Happy Families – Part 1
Saturday 23rd January
Mary Thomas smiled as she walked down the street, looking at the hills rising into the slate grey sky behind the houses. No matter where she travelled, no matter what she did in her life, the valleys were in her blood, and she always enjoyed the chances to come back home.
Before she had left the hotel, she had looked at the photographs from the ball the previous night – Alice McKinnon had really pulled the stops out on Abby’s dress, but all the ladies had looked magnificent. Even young Nicola, although not officially one of the ladies, had looked wonderful in her dress.
But today – today was not about the world of high fashion and modelling. Today was about a girl from the valleys coming home to visit her family – and as she looked round, she was beginning to feel more and more at home.
She stopped at the low gate, looking at the neatly kept garden outside the semi-detached house, and then went in, walking up the garden path and ringing the door bell.
As she waited, she looked along the street, smiling as the door was opened and she looked at the grey haired man standing there.
“Wel wel, ychydig iawn o chwaer, yr ydych yn edrych yn dda?”
“Ar gyfer hen ŵr, nad ydych yn edrych eich hun mor ddrwg Dai?”
“Ddim yn rhy hen i roi hug chi, yr wyf yn eich sicrhau,” he said as he wrapped his large arms round Mary and picked her off the ground.
“Put her down Dai, you’ll crush her!”
“Not my Mary I won’t” Dai Thomas said as he looked at her. “Put the kettle on Mari – little sis is here for a cuppa.”
“Ai now that hits the spot Mari,” Mary said as she sipped from her mug, and looked round the room at the photographs. “How are the kids?”
“Well, Matt just moved to Shrewsbury,” Dai said as he looked at her, “but he brings the kids over once a month, and you heard the youngest on Christmas day.”
“Oh yes – a toy drum?”
“Oh come on Mary – remember when Ma and Pa gave me one?”
“Ai – and I remember the headaches they had that day,” Mary said with a smile. This was her idea of a good day – sitting with family.
“And how are you Mary,” Mari asked as she sat down. She and Dai were four years older than Mary – childhood sweethearts who had met in the village, married in the chapel, and brought their own children up through the hard years.
“Oh I can’t complain – work keeps me busy,” Mary said with a smile.
“Look at her – my little sister, MBE,” Dai said with a smile. “That must have been some day.”
“It was long, tiring, and I was very very proud to meet Charlie,” Mary said with a smile. She reached into her bag and took out a small box, opening it to show Dai and Mari.
“Such a small thing, really,” Dai said as he handed it back, then looked round as the door opened.
“Ma, Pa, you in the front room,” a female voice called out.
“Come on through, we’re in the parlour,” Mari called out, as the door opened and a young woman came in, wearing a black leather jacket over a brown jumper, jeans and short brown boots.
“Hello Jenny,” Mary said as she stood up and hugged her niece.
“Aunt Mary – it’s so good to see you again,” Jenny Thomas said as she hugged her back.
“Did you bring them for me?”
“They’re outside – is there any tea left in the pot Ma?”
“I’ll come with you and make a fresh pot,” Mari said as they went through to the kitchen.
“She’s looking well,” Mary said quietly, “how’s the florist’s business doing?”
“She’s making a good go of it,” Dai said with real pride in his voice. “So what are your plans for the next few days?”
“Well, after this afternoon,” Mary said, “back to London, and a couple of days in the CS offices making sure their layouts are ready, then some down time. I’ve booked to see a couple of shows, and then back by Wednesday.”
“To an empty house again?”
“Not really – not anymore,” Mary said as she sipped her tea.
2 pm GMT
Cemeteries can be cold, forbidding places, especially under a cold January sky, but the caretakers on this one had done their best to make it look nice, with flower beds and trees.
Mary stood for a moment, her dark coat fastened round her body, as she looked at the dark granite headstone, the gold lettering spelling out the names of three generations of the Thomas family.
“Hey Da,” she said quietly as she laced the large bouquet of flowers on the grass, “it’s me, your little Mary. I know it’s been a while since I came, but I’m here now. You were so proud of me when I went to the grammar, to college, and then into the industry, and I hope you’re still as proud of me today.
“Rwy'n dal i hoffi gallu gweld eich gwên, clywed eich llais, eich chwerthin un mwy o amser, ond yr wyf yn gwybod eich bod yn edrych i lawr gyda Ma, ac eich bod yn falch o bob un ohonom.”
She leaned over and put her hand on his name, before saying “sleep well Da, until we meet again.”
