Dancing in the Dark – Part 4
Friday 2nd December
“This will have to be one of the worst days of my life,” Vicky Clarke complained as she reached into the overhead compartment for her bag.
“Get used to it if you are going to be a model little sister,” Mary said as she tried to stand and stretch, “delayed flights are one of the bad things you have to get used to.”
“They could at least have let us off the plane and then reloaded,” Vicky said testily, “I swear this seat is the most uncomfortable thing I ever sat in.”
“I was looking forward to this weekend and now all I want to do is get home,” Allison moaned.
“Now you know why I love getting back to Oakland Hills so much,” Mary laughed as she pulled down her own bag.
“What’s the betting they’ve lost our cases?” Vicky asked.
“Oh don’t even tempt fate by saying that,” Mary rolled her eyes. “Come on – let’s get out there, get to the hotel, and then get some food…”
As they wheeled their cases through to the arrivals hall, Mary smiled as she saw Rhenia standing there, wearing a grey trouser suit with a white blouse underneath.
“Finally,” she said with a smile.
“That was NOT fun,” Mary tried to smile as she hugged Rhenia.
“I know, the damn airline was not helpful at this end either with information about when your flight would finally leave.”
“The girls’ first professional modelling trip and that crap had to happen.” Mary said as she looked at her sisters, “its things like this that turn models jaded.”
“Not sure that is great English,” Rhenia laughed.
“Hey I’m tired, and I’m pissed, fuck good grammar,” Mary laughed as well.
“True – right, come with me, I have transport waiting, and a message from Carmelita at the hotel to say she will have food brought up when you get there.”
“Great,” Vicky said, “I am starving…”
“Actually, do you girls want a coffee or something else before we drive into the city?”
“I’d kill for a good coffee Rhenia,” Vicky looked around the terminal, “that stuff on the plane was awful.”
“Coke for me,” Allison spoke.
“Well there’s a place over there where we can sit and drink while you unwind a little.”
“Sounds good to me,” Mary said as she pushed the trolley. “So when are they expected tomorrow?”
“Ten – three coffees and a coke please,” Rhenia said as they sat at a table, “Mel will meet you there.”
“Mel’s the new kid, isn’t she,” Allison said.
“All three of you are – but yes, this is her first gig as well,” Rhenia said with a smile. “But don’t worry – the Wizard will be there, and I think Kylie is coming as well.”
“Good – I want to see her,” Mary said with a smile as she accepted the coffee and took a long drink.
“So what kind of suite are we booked into?” Mary asked a short while later as they climbed into Rhenia’s van.
“You have a single room, the girls are sharing, and you have a common sitting room.”
“You mean I have to share with HER like I do at home?” Allison poked Vicky in the arm.
“Hey it’s no fun for me either,” Vicky laughed.
“It sounds fine,” Mary laughed as well, “just as long as I can’t hear them snore.”
“They snore?” Rhenia looked amused.
“No we don’t,” both girls said together.
“Oh believe me they do,” Mary rolled her eyes, “it’s why Vicky has to use an inhaler.”
“That’s Asthma, and you know it,” Vicky said before she yawned.
“Whatever – let’s just get there…”
“Better,” Mary asked as the girls came through from their bedroom.
“Yeah – when’s the food coming?”
“About now,” Mary said as she heard the tap on the door, opening it to let the maid wheel the trolley in. “Carmelita – how are you keeping?”
“All the better for seeing you,” the maid said as they hugged. “Allison, Vicky, this is Carmelita – did you get what I asked for?”
“Of course,” she said as she put three domed plates down on a table, lifting the domes to reveal the burgers and fries.
“Thank YOU,” Allison said as she and Vicky sat down, Mary taking a fry from the third plate before she said “so how are things here?”
“Busy – big wedding next weekend, and a lot of guests flying in.”
“Oh yeah – Shirley and John. We were invited, but Suzie and I are away, so we had to decline.”
Carmelita looked at Mary, and said “You’ve come so far, yet you remain exactly the same. How?”
“I never forget who is really important. So, what’s the gossip?”
Saturday 3rd December
8 am GMT
Benenden School for Girls
“Hey Wormhole Junior,” Eve Gaunt laughed as Olga Makarvoa sat down for Saturday morning breakfast with them.
“EVE!” her friend hissed as she looked daggers across the table, “just lay off please”
“Not my fault that your Mummy has such a silly model nickname,” Eve giggled as she drank from her cup.
“I know, but you don’t have to use it about me now you are a model yourself.”
“It’s still fun though,” Liz giggled as she looked up.
“I think it is,” Kits grinned.
“You are all hopeless,” Olga rolled her eyes. “If I hadn’t known you all since Footscray Lodge I’d disown you all as friends.”
“Face it Olga, you are stuck with us,” Liz giggled further.
“So what plans for today girls?“ Kit decided to change the subject.
“Lunch with my father,” Olga said in a distinctly unenthusiastic voice.
“Your father? Is he here from Russia?”
“He flew in yesterday - Mommy said when she phoned last night Eve.”
“Hard to remember sometimes you are Russian Olgs.”
“Well you all know I think of myself as British.”
“So what is your big time lawyer for the oligarchs father here to do?’
“Something about seeing the Marchesa di Cambrello about a takeover bid for a model agency by a friend of his.”
“For Norstar?” Eve was suddenly interested, “you do know they represent me?”
