Dancing in The Dark – Part 7
Thursday 8th December
It was a strange gathering for Krys – Abby de Ros on one side of her, and Grace Brand on the other, with Grace’s brother and Jeannie sitting at the table as well.
“So which of you is taller Abigail, you or Karlie Kloss?” Krys asked out of interest as she swallowed some Fettuccine Alfredo. All of them were casually dressed.
“Probably me by a fraction of an inch,” Abby said with a smile, “but it’s close.”
“You are the two tallest supermodels?”
“I guess so,” Abby smiled, “and you need to know that the term ‘we’ use is top girls, not supermodels Krys.”
“Ah – right. I had better remember that.”
“Well seeing you are going to be one, then yes.” Grace smiled.
“I am?” Tommy was incredulous at what was happening – that Krys was being accepted in this way, and he was aware of the way Mick Gresham-Fox was looking at her. “Anyway to what do I owe this invitation to dinner with you all?”
“Missy wanted us to talk to you,” Jeannie said with a smile, “and answer any questions you have on what’s likely to happen at the shoot.”
“And I just tagged along because it does my image no harm at all to be seen with so many beautiful women,” Michael Gresham-Fox laughed lightly.
“So any questions?” Jeannie asked.
“Oh a few,” Krys thought, “mainly about posing, I’ve been practicing in the mirror, but will I get direction from the photographer?”
“From Jack? Then yes,” Abby wiped her mouth, “he will tell you just what he wants, and he’s pretty good with beginners.”
“Just always remember to tilt your chin up slightly,” Grace added, “Jack loves nice, long, necks.”
“Okay,” Krys stored the hint in her mind as she sipped her wine.
“Do you know what some of the setups will be?” Abby asked.
“Well a couple I know have me tied up.”
“That’s in character for Lady Dorothy,” Jeannie nodded. “In that case, you need to work off whoever the extras are who will be in the pictures. Again Jack is pretty expert at this type of thing, just listen and try doing what he says.”
“If it’s not being rude,” Abby asked, “who is doing the ropework.”
“Maureen Gardiner – do you know her?”
“Yeah – you know Sandy and Heather, right?”
Krys nodded as Abby said “Maureen’s daughter married Sandy’s ex-husband – but she died a year or two back.”
“I didn’t know she was doing that,” Jeannie said, “but there’s added safety in a woman doing that to you – and trust me, Jack and Luke will keep a close eye on things.”
“If I can just add something, can I say I think you will look amazing Krys,” Michael smiled broadly, “and then also add that I’ve never met a micro-biologist before who is so beautiful.”
“Thank you,” Krys blushed. “It means a lot from someone as distinguished as yourself.”
“Oh I just look good in exotic places on TV.”
“Don’t you hold a Phd from Cambridge as well though?
“Damn – got me there,” Mick said with a laugh, “but that just means I get to speak at academic conferences.” Wiping his chin, he said “I hear they have a nightclub downstairs – who wants to have a dance?”
“I need to take the lift down,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself back, “but if one of you comes with me, the others can go and get a table.”
“I’ll pay,” Grace said, “if you can go with her, Abby, Mick can take Krys down with himself.”
“My pleasure,” Mick said as he stood up and walked to the entrance area with Krys.
“She looks as if she’s ready,” Jeannie said with a smile.
“For the shoot or for my brother, BS?”
Grace shook her head as she put her credit card down and the waiter took it off, watching the others head for the dance floor.
“Good music,” Grace said, “if a little young for my tastes.”
“And what would be old for your tastes,” Abby said as Jeannie grinned.
“No comment,” Grace answered as she shook her head, watching as Mick carried a tray of drinks back.
“I’m amazed your wife lets you out,” Krys said as she accepted a drink.
“Oh she understands,” Mick said as he sat down, “she is my one true love, and she always will be.”
“Despite what the gossip columns say?”
“I’m human – but I do take care,” Mick said as he winked at Krys, Grace looking at him.
“Are we not all?”
“Exactly – want to dance?”
“Why not,” Krys said as she walked onto the dance floor with Mick, Abby watching as she said “what does his wife do again?”
“Teaching – in fact, two Gaunts, a Cuthbertson and a Mahan-Gaunt are in her class.”
“Ouch – and she knows of this?”
“I hope so – because she’s arriving tomorrow with said girls…”
From his table, Byushin watched the couple start to dance. He recognised the model from the store, and so did his companion – but she was compliant, she would say nothing. He had heard about the meeting with the two women, and he – was not too happy.
He needed this time to relax – he would need to have words with that lawyer sent to him tomorrow when he arrived, and then he had to take care of some other matters. He needed to let the tension go, and the blonde was still taking his eye.
But, the way that man was dancing with her – Krys, that was her name – the way he was getting closer…
“You know, you are handsome in a rugged way,” Krys said with a smile as they danced.
“Why thank you – so what do you spend your down time doing?”
“Two jobs at the moment – you?”
“Admiring beauty,” Mick said as he leaned forward and kissed Krys on her lips. “Was that too forward?”
“No – you can do it again if you want.”
Mick nodded as they kissed, both of them closing their eyes and not seeing the photographer taking a picture.
“You sense that?”
Grace looked at Abby and Jeannie as they both nodded, and then looked on the dance floor to see the photographer taking more pictures of Krys and Mick, both ignorant of his presence.
“Dammit,” Grace whispered as she motioned to one of the attendants, and pointed the photographer out. “How do I explain this to Angela?”
