Countdown...  To Ireland







Sunday 20th March

9 pm

JFK Airport


The Transit officer looked at Jo as she stood there, and then back at her screen.


"Welcome home Miss Smith," the woman on the desk smiled as she handed Jo back her passport, "how was your trip?"

"Like most modelling trips,” Jo said with a smile, “both tiring yet fun at the same time."

"Well I saw your new Big Box ad before I came on duty, so that's how I recognised you."

"Despite these?" Jo lifted off her large black-framed 'geek' glasses.

"Yes...despite those," the woman smiled again. "I hope you enjoy your rest."

"Oh believe me, I am just SO looking forward to climbing into bed," Jo said as she slipped her passport into her bag, and made her way through with Caroline, Ama and Nikki to the luggage area.


“Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long to get the bags,” Nikki said as Caroline checked her phone.


“Alice is back in Boston – she’ll come down and see us at the end of the week.”


“Here come our bags now – I’ll fetch a trolley,” Jo said as the luggage started to come round.





“Thank you ma’am,” the Customs officer said as they handed their forms over, and walked into the arrivals area.


“At least it’s relatively quiet,” Jo said as they walked across, and out into the cool night air.


"Well back in the United States," Caroline spoke as she hailed a cab.

"Back HOME," Ama laughed, "I like travelling, but I also like just relaxing in my own home."

"AGREED!" Nikki laughed as the driver took her suitcase, "especially as I find it so hard to relax on flights."

"You fidget." Ama's laugh turned to a giggle. "That poor guy who had to stand up each time you moved."

"Yeah, I told him I was sorry."

"Hey - Is that your new billboard Caroline?" Jo pointed...  "Looks good."

"Yeah, I think Jack got me at my best."


“All right – the village please,” Caroline said as the four of them got into the back of the car, and they started to move off – only to stop when Caroline said “Wait a minute please.”


“What’s up?”  Jo asked as Caroline wound the window down, and spoke to the young man coming out of the terminal.


“Hey Luke...going our way?"


"I could be,” Luke Heller said with a smile, “if he's got room to carry all this stuff."


"Yeah, I can just abaht pack its in."

"Thanks."  They waited as the cabbie got out and put Luke’s luggage in the trunk, while he got in the back as well.

"Luke you look as exhausted as I feel,” Caroline said, “has Jack been..."

"No," the Englishman laughed, "I've been out on Canada's West Coast photographing people of native descent for 'This Globe'."

"Sounds very interesting, we've been in Ireland, shooting for..."

"Alice's new campaign," he grinned, "Jack has been keeping me bang up to date, and I’ve even seen those amazing shots of you with the wolfhounds Jo."


“I am never going to be allowed to forget that, am I?”


“Jo, I think the name Greyhound is going to stick,” Luke said with a smile.


“So what’s Jack being up to while you were enjoying maple cured bacon and beer,” Jo asked.


“Believe it or not, working for Ju in Sebring – she got Alexis and Mary to put him on a plane down, and he’s being a photojournalist for a few days.”


“Jack?  I thought he hated Florida.”


“He does – which makes finding out when he gets back all the more interesting...”




10.15 pm

The Village


“And we are back,” Caroline said as she turned on the lights and threw her keys into the bowl on the table.


“And it is so good to be home,” Ama said as she looked round.  “Shall I make some cocoa?  I think there is some long life milk in the icebox.”


“Why not?  Nikki, we’ll set a camp bed up in Ama’s room for you, and your mom will call in the morning.”


“Thanks,” Nikki said as Ama went to the kitchen, Caroline checking the mail as Jo looked at her phone.


“Well, seems we missed a very interesting party,” she said with a smile.


“Oh?  What happened?”


“Well, let’s see – Mick Harran and Nessa singing, along with some guys called Love and Jardine.”


Caroline looked up and said “Mike Love and Al Jardine?”


“That’s right,” Jo said as Ama brought the mugs in.  “Apparently, someone also arranged for Carole King to send a message as well.”


“I am so jealous already,” Ama said with a smile.


“Right – drink up, while I sort out the bed for the night.  We’ll unpack in the morning.”


“Sounds good to me,” Jo said as she took a drink.  “I’m sure we will get the full story in the next couple of days.”


"Who are Mike Love and Al Jardine?" asked Ama.

"Two thirds of the living members of the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson seldom performs."

"Oh Mom, now I am even more jealous of Jeannie."

"Well I suspect Mary called in a few old markers to get them there."


“I can’t wait to hear what the party was like,” Nikki said.


“You’re going to have to wait – bed, now, both of you.”


“Yes, Mom,” Ama said as she and Nikki went to her room, Jo smiling as she stood up.


“I’m going to turn in as well – see you in the morning Caroline.”


“See you then,” Caroline said with a smile as she dialled a number.


“George?  It’s me.  Mike Love and Al Jardine?


“You’re kidding?  Well, this could get very interesting.  Any problems?


“Okay – you’re flying back with Shirley tomorrow?


“Good – call round when you get back, we’ll talk then.”



Monday 21st March

8 am

The Village


Caroline woke up to the sound of the front door opening and closing, and then footsteps coming up from the street.  Slipping out of her bed, she walked out of her bedroom to see Jo carrying a brown bag, steam rising from it.


“Hey – I thought I’d get a few things for breakfast,” she said with a smile, “That is a great little bakers you have down there.”


“Yeah, he does right by us,” Caroline said with a smile.


“Good morning,” Ama said as she came out, “is that fresh bread I smell?”


“It is indeed – why don’t you start some coffee Ama, and I’ll see if I can raise Nikki from her slumber.”


“I’ll sort these out,” Jo said as she followed Ama into the kitchen, while Caroline looked out over the street.


“Hey – am I the last one up?”


“Not by much,” Caroline said with a smile as she looked at Nikki, “heard from the other girls yet?”


“I haven’t checked my phone yet – I’ll do it in a little while,” the young girl said as she headed to the bathroom.


“So working today Caroline?”


“Not until later – Shirley and the team should be back at lunchtime, so I have a two o’clock meeting at the office to review whatever happened this weekend.  The girls have the day off school today – hence the ability for everybody to get back today if possible.”


“Annie tomorrow?”


“Annie tomorrow – so have you seen any pictures?”


“Well, now my phone has had a chance to charge – let’s have a look,” Jo said as the aroma of fresh Turkish coffee came through.


“That smells good,” Nikki said as she came and sat at the table, and looked at her phone.  “Jeannie says she’ll be home by three, and is inviting the three of us round.”


“Sounds good – I’ll bring my car round from Diana’s and drive you there later.”


“Any word on when they will be back?”


“Apparently they’re flying back with Grace and the others.  Ju and the girls are coming back with Ray just after Shirley leaves.”


“How did they do anyway,” Ama asked, “in the race?”


“Not bad apparently – I’m sure we’ll find out in due course.  Pass the butter, will you?”


“There you go,” Nikki said as Jo spread some onto the warm bread, and then took a mug of coffee from Ama.



11 am


The RMC Garage


“Okay, that’s everything cleared up,” Katherine said as she looked round the garage, “everything packed into the truck?”


“Just securing the car now,” Clint said as he called out from the rear of the truck, before he came out and shut the doors.


“How was she this morning,” Denice asked.


“Well, a bit worn down after the race – I think we’ll need to clean out the oil and replace all the brake pads and chocks again, but after a twelve hour race, that’s not surprising.”


“Sandy, I just wanted to come and say thank you for allowing me to join the team,” Antoinette said as she came in and hugged Sands’ mother.  “I will be flying back tonight.”


“Thank you for coming,” Sandy said as she waved the young Frenchwoman off.  “So when will you know what we need to do?”


Clint looked on as he said “We will know more when we get her back home and can strip her down at our leisure..."

"I do hope you are talking about the car Uncle Clint," Erica interrupted.

"Yes why?...Oh I get it," Clint laughed, "No I'm not talking about a real woman."

"Though the way you guys treat her it's a little hard to tell at times." George laughed as he stood against the wall with Roy.

"Oh as if you horse racing types don't talk the same about 'nice young fillies'?"

"He has us there George." Roy slapped his colleague on the back.

"Now are you girls going to be alright?"

"We got her down here Clint, I think we can get her home." Heather called out.

"Are you set to go Katherine?" Tonia asked.

"I think so."


“Right – kids, behave for your dad on the flight back, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”


“Bye mum,” Sands and George said as Sandy got into the cab with Heather, Tonia getting behind the wheel of the Winnebago as both vehicles set off.


“Come on you two – your dad will be looking for you,” Ray said as the others left the garage...






The Huntingdown Apartment


“Well, we made it back,” Carina said as she put her bag down, Judith walking into the front room with her toy rabbit as Juliette closed the door.


“I hear we missed an amazing party,” Klaus said as he came in from the kitchen, drying his hands before he picked Judith up.


“Yeah – how did the meeting with Breitz go?”


“We have agreed he may do some filming next week, but only of the interior of Furstenheim and the townhouse.  He is staying well away from the wedding preparations.”


“Good – the last thing we need is any disruption to that,” Juliette said with a smile.


“Ingrid has called – she will be arriving on Thursday night, so that we can fly out together on Saturday.”


“Excellent – right now, I would settle for some coffee and an early lunch.”


“Drink please, Grappy,” Judith said with a smile.


“Come with me, little one, and I’ll get you one while I fetch some for your momma and Grammy,” Klaus said as he took her hand, while Juliette looked at her phone.


“I’ll need to go into the office for a while this afternoon...”




“No – Mary just wants to run something by me.  Coffee and food first.”





1 pm

The Brewster Brownstone

E 74th Street


“Well, we’re back,” Barbara said as the door opened, Jeannie wheeling herself in as Cathy, Liz and Alicia followed her in.


“Welcome to my place,” she said with a smile as her Aunt Denise and John carried the bags in, “we can leave the bags here until we get the spare bedrooms sorted out.”


“I’m glad you could come back for a couple of days as well, Denise,” John whispered, “It gives you and Barbara the chance to talk again.”


“Well, I’m glad she asked me – how about I get us all some lunch?”


“I’ll need to get a few things in – but there’s a deli a block away if you fancy a walk?”


“You two do that, I’ll get these four a drink,” John said.  “Did you hear back from Ama?”


“Yeah – Jo’s going to come round with her and Nikki later.”


“Right – some cokes from the ice box I think...”




1 pm

Washington Square


Luke looked up as he heard the apartment door open and close again, and then the thump of bags on the floor.


"Luke my love I'm home." Jack called out as he hung his coat up.

"Hello," Luke came out and kissed his boyfriend. "I missed you."

"I missed you too,” Jack said, “but I conquered something important by going to Florida."

"I guessed you might." Luke said as they went into the kitchen, and passed Jack a coffee, "so how did the work go?"

"Pretty damn good if I do say myself...and yours?"

"Well they might not be up to the standard of Edward Curtis,” Luke said with a smile, ”but the editors are seemingly very happy."

"You know,” Jack said as he put his mug down, “it was a book of Curtis's photographs in our local library that was one of the key things in turning me onto taking pictures?"

"Well they are wonderful, and I can understand why they impressed you."

"So,” Jack said, “when do I get see what you took?"

"Well the computer is on, but aren't you sure you'd rather...?"

"Mmmm that sounds like you have a very good...but WICKED idea." Jack grinned as he started to undo Luke's shirt.


“Well, we can show each other what we want to, can’t we...”


1 pm

Inn on the Green


“I trust this will be acceptable, Monsieur Marais?”


“Very much so, thank you,” Henri said as he looked round.  They had called into Complete Style to collect Alexis, and then brought her out to have lunch together.