“And my Mummy,” Olga said after she had swallowed some egg, “she told me she was not happy when she heard, and she rang a lot of her old friends.”
“I wonder what is going on?” Eve asked herself quietly.
“So I’m stuck having to try and have lunch with a father I barely know, and he’ll insist we talk in Russian,” Olga sighed.
“Maybe he can tell you if the orange one is in with Putin?”
“I could try, but he’d just say he could not talk about it if it was true…”
10 am GMT
“When are you seeing Yuri Makarov partner?” Sigi asked over the telephone.
“Monday morning,” Francesca said as Mrs Harris put a coffee on her desk. “He’s spending the weekend seeing his ex-wife and daughter Sigi.”
“Gives you time to prepare.”
“Yes,” Francesca smiled, “Byushin is bringing out the big guns, and I’d love to know how he talked a man of Makarov’s repute into taking a hand in the legal matters relating to a takeover bid for a mere model agency.”
“Well he was married to Tatiana,” Sigi laughed, “and I suppose that does mean he has a certain ‘in’ with the model industry.”
“She’s an old friend of Juliette’s isn’t she? What chance he says something indiscreet to her and that she can tell Ju?”
“A guy like Makarov?” Sigi laughed.
“Yes I guess I was clutching at straws,” Francesca sighed.
“Whatever he has up his sleeve I’ll guess you’ll find out on Monday.”
“I’ll set up a conference call for everyone on ‘our’ side for Monday afternoon to discuss it all.”
“Sounds good – so any other plans for this weekend?”
“A walk in the park with Charlotte and Francesca – and then I have a dinner date tonight?”
“A dinner date?”
“With Agnes and Donald…”
The von Furstenheim Apartment
As Juliette opened her laptop, she was surprised to see a call waiting for her – and even more surprised when she saw who it was from. Accepting the call, she saw the elegantly dressed brunette in the window.
“Good morning Pelican,” she said in a cultured English accent, “I’m sorry to disturb you at home this early on a Saturday morning.”
“Not a problem Wormhole,” the American smiled at the image of Tatiana Ulyanova on her computer screen. “How are you doing? I haven’t seen you since Abby’s birthday party, and then Sydney.”
“I’ve been fine Ju, at least I was until yesterday.”
“Yes, out of the blue my ex-husband turned up in London yesterday.”
Juliette raised an eyebrow as she said “What did he want?”
“Not something good darling, that bastard Byushin has engaged Yuri to negotiate with your people regarding his bid to buy Norstar.”
“I thought that might be your reaction darling,” the veteran Russian supermodel giggled.
“I never did overly like Yuri after he dumped you like that Wormhole, and I like him even less when he is acting for scum like Byushin.”
“He and Klaus are still friends though.”
“I’m well aware of that darling,” Juliette took a moment to collect her thoughts, “so did he say just what he is doing in London?”
“He has an appointment to see Francesca di Cambrello Monday morning.”
“I’ll ring her in a bit then.”
“Look I don’t want Byushin taking Norstar any more then you do Pelican, but just remember that Yuri is a professional, for him this is not personal, and that for Olga’s sake I want to at least stay on speaking terms with him.”
“I know, and I know Klaus won’t want to lose a friend who goes all the way back to when we were all in Paris.”
“Long, long, ago,” the Russian sighed.
“Yes… By the way did you hear I’m editing Fiona’s book?”
“I had heard.”
“Just tell Yuri that you and he are mentioned in it,” Juliette giggled, “and tell him no I’m not giving him a chance to see what Fiona wrote.”
“That will cause him some consternation – good. He is seeing Olga for lunch, and coming round tonight. I may call you after that…”
“Well, keep safe,” Juliette said as the call ended, and Klaus came down the stairs.
“Who was that?”
“Tatiana – apparently Byushin has engaged the services of her former husband to represent him.”
“They’ve engaged Yuri?” Klaus looked surprised as Juliette poured him a coffee.
“So she says – I’ll call Francesca later to see if she confirms it.”
“This is starting to get nasty.”
“I know,” Ju took a sip, “I know it really it is just a matter of business, but it still doesn’t help when it makes adversaries of old friends.”
“You know that he was the one told me I was a complete idiot giving into my father and marrying Renate?”
“Yes, he also told me that if I didn’t come to New York and hopefully see you, that he’d never forgive me.”
“I didn’t think he liked me that much for taking Tatiana’s side?”
“Oh he forgave you darling.” Klaus sipped his coffee, “anyway hanging subjects what are you doing this morning?”
“Going to talk to Missy while she watches this catalog shoot that the Clarke sisters are doing.”
“Okay, well while you do that, I’m sure I’ll find a few things to do.”
12.30 pm GMT
The Bull at Benenden
As Oleg Makarova walked into the bar, the waitress turned and looked at her, dressed in a pair of smart pants and a roll neck sweater.
“Excuse me Miss,” she said as she walked over, “do you have some form of identification?”
“It’s all right,” Olga said with a smile, “I am meeting my father here for a meal.”
“Your father?” The waitress looked round to one table, where a man was sitting, his temples greying as he looked at a paper. She also saw the large man standing nearby, who nodded before she said “ah yes – you must be Olga. If you will come this way?”
The young woman smiled as she followed the waitress, the grey haired man smiling as he stood up. “Olga,” he said in Russian as he put his hands on her shoulders, and kissed her on the cheek, “you look well.”