“His wife,” Grace said as the photographer was escorted from the floor – and then she saw a tall, fair haired man walking over to Mick and Krys.
“Good evening,” he said to them in a Russian accent, “may I have this dance?”
Krys recognised the man, but Mick looked at him and said “no you may not – I am dancing with her.”
“I said I wished to dance with her.”
Krys smiled as she said “it’s all right,” but Mick shook his head and stood between them.
“Do yourself a favour, mate – piss off.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Get stuffed, leave us alone – or do I have to make you?”
“It would be a serious mistake if…”
Byushin then felt the fist on his jaw, before he struck back, Krys stepping back as she watched the two men start to fight.
“Back to the table, NOW!”
She nodded as Abby led her back, Grace watching the two men before security stepped in – and a police officer came over.
“Oh great – girls, the night out is over, Krys you need your bed.”
“Not the first time he’ll have spent the night in the cells…”
Diana noticed the worried look on Shirley’s face as she came in, and said “Shirley, is something wrong?”
“Diana I hate to ask this,” Shirley said quietly, “but can you contact Brooke?”
“I’d rather not Shirley, she still isn’t well. Why do you ask?”
“Because Grace just phoned,” Shirley said as she turned her back to the room, “her brother has been arrested after getting in a fight with a man in a night club, and she wants someone to help her get him out.”
“Now I wonder what caused this mess?” Francesca looked at her device as she joined the conversation.
“Yes it seems according to one of Caroline’s girls who was tailing him, that friend Byushin just got arrested after getting in a fight in a club.”
“Oh I know the man he got in a fight with then,” Madame laughed, “it was Grace’s brother Michael. She just rang me looking for Brooke to go help get him out.”
“Any idea what the fight was about?” Diana asked.
“A woman it seems,” Francesca again looked at her device, “seems she was dancing with this other man when Byushin demanded she dance with him…”
“And Michael defended the woman.” Shirley nodded.
“It wasn’t Abby they were fighting about was it?” Diana suddenly looked worried.
“No – the model they were meeting, Krys?”
“At any rate, I presume she need some support?”
“Indeed – but if Blair is still unwell…”
“I overheard,” Clare said behind them. “Tom is home – tell me where they are, I’ll get him to go down.”
“No, Cherie Clare – I will go and see if Blair can help first,” Diana said as she smiled, and left them to talk…
“This is her home?”
“You’ve been to her place in Chelsea,” Zoe Bolton said to Hannah White and Claire Teal as they stood, wine in hands and looking round, “does it surprise you she would live somewhere like this in New York?”
“Not really,” Claire said, “but this must have cost a fortune. Just how much is she worth?”
“A lot,” Hannah said quietly, “it’s Sandra, isn’t it?”
“It is – I’m glad you were all able to come over today,” Sandra said as she looked at them, “we wanted you to help us out with something…”
“Itzy, Helga – thank you for coming tonight,” Shirley said as she embraced the South African and the Swede, before whispering “we may need your help – stand ready…”
“We serve the Heart and the Strength,” the African princess said, “what is the problem?”
“You may not have heard, but a business I have a tangential interest in is under threat from certain Russian parties. Forces suggest a possible confrontation this weekend…”
As she brushed her teeth Krys looked at her reflection in the mirror and pondered what had happened. Two men had actually got in a fight over her, and it seemed a photographer had snapped pictures of her kissing ‘Mad Mick’.
“It’s sure to be all over the papers in the morning,” she said aloud then sighed. “Is all this getting out of hand?”
Had she enjoyed kissing Mike? Well it certainly hadn’t been unpleasant, and she had loved the way he’d stood up to the Russian on her behalf.
“Just a pity he’s married, he is just so handsome, and…”
“Okay now I have to butt in,” suddenly Tommy’s voice sprang into her head, “are you seriously thinking about him like this?”
“I guess I am – what do you think Holly would say?”
Before Tommy had a chance to answer, the telephone rang and Krys picked up the handset.
“Krys? Heather – I hear you caused some fun again tonight.”
“Well, maybe a little – who told you?”
“Abby – anyway, good luck tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Heather,” Krys purred as she ended the call, and headed to bed…
31st Precinct House
The desk sergeant looked up as the main doors opened, and two women walked in. The tall blonde, immaculately dressed, was a stranger to him – but the other woman with her, dressed in a leather jacket over a jumper and jeans, he did recognise.
“Your Honour,” he said as Brooke walked over with Diana, “what brings you down here tonight?”
“I was asked by a friend to call,” Brooke said quietly, “and see what could be done to get her brother out of the cage.”
“Not your usual area, Judge Hatton?”
“I know, but needs must.”
“Okay then,” he said as he looked at the screen, “name?”
“Oh yeah – here we are, affray and criminal damage – funny, the other guy brought in has his lawyer here as well.”
“Yeah – here they come now. Guess they got bail sorted out.”
Diana and Brooke turned and looked as Oleg Byushin came up from the holding area, his face red with anger, and Yuri Makarov walked behind him.
“Your client knows he will have to appear tomorrow afternoon before the bench?”
“He does, Sergeant,” Yuri said as he nodded, “and he will be there, ready to apologise fully.”
“Good – you have a good night now,” the sergeant said as Oleg stared at the other two women, then walked out without saying a word.
“Charming man,” Diana said as she shook her head.
“So – Mister Gresham-Fox?”
“Bail is set at ten thousand dollars – and as a visitor, he will need to check in twice a day to make sure he is still here.”
“Do not concern yourself on that count, officer,” Diana said with a smile, “his sister will ensure he calls tomorrow, and I understand his wife is flying over. By all accounts, she is a most formidable woman.”