"So what did the press have to say about the teams efforts Henri?" Alexis asked as Henri first held her chair for her to sit down, then Janine's.

"Not an awful lot,” Henri said as he sat down.  “The privateers, even when the drivers are all beautiful women, don't attract most of the ink."

"But what there was was rather good." Janine smiled as the waiter poured her some ice water.

"It was?" Alexis said as she looked round, "and I have to say thank you Henri, this is far better then where we usually eat Monday lunch."

"It's my pleasure Alexis," Henri smiled, "and returning to the race, the true professionals DID notice the girls and proclaimed it to be a very promising debut in international racing."

"That French writer you know was particularly complimentary wasn't he?"

"He was Janine my love.”  He paused as the waiter took their orders, before continuing “but your American writers also picked up on how much promise the girls showed."

"So will you be invited to some more big races?" Alexis asked.

"Well we might do a couple, but as with last year, the North-Eastern regional series is our major goal."


“I also want to say thank you, Janine, for bringing some of the samples back for me.  I do like that scarf.”


“You’re welcome,” Janine said, “and I did get a very nice looking trouser suit as well.  Henri certainly looked dashing in his suit.  So, what did I miss?”


“Well, we have everything ready for Friday – Juliette has no idea what is going to happen.”


“Oh?  You are giving her a little party?”


“Well – kinda sorta,” Janine said with a smile.


2 pm

Xavier International


“Welcome back Susan, Madame,” Pamela said as she saw her boss and Shirley walk into the office, “I take it the weekend was a success?”


“Very much so – did the additional samples come back?”


“The packages arrived this morning – what would you like me to do with them?”


“Distribute them amongst the staff at your discretion,” Susan said as she hung her coat up, “has Caroline arrived?”


“She’s waiting for you in the conference room – shall I arrange some coffee?”


“Please,” Shirley said as they made their way down the corridor, Dominique smiling as they entered the large meeting room.


“Welcome back,” Susan said as she hugged her old friend, Shirley doing the same.


“Where’s Penny?”


“She’s staying an extra day,” Shirley said, “Helen, Cathy, Kylie and Marina came at the last minute, so they’re having some quality time today before Helen and Cathy fly back to Hong Kong.”


“Kylie and Marina?”


“Came back with us – Marina had a call from Anna Mitchell asking her to call in tomorrow, so they’re flying back from New York.  Did you enjoy your trip?”


“Madrid was amazing, and Ama was in her own personal nirvana – and I’m sure you’ve heard all about Ireland?”


“All the official things anyway as far as modelling goes,” Susan said, “how about the other side?”


“Tom and Paula are very happy with my suggestions – they’ll sign off on the plans and I’ll get the contractors in.  There were other things, but they can wait.  What news from Florida?”


“The team did exceptionally well, and we have some very promising business contacts for you to consider,” Susan said, “we’ll let you have the salient details in due course.”


“Excellent,” Dominique said as Pamela brought the coffee in.


“Any correspondence requiring immediate attention, Pamela?”


“We received this just before you arrived,” Pamela said as she handed Susan a document.


“Round three?”


“Indeed – another 10% increase from AMININCO,” Susan said as she glanced at the top.  “I’ll arrange a meeting for tomorrow.”


“Good – now, before we...”


The telephone ringing made Shirley stop as Susan answered it.




“Sorry to interrupt Susan – I have Anderson Lowe on the line.  Shall I transfer him to you?”


“Please do,” Susan said as she waited a moment, and put the phone on speaker.  “Anderson – this is an unexpected pleasure.”


“Forgive me if I am interrupting a meeting,” the male voice said.


“Not at all – I have Shirley here with me, as well as Caroline Jameson.”


“Good – then this is an opportune moment.  I wanted again to thank you for allowing me to come on Saturday, and making it such an enjoyable experience.”


“It was my pleasure Anderson,” Shirley said with a smile.


“At any rate, I would like to arrange to meet with you to discuss the possibility of us working together.”


Susan smiled as she said “it would be our pleasure.  If I transfer you back to my assistant, she will find the most suitable time for all four of us to meet.”


“Excellent – and thank you again,” Anderson said before Susan transferred the call back.


“Now that is good news,” Shirley said with a smile.  “As I was saying, however, Juliette has asked if I will consider bringing someone under our protection.”


“Oh,” Dominique said, “who?”


“You are aware of the recent spate of aggravated burglaries?”


“I have noticed them – why?”


“Because we know who is doing them...”




3 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


“There you are,” Jeannie said with a smile as she opened the door, “come away in, some of the others are here as well.”


“I hear we missed an amazing party,” Ama said as she and Nikki hugged the young woman.  “Is that the van outside?”


“That it is,” Jeannie said as she looked out at the blue vehicle.  “Hey Greyhound – recovered from walkies yet?”


“Want me to suggest you ride a husky drawn sleigh some time?”


“Bring it on, Jo Smith, being it on!”


“Hey – fancy a coffee Jo,” Marina said as she looked out from the kitchen, “it’s fresh brewed.”


“Go on – I’ll see you later,” Jo said as Nikki went into the front room with Jeannie.


“Hello Nikki darling,” Kylie drawled as she looked over, “how was Ireland and Spain?”


“Both amazing – when do you head back?”


“Tomorrow night – Marina and I have a few things to do here.”


“Hey,” Becca said as she hugged Ama and Nikki, “We were just talking about the party – want to see the highlights?”


“I would, very much so,” Ama said as she and Nikki sat down, looking through the pictures on Becca’s phone.


“Hey – you two want a cold drink,” Pepsi called through.


“Please,” Ama called back as Doc came in.


“Well, there you are – what kept you?”


“A long flight,” Nikki said as she looked up.  “I heard you and others were kept busy?”


“Pays the bills,” Doc said.  “Listen – Nikki, while we were there, Cassandra Stone was as well.  She told us the film is getting its premiere in New York later in June – but there’s one problem.”


“And that is?”


“It looks as if it might get an NC-17 rating.  She’s fighting to get it reduced to an R, but if it sticks at that...”


“We’re too young?”


Nikki looked at the others nodding before she threw her hands up


"Oh it's just ridiculous," Nikki shook her head, "I can't see it?"

"I know, that's what we said." Pepsi said as she brought in a tray of soft drinks.

"I'm old enough to be in the movie...but not old enough to watch myself on screen?"

"That was what Cassandra told us." Doc took a can.

"So we all go to the premiere in our finest, then sit outside while its being screened? That is BULLSHIT!"

"Hey don't get angry with us Nik...we agree with you." Becca took a sip.

"I have to say it's not right." Ama shook her head.

"Is it worth even me designing gowns for us all for the premiere?" Kylie asked.


“Hold that thought, Kyles – there is still a chance.  Cassie said she’d call you and your parents later in the week, Nikki.”


“Right, right – just tell us about the party Jeans...”




6 pm

W 84th Street


“I’ll be back in a little while Dad – I just need to take care of something,” Sharon Kennedy said as she left the AMC, and headed away from Broadway.  They had arrived back at lunchtime, but she had asked for a few hours to herself to catch a movie.


That was only half the story of course – as she walked briskly down the road, passing John Kock antiques, nobody was paying any attention to the girl in the green jerkin, v-necked sweater and jeans.  Crossing Amsterdam Avenue, she stopped and looked again at the four floor brownstone.


Walking quickly down the alley, she looked at the rear, and the fire escape arrangement.  Her eyes were focused n the third floor – what she would need to climb, how she could get in.


She had already spent hours thinking over what she would do when she got in, and she needed to release the feelings inside her.  Who better than that smarmy little bitch helping McIlroy?  She was keeping her dad busy – she deserved to make some sort of restitution.


And she was just the person to get it...


“Tonight,” she said to herself, “I’m going to have some fun...”



6 pm

The Carlton Home


“Anna?  That you?”


“Yeah Mom,” Doc said as she came in, “I’m not late for dinner am I?”


“Nope – but there’s a letter there for you.  It was delivered while you were out.”


“Oh?”  Doc hung her coat up and went into the front room, stopping to kiss her dad before she picked the letter up from the table.


“What’s for supper Mom?”


“Meatballs and spaghetti,” Emma called through as Doc opened the envelope and drew out a sheet of paper.


"Oh it's from a lady exec at Lerrabella?" Anna looked at the note, "I chatted with her in Florida about myself and recommended Torware to her."

"So what does she say?" Mrs Carlton looked up from cooking supper.

"That she's going to speak with Missy about me..."

"And for why?" her father looked up from the TV.

"Nothing bad?"

"No Mom...not at all...”  Doc read down the note, and said “it seems she is responsible for the Magnilash brand of mascara, and she's interested in me doing some ads for it..."

"But isn't that Jeannie’s?"

"No Dad, she does all the up-market Lerrabella brand name products, this is another brand the company owns."

"I wasn't even aware they were part of Lerrabella love."

"Well they are Mom, and she's thinking of using me." Doc looked proud.

"She wants to look at two or three girls," her father said as he looked at the note, "don't get your hopes too high yet Anna."

"Anna, that's Missy on the phone I bet."

"I bet so as well Mom," Anna reached for the telephone..."Hi Missy..."


“On the other hand...”


“Just go with the flow,” Emma said with a smile, “dinner in five minutes.”



7 pm

The Village


“So you saw a few good horses, George,” Caroline said as she handed him a drink.


“One or two possibilities – now who is that?”


“Not a problem,” she said as she headed down, returning a few minutes later with a very young looking young woman.


“Does anyone object if I act my age for a little while,” Bev said as she removed her coat.  “I would kill for a drink.”


“I’ll let you off for a while,” Caroline said with a smile as she sat down.  “So, a success George?”


“In some ways – but we need to being the boss up to speed on what happened,” George said as Caroline handed them each a can.


“Okay,” she said as she sat down, “so someone is watching Katy?”


“Yeah – we lifted an ID, but it turned out to be false,” Bev said.  “Susan asked the office to run it through the system – any joy?”


“Not on any of our systems, but we have his face, his height, his build.  We’ll pass it round the contacts and see if they see anything.”  Sipping from the bottle, she said “have you told Jan yet?”


“No – I was going to do that tomorrow.”


“Show her when you get back tonight – she may recognise him,” George said, Caroline nodding in agreement.


“Okay then – so what happens when they fly to Ireland and Germany?”


“Ireland they should be all right – Mandy and Will are with them.  And when we get to Munich, trust me – she won’t be alone at any point.”


“Well, they fly out on Sunday, so we can try and stop him before then,” Bev said with a smile.


“If we can find out who he is...”  Caroline sat back, and said “I know you can’t go out there George.”


“Not a problem – it means I can be in Gulfstream Park for the race there, and report back to the others.”


Of course – it’s on the 2nd as well, isn’t it?  Well. Better you be there then.”





11 pm

W 84th Street


Deborah Winters sighed as she turned the television off, standing and stretching.  She had had a wonderful weekend, and it had been a good afternoon in the office.


The takeover bid for Xavier Insurance was proving fascinating.  It was clear to her, if not to David, that this was one battle they had little to no chance of winning – meeting Shirley Xavier, she had seen the example that Susan Walker had learned from.  A formidable woman, who knew her business and knew how to combat this bid they were mounting.


To her, however, it was important as a learning experience.  They were presenting a united front, the directors – and having met most of them now, she could understand why.  The major shareholders – Shirley Xavier, Susan Walker, Madeline Moore, Penelope Harker and Caroline Jameson – were all strong and successful in their own way. 


And now she had met Catherine Lo and Juliette Huntingdown, she knew if there was a weak link, it was Charlotte Gordon – but the one time they had spoken on the phone, she knew she had a core of steel as well.


