Born on the Fourth of July
Saturday 4th July
Tufts University Softball Field
“Explain to me again why I’m playing softball this Fourth of July instead of working on my tan?” Carina moaned as she sat in the changing room.
“Because you of all people should want to raise money for and support Mass General’s appeal to raise funds for a new maternity unit darling,” her mother reminded her.
“And anyway it will be fun.” Abigail said as she pulled her jersey on.
“I think it’s going to be fun, even though I’m useless at hitting anything.” Carolyn Murphy laughed as she pulled her cleats on her feet, “and they have sold a lot of tickets to watch us all make fools of ourselves.”
“Well what use I’ll be I don’t know, I’ve never even watched baseball.” Angel adjusted her cap with the CS logo on it.
“It’s softball darling, not baseball,” her mother reminded her.
“There’s a difference?”
“YES!” most of the American girls shouted back.
“We are in trouble.” Marnie came back into the locker room shaking her head. “I was just watching the nurses practice, they can all really play this game.”
“Well lucky Anna brought in a ringer then isn’t it?” a tall black girl in a West Point uniform said as she stood in the doorway.
“Miranda,” Cari hugged her old friend. “Okay at least we have a decent pitcher now.”
“I thought basketball was your sport Miranda?” Diana said as she kissed the female soldier.
“Oh she also plays a very mean game of softball.” Abby laughed.
“I was just named as an honourable mention All-American after the season we just finished.”
“Alright...Way to go that girl.” Cari high-fived her friend.
“So how was your first year at the Point Miranda?” Juliette asked.
“Hard, tiring, everything you hear about how tough it is true. We do both academics and military training, whilst these softies at places like Yale are laying in bed we are already long since up and doing.”
“Rather you then me darling.” Mandy laughed.
“So who else is on our team?”
“Kate Upton’s here, she’s outside signing autographs Miranda, Jo’s playing, Carolyn’s here, Behati’s playing, so are Lindsay Ellingson and Julie Henderson.” Juliette called out.
“The crowd will get their quota of supermodels.” Abby smiled.
“Aunt Linda is here to throw out the first pitch.” Cari added.
“We also have a secret weapon.” Mary came into the room, “Marisa Miller just turned up, and she plays quite well.”
“Well, maybe we won’t make absolute fools of ourselves.” Cari laughed.
In the car park, Clint and Curt were working behind a pair of barbecues, turning the meat as Heather and Orlanda supervised the children in a nearby sandpit.
“How long,” Heather called over as Sandy and Nessa reclined in chairs by the cars.
“They’re done when they’re done,” Nessa called back as Janice and Adam walked over.
“Nice day for the game,” Jan said as she looked over at Katie, the little girl waving as she went to join little Sandy.
“Indeed – want a hand with them?”
“We’re good for now,” Clint said with a smile.
“Yeah,” Susan said as she sat with Shirley and John, “pull up a chair, grab a brew, and relax.”
“So where’s George?”
“He’s walking around somewhere,” John said as he looked up, “something about wanting to find the men’s room.”
“And believe me, I found it – eventually,” George Simpson said as he walked over. “Where did the girls go?”
“They went in with April,” Grant said as he joined them, “and the other parents to get a space fixed on the bleachers.”
“Explain this game again to me Jeannie,” Ama said as she sat with Maisha in the front row of the bleachers.
“It is very similar to the game of rounders, Ama,” Jeannie said, “or Baseball, on a smaller pitch.”
“Ah – then it will not last as long as a game of cricket then.”
“Oh thank the lord, no,” Ray Musynzki said.
“Good,” Natasha said as she held Willy’s arm. “I want to see the fireworks tonight as well.”
“Careful Natasha,” Karen said as she sat down with Ray, John on her lap, “you know what happens when we get together.”
“And why are you not playing Karen?”
“Care to tell me which side I should play on?”
“Fair point,” April said as she looked at John.
“This is a nice way to spend a holiday,” Marina said as she and Janine walked along the bleachers.
“Indeed, darling,” Kylie said as she carried two bottles, “ah, there they are now.”
“Hey you guys – have a seat,” Pepsi said as she waved from behind Jeannie.
“I hope we have plenty of drinks,” Marina said as she took her seat.
“All taken care of,” George said as he appeared, carrying a large ice box, “and plenty more where these came from.”
“This is Jeanne Beckman, for once not habiting the catwalks or the fashion houses, but reporting instead from the changing rooms at Tufts University, outside Boston, where a team of models is taking on a team from Massachusetts General in a Fourth of July fund raising softball game.”
Jeanne looked round the changing room as the girls were making final preparations. “As you can see, a top team have agreed to appear here today free of charge to raise money for the maternity unit at the Boston hospital. Team captain for the Complete Style All Stars is style guru, and newly recognized by royalty, Mary Thomas. Mary, do you have a few moments?”
“Hi Jeanne,” Mary said as she stood next to the reporter.
“So what led you to agree to this event?”
“Well, as many of your viewers know, Little Cari Huntingdown’s daughter Judith was born in the unit, and when Karen Boyd asked if we could put a team together for this event we were more than delighted to agree to do so.”
“I see a number of the older stars have agreed to play alongside the likes of Joanne Smith – so they feel threatened?”
“Of course not Jeanne – we’re all here to have fun and raise as much money as we can for a worthwhile cause.”
“Well, I’ll be trying to speak to the players throughout the afternoon, but for now, good luck.”
“Thanks Jeanne,” Mary said as the cameraman signaled the filming had stopped.
“Fancy taking a couple of swings?”
“OH no – you can count me as an enthusiastic supporter,” Jeanne said with a smile.
“So who are the umpires today?” asked Mags as she tied her hair back into a ponytail.
“Alex Cabot, Father Richmond, Johnny Damon, the former Red Sox and Yankees player, and Erin Andrews the sports broadcaster, she’ll be at 1st base.” Anna Mitchell came into the changing room, smiling broadly.
“And no jokes about every man in the crowd wanting to get to first base with Erin…. PLEASE!” Juliette yelled out.
“Now would we do that darling?” Mandy laughed slyly.
“Girls, just remember we are here to raise a lot of money for a great cause, so go out and have a lot of fun, and just remember the score doesn’t count if everyone enjoys themselves.” Mary gave the team a pep talk.
“Oh and I thought we needed an honorary batgirl.” Alice MacKinnon grinned, as Jack Linklater came in wearing what looked like a cheerleader’s uniform.
“Oh Jack she didn’t?” Juliette called out, before breaking into near hysterical laughter.
“Payback for his walking in on us all those times.” Alice grinned.
“Well at least I have the legs to wear it,” Jack wiggled through the locker room, till Pru chucked a mitt at him.
“Oh this is going to be hilarious.” Abby laughed.
“All right girls,” Jo said, “are we ready?”
“Yes,” the room mumbled.
“I said ARE WE READY?”
“YES,” they shouted back.
“Then let’s go out and have a fun time,” Jo said as she put her cap on, “Batter up!”
“Is Heather okay?” Diana asked Sandy as they stood drinking beer.
“No, not really.”
“Oh? Anything I can do to help?”
“Not unless you know a good way to wipe clean childhood memories.”
“The bad dreams have started again?” Diana looked very concerned. “I thought they had stopped.”
“No for some reason since we returned from Europe they’ve started up again big time.”
“Poor Heather, you know she really ought to see a therapist.”
“I’ve tried to persuade her so many times, but she won’t do it.”
“Poor girl, we all suffered our own trauma, but hers was the worst. I can’t imagine having my father rape me repeatedly for all those years.”
“Well I think I may have a quiet word with Karen after the game, see if she can recommend a good therapist.”
“It might be for the best.” Diana whispered as Heather came back with hot dogs.
“Mmmmm these are good,” Sandy bit into one.
“Good?” Diana looked pained as she sampled hers, “Mon Dieu, I despair of Americans sometimes.”
“Hey it’s the fourth of July, It’s tradition.” Heather laughed.
“I swear, on Bastille Day, I will show all of you…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,” the announcer on the PA said, “Welcome to this special charity match to raise funds for the Massachusetts General Hospital Maternity Unit. Please welcome to the field the home team, the Maternity Babes!”
The crowd cheered as the nurses and doctors ran onto the field.
“And now welcome on to the field Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, the Complete Style All-Star team.” The announcer said as the girls ran out onto the field and stood along the Third base line.
The girls stood in their red shorts, white jerseys and red caps and waved to the crowd.