The sergeant shook his head as he turned to a colleague. “Get the Brit up here – he’s got a high placed legal friend.”
“Thank you Sergeant – I appreciate it,” Brooke said with a smile.
“I heard you were unwell – the flu?”
“Yeah – really bad case, but hopefully I’m getting better,” Brooke said with a smile.
“Yeah – it does waste you at times, doesn’t it? You make sure you get better – you’re one of the good guys,” he said as Mike Gresham-Fox came up, holding his jacket.
“So you are my rescuers? I know you’re Diana de Ros – your charming daughter is home safely?”
“She is – this is Judge Brooke Hatton, who has arranged your release.”
“On bail – you need to report here tomorrow morning, and in court tomorrow at…”
“I understand your wife will meet us there, according to Grace,” Diana said with a smile.
“Oh deep joy – first big sis, and then Amanda. My cup runneth over…”
Friday 9th December
10 am GMT
Heathrow, Terminal 5
“There you are,” Paula said as she saw Eve walk in with Liz and Kits, while Olga walked quickly over to where her mother was sitting. All four girls were wearing their school tracksuits and trainers, Catriona Cuthbertson shaking her head as she said “we need our heads examined.”
“Oh don’t worry – we are suffering on this flight,” Kits said as Tamsin saw a tall, blonde haired woman, wearing a grey trouser suit and a white blouse, walk in with a carry case. She looked at the girls, then set her case next to a chair before heading to the coffee area.
“Mrs Gresham-Fox? Just how much work has she given you?”
“Enough to know we’re not watching the film on the plane over,” Kits said with a sigh.
“Your geography teacher,” Tatiana said as Olga sipped on her cold drink.
“I know,” Olga said as she put her glass down, “but when the other girls managed to get a pass, the school insisted she came as well. I hear her husband might be out there anyway – so, we are staying with Aunt Juliette and Uncle Klaus?”
“Indeed – and we get to see her grandchildren as well, they are going to be there for dinner tonight.”
As Amanda Gresham-Fox sipped her coffee, she watched the two groups carefully. She had not intended to come as well, but three messages over the last three days had changed her mind.
First, the headmistress felt that with four senior girls out of class, some “adult supervision” as she had put it was required.
Then her old friend ha dcalled – she genuinely had not followed recent news, but with certain people in New York at the same time, it was important she was there as well.
And then there was the small matter of the early call from Grace – who she genuinely liked – and she needed to have a few choice words with Mick…
“Cas, is that who I think it is over there?”
The brown haired woman looked across at the woman, and said quietly “well, is it isn’t, she had a double walking round. What do you think she is doing here?”
“Look where she is looking.”
She followed her eyesight, and then said “interesting – I didn’t know she was a sister.”
“I don’t think she is – we need to talk to Little Mother when we land…”
As Maisha walked into the kitchen, she was surprised to see Shirley already up and dressed, wearing a blue roll neck sweater and blue pants.
“Good morning, Mum,” she said with a smile, “could you not sleep either?”
“Actually,” Shirley said with a smile, “I have some meetings this morning before I prepare for tomorrow – but before that, I have an important visitor joining us for breakfast.”
“Oh – and that is?”
“Them arriving now,” Shirley said as the doorbell rang, “would you let them in please?”
“Of course,” Maisha said as she drew her dressing gown round herself, and walked to the door, looking through the spyhole and nodding before she opened the door.
“Hello Uncle John – please, come in.”
“Thank you, Maisha,” John Jacobs said with a smile as he came in, “I trust I did not wake you?”
“No – but perhaps it is better if I change before we eat. Mum is waiting in the kitchen – if you wish to go and join her?”
“I think that’s a plan,” John said as he hung his coat in the closet, the dark jacket over the white sweater, as he walked into the kitchen and said “that smells divine.”
“Uncle John,” Shirley said as she walked quickly over and hugged him, “how was the flight yesterday?”
“Mercifully quiet – Coco is meeting up with me later,” John said as he sat at the breakfast bar, and took a mug of coffee. “So – excited?”
“Does it show?”
“Just a little,” John said with a smile, “where is that man of yours anyway?”
“Right here,” John Hammond said a she came in, and shook John’s hand. “I’ll pack my bag later and decamp to the hotel for the night.”
“As it should be,” Shirley said as she handed John a mug of coffee. “I have some of the girls staying tonight, as well as Ama with Maisha, so that Kylie and the others can get to work on us.”
“Sandra and Madeline?”
“Staying out of the way,” Shirley laughed as Maisha came in, wearing a pair of jeans and a grey sweatshirt. “So, Eggs Benedict good for everyone?”
As Caroline sat on one side of the conference table, she glanced over at George, who was sitting, smiling, his arms folded as he watched Sharon Kennedy looking over the contents of the file.
“I have to admit,” Sharon said with a smile as she put the file down, “you seem to have covered everything.” The young woman was wearing a black jersey dress and knee length boots, while Caroline was wearing a grey jumper under a blue trouser suit, George in his usual three piece suit, the blue tie tied under the collar of his shirt.
“Nice to see you still have a good eye,” George said with a smile as he stood up, “I concur, which makes the job tomorrow easier.”
“So what is my role tomorrow, Boss,” Sharon said as she sat back, and crossed her legs.
“There’s a couple of late guests coming,” Caroline said as she passed a file over, Sharon opening and looking at it.
“I recognise Tatiana Ulyanova,” Shaorn said as she looked up, “I presume the other photo is her daughter?”