Still, the weekend had not been about business, but networking – and that she had done very well indeed.  Now, however, it was time to consider bed, and then back to work in the morning.


She walked into the bathroom, and stripped out of the sweat pants and top she had been wearing, removing her underwear before she turned the shower on.  As the water washed over her, she didn’t hear the soft noise from her bedroom, or the soft footfall...


It was a few minutes later before Deborah turned off the shower and came out, wrapping a white towel around herself and a second one in a turban over her hair.  Stepping into a pair of slippers, she walked out of the bathroom and back towards the kitchen. 


Pouring herself some water, she took a drink and then walked towards her bedroom – stopping inside the doorway as a female voice said “well, don’t you look pretty?  Now, be a good girl, and don’t say a word.”


Deborah stared at the woman standing in her bedroom.  She stood just over six foot tall – but the four inch stiletto heels on the black patent leather knee length boots were adding to that.  The boots covered the lower legs of a black latex catsuit, which was fashioned up to the neck of the woman.  Elbow length black gloves covered her hands and lower arms, and a black silk scarf was tied over her lower face, covering her nose and mouth.  Long black hair fell over the shoulders of her outfit, and she was pointing a very real small gun at Deborah.


“What the hell...”


“Hush,” the intruder said as Deborah noticed the black holdall on her bed, “do as I say, and you may just enjoy it.  I want those things you value most – and I will have them.  For now, however, I will settle for you turning slowly round, and putting your hands behind your back.”




She could have sworn the intruder smiled as she said “so that I can tie you up,” taking a length of black rope from her bag as she did so.


Deborah calmed herself, as she turned round and put the glass on her set of drawers.  She knew better than to argue, as she felt the woman put her hands together behind her back - then gasped as instead of her wrists, she felt her elbows been secured together.


She then felt a second length of rope around her wrists, the cords rubbing on her bare skin as it went around and between her limbs, holding them tightly together.  She then tried not to fight as a longer length of rope was pulled around her body, forcing her arms against her back as it was wound above and below her chest.


She hoped and prayed her towel would old as her chest was forced up and out, and then even more as the ropes went under one arm around the back of her neck and then under the other side, before the intruder pulled everything tight and tied the ropes off.


“There,” the woman purred, “that looks so much better.”


“Listen,” Deborah said quietly, “my jewels are in the safe – I’ll give you the number – and I have money and cards in my purse.  Take them, and leave me – I’m not going to fight you.”


“Oh I know you’re not,” the intruder said as she pushed Deborah onto the bed, the turban falling from her hair, “so, the combination – please?”


Deborah recited a series of numbers, the intruder watching before she said “Nice – open wide.”




Deborah was taken by surprise as a gloved hand squeezed her chest, opening her mouth and unable to stop a sponge ball from being shoved into her mouth, and then a wide strip of white micropore tape pressed firmly down over her lips.  She then watched as the intruder secured her ankles, as well as her legs below her knees, before walking to the wardrobe and looking in.


“Nice safe – I really hope the combination you gave is correct,” she purred.  “Of course, if it isn’t, I’ll soon make you tell me the correct one...”


Deborah squirmed, the towel slowly slipping loose as she watched the burglar open her safe, and then tip her valuables into a black velvet sack.


“Well, you told me the truth – that was very nice of you,” she said as she walked over, Deborah seeing a glint in her eye as she did so.  “And because you were so nice, I think I will give you a nice reward.”


“Whhtsrtfrewrd,” Deborah mumbled as she felt the satin covered hands pulling the towel away under the band of ropes – and then the hands as they started to caress and grope her chest.  She tried to rill out of the way, but that seemed to make the intruder even more determined, as she rolled Deborah onto her back and then sat across her legs, and squeezed her chest as she lay there.




“Rewarding you,” the masked woman said quietly as Deborah felt her breasts firming, her nipples hardening...




“Oh yes,” the woman whispered as she began to gently squeeze Deborah’s nipples, her gloved fingers rubbing on them as she closed her eyes and moaned.


Then opened them wide and screamed as the bulldog clamps were fastened over them, biting into her flesh as the intruder taped over them, before she tugged on the silver chain linking them, making Deborah scream and groan at the same time.


“Did I forget to mention,” the woman whispered into her ear, the silk brushing on her cheek, “I like to make people hurt, especially stuck up rich bitches?”




“Because I can,” she said as she got off the bed, and rolled Deborah onto her stomach.  As she slowly turned her head, trying to ignore the pain and burning, she saw her take out what looked like a collection of leather straps secured to a handle.


“The sailors in the Royal Navy in 17th century England called this a Cat O’Nine Tails,” she said, “but the correct word is a flagella.  The Romans invented it, and they used to embed pieces of metal and glass in the leather.  When they talk of the centurion whipping Christ, this is what they used.”


Deborah stared at the woman, shaking her head as the intruder came closer.  “I may try that one day, but for now – for now...”


The first strike of the leather on her back made Deborah scream into her gag, but it was only the first, as blow after blow rained down on her legs, her back, her bottom.  As they landed time and time again, she began to feel helpless, and as she did so, another feeling spread within her – one she had not expected.


She could hear the way her intruder was responding as well – the pants as each blow fell, and how she was also groaning and moaning. 


For her part, Sharon was getting more and more aroused as she saw the red welts criss-crossing her captive’s back, legs and bottom.  As the blood flowed, her fires grew, until she threw her head back and groaned as an orgasm swept over her.


“Now that was fun,” she said as she rolled Deborah over, seeing her eyes widen as her red raw flesh hit her sheets.  She drove her gloved fingers between her legs, forcing them into her as Deborah closed her eyes and groaned.


“Oh my god – you’re a virgin?”


Deborah opened her eyes and nodded, then screamed again as she felt the handle of her brush pushed into her.


“Not any more you’re not,” she whispered as the handle went in and out, until Deborah shook and then collapsed on the bed.  She barely felt the rope as it was pulled between her legs, or the chain that was linked from the one between her breasts to the crotch rope, then her ankles as her legs were bent back and secured to her crotch rope on the other side.


“Enjoy your evening,” she said as she picked up her bag and left Deborah, shaking and crying as the blood flowed onto the white sheets...




Tuesday 22nd March

8.30 am

Xavier International


“Ah – Good morning, Susan,” Shirley said as she looked up from her desk, “are those the morning reports?”


“They are, Madame,” Susan said, “but I need to direct your immediate attention to the first item.”


“Oh – why?”


"Deborah Winters was attacked in her home last night Madame." Susan said straight out.

"She was...  Was it by anyone we know?"

"I'm guessing it was young Sharon Kennedy...  There was more than just a touch of sadism in it."

"Well it seems young Sharon is progressing," Shirley thought, "but it is obvious we have to do something to bring her under control."

"At least with Annie at the time, she was doing simple burglary,” Susan said as she sat down, “but Sharon is getting her sexual kicks from doing this."

"So I can see," Shirley quickly read the police reports.

"At the party, she overheard Jan saying she climbs and asked if she could join her later this year. Let me suggest that Caroline and Janice invite her to their gym this evening."

"That might be for the best..."  Shirley stopped as she read the way Deborah was found by the police.

"I see you got to the 'good' bits," Susan smiled that even Madame could be a little shocked.

"Get Caroline in as soon as you can please Susan, we DEFINITELY need to do something."

"She'll be doing the school run, but I'll hustle her up here as soon as she gets to the office."


“Excellent – now, what else do I need to look at in the meantime?”



9 am

St Angela’s


"Uggh back to school." Jeannie sighed as she collected her books, "and all while Kylie gets to show my Harlow friends a bit of New York."

"Well remember we are joining them later." Becca started to push Jeannie to class.

"That is true.  But still – back to school..."


“We have a wedding in ten days time – and it’s not that long then to the end of year,” Doc said.

"So back on NYC time Niks?" Pepsi asked, "or still on Emerald Isle?"

"Getting better,” Nikki said as she yawned, “but I still always seem to get some jet lag."

As they walked along, they passed Sarah Nightingale in the hallway.


"Ama - remember we have practice after school and you can show the squad what you learned in Madrid."

"Yes Miss Nightingale," Ama said with a smile.

"It's so confusing remembering to call them Miss this, or Mrs that, when we know them socially outside school." Doc shook her head.

"So do you have that mascara go-see after school?" Jeannie asked.

"I do, and I'm kind of excited, Missy thinks I should get it."


“Well, good luck with it,” Jeannie said as they entered the History room.


9.30 am

Xavier International


“Ah, thank you for coming straight in,” Shirley said as Caroline walked into her office.  “Some coffee please.”


“Susan said it was urgent,” the blonde said as she sat down, adjusting the lie of her skirt.


"It is.  Did Susan fill you in Dominique?"

"She did Madame," Caroline smiled at the use of her alias.  “It would appear we need to bring young Miss Kennedy under our wing, before she does something that cannot be covered up.”

"Have you had time to formulate a plan?"

"I have a few ideas."

"We thought you and Janice might take her to your gym?"

"I agree, I'll phone both Jan and Miss Kennedy when we finish."


“And after that?”


“Well, however we do this, it has to be done in a way that does not raise the suspicions of her father.  Perhaps an internship before she goes to college?”


“Meet with her first – we can take it from there.”


“Well, I have some calls to make,” Caroline said as she stood up.


“We’ll talk later,” Shirley said as she watched Caroline leave her office.  Taking out her cell phone, she dialled Jan’s number.


“Hey Jan?  Can you meet me and Susan for lunch...”



1 pm

Duet Restaurant, 37 Barrow Street


“So she’ll meet us at eight for a training session,” Jan said as she sat with Susan and Caroline.  She was wearing a Versace style black trouser suit and white blouse, while Susan was wearing a white jumper and skirt, and Caroline a blue jersey dress with black heels.


“That’s right – she seemed quite excited at the idea,” Caroline said.


"Should we ask Abby along as well?" Janice looked at her lunch as it was served.

"I was thinking we should, she knows Sharon better then we do." Caroline smiled at the waiter.

"Well they are both doing the debutante thing." Susan spoke.

"Exactly," Caroline said as she tried her food, "Oh this is wonderful."

"I'll ring Abby later then." Jan nodded, "and you are so right about this food here."

"I read a review in the Times and I thought we should try it."

"You mean Clint saw the review and told you about it Susan." Jan smiled.

"I'm not admitting that..." Susan too smiled, "but returning to Sharon..."

"Do we maybe need to ask Penny for help as well? She did marvels with my boss’ wife." Jan sipped her wine.


“Worth a thought – but first we need to establish what she may or may not be prepared to say.


“One way or another...”


1 pm

St Angela’s – The Refectory


"Well I signed the contract with Norstar last night." Poppy said as she collected a salad from the server.

"Our class’ first 'professional' model." Dawn smiled as she made her way down the line.

"Mom and Missy seem to have spent most of yesterday on the phone hammering out details, but in the end they reached an agreement."

"Good for you," Jess smiled.

"Now next thing,” Lynn said, “will be you signing papers to play soccer professionally Jess."



"Oh I'm a way from doing that Erica,” Jess said, “but Ama was telling me that they guy from Real was saying nice things about me, and damming Atletico for getting me first."

"It must mean you are really good though."

"Well people say I am," Jess smiled modestly as they fought through the crowds to find a table.



In the Faculty Room, conversation was centered around another issue.


"I heard that young Nicola is unhappy Grace." Wilhelmina spoke quietly to the Dean.

"Yes, she doesn't like the fact she can't go see herself in the Pussycat Gang movie."

