Fresh Starts – Part 2
Tuesday 28th June
Somewhere over Europe
Lottie Kate?" Maggie Fife asked through the divider as the steward cleared
her meal tray.
Baby Sister got a last minute booking for the show," she glanced fondly at
her 18 year old sister. "Going to be fun working with her again."
"We did a
magazine spread together in Moscow a couple of weeks ago, she's very like you
that a compliment or not?" Kate weighed up the question.
it is Miss Moss," Maggie laughed. "and of course you aren't the only
sisters, the Delevingne girls are on board as
course the von Furstenheim sisters."
is going to be a bit of a sister act isn't it?"
like that," Kate nodded. "By the way who's the kid sitting next to
"Her kid sister Suzy."
“Really? I did not she was a model.”
“She’s not – she’s barely sixteen…”
if the Waterhouse's and the Hadid's were on board I'd be getting a little
suspicious about now." Kate purse her lips.
said she'd see me in Sydney."
where Bella is though."
Immy and Suky Waterhouse
doing this show as well?" Kate asked her friend.
the foggiest, why don't you ask either Mary or Merlin?"
"I might just have to. I smell a Merlin happening…"
Poppy looked up and took off her headset as she looked at Katy.
“Got a minute to grab a coke?”
“Sure,” she said as she stood up and walked down the aisle with Katy, joining Orion and Nikki at the galley.
“So you got hauled onto this flight as well? Why?”
“No idea – Doc, any idea why I’m here?”
“I was as surprised as the others to see both of you,” Anna said as she opened a can of drink. “I’ve heard we may not be the only youngsters there.”
“Curioser and curioser…”
well - Bats is opening her new Sydney store while we are there," Karen said
as she looked up from the inflight magazine.
your first time in the Southern Hemisphere, isn't it Alice?" Olivia asked.
but given the success of the London and Toronto stores I was looking for fresh
markets outside the US that are willing to pay my prices, and Sydney seemed
"A lot of
Sydney women are very chic if I remember," Olivia sipped from her drink.
are," Alice nodded, "I've been to big race meetings down under and
often they out-dress the women in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot."
wouldn't quite say that darling," Mandy drawled.
Sydney works out, what next Bats?"
Melbourne, then Auckland Bandit."
like a plan to me," Olivia looked out the window, "you know this
flying in the dark disorients me so much."
"Well I already set my watch for Sydney time," Karen showed the dial, "I'm simply going to imagine I'm already there."
“So it’s what – Tuesday morning for you now?”
“Indeed – time for a siesta soon…”
"So in the end, you decided not to ask Kristina Pimenova to walk the show Merlin?" Juliette asked as they stood by the galley.
"Ai… She's a beautiful child, but even I think ten and a half years old is a tad early, and anyway when Fiona and I asked Anna she put her foot down and said no."
"We thought the same about offering PTA membership Pelican, but it will be inevitably offered one day."
"Oh I agree with that Mother darling," Juliette nodded, "everyone is calling her the world’s most beautiful child, and it is such a headache deciding is it morally right to use her showing adult fashion?"
"Well as I said Anna put her foot down with regards to CS using her."
“I think it’s a thin line,” Linda said, “Katy, Orion, the other youngest members of the sisterhood walk it very carefully, but in the main come out on the right side. And we can’t forget even with that, at least one person had the wrong idea about why Katy does this.”
The others nodded as Mary said “Anna is very, very sensitive to this, particularly with the Chinese editions. This is one of those occasions when the right thing to do is to not do it.”
“We’re still likely to get some flack with Orion and Katy there,” Mother said, “but at least they are established.”
“Ai – and our little addition will make them feel less out in the open,” Mary said, then realised Juliette and Linda were looking at her. “Forget I said that – more tea?”
“More tea,” Rose said as she passed a mug to Fiona.
“Ach thank ye lassie,” Fiona said as she took the cup. “How are ye doin?”
“Tired – I’ll try to sleep after this. You?”
Fiona nodded. “Ah’m gonna take it easy. Ah still get tired easily.”
Rose nodded as she sat next to her. “We’ll look out for each other, Aye?”
than The Body, who is hosting the show, what other local girls are we using
the list Ju."
"Alright… Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Hawkins, Beth Pollard, Catherine mcNeil, Abbey-Lee Kershaw, Jessica Hart, Julia Nobis, Nicole Trunfio, and from the land of the Kiwi, Stella Maxwell and Kylie Bax...Not Rachel Hunter?"
"We asked, but she had prior US commitments." Merlin sipped her tea. "There are also a handful of younger new discoveries, Sheila and Elle wanted included."
"Gotcha," Juliette nodded. "So what about Andrej, or Andreja, whichever name you use, are we or aren't we?"
“They’re in as well – part of the girls…”
we had a lot of girls at my party," Abby shook her head, "but
honestly Cari did you look at the list of who is
going to be walking?"
pretty impressive Stick."
what BS is making of it?"
"Perhaps we should ask her?"
“Not a chance,” Jo said as she joined them, “she’s out like a light…”
6 am Local Time
Dubai International Airport
stretch your legs Abby darling?" Kylie asked as she came over.
Abby said as they walked together, “even if it’s only by strolling round the
"So - ever
been here before?" Kylie asked as she watched the sun rising through the
once,” Abby said quietly, “I shot some ads here last year."
"Is it as
hot as they say darling?"
is," Abigail nodded, "I was never so glad that air-conditioning had
"I'll spring for a cold Coke if you want one?"
"Please Kyles." The two young women walked over to a dispensing machine.
"I know I can't get one here, and I don't normally drink it,” Kylie said, “but a cold beer would just about hit the spot right now."
drink either, but yes I agree it would be refreshing," Abby smiled.
"Not tea Rose?" she asked as they saw the older woman sitting at a
I thought I'd have milk instead,” she said as she looked up, “see if it can 'elp me sleep the restuv the
good idea darling."
"I saw you
doing some embroidery on the plane Rose?" Abby said as she looked at her.
"Well it 'elps to pass the time Abigail, but I really need better
light than that."
you doing, or shouldn't I ask?"
"Nuffin too major,” Rose said with a smile, “I was
embroidering me granddaughter’s name on a blanket."
sounds cute darling."
"Well as I said it's nothing too strenuous."
"Mmmm that is nice," Jeannie said as she finished a
glass of lemonade, "it hits the spot."
you sleep like that Jeans?" Nikki asked, "you dropped off practically
as the plane got in the air."
Barbara said, “she's got to the stage that she's trained herself to get all the
sleep she can get on flights Nikki."
her that Aunt Barbara."
great skill for a model to have," Emma Ferrer laughed.
you ever come to this part of the world before Jeans?"
"Yeah - we
did all that stuff for Lerrabella with me wearing
that were all about the eye makeup?"
just like your masked bandit things for Magnilash."
ladies what are you talking about?" Nina Agdal joined them.
in this part of the world Duckling," Jeans looked up at the Danish star.
here a few times," Nina nodded, "makes me appreciate the cool
dampness of home."
"That I do
understand." Barbara nodded.
"Who wants to blow her diet and join me in a Coke?" Peyton List walked over carrying a tray with cold bottles on it.
“Just had a drink,” Jeannie said, “but knock yourself out…”
“I can’t believe it,” Suzie Clarke said as she stood with Orion and Katy, “I’m in Dubai? This time…”
“Or whenever it was,” Orion said with a yawn.
“I was going home, and now I’m on the trip of a lifetime.”
“It certainly is,” Katy said as she looked at her mother talking to Orion’s father. “But I still can’t get why you and Nikki were invited along.”
“Why is Suzie here,” Mary Clarke asked Fiona and Mother.
“All in good time dear – she gets a chance to see you at work after all,” Mother said as she watched the others in the room.
“Ah – there is a very good reason for that,” Mary said, “which we can’t tell you at the moment…”
7.30 am Local Time
Dubai International Airport
did Marina need to sit next to you darling?" Barbara asked as she sat down
and strapped herself back in.
at the hotel,” Jeannie said as she stretched out, “she wanted to know who likes
who, and who would rather not share with someone in particular, and who
outright hates each other."
came to the repository of all inside information on the profession?"
Aunt Jeanne in First Class, perhaps the closest thing to it." Jeans
between you did you get everyone paired up?"
also decided who shares the odd three girl suites."
hopefully no one will be upset?"
"Fingers crossed Mum."
“So – more sleep?”
“Nope – I’m going to watch something. Maybe Zoolander II.”
“Nah – Game of Thrones…”
“We’re now levelled off at 33,000 feet ladies and gentlemen,” the captain said, “the seat belt lights have been turned off…”
“And now the real fun begins,” Anna said as she unfastened her safety belt.
“Yeah – the long haul,” Nikki said as she looked at Anna. “She’s behind me, isn’t she?”
Doc nodded as she looked over her friend’s shoulder.
Anna, can I have a word please," Missy said as she ushered her two clients
towards the galley space.
finally get told why I'm here?" Nikki asked quietly.
"Well I can
tell you part of the reason,” Missy said quietly, “but not all of it."
"That Magnilash New York, upon hearing Doc was going to be in
Australia, wants to shoot some commercials with your characters now becoming
sort of like Australian wild west bandits isn't it?" Anna asked.
is." Missy nodded, "and if we can get the right location, with both
of you as 17th century British lady highwaywomen."
at least that makes sense,” Nikki smiled. "But you say there is more and
that it’s secret?"
"That I've been sworn on pain of death not to tell you Nikki."
“Damn – too many secrets,” Doc laughed, “want a drink?”
“Soft drinks only – still a long flight ahead, and seven time zones to cross.”
"Hi - are you Suzy?"
Suzie Clarke looked up at the thin blonde and smiled. "I am, and you are...Oh my god you are Peyton List!" Suzy's jaw dropped in surprise.
"Yeah,' the blonde smiled, "I just looked at the hotel lists, and it looks as if you and me are sharing a room."
"We are what?" Suzie looked at her sleeping sister, before she said “Sorry Miss List… It's hard enough adjusting to the thought I'm on this plane, but did you actually say we are sharing a room?"
"But you are a big star actress..."
"And fairly novice model..."
"While I'm just Mary's unknown little sister, and I've grown up watching you on Jessie," Suzy shook her head. “This is surreal…”
"Well for starters my name is Peyton,” she said with a smile, “so can we drop the miss, and I actually think we might get along quite well."
“Sure Mis… Peyton. They are never going to believe this in Oakland Hills…”
9.30 am BST
Piet and Charlotte’s flat
Charlotte looked up as she heard the doorbell, and checked the monitor, before whispering “Well I never” and going to answer the door.
“Surprise Charlotte,” the oldest of the four women said, “may we come in?”
“Hey Aunt Marianne,” Charlotte said as she kissed the older woman, “what are you doing in London on this lovely Tuesday morning?”
“Dragging Itsy, Karen, and Liz to Knightsbridge to upgrade their wardrobes from combat gear ahead of your wedding,” Marianne said as the three African women walked in.
“I thought you said you were going to merge back into the local populace last time I saw you?” Charlotte said with a smile as she kissed Karen Kumalo.
“I was going to do so,” she replied with a laugh, “but then I heard some amazing things about you Little Mother being whispered in the winds, so I decided I’d go seek out the sisters…”
“And I happened to be in camp when she visited,” Liz said, “so I invited her to the wedding…I hope you don’t mind Charlotte?”
“No - if I’d known how to get in contact she would have been invited anyway.”
“What on earth are we letting ourselves in for Charlotte?” Liz kissed her friend.
“Fun Liz,” Charlotte smiled, “Summer in Naples and a grand wedding. Just be glad it’s Aunt Marianne taking you shopping and not one of my model friends – most of them are halfway round the world by now.” She then saw Leader looking out of the window, her hand on her arm, more nervous than she had ever seen her.
“Hello, Lit… Charlotte.”
“Leader you look so uncomfortable,” Charlotte whispered as they embraced.
“I know… It’s been a long while since I did something like this Little Mother.’
“Well just remember for this you are Itsy, and not a soldier.”
“I’ll try, but it is not easy...”
Karen walked over and placed her hand on the bump. “Strong, healthy – and you are radiant. I would also love some of the Turkish coffee if you have it…”
Karen really a witch?" Marianne whispered as she stood with Liz.
was a sceptic till I saw her in action," Liz sipped her coffee, "But
she certainly has something going on."
Charlotte said as she held her cup, “are you going to see Mama today Aunt
invited me to dinner tonight with the girls to meet someone called Agnes
McAdam,” Marianne said, “do you know her?"
"A little,” Charlotte said with a smile.