“Indeed, Olga, a final year student at Benenden school,” George said. “They have been invited to New York for the weekend by Juliette and Klaus, and will attend Shirley and John’s wedding tomorrow.”
“We have reason to believe, however,” Caroline aid quietly, “that they are considered by parties we work for to be under risk. We need you to be the silent shadow on them tomorrow.”
“Will I be alone?”
“No – others will be watching, but we need you to be the first line. I think you may be antsy for a little action?”
“Perhaps –but we don’t want to disrupt Madame’s wedding, do we?”
“No we do not,” George said with a smile.
“Do I get to know why they are considered to be in danger?”
“Get comfy,” Caroline said as a pot of coffee was brought in, “we have a story to tell…”
“Hey – come on in,” Emma said as she held the apartment door open, Lily coming in with Penny and Helen, “get some sleep?”
“Fortunately, yes,” Lily said with a smile, “these two, on the other hand…”
“We had a little catching up to do,” Penny laughed as Helen shook her head. “Thanks for inviting us over for brunch.”
“Well, we do have two others here,” Maddie said as she looked out from the main room, “come on in.”
As the three friends walked in, they saw Tracey and Rhenia sitting there as well.
“Got the day off, Rhenia?”
“The weekend actually – Missy insisted,” Rhenia said with a smile. “Susan sends her apologies, she and April are spending some time with her mother.”
“Of course she is – what do we have?”
“Pastries, OJ and coffees – sit, sit, let’s talk…”
Yuri was sitting in the café, looking out over the ice rink. After he had been summoned to the station house last night, and had arranged for Byushin to be released, he had spent a – fairly unpleasant hour listening to his rants, before he had calmed down sufficiently to dismiss the lawyer, reminding him to be there at noon the next day to advise him.
At least he had managed to get a few hours’ sleep, but as he sipped his coffee, he knew there was a very busy day ahead – and given the flight that was arriving early this afternoon, he had other worries to consider.
“You look almost as handsome as when we last met, Yuri?”
He smiled as he saw Missy Auerbach standing there, a grey great coat over her high boots. “And you look as wonderful as always, Missy – how do you manage it? And do not say clean living.”
“Given my health scare a few months ago, I would not dare,” Yuri said as he watched her sit opposite him, and he motioned the waitress over. “May I get you a coffee?”
“Thank you – latte, pumpkin spiced,” Missy said, the waitress nodding as she walked off.
“Well, here we are,” Yuri said with a smile.
“Indeed – so forgive me, Yuri, but I do need to ask one question.”
“And that is?”
Missy leaned forward, her hands together, her fingers under her chin, as she whispered “just what the fuck do you think you are doing, working for that man, trying to take my business away from me?”
Smiling – and Missy could see it was a sad smile, Yuri said “sometimes, my dear Missy, we all do things we would rather not do.”
“Ai, that’s true – but seriously Yuri, this is beyond the pale.”
“It is good to see you as well Mary,” Yuri said as he saw Mary Thomas standing there, her cardigan and long skirt visible under her great coat, “Miss, another black coffee, if you please.”
Mary took a seat next to Missy, before she said “so, we talk of the old days, and wait for the Marchesa to eviscerate Byushin – legally of course?”
“Shall we make a compact? For a while, let us put aside my current – assignment, shall we say – and talk of Paris and the old days? I have been thinking a lot of them over the last few days.”
Missy and Mary said nothing as their coffees were brought over, before the Welsh woman said “Ai, those were good days – you and Tatiana, Juliette and Klaus, Diana and whatever young man had taken her fancy that week…”
Yuri laughed, as he said “indeed – and you and Fiona as the mother hens. I was sorry to hear of her passing – she was a good woman.”
“Ai, she was – a very special lady,” Mary said with a smile. “you know she wrote a book?”
“So I have heard, and I have heard of her bequest – a most noble move, and one that may have prompted my recent thinking,” Yuri said before he took a drink from his cup. “I hope to meet Klaus later tonight – perhaps I can get a sneak peek?”
“I don’t think so, not with Juliette writing the foreword and handling the editorial side,” Missy said with a smile. “Yuri – how are you really?”
“Really? Very tired – so let me say what I have to say to you first Missy. I do what I am doing because I am required to – and that does not mean I have to like what I am doing. I have no desire to see my – client – owning the agency, even as I must represent his needs.”
“But surely you can get out of this, Yuri?”
“I cannot – and I cannot say why I cannot. But I want to say to you I am sorry you and NorStar have had to deal with this intrusion into your business. And Mary – if Fiona was here, she would have already torn some strips off me.
“And she would be right to do so, as you would be. They are, and have always been, your little chicklets Mary – so forgive me that they have been hurt by what has happened. I have always held you in the highest regard as a friend.”
“Well, I will admit, that has been sore tested, but thank you for what you said,” Mary said quietly. “So, will you see Tatiana and Olga while they are here?”
“I wish I could, but,” Yuri said as he looked at his watch, “I am on a short leash. I ask one more favour.”
“And that is?”
Reaching inside his jacket, Yuri took out two thin brown envelopes and handed one to each of them. “I pray you never have to open these, but I have the strangest feeling a change is coming – I ask you to hold these securely, and if something happens to me, open them and do what is asked for inside.”
“Yuri,” Missy said quietly, “are you in trouble?”
“I do not think so, but you know me Missy – as a lawyer I am always cautious, always prepared,” Yuri said as he drained his cup and stood up. “Say hello to them for me when you see them.”