“And Ladies and Gentlemen you think the Red Sox have a huge payroll, just think what these girls earn in a year.”
“Yes but they look better then the Sox do?” someone in the crowd shouted.
“Aint that the truth,” the announcer laughed. “Anyway today though they are all here giving of their talents for free to support the appeal to build a new maternity unit at Mass General.”
The girls smiled as the crowd applauded.
“Now before we do the player Introductions, let us welcome the Colour Guard from Norwich University, and I ask all to remove your caps for the playing of our national anthem.”
The crowd stood as one, and began to sign as the band played.
“O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
In the parking lot, Shirley, George and John stood and watched as everyone else joined in – including Susan.
As the music finished, Susan turned and saw Shirley raise an eyebrow.
“Well – I’m thinking of taking on dual citizenship.”
“Good – I approve,” Shirley said quietly.
“Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen…Now introducing the starting lineups.”
“For the Mass General nurses…” the announcer ran through the list of names each girl stepping forward and taking her cap off as her name was announced.
“And now for the Complete Style all-stars, playing centre field and leading off…Abigail de Ros!” Abby stepped forward.
“Batting second, and playing First Base…Kate Upton.” The crowd broke out into huge applause. “Batting third and playing pitcher…Miranda Jones, Batting fourth and playing second base,…Marisa Miller, Batting fifth and playing left field Lindsay Ellingson. Batting sixth and catching…Maggie Fife, Playing shortstop, and batting seventh Carina Huntingdown. Batting eighth and playing out in right field Behati Prinsloo, and finally batting ninth and playing third base…Angel Fitzstuart.”
The crowd burst into cheers and whistles.
“Alright those of you on the bench we will get everyone into the game at some point.” Mary addressed her troops. “Just go out there…have fun….and ENJOY yourselves.”
“Now to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, please welcome to the field, the beautiful Miss Linda Evangelista.”
Linda walked out to the mound, waving and smiling to the crowd, before tossing a strike underhand into Maggie’s mitt as she crouched behind home plate.
“Nice throw.” Maggie smiled as she gave Linda back the ball as a souvenir.
“Thank you darling.” Linda turned and waved to the crowd as she walked toward the dugouts.
“Alright now - big applause Ladies and Gentlemen for the Complete Style All-Stars as they take the field,” the announcer spoke.
“Okay Mags same signals we used to use at school,” Miranda whispered to her catcher.
Miranda walked out to the mound and began tossing warm-up pitches to Maggie.
“Batting first for the nurses, Sheila Docherty.”
“Good luck.” Maggie shook her hand.
“Okay ladies…LETS PLAY BALL!” Alex called out as he took up his position behind Mags at home plate.
Miranda looked at Mags, signaling before she sent a curve ball over, Sheila swinging and missing as Alex called out “STRRRiikkke One!”
As the first innings began, a meeting of the senior members of Pi Tau Alpha was in session…
“So PTA membership for Marnie and Mags as we discussed Mother?” Juliette sat in a corner of the dugout talking with Linda.
“Oh certainly, they are both going to be huge.”
“Ingrid?” asked Karen.
“The same, a second-generation PTA girl.”
“Talking of second generation, Pelican won’t raise this, but I think we invite Carina to join.” Alice spoke.
“She’s only a part-timer…”
“But we all know that will change when she graduates from Yale Ju. She’s too damn beautiful, even if she is only five three.” Pru interrupted.
“I think she’s in.” Linda raised an eyebrow at her old friend, “but if you think…?”
“I think she will be honoured Mother.”
“Now I have a name to raise,” Linda smiled, “Joanne Smith.”
“Jo?” Juliette looked genuinely surprised. “I don’t think modeling is more than just a sideline for Jo.”
“But she’s good Ju, very good.” Alice replied. “I’m certainly hoping to use her a lot more.”
“I agree with Bats.” Linda nodded, “that kid has a future, and like it or not I think she has a future modeling, as well as in her career path.”
“I agree.” Karen smiled, “Oh and before we forget Angel as well?”
“Oh there’s no doubt.” Linda laughed. “She’s got it all.”
“Now we just need decide on names.” Carolyn Murphy spoke.
“Well, if she’s coming into the sisterhood, we already have an informal name for Cari,” Alice said.
“And do you think she will agree to it full time?”
“She likes it – she may complain like heck about it, but so did I about Pelican…”
“All right then – Sister Elmore it is. Next up – Maggie?”
“With that head of red hair,” Carolyn said, “there is only one possible name.”
The women looked at each other, before Linda said “Sister Maureen?”
She watched as the others nodded in agreement. “All right – Ingrid.”
“We already have Heidi and Valkyrie – Lorelei?”
“I thought of that,” Karen said, “but didn’t you say she’s an opera buff Ju?”
“Yes – yes she is,” Juliette said, “is Isolde taken?”
“Nope – so Sister Isolde?”
Again, there were no objections as Linda looked round. “Very well then – that leaves Marnie, Angel and Joanne.”
“Well, Joanne is a runner, and is dogged…”
Juliette and Karen looked at Alice, as she said, “and she does have an affinity for dogs…”
“Oh no – no, you can’t be serious?”
“Oh yes I am – I nominate Sister Greyhound.”
“Well, if nothing else it will make Jeannie feel better,” Juliette said as she shook her head. “Marnie?”
“Have you ever seen the film Private School?”
“Nope,” Linda said as she looked at Carolyn.
“One of the characters goes horse riding in the nude – and that calendar shot.”
“How a propos – the name?”
“Won’t a certain Katie Price be upset?”
“Nah – she’ll see the funny side. Which leaves the daughter of Tufty. A Kid Squirrel if…”
“Or a Kit Squirrel?”
The ladies looked at each other and nodded in unison.
“Very well then – induction after the game?”
“Agreed,” they said as one as Marisa caught a second runner from the nurses team.
“So that’s one run, and two out for the nurses team, as Debbie Fittermann takes to the plate. She swings – she connects – and she’s caught by Angel Fitzstuart.”
The crowd cheered as the All Stars came in, and the opposing team took to the field.
“First up to bat for the All Stars – Abigail de Ros.”
“Swing for it Abby,” Miranda called out as Abby touched the ground with her bat, and took the stand.
“Oh, hello Heather,” Annie said as she played with Judith on her knee. “Where are the kids?”
“Having some hot dogs with Shirley and John watching them. How’s the game going?”
“They’ve got one home, second and third occupied.”
“Well, that’s something,” Heather said as she looked at Marisa hitting a home run, bringing the other runners home.
“You all right? You look tired.”
“I’ve not been sleeping very well,” Heather said as she looked out. “Listen, don’t tell Sandy, but thanks for letting me see that material.”
“No problem – got you thinking?”
“Possibly – but I’m not ready to say anything yet.”
“Well, if you want to talk – about anything?”
“Thanks,” Heather said, “really, thanks.”
“And that’s the end of the first innings, with score at 4-2 to the All Stars.”
“There you are,” Karen said as she looked at the longhaired blonde, wearing a sleeveless blouse and shorts, who was walking towards the group. “Feeling better?”
“A little – and thanks for letting me sleep on,” she said as the others stood up.
“Grace what are you doing here?” Diana asked.
“School hasn’t finished yet has it Miss?” asked Jeannie.
“No…the bloody governors have suspended me without pay.”
“For what?” Barbara Brewster spoke.
“Oh for being Grace Gresham basically. They claim that when I got the job at Downwood that I falsified my CV by leaving out that I’d been a model, failed to reveal that drunk driving conviction of mine, and that appearing like I did on TV I’d brought the school into disrepute.”
“The bastards!” Barbara’s jaw dropped. “So what you are saying is after all those wonderful years of service to that rotten school, they trumped up some charges to get rid of you?”
“That is how it sounds to me.” Diana said as she put her arm round the blonde.
“Well my case won’t be heard till August, I had nothing to do, so I thought I’d come visit old friends.”
“Good idea – have a beer,” Barbara said as she reached into the icebox and tossed a can to Grace.
“That looks a bit empty,” Curt said as he walked up, “let me get a fresh box.”
“You want anything to eat,” Winston said as he looked at Jeannie.
“Well, I won’t say no to a chicken leg if they’re ready?”
“Let me go and find out,” Winston said as Mandy walked over.
“So, my dear Kylie,” she said as Kylie looked at her through her glasses, “I hear you have modeled yourself on me.”