“Thank you Father,” Olga replied in Russian before she sat down, and then she said in English “I would like the bangers and mash, and a diet coke please.”
“Of course Miss – and for you Sir?”
“What is the pie of the day?”
“It is a game pie, sir.”
“Excellent – I will have that,” he said before the waitress walked off. “Bangers?”
“I go to an English girl’s school, father,” Olga replied with a smile, “you must expect me to use the language of the school, no?”
Yuri just smiled and shook his head as he looked at his daughter. “I am sorry it has been a while since we have spoken, but I do get the reports. I understand you are doing very well?”
“I am – and I enjoy the subjects I am now studying.”
“Not law or politics?”
“I will leave that side of the world to you, Father,” Olga said without smiling, “my skills and interests lie in other areas. Have you spoken to Mother?”
“Briefly – I meet her tonight for dinner,” Yuri said, thanking the waitress as their food was placed in front of them. “Have you?”
“We speak most nights – father, if I ask a question, will you forgive me if it sounds intrusive?”
“A direct question?” Yuri smiled before he cut into the pie and put some into his mouth, chewing before he swallowed and took a sip of his wine. “Very well then, what is your question?”
“Why have you agreed to act for Mister Byushin?”
Yuri raised an eyebrow, before he said “your mother told you?”
“Yes, she did – NorStar is the agency that represents her, and many of my school friends as well. They know his reputation, and they are concerned.”
“I assure you, Olga, it is purely a business relationship. He has employed me to discuss legal issues, and I am advising him.”
“And if I was one if the models employed by that agency? If he was to take over and demand some of the models accompany him, and that included me or Mother?”
Yuri looked at his daughter for a moment, and then said “as I said, a business matter. Let us talk of other things.”
1.30 pm GMT
The Bull at Benenden
“Are you thinking about modelling Olga?” Yuri asked as they drank coffee after their lunch.
“Well Eve is following in her Mummy’s footsteps and doing it,” Olga said with a shrug of her shoulders, “so I guess I’ve at least thought about it.”
“And decided what?”
Olga put her cup down and smiled. “Honestly? That while I may be Tatiana Ulyanova’s daughter, I’m not sure either my face or body are really up to the needed standard.”
“You look wonderful to me Olga,” Yuri said with a smile, “and I’m very proud of you.”
“Well I do try hard at my studies Father,” the girl blushed.
“It’s not just your studies, you’ve become a fine young woman despite what happened between me and your Mother.”
“I’ve never really understood just what did happen Daddy,” Olga tried to read her father’s face as he sat opposite her.
“I did something very stupid, and your Mother refused to forgive me. It’s not really complicated.” Yuri sipped his coffee, “one day when you are older I will try and explain.”
“I’m 17 Father,” Olga said as she leaned forward. “I’m not a child any more. I understand a lot more than you think.”
“I know darling,” Yuri said, and Olga was surprised to see him smile, “but I suppose I’m still not ready to talk I guess.”
“I could ring Uncle Klaus and Aunt Juliette you know?”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” the man smiled, “when we talk I want it to be your Mother and me telling you ourselves.”
“As you wish,” Olga said as she looked at her watch, “I need to head back, I have Prep to do for my History paper.”
“Of course – may I offer you a lift?”
“Thank you, father,” Olga said as she stood up and put her coat on, “but I would prefer to walk. Please, let it be a shorter time before we meet again.”
“Of course,” Yuri said as he also stood, the two hugging before Olga walked out.
“Does she know she is being watched?”
Yuri shook his head as the tall man came over. “No – come, I also have preparations to make…”
“Here we are,” Mary Clarke said as she walked towards the roped off area of the park with Vicky and Allison. All three girls were wearing gillets over roll neck sweaters, the legs of their jeans tucked into Ugg boots.
“Looks busy,” Vicky said as the security guard lifted the rope barrier and allowed them to walk in.
“Ah good- there you are.”
Mary smiled as she saw Missy standing there, wearing a padded jacket over her trouser suit. “Come with me,” she said to them, “the tent at least is heated.”
“Thank goodness,” Vicky said as they walked to a large marquee, Missy holding the flap up as they went in.
“Hey Worker,” Abby said with a smile as she sat with Katy, “Welcome to playing babysitter.”
“Nervous,” Katy said as she looked at Vicky and Allison.
“Well, meet someone more nervous than you. You remember Mel Eckholm?”
“Yeah – we’ll all be scared together, right?”
E 34th Street
As Sandy stood there, wearing a grey trouser suit and a white camisole underneath, she checked a box on the list on her iPad while Heather walked back in with Tommy. Her partner was wearing a brown jumper and jeans, while Tommy wore a blue bomber jacket over his jeans and jumper.
“Well Tommy, can Krys be happy in this little place?” Heather asked.
“I think she can be,” the young man smiled as he ran his hand over the back of the couch. “It’s not huge like you said, but I love all the closet space.”
“And the rent?” Sandy asked.
“From what Missy was saying as to my projected earnings,” Tommy said as he shook his head, “you were right - I should be able to afford it easily.”
“I guessed that.”
“I wish I could offer you both a coffee,” Tommy smiled as he looked in the next room, “but stocking the kitchen is something I’ll have to do before Krys moves in.”
“There’s a good coffee shop around the corner, we can go there and you can look at this rent agreement then,” Sandy laughed as she patted her brief case.
