here, Annie – what gives?”
Annie put her sandwich down and wiped her mouth. “Well, it is a rather indelicate question, Penny, so please hear me out, and promise the other Penny will keep quiet for a minute.”
“Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this,” Penny said as she sat back.
“Did you hear about the murder in the Bronx on Sunday morning?”
“I read something about it, why?”
“Then there was this in today’s paper,” Annie said as she handed Penny the paper. Looking at it, she frowned for a moment, and then said “I knew I wasn’t going to like this. What do you need to tell me Annie?”
“Well, the crimes are rather too similar to a murder on Christmas Eve, 2013 – the night Judith was conceived.”
“The… Is this the work of The Beast?”
“No – Cari was with me after the party on Sunday, and with someone else last night. But she is scared it may get linked with what she did back then, so she’s looking into them herself, unofficially.”
“And she’s worried it might be me who’s responsible?”
Annie nodded, waiting to see what Penny would do.
“Well,” Penny said as she held the bottle of iced tea in her right hand and took a drink, “I can see why you might think that, but I assure you it’s not me. First, not my style – I’m more a fists and kick lady. Second, I was with Maddie and the others at Shirley’s place after the party, and you can check the security tapes to see if I left. Finally…”
“You’re right handed.”
“Yup – not what I was going to say, but I am. Why?”
“Whoever did this is left handed – Carina’s seen the pics. I’m sorry Penny, but we had to know.”
“I understand why – anything we can do to help?”
“No – she’s working with someone more than capable,” Annie said as she relaxed. “So how long until Susan’s back?”
“Another month at least – her mum and aunt fly back Saturday.”
Inn on the Park
As Janice walked up to the front entrance, she was surprised to see Gale Callaghan standing, puffing on a cigarette.
“I didn’t know you smoked Gale?” Janice said as she walked up and kissed her boss’s wife on the cheek.
“I keep meaning to give it up,” Gale said as she stubbed it out, “but I’m a cops wife, it helps me keep calm on those days when I know Tom might walk out the door and never come home.”
“It’s one advantage of having Adam both as my partner and lover, he’s with me both at work and at home.”
“Doesn’t your Mom worry?”
“Some I guess, but she hides it well.”
“Are we the first arrivals?”
“Well the girls said meet out here, so I guess we are.”
“I’ve lived in this city for three years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten here,” Gale said as she looked round.
“It’s a good place to eat – we usually grab a booth and start chatting.”
“Hey,” Juliette said as she came over, “Glad you could make it Gale. It’s a lovely day, so I thought we’d wait until some of the others get here and then get an outside table.”
“Sounds good to me – where’s Carina today?”
“She went to see Heather – Jennifer and Judith get on well together.”
“Sandy rang to say she has to call off for today,” Diana said as she joined them, “the project she is working on has taken more of her time today than she planned.”
"So where is this project?" Gale asked.
"Out in Yonkers...and the woman keeps changing Sandy's recommendations, frankly I think Sandy will be glad when it’s over." Juliette waved as she saw Kelly and Tonia approaching,
"Hey you two." Gale glanced at the chic outfits both women were wearing. "Those are really nice suits."
"Thank you." Kelly smiled, “they were from Donna's collection at fashion week.”
"Shall we go in?" Ju asked.
"Let's find a place on the terrace." Tonia waved as she saw Rachel McNally running along the sidewalk towards them.
"Oh Good, I was afraid I was late." Rachel stood for a moment to catch her breath.
"No we are just going in darling." Diana smiled.
"So you were a deb too Gale?" asked Rachel.
"Yes I came out at the Ak-Sar-Ben ball in Omaha." Gale sipped her wine. "Omaha isn't New York, but it's a pretty big deal in our part of the world."
"Looks like you and I Jan were the only non-debs." Juliette smiled.
"You didn't miss anything really." Pussy pondered.
"Little sister didn't enjoy her deb year." Liz spoke, "Now I adored mine."