“I hope you don’t mind, Your Ladyship,” Kylie said quietly, “but I am a great admirer of yours. If I have offended, then I apologise totally.”
“No, no offence taken, darling,” Mandy said with a smile, “Angel is right – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
“Thank you, darling,” Kylie replied with a smile as the other senior ladies came over.
“Grace I heard, I’m so sorry.” Linda gave her a huge hug.
“Oh it’s no one’s fault but the damn people on the school governors who had never liked me Mother.”
“Do they have the right?”
“They do Ju, and I suppose they are technically right about the model thing, and I didn’t say I had that driving conviction, but I think the disrepute charge is totally bogus.”
“I can’t believe it.” Karen shook her head.
“So anyway, can a blonde in her late forties make a few bucks legally over here?”
“Palomino you know damn well you can…Missy can find you all the work you like.” Juliette answered.
“Did you retain a lawyer to represent you Grace?” asked Linda.
“No lawyers cost money, with my mortgage, I’m not exactly flush, and Harriet lent me the money for my ticket.”
“Don’t worry PTA will pay for a lawyer.” Linda looked for approval from the other top girls round her.
“Its totally bullshit Grace, and I agree with mother, PTA will get a lawyer for you.” Pru spoke.
“It’s why we have a legal fund.” Carolyn Murphy nodded. “To help members like this.”
“Thanks – I’ll talk to them when I get back, English law and all that.”
“There’s more we can do, darling,” Mandy said, “does Fiona know what has happened?”
“What’s happened,” Mary said as she came over, and Karen explained the situation.
“Oh they did, did they,” Mary said when Karen had finished. “I think they’re about to find out what can happen when you upset Fiona McKenzie. Excuse me a moment – Ju, take over as coach for a minute, will you?”
“No problem,” Juliette said as the PA boomed out, “and at the end of the second innings, the scores are tied at five each…”
“What made you come to Boston Grace?” asked Caroline as she sat beside her.
“I figured Karen would put me up for a few days, let me get my head together. So I turned up unannounced at her door yesterday, surprising both her nanny and her husband, and once I’d unburdened myself she insisted I stayed. I hadn’t realized so many of you would be in town until she left me a note this morning, telling me to get a cab out here.”
“Mum used to wonder where you’d gone you know?”
“I know she did, my old agent said she phoned several times.”
“Did you know ‘him’?”
“Yes I did,” the older woman nodded, “we all knew he was bad news, but your Mum she always just failed to break from him.”
“You know he was murdered?”
“I saw it in the papers.”
Caroline nodded and then clapped as Maggie hit a ball to the outfield.
“Why didn’t you come to mum’s funeral?”
“I was there, I just kept out of sight Caroline. I waited till you’d all left then I went to the graveside to pay my respects.”
“But why Grace?”
“Too many people like Fiona who knew me, I didn’t want them seeing me.”
“Well, I can kind of understand that,” Caroline said, “I hid myself away as well for quite a few years once he’d died.”
“True – but look at yourself now. Successful in both your fields, and a mother as well.” Grace put her hand on Caroline’s arm, and said “Stella would have been incredibly proud of you.”
“Aunt Shirley, I wondered if you were going to join us,” Maisha said as she made room for Shirley and John.
“Well, I confess I find the sport a little boring,” Shirley said, “but I wanted to see how things were going. In addition, I had to bring these two along.”
“Our apologies for our late arrival,” Catherine said as she sat with Helen, “the traffic was somewhat heavier than we had anticipated.”
“At least you made it,” Marina said as she handed them cold bottles of water.
“No beer Helen?”
“Not at the moment – I prefer water,” Helen said with a smile.
“So what do you make of everyone after all this time Grace?” Karen asked.
“Pelican has become such a strong woman, she was really still just a kid breaking through when I split.”
“I know, Ju has done wonderfully well for herself.”
“I once went to APCO in London, I couldn’t believe Bats had made such a success as both designer and retailer.”
“She has done well.”
“And while raising a family.” Grace smiled. “Mandy is still well…Mandy.”
“She’s still her own self.” Karen laughed.
“I knew Diana when she was still Diana de Grechy, I just couldn’t believe it when her daughter made it so big.”
“Young Abigail is amazing, and you had Jeannie under your nose at school.”
“She was always an extremely beautiful girl, but with her disability, you know modeling never occurred to me as something she might prosper in.”
“Well Missy, then Mary, both saw something special in her.”
“I know. That show in New York before she moved over – I had to stop that clip and watch it again and again…”
“Caroline is so much her mother…”
“But without the weaknesses in Stella.”
“I sensed that.”
“So what about you Palomino?”
“I want my job back Sweets. But I also want to model again if I can.”
“Oh no doubt about that…Missy doesn’t grab flights like that to sign someone she can’t find work for.”
“Did someone mention my name?”
“Oy Vey,” Karen said as Missy appeared as if by magic, “how do you do that?”
“Appear whenever anyone talks about you?”
“Oh come on – with many of my girls here, how could I miss the opportunity?” She looked at Grace and said “Ju told me what happened – can you spare a couple of days next week?”
“Possibly – why?”
“I got a call from… Oh my god, is that Jack Linklater leading the cheering?”
“It most assuredly is,” Karen said as Jack danced round, waving his pompoms as the crowd sang along.
“Well I… Anyway, I had a call from a client, who needs a model for some shots. I was going to ask someone else, but they want a mature person, and if you need the employment…”
“Oh yeah – I could use that,” Grace said with a smile, “tell me about it.”
“Drinking beer, eating hotdogs, watching a softball game. It’s pretty All-American stuff.” Susan smiled as she held April on her lap.
“Well caught Behati.” Clint called out as the Namibian model comfortably caught a high fly ball just short of the fence.
“Everyone’s having fun and its all for charity.” Marina sat down besides them.
“And despite their own predictions that they would be uncompetitive the girls are doing well.” Clint spoke again.
“Well it helps having a star guest like Miranda pitching.”
“I take it she’s not a model?” Marina asked, “Hers was the only name I didn’t know.”
“She’s an old school friend of Carina’s, she is a cadet at West Point, and a top sports player.”
“Oh that explains it.” Marina joined in the applause as Miranda induced the batter to tamely ground out to first base for the final out of the inning.
“So we’re into the fifth innings now, the All Stars in a comfortable lead with one out…”
“Okay Jo, you go bat for Behati.” Mary made a change.
“Gotcha Coach,” Jo picked up a bat and strode out.
“And batting now for the All-Stars the face of Fitzstuart Woolens, and soon to be seen in the new Big Box Campaign … Joanne Smith!”
Jo smiled and blushed a little as the crowd cheered, adjusting her glasses.
“Strike One!” she let the first pitch go by.
Jo watched the tall nurse on the mound wind up, and tossed the next pitch…she swung, and missed over the ball as it sunk late.
“Strike Two!” Alex called.
“Alright this time,” Jo told herself. She watched the release and swung, hitting the ball in the gap between short and third. Quickly the nurse playing third got to the ball and threw it to first.
“Safe” Jo heard Erin call as she just beat the ball into the First Baseman’s glove.
“You’re quick!” the nurse shook her hand, as Jo dusted herself down.
“I am….now watch me try steal second.” Jo laughed.
“Is everything all right, my dear,” Willy said as he looked at Natasha.
“Yes – the baby just gave a very strong kick, that’s all.”
“Can I get you a drink,” he said as he held his wife’s stomach.
“Some water, please,” Natasha said with a nod.
As Willy walked off, Natasha put her head down for a moment, hoping nobody would notice as she grimaced slightly…
“All right you,” George said as he walked over to the barbecue, “Jo’s on the field – get in there and watch her.”
“Thank you,” Curt said as he headed off, George shaking his head as he turned some more of the sausages over.
“You really seem to have settled here George,” Shirley said as she walked over.
“Well, the air agrees with me, and Caroline keeps me busy – hot dog?”
“Not for the moment, no – I have a little job I would like you to undertake for me at some point, if you are willing.”
“It would be an honour – anything special?”
“I’ll tell you later…”
“And Joanne Smith makes it home safe, to increase their lead to 9-6.”
“Way to go girl,” Carina said as she high-fived Jo, the two of them sitting down in the dugout.
“And…. That’s the final out. We’re going to take an interval at this stage, and we re-start in fifteen minutes.”
“All right girls – back into the changing room for team talk,” Mary said as she shepherded them inside. As Jack walked over, he glanced to the side and then looked again.