Smiling, she turned and walked back to where her brother was waiting.
“All done,” Mary said as she looked back, “thanks for driving me up.”
“Hey – you’re my little sis, how could I refuse? Come on – I’ll stand you a coffee at the Nook. Tracy still runs it you know?”
“You’re kidding? Surely she should have retired by now?”
“She’s like you little one – does not know the meaning of the word,” Dai said as he opened the car door.
The Huntingdown Apartment
Juliette was enjoying the peace and quiet, with Klaus out for a meeting, and the opportunity to play catch up with a fresh mug of coffee, when she noticed the blinking call sign on her laptop.
Smiling, she answered the call and said “Hello Mary.”
“Hi Juliette,” Mary Clark said from her home in San Francisco, “sorry to disturb you at home, but I tried calling Missy and she’s in conference.”
“Yeah,” Juliette said as she glanced at her watch, “I suspect you will hear from her later today. So, how can I help you?”
“Juliette,” Mary said, “I need to ask a special favour.”
“I’ll help if I can Mary.”
“I was watching the coverage of the ball on TV last night,” Mary said, “and I got in my mind an idea for a special dress that I’d like to wear for Trina’s ball.”
“Sounds interesting Mary,” Juliette said as she took a drink from her mug, “what can I do to help?”
“Do you know anyone can translate my idea into a design, and then get it made up for me in time?”
“Hmmm,” Juliette said, “normally I’d suggest Alice, but she’s snowed under with work I know.”
“Hold on Mary,” Juliette said with a smile, “I might just have an idea. Have you met Kylie Mitchell?”
“No…Should I have?”
“She’s at school in Hong Kong, she’s sort of a relative of a relative of mine. But most importantly Alice has already used some of her ideas.”
“She sounds talented.”
“She is…Look if I ask her to Skype you, then she can maybe sketch some ideas, and then I trust in my Hong Kong people to make the dress and get it too you in time.”
“Oh Juliette that would be AMAZING!”
“Alright let me get hold of Kylie and I’ll put the two of you in touch.”
“Just thank you SO MUCH!”
“Not a problem.” Juliette smiled. “Stay by your computer – I may just catch her before she retires for the night.”
As she ended the call, Juliette glanced at her watch. “Midnight in Hong Kong – here goes nothing,” she said as she tried a connection.
“Juliette darling,” Kylie drawled as she appeared, wearing a jumper on the screen, “what can I do for you?”
“Don’t go to bed just yet, Kylie – I wonder if you can do a favour for me.”
“Oh? And what would that be?”
“Have you seen anything of Mary Clarke?”
“Your new Californian model? What of her?”
“Well – she needs a gown for a ball in a few weeks, and she has an idea, but she needs someone to make it a reality. Given the time, and the need for top quality quickly, i wondered if you would be interested in making her idea a reality?”
Kylie sat back and removed her glasses, wiping them before she put them back on.
“Marina’s told me about her darling, and I’ve seen her pictures. I think I might be a bit intimidated designing for such a beautiful woman Juliette.”
“And she’s likely to be intimidated by you…but I really think this project might be good for both of you.”
“Well I can but try.”
“Good…And Thank You Kylie.”
“How do I get hold of her?”
“Let me call her and I’ll patch you together in a group chat on here.”
“Okay buzz me when she’s ready. Marina is making coffee, and I think I’m going to need it.”
“You will if you are designing for Mary,” Marina sat down next to Kylie. “Hi Ju!” she waved at the screen.
“Hi Marina. Listen – Kylie, can you give me and Marina five minutes, and then I’ll start the call?”
“What’s up,” Marina said as Kylie slipped off to get a pen and paper.
“I wanted to give you the heads up – Anna is going to accept a promotion to Worldwide Editor of Complete Style.”
“Is she now? Why would I... Oh.
“OH! Is that why she contacted Catherine?”
“And me, and Janine. We’ll discuss it later,” Ju said as Kylie came back, and Juliette made the connection.”
“Mary Clarke, this is Kylie Mitchell. Kylie, Mary.”
“Hello darling,” Kylie said with a smile, “I understand you would like my help?”
“Hi Kylie – Juliette tells me you might be able to put my idea into reality.”
“Well, I will do my best – so what did you have in mind?”
“Well,” Mary said with a blush, “it’s kind of based on what I would have loved to wear to my prom if I had gone. That, and mixed with a design I saw last night when watching the New York prom.”
“Okay – tell me something of it.”