“Sounds good to me,” Tommy paused and took another look around, “I think I’m going to be very happy here.”
“So when do you shoot the book covers then?” Heather asked as they all put on their coats.
“Next Friday, and isn’t that a thought,” Tommy smiled, “Jack Linklater is shooting them and Mary Thomas has been asked by the publishers to style them, so at least I’ll have friends there.”
“Heather and I may just drop along to watch,” Sandy smiled as she closed the door behind them.
For Eva Eckholm, it was a very different way for her to spend a Saturday, as she watched the young men and women rushing from place to place, while Mel stood before the camera.
“Is it me,” she whispered as Mary Clark came over, “or are these clothes a bit ‘young’ for teenagers?”
“It’s what I thought Eva,” Mary whispered as she watched Allison posing in jeans and a rather bland top.
“I was worried about Mel looking too mature,” Eva said quietly, “but she actually looks far too young.”
“I was going to suggest to Kylie that she design a range of outfits that teenage girls would actually like to wear.”
“Kylie would probably do an outstanding job on that,”
“I appreciate the vote of confidence, darlings, but I truly do not have the time to spare at the moment.”
Both women turned to see Kylie standing behind them, wearing a fox fur jacket over a jumper and jeans.
“Well, think it over,” Mary said as Kylie smiled.
“Next model please,” Karl Pearson yelled as Mel ran out of the changing area in a plaid skirt and sweater.
“See, that could look nice with a few changes,” Eva looked critically, “but as is it looks like nothing.”
“I agree,” Mary nodded.
“Indeed – I have a Fitzstuart design coming, perhaps Mandy is open to a more commercial design in due course…”
“I’ll go and see how Mel is doing,” Eva said as she walked back into the marquee, joining her daughter at the make-up table.
“Having fun darling?” Eva said as she passed her daughter a bottle of water.
“Yes, and no,” Mel drank greedily.
“I love posing,” Mel said as she stood up and removed her top, “but we are having to rush so much I’m not getting a real chance to relax and enjoy it.”
“Missy was saying that is the nature of this kind of shoot.”
“So will you want to model again?”
“Your father and I have always wanted you to be honest with us Melinda.”
“If I can fit it around all the other things I do, then yes I would love to do some more please.” Mel finished the bottle, “and it’s not just about the money.”
“Though that will come in useful?”
“Probably,” Mel laughed.
“Well then I’d better ask Missy when she can see us, and what signing a contract entails.”
“We can talk.”
“How DOES she do that,” Vicky said as she ran in.
As Juliette walked over, she saw the photographer stand up and say “all right everyone – lunch break. We start again in an hour.”
“Come on you two,” Mary said as she gathered up Vicky and Allison, heading to the buffet as Mel joined her mother. Ju smiled as she followed the photographer into the tent.
“So how good were Missy’s instincts regarding Mel Eckholm Karl?” she asked as he sat down and plugged his memory card into his laptop.
“Pretty damn good, the kid is tall, she has those gorgeous eyes, and she really does know how to use her body Ju,” the photographer didn’t look up from downloading images into his computer.
“I guess that’s
because she’s so fit from playing sports,” Juliette looked at the screen, “will
you mind if I have a look when you’ve finished?”
“Not at all, just don’t erase anything please,” he stood up and grinned.
“I’ll try not to.” As he walked to the buffet, u sat down and looked through the pictures, smiling as she did so.
“They doing good?”
“They doing good,” Ju said as she turned and smiled at Mary Thomas. “What do you think?”
“I think I need a drink. Come on.”
As they walked over, Juliette looked at her phone, and a dark look came over her face.
“And what has you frowning like that Ju?” Merlin asked as they sipped the awful coffee from the location caterers. “Bad as this is it isn’t quite that bad.”
“I just got a text from Klaus.”
“And that’s bad?”
“Not really,” Juliette managed a little smile, “but he just got a phone call from Yuri Makarov…”
“Regarding the Norstar bid?” Mary interrupted.
“No…something worse,” Ju looked skywards, “he had lunch with Olga and she was asking about why he and Wormhole broke up and divorced.”
Mary rolled her eyes and shook her head. “You all knew that one day she’d want to know.”
“I know,” Juliette laughed, “but she actually went as far as to say she might ring us to ask for details.”
“I still think it was all an act of mass stupidity what happened back then. If just one person had behaved like a grownup then it might all have been averted.”
“Hindsight is always twenty-twenty,” Juliette sighed.
“Well my opinion remains the same as it always was, Tatiana and Yuri are miserable being apart, and Olga needs be told just what occurred.”
“Politics, power, and sex, it’s a pretty potent cocktail darling.”
“I know Ju, but who in their right mind choses to be unhappy?’
“People who think they had no choices or options Mary.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Honestly – I have no idea, but I need to make a call…”
5 pm GMT
“The Princess von Furstenheim,” Mrs Harris said as she handed the handset to Francesca.
“I wasn’t expecting you to phone Juliette,” Francesca adjusted the receiver in her hand as she tried to slip her coat off. “I was out for a walk in Hyde Park with my daughter and granddaughter.”
“I’m sorry to disturb your Saturday afternoon then,” she heard Juliette say as she walked into her lounge, “but I have some information that might explain why Yuri Makarov is acting for Byushin.”
“Oh please tell,” Francesca said with a smile as she reached for a pen and notepad.
“Look this isn’t business related, it’s something that happened a few years ago or so, and it’s very personal for the people informed.”