"Is she one of us," Leader asked.
a sister, but she's a whole lot more than that."
"Explain please Charlotte?" Liz spoke.
“Well – it’s a bit complicated, but one aspect of her is she is probably the world’s leading authority on third world finance and debt relief.”
“She is? So why is she not better known?”
“Well – because for the last twenty years she’s been better known as Lady D’Eath, a leading dominatrix in Soho, and that cost her dearly when she was exposed. But she’s making a comeback, if you like. She also runs a sort of school for runaways in Soho – Penny is a graduate of her work.”
“Penny was a runaway?”
Charlotte nodded as she said “so, given we are there to support those who cannot support themselves, and who society ignores, the Sisters are about to become a regular contributor to her work, and she will advise us on financial matters where we do our work.”
“She provides backroom support – I approve,” Liz said.
“In addition, I’m setting up an institute she will chair, to provide finance for women in the third world to set up small businesses – something the Sisters can help with as well,” Charlotte said. “Anyway – the restoration on the ranch?”
“Nears completion,” Marianne said, “We’re settling some horses while we are here.”
11 am BST
Pump Court, Middle Temple, London
“Miss Cuthbertson? Agnes McAdam would like a word.”
“Show her in Jones,” she said to the clerk, “and sort some coffee out for both of us will you?”
As he bowed and left the room, Agnes came in, wearing a grey jacket and pants with a white jumper.
“I thought we could catch up on things,” she said as Catriona ushered her into her private office.
good… So you went and saw Nigel yesterday?"
she said as she closed the door.
and he sees no problem with the sale."
Cherry was surprised?"
"I think so, but first she had to get over the shock of my red hair."
"Well for those of us who remember the old you it is far less of a shock then it is to anyone who only ever knew you with that horrid grey."
so," Aggie nodded as the door opened, and Jones brought a tray in, setting
it on the low table before he left and closed the door. "By the way, did I really look 70 years
old like Kits said I did?"
Aggie darling,” Catriona said as she poured, “yes at times you did."
definite instructions on how to keep it looking like this from now on..."
"And I damn
well hope you will do so."
I will," Aggie laughed and crossed her heart.
than coming to get some free elevensies from me,”
Catriona said as she sat back, “why did you want to drop in this morning
Agnes said, “first to say I'm happy Shirley FINALLY worked out who Lady C
long since overdue."
second was to ask are you still going to maintain Lady C's identity?"
answer to that is yes, but I have some thinking to do."
my little organisation should stay goody-goody, or do I want to follow Shirley
over to the dark side?"
"Why did I always guess that hidden in you is a glamorous blonde wannabe gangster?" Aggie smiled and laughed.
“I know – but I think a middle line may come out. What else has happened to you?”
“Two more job offers, and Francesca has invited me to meet some friends for dinner tonight.”
“I have been asked to consider someone as my PA… I also need to find a research assistant.”
“So Agnes is most definitely back?”
2 pm BST
Welsh is excellent Denice," Avril Williams smiled as they sat in the hotel
lobby, "your father taught you well."
you," the American blushed, "and once again thank you for meeting
cousin Mary asks me to look after a 'particular' friend of hers,” the brunette
said, “I try and do my best."
you manage to do any research on my father Mrs Williams?" Denice asked.
and I think you do have family members here in Cardiff."
"We do? I
wonder why Dad lost touch with them?"
have to ask them."
will see me."
say, if they will see you, but I have a couple of phone numbers for you to try
when you want to."
sounds good, but I think I'll wait till tomorrow before I do,” Denice said as
she sipped her drink, “I need to work out just what I'm going to say."
"Just say Hi I think I'm your long lost cousin from America," Avril smiled.
“That might work,” Denice laughed as Erica came into the lobby. “All unpacked darling?”
“Yeah – you must be Mrs Williams.”
“Call me Avril Erica – now, how about a tour of the city?”
2 pm BST
The Picture House Café, London
As Agnes looked at the posters in the entrance, she was taken by surprise as a friendly face said “the number of people who have asked if I found making that film a challenge.”
“Have you seen it,” Agnes asked as she looked at the stocking covered face of Cassandra Stone.
“I have – it reminded me of seeing some of those seventies cop films like Dirty Harry when I was younger. You?”
“Not yet – maybe I should do, get some ideas.”
“Don’t you dare Agnes McAdam,” Mike Babbage said.
“Seriously – are you related?”
“Only by the name – anyway, thanks for meeting me. Find a table, I’ll get the drinks and food.”
"So Mike any information for me?" Agnes asked as the policeman brought over their drinks and a plate of sandwiches.
"Other than that I'm going to fry that idiot Bennett alive?"
watch?" Aggie laughed, "but seriously beyond internal police
discipline what else is being done?"
as we can without getting Donald caught up in a scandal."
"Good," Agnes looked relieved. “I know it’s going to be next to impossible for Catherine to get what she deserves, but I hope her efforts get stopped.”
“Well, we are looking into everything she said in that interview,” Mike said, “on which note, were you there?”
“No – if the truth be told, I haven’t heard it yet.” Taking a sip from her cup, Agnes said “just how bad was it?”
“Let me put it this way – Catherine hated you, but you weren’t the only one she had tried to ruin.”
“Do the others know?”
“I believe they are being told – quietly,” Mike said as he swallowed a sandwich bite, “although I do know she will not be welcome in Dublin for some considerable time…”
Smiling, Agnes said “well, so things will be a bit quieter? No more early morning calls?”
“Hopefully not – I spoke to the AC, and first he said you should have talked to him a long time ago, and second the word has gone out that you are off limits.”
“Well, I move back in Friday,” Agnes said, “after that, they can come to Paddington any time they like.”
3.30 pm BST
“Hey – come on, I’ll sort some coffee out,” Susan said as Agnes was shown in.
“Thanks – it’s been another busy day,” Agnes said as she sat down.
"So how is
the search for office space going Aggie?"
plenty out there,” Aggie said as the coffee arrived, “but I've still not seen
anything that I like."
mile after mile of gleaming new buildings, but to be honest what I want in my
heart in something like Cat's chambers, something old with some history and
the aristocrat in you," Sue smiled, "you like places that reflect
your long connection to this country.'
thought of it like that,” Agnes said with a smile, “but I suppose you are right
particular area in mind?"
really, though I suppose the city would have a certain logic for an
“Even Canary Wharf?”
“Oh no – somewhere in the real city…”
"I'll keep an ear open then, get Lily to keep an eye out as well. She found this place, after all." Sipping her coffee, she said “packing?”
“Progressing – but I have a dinner invite tonight with Francesca. She said she has some friends from Africa she wants me to meet.”
“Listen – your assistant when the time comes. Will you speak to Sue about it, sound her out?”
“Well, I’ll talk to her, and see if she’s interested.”
“Good – I really do think you two will work well together.”
“On a related matter – has Shirley talked to you?”
“Oh yes,” Penny said as she put her cup down. “She understands why I did it now – Catriona?”
“Is a valuable asset for you – in the right way,” Aggie said with a smile.
“Shirley realises that now – and she owes her a debt of gratitude for getting your diaries back. We knew where they were, but could do nothing given we were in France.”
“I know – and I owe her for that as well,” Aggie said quietly.
“You may wish to know,” the pilot announced over the speakers, “that we have just crossed the equator, and are now in the Southern Hemisphere. When people made this journey by boat, a special ceremony would have been held, but instead, we invite you to join us in a toast to this occasion.”
“Can I Mary,” Suzie asked as the cabin staff handed round glasses of champagne.
“All right – but just this once…”
bad is the press going to be when we land Anna?"
going to be horrendous,” Anna Mitchell said, “but everyone will just have to
make the best of it."
doesn't exactly sound reassuring." Juliette shook her head.
Sheila have told them that some of us will do a formal press conference
"And who gets that short straw darling?" Mandy asked.
“I haven’t decided – yet…”
7 pm BST
“Miss Agnes McAdam,” Betty said as she held the door open for Aggie, now wearing a black evening dress.
“Agnes – come join us,” Francesca said. “Allow me to introduce Marianne Vosloo, Elizabeth Egwegwe, Itsy Buthelazi and Karen Kumalo. Ladies, this is Agnes McAdam.”
“The McAdam of McAdam,” Itsy said as she inclined her head, “I am honoured.”
delightful meeting you ladies," Agnes said as she shook hands with the
four African women.
would you like to drink Agnes?" Francesca asked as she walked to the
have some of that white wine you served at lunch yesterday Francesca, I’ll have
a glass please.”
a fresh bottle,” Francesca said as she turned to one side.
do you girls do?" Agnes asked as she looked at them.
husband is a soon to be retired Colonel in the South African army,"
retired soldier myself," Liz said with a twinkle in her eye.
"Oh I'm a
footloose Princess," even Itsy caught the spirit of the moment.
"And I'm a
witch?" Karen laughed.
I'm smart enough to realise when I'm being laughed at," Agnes laughed along,
"under those covers what do you really do?"
"I am in
charge of the Sisters new mounted reconnaissance unit," Marianne said with
Liz sipped her
wine, and said "I am Chief of Intelligence for the sisters in Southern
combat leader," Itsy said quietly.
"Oh,” she said with a laugh, “I really am a witch."
“She’s joking, right,” Aggie said as Francesca handed her a glass of wine.
“No she’s not,” Marianne said, “trust us on that.”
“Dinner is ready, Marchesa,” Betsy said as she stood at the door.
“Excellent – shall we ladies?”
7.30 pm BST
Rutland Street, Kensington
“That was delicious,” Colin said as he pushed the plate away, and wiped his chin.
not be the world’s greatest cook," Sue smiled, but I can do a decent
stir-fry even if I say so myself."
always loved your cooking," Colin reached across the table and held her
hand. "I'm glad we said we'd stay in tonight."
not agree if we can't find anything to watch on the telly darling."
there isn't, I'm sure we can think of 'something' to keep ourselves
amused." Colin smiled back at the woman he loved.
"Well before we even think of that,” Sue said as she stood up, “let's get these dishes done and put-away."
"That's my Sue, always practical."
“Listen – Penny gave me a call today,” Sue said as she loaded the dishwasher.
“Oh – what about?”
“A possible job offer. It’s not confirmed yet, but if it was made, I said I’d consider it.”
“Oh,” Colin said as he looked over, “and that is?”
“Working as Aggie’s PA.”
Colin put his glass down and thought for a moment.
“Sorry – just imagining how powerful you two would be if you work together…”
8.30 pm BST
"I hate to talk business at such a lovely occasion,” Agnes said as Betsy cleared the plates, “but Liz, may I ask a question?”
“Of course, Agnes.”
“Well… Given that I have a client looking to site a
factory to produce good quality household products in Africa, and you being in
the intelligence business, where would recommend he starts looking?"
Liz said as she sipped her wine. “What
are his toleration levels for corruption and exploitation?"
"Non-existant...Augie wants this to be a model in clean
is not going to be easy to achieve."
already told him we are looking basically at least worst." Aggie sipped
her wine. "So any suggestions?"
"Let me think for a few minutes please."
“So, while she is thinking,” Marianne said, “do you know Fergus MacLean?”
“I know of him, although we have never met,” Agnes said as Betsy brought dessert out.
“He’s an old family friend – perhaps you will meet him at the wedding?”
“Perhaps – may I ask a possibly impertinent question?”
“As good a time as any,” Francesca said with a smile.
“If Charlotte is Little Mother, how many sisters will be at this wedding?”
“Most of the senior staff, I suspect,” Marianne said, “a security nightmare for Francesca.”
think I have the answers to your question Agnes." Liz said as she sat
down. "Where we are based in Botswana is the least corrupt country on the
guessed that from what I'd heard...and the rest of the top five?"
Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Namibia."
which have unfortunately have similar drawbacks as to having relatively small
populations, and far from top grade communications with the nations likely to
provide the biggest sales markets."
your opinion though Liz?"
scratch Mauritius and Cape Verde since they are both islands. Rwanda is still a
potential trouble zone..."
comes down to Namibia or Botswana?"
"So I need go back to Augie with that information, gather exact details as to what he wants to do, and then send someone in to look?”
“Sounds like a plan – if we can help, we will.”
9 pm BST
Chelsea – John and Shirley’s Home
“So where are the others,” Catriona asked as she and Shirley sat on the patio.
“John is on the plane to Australia, and the girls went to the cinema,” Shirley said as she sipped her brandy.
“You talked to Penny?”
“I talked to Penny, we cleared the air,” Shirley said. “I’ll talk to the others later, but you were right – I needed the distraction at that point.”