“It’s a full gown, made of pale blue silk, with capped sleeves at the shoulders. The bodice would be open at the top, and with diamante or some sort of sparkle on the front.”
“Diamante on the front,” Kylie said quietly as she took some notes. “Okay, Mary darling – please continue.”
“Flowing dress, with a gathered waist and soft pleat, and matching opera gloves. I know it’s not much to go on, but the idea came when watching Mandy Carrow last night.
“By the way, do you know you sound like her?”
“It has been mentioned, darling,” Kylie drawled as she smiled, and Marina shook her head. “Now, let me see if I remember – about five eleven, so with heels just over six foot, size two?”
“Close enough – so can you do this for me?”
“Hmmm – San Francisco, ten hours ahead of me... Let me get some sleep, sketch some ideas in the morning, and then send them to you to comment on. Does that sound good to you, Mary?”
“Wonderful – and thank you again Kylie.”
“Of course – Ju, we will see you soon?”
“I’m looking forward to it – forgive me girls, I need to head off. Kylie, I’ll send you Mary’s contact details.”
“Thank you, Juliette – and have a good day. You as well, Mary.”
As the line went dead, Mary smiled. “Nice kid – how old is she?”
“Sixteen in March I think,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Well, here we are,” Abby said as she came into the restaurant with Angel and Fiona, “looks as if we are the first here as well.”
“Not quite,” Angel said as Samantha and Sharon waved from one of the booths.
“Hey – our parents were having brunch together, so we got hauled out of bed early,” Sam said as they joined them and sat down.
“So how are you feeling this morning,” Sharon said as she looked at Angel.
“Wonderful – my mother has the perfect sure for a hangover. A large drink of water and two paracetamol. You?”
“Surprisingly good – tired, but good,” Abby said as she sat down and looked to the doorway. “Hey Brig – get some sleep?”
“Nope – not worth it,” Brigitte said as she sat down.
“Hello GIRLS,” Trina said as she came in and sat down.
“How does she do it?”
“Great party though it was, you’re all in for a treat in a few weeks,” Trina said as she sat down and looked at the menu.
“Hey Nell – how are you feeling?”
“I feel great - and girls, sorry if I stepped on toes last night, on behalf of both me and Mike,” Nell said as she sat down.
“So where is my brother?” Fiona said as she looked up from the menu.
“He escorted me here, then went to meet Tony and some of the others for... So the rumours are true.”
The others looked to the door as Ally and Buffy came in together.
“What? Do I have some dirt on my face?”
“Oh no,” Abby said with a smile, “it’s just this is something I never thought I’d get to see again.”
“So,” Ally said, “for those of you who don’t know her very well…”
“Or at all,” Nell interrupted her sister.
“This is Buff McGeorge, all-round bitch, threat to anyone’s boyfriend, but officially now reinstated as my friend.” Ally laughed as she finished.
“After an introduction like that do I need reconsider having made up?” Buffy giggled as she slipped into the booth.
“I would if I was you,” Abby spoke, “she hasn’t changed much since we were all kids Buff.”
“Yeah,” Buffy said with a smile, “I’d got that impression Abs.”
“Our mother was making noises like groans when she thought of ‘The Terrible Two’ reunited.” Nell picked up a menu.
“Oh Goddess, that’s a nickname I haven’t heard in years.” Abigail shook her head.
“Why terrible?” Charly asked.
“Because if you think they have been trouble while they’ve been fighting all these years, some of us remember the trouble they got into together before that…”
“Who us?” Ally and Buffy said in sync trying to look innocent.
“Yes…YOU TWO!” Abby looked heavenward.
“All I’m going to say is that Buffy HAVING to go off to boarding school probably saved this city a lot of grief.” Nell laughed.
“Hey I’d forgot that,” Buffy looked at Ally, “you OWE ME for four years I didn’t get to spend at St Angela’s.”
“Oh like I never heard of your exploits whilst at school.” Ally laughed.
“True,” Buffy preened herself, “I did attract a certain notoriety.”
“Talk about UNDERSTATEMENT!” Abby shook her head.
“Heads up girls,” Fi said as she looked to the door, “two people trying to look inconspicuous just walked in.”
“Make room then,” Abby said as Charly walked in, wearing a very unladylike pair of grey joggers and an old jumper, and joined the growing group.
“Hey,” she said as she looked at them through heavy eyes, “have I missed much?”
“Nope – let’s start ordering...”
The Richmond Mansion
“Is that fresh coffee I smell,” Victoria Gordon said as she joined the growing group of mothers in the kitchen.