“I am going to give you a bare outline, but I want you to promise you’ll never repeat, or use, what I’m going to tell you.”
“This sounds serious and ominous,” Francesca said as she sat down, “but of course you have my word.”
“All right,” Juliette breathed deeply. “I’ve known Tatiana and Yuri since my days as a young model in Paris. They were close friends of both Klaus’s and mine.”
“Okay. So you all go back a long way.”
“Oh yes… She was rapidly becoming one of the first top Russian girls, and he was studying international law at the Sorbonne. They had never met back in Russia, but in Paris it was a bit like me with Klaus…love at first sight.”
“Rather like me and my James.”
“Yes, but unlike you and me they had a happy marriage, and they were both ecstatic when Tatiana gave birth to their daughter Olga.”
“So what happened to break it up? Another woman?”
“You might say so,” Juliette took another breath. “Yuri was practicing in London when suddenly he met a woman…”
“Oh it was the usual story, they had an affair, he was surprisingly indiscreet for a top lawyer, and Tatiana found out.”
“That sounds like a standard soap opera story Ju.”
“Yes,” Juliette said quietly, “but the plot twist was that the other woman was actually connected to both the Russian intelligence services, and certain very powerful men in Russia.”
Francesca stopped, her pen hanging in the air as she sat bolt upright. “It was a setup?”
“Yes, but that took time to come out. What happened first was Tatiana losing everything and throwing Yuri out of their house.”
“He begged forgiveness when it became clear, I suppose?”
“Yes, but by then their friends knew, and we all took sides, and bad got worse.”
“I understand,” Francesca shook her head.
“That is when we heard the Russians made their move and Yuri was threatened that a lot of the indiscreet things he had said to the other woman might be made public if he didn’t return to Russia, and take employment in the service of a rich clique of powerful people.”
“Oh is that why…”
“I think he loved Tatiana too much for all that to come out, so he dropped his contest of the divorce, left London, and moved to Moscow.”
“Where his brilliant legal brain has flourished?”
“Yes Francesca, but Klaus at last thinks they have something they hold over him.”
“It’s possible – I will consult and…”
“Dammit – I think I know why Agnes has been staying quiet. I think she may be in a no win situation as well.”
“Do not worry – I will find out and let you know. Thank you Juliette – that does make other things clear…”
The de Ros Mansion
“I can imagine what is uppermost in your mind,” Diana said as she sat with Brooke. The judge nodded as she held the cup in both hands, her hands shaking slightly as Edith poured the coffee.
“No sh… Sorry,” Brooke said as she smiled. “So to distract me from thinking about having a drink Diana, tell me about what you and Juliette were talking about on the phone please?”
“When I was coming down the stairs – it sounded as if old wounds were being opened.”
“Oh,” Diana said as she sat back, “it was just about some old mutual friends, whose divorce was one of the very few times that Juliette and I found ourselves arguing as we supported different sides.”
“Divorces always divide people,” Brooke said as she slowly took a drink.
“Indeed. Do you know Yuri Makarov Brooke?”
“Only by repute,” Brooke said quietly, “I never met him personally.”
“Well,” Diana said with a smile, “I actually introduced him to Tatiana Ulyanova.”
“The model he was once married to?”
“Yes,” Diana nodded. “Anyway he had an affair, she learned of it and threw him out.”
“I vaguely remember that.”
“Well Ju being American, and with her Puritan mindset blamed Yuri for the breakup, while me, being French, and having parents who routinely had affairs took it in my stride and argued that Tatiana should accept that men will stray occasionally.”
“Ah – a clash of philosophies. But why has his name come up?”
“Because Oleg Byushin has engaged his services to advise him on the takeover of NorStar.”
Brooke raised an eyebrow as she said “that sounds – unusual.”
“Yes – isn’t it?”
8 pm GMT
The Savoy Grill
The dining room barely noticed as the maitre d’ showed the couple to their table – the man in a Saville Row suit, greying at the temples, the stunningly attractive woman in a white shift dress.
“If you would care to be seated, Madame,” he said as he held the chair for the woman to sit down. “May I have a drink brought while you decide what you want to eat?”
“Vodka – two glasses,” the man said as the woman nodded.
“Of course – Gerald will come shortly to take your order,” the smartly dressed senior man said as he bowed and walked away.
“Well this is all frightfully civilized and very, very, British,” Yuri spoke in Russian as he sat down.
“Yes, and being so British, and with everyone playing by ‘the rules’ it reduces the temptation on my behalf to end up screaming at you,” Tatiana replied in English with a sweet smile.
“You think you might otherwise?” the man said as he switched languages.
“Not if we agree to only talk about our daughter, and her future,” Tatiana said as she looked at the menu, “not about the past”
“Alright,” Yuri said as he glanced down the sheet, “let’s talk about Olga.”
Tatiana put her menu down, and sat with her chin in her hand, looking at her ex-husband. “She misses you, you know?”
“She does? Then why didn’t you let her come stay with me in Moscow for the summer?”
“You know very well Yuri,” Tatiana said quietly, “that I don’t trust that if she goes to Russia that you, or your friends, will ever let her come home.”
“Olga is Russian…”
“Only by the accident that she was a little premature and I gave birth there, and not here in London.” Tatiana interrupted. “Britain is her home, her friends are British, she thinks like a British woman.”