Sipping her brandy, Shirley said “Cat, can I ask a personal question?”
other than that one tiny photo of Jamie Cat, are there no signs at your home or
work that you were, and are the Countess of Sithwell?"
eyebrow, Catriona said "Do you keep much visible to remind you of Robert
the circumstances are a bit different darling, Jamie died a hero’s death
fighting for his country, do you even have his Cross?"
"I gave it
to his mother,” Catriona said quietly, “I never ever wanted to see the rotten
anger is never going to go away is it?"
resigned Shirley,” Cat said as she started to cry, “he should have been a
civilian, but instead he goes to bloody Afghanistan, leaving me pregnant and
"You at least
still have Liz though, a daughter who adores you, even though you have never
told her why you can be so distant with her."
very well Shirley that I love her with all my heart, but she reminds me too
much of Jamie."
"So you won't ever let her see inside that wall you've constructed between the two of you?"
Catriona sighed, and said “I know – but how do I without reminding myself of what I’ve lost?”
“That,” Shirley said quietly, “I have some thoughts on…”
Wednesday 29th June
5 am Local Time
“Well, we’re here,” Mary said as she collected hers and Suzie’s bags from the carousel, and put them onto the trolley.
“Yeah, but what for?”
“I have no idea at all,” Mary said as she looked at her sister.
“Right then girls,” Anna said as she and Marina gathered the group, Barbara pushing Jeannie. “The rules are simple – deep breath, straight through, ignore the questions. A press conference will be held later today, but our primary objective is getting you all to the Hyatt. Ready?”
“As we’ll ever be,” Jo said as she stood with Abby and Carina.”
“In which case – onwards,” Anna said as Marina walked to the sliding doors, watching carefully as they opened and the flash bulbs started to go off…
rooming with Trina Mary?" Suzie said as they sat in the bus.
am, and who did you draw?"
actress?" Mary shook her head. "Did you introduce yourself yet?"
introduced herself to me," Suzie smiled.
pretty nice to me, and boy are the others going to be jealous."
"Well just remember to ask her to add her autograph to your collection."
“Right girls,” Mary said at the front, “check in, freshen up, join us for breakfast – we need to be at the Opera House by eleven.”
“No rest for the wicked,” Mary said, “but you get some sleep, all right?”
“Yes Mary,” Suzie said as she rolled her eyes…
9 am Local Time
Sydney Opera House
similar set up to last year," Jeannie said as she looked at the long
catwalk, "those squared off corners though will mean I will need change
direction as I do my poses."
side of the curtains and back the other," Marnie looked as well.
"Must be a nice big backstage area."
this many girls doing the show we are going to need it." Abigail smiled.
"I don't think I've ever seen so many girls doing just one show."
newbies as well getting the Mary Thomas experience for the first time,"
"I pity the poor dears." Ingrid giggled.
“Hey – they are our friends remember,” Carina said with a laugh. “But yeah – could be fun….”
"Yuck, fittings, rehearsals, press conferences, photographs...no chance for any sightseeing." Jo sighed as she looked at her copy of the schedule.
"Jo you are an experienced enough model by now to know WE never get to get out and see the sights." Paula shook her head. "All this was one of the reasons I was happy enough to retire when I did."
“Well, if it isn’t Mandy Carrow…!”
darling, long time no see," Mandy allowed the English born actor to kiss
her, "are you here to present an award, or just to look at beautiful
presenting," the Oscar winner smiled, "but I'll admit I didn't need a
lot of persuading to do this, especially with so many old friends being
certain 'plain jane superbrain'," a woman with a
mass of blonde curls said as she joined the conversation.
Mandy hugged the newcomer, "I was so sorry to hear about your mother’s
quitting to look after her Mum all those years, is mounting a comeback,” Guy
"Well there are more than enough models doing it, so why not an actress?"
“Exactly – did I hear Cassandra Stone was also presenting?”
“She is darling – along with the new find, JD Carlucci.”
I object to you buying the coffee Missy, but do we finally get to find out why
my sister is here?" Mary sipped from her cup as they sat out on the
terrace of the Opera House.
here,” Missy said as she leaned forward, “because circumstances mean that my
plans have had to be brought forward."
Mary, we have all noticed that you have three beautiful sisters."
who do you mean?" Mary got a suspicious look on her face.
fashion biz...who else did you think I meant?" Missy smiled. "You
aren't going to be the only top girl from your family."
have eyes...” Putting her cup down,
Missy said “Suzie may not have your face, but she has her own style, and that
personality of hers shines like a beacon. She may or may not one day get huge
endorsement contracts, but she can certainly earn an excellent living as a
wants to be a teacher you know?"
"No reason she can't combine school and college with modelling. Ask Grace."
"Alright accepting that, I bet Pop doesn't like it."
Missy said with a smile, “when I send him yours and Suzie's approval he's ready
to sign a contract for her."
"Yes," Missy smiled broadly, "and the reason we advanced our plans for Suzie is that the show is going to have a big tribute to sisters who model, and we want to include you both."
“When do I tell her?”
“Tomorrow – I gave Orion and Katy the morning off to be with her. Anyway – time you went to work. Mary will be waiting…”
Sydney,” Mary said as she stood on the stage with Fiona, looking at the
assembled models. "Now for those of
you who haven't worked with me before, the first thing to know is that I do not
give a damn that we only got off a round the world flight two or three hours
our Merlin," Juliette whispered in Karen's ear.
not being paid your big fees ladies to sit on your arses, you are here to
work...and I'm bloody well here to make sure you do so."
more than a few models said as they looked heavenwards for help.
will be perfect, or else I'll want to know the bloody reason why...Do you all
a chorus of models answered.
"Well for starters I want to time out walks, so can everybody get up on stage and in pairs do your thing, Fiona and I will take times and when we have a fair average we will tell you EXACTLY how long you will each have to do the circuit... Any Questions? Good then let's start."
“And away we go,” Jo whispered as they group moved onto the stage, and paired up.
Eventually, as Poppy and Doc walked back, Merlin looked at her pad.
two to Eighty Five seconds from their posing spot as they go on to back past
the curtain Fiona?" Merlin asked.
"Aye thats aboot what ah have,"
Fiona looked down at her clipboard and her stopwatch.
second gaps between walkers?"
Fiona said, “thaat gives them plenty a time to thar poses."
run through a group and see how that looks?"
"We shud." Fiona nodded.
I have four of you girls in first positions," Mary yelled out, “you have
eighty two seconds to do the circuit, and the gaps will be eight seconds. can
we please try that?"
"Ah'll count the gaps, Mary will time the laps...Awllright girls?"
"I suppose so darling." Mandy took up a position at the start. “Ready girls?”
10 am Local Time
"How comes we get this morning session off?" Orion asked as she and Katy sat with Suzy on the hotel verandah.
"According to Abigail it's because this morning is all about working out timings, and Mary only needs girls who really know what they are doing to work it all out with." Katy sipped from a diet Sprite.
still don't know what I'm doing here, but I'm loving this view," Suzy
smiled, "I thought our bay back home was really something till I saw
"Yeah it's pretty cool," Katy took another sip.
“Certainly beats the Port of Belfast,” Orion said as she soaked up the sun.
“She wants us at the Opera House for one though – you as well Suzie.”
“Have you girls any idea what is going on? Why I’m here?”
“Nope – although there are an awful lot fo sisters here. I saw Cara and Poppy Develingne running out of the hotel.”
are your feet Sister Virtue?" Jeanne Beckmann asked Paula Gaunt as they
me why I rarely wear heels Titi," the Duchess said
as she shook her head.
you," the TV star smiled, "will you be up to doing an interview in a
suppose so,” Paula sighed, “but you better get me an exeat so Merlin doesn't
haul me over the coals..."
I'll clear it with Mary," Jeanne laughed.
so much pure talent here," Paula shook her head, "the standard of
girls now is incredible."
think that's because we are seeing more and more mature girls still strutting
"Flattery Titi?" the Duchess lifted an eyebrow.
"No just an observation."
“I suppose so…”
"Okay, girls, gather round… The opening set-piece this year will be a tribute to Australian sport, so we will have 6 girls in the various state cricket uniforms. 18 in Australian Football League uniforms. 16 in National Rugby League uniforms, 5 in Super Rugby strips, and finally 10 in A League soccer outfits," Mary smiled broadly.
"Now for a
warning to those of you who don't know how seriously Aussies take their sports,”
Elle McPherson said, “be prepared to be booed by sections in the audience if
you aren't wearing their favourite team’s clothes."
"So how do
we decide who gets to wear what Merlin?" Kooks Pollard chirped.
going to do it by a ballot Beth, and which team you get depends on which number
"NO!" Mary laughed, 'you just get to grin and bear it. Shall we begin?”
might as well get prepared to get divorced," Jesinta Franklin shook her
head as she looked at the slip of paper. "Me in a GWS Giants strip, Buddy
will never forgive me...Mary are you sure I can't swap with whoever got the
Swans, it'll save me a lot of grief at home."
"Okay given you are married I'll let you swap with Poppy Jes, but you are the one and only exception I'll make."
“Thanks,” Jesinta said as she walked over to Poppy, who was standing with her mother.
10 am Local Time
Complete Style Australia
"Bruce, Sheila, meet Marina Sowkowski," Anna made the introduction as they gathered in the office with the panoramic view out over the city of City and its amazing harbour.
"Hello," Marina shook hands, "we've spoken on the phone."
have," Sheila smiled, "it's nice to put a face to the voice
found you and your staff some office space Anna," Bruce looked up from his
notes, "and I guess you'll not be getting to the rehearsals?"
"No this trip
for me is really all about the new editions.... Talking of which, has everybody
they are all amenable to the timetable that Marina circulated."
“Oh Marina,” Bruce said, “Julia wants you to meet some of the Australian team. She’ll be at the hotel tonight at seven, and she said she can’t wait to see you after all these years.”
“Sounds good,” Marina said with a smile….
11.30 am Local Time
Sydney Opera House
“I will say that we are proud and honoured that Sydney have opened their arms to welcome all of us,” Mary said. “Any questions?”
knows that it won't be a Mary Thomas show without at least one big
surprise," one of the journalists stood up. "Any hints what it'll be
this year Mary?"
comment," Mary laughed...Next?"
will be a shock?" a woman journalist asked.
"Ah cum on
Mary, just a bloody hint, that's all we are askin'
still going to say No Comment...or if you prefer, Dim Sylw."
"No comment...in Welsh," Mary grinned as the journalists laughed.
“Ju – hold up.”
“Stephanie,” Juliette said as she looked round, “and how are you this morning?”
“Recovering – look, I need inside info Juliette.”
“There is no way to bribe Mary or Anna…”
"Do you know who most of the winners are Ju?" Stephanie asked, "and I'm not having to present anything either to a Kardashian or Jenner, or one of the Hadid's am I?"
“Now would we
do that to you? Had you said it in
Complete Style rather than Vanity Fair…”
Juliette watched as her old friend raised any eyebrow, before she said
"after you little outburst a couple of weeks ago...No I don't think even
Mary would do that to you darling."
all I was only agreeing with what Rebecca was saying in April."
we'd all long since agreed though that the Supermodel tag had been done to
I still think that it distinguishes that original generation, me, you, Mother,
Claudia, Naomi, Baby Gee, Christy...and that these kids today really can't be
are beautiful models you know?"
know," Stephanie sighed, “but I still think the press should only use the
S Model tag about we originals."
"And I agree," Rebecca Romijn joined them, "and why am I walking this year and not presenting?"
“Because Mary has called some real old school talent back – you should feel right at home…”
1 pm Local Time
House has laid on a good lunch," Karen waved at people offshore in boats
trying to take photographs and laughed, "and they aren't doing a bad job
keeping the snappers away either."
the world might be shocked to see that models actually do eat," Doc
"Well we now know better than to be anorexic, and I’m speaking as a doctor."
"And we are gradually getting the drugs out as well." Mother smiled as she sat down. "For so long back then we were all overdoing it."
didn't mean just you Sweets."
doing WHAT?" a voice exploded from close by.
"I think I just won a bet," Doc laughed. "Suzie Clarke just found out she's now one of us."
the note and flowers from Bod darling?" Mandy drawled as she sat with the
Norton...commiserating with me for drawing the short straw and presenting this
year." Elle laughed.
"Mary did rather put him through purgatory last year."
dear old friend,” the Australian beauty said as she sat back, “what has Ju got
planned for me?"
got a clue darling...What do you have planned for her?"
and see Tufty." Elle laughed some more.
"Kit, can you stop calling me Aunt, it makes me feel old," the Australian rolled her eyes at Angel.