"Will you put a girl through it even if you hated it?" asked Diana.
"I guess so, if Frieda and I are lucky enough to have a daughter, I suppose family considerations will outweigh my own opinions."
"Oh before I forget Cari asked if you could pick up some literature at the clinic for her and Annie to look at."
"I can, so which one wants a baby?" Pussy asked.
"I think Annie, I'm not sure the world is ready for a second Carina pregnancy." Juliette laughed.
"Oh all that damn chili!" Diana looked pained.
"I heard Ken and Karen drove home yesterday." Rachel changed the subject. "Little John is so adorable."
"Let us just hope he doesn't grow as tall as his father." Janice poured herself another glass of wine.
"Ken is something of a stork." Ju nodded.
"So what are plans for this afternoon?" asked Tonia.
"I'm spending some of my husband’s meager salary on some new clothes, I'm almost embarrassed to be seen with you all." Gale smiled as she applied a fresh coat of her deep red lipstick.
"Go to APCO, get them to phone Alice, I'm sure you'll get the same discount we all do." Diana tidied herself.
"Oh is that the secret, you all get discounts?"
"Well it certainly helps Gale darling." Liz stood up. "Alright Pattycake and I need run...Ciao all."
"Liz!" her sister grated her teeth.
"Those two are never going to change, poor Puss she will always be the butt of Liz's jokes." Kelly shook her head.
"Juliette do you have Alice's number? I might phone her now." asked Gale.
"617 555 4210." Juliette watched as Gale jotted it down, her diary held in her right hand as she scribbled.
"Well I must rush, I need be on a construction site in 10 minutes." Tonia looked at her watch.
"You better change quickly darling." Diana replied as they both stood up.
"Alright we will see you all soon." Janice and Juliette both waved as they left.
The Richmond Mansion
“Well there were a couple of killings in Switzerland last year that have a certain resemblance.” Heather looked at the printout.
“Close to where Ingy was?”
“Let me see, Geneva and Lausanne.”
“Those are both close to her old school.”
“One in London that included setting a fire I can see.” Heather read more. “Some grizzly ones in Southern Germany.”
“My Great Aunts territory.”
“Oh dear goddess I wasn’t aware how many others there are out there just like me.” Carina read some of the reports. “I recognize so much in all these killings, I can empathize with the women who have done this.”
“But not with their victims?”
“Only the tiniest bit…sorry…I know that makes me a monster, but it’s who I am Heather.”
“I know Cari, I know.”
“Well it doesn’t help rule out any suspects knowing all this, it just probably creates more.”
“When do you see Natalya again?”
“She’s hosting dinner tonight for us – we might get a chance to talk then. On which note, I need to get Judith back and start getting ready.” She hugged Heather and said “Thanks for everything Heather.”
“Just take care, Cari – Natalya and you at least have an understanding, but this doesn’t seem to be anyone we know. It could get messy.”
“I always do,” Cari said as she picked Judith up, and carried her out.
Heather went back into the front room, looking as Jennifer played with a soft toy.
“Want some juice Jennifer?”
The little girl looked up and said “yes,” Heather smiling as she picked her up and carried her into the kitchen. Sitting her in the high chair, she made some squash into a cup and handed it to her, before she went to the coffee maker.
The back door opened as a very hot, sweaty Sandy came in, wearing a light blue tracksuit.
“How was your run lover?” Heather kissed Sandy as she flopped onto a barstool.
“Well you were the one decided you need be fitter for racing.”
“I know…it will pay off in the longer term.”
“Probably.” Heather smiled.
“So what have you found to keep yourself occupied today lover?”
“Oh the usual, school runs, babysitting Jennifer…oh Cari did drop over again with Judith and we took them out for a walk.”
“That sounds nice.”
“So how is the Yonkers project looking?”
“Better than it was, but I still think that damn woman has picked an awful colour scheme.”