“You’ve lost most of the Russian in you,” Yuri said as he looked across the table.
“Oh in my case this is just surface veneer. Underneath I’m still VERY Russian, but she’s the real thing.”
“What made you chose the Savoy Grill to meet?” Yuri looked around. “I would have thought…”
“That it would bring back memories?” Tatiana interrupted again. “Yes it does, but I know you always liked this place, and I was trying to see if being here together wouldn’t be painful.”
“And is it?” he lifted an eyebrow.
“Yes…” she stopped talking as the waiter approached.
“I am Gerald,” he said as he looked at both of them, “may I take your order?”
“The Souffle, and then the Dover Sole with Pomme Puree,” Tatiana said, “and for you Yuri?”
“Steak Tartare, and the duck with vegetables.”
“Very good – and to drink?”
“Do you have a good white Rioja?”
“Our Sommelier would recommend a ’12 that we have, sir.”
“Very good,” Yuri said as Gerald bowed and walked off. As he left, he passed the maitre d’ showing another couple to their table. The woman was small, with flaming red hair, and wearing a black evening dress, while the tall man was wearing a suit, shirt and tie.
“Thank you,” Agnes McAdam said as she took the seat offered by the maitre d’, “We are expecting a third person.”
“Of course – what would you care to have as an aperitif?”
“Glenmorangie,” the man said, “for both of us.”
“Dinner at the Savoy grill, you are spoiling me Donald darling,” Agnes laughed. “But I’m still not going to sleep with you tonight,” she teased.
“Damn,” he laughed as he sat down, “and here was I planning to ply you with wine so you’d let me have my wicked way.”
“Patience darling,” Aggie smiled, “it will soon be our wedding night, and I promise you it will be as magical as we always dreamed.”
“I know,” he gently held her hand, “we will have arrived there by a long and difficult route, but as you say, it will be special.”
“Yes my love,” her eyes sparkled.
“So what do you fancy tonight?” Donald started to look at his menu.
“To be honest, I am tempted by the beef wellington – for both of us?”
“Well, let us see what Francesca says when she arrives,” Donald said with a smile. “So the others have agreed to be your party?”
“Indeed – the original four, with Laura and Miley as flower girls. You?”
“Will as my supporter – and a few others, such as John Gaunt,” Donald said, “and John has agreed to take the photos.”
“That’s good,” Donald said as Gerald came over.
“Are you ready to order?”
“Why not – we’ll have caviar and the Beef Wellington with accompaniments,” Donald said as Agnes looked round.
“So,” Tatiana said as the starters arrived, “I know you are in this country for business – business relating to NorStar. Yuri, you must know the depth of feeling that is growing about that offer.”
“I cannot take that into account with my work, you know that,” Yuri said quietly as he looked around – and saw the redhead.
“Do you know her?”
“Only by reputation…”
“Do you know that couple sitting over there Aggie?” Donald said as the caviar was brought to the table, “he at least seems to know you.”
“I know her very, very, slightly, but yes I do know him,” Agnes said before she took a deep breath, “She is Tatiana Ulyanov, and he is Yuri Makarov.”
“The famous Russian model?”
“And her ex-husband,” Agnes nodded as she thought deeply. The fact he was here was a slight consternation to her – one she had to try and hide.
“Sorry I’m late, but something came up,” a tall blonde woman said as she was shown to their table.
“Not a problem Francesca,” Donald said with a smile as he stood and kissed her, “we assumed something like that. I hope you don’t mind that we went ahead and ordered?”
“Not at all,” Francesca sat and looked at the waiter as he approached, “can you give me five minutes to decide please?”
“Of course Marchesa.”
“Perhaps an extra plate?”
“Olga looked well at lunch,” Yuri said as he took a sip of his wine, “she has grown again.”
“A little, that is true.”
“She was talking about her friend Eve taking up modelling and I asked if she had any ambitions in that direction herself.”
“Eve is Paula Lardarn’s daughter you know?”
“Yes I knew that.”
Tatiana shook her head as she took a sip from her own glass. “I think Olga believes modelling isn’t really for her.”
“She was saying that her body and face aren’t good enough.”
“I know, but in that she is incorrect. I’m afraid she doesn’t have a lot of confidence about her looks.”
“She compares herself to you.”
“I know,” Tatiana sighed, “but she is actually very striking in her own understated way.”
“Has she decided on a career yet?”
“She’s still thinking about journalism and advertising. With her likely A Level results though she can more or less pick any university and course when she does decide.” Tatiana smiled, “she has your brains Yuri, not mine.”
“So she has the best of both of us?”
“If she chooses to use them wisely, then yes…”
“Now this looks delicious,” Francesca said as the monkfish was placed in front of her, “I see there is an interesting crowd here tonight.”
“So it seems – especially that table over there,” Donald said as Francesca looked over.
“Oh – why?”
“You do realize that is Yuri Makarov over there Francesca,” Agnes immediately regretted saying that.
“It is?” the Italian shifted in her seat to take a look.
“Having dinner with his ex-wife,” a look of concern passed over Aggie’s face.
“So that’s him is it?” Francesca tried to appraise the man.
“Yes, and can I beg you don’t try to talk to him please.”
“I’m seeing him Monday, why would I talk now?”
“Because it’s not in your nature darling to be patient, and the last thing any of this needs is a public confrontation in the Savoy Grill.”