Bats?" Philippa asked Grace as she sipped her drink.
supervise the unloading of the outfits of hers that are being walked."
"So how is
Poppy taking her first big show?"
it's scaring her witless...and however bad it is for her it’s worse for me, I'm
here as both editor...and as a model."
going to be able to cope Pip?"
"Yeah, Anna is keeping me out of all the meetings other than the ones I MUST attend. Marina produced a very detailed schedule for me." Looking at her watch, she said “on which note, I have a meeting with the other editors. See you later.”
walk through is after lunch darling," Olivia smiled at Fiona. “Nervous?"
bit," Fiona looked round at all the other models, "how is everyone
else so calm?"
actually think they are calm?" Stephanie Seymour sat down. "I've done
this show over 20 times, and I still get the hugest butterflies knowing Mary
will be after me about my walk this afternoon...And it's made worse that Bandit
is back and I get compared."
"Hey not my fault Steam," Olivia laughed, “blame Mary for getting me out of retirement."
“Oh I’m not complaining, just venting…”
“So we have the final list of presenters and awards?”
“We do,” Mary said as she sat with Juliette and Fiona. “Most of them are here, but Russell and Hugh will fly in tomorrow.”
“Aye, he’ll be here,” Fiona said, “along wi Essie Davies.”
“Good – we’ll get them all in the morning of final rehearsal…”
“They want ME to go on stage with you Mary?”
“Looks like it kiddo,” Mary said, “how does that feel?”
“Like I’m in a dream…”
“Yeah - that sounds about right…”
Mary going?" asked Linda as Merlin walked off.
with the TV and Arena people to go over the opening thing.” Juliette looked up from inspecting one of her
I've been coming down here long enough to know that anything to do with sport
is going to go down pretty big."
these people love it." Ju retrieved a pumice stone from her bag and
started to work on a callous.
playing up already Pelican?"
I've never done a big show like this that they haven't."
Goddess - one thing I don't have to worry about."
BS." Juliette looked up again and smiled.
"So has Suzie Clarke calmed down yet?" Mother asked.
“I’m not sure,” Jeannie said with a smile, “the gang are talking to her…”
1.30 pm Local Time
Opera House – The Stage Door.
“Looks like the company has arrived,” Alice said as she and Kylie saw the bus pull up.
Andy Pearson," the blonde with the sun-bleached hair shook Kylie's hand as
she got off the bus.
for the next few days darling?"
me," the reporter from Teena grinned.
lovely to meet you Andrea, but I'm still not sure why you think following me is
going to give your readers something interesting to read."
she's modesty personified," Alice shook the Aussie's hand, "so don't
listen to her at all when she pleads that she's not important."
"I get that...oh and by the way this is Jordan," she indicated a dark haired young man, "he's going to be our photographer."
“G’day,” he said as he smiled at the two women.
“So how will this work darling?”
“You go about your day, and I ask the questions. So what’s happening here?”
“Checking the arrival of the outfits from APCO,” Alice said, “come with us…”
1.30 pm Local Time
Complete Style Australia
“You wanted to see me Sheila?”
“I did – come
in. This is Petra Raudonikis
Anna," Sheila made the intro, "She edits Teena, our magazine aimed at
one of your reporters shadowing Kylie Mitchell?" Anna said as she kissed
"I do, and
I'm hoping we'll get a great behind-the-scenes POV from it."
Anna said as they sat down, “Kylie is certainly a huge story right now."
read that feature about her in the New York Times."
you are covering Kylie,” Anna said as Marina came in, “I'd better introduce my
PA Marina Sowkowski, she and Kylie share an
"Nice ta meet ya Marina," the Australian shook hands.
“Likewise – hope your crew don’t get too bored,” Marina said with a smile.
4 pm Local Time
The Sydney Hyatt
not sure what the theme is Kylie...”
Andrea looked at the teenager as she said “is it young talent? or is it
all about ageless beauty?"
darling, that's a good question," Kylie chewed on the stem of her glasses
as she looked round the lobby at the models checking in. "I suppose in a
way that it's both."
be the youngest girl walking?"
Katy Carter is Andy."
"Is a question that I would never dare ask," Kylie laughed as she replaced her glasses on her nose. “Unless one person in particular comes here today.”
7 pm Local Time
“You will be fantastic darling,” Kylie said as she stepped out of the lift with Marina, wearing a short sleeved shirt and shorts combination, “Now, I see Doc and Nikki, so tell me all about it later.”
“Have fun Kiddo,” Marina said as she went off, and checked her own blouse and skirt.
"Alright first BIG test," Marina took a couple of huge deep breaths as she walked into the bar.
“Marina – over here!”
Julia," she said as she kissed the Anglo-Chinese girl on the cheek.
Marina, long time no see."
long time," Marina smiled while she thought inside that really she'd never
met this woman before.
introduce you...Ladies this is Marina Sowkowski, we
were at Oxford together."
an attractive girl with dyed red hair spoke, "I'm Jane Cho, we've spoken
on the phone."
"Hello," Marina kissed her. “Good to meet you at long last.”
"You want to come join us and go out to eat?"
does Marina has changed a lot since Oxford," Julia smiled, "I barely
remember her ever going to parties...but then again all that work she put in
meant she got a double first."
Jane shook her head, "no one said you were a huge brain, what are you
doing as one of we humble PA's?"
"Learning that all work and no play made Marina a very dull girl....and yes I'd like to eat with you all, as long as it's not Chinese food...A year in HK means I could kill a great Australian steak."
“I can understand that – I know a great place,” Julia said as they left, Kylie smiling as she watched them.
Kylie said, “do you mind if Andy joins us for supper?"
"Not at all... Hi I'm Anna Carlton," Doc said as she extended a hand.
"And the others are in no particular order, Orion O'Ryan, Katy Carter, Nikki Colman, Suzie Clarke, Poppy Ashley, and Sarah Pugh."
know Sarah, but it's lovely ta meet the rest of ya."
Andy shook hands.
drew the unpleasant task of watching Kyle's did you?" Katy grinned.
been a truly boring afternoon," the journalist laughed. "But will you
mind if I put my recorder on and I tape while we eat and chat."
"Fine with me." Orion smiled.
has your day been like?" Andy asked as they settled down.
Poppy groaned, "and we have more to do yet after we eat."
worked for Mary Thomas before," Doc smiled, "and forewarned is
"So I take
it she is really as tough as everyone says?"
"She wants perfection...she DEMANDS perfection."
woman eating with the youngsters?" Paula asked.
reporter from one of CS Australia's sister publications darling," Mandy
looked closely, "she's doing a feature on Kylie."
easiest job I'd imagine," Grace ate a piece of fish.
Kylie isn't the world’s greatest person at opening up and showing the real her,
or hadn't you ever noticed Virtue?"
barely know her."
"Very few people do, even Bats says she only knows part of Kylie." Grace nodded. “She is very intelligent, very talented, and very personable – but very, very private.”
"So we get
to eat our supper, then we all go put on jeans and we have a photo session with
John Hammond for all the girls doing the show who are 16 and under." Doc said
as she finished her club sandwich.
that's Sir John Hammond...right?"
is Andy...want to go watch?" Kylie offered, "I'm sure if I ask nicely
John won't mind."
we are all facing 16 hour days till the curtain goes down." Nikki finished
eating, "and pardon Suzie's silence, but I think she's still in shock."
that or I'm dreaming," the Californian shook her head.
least you passed test one Suzie, Mary didn't hate your walk this
afternoon," Jeannie wheeled herself over.
enjoy wearing heels..."
"Tell me if you still think you do after the show is finished." Orion rolled her eyes. "Ten bucks says you don't any more."
“You’re on,” Suzie said, “but can it be as bad as Katy says?”
“YES,” the girls chorused as Kylie laughed.
Anita looked up as the door to Anna Mitchell’s suite opened, and Marina came back in.
were you earlier?" Anita sniped as Marina closed the door.
eating with an old friend from Oxford and a couple of other girls," Marina
smiled knowing that would irk Anna's senior PA. "We were going over the preparations
for the editorial meetings."
but also learning about some of the new people...Anna's orders you know?"
the New Yorker gave the Brit a nasty look.
"So have I
much Marina," Anna looked up as she came in carrying a sheaf of papers.
"Did you learn anything?"
bits and pieces boss, do you want a written report, or a verbal one?"
it verbally Marina, come in and have a drink and we'll talk."
Marina smiled as she could feel Anita's eyes boring into her back as she followed Anna into her bedroom.
“That’s wonderful girls,” John Hammond said as he looked at the assembled teenagers, “thank you all – and especially thank you Suzie. Not bad for a first time.”
“So how does it feel to be in my shoes kiddo,” Mary Clarke said as her sister came over.
actually going to get paid for having had my picture taken like that?"
Suzie yet again shook her head in awe.
Pops having signed that contract for you little sister...then yep." Mary
smiled, "you look and sound just like I must have a few months ago."
Mary… Did you think it was all just a dream and that any second you'd wake
time." Mary's smiles turned to laughter. "I was certain at some stage
I'd wake up...but I still haven't yet."
"Anyway if I was you I'd change, go find Peyton and head to bed, we have a very early start in the morning, and a long hard day’s work to do."
“How hard a day?”
“Oh you have no idea…”
“Ah – and how has your day been darling,” Kylie said as she looked through her glasses, Marina sighing as she closed the door.
“So far so good – but Anita really does not like me,” Marina said as she slipped her shoes off. “How about you with your shadow?”
“Intriguing – I told her to join us for breakfast tomorrow, to allow us to do our morning exercise routine first.”
“Excellent – I am pooped. Good night Kyles.”
“Good night Marina,” Kylie said with a smile as Marina turned off her bedside light, and lay down to sleep.
“I am ready for bed, Mamma,” Abby said as she walked into the hotel lobby with Diana.
“Indeed, I have an…”
Joey," Abby called out to her Canadian friend, "where have you
some TV with Carina."
"Abs you need some sleep," Joey grinned, "just
think ME and CARINA?"
"Oh now I
were doing a thing on being two petite models here in the land of the
must be right that I need some sleep," Abigail shook her head. "So
what did you tell them?"
"Our usual thing about the industry diversifying itself nowadays."
“Johanna is right – you need your sleep,” Diana said as they headed to the lift.
8 am BST
Benenden School, Cranbrook
“It was really magical,” Aileen said, “and then out of the blue, your mother turned up on the Sunday…”
you got to see my Mummy while I was left here in this dump," Elizabeth
Arden, Countess of Sithwell in her own right, glared
at Kit and the two Gaunt sisters across the breakfast table.
Lizzie, I shouldn't have said that," Aileen shook her head, "I forgot
how tense things get between you and she."
isn't your fault Ailsa," the blonde girl shook her head, "but I envy
you all with how close to your families."
she does love you Lizzie?" Kit said as she looked across.
can have a bloody funny way of showing it. I bet I'll barely see her all
always seem to have big trials..."
Eve let the words hang.
"Then why ship me off to Melhom and Gran, rather than let me keep her company in London?"
“Hey – why don’t you come over with us for a couple of weeks,” Kit said. “Mum would love to have you stay, and we’re planning to get Aunt Aggie over as soon as we can.”
“We didn’t just meet your mum,” Eve said, “Kit’s aunt was also there – Agnes McAdam.”
“Agnes… I thought she was dead.”
“Oh no – very much alive, despite the best efforts of some people,” Kit said quietly…
10 am BST
Paddington Green Police Station
Harrow Road, London
“What is it,” the detective said as he looked up from his desk.
“The DCI wants you in his office – now.”
“Any idea what about,” Bennett said as he stood up and put his jacket on.
“Nope – but I’d get a move on. I saw him come in and he’s in uniform – means he’s been at Head Office.”
Bennett nodded as he folded the letter he was reading, and put it into his jacket pocket, before walking out of the squad room and down the corridor. He stopped outside the door, “DCI Mike Babbage” on a brass plaque, and knocked smartly.
Bennett smiled as he walked in, closing the door as he saw Mike Babbage looking out of the window onto the street below.
“You wanted to see me, sir,” Bennett said as he stood with his hands behind his back.
Mike turned round and looked at Bennett, then walked over and sat down, looking at three files that were on his desk. The DS wondered why nothing was being said, before Babbage said “I did Bennett. How long have you been in this force?”
“Twenty five years sir,” Bennett said as Mike picked up the first file and looked at it.
“You started on the beat, worked your way up.”
“Sir,” Bennett nodded in agreement.
“And you have been in CID how long?”
“Fifteen years, sir.”