"It sounds like it's a very violent film." Ingrid Muller spoke. "Young children, I'm not sure should see such things."

"Yes, but it seems silly that she can act in the film, but not watch herself."

"Well I tend to agree with Ingrid," Wilhelmina sipped her coffee, "but I see your point Grace."


"They used to call it the Linda Blair/Exorcist conundrum," Kate joined the conversation.

"I remember the fuss," Wilhelmina nodded, "it was several years before she could legally see her own performance.  Same with Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.”


“Well, we shall see what happens,” Grace said as she looked round.


1 pm

Bishop Walden School


"So how was the sailing?" Sands asked.

"Fun...we won the dinghy prize at their little regatta." Liz replied as they sat on the wall.

"Hey good for you guys," Katy high-fived her friend, "And did you...?"

"Yes, out in the boat under the moonlight..."

"Sounds so romantic..." Lisa sighed.

"And what about you and George?"

"Oh a couple of times..."

"Including in the loo of the plane coming home." Sandy shook her head.

"Our first mile-high club member." Shawnee took the turn to high-five Katy.

"Well I had a totally boring week at my Grans," Cassie looked disgruntled.

"Poor you," Liz put her arm round her friend.


“So you’re heading to Ireland at the end of the week,” Lisa said.


“Yeah – then to the wedding.  I’m sure you guys can cope without me...”


2.30 pm

West Central Park


"Oh it is so good to be home." Katherine said as she came in with fresh coffee. "And thank you so much for all the help unloading the RV girls."

"Our pleasure." Tonia lay back in an armchair and took a mug.

"How long till you need go do the school run lover?" Sandy asked Heather.

"Oh I have a few minutes," Heather yawned then looked at her watch.

"I think its early nights all round." Katherine said as she sat down on the sofa.

"It's a GREAT idea." Heather smiled, "but till I can get to bed, I think I need your coffee intravenously Katherine. It is WONDERFUL!"

"Oh get away with you."

"It's true Katherine, an army may march on its stomach, but RCM Racing works because of the care you take of all of us."

"Thank you Tonia."


“Where are Jan and Katy anyway?”


“Work and school – Jan called to say Katy was going round to practice at Diana’s later, and Adam would bring her home.”


“Well, I guess that leaves Annie and Jeanne to get back.”


“Which should be happening any moment now...”



2.45 pm

Grand Central Station


"You know I never thought I'd say this, but boy am I looking forward to flying again." Annie sighed as Carina pulled the Maserati away from Grand Central and headed uptown.

"I remember some trips in Europe when I was a kid,” Carina said with a smile, “so yeah - I know just where you are coming from my love."

"At least though I managed to get some reading done, and do things like practice my breathing exercises."

"Well that at least helped pass some of the time."

"So any news?"

"Not a lot. Pops agreed ground rules with Breitz, and little Madame and I had a fight about her bedtime last night..."

"She was probably still excited after Florida?"

"I guess so, and other then that though I think we are all quickly slipping back into our routines." Cari pressed her horn as a cab cut in front of her.

"Oh now I know I'm home...City traffic." Annie laughed.

"Bastard cabbies, they think they own the streets."

"So what are we eating?"

"Pops was cooking, so I'm guessing something German."

"Sounds good."


Annie smiled.  It really was good to be back...




5.30 pm

The de Ros Mansion


Katy held the pistol in her hand, and fired off the last shot, before raising her pistol and waiting.


"Take your time Katy," Diana spoke as the young girl removed her ear mufflers, "just remember this is not a rapid fire contest, you have good time to compose yourself between taking your shots."

"I know,” Katy said with a smile, “but I get excited, or agitated..."

"I understand,” Diana said as she pressed a button, and started to bring the target over, “but that’s where your Yoga should help you keep calm - control your breathing and pulse rate."

"Gotcha," Katy looked at the target as Diana showed it to her.

"See how wayward those second two were when you didn't relax properly?"


"Remember Katy it only takes one or two bad shots to mean the difference between winning and losing in this sport."

"I'm starting to learn that."

"She's right on that you know", a voice spoke from the doorway.

"Hello Adam, come to collect my student?" Diana asked as she kissed the FBI man.

"I have..."

"But before we go, I know he's dying to try this range out Aunt Diana." Katy giggled.


“Nice place,” Adam said as he looked down, “may I?”


“Of course,” Diana said as she attached a fresh target, and sent it to the far end.  Adam looked down, then drew his pistol and fired six rounds down the range.


“Impressive,” Diana said as Katy let out a low whistle.  “Shall we see?”


She brought the target towards the three of them, and then looked.  “Good grouping – at any rate, I think we have done enough for tonight Katy.”


“Okay, Aunt Diana,” Katy said with a smile as Diana locked the air pistol in the cabinet, and then locked the door as they all left.




6 pm

The New Calabria


Bobby smiled as he sat at the bar.


“Anyway, I gets into the 20th and I get this case.  I didn’t even get time to put my stuff away before we got the call.”


“What was it,” Tommy said as he poured a beer and handed it over.


“Aggravated burglary – this bitch that has pulled a few jobs around the island these last few weeks.  Surprises her as she gets outta de shower, trusses her up, gags her, empties her safe.”


“Dat all?”


"Nope.  The perp whipped her, and then sexually assaulted her with a hair brush Uncle Tom."

"Ouch,” Tommy said as he grimaced, “that don't sound good."

"It aint...but dese chicken wings is."

"Thank yer aunt..."

"Hey Aunt Annie. Dese is real good."


“Thanks, Bobby,” Annie called from the back of the bar.

"Just glad yer like 'em.”  Tommy served another customer, and then stood by his nephew.  “Yer know, since you changed precincts and started eatin' here, youse givin' us a bad name. Lotsa regulars are unhappy."

"Just tell 'em when I'm in here its fer der food...yer place is neutral ground Uncle Tommy." The Lieutenant sipped his beer, "though yer really must get a better beer on tap if youse wanna keep my business."




“Aw come on Uncle Tommy, ye know ah don’t mean it.”


“Aye, well – Just remember we’re yah elders and betters.”



8 pm

Vanderbilt YMCA


As Sharon came into the climbing room, she pulled on her fingerless gloves and looked up the four sides.


“Impressive, isn’t it?”


Turning, she smiled as she saw Jan walk in, wearing a top and shorts.  “Sharon, I’m glad you could make it.  Can I introduce you to Caroline Jameson?  She is one of my climbing partners.”


“We spoke on the phone earlier today,” Caroline said as they shook hands, and Sharon looked at her.  Tall, blonde – but she moved with grace and ease, and there was a hint of steel in her eyes as they looked at each other.


“So,” Sharon said, “which of these walls do you normally use?”


“Well, this one,” Caroline said as she pointed to the most difficult wall, “How much experience have you had?”


“Not that much,” Sharon said with a smile as she put on her gloves, “the medium is more my usual style.”


“Well, tell you what,” Jan said, “we all do that wall first, and then if you feel up for a challenge, we tackle our wall.  Sound fair?”


“Fair enough,” Sharon said as they fitted their harnesses on.


“Hey – I didn’t know you were into climbing Sharon?”


“Abby?  I didn’t know you came here,” Sharon said as she looked to the door.


“I come swimming here – I bumped into Susan in the cardiovascular room.  You met Sharon over the weekend, didn’t you Susan?”


“Indeed I did,” Susan said as she looked over.  Both were wearing tracksuits and trainers, looking round as the instructor came in.


“Will all three of you be climbing together, Caroline?”


“Yup – Abby, Susan, do you mind holding the ropes for two of us?”


“Not a problem,” Abby said as they each took hold of a guide rope, the three climbers waiting at the bottom of the wall.


“On three – one, two, THREE!”


“Just hold their ropes loosely,” the instructor said to Abby and Susan as they watched Caroline and Jan start to climb.  “They should have no problem with this – I’ll concentrate on their friend as she goes up.”


“She seems to be doing very well,” Susan said as they both watched.


“Yeah – rather her than me.  I don’t particularly like heights.”


Susan smiled as the three women made their way up, Sharon easily keeping pace with the other two as they reached the top.


“Okay – impressive,” Caroline said as she stood up, “you certainly know your way up a wall.”


“Well, like I told Jan,” Sharon said as she looked over, “I’ve been practising.”


“So,” Jan said, “fancy a go at the serious stuff?  You can watch me and Caroline head off, and then follow our lead.  The instructor will keep an eye on you.”


“Yeah – yeah, why not,” Sharon said with a smile.


As they made their way down, they joined Susan and Abby on the floor.

“Oh by the way Caroline,” Susan said, “are you free to head round to see Deborah Winters tomorrow?”


“I called and made the appointment tomorrow – she’s still in hospital, but we can talk there.”


Both saw Sharon smile a little before she said “is that the Deborah Winters who works for David McIlroy?  Has something happened to her?”


“You haven’t seen the papers?  She was attacked in her apartment last night – a female robber bound and gagged her, and then assaulted her.”


“Oh my goodness,” Sharon said quietly, “was she badly hurt?”


“Badly enough,” Caroline said, “but the same person broke into the houses of a couple of our clients.  We just need to see if there is a common thread – help the police where we can.”


“So you provided security for some of the people?”


“It’s part of our total insurance policy,” Susan said, “we provide the cover at reduced rates for those who employ the services of Jameson Security.”


“Actually, maybe we shouldn’t talk shop,” Jan said, “after all, it may be a little close to home for Sharon.”


“Oh – why,” Abby asked innocently.


“Part of the reason we left Philly was to get over what happened when the so-called Pussycat Gang attacked our home,” Sharon said as she put some resin on her hands.  “But it’s all right – I put that behind me a long time ago.”


“I’ll bet you did,” Abby thought to herself, remembering the scene in the main room of their apartment.


“Okay – I’ll go first, then you Sharon, and Jan brings up the rear.  Ready?”


“Ready and willing,” Sharon said, watching as Caroline started to make her way up the wall.


“So you think she is this new burglar,” Abby whispered to Susan as they watched Sharon start to follow Caroline, using the same footholds and handholds.


“Watch her – she’s a lot more accomplished than she claims to be,” Susan said, Abby watching as Jan followed her up.


“So if she is this person, I presume Doc wants words of import?”


“She may have to wait – did you hear what happened to Deborah Winters?”


“I read about it – we need to show her a safer outlet, yes?”


“Somehow – the question is, how to broach the subject...”


As Caroline reached the top, she pulled herself over, and watched, holding a hand out as Sharon reached up and grabbed her.


“I’m impressed,” she said as she pulled the young woman up, “I think you coming to the Pyrenees is a good idea.”


“Well, only if you’ll have me,” Sharon said as Jan joined them.


“I guess the drinks are on me – let’s go and join the others in the cafe...”




“So what are you thinking of studying, Sharon,” Abby said as they sat around the table.


“Well, don’t tell Dad,” she said as she sipped her smoothie, “but I’m interested in Business Management.  That’s why Simmons appealed to me – I like the look of their program.”


“Really,” Susan said, “I’m doing the MBA at the moment, so I know how tough that is.  Listen – if you’re interested, we could find some work for you at the office – an internship if you like, get a taste of how our business works.”


“Won’t the fact my dad is working for you be an issue.”


“Not if it’s Jameson Security that offer you the internship, and as part of that you spend time at my offices there,” Caroline said.  “Do you think that might work?”


“Well – it does sound tempting,” Sharon said with a smile, “but I need to clear it with Dad first, make sure it doesn’t get him in trouble.”


“Not a problem – but I hope it is allowed,” Caroline said, “I think we have a great deal to teach you...”