Missy and Mary watched as he left the café, and then looked at each other.
“Are you expecting anyone else,” Penny asked as there was a knock on the apartment door.
“I am actually,” Maddie said as she stood up and walked into the hallway, returning a few minutes later with a thin, dark haired woman. Sandy looked at her for a moment, then stood slowly as she said “Lucia – you made it then”
“I did,” she said with a smile as they embraced. “Maddie knew I was coming, and so invited me to join you.”
Jack Linklater’s Studio
“Well now,” Jack said as he looked round, Luke holding the doors open, “this is a sight for these tried old eyes.”
“Less of the old, Jack,” Nessa said as she, Paulie, Glenda and Lee came in, all wearing jumpers and pants, “or do I have to call Alex in?”
“I presumed he was going to see the happy bride and groom before tomorrow,” Jack said with a smile.
“On which note – are you prepared yet,” Paulie said.
“Not a chance,” Luke said with a laugh, “he was up until the early hours this morning writing his speech.”
“But I am awake, I am alert, I am ready – where are my evil henchmen?”
“You called, Boss?”
Jack looked at the two tall, board shouldered men who came into the studio, wearing smart suits, shirts, ties and fedoras.
“Ah my heart doth sing,” Jack said as Luke shook his head. “Maureen, my dear?”
“Good morning ladies,” Maureen Gardener said as she walked in, wearing a black sweater and tight stirrup pants, a pair of black soft boots pulled up over her lower legs. “So what is the scenario here, Jack?”
“First, meet our special guest for today,” Luke said as Krys came in, wearing a cream coloured jacket over a fifties style floral print dress, a hat perched on her blonde hair.
“Welcome,” Jack said with a smile as he looked at the latest arrival, who was looking at the other women in the room. “don’t worry about them – if they misbehave, I have the negatives from past shoots. Nervous?”
“Does it show?”
“A little, but don’t worry – come and have a little chat with me…”
As Luke took her to one side, Maureen opened a Perspex box, and started to take out several skeins of rope, shaking them loose and doubling them over before she arranged them on the top of the box.
“That’s a lot of rope,” Nessa said as she walked over to have a look.
“I know – but they want it to be realistic, so we do need this much rope. I’ll talk to Krys before I begin, let her know what is involved - key words, things like that.”
Nessa nodded as Mo said “so, is everything set for the reception tomorrow?”
“I think so – the menu is set, so all we can do now is wait for the happy occasion.”
“Is David joining you?”
“He should be – I am certainly looking forward to it…”
“Right, gentlemen,” Jack said as he looked at them, “kindly get yourselves in position. Krys, I want you to walk in and look round, then react to what happens, all right?”
“Okay then,” Krys nodded as she walked in, looking round as she leaned forward, rememberin to stretch her neck out as Jack started to take photographs.
“Good, good, look at me now… Good… Gentlemen, when you are ready…”
Krys was actually surprised when she was grabbed from the side, one of the men putting oen arm round her and his gloved hand over her mouth, as Jack said “that’s fantastic, great reaction, try to get free… Wonderful. Now, Madame Gardener – you need to do your work.”
As the men let Krys go, Mo brought a wooden chair over and sat it in the middle of the floor. “All right, Krys,” she said with a smile, “sit in the chair, get comfortable. Once I start, if at any time you want me to stop, just say “enough” and I will stop until you are comfortable. Let me know when you are ready.”
Krys nodded as she sat down, and took several deep breaths before she said “I’m ready – what do I need to do?”
“Please, put your arms round the chair back and interlock our fingers. Then relax – I promise, this is not going to hurt.”
“Here we go,” Glenda said as Mo knelt behind the chair, and wrapped a length of the soft rope round Krys’ wrists, securing them together uikly before she tied the ends to a spar in the chair back.
Krys wriggled her fingers – she had been quick, but Maureen Gardener knew what she was doing – her wrists were locked together, and to the chair back, and now as the rope went round her upper body, Mo winding it through the spars of the chair back, she felt her body as it was held firmly in place.
“You really do know what you are doing,” Lee said as Mo started to take a drink of water. “What started your interest in this?”
“Been held naked with the end of a sawnoff shotgun in your mouth – kind of gives you a new perspective on life,” Mo said as she looked at Lee and Glenda, both of them with their eyes wide open.
“She’s not lying – Sandy was at their home when the Pussycat Gang struck,” Nessa said quietly.
“Oh my goodness – I saw the film….” Lee said quietly.
“It got close, but a film could never convey the real terror,” Mo said quietly as she knelt down and bound Krys’ ankles together, then took them to the side and tied the ends round the front leg of the chair.
“How are you holding up?”
“Surprisingly well, I think,” Krys said. It was surprisingly comfortable as well, as Mo bound her legs together below her knees, and then stood up.
“Okay for you, Jack?”
“Looks good – boys, got the scarf ready?”
“Detective gag – just stay calm and open your mouth,” Mo said as she stood back, Krys nodding as one of the men pulled the rolled up white scarf between her lips, and then round her head.
“now,” Jack said with a smile, “shall we begin…”
The Waldorf Astoria
“There you are,” Will Fitzstuart said as he saw his brother walk in, “where are the girls today?”
“Aggie took them to the Metrop,” Donald Fitzstuart said as he sat at the bar, “so where’s Mandy?”
“Gone with Juliette to meet her guests off the plane,” Will said as the barman poured two whiskeys. “So – I hear the 25th?”
“Indeed – combination wedding breakfast and Burns Supper. Word is Shelagh has the menu planned already.”