Nodding, Babbage said “your file is fairly impressive, although one or two things do stand out from it Bennett. One of those concerns this woman.” He put that file down and picked up a second one, flipping through it as he said “Agnes McAdam does seem to have come into your radar a few times down the years.”
“She is a prostitute, sir, and known to mix with the criminal element in Soho.”
Babbage raised an eyebrow as he looked at Bennett, before he said “and you formed this opinion on first meeting her, when her flat was broken into?”
Bennett said nothing as Mike stood up, and walked round the desk, looking at the DS. “In fact, it appears that you have found reason to visit her, at her apartment or else invited to the station, at least once every two months for the last eighteen years.”
“As I said, Sir,” Bennett replied, “she is known to associate with the criminal element in Soho, and each time has been under suspicion of either supplying, or aiding and abetting…”
“Detective Sergeant Bennett,” Mike said quietly as he put the file down, “just how much of an idiot do you think I am?”
“I am fully aware, and have been for many years, of the work Agnes McAdam has done with the runaways in Soho, under the noses of the powers that be. In all those years, all those raids, all those interviews, have you ever, EVER found anything to substantiate those claims of wrong doing?”
“No, SIR, but with due respect…”
“Respect is something you have not shown, Bennett,” Babbage roared into the face of the DS. “You have conducted a vendetta against this woman, and I want you to tell me why?”
“I had good reason…”
“Does that involve Lady Catherine Fitzstuart?”
Bennett suddenly turned and looked at his superior as he picked up the third file. “I spent an VERY interesting time on Sunday in France, Bennett, and I learned a great deal about exactly what Lady Fitzstuart has done, and who she has persuaded to help her.”
He walked in front of Bennett, staring at him as he said “I want you to listen very carefully to me, DS Bennett, and I want you then to leave this office. If I hear of you harassing or causing any discomfort of any form to Agnes McAdam, I will personally see you discharged from the force, with loss of all benefits, and also give serious consideration to charging you with perjury. In the meantime, I very seriously advise you to consider your position, both personally and in this force. SO17 are one phone call away – do I make myself absolutely, crystal clear?”
“Perfectly, sir,” Bennett said quietly.
“Good – get out.”
1 pm BST
“Who was that Tamsin?” Tom asked as they sat having lunch with Stephen Stone.
“Kits,” Tamsin said as she put her phone away, “she was saying that Lizzie was a trifle upset at dinner because they’d all seen Catriona and of course she hadn’t.”
“Poor Lizzie,” Stephen shook his head, “but there isn’t anything anyone outside can do to help.”
“If she didn’t look quite so much like Jamie it might help, but every look at her reminds Cat of the man she loved…and lost.” Tom nodded sagely.
“You know the story - as I hear it, she’s never even seen his Victoria Cross, that she never opened the box, and then gave it to old Lady Sithwell.” Charles Treharran spoke up.
“I know she still mourns every day for Jamie, but poor Lizzie she wasn’t even born, and yet she bears the problem of her Mother’s grief like this.” Tamsin shook her head, “do you know she often doesn’t even come for Parents Day, I just try and involve Lizzie with me and Kits.”
“Catriona Cuthbertson is in most ways a wonderful, wonderful woman,” Stephen shook his head, “but sooner or later she’s going to drive Lizzie completely away.”
“Agreed.” Tam nodded. “Unless we can do something about it. Kits was wondering if we could get her over for a couple of weeks during her summer break, while Aggie is here. If Cat was to be invited unexpectedly…”
1 pm BST
The Priory, London
“How is she,” Donald asked as they walked along the white corridor.
“Calm – although I am afraid that has more to do with the tranquilizers,” the doctor said quietly. “She has settled a little, however.”
“I never knew about her history…”
“We have her notes from the family doctor – I am afraid it is not a healthy story,” the doctor said, “but the advances in cognitive and psychotherapy over the last few years means we have some hope for progress this time.”
“But still – this hatred she has fostered for one woman for twenty years…”
“I wish I could tell you this was an isolated case,” the doctor said, “but it happens more often than you may realize. I should tell you I have received an offer of professional help from Dr Selena Gleb.”
“Who is she?”
“One of the world’s leading experts in dealing with this area of disorder. With your permission, I will share my thoughts and recordings of sessions with your wife with her, and she can give her opinion as well.”
“Of course – can I see her now?”
The doctor nodded as he opened a door, and Donald walked into a well appointed bedroom. Catherine was sitting in a chair, looking out over the grounds from the closed window.
“Hello Catherine,” he said as the doctor closed the door. She turned her head and smiled as she said “hello Donald – how have you been?”
“Busy, but worried about you,” he said as he sat down in a chair opposite her. “You were not in a good place when I saw you on Sunday.”
“I know,” Catherine said quietly, “I was over tired. It was very good of you to get me to come to this health resort.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re feeling better,” Donald said as he held her hand. “I want you to be fully fit for whatever is coming down the line.”
“I’ll be there for you Donald,” Catherine said with a smile, “specially with that whore out of the way.”
“Agnes fucking McAdam – she’s going to be dead soon, and then we can be together…”
Donald looked at the doctor, who said “I think your husband needs to go now Catherine, but he will be back soon.”
“Okay – goodbye Donald,” Catherine said with a smile as Donald stood up and walked out, shaking…
2 pm BST
Warnford Court, Bank, London
“Okay Penny,” Agnes said as she walked over, the heels of her boots clicking on the pavement, “why did you want to meet me here?”
“Well, two reasons,” Penny said with a smile as she stood with Lily, “first off, I want you to come with me once we are done here?”
“Oh – where? I need to be at the school for five.”
“Don’t worry, we have time to get there,” Penny said as they walked in. “Second – Lily?”
“I think we may have found some suitable office space for Agnes McAdam and Associates,” Lily. “And it is somewhat prosaic – this is where the Stock Exchange used to be, central and near to the main financial centres.”
“True,” Agnes said as they entered and were greeted by a young dark haired lady.
“Miss Harmond? You are interested in possibly renting office space here?”
“Actually, I am acting on behalf of Miss McAdam here – she needs space for two or three workers, with good office and other facilities. I understand you have something suitable?”
“Of course – this way please…”
3 pm CET
brilliant..." Holly laughed as she looked up.
"I know it
is," Alexandra whispered as she teased her lover’s nipple with her tongue.
mean that...I'm talking about this text from Cari,"
Holly laughed again as she read more.
needs feeding," Sands pouted.
very well what 'baby' needs." Holly gave up trying to read and pulled the
younger woman's head down towards her breast, groaning with pleasure as
Alexandra started to suckle. "You are insatiable darling."
fair, it's my turn to..." Holly started to caress her girlfriend’s small
but perfect titties.
"Ooh I love it when you do that," Sands threw her head back and gasped.
Thursday 30th June
7 am Local Time
favourite part of the day darling," Barbara said as she sat down next to
Jeannie at the table.
great just getting to hang out with all these others."
any new friends?"
also met a couple of living legends..."
"G'day...Mind if I sit down?" an Australian voice
us Tin," Jeannie smiled, "Mum meet Sarah Pugh, one of the
Sarah," Barbara stood and shook hands, "and I should know better than
to ask, but Tin?"
shortened from 'Your Shittin' Me', and it's what I
said on live national TV when I won Teen Model Search earlier this year,"
the dark haired girl shook her head. Officially my PTA name is Shittin..."
think I'll stick to Tin," Barbara giggled.
actually eat breakfast with all this going on?" Sarah looked at Jeannie's
a bit of advice Tin, eat as well, you are going to need the energy."
"She's right on that." Kate Moss joined them. One by one others came over and sat down – and then one more.
“Thanks for meeting me for breakfast this morning,” Andy said as she joined the group, “I wanted to get some idea of what Kylie meant to you without her present.”
“Our pleasure – what do you want to know,” Jeannie said with a smile.
“Well, how do you think Kylie stamps her own vision on her designs?”
doesn't think fashion like a kid," Jeannie sat talking to Andy. "She
has a mature taste that means she avoids the excesses that a lot of young
designers go in for."
enjoy wearing her clothes?"
Jeannie grinned, "and having her close by in NYC I'm hoping to get her to
design a few things just for me personally."
good idea - She designed an evening dress that I wore to a ball in San
Francisco," Mary spoke, "I had a basic idea what I wanted, but she
made it so much better than even I'd dreamed."
"So I can
take it she impresses you?"
Goddess yes," Jeannie nodded her head, "and what is amazing is that
she's still really only a beginner, who knows what beautiful things she will
is she like to have as a friend?"
Nikki laughed, "though if you are her friend you quickly learn that you
might get treated as a pincushion."
what?" the reporter asked.
that one of her habits is to drape fabric over her friends and start pinning it
as she looks at ideas on a real model."
"Gotcha." Andy laughed. "So other than her
creative side what else does she like to do?"
trains both as a martial artist, and in part as a dancer." Doc smiled.
reading Jane Austen." Nikki added.
has scrapbooks in which she puts pictures, sketches, etc,
that she thinks might be of use one day."
"Oh a few guys have come and gone, but there's never been anyone serious yet." Doc said as she crossed her fingers behind her back.
"You all make her sound a very normal teenager?"
she is," Mary mused, "I don't know her as well as these girls do,
"but I think she has so much talent, that she's taking time to explore all
her options in life."
"I think she will fit in nicely at St Angela's," Grace Brand spoke for the first time, "I'm certainly looking forward to teaching her there.”
“But if you want to know more about Kylie,” Jeannie said, “the best person here is Marina. They’ve lived together in Hong Kong, and are sharing an apartment in NY. She’s really like her big sister.”
“I’ll try and get some time with her then…”
9 am Local Time
Sydney Opera House
Katy asked Pru, Kate Upton, Holly Peers, and Alyssa
us all doing the bikini bit." Pru shook her
jailbait like me?"
Katy," Pru nodded.
she realise this isn't a titty show?" Kate
her that...but her answer was that the Aussies like models with big bazongas."
"And I can
guess what she means by bazongas," Katy shook
her head. "my Mom isn't going to like it."
"What about our husbands," Holly shook her head. "You think they will?"
“RIGHT,” Mary called out, “starters for the opening into their groups please, and listen to the music.”
“How did we draw this,” Abby said as she, Jo, Juliette, Karen, Lily Cole and Poppy Ashley came out.
“Who knows,” Jo said as Mary called out “PLAY!”
The sound of the Mojo Singers singing C’Mon Aussies C’mon began as Mary called out and “Cricket Girls – go!”
The six girls started to walk out as the second group gathered, the music changing to One Day in September by Mike Brady.
“And Aussie Rules – go”
They came out two by two, walking in time to the music as Mary and Fiona watched.
“Good, good, music change and AFL girls – GO!”
“On our way,” Trina said as she and Joey led the way out to Up There Cazaly, and then the rugby league and Super Rugby girls to Simply The Best.
“And stop,” Mary said as she looked at them all standing round the runway. “Right – from the top…”
9.30 am Local Time
Complete Style Australia
ladies and gentlemen," Anna stood up at one end of the long conference
room, "before we start can I just say thank you all for traveling huge
distances to get here for these meetings."
"Our pleasure,” Marie-France Erec smiled, “it gives us all the opportunity to meet with each other.”
"Now I want to talk about how we are going to operate with me as a Global Editor at Large, and what we want to do with the various editions." Anna looked at faces. "As we have always done, each edition will be largely autonomous with the local editorial team choosing and commissioning their own content. I will not be interfering in that at all."
hear that confirmed," Sheila nodded.
though be trying to give CS an international aspect that just maybe our
what?" Pippa asked.
face it, every day fashion becomes more and more a global business, I want us
to be ahead of the game profiling global trends, showcasing the superstars of
our business, and making sure that a reader in say Moscow is as clued in on the
fashion world as her counterpart in New York."
"Ah I see what this is about," Sara Ammoni of Italian CS, "it's basically what we were talking about last year in London."
“And for those of us who were not there,” one of the Russian group said.
“During the two main Fashion Week seasons, for example, we cooperate on articles around that – Pippa, Sara and Marie-France, you and Fiona will take point on those.”
“With the expanded use of our web presence, it should be a simple task,” Pippa said as the others nodded.
“Good – now for some of my other ideas…”
11 am Local Time
Sydney Opera House
“Fifteen minutes,” Fiona called out.
“Let the annual Merlin Moan begin,” Caroline said as she walked off.
times are we going to have to walk this till she's pleased?" Sarah Pugh
thinks that we can do it perfectly without even thinking," Juliette shook
her head, "and believe me Sarah, London last year was a lot worse than
"Oh my God don't remind me darling." Mandy drawled as she adjusted the high heeled sandals she was wearing. “And she had something on her mind then as well. This is just sheer torture!”