“Oh lord is that the time,” Sharon said as she looked at her watch, “I have to get going.  When can we do this again?”


“I’ll call you,” Jan said as Sharon slipped her coat on and went out.


“Let’s go,” Caroline said, “Cari’s waiting for us at Ju’s place.”


“Carina?  All right, what are you girls not telling me?”


“Tell you there – drink up.”


As she hailed a cab outside, Sharon sat inside and gave the driver her address.


"Well," Sharon thought to herself as she relaxed, "life could take some funny turns. Did they realise the potential targets she might be able to 'innocently' observe whilst working for Jameson's?"


“Good night?”


“Oh very much so,” she said with a sigh as she looked out of the cab window, and started thinking.

"Oh this was going to be GOOD! A summer internship her father would probably totally approve of, and a further chance to improve upon, and learn fresh, criminal skills.”




10 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment


“You’re kidding me?  Sharon Kennedy is like you – a Daughter?   How many of you are there Cari?”


“Topic for another day,” Carina said as she carried through mugs of coffee, while the others sat round.


“Nope – topic for now.  We saw her last year in Philly, but how did that lead to what’s happening now?”


As Caroline and Susan looked at Cari, she said quietly “Remember the sex murders last May?  Well, Aunt Natalya and i found out the person responsible was a descendant of her as well – and she wasn’t the only one.  Sharon is too.  She didn’t do those murders – but she may be on the path now.”


"So Carina,” Caroline said, “will she kill?"

"Undoubtedly," Carina sat down and gave her friends their coffees.

"Are you sure?"

"Abs you know better," Carina took her sip, "it's literally in her blood."

"So when?" Caroline asked.

"Who knows? When the mood takes her I guess."

"You can't be more precise Cari?"

"Sorry Jan, but you know from the FBI the behaviour of psychopaths can't be mapped out and predicted."

"So all you can say,” Susan said, “is that it’s inevitable?"

"Might have already happened, and we just don't know it Susan, but I can tell you she has a lot of rage still against her step-mother."

"How so?"

"The rape of that woman...  As a rule we 'Daughters' chose men as our targets for satisfying the demon within us. Sharon is getting her jollies violating other women, women who in some way remind her of the bitch."

"So is that good or bad Cari?"

"I'm not sure Caroline, yes I've killed women, and I enjoyed hurting that fucking Chinese dominatrix bitch, but the beast within me doesn't get the kick from it that she does from doing men."


“Okay,” Abby said, “so what are we going to do about it?”


“Juliette passed this one over to us,” Caroline said, “which means she thinks we’re equipped to bring her under control.  We’re going to let her come in for a day at least, and leave some evidence of a very lucrative target for her to see.”


“And who will be there?”


“None of us,” Susan said, “this needs a particular person’s skill set.”


Wednesday 23rd March

7 pm

West Central Park


“Maeve, that is wonderful,” Katherine said as she sat with the telephone.  “I’ll see you on Sunday in Athlone at the hotel.  We’re due to arrive there for lunchtime, so some tea that afternoon would be good.”


Jan and Katy looked over as Katherine smiled and said “We’ll see you then – and thanks again.”  Ending the call, she put the pohne down and looked at her family.


“So, support network in place,” Jan said with a smile.


“Yeah – Maeve will join me at the reunion.  She said it gave her a chance to catch up with a few people as well.  Believe me, I’m glad of that – I still can’t believe I agreed to go to this reunion.”


“Well, it means you can chaperone for me during the day, Gran,” Katy said with a smile, “and then we can go on to Munich on the Wednesday and hook up with Mom and Uncle Adam there.”


“Still,” Bev said as she nursed her drink, “how long has it been since you have been back?”


“To Ireland or Waterford?”


“I guess both.”


“Same answer anyway – but not long enough to go to Waterford.  Athlone is some distance away, so neutral territory.  Katy and i will arrive Sunday, and Orion and her grandmother later that night from Belfast.  The others... They arrive for dinner on the Monday.”


“Then you party Tuesday while I work until Wednesday lunchtime, and we fly to Munich,” Katy said.  “Simple and neat.”


“Well, I hope so,” Jan said with a smile, “we need a nice simple quiet few days.”


“Little chance of that,” Katy said as she stretched and smiled.  “I’m going to go and finish my homework.”


As she left the room, Jan looked at Bev.  “No joy on our mystery man?”


“I’m afraid not – Susan ran it through the systems, but no matches, so she’s expanding the search.  I believe she’s getting Lily and Penny to run it through the records over there.”


“I don’t like this – I don’t like this at all.  I think you should go to Ireland with them.”


“No can do I’m afraid,” Bev said, “but someone else may be having a holiday over there at the same time...”



7 pm

The Kennedy Apartment


“Sharon – you in the kitchen?”


“Yeah Dad,” Sharon called out as Alan took his suit jacket off and put it over the back of a chair, “just finishing our supper.  Andrew and Dawn are doing their assignments.”


“Smells good,” Alan said as he came in and sat at the breakfast bar.  “Listen, I had a meeting with Caroline Jameson today.  She said she enjoyed meeting you yesterday, and something about an internship over the summer?”


“Yeah,” Sharon said as she checked the vegetables.  “She mentioned she thought I may enjoy spending some time working for her, but wasn’t sure if I could given you and she are both involved in work for Xavier International.”


“Well, I checked with my boss,” Alan said, “and so long as you have nothing to do with any contracts for Xavier International, there are no legal problems.  So, if it keeps you out of trouble...”


“Thanks Dad,” Sharon said, grinning as she hugged him, “you don’t know how much this means to me.”


”So just what are you cooking?”


“Chicken a la king...”



4 pm GMT

The UK Farm


As Tracey looked up from the monitors, she saw Lily and Natalya standing there.


“I know that look,” she said with a sigh, “what’s up?”


“Now what makes you think I want you to do something Trace?”


“Let’s see – Bev disappears a couple of weeks ago to do something for Dom, who is coming with everyone else to Munich over the next couple of weeks – and now you’re here.  Munich is where Juliette Huntingdown is marrying Klaus von Furstenheim, and everyone who is everyone is going – including the Carter family, where Bev is currently staying.  Conclusion – one of them is going somewhere Bev can’t.”


“She’s getting good,” Natalya said with a smile.


“Katy and her grandmother are heading to Athlone in Ireland for a shoot before Germany – Bev can’t be there, so I think you need a few days vacation – Ireland, then a weekend in Munich running backup.”




“Saturday,” Lily said, “we’ve made the flight and hotel reservations for you, and I’m sure you will have a wonderful time.”


“In Ireland?  Over the Easter weekend?”  Tracy smiled and shook her head.


“Relax – we’ve got a full packet for you to examine,” Natalya said, “and besides, I am told the atmosphere and local hostelries are most amicable...”




Thursday 24th March

10 am

Complete Style


“Janine, Alexis, come in a minute please,” Juliette said as she stood in the doorway.


As her two PAs came in, Juliette closed the door and went back to her seat, looking at both of them as she put her fingers under her chin.


“Yes boss,” Janine finally said.


“Yes...  You know, this has got to be one of the most difficult things I have ever had to say...”


“Boss,” Alexis asked as she looked at Janine.


“You know, this is the last day we’ll be working together with me as Juliette Huntingdown,” Ju finally said, “and I think we should mark the occassion somehow.”


“Sounds good to me,” Janine said, “want to go grab some lunch, say about 12.30?”


“Good – now today’s diary...”


Ten minutes later, Janine and Alexis came out, smiling as Janine picked up her phone.


“Merlin?  It’s on...”


12.30 pm

St Angela’s


“Where is she,” Jeannie asked as she came over to the refectory table and put her tray down.


“Doc?  Her cell phone went off before she came in.”


“Oh did it now,” Jeannie said as she looked to the door with Doc on the other side, “how very interesttink...”


“Okay,” Pepsi said, “what’s going on mi amigo?”


“You’ll see in a few minutes,” Ama said, “she’s coming in now.”


The group watched as Doc collected her lunch, and then came over to the table, sitting down and smiling to herself.


"Well?" Jeannie asked as she and the posse surrounded Doc, "did you get it?"

Doc looked at her, before saying "How the hell did you know that was Missy on the phone?"

"A sixth sense," Jeannie smiled.

"Well?" asked Ama.

"Yes I got it..."

"Way to go," Nikki high-fived her.

"Well done that girl." Becca grinned.

"So what is it going to be?" asked Pepsi.

"Magazine ads...and if they go well, maybe some TV commercials."

"Not a bad gig at all." Mrs Brand interrupted the conversation.

"Thank you Miss." Doc smiled.


“However, this does not mean you get off Spanish this afternoon – see you then.”


“A salutary reminder that school is not over – yet...”



12.30 pm

The Village


“You asked me to pop round, Miss Jameson,” Sharon said as she looked at Caroline in the doorway.


“Oh yes – come on up Sharon,” Caroline said as she turned round, Sharon walking in front as she closed the door.  “Can I get you a coffee?”


“Please – black will be fine,” Sharon said as she looked round.


“Your father has agreed to you doing an internship with me, I hear,” Caroline said as she went into the kitchen.


“Yeah – so when can I start,” Sharon said as she looked round the apartment.  Nothing of value – she had already assessed Caroline Jameson as a total professional.


“Next week,” Caroline said as she came out, “if your passport is up to date.”


“It is – why?”


“I have an invite to a wedding in Munich a week on Saturday,” Caroline said as she brought two mugs of coffee out.


“The von Fursteheim – Huntingdown wedding?”


“That’s right – but I have to do some business both in a modelling and a security sense, so I think you need to dive right in.  I’ve booked the ticket and got an invitation to the wedding for you, but you’re going to need some new clothes.


“If you still want the job?”


“Of course I do, but...”


“Good – go to APCO on 5th Avenue at four today, and ask for Betsey.  She’ll be expecting you.”


“Yes – boss,” Sharon said with a smile, “I’ll do that.”



12.45 pm

Bishop Walden School


"Alright explain again just what it is you are doing in Ireland?" Shawnee asked as they sat on the wall.

"Basically - Pictures of me and Orion in Fitzstuart woolens for AMCO."

"But isn't Jo Smith their model?"  Cassie said.

"She is Cassie, but Alice MacKinnon wants to show Moms they'd be perfect for younger women as well."

"Hence using you and Orion?"

"That seems to be her plan."

"Well I envy you, flying off in school time to Ireland to be a model...then on to a Royal Wedding..." Liz sighed.

"Well those are the nice bits, but just remember I'm also going with Gran to her Daughters of Erin reunion."

"Seems a small price to pay." Shawnee giggled, "do you need someone to hold your bags?"

"No," Katy giggled back.




12.45 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment


“Thank you for swings, Momma,” Judith said as Annie opened the door and she toddled in.


“Hey – did you have fun little one?”


“Yes Momma.  We fed birds on water.”


"What are you working so hard on there?" Annie asked as she took Judith’s coat off.

"Notes for my German history term paper," Carina looked up from behind the pile of books on the breakfast counter, "things I need to research while we are over there."

"You aren't taking all those books with us are you?"

"No," Cari smiled, "just this note book, but I'll have these notes to refer to as I'm working in the library in Munich."

"Well while you study, I'm planning out just what Judith and I are going to see." Annie pulled the guide book she'd just bought from her bag.

"I wish I could join you..."

"Yes, but you want to blow your tutors brain with your paper."

"Yep," Carina grinned.

"Well you know what they say about all work and no play..."

"I know," Cari smiled as she let Annie kiss her.


“Momma, Mommy – can I have a dwink?”


“Of course you can,” Cari said as she picked Judith up.  “We can all have a drink...”