“Do these aged eyes deceive me, or is this the vision of Glorious Grace Gresham in front of me,” he said as he walked over.
“You haven’t changed a bit Jack,” Grace said as she hugged him. “Well, your taste in clothes perhaps…”
“Whereas you, my dear, are as much a flatterer as ever. Over here for long?”
“A few weeks – Missy just got me signed up for a shoot next week.”
“That’s the one – why?”
“I’ll see you then,” Jack said with a grin as he ran into the changing rooms, waving his pompoms.
“Welcome back, Palomino,” Linda said with a laugh.
“There are times when I wish I could lose myself in William Smith now,” Jo said as she took a drink from a sports bottle.
“Only a few more weeks – and then trust me, you’ll want to be back home at times,” Miranda said.
“Even with Curt there,” Cari said with a smile.
“We’re in the lead, girls – now we get to have some fun,” Mary said as she clapped her hands. “We’re going to make a few more changes for the second half. First, though, a certain Miss Beckham wishes to talk to some of you…”
As Shirley made her way back from the woman’s restroom, she noticed a group of three teenagers, two male, one female, hanging around in the reception hall. They were dressed in leather jackets and jeans, but as Shirley approached them they started to talk to each other in low whispers, the girl looking to the door to the box office as they did so.
At first, she didn’t think much of it, but as she got closer one of the two young men walked towards a drink dispenser, accidentally brushing against her as he did so. She heard him mumble “Sorry,” and said nothing, walking instead to the bleachers where Janice was sitting behind Katy and her grandmother.
“Janice I think we might have a situation.” Shirley sat down next to the FBI agent, “there are three kids staking out the box office.”
“What do you mean staking out?” Janice looked at her friend, and then said quietly “OH!”
“I brushed up against one, he’s carrying.”
“Are you sure Shirley?”
“Jan I have been in the business long enough to know when I see a holdup about to go down.”
“Are you packing Jan?”
“Are you Shirley? Who brings a piece to a Fourth of July event like this?”
“No I left mine at home as well. Would any of us…”
Janice turned and looked at Shirley. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Doc.” Each smiled as they spoke simultaneously.
“And Heather probably has something in her car.” Janice added.
“I’ll go find Anna…you go see Heather…Okay?”
“And we had better hurry Jan.”
Jan nodded as she looked along the bleachers, and then headed west, while Shirley turned and went back into the car park.
“Hey Janice,” Doc said as she looked up from where she was sitting with Ama and Kylie, “what’s up?”
“Listen, can you come and give me a hand with some cold drinks?”
“Yeah – if you two will excuse me,” Doc said as she picked up her purse and followed Janice to the car park. As they walked out, they saw Shirley and Heather coming in the opposite direction.
“Have you told her yet,” Shirley said as they came closer.
“Told me what?”
“There’s a robbery going on right now in the box office – we need to stop it, without letting anyone else know or anyone else getting hurt. Do you have anything?”
Doc patted her purse as she said “a .22 – never leave home without it.”
“You scare me girl,” Janice said, and then she looked at Heather.
“Do they look like pros?”
“Heather, they looked like they were no older than Abby.”
“All right – go, enjoy the game,” Heather said. “Anna – with me, let’s move.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the announcer called out, “I’d like to remind you that after the game we will be having a meet and sign session with our distinguished guests from the world of fashion. In return for donations to the appeal, they will be available for photographs and autographs.
“I would further like to remind you that each player on the all-stars will be signing her jersey, and that they will be being put up for auction online starting this afternoon.
“With that in mind, we’re ready to start the fifth innings, so please welcome the teams back onto the field!”
“They’re going back on,” the leather jacketed girl said as she looked out of the box office door. She had pulled a scarf up over the lower part of her face, and looked back to where her two male friends were securing the legs of the three elderly women who manned the office with plastic zip ties. Their wrists were secured behind their backs with another plastic strip, their hands palm to palm, and as they were rolled over strips of duct tape were pressed down over their mouths.
“Don’t move a fucking inch,” one of the boys said as he waved a starting pistol at them, “fill the bag up.”
The second boy nodded, a baseball cap pulled down over his head and dark glasses covering his eyes, as he grabbed a canvas bag and started to put the takings into it.
“Come on, come on,” the girl said as she glanced around the office, the only other sound the whimpering of the three captives.
“All right, we got it all,” the boy said as they heard a cheer from the field, “let’s get out of here.”
“Don’t move an inch, any of you,” the first boy said as he walked backwards out of the room, into the outer area where tickets were sold and collected. The blinds were down; meaning the only way anyone could look in was through the door to the lobby, which they had closed when they came in.
The girl closed the inner door, and shouted “We did it – there must be thousands here.”
“Tens of thousands,” the boy said as he waved the starting pistol round, so let’s get the…”
As they turned round, however, they saw a woman in her late twenties standing there, her brown hair cut short and framing her face, her eyes covered by a large pair of sunglasses, and her hands in a pair of soft black leather gloves. She was wearing a white sweater and jeans, and was smiling as she said “Now, here’s what going to happen. You two pricks are going to very quietly drop the gun and the bag, and all three of you are going to drop to your knees, and put your hands on your heads.”
“And what the fuck makes you think we’re going to do that?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” the brown haired woman said as she produced a .45 from behind her back, and pointed it at them, “here’s one reason – my friend has another.”
“That pressure you feel against your back,” the girl heard another female voice say, “is the business end of a Ruger 2245 LR. If I fire, there will be little sound, but I assure you your back will be shattered, and if you survive the exit wound you will be crippled for life. So, when my friend asks you to do something, I strongly suggest for the benefit of your continued living you very quietly do it.”
The two young men looked over to see a smaller woman, dressed like the brunette but with long black hair, turn and smile at them, before they dropped the bag and knelt on the floor.
“Smart – very smart,” the brunette said as she walked slowly forward, the girl dropping to her knees as well. “My friend is going to give you something now.”
They watched as a gloved hand came over their shoulders, one at a time, and held out a sponge ball. “Take it,” the brunette said, “and stuff it into your mouth.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Kill you if you don’t do as you’re told,” the dark haired woman whispered as she pressed the gun into the girl’s back, smiling at her whimper as she pushed the sponge into her mouth.
“She’s sensible, copy her,” the brunette said as the two boys pushed the sponge balls into their own mouths, and then all three put their hands on their heads as their heads were encircled in the same duct tape they had used in the next room.
“Nice of you guys to collect the money for us,” the black haired woman said, “but right now, right here, you’re in our way, and we need to make sure that’s not the case. All three of you, hands behind your back, nice and slowly.”
“Whtruggntddd,” the young man said as he lowered his arms.
“A lesson,” the brunette said as she picked up a bag, opened it and took skeins of rope, handing some to the other woman before they secured the wrists of all three of them behind their backs. It only took five minutes, but as the girl tried to flex her fingers she already knew they were going nowhere.
The feeling was increased as her arms were forced into her sides, the rope going above and below her chest, the zip at the front of her jacket forced down as the pressure increased with each tug. The two boys were starting to cry as their arms were secured, and they were then pushed forward, landing on their faces as their ankles and legs were secured, and then their ankles pulled back, secured with rope to their chests.
Fifteen minutes ago they had been planning to celebrate – and now they were whimpering on the floor, unable to move or speak as the two women looked at her.
The brunette walked into the inner office, taking a pair of scissors from a desk and laying it next to the three bound and gagged women. “You are safe,” she said as she placed the bag with the money on the desk, “I would appreciate it if you did not mention me or my colleague.”
One of them nodded as she went back into the outer office, closing the door. “As for you three,” she said, “mention me or my friend, we will know, and we will find you. Enjoy the rest.”
The two women placed their guns in a bag, and the smaller looked out into the lobby, nodding as they walked across to the rest room.
Five minutes later, Heather and Doc appeared, looking over as a woman came out of the office, rubbing her wrists as she approached a security guard. They walked out and towards the parking lot, where Janice and Shirley were waiting by Heather’s car.
“I’m keeping your little mother’s helper for the moment,” Heather said to Doc as she lifted a flap and deposited the bag inside. “It’s taken care of – three stool pigeons trussed and ready for roasting.”
don't know which fact disturbs me more,” Janice said quietly as Heather locked
her car. “That you are carrying? Or that both Shirley and I instinctively knew
you would be?"
least I have a secret compartment in the car." Heather looked at the
teenager, "What happens if the cops search you one day?"
going to search an ordinary looking girl like me?"