“At least it’s not you she’s criticising the walk of – AGAIN,” Stephanie said as she sat down.
“Let me guess darlings – Merlin’s Magic?”
“You try it from our side some time, Kylie DARLING,” Alice said as she massaged her feet.
“And we’re only two hours in – be glad she’s doing the speciality spots for the next few hours…”
least I now know just what Mary was going on about when she asked me if I'd do
this…" Tracy van Roon looked in the mirror as
the assistants fussed over the 'Gay Nineties' styled theatrical costume she was
amazing darling," Mandy sat and watched, "to be frank I am more than jealous."
can't believe she's going to let me keep it."
make a wonderful thing to take off."
just...I'll have to dream up a whole new routine."
remember darling we have the burlesque rehearsal this afternoon."
poor Sarah is so nervous, and I had to do so much persuading before her parents
"Well she both has a great body, and she's a good dancer...really she's perfect for the segment."
“Oh my feet!”
“This is the other side of the business, Kiddo,” Mary said as she sat with Suzie, “the endless rehearsals, fittings and more rehearsals.”
“How do you stop from getting bored?”
“We all have different ways – Jo Smith, Carina, Ingrid and Abby read books, Jeannie takes notes… One tip I will give you.”
“And that is?”
“Never play cards with Pru Stratton…”
this I hear about you doing a movie Face?" Natalia Vodianova
sat with her feet in a basin of hot water.
been offered the chance to play the goddess Freyja in a film Mads Mikkelsen is going to make," Caroline smiled as a
dresser fussed over her. "Not a huge part, but the script looks great to
goddess of love, fertility, and battle," the Russian supermodel smiled,
"almost tailor made for you darling."
"So a few
people have said Supernova."
is wrong," Kylie said as she stood up, and took some pins from the
dresser, "It should fit like this darling."
are you filming?" Natalia restarted her conversation as Kylie adjusted the
one of the countries I've never been to before."
its own type of beauty."
Kylie pointed out what she had done to the assistant.
"Kylie how much longer do I need to stand here," Caroline asked.
“I think she has the idea of what to do now – thank you, you may go and have Merlin shout at you again.”
“I’m not sure which is worse,” Caroline said with a laugh as she stripped off and put on her clothes.
1 pm Local Time
Complete Style Australia
I was delayed Andrea," Marina said as they shook hands, "but blame
the bosses, their meeting overran."
"No probs. I know you’re busy, so I appreciate you sparing the time."
"So,” she said as she looked at her tray, “you want to talk about Kylie?"
"Well,” she said as she took a drink, “fire away."
"Everyone I've talked to says you are probably the person who knows her best?"
I am," Marina said as she ate a little of her lasagne. “I’ve known her since she was a kid.”
she like behind the schoolgirl superstar?"
question..." Marina pondered for a moment. "I guess you could say
that she's rather complex, I think she finds it hard to believe the world that
has opened up to her.”
"Oh? In what way?"
"Well...eighteen months ago her schools had more or less given up on her."
so...It was then that her cousin Susan Walker intervened to try and help. It
was she and Juliette Huntingdown who worked out
Kylie's real problem was that she had very poor eyesight and that was why she
Andy said as she rolled her eyes, “something as simple as that?"
Marina shook her head. "Well Susan looked at various schools that had
reputations for salvaging educations for girls, and HKGGS was recommended as
being Kylie's best option."
went to Hong Kong?"
"Yes - and
at the same time, I was asked to go along by my old company to learn some
additional languages. Well, it seemed
convenient that as an old friend of her family I went along to keep an eye on
"So it was
in HK that something magical happened?"
Marina smiled, "both Kylie and I started martial arts training and that
helped immensely with self discipline and confidence.
The fact Kylie was at last able to see properly also helped her to leap ahead
in her education."
did she get into fashion?"
"She and her friends at HKGGS were all into clothes, and when we were vacationing in New York Mary Thomas of CS offered her a little part time job helping out in the magazines wardrobe.” Taking a drink, she said “It was Mary who spotted her design talents when she got a look at Kylie's sketch pad, and showed them to Alice MacKinnon. Alice then offered to make some of them up, and the rest, as they say…"
“Is history,” Andy laughed. “So she found this huge natural talent?”
“That’s right – since then, Alice and Mary have encouraged her, to the stage that the APCO show now has a regular Kylie Mitchell section.”
“And you are both relocating to New York now?”
“Oh yes – we hope to go from here straight back for the Fourth of July celebrations.”
2.30 pm Local Time
Sydney Opera House
“Hello Andy – did you enjoy lunch with Marina?”
“I certainly did. So Kylie - some quick-fire questions?” Andrea asked as they sat at the back of the auditorium watching rehearsals.
“Go ahead darling.”
“Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration?”
“Lady Ordford.” Kylie spoke without hesitation.
“Yes,” Kylie said, “and I know you thought I’d probably say Alice, but no I’m a huge fan of Mandy’s. When I’m designing something I usually envisage how she would look in it. I just love her elegance.”
“But didn’t she make her name as a punk…”
“Yes, but even in early Alistair McQueen she still managed to look sophisticated.”
“Alright so I suppose she’s also your favourite model?”
“Yes, but can I also say I adore Jeannie Brewster, I just admire her whole attitude to life.”
“Yeah I’ve met her, she’s something pretty special.” Andy jotted down a note. “So other than Marina who is your best friend?”
“Hmmm a question that could get me in trouble, but I guess I’d say Anna Carlton, I’m in awe of her intelligence and that she finds it easy being both an academic star, and a model.”
“What do you think is your own worst fault?”
“But everyone says how calm and cool you are,” Andy looked shocked.
“Well I’ve trained myself to be so, but no when I let it go I have a really nasty temper.”
“Okeydokes, so what is your best quality in your opinion?”
“I guess that I’m a good listener and that when people tell me something I can usually sense what they are really getting at.”
“Mary Clarke was telling me how you took an idea of hers that she told you and that you enhanced it and made a dress for her that was just what she truly wanted.”
“That’s sort of what I was trying to say,” Kylie blushed.
“So what’s your favourite shop?”
“Believe it or not,” Kylie said with a grin, “there is a thrift shop on 46th Street in NYC that is my favourite, I’ve picked up some of the most brilliant vintage pieces for myself there.”
“An old denim jacket that I wear an awful lot. It cost me five dollars, and I added some decoration and now I think it looks like a real designer piece.”
“Oh the kids read the mag will love you saying you buy at Op Shops,” Andrea scribbled a note.
“Well as long as you look for quality in fabric I think, just because something is used doesn’t mean it can’t have a whole new life in your wardrobe darling.”
“Especially if you have a sense of your own style Kylie?”
“I think so.”
“KYLIE!” a voice shouted up from the stage, “Mrs. MacKinnon needs you in the changing area.”
“On my way darling,” Kylie shouted back as she stood up. Andrea watched as she slowly walked down, smiling as she made more notes.
“So girls – how’s your day going? Having fun?” Dave Clarke chuckled as he spoke on the phone.
“Pops did I ever tell you that you can be cruel,” Suzie moaned. “My feet hurt, I’m tired already, and we have several more hours of this yet.”
“She finally believes what I’ve been telling her all this time about this being a real job Pops.” Mary laughed.
“Did you know her nickname is Worker?”
“I had heard. So did you hear from Richard yet Mary?”
“I did Pops, and he wasn’t over happy.”
“Let me guess… he got outbid on that stamp you was telling me about?”
“Yes he reckons the dealer who bought it can’t make any money with the price he paid.”
“That’s business I guess Poppit…So how was he otherwise?”
“Pretty great, he was telling me all about this place he knows in Venice that he says serves the best seafood going.”
“Did ya tell him that it will have to go some to beat what we eat here in the Bay Area?”
“I did Pops.”
“Suzie what’s Peyton like?” Allison asked.
“She’s great…and right now she’s sitting here like we are resting her feet.”
“Did you get her autograph for our collection?”
“I did Vicky.” Suzie laughed.
“What are you laughing at Suzie?” Dave asked.
“Peyton - she’s trying to massage her own feet and it looks gross.”
“Well it does sound like you are enjoying yourself, despite all the work?”
“Yeah I am Pops, hopefully tonight we might get to go out on the harbor in a private boat and have a small party…”
“But only if Mary lets everyone go,” Mary moaned, “and at this moment she is still very far from happy.”
“I better let ya go girls, I’ll phone again tomorrow, and I hope you get to have this party.”
“So,” Katy said as she sat in the chair, her feet up in the chair in front, “how are you coping, Emerald darling?”
“Just about Lolita,” the Irish redhead said with a smile. She was in her last outfit of the day – a green jacket with pink jeans, four inch stiletto pumps, and red elbow gloves. A leopard skin cap was perched on her head, and her lips were ruby red. “I’ve walked Mary’s shows before, but this is a different league.”
“Tell me about it,” Katy said as she lowered her diamante encrusted sunglasses. Her jacket was pink, over a pale blue top, ripped jeans and leopard skin heels, her hands covered in long pale blue gloves.
“Looking like that, I can see why you were named Lolita,” Katy said with a smile.
“I know – but sooner or later…”
“There you two are.”
Katy lowered her glasses as she saw Jan and Orion’s father standing there.
“We’re done for the day – go and get changed, and you can go to the party tonight.”
"Not before I take this," Jack Linklater said as he took a photo of the two young models, Luke shaking his head as he watched.
"Jack... At least they are dressed."
"Later darlings," Jack said as he walked off.
"He doesn't know, does he?"
Luke shook his head as he followed his partner.
“Oh you have got to be kidding me…”
“Oh no,” John Hammond said with a smile, “we are not joking, Joanne Smith. It goes so well with the classic Chanel look.”
“I suppose I should be grateful they are not sheepdogs,” Jo said as she saw the two Afghan hounds with their owner. She was wearing a black jersey dress with a white jacket, pearls round her neck and a brooch on her breast, as well as black heels and white gloves. Her hair was carefully styled, her lips red and full.
“Hey Greyhound – ready for the classic shot,” Abby called out as she walked past.
“I’ll get you for this later,” Jo whispered as Marnie and Maggie stood with Angel, all four watching as she sat on the low wall and the dogs were brought over.
“Well you are real beauties, aren’t you,” she said as she played with the dogs while John was setting up.
“Okay then – take their leashes Jo and sit facing over the harbour, while the dogs are distracted.”
“Distracted? How…” Her question was answered as the dogs sat and looked at their owner, who was waving a stuffed doll around.
“And hold that pose,” John said as Jo looked wistfully across the harbour, the dogs panting as she did so. “Play with your hair now… That’s it… Lovely…”
“Perhaps she and Curt should buy a dog,” Angel said with a smile.
“Three years to go, Angel…”
“So does the fact we are here in Sydney have any special significance, Merlin?”
“It gives us a chance to honour the place of Australia if fashion history, BS. Three women in particular?”
“Prue Acton, Collette Dinnigan and Carla Zampatti?”
“Precisely – most of the younger models today have not heard of them, but their place is assured.”
“So why are they not so well known?”
"Prue lost interest in fashion in the 80's and turned to painting, then Collette made her name in the 90's." Merlin said as she looked at the rehearsal.
they are the two most important Australian designers internationally
Acton was the first Australian designer to be invited to show in New York, and
Collette Dinnigan the first to be invited to show in
Paris. Along with Elle breaking internationally as a model they are probably
the three most important women in Australian fashion history."
we are honouring them?"
Jeannie," Merlin smiled, "the pity is that Collette has scaled back
her business, and that Prue enjoys her art so much, both are, and were, huge
lifetime award going to Carla Zampatti, though I
thought we should have given it to Elle." Juliette sat down.
Bruce and Sheila pointed out Carla is in her seventies, and within Australia
she has been the defining influence for 45 years with her designs and
"Agreed...but one day I get to spring a lifetime thing on Elle, not just a long and important service thing."
“Her time is coming, believe me…”
“What’s the book Worker,” Trina said as she sat with her backstage, nibbling on a slice of pizza.
“War and Peace – I always wanted to read it, and now’s my chance. Where’s the pizza?”
“Buffet’s back there,” Sam said as she came over with a plate.
“Hey kiddo,” Mary said to Suzie, “grab a couple of bottles, will you?”
“Oh that is better,” Maggie Fife said as she sat down and stretched her legs, “so the word is Merlin and Fiona are happy – the party is on tonight!”
“Excellent – we need the time out…”
6 pm Local Time
“Where the heck are they…”
“Problem,” Peyton said as she came out of the bathroom, towelling her hair.
did you borrow a pair of my panties?" Suzie asked as she finished
re-checking her suitcase.