“It is,” Heather said as she passed over a pot, “fresh pastries over there as well.”
“How is everyone feeling?” asked Sandy.
“Tired,” mouthed Kelly as she held her mug.
“Hung-over,” Sukie grimaced.
“MOTHER…That is far too much information.” Sandy shook her head.
“Well you asked darling.” Nessa smiled sweetly.
“I know.” Sandy looked heavenwards.
“Perhaps you ought to have asked if everyone enjoyed last night lover?”
“My answer would have been similar Heather.” Nessa giggled.
“Don’t mind her Heather…she’s like a teenager just discovered what sex is.” Paulie sipped her coffee.
“And at my age too.” Nessa kept giggling.
“Alright…other then my mother’s carnal adventures, does everyone feel happy?” Sandy tried again.
The women nodded as Heather went to answer the door, Mandy and Olivia waving to everyone as they came in, and then two very large men in suits.
“Apologies, ladies,” they said as they looked around, and then left before Teri came in.
“May I have some of that please,” she said as Sandy poured a mug and passed it to her.
“A little too much champagne last night Teri,” Olivia said.
“No – just enough. Not enough sleep.”
“Common problem,” Nessa said, “if for differing reasons.”
Teri raised an eyebrow before Mandy said “I believe the young gentlemen are meeting separately, are they not Sandy darling?”
“Yeah – a diner I know off 75th,” Heather said with a smile...
Tony looked at Andrew MacFarlane as he chewed on a mouthful of haggis, and then drank some tea.
“Acceptable – but it is missing something,” he eventually said as David clapped him on the back.
“Well, life is full of little disappointments,” Tony said as he cut some bacon and egg and put it into his mouth.
“On the whole however,” Andy said, “good choice.”
“Hey guys,” Mick Harran said as he sat down, “have I missed much?”
“Not really – how was the rest of your night?”
“A gentleman never speaks out of turn,” Mick said as the waitress came over. “Full English and keep the tea coming.”
“You know the girls think we are going to get ourselves into all kinds of trouble today?” David leaned back.
“And what gives them that impression?” Jack asked.
“It seems our American counterparts have a certain reputation on their boys’ nights out.”
“Well I can’t afford trouble…your sister would skin me alive,” Harry Cameron spoke.
“Oh of that you can be certain.” Jack nodded.
“So we try and act as a restraining force on our American equivalents?” asked Mick.
“We should at least try.” David nodded.
“How can you even look at food like this?” Todd Verducci asked. “And yeah I know I don’t look like myself out of uniform.”
“Not for us to comment old son.” David smiled.
“So what do you make of the British breakfast?” Tony asked. “I disgust my roommate sometimes by making this up at Cornell.”
“You really want an answer?” Todd looked suspiciously at a slice of fried bread.
“Consider this – it’s better than KP rations,” Mick said with a grin.
“I’m not sure about that,” Todd said as he cut a piece and tried it, then drank a large gulp of coffee.
“Alright I want to ask a question that I probably don’t need to know the answer to Nell,” Fiona said as she ate some food, “but is my brother any good in bed?”
“Are you sure you want an answer Fi?”
“Not really, because if he is I’ll hate him for being a strutting little peacock, and if he isn’t I’ll end up pitying and laughing at him.”
“Well let me put your mind at rest,” Nell said as she wiped her mouth and put her napkin down, “no he’s not the most skilled lover I ever had, but he’s tender, loving, and he’s learning quickly…”
“Okay…” Fiona started to cut into her omelette, and then stopped. “Hold on - are you telling me that he was a…”
“Yeah…He was a virgin till he met me.” Nell laughed.
“That lying bastard,” Fi shook her head, “he told me that he did it first when he was 14.”
“Not what he told me.” Nell continued laughing as Fiona digested the information.
The other girls laughed with Fiona as Nell stood up and made her way to the washroom. When she emerged from the cubicle a few minutes later, Buffy came out of the next stall, both of them washing their hands.
“Nell you know my offer of help stands.” Buffy whispered as they dried their hands.
“I got myself into this mess Buff,” Nell answered quietly, “I’ll get myself out.”
“Is it to do with you whoring for a while?”
“ME a whore?” Nell laughed nervously, “where did you get that idea from Buff?”
“Oh just a little something I heard on the grapevine…was it true?”
For a few seconds Nell stood there looking at the other young woman.
“Look Buff,” Nell eventually said, “let me just say I did certain things that were fun at the time, but which I now regret for their capacity to bring trouble to my friends and family.”