1 pm

Complete Style


“All right then,” Juliette said as Janine and Alexis followed her into the lobby, “Sorry that last call took so long, but we can...”


“Turn right round and get into the lift, lass.”


“Mary?  What the...”  Juliette was taken by surprise as her two PAs turned and hooked their arms under hers, frogmarching her backwards and into the lift as Mary followed.


“If I was you, boss,” Janine said, “I’d go with the flow.”


“Do I have a choice?”


“Nah,” Mary said as they emerged on the editorial floor level, and went into Merlin’s Cave.  Juliette was able to see the large banner, with “Good Luck Juliette” on it in gold letters, before Anna Mitchell came forward and said “all right everyone – let’s show this young lady how much we want to send her off!”


As the room of her fellow workers clapped, Ju had a glass of champagne pressed into her hand as she realised this was not going to be a working afternoon...



“Sorry boss,” Alexis said, “we had our orders.  To make sure you came into the lobby at that time.”


“This is why Alice kept me talking right?”


“No comment,” Mary said with a smile.  “Look, we had a bit of a whipround – even the top floor put something in – and we made sure we got you some presents from those of us who cannot get there next week.”


“Oh?  And are they non-naughty?”


“You decide,” Greg the layout head said as he handed her a large box, Juliette opening it to find a framed copy of an old Complete Style cover – one with her and Karen Boyd in tight fitting leather trousers and jumpers.


“Oh Goddess,” Juliette said as she touched it.  “My first cover...”


“Right – down that,” Anna said as she handed Juliette another glass, “we are going to PAR-TAY!  Maestro – the slide show and the music please.”


“Slide show?  What slide... Oh no, OH NONONO...”


“Oh Yes,” Mary said with a grin as a series of photos from the Ladies weekend away started to appear on the big screen, while the music was...


“Ladybird?  Interesting,” Janine said as she and Alexis walked Juliette over to a table where some other presents were placed.


“You should not have done this,” she said quietly.


“Well, as I for one am not coming and I wanted to get you something, and the rest of us did – yeah, we should have done this,” Alexis said with a grin as Juliette looked at the silk scarf she had unwrapped.


“Oh you look so cute there Ju,” Anna said with a grin, Juliette groaning as the picture of her as a six year old appeared on the screen.


“I’m going to kill Cari for this – she swore she had destroyed it!”


“She did,” Mary said, “I made a copy first.  Anyway, no way is that the most embarrassing photo ever taken of you.”


“Oh?  And what would you count as a more embarrassing one?


“Two words,” Mary said with a smile, “cycling shorts.”


“What?  You don’t... Oh come on Eve told the story, you don’t have to...”


“Oh come on,” Janine said as they dragged Juliette to the changing area, “let’s see how it looked in the flesh...”




Fifteen minutes later, Juliette walked out, wearing a form fitting top and a pair of pink Lycra cycling shorts, smiling as the room applauded.



“See,” Mary said, “twenty years on and you still look good.”


“I’ve still got the mental scars from that day,” Juliette said as she rubbed her arm.


“So what else would we like to see Ju try on today?”


“I’m going to need another drink,” Juliette said as she took another glass of champagne.


“How about,” Janine said with a wicked grin, “you in leather mini skirt and accessories?”


“All right, all right – IF you stop those...”


Juliette stared at the picture of her being drawn round the ice rink at Stowe on the sled, and shook her head.


“Oh hell – give me a minute...”


She ducked into the changing area, coming back in a leather mini dress, bustier top and lace up knee length boots.


“Bright red – Klaus would love that,” Mary said with a smile.


“Nah – he prefers me au naturel,” Ju said with a smile as she took another drink.


“Oh yes – so you never while wearing this sort of thing...”


“Oh I didn’t say that,” Ju said with a smile, “but that genuinely was a lifetime ago.”


“So come on Boss,” Alexis said as she slurred her words slightly, “where was the most unusual?”


“Ah – that would be on the River Seine.”


“Oh my god,” Mary said with a laugh, “so that was true?”


“Well, it was a warm evening, I was young, the air was still – it seemed the most natural thing in the world to do to strip off and do it there and then with Jean-Luc...”


“What she’s not telling you,” Mary said, “was the crowd at Notre Dame who saw her pass by...”


The room erupted into laughter, Juliette joining in before she said "what was the weirdest place you ever did it Janine?"

"Had sex, or just performed a sexual act?"

"Your choice..."

"Well,” Janine said with a smile, “I gave Henri a blow-job in a helicopter..."

"What's so strange about that?"

"While he was flying it?" Janine giggled, "boy did he find it hard keeping us level."


As the others exploded into laughter, Juliette heard a piece of music to start to play.


“Macho Coco, Macho Coco...”


“Oh goddess,” Juliette whispered, “no – not that, anything but that...”


"What most people remember is that Juliette was an amateur showgirl while we were all in Paris," Mary smiled, "but they forget that for a brief while she was a professional showgirl performing with Les Cocogirls on TV."

"Oh dear Goddess no, you haven't Mary...?" Juliette sunk in her chair.

"Oh how could I resist showing everyone some of these clips Ju." Mary laughed.

"Dear Lord," Janine laughed as a picture of Juliette appeared in a black showgirl costume appeared on screen, "You look SO!"

"I know, but it helped pay the rent," Juliette rolled her eyes as she and the three other girls sang a cha-cha song, and then appeared in period costume to sing a song about was it too much...


“What the...”


Juliette groaned and drained her glass as they saw her and the others in a pink French Maid’s outfit.


“Right,” she said with a smile, “Mary, shall I tell them about the time you yourself had to wear the Maid’s dress?”


“Mary?  YOU DID?”


“Ai,” Mary said with a smile, “for a Kinks promotional film.  It was an – interesting day.”


“Gotta admit, you could move,” Alexis said as they watched.


“Whole different girl then,” Juliette said as she had another drink.


"Does Klaus know?"

"Yes,” Juliette said, “but Carina doesn't and I'd rather like to keep it that way."

"Oh my God, can you imagine the reaction of your 'society' friends if they had seen this." Janine laughed.


Then she saw Juliette look at Mary.


“Oh don’t tell me – that’s how she got to do the dresses?”


“Yeah – she happened to watch the show one night when she was doing something else, and recognised me.  When the engagement was announced, she played a very skilful game.”


Mary smiled and shook her head as Anna said “Right then – we are here to send an old and dear friend on her way to very happily married bliss – and trust me, I know how that sounds coming from me.”


As the room laughed, Juliette creaked in the chair as Anna said “but I am glad she is going to finally get her prince, and on behalf of everyone, may it be the greatest day of your life, and only the beginning, not the end.


“So charge your glasses, and then raise them – to Juliette and Klaus.”






4 pm

APCO, 5th Avenue


As Sharon walked into the store, she looked round, wondering how much some of the outfits there would cost.


“Good afternoon.”


As she turned round, she saw Betsy standing there, wearing a blue dress coat.


“How can we help you today,” Betsy said as she looked at the young brunette.


"I need clothes for a wedding in Munich," Sharon spoke, "I was referred to you by Caroline Jameson?"

"Ah you must be Miss Kennedy," Betsy interrupted, "we were told to expect you."

"So what do I wear for such an occasion?" Sharon looked round.

"Well who dressed you for your deb events?"

"A designer from Philadelphia,” Sharon said, “but according to everyone I need new things for this."

"I think it will be rather expected." Betsy smiled. "We are dressing several of the guests, so I'll make sure you don't clash with them."


“Well, that would help – what do you suggest?”


“Let’s have a look over here...”



4 pm Pacific Time

San Francisco


“Hey guys – thanks for meeting me here,” Mary said as the rest of her family joined her.


“So why are we here,” Bobby said as he looked round.


“Well, we’re all going to be taking a long trip next weekend, to do a wedding, and it’s important we all have outfits to wear for it.”


“So we’re getting new clothes?”


“Yes – but to do that, you Dad and the boys need to go into one store, and then the three of you come into another store with me while they go and do a couple of other things.  We’ll eat out afterwards, all right?”


“So why today?”


"Look all of you, we need do this today so there is time for any alterations that need maybe doing to be done." Mary stood hands on hips addressing her family.

"All this fuss to go to a wedding," Dave grumbled.

"A 'Royal' wedding Pops."

"So what do we need?" the younger girls laughed as they spoke in unison.


“Dresses and shoes for you, but for you four – in here,” she said as they entered the gents’ outfitters.


“Hello – can I help you?”


“I called earlier – Mary Clarke?”


“Ah yes – you require morning suits for a wedding a week Saturday?”


“That’s right – okay Pops, boys – do what he tells you to.”


“Maurice, Albert,” the man said, “please take these four gentlemen and measure them up.  Any particular style of suit, Madame?”


“They need morning dress, but no top hats.”


“I understand – may we offer some refreshment for the rest of you while we wait...”





"But this looks second-hand Mary." David stared at his reflection a short while later.

"It deliberately looks slightly used brother darling." Mary said as she checked out the fit of the morning suit. "The point is that it shouldn't look like something you've never worn before."


"The people who will be going to the wedding go to a lot of these functions, the men’s clothes look aged, in some cases according to House, they look positively shabby."

"So we should look like we belong right Poppit?" Dave came out.

"That is the idea Pop," Mary smiled as the assistant started to pin up the hems of Dave's pants so they could be shortened.


“We look stupid like this,” Tom said as he and Bobby came out.


“Oh I don’t know,” Suzie said, “you look kinda cute like that.”


“But I don’t have a prom to go to,” Bobby said.


“Well, it is useful,” Mary said.


“We can have these ready for collection Tuesday Miss Clarke.”


“Good – get changed boys, and we’ll meet up later.  Girls with me.”


“Where are we going,” Vicky said as they walked down the sidewalk.


“In here,” Mary said as she opened the door to APCO, and the four of them walked in.


“Miss Clarke – welcome,” the manageress said as she came over, “and these are your sisters?”


“Indeed – have you some dresses for a wedding they can try?”


“This way please – will they require heels as well?”


“Yes, but they are beginners.”


“Of course – this way....”


Mary sat down, smiling as she waited to see her sisters come out.


Suzie was first, wearing a cream coloured jacket and knee length dress, with matching heels.  “I like this,” she said as she looked at herself, and then slowly walked round.


Vicky came next, wearing a blue short sleeved dress and short jacket, while Alison had on a floral print dress with puffed sleeves.  Both girls were wearing blue heels, and stumbled a little as they tried to walk round.


"You are all going to have to get those shoes well broken in before the wedding." Mary smiled as she looked at her sisters’ attempts to walk in the high heels.

"These aren't easy."

"I know they aren't Suzie." Mary laughed, "just remember I needed special lessons to learn how to walk in them."


“So what do we do?”


“Practice every night with my help,” she said as the manageress came over.  “We’ll take the lot.”



8 pm

The Richmond Mansion


"So am I going to get dragged round all of Munich's art museums lover?" Sandy asked Heather.

"Not if you don't want to..." Heather said without looking up from her book.

"I've volunteered to go with Heather if you don't want to Mom," Sands broke into the conversation.

"When she's not with a certain young baron that is..."

"HEATHER!" Sands blushed bright red.

"You know Sigi and I are making your wedding arrangements darling..."


"We are only teasing darling," Heather smiled.   She noticed the smile on the young girl’s lips as she walked out of the room.


“You are terrible,” Sandy said with a smile.


“Well, what’s George going to be doing?”


“Enjoying himself probably – even if Katy is coming later.”


“Oh I’m sure he will be kept busy...”