I was going to ask you the same thing...my black thong I showed you is
stupid," Suzie said as she searched the drawers again.
hell did we both lose a pair of underwear?"
got a clue," Suzie sat on the end of her bed. "Maybe one of the maids
not?" Peyton said as she dried her hair off.
can't think of another explanation," Suzie shook her head.
we’d better report it then," Peyton said as she reached for the house
phone, then stopped as a knock came on the door.
Doc," Suzie smiled as she saw who the visitor was.
Anna said, “I hate to ask this, but have you lost a pair..."
panties?" Peyton looked up.
Doc stared through her glasses, "both Nikki and I reckon we've lost a
we." Suzie nodded, "we were about to notify the hotel."
worry it's already been done," a voice from the doorway said.
Caroline?" Doc asked.
"Yep, I'm going round asking, it looks like about some perve got into rooms while we were rehearsing and stole undies from about a dozen girls."
finally made it," Jeannie said as she reached up and let House lift her
into his arms.
will teach me to come the long way round to Australia," House said,
kissing her as he held her in his arms.
check-in with Mary yet?" Jeannie asked as Winston sat down on a chair with
her on his lap.
and I see my services are required as usual."
Mario did his best in rehearsals today, but he isn't you darling."
"So I hear
we get to party tonight?"
"As much as a group this tired can," Jeannie waved a hand, "we are all knackered, but a night cruise on the harbour will be a nice way to relax."
“Sounds amazing – first time I’ve ever been here. So what’s this I hear of an opening of sports colours…”
He smiled as he
surveyed his work. "A bloody good
afternoon's work if I say so myself," the man in black whispered as he
looked at the latest 'acquisitions' for his collection, all neatly labelled
with the owner’s name, and the place he had got them.
"Now if they'se all go out for this party tonite I might just be able to slip back in and get some more." He gently smoothed out the black knickers he'd taken from Juliette Huntingdown's suitcase. "She's such a huge star," he said proudly to himself.
Luke and Jack both turned round as they saw Lily Cole striding towards them.
“Lily my dear, and how are…”
“Stow it Jack – is it or is it not true you got a shot of me in curlers and gown backstage today!”
“Ah – and if I did my dear?”
“Hand it over Jack, or I tell the truth about your true love in life.”
“Hmmm,” Jack said as he put his finger to his chin. “Nope – see you Lily…”
8 pm Local Time
“Now this is what we need after a hard day,” Kylie said as she, Doc and Nikki got out of the taxi, “a nice relaxing evening darlings.”
“And to get dressed up as well,” Nikki said as she adjusted her light grey elbow gloves, which matched her fifties style dress, the brocaded bodice held up by straps.
“Especially given we are shooting all day tomorrow,” Doc said. She was wearing a blue dress with a floral print, a black collar and half-length sleeves, while Kylie was wearing a similar design of dress, only with a square neckline.
“So, let’s get on board and half fun,” Nikki said as they joined the line of models walking up the gangway…
the whole Jo Smith with a dog thing has become something of an industry joke,
but isn't it in danger of becoming a cliche
Missy?" Jo asked as they stood by the rail of the boat with the Harbour
Bridge overhead and illuminated.
guess so," Missy stood pondering, "I suppose I ought to tell clients
that you'd rather not be pictured with dogs for a while."
consider doing it for Alice, but really that's all please."
your point, I'll see what I can do about it....” She took a sip of her drink and said “changing
subjects were you a victim of this 'Panty Raider'?"
I could see...but damn it's worrying that someone was able to get into the
hotel like that. Some of the younger kids are really freaked out."
know," Missy nodded. "Caroline as a security professional has been
talking with the NSW Police."
this person has been up to this crap for a few weeks now."
of pervert gets off on stealing women's underwear?"
"Not just any women it seems, only celebrities."
“Oh lovely – we all need to be on the lookout then…”
Ama Caroline?" asked Mary.
battered and bruised," Caroline smiled.
played in a practice game, and the girl marking her plays on the German national
team, seems she gave my daughter a lesson in the more physical side even of
Mary shook her head, "so how did that go down?"
well as todays rehearsals did with a lot of the girls," Caroline grinned,
"but like us all Ama knows it’s the sort of thing she has to go through if
she's going to get better."
"Ai,” Mary said, “she has a good attitude that girl."
“So heard from Denice and Erica?”
“Ai – my friend tracked down some of her cousins, and they’re meeting today…”
Itch," Abby smiled as Olga Michikova walked over
to her, "are you doing SI again this year?"
booked to...and you?"
"I was going to go to Rio, but they switched me to St Lucia later in the year."
“Not this year – thank the Goddess…”
you enjoying yourself Suzie?” Ingrid asked.
the young girl said, “even if I'm physically tired out."
so many of us are just chatting and not even attempting to dance."
we models are 24 hour party girls?"
Suzie,” Ingrid said, “and did you notice you said 'we'?"
didn't I," Suzie shook her head.
are you drinking? and can I get you another?"
I'm being unsophisticated, but if you grab me a coca-cola
I'd appreciate it.'"
"One glass of Atlanta champagne," Ingrid laughed as she headed to the bar.
bright idea was it to let Jack backstage on a rehearsal day?" Paula
moaned. "He's got blackmail material on virtually every girl doing this
"How can I
keep this public image as a glamour girl when he catches in me in shorts,
flats, no makeup, and my hair in a complete mess?" Kate Upton shook her
"There are certain times even models are entitled to privacy, and rehearsals are one of them," Behati Prinsloo drank from the beer bottle she was carrying in her hand.
“Relax girls,” Juliette said, “Jack has a big surprise coming his way…”
think I've ever met an actor who is less like the character he is best known
for portraying," Olivia sipped from her wine, "he's so quiet and
talking about Hugh?" Fiona spoke.
a nice laddie, nuthin nasty."
like him a lot."
"He and Deborra-Lee make a perfect couple yer
amazed she's 13 years older than him..."
age matter when they are in love?" Miranda Kerr joined in. "And they
both do so much for so many charities."
"But especially for adoption charities." Fiona sipped the small whiskey she was nursing.
“Excuse me – are you Kylie Mitchell?”
“I am – and…” Kylie blushed as she turned and realised who was speaking.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Kylie Minogue said as they shook hands, “can I introduce you to my friends Jason, Annie and Guy? This is Kylie Mitchell, guys?”
“I… I am truly honoured,” Kylie said with a smile, “I am afraid I am too young to remember you in Neighbours, but my mother was a big fan.”
“Just as well Alan isn’t here,” Guy said, “we’d really make him feel old.”
“So you all have a part to play this week?”
“We do indeed,” Jason said, “but we can’t tell you what.”
“What is this – a Neighbours reunion or something?”
“Hey Russel,” Guy said as he clapped the Oscar winner on the back, “what’s this I hear you and Hugh may actually sing on the show?”
“No comment,” he said with a laugh, “find out on the night…”
for the idea of models having wild parties," Barbara sat down next to
Janice, "this is more like a corporate cocktail party."
FBI parties are far wilder then this."
remember how hard they've worked all day darlings, and that this is still in a
way work as we are expected to charm and schmooze the various sponsors and
guests who've been invited along."
right you know." Jeannie wheeled herself over. "Someone like Missy is
in her element tonight."
"I just wonder how much extra work she is booking for us all." Fiona came over carrying a bottle of champagne. "Who needs a top-up?"
“Look at them, the next generation,” Behati said as she and Candace looked at Poppy and the younger girls, talking as they looked over the harbour.
“Are we meant to start feeling old already,” Candace said as she brushed some crumbs from her pink dress.
“Nah – with the likes of Bandit, Virtue and Palomino here, we’re good,” Erin Wasson said as she and Lindsey Wixson joined them. “so what are you down for?”
“Apart from the opening?” Behati looked over as she said “I have the tribute and then Kylie. You?”
“I’m not allowed to say,” Lindsey said ”but it happened.”
“What happened,” Behati asked.
“The Missy Swoop – she’s got us working with Cassandra Stone and JD Carlucci tomorrow morning…”
“I thought we were off the clock,” JD said as she sat with Missy and Cassie.
“We were,” Cassie said, “but this is to promote the film as well, so Miss Panther and Miss Bobcat will pose with a few models for the local news.”
9 am BST
Xavier International, The Aldwych
“Good morning Madame,” Penny said as she came in, smiling as Shirley looked up.
“Good morning – the daily report?”
“Indeed Madame,” Penny said as she sat down.
news from Australia Penelope?"
very little phrased in a language that as a lady I feel comfortable
e-mail I got from John said there were more than a few disgruntled souls,”
Shirley said as she glanced down the report.
is working with the local police after a thief broke in and stole underwear
from several of the girls’ rooms Madame.”
isn't a crime that I can honestly say we've ever had to deal with in during a
morning report before."
Penny said as she shook her head, “but as I said Caroline is trying to help the
local police catch the perp.”
what else is urgent?"
wants to book a call with you at two this afternoon."
about a serious enquiry going on into money laundering through New York based
banks among others."
serious matter...can I have a briefing document by eleven so I'm fully prepped
to talk to Susan?"
working on it at this moment."
"Now to matters nearer home, how is Agnes doing?"
“Lily found some suitable accommodation for her business yesterday – we’re helping her with the lease,” Penny said, “and the Bayswater Road flat has been fitted out. Some of the girls are helping with the packing of her things this afternoon, and she moves in tomorrow.”
“Excellent – and an assistant for her?”
“I talked to Margo Harman – now we need to talk to the candidate. She’s coming in to see us later this afternoon after she takes care of personal business.”
“Good,” Shirley said as she sat back. “Would you ask Charlotte to come in please? I wish to discuss a matter with her.”
“Of course Madame…”
Shirley said, “on top of other matters, do you think that the training for our
gold collection is going as planned?"
us of have done that short course on using the mini fork lifts if that's what
you mean Madame?"
"It was in
part, but have all the kidnap teams been briefed and the targets fully scoped-out?"
have...And Madame without being too presumptive might I ask what has you
Tanaka appearing to just be playing tourist...still."
"I understand," Penny nodded. “Perhaps Natalia can help…”
1 pm BST
him up to take out Tiffany Pettypiece," Lady
Victoria told Susan as they sat having a lunchtime coffee in Covent Garden.
Sue nodded as
she put her cup down, and said "So what's she like?"
blonde, her father is an MP, not too many brains, but makes up for it with
great looks and good manners."
sounds like she should be his type Your Ladyship."
Victoria said as she shook her head, “are you going to ever return to calling
Ladyship knows the answer to that," Sue shook her head, "but
returning to Miss Pettypiece is he taking her out
gives me a chance to remove all evidence of me from the house in case he takes
her back. The last thing he needs is her finding something like a pair of my
are serious about finding the man you love with all your heart a wife aren't
and deserves one...It's important."
about your own happiness Sue."
said before Your Ladyship I'll get my happiness seeing him make a successful
career in Parliament."
incredible," Victoria shook her head.
a wife can do all the right things...and can give him children."
hard at Sue, before she said quietly "How did your visit to the hospital
Sue looked round and lowered her head. "They think,” she eventually said, “that my chance of ever going full-term should I ever get pregnant are about one in ten. They had a real close look at the damage the miscarriage caused. So even if I wasn't a whore, I'd not be able to give him children anyway...another good reason to find him a wife."
“I’m sorry,” Victoria said as she put her hand on Sue’s.
“We take what life deals us, and we do our best,” Sue said quietly.
1 pm BST
Erica sipped her Coke as she sat next to her mother in the hotel lobby, Denice looking nervously round.
“Mom, I haven’t seen you this nervous since the day we went to Saks,” Erica said with a smile.
“I know,” Denice said, “but you have to understand just how…”
“Excuse me – you must be Denice Crosby?”
Denice and Erica looked up to see a tall dark skinned woman, wearing a padded jerkin over a brown sweater, jeans and brown Ugg boots. Standing with her was a thirteen year old girl, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, black leggings and knee length leather boots.
“I’m Denice – this is my daughter Erica,” she said as she stood up. “You must be Clara – I spoke to you on the telephone yesterday.”
“That’s right – my daughter Britney,” Clara said as she looked at them. Denice was wearing a white blouse under a black waistcoat and pants, with black ankle boots, while Erica had on an Angel’s hoodie and grey jeans. “I have to admit, your call came like a bolt out of the blue.”
“I can imagine,” Denice said, “but trust me, it’s no less a shock for me. Can I get you some coffee?”
“Please,” Clara said as she and Britney sat down. “So Uncle Jack ended up in New York?”