“Or in other words you were selling your body…I’m glad I wasn’t the only…”
“Buffy you never did…DID YOU?”
“You think the New York Sluts have a monopoly on sex?” Buffy giggled. “Yeah I’ve worked occasionally as a call girl.”
“Oh dear Goddess!” Nell shook her head.
“So I take it that the guy with one brain cell was one of your Johns?”
“Yeah,” Nell nodded slightly.
“And you think he’s maybe remembering where he saw you before?”
“Well if I can help disillusion him Nell, just ask. We ex working girls need to stand together.”
“Well,” Abby said as she wiped her chin, “much as I would love to stay and chat I have...”
The sound of an incoming text caught her attention, as she took her purse and took the small device out.
“Uggh,” Abigail glanced at her cell phone, “Missy’s suggestions for the shows I should walk at Fashion Week. I don’t even want to think about that yet.”
“Watch this Buffy - you should all be getting similar calls just about…now!” Ally laughed as the cell phones of all the models started to go off.
“Doesn’t she even take the weekend off?” Brig looked at her display.
“No,” Abby moaned…”she can’t be serious three shows in one night?”
“Doesn’t she realize I have studies to catch up on?” Trina looked up from her device, “no way I can be in New York all that week.”
“I thought agents worked for us?” Charly complained.
“Whatever gave you that idea?” Angel shook her head, “we signed our lives away when we signed with Missy.”
“Just remember these are only her suggestions.” Abby tried to cool tempers, “we are free to say no.”
“And when was the last time Missy accepted no for an answer,” Fiona said as she looked at Abby.
“It does happen – honestly...”
The Brewster Brownstone
“Was that your phone that just went off?” Barbara asked as Jeannie wheeled herself into the kitchen.
“Yes,” Jeannie said as she came to the table, “and you and Granddad are going to hate it…”
“Why?...Oh no she’s not already?”
“Yup,” Jeannie said with a smile, “my beloved agent wants to start booking me for Fashion Week.”
“OY!” Barbara said with a heartfelt moan.
“What’s up?” John came in from outside.
“Missy just sent me the list of shows…”
“WHAT? Didn’t we only just finish…?”
“Here Dad I’ll do us both a cup of tea to steady our nerves.” Barbara stood up.
“So is she expecting the impossible, or just miracles?”
“I don’t know Granddad you tell me.” Jeans giggled as she passed him her device.
“Let’s see...” John looked at the list, and then back at Jeannie. “Do you think Abby has a similar list?”
“Very likely – why?”
“Miss Richmond’s going to need to give me every night off that week if you meet all these...”
Tavern on the Green
“Oh come on...”
Olivia and Grace stared at the screens on their phones, and then at each other.
“This... This is a joke, right?”
“I wish – hey Ju.”
“Did you get…” Juliette said as she sat down.
“We did,” Grace looked up, “we were just trying to work out the best way to kill her.”
“Palomino is right…This is just beyond my capabilities.” Olivia stared once again at her device through her thick glasses. “I’m just going to have to strangle her.”
“Not if I get there first.” Caroline said as she dropped into the booth as well.
“You as well?”
Caroline nodded as she said “let me put it this way – she and I will have words.”
“The younger kids can do this, but we all have other businesses.” Juliette groaned.
“Juliette she works for you…”
“Try telling her that Grace.”
“I know,” Grace thought of anyone trying to stop Missy in full flow and laughed.
“Let’s just order our food and see what we can work out.” Olivia pulled herself together.
“On other news – Ama’s 16th?”
“All arranged and invites sent out,” Caroline said, “with many thanks to you Juliette?”
“Well, my old alma mater said if I ever needed a favour?”
“So her party is at FIT,” Olivia said.
“Oh yes – and at her own request, the theme is Sixties. It should be an interesting evening – it’s just a pity Abby and Angel are in Vienna, but that can’t be helped.”
“Well, I’m flying back on Thursday Olivia. When do you head up to Niagara Ju?”
“About four o’clock. We shoot tomorrow and Monday morning, get back here in time to meet up with the others before the flight. When is the party?”
“Saturday – before that, I have Monday to get through.”
“Ah yes – the school exchange. Nobody at Sacred Heart owned up?”
“I’m afraid not – sorry Caroline.”
“Well, Ama may forgive you,” Caroline said, “but I will seek revenge, on this I promise.”
Noon Pacific Time
Oakland Hills, California
“So did Juliette help?”