“True – but he fascinates me. I look forward to our meeting. So, on other matters – when do I get an invitation?”
“Your wedding,” Francesca said with a smile.
“Oh that - later this week. They went out today.”
Agnes looked over again at the couple as the conversation continued between Donald and Francesca. She knew of Yuri for various reasons – but the main reason was, unwittingly, she had been an unknowing and frankly unwilling participant in events some years before.
Her name was Illyana – she had worked at her business for six months, a favourite of some of the Russian visitors – especially one whose name had come into recent conversations. Then she had left – and the next thing Agnes had known, she was seen on the arm of Yuri.
The day the two of them had come and Illyana had handed her notice in, Agnes had warned Yuri of her contacts – but he had fallen deeply in love with her. Although he had never visited her place, she felt bound by the same code of conduct – even after the mess had exploded in the press.
More to the point, she was not sure just how complicit she had been…
11 pm GMT
Undressed and laying on her bed, Tatiana at last let the tears come. The evening had been like a torturous descent into hell, and only her iron will had stopped her from saying everything that was now rushing around her head.
Why had she chosen the Savoy to meet him? The place was in so many of her memories, and even more to the point, why was he still just so handsome and charming?
He had looked tired though, and she still knew him well enough to know when he was lying when he told her that everything was fine. Something was going on, and just as ever Yuri was trying to deal with it on his own, and trying to shield her from the consequences.
Yuri had always been so protective, so caring, so loving. It was why at first when she had heard rumours of the affair that she couldn’t believe them. Yuri, her Yuri, would never hurt her, and never betray her, she had told herself.
Betrayed, yes that was how she felt that night when she finally confronted him and he had admitted that he had been unfaithful. She had screamed, she had cried, she had even hit him, and he took it all. When she told him to leave the house and never come back he had quietly gone and packed a case, looked in and kissed the sleeping Olga, called for a taxi, and departed.
“Why didn’t you fight back Yuri? Why did you have to be so damn passive?” Dear God how many times had she asked herself that over the years. He hadn’t even attempted to explain himself…why?
“Yes I would have still lost my temper, yes I would have still been unhappy, damn it I’m Russian,” she told herself, “but if he had explained, if he had told me just what happened, then I’d have probably eventually calmed down.”
No he had gone and taken a suite at the Savoy and within a couple of days he had put his solicitors in touch with hers and instructed them what to do if she started divorce proceedings.
By then she was fighting mad, yes she wanted a divorce, and yes she’d fight him tooth and nail over custody of Olga. She was out for revenge by then and she was resolved not only to get everything she could from Yuri, but also to blacken his name with their friends.
Yes she knew she had acted childishly, yes she knew she had been petty, but had his actions really been more mature? She personally thought he’d behaved like a child caught stealing cookies when he had turned sullen and retreated to his safe place at the Savoy. Even at that point she’d have listened if he just talked to her in person. She was in love him, Damn she was still in love with him now.
“What am I going to do,” she said to herself, and then she turned over. Tomorrow, she would visit Olga, and see her for herself…
The Dorchester Hotel
Yuri sighed as he poured a whisky and sat down. His – minder – was outside, and for once he was alone with his thoughts, and his plans.
The sound of his phone ringing took him by surprise, but as he looked at the caller and smiled.
“Well this is unexpected,” he said as he answered the call.
“Yuri it’s Klaus, how did it go?”
“About how I expected,” the Russian said as he sat on the edge of his bed. “We mainly talked about Olga…”
“And?” Klaus interrupted.
“I didn’t tell her,” Yuri made a tiny choking sound as he put his glass down.
“I thought we had agreed that given what is happening it was time you told her?”
“I could not, old friend. It’s safer for her and Olga that they don’t know.”
“They have a right to know what happened, and is happening,” Klaus said quietly. “Hell Yuri - I can’t even tell Juliette, and everyone else involved in Norstar why you were suddenly brought in because of that promise I made back then.”
“For which I’m grateful old friend. Seriously, I need and want your discretion over all this.”
“Sigi was more than upset when she heard you were taking over negotiations for Byushin. She’s wracking her brains trying to figure out why you.”
“I guessed she would be,” Yuri said with a sigh, “but she can no more know just why I’m forced to do this then the woman I love with all my heart, and the daughter I adore.”
“Norstar means an awful lot to several people I love and care for Yuri, and not just because I’m a majority shareholder. My daughters are on their books – do you think I want someone like HIM involved.”
“No – no you do not, and I do not, but what can I do, old friend?”
“You know that if it comes down to a choice between keeping your secret, and helping them beat off Byushin, that my likely choice will be to tell what I know?”
“Yes I know that you will do what you have to do Klaus.” Yuri took a moment, “I’m just hoping that I can manipulate this somehow so that things get settled with the minimum of fuss and damage to people’s lives.”
“Wasn’t that what you said back then? How did that turn out Yuri?’
“I know, my stupidity hurt a lot of people I loved.”
“Worst of all you hurt yourself.”
“You know I still just want to protect her. With all due regards to Juliette she remains the most beautiful woman I ever met.”
“Well on that maybe we need agree to disagree Yuri,” Klaus laughed lightly, “but truthfully your decision to take all this upon yourself was wrong from the start. Tatiana loved you, I think she still does, you should have told her what was happening, and together you could have put things right.”
“I couldn’t, and still can’t put hers and Olga’s life in danger. ‘They’ watch me, they watch her, for all I know they are listening to this conversation.”