“Balmoral Chicken – with some exceptions,” Donald said with a smile. “So, what else is going to happen this weekend?”
“How do you mean,” Will said with a smile.
“Well, take a look over there.”
Donald turned to see Kay and Agnes talking quietly to each other in the lobby, then smiling as Mandy joined them.
“Always remember, Donnie – in just over a month, it is her turn. This weekend it is John and Shirley – let’s hope nothing else happens…”
As the door was opened, Yuri nodded to the large, smartly dressed man who was standing inside the room, and then looked at Oleg Byushin as he stood by the window, looking out across the city.
“Sir,” Yuri said quietly, “we need to be on our way soon to address the court.”
“And what do you advise?”
“To admit you lost your temper, and express regret, possibly offer to pay for the damages. From what I know of city law, if you do this, you should be spared further embarrassment.”
Oleg nodded as he turned round, and said “NorStar – do you think we will have an opportunity to meet people this weekend?”
“Not without causing potential personal embarrassments, sir,” Yuri said quietly, “almost all of the interested parties are attending a wedding this weekend.”
“That of Major Sir John Hammond, the photographer, and Shirley Xavier, the head of Xavier International.”
Yuri noted the slight note of concern in his employer’s voice, before he said “indeed, the opportunity may not arise this weekend. I will be staying for a few more days – I hope the opportunity may arise later in the week. Having said which, Makarov…”
“Why did you meet with Missy Auerbach and Mary Thomas this morning?”
“They are old friends, sir – I wished to take the opportunity to make contact with them while I am here. All communications with regard to the formal bid process for NorStar are fed through the offices of Di Cambrello Consultants.”
“You have met with the Marchesa?”
“In London last week – a forceful character, but she is playing by the book at the moment.”
Byushin looked closely at Makarov, before he said “very well then – after the court case, there is another matter I need your assistance with. I will tell you of it after this disagreeable meeting. You will take the lead?”
“Of course, Mr Byushin,” Yuri said as he inclined his head, watching as Oleg put his jacket on. As he did so, one thought was in his mind.
He could not let him have control of something that meant so much to so many – but how to stop him, and maintain his own position?
“Thank you Maisha,” Alex Richmond said as he passed the young woman his plate, “it’s always a pleasure to eat with good friends.”
“You are welcome Father Richmond,” Maisha said with a smile as she took the plates to the dishwasher. “I will be in my room until Aunt Madeline and Aunt Sandra come to the apartment.”
“Thank you Maisha,” Shirley said with a smile as her daughter walked off.
“The African trip does seem to have made her grow more mature,” Alex said with a smile.
“It certainly did something,” John said as he handed Alex a mug of coffee. “So, I think we are ready for tomorrow?”
“I think so,” Shirley said as she sat back, “Uncle John will come here tomorrow morning, while you and Jack meet with the men folk in the hotel. In fact, there’s only really one question I need the answer for.”
“I know the question,” John said as he sat down and smiled, “and you’ll just have to trust me.”
Alex raised an eyebrow as Shirley just shook her head…
“So you’re good for next weekend, Mel,” Erica said as she sipped her drink.
“Yeah – home for the weekend, then the ski lodges next weekend – the perfect way to start the holidays.” Biting into her wrap, she swallowed before she said “so you’re going to the wedding tomorrow?”
“Yeah – with Mom a member of RCM Racing, and Miss Xavier a major sponsor, we were all invited. I think a few others are coming as well…”
“They’re here,” Pepsi said as she looked at Doc.
“Just touched down – they’re going to go to the hotel, and unpack – but apparently the educationally approved escort has to go somewhere else after she had checked in…”
“Relax, Ju lass, they’ll be through in a few minutes,” Mary Thomas said as she stood there, Mandy smiling as she shook her head.
“I know, but – there she is,” Juliette said with a smile as she saw Tatiana come through the arrival gates, pushing a luggage trolley as Olga walked beside her. “Welcome to New York, Wormhole – good flight?”
“I can’t complain – unlike my darling daughter,” Tatiana said as Olga hefted her shoulder bag. “She had to work on a history project?”
“Surely you could have left it until later, darling,” Mandy drawled.
“Not with Mrs Gresham-Fox watching,” Olga said as Juliette saw Paula, Tamsin and Catriona walk through with their daughters, and the tall ash blonde who walked out after them.
“The teacher escort?”
“Oh yes,” Olga said as Angela spoke to Catriona, and then walked towards them. “Do I have the honour of addressing Her Serene Highness, Princess Juliette von Furstenheim?”
“I much prefer Juliette – but yes, this is Mary Thomas and Amanda, Marchioness of Ordford. I have a car waiting to take Olga and Tatiana to my apartment.”
“Excellent – I leave them to your care, but I will call to see them later, if that is acceptable.”
“Of course,” Juliette said as Angela looked at her watch. “Forgive me – an appointment I must keep. Until later?”
She walked off as Olga said “I need some coffee.”
“Indeed – come, Clint is waiting at the car…”
New York Municipal Court
As Grace walked into the court room with Mike, both of them smartly dressed, he saw Oleg Byushin sitting with a smartly dressed older man.
“Do you know his lawyer,” Mike whispered into his sister’s ear.
“I do actually – from the old days,” Grace said quietly as she heard the doors open, and glanced round.
“Just how much trouble am I in?”
“From me – not much. Apologise, take the hit. And then you need to apologise.”
“Oh I intend to.”
“Good – and to me?”