Saturday 26th March

10.30 am CET

The Furstenheim Townhouse, Munich


“Well, here we are,” Klaus said as the cars pulled up at the entrance to the three storey building, “home.”


“It’s good to be back,” Ingrid said as she got out, two servants coming out and starting to collect the luggage, while Annie got out and stretched her back.


“How are you feeling,” Karen Boyd said as she looked at the pregnant woman.


“I’m fine – and thanks for coming over with us,” Annie said as Ken stretched his lean body up, then fetched the car seat with John in it.


“Well, thank you, Klaus, for letting us stay here,” Karen said as Carina lifted Judith from her seat, and handed her to Juliette.


“We’re here, little one,” Juliette said as she looked at her granddaughter, “ready for a very special week?”


“Yes Grammy,” Judith said as they all watched a tall, thin woman with short dark hair come out of the front entrance.  She was wearing a black coat dress, and black shoes, but carried herself with total authority.


“Welcome back, Your Highness,” she said in accented English, “I trust you have all had a good flight.”


“We have indeed,” Klaus said with a smile.  “May I introduce you to Doctors Ken and Karen Boyd?  Ken, Karen, allow me to introduce Frau Strecher, my estate manager.”


“A pleasure,” Frau Strecher said, “welcome to Munich.  I have refreshments ready in the dining room, Your Highness, while the luggage is taken to the rooms.”


“Excellent – well, shall we go in?”


The party entered the large entrance hall, Karen looking round as Jeanne and Henri followed them in.


“Frau Strecher, Monsieur Henri and Madameoiselle Jeanne Marais.”


“Welcome, your highnesses,” she said with a small bow, “if you will all come this way please?”


They walked into a dining room, where a buffet had been laid out and the table set.


“I wish to discuss a few matters with you and Fraulein Huntingdown with regards to the weekend, your highness,” Frau Strecher said, “and Herr Breitz is filming in the grand hall.  This was why I had the refreshments prepared here.”


“Excellent – you have excelled yourself as usual, Frau Strecher.”


She smiled as she said “are there any special instructions for the staff?”


“Yes,” Klaus said.  "In deference to all our guests, current and to come, can we please talk in English when it is at all practical?"

"If that is your wish, Your Highness."

"It is."

"Very good,” Frau Strecher said with an incline of her head, “I will inform the staff.  We await your pleasure as always.  Please, feel free to eat and drink – the staff will show you to your rooms later."

"Oh dear God that woman is terrifying," Karen whispered to her husband as she left the room.

"Well I'll be making sure I'm on time for everything, I do NOT want her upset with me," Ken whispered back.


“All right everyone,” Klaus said as the doors were closed, “help yourselves.  And don’t worry – she is a very kind woman.”


“Just remember,” Juliette said with a giggle, “those who are tardy for dinner will not get fruit cup.”


“I don’t get it,” Annie said with a look at Carina.


“You need a crash course in Mel Brooks,” Carina said as she helped Judith to sit down, while Ken put John into the high chair.


“Would you like some milk,” he said, John nodding as Karen produced some milk from her shoulder bag and passed the bottle over.


“Can I some juice please Grappy?”


“Of course,” Klaus said as he passed Judith a cup, only to look up and smile as Juliette hugged him.


“The Baron and Baroness von Manschen.”


“There you are,” Sigi said as she and Dieter came in, “how was the flight?”


“Well, we made it,” Klaus said as he walked over and greeted his sister, “how are things here?”


“With me and Frau Strecher in charge?  All is going according to plan,” Sigi said as a steward came in.


“She strikes me as the model of what someone imagines a German housekeeper to be like,” Karen said, “do horses neigh when you say her name?


"Don't let her intimidate you," Sigi smiled, "to use a metaphor, her bark is worse then her bite."

"And she is tremendously good at her job," Dieter spoke as he poured a drink.

"That she is," Klaus smiled.

"Does she know about all the American guests who are coming?" Karen asked.

"Yes, and she has accommodations arranged for everyone." Sigi looked at the briefing the Steward had given her, "I don't think she's missed a trick."

"She even persuaded Aunt Gloria to put a few people up." Ingrid smiled, "and we all know how difficult that is to do."

"I take it the Princess still refuses to acknowledge anyone not born at least a baron?" Deiter laughed. "Really she is such a tremendous snob," he shook his head.

"Well she knows she is, and she is unapologetic about it." Sigi smiled as well, "just be glad we aren't holding the wedding on her true home turf in Regensburg."


“So how does she feel about me,” Juliette asked.


“Find out on Thursday – she’s coming to the wedding rehearsal.”



Noon GMT

Gieves and Hawkes

Savile Row, London


To a gentleman of breeding and standing, Savile Row was the place to go for suits and other apparel.  And for the Gentleman Officer, both current and retired, one tailor in particular was the place to go.


So as John Hammond stood, two assistants working on him, Shirley looked on with quiet pride and a little irritation.


"I said your uniform needed looking at weeks ago John," she said quietly as she looked darts at her partner. "Now these poor gentlemen are having to rush the alterations before we fly on to Munich tomorrow."

"It's not a problem Lady Hammond," one of the tailors smiled.

"Miss Xavier is my partner not my wife Jack." John smiled, "and I knew by experience you'd be able to fit me in."

"Well we knew to expect you when we got the guest list sir," Thomas the fitter smiled, "the Major has always left things to the last minute Miss," he continued as he looked up at Shirley.

“Perhaps a little extra on the jacket length?”


“Quite so sir,” Jack said as he made a mark.


"So much business for the wedding Thomas?"

"Oh some sir,” he said as he adjusted the trouser length, “a few ex-military gents who discovered their uniforms no longer fit, and other gentlemen who's wives finally declared they had to change their suits..."

"Oh poor chaps," John laughed softly.

“Indeed – we had the Marquess of Ordford in yesterday with Lady Amanda.”


“Now why does that not surprise me,” John said with a smile.


"I found HIS missing MBE in his coat a while back Thomas," Shirley shook her head.

"Oh that is nothing Miss, we found a thousand pounds in one gentleman's coat recently, and it was so old that King George was still on the notes..."

"Oh dear lord!"

"Exactly Miss, a lot of our gentlemen tend to the careless with their dress clothes."


“So I noticed,” she said as the door to the fitting room opened, and the clerk showed Maisha in.


“You look very handsome in that Uncle John.”


“I will do when it is ready,” John said as Thomas removed the jacket.


“If you will return at four, Sir John, we will have it ready for you.”


“And the new morning suit?”


“Will be ready for the final fitting as well.”


“Excellent – give me a moment and I will be ready to take you both to lunch,” John said as he walked to the dressing room.


“Our dresses will be ready to collect at five,” Maisha said, “so how will he look?”


“Magnificent – as we both will.  Now, did you take care of the other business?”


“I did, Aunt Shirley – it will arrive on Friday in Munich.”


“Excellent,” Shirley said quietly, “excellent.”


2 pm GMT

Shearton Athlone Hotel

Athlone, Co Westmeath


“Good afternoon Miss,” the blonde haired receptionist said as she looked at the dark skinned woman, “can I help you?”


“You have a reservation for me in the name of Walker – Tracy Walker?”


“Ah yes Miss Walker,” the receptionist said as she looked on the screen, and then took some papers from a holder, “if you would fill in the details please?”


As Tracy filled out the form, she looked round the modern lobby.  She had expected an old fashioned hotel, so this monument to modern style was a surprise.  A nice one, but a surprise none the less.


“So what brings you to our town, Miss Cocker?”


“I needed a short holiday – some peace and quiet.”


“Well, be warned – we have a reunion here this weekend, so it may get a little noisy.”


“Oh?  What sort of reunion?”


“A catholic girls’ school – and we have a few models in as well.”


“Okay – so avoid the bar when they arrive,” Tracy said with a smile.


“Precisely – I’ll be glad to tell you of the better nearby inns.”


“Sounds good,” Tracy said as the receptionist took a swipe of her credit card.  “Room 1012 – have a pleasant stay.”


“Thanks,” Tracy said as she took her bag and headed for the lift.


Fifteen minutes later, she was looking out over the River Shannon, sipping her coffee as her telephone rang.


“Penny?  I’m checked in.  I’ll scope out the locale in a little while and then get some dinner.  Call you later tonight.”


2 pm GMT

The Ritz

"Thomas and Jack have been looking after me since I was a young whippersnapper going to Eton for the first time." John smiled as Maisha gorged herself on strawberries and cream.

"Neither looked a young man," Shirley shook her head, "and they clearly knew you of old John Hammond."

"They did Uncle John."

"Well like in all good relationships...and what goes on between a man and his tailor is a close relationship...we have grown old together."

"Maisha slow down you will make yourself sick darling," Shirley poured her own tea, "and I had heard that from other people John dear."

"But this is SO GOOD, Aunt Shirley.”


“Indeed – but remember, something so good needs to be savoured and appreciated.  Have some tea, and take a break.”


“All right, Uncle John,” Maisha said as she put her spoon down, and wiped her mouth.


“Remind me to be careful at Wimbledon,” John said with a smile.


“So when do the others arrive, Aunt Shirley?”


“At different times during the week, I think – but we all have to be there by Thursday.”


“And while we are waiting for the others?”


“The opportunity for you to practice your German, and learn something of a different culture,” Shirley said, “as well as some dance lessons when our friends from Hong Kong arrive on Tuesday.”


“I am particularly looking forward to seeing my sister again,” Maisha said with a smile as she sipped her drink.


“And I am sure Ama is looking forward to seeing you.”


“So how was your visit to the Commons?”


“Very interesting,” Maisha said with a smile, “Lady Harker taught me a great deal, although my encounter with a man called Boris was a little – comical.”


“Oh boy,” John said as he shook his head, “never trust an Old Etonian who is into politics.”



4 pm GMT



As Tracy made her way out of the lift, she smiled as she saw the large green and godl banner that was hanging on the wall.




“Okay,” the receptionist said, “maybe it’s not just a school reunion.  You don’t have any Irish ancestry, do you?”


“Oh no,” Tracy said with a smile.  “Listen – how do I get to the castle from here?”


“Take this map,” the blonde haired girl said as she passed on to Tracy.  “Turn right out of here.”


“Many thanks,” Tracy said with a smile as she left the hotel, and walked along the street.  She needed to check out where the shoot was scheduled to take place, and the surrounding area, identify any possible blind spots and think about how she could cover them.




4 pm



“Mom, we’re going to be fine,” Katy said as she looked at Janice and Adam.  “I’ll take very good care of Gran, and make sure she doesn’t get into trouble.”


“Excuse me,” Katherine said with a smile, “I think you’ll find it is the other way round.”


“Just keep each other out of trouble, all right?  We’ll both see you in Munich on Thursday.”


“Right,” Katherine said, “we need to head through.  I’m glad we’re flying business.”


“One perk of Norstar,” Katy said as she put her rucksack on her back, before hugging both Janice and Adam.  “You two keep safe as well, all right?”


“With luck, she’ll sleep on the plane over,” Katherine said as she hugged them both.  “Enjoy the peace and quiet.”


“What peace and quiet?  I need to see my mother tomorrow,” Adam said with a sigh.


“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he keeps to the law,” Janice said with a smile as Bev hugged Katy, and they waved her off.


“I’m going to pick something up from the newsstand,” Adam said as he walked to one side.


“Any sign of him,” Janice whispered as they watched Katherine and Katy walk to the security gates.


“Nope – so let’s hope he hasn’t followed them.”


“He hasn’t,” Susan said as she walked over, “we’ve been monitoring, no sign.”


“Good – she could do with this down time.”