"We need to have a big group discussion about all this...and soon." Janice looked serious.
“Agreed - but not today. Let’s go and see what we missed of the game.”
Kylie looked over as Doc came back in. “What kept you,” she said as she and Janice set down the drinks, “you almost missed the whole of the fifth.”
“Sorry – I got talking to some other people,” she said with a smile, “who wants a cold one?”
“I will take one,” Willy said as he held his hand out, catching the beer that Janice threw over as Natasha gasped slightly.
“Are you all right,” Diana said as she looked at her sister in law.
“Yes, yes – just another kick,” Natasha said with a smile, before she gasped again.
“Karen,” Diana said as Karen Boyd walked past, “can you spare a moment please?”
“Sure Countess,” Karen said with a smile, “what’s up?”
“Could you have a look at Natasha for me please? She says the baby is kicking, but…”
“All right,” Karen said as she put her hand on Natasha’s stomach, and felt for a while. “How far along are you?”
“Thirty nine weeks – why?”
“Hmmm – do me a favour, Natasha, just sit here for a while, and if you start to feel any different, get one of the girls to find me, all right?”
“Sure – why?”
“Oh I just want to be sure you’re not uncomfortable,” Karen said as she slipped back into the benches, and talked to the captain of the Massachusetts Babes…
“Well, Jo managed to steal third, and we need to get her home. Juliette, it’s about time you got your turn at bat.” Mary called out, “Bat for Angel.”
“Okay.” Juliette smiled as she picked up a bat and walked to the diamond.
“Now coming into the game, legendary supermodel and fashion writer Juliette Huntingdown.”
Juliette waved as the crowd rose in applause.
“See there’s granny having a go now,” Annie said as she waved Judith’s hand at the field.
“That’s a popular cheer Ju,” Alex laughed as she took a couple of practice swings, “how long since you played?”
“About 25 years Alex.”
“Well in case you’ve forgotten first base is that way.” Alex laughed as he pointed.
“This way?” Juliette shouted back as she hit the first pitch smartly into right field.
“Welcome back,” Mary said as Jo crossed home plate, Juliette taking first as the announcer said “and also joining the game now, Lady Ordford, more popularly known as Mandy Carrow!”
“Now this should be interesting,” Kylie said as she watched Mandy stroll onto the diamond, waving as the crowd clapped.
“Have you played this, Kylie,” Nikki asked.
“I have played rounders’ – badly – so in a way I have,” Kylie replied as Mandy took up her position.
“Well at least I managed to hit it a couple of times Mummy.” Angel laughed as her mother came back to the dugout after striking out. “You didn’t even get close.”
“Darling I never did claim I could hit a ball you know.”
“As long as you are having fun, who cares?” Anna Mitchell said as she passed Mandy a beer can.
“Actually Darling I am. I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks.”
“Abby and I were chatting about next year.” Angel spoke.
“Oh you are both debs aren’t you?” Anna asked.
“Yes, I think we might have a lot of fun, Abby says there are some nice girls she knows doing the season, and a few are coming over to the European events as well…”
“And of course the New York Sluts darling.” Mandy cast her daughter a little glance.
“And as you say, also Ally and Nell.” Angel giggled.
“I know – I asked them who would do the father’s dance, and they just looked at each other and giggled,” Abby said as she sat next to them.
“This is Jeanne Beckman at the Charity Softball game in Boston, and I’m taking a few minutes to catch up with a very special surprise attendee. A fortnight ago, she had been best known as the loved headmistress of a secondary school north of London, but at the Complete Style show in London she emerged from over twenty years in the wilderness to help close the show – Glorious Grace Gresham. Grace, welcome to the Beckman Report.”
“Thanks for asking me, Jeanne,” Grace said as they sat in the changing room.
“I guess the question our audience want most to know the answer to is the same question we asked you when we met a fortnight ago, Grace – why did you quit?”
“Well, it’s a complicated question Jeanne, but put simply I realized if I did not do something, I was going to go down a very dark and dangerous road. I saw what the bad side of the modeling world was doing to my friends, and I knew I was in real danger of the same thing happening to me.”
“So one day, you woke up and said effectively ‘I quit’?”
“Essentially, yes – and while I love, and still love this business, I still think it was the right thing for me to do.”
“So where did you go?”
“As you said in your introduction, I returned to England, and became a teacher. In fact, as most people who watch this now know, Jeannie Brewster was a pupil at my school when she was discovered, and I am so proud of what she has achieved.”
“So why are you here in Boston?”
“Well,” Grace said carefully, “after the show, the governors of the school I run felt I had in some way brought the name of the school into disrepute, so at the moment I am enjoying an unexpected holiday. What it does mean is I have time to come and renew some friendships, and I have already got a few jobs over here.”
“So what is the future for Grace Gresham – teacher or model?”
“As Juliette, Alice and Karen amongst others have shown, there is no reason why I cannot do both, and I look forward to discussing the difference of view with the appropriate personnel in the very near future.”
“Grace Gresham, thank you.”
“No, thank you,” Grace said with a smile as the filming stopped.
“Nicely put,” Linda said, clapping as she came in.
“Thanks, Mother,” Grace said as she stood up.
“Tell me, do you remember Grant Burton?”
“Of course I do – what happened to him?”
“He’s now a top lawyer, specializing in employment disputes – and he’s going to call you at Karen’s tomorrow to discuss your case. We’ll pay the costs, and we’re also sorting out your work permit for you.”
“Excuse me a moment,” Susan said as she handed Shirley little April, and then took her cell phone out.
“Hey Pamela, Ashley said you might phone.” Susan spoke into the mobile. “Are you in New York yet?”…”You are? Good, Ashley gave you the office address didn’t she?”…”Okay you come in and see me Monday and we will talk about getting you a job…Sure,” Susan smiled. “You keep your head down and I’ll see you then…It’s not a problem…Byeeee.”
“Was that the young lady you mentioned?” Shirley asked.
“Yes, looks like she got to NYC just fine.”
“She was in New Zealand, correct?”
“Yup – took the rap for a bank robbery, then escaped, made her way to an airport, and over here. I’ll find a clerical role for her while we assess her potential.”
“And that’s the eighth innings passed, with the teams tied now at 13-13. Who is going to win this exciting game…?”
Susan and Karen both turned and looked at Natasha as she held her bump.
Natasha looked at both of them and nodded slowly, as a small damp patch appeared on the bleacher seat below her.
“All right,” Karen said, “stand up and walk with me. Susan, can you find Willy?”
As Susan stood up, Karen could see Diana walking quickly over. “Mon dieu,” she said quietly, “how can I help?”
“Go to the captain of the Babes, tell her I need the volunteers in the treatment room – and then call Guy. He’ll need to let Valeria know.”
“Of course,” Diana said as she walked quickly off, while Karen and Susan supported Natasha as they made their way into the building.
“Is everything all right,” Abby said as Diana came into the dugout.
“Of course,” her mother said as she walked to the other manager and whispered into her ear. Nodding, she beckoned to two of her staff, who nodded and headed back in...
“Willy, why is my wife approaching at great speed?”
Willy turned to see Susan approaching him, Clint and John, looking round as she did so.
“There you are,” she said quietly, “Willy, you need to head to the treatment room in the main building – now.”
“Why – I am not a doctor?”
“No, but Karen Boyd is, and some of the nurses are there as well.”
“Karen… Ah. If you will excuse me gentlemen?”
“Go,” Clint said with a smile as Susan said “Diana is calling your father…”
“And it’s the bottom of the ninth, the All Stars ahead 16 to 12.”
“Qu'est-ce qui se passe pour moi,” Natasha called out as she gripped Willy’s hand.
“Well,” Karen said as she looked up, “you’re not just in labor Natasha, the baby is coming, right here, right now. An ambulance is on the way, but I don’t think it’s going to make it on time, so get ready – it’s happening.”
“Do not worry, I’m here,” Willy said as Natasha panted, while Karen took a towel from one of the nurses.
“All right – when you feel the contraction, push down as hard as you can,” Karen said as she looked up.
“As… As you wish,” Natasha panted and then she grunted as she pushed down, Karen and the second nurse watching as the first mopped Natasha’s brow.
“Right – deep breaths,” Karen said as she looked up. “The baby is well on the way – the scissors?”
“Sterilizing, Doctor Boyd,” the nurse said as she looked at a tray, tools sitting in the clear liquid.
“Here we GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” Natasha shouted as she pushed again, Karen saying “fantastic, Natasha – the head is crowning now, one more push and we should be done.”