Grace had to smile as she saw Mike physically pale, and slowly turn round to see the ash blonde sitting behind him. “Angela – pleasant flight?”
“Pleasant flight, but I need a drink – which we will have when we talk once this is done. Grace.”
“Angela – how were the girls?”
“Busy – as they should be.”
“Good to hear,” Grace said as the usher stood up.
“Court is in session, Judge Daniel Levy in charge. All stand.”
They all stood as the judge walked in, sat down and nodded to the usher.
“Docket number BZ35692 – Oleg Byushin and Michael Gresham-Fox, Affray and Criminal Damage.”
Yuri stood up with Oleg and walked forward, Mike letting out a sigh a she stood, straightened his jacket, and walked forward.
“Do the men have legal representation?”
Yuri nodded as he said “Yuri Markov – Mister Byushin has asked me to speak on his behalf.”
“No, Your Honour,” Mike said, “I have taken legal advice, and intend to admit to the charge.”
“Very well then – you were both arrested after a fight at a nightclub last night. May I know what the disagreement was over?”
“My client had asked me to say the disagreement was over a young woman – a regrettable action on his part, for which he apologises fully, and wishes to accept the judgement of the court.”
“I concur, Your Honour – and also accept responsibility for my part.”
Judge Levy nodded as he glanced at the reports, and then looked at the two men. “Mister Markov, will your client commit to a good behaviour bond?”
“He will, Your Honour,” Yuri said quietly, “and in addition, he offers to make restitution to the establishment in terms of repair costs.”
“I am prepared to do so, Your Honour – and my sister and my wife, who are in attendance, are prepared to commit to ensuring my continued good behaviour during the remainder of my time here.”
Judge Levi looked over, and said “I do recognise Grace Brand – you are Mrs Gresham-Fox?”
“Angela Gresham-Fox, Your Honour,” she said as she stood, “and you have my personal assurance that my husband will not find himself in the same situation again during his stay here.”
“Very well then – you have both shown contrition, and admitted the affray, which is to your credit. I will levy a fine of $1000 each – and you will share the cost of the repairs to the establishment. In addition, I am holding you to the Good Behaviour bond I mentioned, to the value of $10,000 – if either of you are arrested during the remainder of your stay, it becomes immediately payable. Is that understood?”
“It is understood – and on behalf of Mister Byushin, I thank the court for their leniency.”
“So do I, Your Honour.”
“Good,” the judge said as he brought the gavel down, “next case!”
“Come on,” Angela said as she stepped forward and took Mike’s arm, “we need to talk. Grace – is it all right if I come round tonight with my husband?”
“Oh I insist – I need to get back to work anyway.”
“So do I – come on, Mike, you can buy me a drink and tell me what happened…”
The Astoria Waldorf
“I’ll take Frances down, will you be long,” Piet said as he put his daughter into the stroller.
“No – I need to make this call, and then I’ll be down,” Charlotte said as she watched Piet wheel the stroller out, then looked at the document she had been pretending to read.
A few moments later, she heard the light knock on the door, and looked through the spyhole, before she opened the door and let the two women in.
“Greetings, Little Mother.”
“Greetings Icicle, Magda,” Charlotte said before she embraced Jo and Connie. “I’m glad you were both able to come over for the ceremony.”
“Well, we both know who Madame is,” Connie said, “but why us? Is there a problems for the Sisters to address?”
“I hope not – but it never hurts to have extra pairs of eyes. Caroline Jameson is handling the main security, but she does not know who you are, or your role – so you act as the holding line as well as enjoying the ceremony.”
“Of course,” Jo said, “but I need to ask a question – if you cannot answer, then fine, but I have no desire to stand on toes.”
“Of course,” Charlotte said, “what is the question?”
“We saw an – old colleague on the flight over,” Cassie said, “and she was paying particular attention to a group of schoolgirls she was accompanying. I recognised the mothers of two of them – she almost seemed to be their bodyguard. We were wondering – is Angela Gresham-Fox a Sister?”
“No – I do not recognise the name,” Charlotte said quietly, “you say she was accompanying some schoolgirls?”
“Indeed – she is currently the head of Geography at a private school,” Jo said, “but we were in the same group, so she would have been a candidate for certain.”
“Do you know the names of the girls?”
“No – but the mothers I recognised were Catriona Cuthbertson, the barrister, and the Duchess of Lardarn.
Charlotte looked at them, and then said “I see – there is another possibility, but I need to talk with someone else.
“Privately. Until then, enjoy your stay, and I will see you tomorrow. Oh – Teacher and Leader are also here for the wedding – I am sure you will bump into each other…”
The von Furstenheim apartment
Juliette looked round and smiled as Judith came in, wearing her fur parka as she ran into her grandmother’s arms.
“There you are – and where is your mother?”
“Right here,” Carina said as she came in, the concierge putting the cases down and touching his hat before he went out. “Is that fresh coffee I smell?”
“It is – hello there Elmore – and my, you are getting bigger Judith.”
“Fank ew, Aunty Thatheena”, Judith said as she saw Tatiana coming out of the kitchen, and then saw a teenager coming down from the bedrooms.
“Olga, meet half of the rest of my family. Carina, Judith, this is Tatiana’s daughter Olga.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Carina said as she helped Judith to take her coat off. “And where is my darling twin sister?”
“Right behind you,” Ingrid said as she came in and put her bag on the floor.
“AUNTY INGY!” Judith smiled as she reached out and Ingrid took her in her arms. “So you are back for the holiday now?”
“Yes – Presents!”