Sunday 27th March

11 am BST



“So this is Ireland,” Katy said as the car drove down the road, taking the time to look out of the window as the green fields rolled by.


“Oh yes,” her grandmother said quietly as she looked out of the other window, “this is Ireland.  Not Waterford – for which I am grateful – but it does feel good to be home.”


“Has it really been that long, Gran?”


“Oh yes, but I always dreamed of coming home one day,” Katherine said with a smile as she saw the castle coming closer.  “And that is Athlone castle, where you are doing the shoot tomorrow and Tuesday.”


“Welcome to Athlone,” the driver said, “the Easter services will have started, so we have a clear run to the hotel.”


“How come we lost another hour on our watches?”


“They started summer time today,” the driver said, “so you have another hour’s difference.  Anyway, here we are – the Sheraton Athlone.”


As he drove up to the main entrance, the chauffer stopped the car and then opened the doors to let them get out.  Katy was wearing a black leather jacket over a blue jumper, jeans and short black boots, while Katherine was wearing a beige coat over a floral print dress, and brown shoes.


“Well, here we go,” she said as they walked in, while a porter collected the cases from the trunk of the car.


“Good morning – welcome to the Sheration Athlone,” the man behind the reception desk said, “may I have your names please?”


“Katherine Carter, and this is my granddaughter Katy.”


“Ah yes – we were told to expect you about now.  May I see your passports please?”


As Katherine handed them over, Katy looked round, smiling as she saw Tracy sitting in the coffee bar.


“If you could just sign here,” the receptionist said to Katherine, “your rooms are ready now, so you can have a chance to unpack and change.”


“Sounds good to me – did Orion say when she was getting here Katy?”


“She said about one thirty – so we have a shower and then grab some lunch?”


“Sounds good to me,” Katherine said as they were handed their key cards, and then walked to the elevator.  As they went in, Tracy took her phone out.


“Penny?  Both safely arrived.  I’ll check in again later...”


“I see they’re expecting you Gran,” Katy said as they looked at the banner, before the lift doors closed.


“Why on earth did I agree to this,” her Gran said as she shook her head...



1 pm ECT

The Furstenheim Townhouse, Munich


Juliette and Klaus looked up from their seats as Frau Strecher came in.


“Major John Hammond, Miss Shirley Xavier and Miss Maisha Abonoyu, Your Highness.”


“John – welcome, welcome,” Klaus said as he stood up, embracing all three of them before Juliette did, “we will be having lunch shortly – I hope you are hungry.”


“Fairly so – so long as it is not strawberries and cream.”


“Oh no – plenty of Apple Strudel however.  Frau Strecher, three additional guests for lunch.”


The estate manager bowed as she left the room, Shirley sitting with Juliette as she said “so, how are you feeling?”


“Getting more nervous as each day passes.  I’ll be glad when Diana and Sandy get here later.”


“I spoke to Mandy last night – they will be arriving later today.  And then...”


As the door opened, everyone turned and looked at the man who came in.  He had short light brown hair, was wearing a denim shirt and jeans, and had a viewfinder round his neck.


“Oh – my apologies Your Highness, I thought this room would be empty.”


“It’s all right – we will be moving in now anyway.  May I introduce Edwin Breitz, who is planning a documentary about the family?”


“A pleasure – I will return later,” he said with a low bow as he walked back – into an older couple who were about to come in.


“My apologies,” he muttered as he walked off, Klaus wondering who he was talking to before they came in.


“Aunt Natalya, Uncle Wilhelm – welcome,” he said as the Baron and Baroness von Buchenwald came in.  “You’re just in time for lunch.”


“Excellent,” Willy said as he walked over and kissed Juliette and Shirley, then shook John’s hand.


“I am glad you arrived safely,” Natalya said as she joined Shirley and Juliette, “and the younger generation?”


“They went to the Cathedral with Sigi and her family, but they should be back at any moment,” Juliette said. 


1.30 pm BST

Sheraton Athlone




Katy looked up and smiled as Orion O’Ryan came into the dining room, her great aunt and father following her.


“Hey Orion – want to join us?”


“In a few minutes – we need to get our cases to our rooms, but we’ll be right down after that.”


“oh you sit down lass,” her father said, “Your aunt and I will sort the rooms out.”






Katy and Orion looked at both of them, as her father said “right – come on Brenda, we can do this quickly.”


“Don’t worry – this is neutral ground,” Katherine said as the redheaded Belfast lass sat down.


“So how was the flight?”


“Interesting – have you seen the powers that be yet?”


“You mean the women in charge?  Not yet,” Katherine said as she looked round.


“You called?”


“MISSY!  How on earth do you do that?”


“Training,” Missy said as she and Alice appeared at the table.  “Anyway, I’m glad you both made it – let me introduce you to someone who will act as an additional chaperone for the next few days.  This is Paula Gaunt, and her daughter Aileen.”


“Pleasure to meet you both – and to see you again Katherine,” Paula said with a smile. 


“Hello Paula – so what induced you to come here?”


“Duty – I’m the keynote speaker at the dinner on Tuesday.  I invited Aileen to come as she is the same age as you two.”


“And I wanted to meet you – after Caroline and Jo came to visit, they said you would be here next,” Aileen said as she looked at Orion and Katy.


“Well, pull up a seat – let’s have some lunch together.”


“Why don’t we make our way over there,” Missy said as she indicated a nearby table, leaving the three girls to talk to each other.




3 pm BST


“Well, here they are,” Paula said as Alice and Mandy came in.


“Good afternoon darlings,” Mandy drawled as she kissed Paula, Brenda and Katherine, “ready for a couple of days work before the fun.”


“The girls are working, I’m here for the meeting,” Katherine said, “as are both of these ladies – allegedly.”


“See – we do the work, they drink the Guinness,” Alice said with a laugh.  “But it does mean we get to split the journey to the weekend.”


"So are they under lock and key safely Alice?" Katherine asked.

"They had better be," Alice sighed, "you wouldn't believe the security I have them under at Tom and Paula's place in Dublin.  Caroline gave her very best advice."

"Well it's a most anticipated wedding, I could probably make myself a fortune leaking pictures in advance..."

"You just dare Katherine Carter!" Alice glared.

"Now would I really do that?"

"That's an interesting question," a voice giggled.

"Hey Maeve," Alice kissed the newcomer.


“Maeve,” Katherine said, “allow me to introduce Kathy O’Dowd, Orion’s great aunt and chaperone.”


“So you’re here for the meeting as well,” Maeve said with a smile.


“In part – Orion’s father will split the chaperone duties with me,” Kathy said quietly.


“Gran – Orion, Aileen and I are going to go for a swim,” Katy said as she appeared in the bar.


“All right – but remember we have a meeting later to give schedules,” Alice said as Katy walked off.


“I’m glad they’ve hit it off,” Paula said, “it means they have a friend their own age there as well.”





5 pm CET



“Countess de Ros and Miss Richmond,” Frau Strecher said as Sandy and Diana came in.


“There you are ma cherie,” Diana said as Juliette and Sigi stood up, “how are you feeling?”


“A lot better now both of you are here,” Juliette said, “where are the others?”


“Heather is helping Sands and George to unpack, Jo and Abby went straight off with Cari and Annie,” Sandy said as Frau Strecher brought fresh coffee in.  “Did I see Natalya and Wilhelm?”


“You did – they arrived earlier,” Sigi said.  “The troops, as they say, are gathering.”


“So is there a schedule for the week?”


“Well, up to Wednesday everything is more informal, but more and more people are arriving.  Thursday we have a rehearsal and a private mass at the cathedral, followed by tea with the Cardinal.  Then Friday we have the parade.”


“The Parade?”


“A ceremonial parade by the Furstenheim Jaegers – with all of us.”


Sandy smiled as she picked up her coffee.  “Well - how many brides-to-be will spend the night before their wedding participating in a military parade Ju?'

"I know Sandy,” Juliette said with a smile, “but it really is a great way of introducing me and the girls to the people of the Estates and of Furstenheim loyalty."

"So have you been practicing Ju?" Sigi asked.

"Oh yes - Hauptfeldwebel Strecher has been putting us through our paces."

"And why doesn't it surprise me that she is the unit's Sergeant-Major?" Sandy shook her head.

"I know..." Ju rolled her eyes.

"As I told you weeks ago, it's not easy marching in high heels." Sigi spoke again.

"But you make it look so easy Sigs."

"Ah but I've been doing it a long while."

"So does Annie march?"

"No she gets to sit in a carriage in her maternity uniform and holds my Granddaughter, who by the way looks so cute in her little uniform."


“Okay – so Friday is that, and I presume dinner later.  And then Saturday.”


“A most important day,” Klaus said as he appeared with Dieter.  “A small civil ceremony and then the main event.”


“Who is coming to the little civil wedding at the Neues Rathaus?" Dieter asked.


"Just very close family and friends," Klaus responded.

"Yes in contrast to the cathedral it will be very intimate." Juliette leaned on her betrothed's shoulder. "And I told Herr Breitz 'NO CAMERAS'."

"Good," Sigi smiled.


“That will be at ten, allowing us time to return and change before the cathedral.”


“Then,” Juliette said, “back here for the reception – have you seen the grand hall yet?”



“I thought Chateau de Ros was big,” Jo said as she and Abby looked round, “but this is amazing.  This is where the reception will be held?”


“Yup,” Carina said as Judith held Abby’s hand, “I think we can get everyone in here.”


“And the rest,” Abby whispered, “and there’s a parade on Friday?”


“Oh yeah – me in full uniform and high heels.  Good stuff.”


“So where are the dresses,” Jo said as she looked out of one of the high windows.


“Apparently under guard in Dublin until Alice and Mandy come over mid week.”


“Safest place for them,” Abby said as she looked round.


"And this is just your townhouse Cari?”  Jo sat down before she said “It makes the Gaunt's place in Dublin look almost tiny."

"Does it Jo?  Well all I know is that this is where Pop and Ingy usually think of as home."

"I'll need Big Sister to tell me what all these paintings are." Jo looked round the walls of the great hall.

"Well I bet Heather knows a lot more about them then I do."

"You of course Mademoiselle Countess aren't intimidated by this one bit are you?" Annie asked Abby.

"Not really...  Although I think grandmamma will be most impressed."

"Well for a girl from a split-level rancher in the St Louis suburbs, I have to admit I am."

"And I have to agree with you." Jo nodded her head.  “Clint is going to have his mind blown as well when he gets here.”


“When does he arrive?”


“Tuesday – so I get a day and a bit to prepare for the fun...”


"You know we have an appointment to go to the Nymphenburg Palace tonight Annie and be introduced to the Duke?"

"Uggh don't remind me Cari,” Annie said as she shook, “the thought terrifies me."

"Why?" asked Jo.

"Because in a slightly different world he'd not be Duke of Bavaria, but King of Bavaria..."

"And as such our overlord," Carina laughed as she finished the sentence.

"I have heard he can be slightly terrifying."

"No,” Cari said, “he's just an old gentleman of the real old school darling, and remember he survived a Nazi concentration camp as a child."

"Oh God, why was he in a camp?" asked Abigail.

"Because the Wittelsbach's were anti-Nazi, and didn't keep their mouths shut about it."


“Big history lesson this week as well,” Abby said with a smile. 


“Can I have a hug Aunt Abby?”


“Of course you can little one,” Abby said as she picked Judith up and rubbed noses with her.


“Do we wear the pretty dress soon, Mama?”


“We all do little one,” Cari said.


“Ah there you are,” Sigi said as she came in, “we will be having an early meal tonight, to give some of you a chance at an early night.”


“Sounds good to me,” Jo said as she stretched her arms up.







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