“I thought it would be painless,” Natasha gasped as she looked down.
“Ah if only life was so simple,” Karen said as she smiled, and said “Okay – one more push…”
There was silence for a moment, and then the cry of a baby brought tears to the eyes of both Willy and Natasha.
Karen looked up as the nurse cut the cord, and said quietly “congratulations – it’s a healthy baby boy.”
“We… We have a son?”
“You do,” the nurse said as she brought the new born, wrapped in a white towel, and laid him next to Natasha.
“We need to get you both to the hospital and checked out,” Karen said as the door opened and an ambulance crew came in, “but I don’t see any problems. I’ll come and see you in the hospital later, but for now you’re safe with them.”
“Thank you, Karen,” Willy said as he shook her hand, “for everything.”
“My pleasure – I’ll tell Diana and Abby, if you want?”
Natasha nodded as she stroked the baby boy’s cheek. “Do you still think it is right?”
“I do,” Wily said quietly. “Hello, Alain Guy…”
“We’ve got it from here Doctor Boyd,” the paramedic said, the two nurses nodding as she left the room for a minute.
“Well,” Diana said as she came out.
“You have a nephew, Diana?”
Smiling, Diana put her cell phone back to her ear. “Papa? You need to inform Valeria that she has a grandson, and to get here as soon as possible.
“Tomorrow? Very well then – I will meet her at the airport alongside you.”
“STRIIKKEEEE THREEE – YOU’RE OUT,” Alex called out as the announcer said “and that’s the end of the game – with a final score of Massachusetts Babes 17, All Stars 16, a victory to the home team, but the real winner is the new maternity unit. If you would like to have your photo taken with one of the All Stars, please make your way to the field, and wait for the official press to finish.”
As the press photographers snapped pictures of the teams, Linda was talking quietly to a few of the models, their heads nodding as they listened.
“You were fantastic,” a group of young girls said as they clustered around Jo, the young girl smiling as she signed their books, while Abby and Jeannie double teamed at another spot.
Eventually, Mary came out and said, “Thanks you all very much – now, if you’re heading to Ju’s place, you have plenty of time to get there, otherwise have a great day.”
“Right – Cari, gather up Mags, Marnie and Jo, and come on the bus with me,” Juliette called out.
“We’ll come with you,” Mandy said as she took Angel’s arm, “the boys are waiting for us at your place.”
“All right, Jeannie,” Barbara said, “I need to get you to the place as well.”
"Okay ladies all in the bus." Juliette called out.
"You're with us Jeanne." Bats called out...."You too Grace."
I'll see you and baby later, something is going on." Carina kissed Annie
are with Sandy me and the kids." Heather called out.
on the bus please?" Juliette called out.
"What the hell is going on Diana?" Sandy whispered.
have a fair idea...we will see them all later, this is models business."
you are Grace," Linda yelled.
waiting for Karen."
"Baby and mother doing fine," Karen yelled.
“On the bus, now,” Juliette called out as the six girls sat down.
“So why do we need to be on here,” Jo said as the engine started.
“Official business,” Juliette said quietly, “blindfold them.”
“Do not try to remove them,” Juliette said as the scarves were tied over their eyes, “until you are told you can. You are coming with us, and we will meet the others later.”
“Where are we,” Jo said as the engine stopped, turning her head to see if she could hear what was going on.
“I don’t know,” she heard Maggie say, “but it looks like we’re all in the same boat.”
“Ladies,” she heard Juliette say, “there will be silence. Do not speak unless spoken to. Sisters, bring them forth and line them up.”
“I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry,” Carina said as she was helped out of the minibus, and then stood still, a hand on her shoulder.
“Carina? Do you know what’s going on?”
“I may have an idea,” Carina said, “but we’re all in the same position…”
“Silence,” Juliette said, “ensure the novitiates are prepared.”
“Novitiates,” Carina whispered as she felt her hands been taken behind her back, and her wrists loosely secured together. “Oh Goddess – we’re novitiates?”
“Want to clue the rest of us into what’s going on,” Marnie said before Juliette said “Silence – line them up and wait for the word.”
“Well, whatever it is, it’s still early.”
“How can you tell Maggie?”
Before Maggie could answer, they were all made to walk forward, as Jo felt the hard ground under her feet turn to wood, before they were made to walk down some stairs. The air was cool, but as they walked in they could all hear voices murmuring, the sound dying down as a door was closed behind them.
“Sister Pelican,” Carina heard Linda Evangelista say, “what business do you bring before the sisterhood today?”
“Mother, I and these others bring before you these six candidates, who have shown themselves worthy for inclusion in the sisterhood.”
“I what,” Jo said to herself as she stared straight ahead.
“Name the candidates,” Linda said, “and reveal their eyes.”
“Carina Huntingdown,” Abby said as she removed the blindfold from Carina’s eyes.
“Margaret Fife,” Karen said as hers was removed.
“Marnie Paget,” Jeanne said.
“Ingrid von Furstenheim.”
“Joanne Smith,” was the last name to be called as Jo’s eyes were uncovered, and she looked round. They were in a cellar, lit by candlelight, and sitting round the room were their friends from the modeling world, Jeannie in her wheelchair. They all looked serious as she turned to see the robed figure standing between two stands, candles burning in both of them.
“Carina… Margaret… Marnie… Ingrid… Angelica… and Joanne,” Linda said, “you are brought before the sisterhood of Pi Tau Alpha to be considered for membership of the sorority. You have been considered by the senior sisters, and have found to be worthy of the offer of membership. To accept is to agree to do certain things, and I invite Sister Palomino, recently returned, to ask you to take the oath of fellowship.”
Grace stepped forward, a book in her hand, and read out “Novitiates, do you agree to be as one with your sisters, support them in their times of need, celebrate with them in their triumphs, and console them in their tragedies?”
“Respond, if you desire to join, with we do,” Mother said, looking at the six girls as they all said “We Do.”
“Do you swear to uphold the rules and regulations of the Sorority, and in doing so stand firm one with another?”
“And do you swear always to support one another, sister by sister, in all you face?”
“As do I,” Grace said as she bowed to Mother, “as do all the sisters gathered here today.”
“Thank you Sister Palomino. Who brings forward these novitiates for membership? For Carina Huntingdown – Sister Pelican, do you in good faith sponsor Carina Huntingdown?”
“I do,” Juliette said as she stood behind Carina.
“Sister Baby Supermodel, do you in good faith sponsor Margaret Fife?”
“I do,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself over.
“Sister Bats, do you in good faith sponsor Marnie Paget?”
“I do,” Alice said as she walked over.
“Sister Happy Face, do you in good faith sponsor Ingrid von Furstenheim?”
“I do,” Caroline said from behind the young princess.
“Sister Tufty, do you in good faith sponsor Angelica Fitzstuart?”
“I do,” Mandy said as she stood behind her daughter.
“Sister Stick, do you in good faith sponsor Joanne Smith?”
“I do,” Abigail said as she stood behind Jo, grinning broadly.
“Novitiates, these sisters in good standing have agreed to sponsor you for membership. If you are willing and desire to join them, kneel and bow your heads.”
The six girls looked at each other, grinning as they did as they had been asked to do, and feeling the hands of their sponsors on their right shoulders.
“Novitiates, will you accept the invitation to join the Pi Tau Alpha sorority, and enter into all the rights and privileges of such membership?”
“We do,” they said as one.
“Very well then – as Principal of the Sorority, I welcome you into our sisterhood, and will grant you your new names as members of the Sorority.”
Linda walked forward and placed her head on Carina’s head. “Carina Diana Huntingdown von Furstenheim, I name you Sister Elmore – welcome.”
“Thank you Mother,” Carina said as a tear formed in her eye.
“Margaret Fife, I name you Sister Maureen – welcome.”
“Thank you Mother,” Maggie said quietly as Linda moved on.
“Marnie Paget, I name you Sister Jordan – welcome.”
Marnie nodded and whispered “thank you mother.”
“Ingrid von Furstenheim, I name you Sister Isolde – welcome.”
“Thank you Mother,” Ingrid said as she bowed her head.
“Angelica Fitzstuart, I name you Sister Kit Squirrel – welcome.”
Angel felt her mother’s hand squeeze her shoulder as she said “thank you Mother.”
“And finally, Joanne Smith, I name you Sister Greyhound – welcome.”
“Thank you Mother,” Jo whispered, still not quite believing what was happening.