“Not yet,” Juliette said with a smile. “Annie is going to come round with the twins later – Ama is going to stay with Maisha tonight while Caroline takes care of some business.”
“I luv Wudi and Mags,” Judith said with a smile. “Can I have a drink Grammy?”
“Of course you can,” Juliette said as she took Judith’s hand, and led her to the kitchen.
“So,” Ingrid said as she took her coat off, “the twins are back.”
“Which just leaves the northern contingent…”
The Richmond Mansion
“Ah the sound of eager young minds,” Denice said as she came in the back door to the noise of chatter.
“Indeed – coffee,” Heather said as she handed the latest arrival a steaming mug. “So is this the happy day?”
“It is indeed – I have my final credits, and as of next Wednesday I am a graduate engineer in reality.”
“Well done that girl,” April said with a smile, “so we get to…”
“Hey – sorry we’re late.”
“Well, look who got here,” Sandy said as she watched Jo come in the back door with Clint, carrying her bags, “good to see you as well Clint.”
“Well, I needed a plus one for tomorrow morning, didn’t I,” Jo said as she hugged her sister, “how are things here?”
“Got a lot to catch you up on – but priorities. Coffee.”
“Thanks,” Jo said with a smile as she took the mug, then saw Sands and Katy come in.
“Hey Jo, Bye Jo,” Sands said with a smile as she walked through the kitchen, Katy rolling her eyes as she followed her.
“Was it something I did,” Clint laughed.
“No – she just has plans for tonight,” Heather said with a smile. “So, everybody ready for tomorrow?”
“I guess I know somebody who isn’t,” Caroline said as she sipped from a mug.
“Well, I had best be on my way,” John said as she leaned over and kissed Shirley, “I’ll see you tomorrow morning at the front of the church.”
“Don’t be late,” Shirley said with a smile as she watched her husband to be pick his overnight bag up and leave the apartment, but only after she heard him say “go on in Ama – Maisha is in her room.”
“Thank you, Uncle John,” Ama replied before she looked in the drawing room. “So, the time comes closer Madame.”
“It does indeed Ama – and I have to confess, I am starting to get a little nervous.”
“As it should be,” Maisha said with a smile as she looked in. “Shall I make some coffee?”
“Please – I expect the others to arrive soon, and then we shall order some food in.”
“Allow me to help you,” Ama said as she followed Maisha, waiting until the kitchen door was closed before she said “Uncle John said to tell you the blue case.”
Maisha nodded as she started to put the ground coffee into the machine. “That is good news, Mum will like where she is going…”
The Waldorf Astoria
Angela Gresham-Fox looked over as Eve Gaunt, Liz Cuthbertson and Kit Mahan-Gaunt joined their mothers in the seated area, and then looked back at her husband.
“Okay, I got a little, just a little too close to a beautiful woman – again,” Mike said with a sigh, “but with Big Sis there, flirting was as far as it was going to go – until the Russian tried to muscle in, and it became a case of protecting her honour.”
Sighing, Angela stroked his cheek, and said “that’s why I love you, but there are times…”
“I know, I know – and I’m sorry,” Mike said as he shook his head. “So – you had to play babysitter for these girls?”
“And one other – Olga Markova.”
“Markova – any relation to a Yuri Markov?”
“His daughter – ah, yes, the lawyer for the other party.” As she sipped her drink, she saw two women walk in with two young girls. She recognised the smaller of the two – Agnes, the McAdam of McAdam, and presumed the two girls were her adopted daughters.
The other woman…
“There you are – had fun today, cousins,” Kit said as she saw Laura and Miley coming towards them.”
“Yeah – but we are beat,” Laura said as they sat down, Agnes waving a waiter over and ordering drinks.
“Well, Tom has booked a table for all of us to have dinner together,” Paula said as she looked round, “and then an early night before the ceremony tomorrow. And that goes for all of you as well - any meeting with Pepsi and the others can wait until tomorrow.”
“We cant anyway,” Liz said, “they’re spending tonight with Kylie before she gets to work tomorrow.”
“So,” Eve said with a smile, “in their own immortal words, tomorrow we par-TAY!”
The von Furstenheim Apartment
Judith giggled as she sat looking at the Twins, both of them being fed by Annie and Carina while Tatiana helped Juliette in the kitchen.
“You are so lucky,” she said with a smile, “to have your family together – where is Klaus anyway?”
“He said he would be back by nine – something about a meeting,” Juliette said with a smile, only to stand up as the telephone rang.
She looked round the room before she said “I can’t talk at the moment – I have guests – but I remind you, Mr Byushin, all communications around your bid need to go through di Cambrello Consultants.
“Indeed – good evening.”
As she put the phone done, Tatiana said “Byushin?”
“Yes – he wanted to talk about the bid. That worries me…”
“Thanks for meeting me here,” Yuri said as he examined the paintings.
“I can only stay a moment – I have a dinner appointment, which I am already late for. So let me ask the question.
“Are you secure?”
“I am not sure – today, I have begun to believe something else is going on. I therefore need to know my insurance six fully up to date.”
“It is – we are taking all possible steps, but we pray they are not needed. For now, maintain your position.”
Yuri nodded as he heard the phone go off. “Your dinner appointment?”
“Indeed – I need to go. I pray we do not need to meet again.”
“As do I – and my next meeting is here,” Yuri said as he saw Klaus come into the room. He nodded as the tall, fair haired woman walked away, the phone to her ear as she said “I’m on my way now…”
“Klaus, my old friend – let me tell you a story…”