“He did – but he never said anything about the family back home, and he died when I was a little girl.”
“If it’s not been too intrusive, what was it?”
“Cancer – Asbestos. Journeys he made before he settled,” Erica said as Britney looked at Erica.
“You talk funny,” she said in her Welsh accent.
“So do you,” Erica said, “guess we’ll just have to deal with that.”
They watched as a waiter laid some coffee out, before Clara said “so what brings you to Cardiff?”
“Pops always promised, one day, he’d bring us back. I’m fulfilling that promise,” Erica said. “My Mom never really got over his death, and died just after Erica here was born.”
“I’m sorry,” Clara said.
“It happened – so I brought up Erica, and this year we had the opportunity to do what Pops never could. A good friend of ours knew we were coming, and got a friend of a friend to ask around if any of his relatives were still in the area.”
“So what school do you go to,” Britney asked Erica.
“St Angela’s? I got a scholarship to go there, and then to university to do medicine. What about you?”
“A local grammar – I prefer arts to science though,” Britney said with a smile. “What does your ma do?”
“She’s an engineer – finishing off the degree she had to stop when I came along.”
“My gran tells stories of Uncle Jack – sounds like she follows after him.”
“He has a sister still alive,” Denice said quietly.
“AI – my ma. I told her about your call.”
“What did she say?”
“That I’d come later.”
Denice stood up as she looked at the grey haired woman, wearing a brown coat over a grey dress, as the new arrival said “You look so much like Jack. I’m Rhoda – his younger sister.”
The two looked at each other, before Rhoda embraced Denice and said “welcome home, lass…”
1 pm BST
still a member of the club Agnes?" Sherry Babbage asked as they walked
along, “maybe we can have lunch there?"
shown the door, and informed that my resignation was expected Sherry...You know
what that means?"
will never be allowed to darken their doors again. Did the Ashington..."
Aggie shook her head, "I was informed in a rather snotty letter that my
life membership had been cancelled, and that any reference by me to the club or
its members might result in legal action."
founded the Ash, without you it would never have existed," Sherry shook
clubs basically dumped me,” Agnes said with a sigh, “I am not even a member of
either Old Girls Association."
"Dear God that stinks Aggie."
“True – so let’s try somewhere else. Fancy Mexican? I know the head waiter over there…”
2 pm BST
“Time Square it’s not,” Nessa said as she sat with Glenda on a park bench, watching the world go by.
“True – but it has the same sort of feel. Groups of tourists going by, not really looking where they are going.”
“True,” Nessa said as she adjusted the skirt of her sundress, “A lot of Chinese and Japanese tourists.”
“And the odd group of American school trips,” Glenda said as one group of teenagers went past, wearing matching jackets and back packs, talking noisily to each other, “from the mid-west by their accent.”
Nessa nodded as she looked at her phone. “Maggie – she’s managed to get the tickets for the show tonight. She’s going into a meeting for the first vote, so she’ll meet us outside.”
“Seriously – you never got to see Beautiful on Broadway?”
“I never really had the time,” Nessa said with a smile, “but here, I really feel I could join in if need be.”
“She’s also got stage side tickets for Saturday afternoon for Sunny Afternoon.”
“My cup runneth over,” Nessa said with a smile.
4 pm CET
“Hey Ama,” Annie said as the teenager came into the front room, “how was the park?”
“A real pleasure,” Ama said as she helped Judith take her coat off,” my little friend here was very keen on playing with the animals today.”
“Well, did you enjoy it Judith?”
“Yes Mamma,” Judith said as she came over, “I stwoked the bunnies.”
“Well, you go and get washed for your tea.”
“Yes Mamma,” Judith said as she went off with Ama, and Klaus came in.
“I imagine the twins will be waking soon.”
“I think so,” Annie said as she looked at her watch, “did you talk to the priest?”
“I did – we should be able to do the Christening at the end of July, before you have to head back over.”
“That’s good news,” Annie said as she got up, “well, let’s see if they’re ready for a feed…”
6 pm CET
“This has been a wonderful break,” Sands said as she rested on Holly’s chest, “but we’re going to London tomorrow.”
“And you’re going to be known in London as one of the Richmonds – which means we get to be a little more circumspect,” Holly said, “evenings only.”
“I know – that will just make them all the more special,” Sands said as she kissed Holly’s neck, and then heard the knock on the door.
“Thirty minutes Sis,” they heard George say, “then in the lobby.”
“Sounds fun,” Sands giggled as she got up.
3 pm BST
“It’s just as I remember it,” Agnes said as she stood in the front room of the flat, while Penny looked out over the windows.
“Well, as of tomorrow you will be here,” Penny said with a smile.
“Yeah – Tam’s coming over to stay for the weekend. That’s good of her – like old times.”
“Indeed – well, because you now have the Complete Security package from Xavier Insurance, your safety and security are guaranteed. Give me a moment.” She took out her cell phone and dialled a number.
“Charlotte, everything on line?”
“On line and working – give Agnes the panic button instructions will you?”
“Got it,” Penny said as she looked at Agnes, and then heard a knock on the door. “I’m expecting her,” she said as she went off, returning with Susan.
“Agnes,” she said as she came in, “I was asked to come here?”
“True,” Penny said, “and thanks for coming. Remember I said you’d need an assistant who understand your unique position Aggie?”
“I did, but… Oh now I get it?”
“Does someone want to help me get it?”
“Sue,” Agnes said, “I think what Penny is saying is that the perfect assistant for me – is you.”
“You Sue,” Penny said, “you both have faced heartache, and made a decision only the two of you can really understand. You need each other – and besides, you are a damned good administrator.”
“Ah – forgive us if we are interrupting.”
“You’re not,” Agnes said as Marianne came in with Karen, “but what are you doing here?”
“I felt I had to come,” Karen said, “I felt a great coming together here, and wished to add my own traditional blessing and spell of protection.”
“Don’t ask – I accept your offer and blessing,” Agnes said with a bow. “Sue – want the job?”
“Good – why don’t the four of us go and see if there is any coffee while Karen works.”
“Okay – at least I know I won’t have an empty kitchen,” Agnes said as she handed round the mugs. “Something you wish to ask Susan?”
yeah… You know my background Agnes, what
makes any of you think I can run an economist’s office?" Sue took a
breath, “I quit school when I was 13, I have no qualifications. I learned to do
what I do at Harmon's by watching and listening."
"I know all that Sue," Agnes said as she took a drink, “Where did you get this?”
“Whittards – I’ll get the name to you,” Penny said.
"You also know that I am a whore, that my private life is totally insane, and on top of everything I'm a thief. Why in hell would you want to give me such a job?"
you are loyal, bright, attentive to detail, and more than that you'll be the
friend giving me a shoulder to cry on when I hit the inevitable bad days."
also need someone to do research though?"
"I do, and
actually I have a young lady in mind if she's interested."
"But what about my current bosses?"
“I spoke to Margot,” Penny said, “she agrees this is a good move for you, and has agreed to you starting next week. She’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Okay then – I accept, on a three month trial basis,” Susan said.
Friday 1st July
8 am Local Time
“Why the heck are we up at this early hour, out here,” Nikki said as she sat with Doc in the tented area, make-up artists working on them.
“Because it’s in the contract,” Barbara said as she sat with Janine.
“And Janine is here?”
“Responsible adult – and Juliette is at a different shoot today, so she said to come and give Barbara a hand.”
“House is here – need I say more?”
“Probably not,” Doc said with a laugh. “So the Magnilash girls get to sit by the billabong?”
“In a way,” the director said, “we’ll show you later - and the early hour is because it may be winter here, but it’s still sunny.”
“And we don’t want you exhausted for later,” Barbara said as she sipped her water.
“Oh how very true,” Doc said with a smile as the make up artist removed the cape, revealing the open necked shirt and rough pants.
“So, it’s going to get hot – and we’ll be wearing long coats, hats and bandanas?”
“Hence the early start – so into costume girls, and let’s get this over with.”
“So where is Ju,” Barbara asked.
“On the Beach…”
8.30 am Local Time
“Elle, I should never have agreed to this!”
“YOU shouldn’t have agreed – how do you think I feel?”
Juliette shook her head as Linda came into the prep area, and said “how are we this morning girls?”
“Regretting agreeing to do this darling,” Mandy drawled as she sat in her dressing gown, “at least we are not the only ones.”
“Oh come on Tufty – Will is going to love it when he sees this,” Elle said as she looked over.
“Right then girls,” Grace said as she stood up, “if we’re going to do this damned stupid thing, let’s get it over with.”
The others nodded, letting their robes fall to reveal their high cut swimsuits, as they went out to where the lifeguards were waiting…
10 am Local Time
Sydney Opera House
“Okay, now I know we’re good,” Jeannie said with a grin as she sat with House,” it’s round 40 girls!”
“Who had 10 on the morning before final rehearsal,” Jo called out.
“YES! I win,” Orion called out as Pru handed her an envelope.
“That’s a new record,” Carina said with a laugh as Suzie talked to Katy, “means we have a good show going. So what’s the timetable for today?”
“Final dress rehearsal at two, then a chance to cool down before the main event.”
“Excellent,” Poppy said, “excellent…”
“A kiss on the lips can be – quite continental,
But Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…”
"Alright we are showing more in our bikinis then they are doing so called striptease," Katy shook her head as she stood by the side of the stage watching rehearsals.
“Oh yeah,” Pru said as they watched Mandy and Tracy dancing with Sarah and the other dancers, as the diminutive blonde walked round the stage and sang.
"Kylie darlin' you were late makin' yer move downstage," Fiona walked over to the singer, "you take your glove off and hands it to Estelle."
"Awlreet shall we take it from the top ladies...and gents?”
she looked at the conductor.
"Give me a minute to get the hat back on please," Tracy called out as she picked it up. She hurried to the back of the stage as Milo and the other men stood with the feather boas, covering her and Mandy as the music started.
“So have you seen the full list of artists,” Carina said as she showed the bill to Abby. “One or two friends in there.”
“So I see – and some I do not even recognise.”
“They’re all top class,” Sheila said as she walked past, “seen Anna anywhere?”
“So is it always this tense before the final rehearsal,” Andi said as she walked round with Kylie.
“It can be – but normally before the show darling,” Kylie drawled, “as this is a Mary Thomas production, however, it can be tense right up until the start.”
chaotic," Jan shook her head as she and Mick stood and watched the
dressers all fussing over the models, "I thought I'd seen a lot during
Fashion Week, but this is worse."
"Yer tellin' me," the
Ulsterman laughed as Orion ran in screaming that she needed to get changed for
her next thing.
with this many models, we are doing so many changes of look and style, it's
different hairstyles, different makeups, different clothes Mom." Katy
stood in a dressing gown sipping water through a straw. "The musical acts
and presentations basically us a chance to catch up back here."
"Why do I
do this?" Abigail screamed as she came off the runway.
like us all you adore it darling." Mandy drawled.
Mary yells at me because my walk was five seconds too long I don't."
darling, is that a rip in your stocking?"
the Duchess yelled..."HELP PLEASE"
dresser said as she started to help her.
rather not be seeing all this," Fiona Treharran said
as she took off her glasses.
"Some of us can't just shut it out like that Fi." Charly pouted as a makeup artist applied more lip colour.
“So I do have an advantage,” Fi said with a smile.
“So what do ye think,” Fiona said as the last of the girls walked off. Mary nodded as she said “yeah – I think we’re good to go now. Tell them all to wind down for an hour or two, but I…”
“I’M GONNA KILL SOMEONE!”
“Am going to ask young Maureen here what’s going on,” she said with a sigh as she saw Maggie Fife fuming.
“He struck me – I went back to the hotel to get my bag, and I found the pair of panties I had left out for later gone!”
“You as well,” Behati said, “I went to put some on this morning, and one of my pairs had gone missing as well.”
“Okay,” Caroline said as she came over, “come and tell me all about it – and any other girls that discovered something missing…”
“Mary,” Diana said as she stood by the stage, “this orchestra you have brought in are sublime – and look familiar.”
“AI – they came highly recommended,” Mary said with a smile as she looked round. “Ah – is she here Winston?”
“She is Merlin – waiting for you.”
“Find Elle for me will you – she needs to meet her as well.”
Mary just smiled as she walked off…
8 am BST
“Hey,” Kay said as she opened the door, “did you bring them?”
“I did – and I brought her so that she was out of the way while her flat is been packed,” Penny said as she and Agnes came in. “The others here?”
“Did you bring the pastries,” Bobbie called out as she and Susan looked over.
“I did – when does the show start?”
“Good – get the coffee on,” Penny said, “we can get comfy.”