“Sponsors, these novitiates have been accepted into full membership of Pi Tau Alpha, and in the presence of those sisters present, I announce them to be such members. Let the word be spread, and let them be free to accept the honor.”
“Welcome,” Juliette said as she untied Carina’s arms, and then embraced her daughter, “you’re a sister now in reality as well as in honour.”
“Thanks, mom,” Carina said as Jo and Abby hugged.
“Why – this is a part time thing for me…”
“Trust us – it is well earned,” Abby said as she looked at her friend.
“Sister Titi, the celebration drinks?”
“Here, Mother,” Jeanne said as she produced several bottles of champagne, and trays of glasses were brought out.
“Sisters, charge you glasses,” Linda said as she removed the hood, and smiled as the champagne was poured out. “If you are ready, congratulate and welcome our new sisters as one.”
“WELCOME” they called out as they raised their glasses, and then gathered round to hug them.
“I still can’t quite believe it,” Carina said as she hugged Abby and Jo.
“You can’t? What about me?”
“And us,” the others said as they came over.
“Right – some of us have guests to get back to,” Juliette said. “Abby, you’re coming with us. Everyone else – until next time!”
“We’re coming as well, Darling,” Mandy said as she walked over with Angel, “I would not miss this for the world.”
“If you can give me a lift – Mum went with Diana and the others.”
“No problem – we’ll lift you in – and where are we anyway?”
“Tufts – they let us use a room for this purpose,” Linda said, the girls looking at Alice as she smiled and said “Surprise.”
“Right – all who are with me, let’s go!”
Massachusetts General Hospital
The receptionist at the maternity unit looked up to see a tall, grey haired and well dressed man standing in front of her, carrying an enormous bunch of flowers.
“I’m looking for Natasha du Grechy?”
“And you are?”
“Her father in law.”
“Ah yes – you do look a lot like her husband. Room 4.06.”
“Thank you,” Guy said as he walked to the rooms, and knocked on the correct door.
“Natasha darling is it alright if I…” The Duke said as he looked round.
“Come in Guy, he is awake.” Natasha looked proudly down at her son lying in her arms.
“How are you Mon Chere?” Guy asked as he kissed his daughter-in-law on both cheeks.
“Surprisingly well,” Natasha said as she looked at him, “considering this young man’s decision to come into the world a trifle unexpectedly.”
“Your Mama is in the air as we speak.” Guy sat on the edge of the bed and looked closely at his grandson. “I think he’s going to look a bit like me you know,” the old gentleman chuckled.
“We thought so too.”
“Well it’s an auspicious start.” Guy laughed lightly.
“He will be both French and American you know?”
“Yes, and that makes me proud since I love both countries.”
“We had in mind Colonel Alain de Grechy when we named him.”
“Very appropriate, naming him for an ancestor who gave his life fighting alongside Lafayette for the Americans in their War of Independence.”
“We thought so Papa.” Willy came into the room.
“Bon, and I certainly approve.”
“Darling, I asked Jack if he would do the baby photos in the morning.”
“Yes when Mama is here as well, that will be wonderful.”
“Congratulations my boy,” Guy said as he shook Willy’s hand, “Roger and Alain send their own via me, and they will be in touch. How do you feel?”
“I’m still in a state of shock Papa, one minute she is sitting at the game, and the next – our son arrives.”
“I must thank the doctor and nurses for their quick help. Are they here?”
“Non,” Natasha said, “Karen had to go and meet the others, but she and they will be here tomorrow.”
“Then Valeria and I will thank them personally,” Guy said as the nurse brought in the flowers.
Beverley, MA – the Huntingdown residence.
“There you are,” Annie said as Carina came into the garden with the others, “where did you get to?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Carina said as she kissed Judith, and then Annie. “Trust me – it was amazing.”
“All done,” Barbara said as Abby wheeled Jeannie in.
“All done,” Jeannie said as she made her way over to where the girls were sitting round the table.
“There you are darling,” Kylie said as she handed Jeannie a drink, “where on earth did you get to?”
“We had some sorority business to take care of – what’s been happening here?”
“Oh we’ve been talking about our plans for the summer – do you have much travelling to do?”
“A bit this month, but I get to have most of August off. You?”
“I head back at the end of August, so at least we shall have some time together.”
“Did we catch you by surprise girls?” Juliette asked Carina and Joanne.
“You damn well did,” Carina shook her head, “never in my wildest dreams did I think you’d nominate me to join PTA.”
“I didn’t darling…Bats did.”
“Oh wow, I’d better thank Alice.”
“What about me Ju, I think I was even more surprised then Cari…Who?”
“Would you believe Mother herself?”
“Linda Evangelista nominated me to join PTA?” Jo’s jaw dropped.
“You’ve made an impression Greyhound.” Juliette smiled.
“Oh dear Artemis…I can’t believe it.” Jo shook her head.
“Who do I hear taking the goddesses name in vain?” Heather asked as she wandered over with a champagne bottle.
“Me! Would you believe it was Linda nominated me for PTA?”
“No!” Heather looked at Juliette, “really?”
“Really…Jo has impressed a lot of people very quickly.”
“See – brains and beauty win every time,” Cari said as Heather filled their glasses, “to the future.”
“I’ll toast to that,” Heather said as Karen walked over.
“How are the happy parents,” Carina asked.
“Still in shock I think – I know Diana is,” Karen said as she glanced over to where Diana was talking to Abby and Sandy. “Heather, can I have a quick word?”
“Sure,” Heather said as she and Karen walked off to one side.
“I got that information you asked about,” Karen said quietly, “it’s in the car.”
“Thanks – it’s important I learn as much as I can before I talk to Sandy about this,” Heather replied.
Karen looked at her closely, and said “Look, it’s probably none of my business, but have you been getting enough sleep lately? You look a bit tired and drawn.”
“That obvious? I’ve been having some trouble, but I thought I was getting enough…”
“Only to the trained medical eye,” Karen said quietly. “I’m a gynecologist, not a sleep doctor, but if you ever want to talk…”
“Thanks – I appreciate it, but it usually clears up of its own accord.”
“Well, like I say, the offer’s there – after all, I’ve had problems sleeping in the past as well,” Karen said as she put her hand on Heather’s shoulder, and walked off.
“Not the way I have,” Heather whispered as she went back towards the others.
“Well, it should start to get dark soon,” Susan said as she sat with April, tickling her chin.
“Yes,” Shirley said as she sat with her glass of wine, “so when do your mother and aunt arrive?”
“Wednesday – I’ve got the cot in our room, and the nursery will be their room for the visit.”
“And do you think they will be all right with Marina and Kylie?”
“Oh yes – I think they’ll be fine. After all, they’ve turned over a new leaf, haven’t they?”
“How true – Penny will be here on Wednesday as well, and Charlotte will be coming too. I should tell you that Piet is also coming.”
“So I heard – they’re staying in a hotel this time. Sharing a room.”
Shirley nodded slowly as John came over. “Guy has asked me to take some photographs tomorrow on the way back of the baby. Not a problem, Shirley?”
“Not at all – I can call on a business colleague in the city tomorrow and meet you at the hospital.”
“Well, what’s better after a day like today than sitting with friends, drinking and watching the sun set?”
“I agree, your highness.”
“Why thank you Countess,” Carina said as she clinked her glass against Abby’s.
“Uh oh what?”
“Tommy won’t like this.” Abigail whispered in Carina’s ear as Holly Berryman walked towards them on the arm of a tall rugged looking young man. The small blonde was wearing a low cut blouse and a short skirt, her glasses perched on her face.
“It’s his own stupid fault, fancy telling Holly he wouldn’t mind if she dated this summer.”
Abby looked amused as she said “You’re taking Holly’s side Cari?”
“In this matter very much so. Tommy is a stupid idiot, Holly wanted him to say no, and she would have happily behaved herself all summer because she’s in love with him.”
“But telling her he didn’t mind gave her the signal that he doesn’t love her back.” Jo said as she joined the conversation.
“So Holly has taken him at his word.”
“And now we see the result.”
“Hey girls!” Holly called out, before she came over and kissed each of her friends on the cheek.
“Who’s the stud Holly?” Carina whispered.
“Some guy I met at a party, I needed an escort and he seemed as good as any.”
“What’s his name?”
“Clyde or Burt or Jonny or something like that,” Holly shrugged her shoulders as she said “I didn’t ask him for his name...”