“All the more reason that you seek asylum from the British government and tell them everything. I know Kay Cornwall at MI6 if you need a contact?”
“I know you do, and by the way, Agnes McAdam was having dinner at the Savoy tonight with Donald Fitzstuart, and Francesca di Cambrello.”
“Agnes? Did she recognise you?”
“Possibly – but she would not say anything either. Her legendary discretion.”
“She and Kay are old college friends. Yuri, she may be a friend to have.”
“Possibly – and I must say, she looks good. And then there is the Marchesa – she is a difficult person to read. Do you know the rumours about her?”
“You don’t believe the Blonde Idiot line, do you?”
“I never have done – which makes her dangerous as well. Klaus, I will be careful, I promise – but I need to take small, delicate steps.”
“Just be careful Yuri…”
The Burton Apartment
“That was an amazing day,” Vicky said as she and Allison slumped into the chairs, “but I am bushed.”
“Me too,” Mel said as Erica carried in the pizza boxes.
“Right – eat up, and I’ll put a film on,” she said as Eva and Mary Clark looked in, and then made their way to the kitchen where Denice and Mary Thomas were sitting.
“Well, they seem happy enough,” Mary said as they sat at the table, “but I get the feeling they will both fall asleep as soon as they go to bed tonight.”
“Ai – but they did good work today,” Mary said with a smile. “And I have to admit, the three of them together made a good team.”
“Even I could see that,” Eva said as she sipped her wine, “and I am so proud of my little girl. They all deserve this down time.”
“Oh I agree,” Denice said with a smile as she put the large casserole in the centre of the table, and then the bread on a platter. “So, Lamb Casserole with potatoes and bread.”
“Smells delicious,” Mary said with a smile. As Denice put the food into bowls, Eva said “so what happens on these skiing trips?”
“As a rule,” Denice said with a smile, “the oldsters get to ski and eat well, the youngsters get to, in the words of the Rochermann twins, PAR-TAY!”
“Have you ever been, Mary?”
“Not for that, no,” Mary Thomas said with a smile, “me on skis? But I did go up for Juliette’s pre-wedding weekend. That was a fun weekend.”
“So the lodges?”
“Adults get double bedrooms, the girls dorms – but they don’t spend too much time there, as they themselves put it…”
The von Furstenheim Apartment
The main room was in darkness, Juliette and Klaus out for dinner, but then there was a thin chink of light as the apartment door opened and closed. The two men looked at each other, before one said in Russian “so this is where the major shareholder lives?”
“In this country, yes – did you see the file?”
“Oh yes – a castle and home near Munich, and other places. Others can deal with that – we are charged with searching this place.”
“Very well then – you head up to the bedrooms, I will search here – and remember, take copies and replace. Nothing must go missing.”
As he nodded and made his way to the staircase, his colleague walked across to the door that led to the library, opening the door and walking in as he looked round. He then took the satchel he was wearing off, opening it and taking out two small devices which he hid around the room.
He then looked at a filing cabinet and produced from his pocket a set of lockpicks, working quickly before he opened it and started to look through the files in the drawers.
“Must be the nursery,” the second man said as he looked at the room, the small bed and two cots against the walls and the toy chests open. He then walked down the hallway and entered the master bedroom, nodding as he opened the doors and looked in the closet.
“This is where you know she is and was a model,” he said quietly as he turned – and then slumped to the floor, the tranquilizer dart sticking into his chest.
As he was preparing to leave the library, he heard the telephone ring and waited.
“I’m afraid we are not in at the moment,” he heard Juliette say, “please leave a message.”
“Forgive the call at this hour,” the female voice said with a German accent, “but I need to report an attempt to break into the Munich townhouse, your highnesses. Nothing has been taken, and the two persons concerned have been apprehended and are currently with the police. I would ask you to call me when you return – I shall be awake.”
As the call ended, the man shook his head. So they had been unsuccessful there – they should have anticipated an advanced security system. In fact, he was amazed the alarm system for this apartment had been so easy to circumvent.
It was as he left the room that he realised his mistake, as he felt the pressure against his back and heard a female voice said “very slowly, get on your knees, hands behind your head.”
“I think not,” he said as he suddenly turned round, the edge of his hand hitting the black clad woman on the shoulder as she tried to step out of the way.
He felt the sudden pain in the arm and turned, looking at the dart before he too slumped to the floor.
“You all right, Samantha?”
“I’ll live, April,” the second woman said as she held her arm, April nodding as she went and opened the door. Turning the light on, the black clad woman smiled as George Simpson walked in, along with two other women pushing a trolley.
“Who are they?”
“No idea – but they were speaking Russian.”
“Very well then – have them taken to the police,” George said as the man was lifted into the basket on the trolley, April and Samantha walking up the stairs and then carrying the second man down. As they pushed the trolley out, George smiled as he saw Juliette and Klaus come back in.
“George? What happened?”
“We detected intruders,” he said as he looked at them, “and under the security arrangement with Jameson Security, we stopped them and will deliver them to the police, along with recordings of their activities in your apartment.”
“Was anything taken,” Klaus asked as he took his coat off.
“You may wish to check,” George said to April and Samantha, “please, accompany the Prince on his look round.”
As the three of them left, George looked at Juliette. “I’m going to do a bug sweep – they were speaking Russian Juliette.”
“Were they now – will you inform Caroline?”