“I see you are wearing your glasses as well Hol?” Jo smiled.
“Why not, and with you three I’m in good company…all beautiful girls wearing specs.” Holly laughed in a slightly false and tinny way as she looked round.
“Yep guys do make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Abigail smiled.
“How true,” Holly said, but she then looked down, the smile disappearing as she stammered “Has…has…has?”
“Has Tommy been in contact?”
Holly nodded as Carina looked at her. “He’s been texting me all about his summer job…”
Nodding Holly said quietly “Does he ask…?”
“About you Holly?”
“Yes damn well about me.” The petite blonde became agitated as she looked round.
“Yes he does” Carina nodded. “Look it’s not really my business Holly, but you clearly are miserable, why don’t you ring him?”
“If he really cared he’d ring me…”
“Honestly Holly,” Jo whispered, “you’re both miserable as sin. You need to sit down and…”
“A drink Holly?” her escort brought some champagne over.
“I don’t mind if I do.” Holly put a smile on as she walked away with the young man.
“I’m not sure I can tolerate a summer of this.” Abigail sighed.
“We’re not going to,” Carina said decisively. “When we get back on Monday, I’m going to see Tommy…”
“All right folks,” Juliette called out as the sun started to set on the horizon, “the fireworks should be starting soon, so take your seats.”
As the group gathered round, Sandy tapped Karen Boyd lightly on the shoulder.
“Can I have a moment Karen?’
“Of course Sandy, what can I do for you?”
Walking into the house, Sandy looked round and then said “can you come in here please?’ before she ushered the doctor into an empty room.
“Am I here as your friend or as a doctor?”
“A bit of both I hope…am I right in thinking doctors have to be discreet?”
“We do…do you have a problem Sandy?”
“No…it’s Heather,” Sandy said as she sat down. “Look, can I be sure what I say will go no further?”
“Now you have me intrigued and of course the answer is yes.’
“Alright.” Sandy took a deep breath. “Heather was abused and violated by her father from the time she was 12 till the time of his death.”
“Oh Lord,” Karen said as she sat down, “that wasn’t what I was expecting.”
“Heather suffers from bad nightmares still, we thought they had quit, but they’ve come back worse than ever since we returned from Europe.”
“Okay I understand.” Karen nodded.
“I think she needs see a therapist, she says she doesn’t…”
“Sandy I agree with you.” For a few seconds Karen thought hard. “I have a friend who is probably just the right person to help Heather, she was herself a victim.”
“That might help.”
“Her name is Serena Gleb, she has a practice in Boston. Would you like me to have a quiet word?”
“Please….and I’ll try working on Heather again.”
“Okay, okay - give me a few days to get hold of Serena, but I know enough psychology to know this might one day get VERY dangerous if Heather doesn’t get help.”
“I’m sorry to say yes.”
“Alright I’ll do something…we had better get back to the fireworks.”
The two women walked back out, Heather turning as she heard them walk up.
“Where have you two been? You almost missed the show,” she said as the fireworks started.
“Juliette did you hear Anna took a gun to the game?” Janice asked.
“I did. I was planning to have a word tomorrow.”
“She gets cocky and reckless at times.”
“I know…we really do need to get her out of that habit.”
“Before she gets us all in trouble.”
“So are you enjoying the fireworks Shirley and John?”
“Very much so, they put on a good show for a small town.”
“Were you and Janice talking about Doc?” Madame asked as Janice accompanied John to get some more wine.
“We were…I need do something.”
“Yes you do darling.”
Juliette looked over to where Doc was sitting with the others. “I know what to do,” she said quietly.
They all fell silent as the sky was lit up, the dazzling fireworks creating patterns in the sky as the children watched and cooed, and the adults clapped and cheered.
"So explain to me Jeans, how does a nerd like Tommy end up dating first Carina then Holly? Two of the most gorgeous girls in New York?"
"By being a great listener, by being kind and caring...and I hear unbelievable in the sack" Jeannie smiled as she sat next to her boyfriend watching the fireworks.
"Well I learn something new every day." Winston shook his head.
“You should know, lover,” Jeannie said as she rested her head on his chest. “I love that about you, how modest you are.”
“Still, neither of them are a match for you,” Winston said as he kissed Jeannie.
“And you know just when to say the right thing,” she said with a smile.
“See baby,” Carina said as she held Judith, and pointed to the sky, “that’s what makes this such a wonderful place.”
Judith nodded and then looked at her mother, Juliette smiling as she rested her head on her mother’s chest, and Carina hugged her.
“Hey,” Annie said, “what’s the tears for?”
“I’m just so happy tonight,” Carina said with a smile as the firework show ended, “that’s all…”
Sunday 5th July
Massachusetts General Hospital
Karen made a few notes on the chart, and then placed it on the end of the bed, smiling as she looked at Alain.
“Well, everything’s looking fine Natasha,” she said quietly, “with any luck, you can be on your way tomorrow – the baby is doing fine, you’re recovering nicely, and Willy is still walking on air.”
“So I noticed,” Natasha said as she sat up in bed. “Hopefully he will be here soon, if he has managed to come down from the clouds.”
“Leave him alone, child – this is a precious and amazing occasion.”
“Mama,” Natasha said as Valeria de Ros came in, wearing a grey blouse and trouser suit, “you arrived safely.”
“I did indeed – Guy met me and we stayed in a hotel for the night. He is downstairs with Willy – but enough of the men downstairs. Where is he?”
“Mama,” Natasha said as she got out of bed, walked over and picked up the sleeping baby, “may I present Alain Guy du Grechy.”
Valeria took the baby in her arms, smiling as she said “You are a handsome young man, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’d better see to my other patients,” Karen said as she put her pen away.
“A moment – Mama, Karen and two of the nurses at the game yesterday were responsible for making sure Alain arrived safely.”
“Then I owe you and them a great deal,” Valeria said, “for taking care of my daughter and my grandson.”
“It’s a pleasure, Countess de Ros,” Karen said with a smile, “but you must excuse me, I have other patients to attend to.”
“Of course,” Valeria said as Karen walked out, and then she looked again at Alain. “You are a very lucky young man, to have such loving parents,” she said quietly as Guy and Willy entered the room.
“Are you happy, Mama?”
“More than I can say, my child,” Valeria said as she handed the baby to Natasha. “We must discuss christenings and other matters in due course…”
“Christenings! Willy, we must let Susan know that we cannot attend next week…”
“Be at peace, my love – I spoke to her today, and she understands – but she has still invited us to the reception afterwards.”
“Good – I can sit for a while, but the thought of the ceremony…”
“We will go in your stead,” Guy said as he looked at Valeria, “with great honour.”
“Ah there you are,” John Hammond said as he came in, “I hope I’m not intruding.”
“Not at all John,” Valeria said with a smile, “I take it this is business as well as pleasure?”
“It is indeed,” John said as he patted his bag, “so take a moment to prepare yourself Natasha, while I get sorted out.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
Doc shifted uneasily from foot to foot as she waited outside the front door of the apartment, waiting for a moment before it opened and she saw Annie standing there.
“Hello, Anna,” she said as she stood to one side, “go through to the office. Cari, we need to get going.”
“Coming,” Carina said as she and Ingrid came down the stairs, nodding to Doc as they went out.
“In here please Anna,” she heard Juliette call out, and as she walked in she saw Juliette sitting at the desk, Judith in a play chair as she reached up to the arch over her.
“I wanted to thank you for helping Heather yesterday,” Juliette said as she stood up, and indicated they should sit in a pair of armchairs.
“It was a pleasure, Juliette,” Anna said as she sat down.
“However – I do need to ask why you had a handgun with you, when it was meant to be a holiday event.”
Doc blushed as she said “I’m sorry – I guess it’s become a habit, and I didn’t think twice about it.”
“You need to,” Juliette said, “we only succeed by keeping these parts of our life separate, and carrying a fun at your age is too dangerous for all of us. Heather will retain your weapon, but I suspect we need to find something to occupy your mind for a couple of weeks.”
“As you wish,” Doc said quietly, “so what do you have in mind?”
“I want to set you an intellectual exercise,” Juliette said with a smile. “I’m going to give you an address, and I want you to find out why it is significant, and devise a potential plan of attack for the location. I want you to cover all angles, and leave no detail out.”
“Two weeks to do the report – you can make a presentation to the group when we return from Los Angeles,” Juliette said with a smile. “Do you accept?”
“I accept,” Doc said with a smile, “what’s the location?”