“She did Pop,” Mary said as she put a sandwich on the table for her father, “she’s put me in touch with the girl that Marina looks after in Hong Kong, she’s some kind of distant relative of Ju’s, but also a very talented young designer.”
“She sounds perfect.”
“Well I’ll know more when I see her ideas.”
“Okay, and what was that other text I saw you looking at so hard?”
“My proposed schedule for New York Fashion Week from Missy.”
“Yes the shows she thinks I should walk.”
Dave raised an eyebrow as he said “has she seen you walk in heels?”
“Yes,” Mary laughed, “it’s why she’s booked me some classes with a coach in LA next week while I’m shooting that layout for the Russian magazine.”
“Well I hate to say it Poppit, but yeah you really do need lessons.”
“Talking of which – are you still all right to run David and me down to that dance studio for the dance lessons.”
“Yeah – I’ll drop you both off. Let’s see who Missy dragged up to do this for you.”
2 pm Pacific Time
Dance Easy Studios
“I hope you know how much I’m loving this,” David said as he and Mary walked round the studio, wearing jeans, sweatshirts and trainers.
“Well, we could do with a few starter lessons,” Mary said as her dad shook his head, and they went through one door.
“So which septuagenarian has...”
“Ah,” a deep male voice said, “I’m in the right place for the Clarke lessons, right?”
“Oh my God, you are Winston Brewster, you play for Stanford,” Mary’s father’s jaw dropped when the young man walked in.
“But I thought, and pardon my language, this was going to be some pansy dance coach coming to teach Mary and my boy.”
“Well for my sins, I’m also considered a first rate ballroom dancer.”
“Is that why you are so light on yer feet?”
“Part of the reason,” House smiled. “So where are my pupils?”
“Is he... Oh my lord, The House? You’re our dance teacher?”
“First lesson,” Winston said as he looked at David, “nothing pansy about ballroom dancing. Now I guess you are David, and you are Mary, correct?”
“Oh yes,” Mary said quietly.
“Good – let’s get started.”
“I’ll leave you to it – see you both later tonight,” Dave said as he left, still shaking his head as the music started.
The Callaghan Apartment
“And where is Tom,” Carina said as she stood with Gale in her kitchen.
“At a game, believe it or not,” Gale said as she made some coffee. “I was surprised to hear Natalia was here as well.”
“So was I – but she called today, so I left Judith with Jude and came down to spend the night with her, you and Annie.” Carina was wearing a grey jumper, blue jeans and a pair of black boots, while Gale wore a black top and leggings.
“Give me a hand with the cups will you,” Gale said as she picked up the coffee pot. Walking back into the main room, they found Natalia and Annie talking, Natalia wearing a blue blouse and skirt, Annie a green smock top and pants.
“I was telling Annie she is looking remarkable well,” Natalia said as Carina put the cups down and Gale started to pour.
“True – but I will be glad when the Interschool is done and I can relax,” Annie said as Carina sat next to her.
“Alright girls, enough gossip, let’s open up and let our inner selves out.” Gale Callaghan spoke as she passed round the coffee to Natalia, Carina, and Annie.
“I’m already here.” Natalia smiled.
“I still can’t do that very easily, be both of me at once.” Gail shook her head.
“It comes with practice,” Natalia said as Carina closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Cousins – so good to see you all again.”
“And you,” Gale said, “and the latest expectations?”
“Doing well,” Annie said as she sipped her coffee.
“Cousins, we need to plan something before we all go and do something insanely stupid.” Carina smiled.
“And before I’m too big to participate.” Annie sipped from her cup.
“I agree – I felt the call, and hence I am here,” Natalia said, “so have you any thoughts?”
“Only that we do it discretely,” Gale said, “I have no wish to attract attention to myself.”
“Of course not,” Annie said, “so what do we do?”
“Perhaps two between us? Somewhere out of town?”
“If you can all be free next Friday,” Carina said, “I thought of a little trip to a town I wish to visit.”
“Oh? Where is that?”
Queen’s Landing Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake
“Very impressive,” Olivia said as she got out of Juliette’s car, looking at the Georgian white marble entrance area.
“Feels like a bit of old England,” Fiona said as the porter collected the cases from the boot, and the two women followed Juliette in.
“Good evening, ladies,” the man behind the reception desk said, “how may I help you?”
“You should have three rooms booked for Norstar, in the names of Huntingdown and Treharran?”
“Ah yes – Miss Huntingdown, Lady Treharran and Lady Treharran. If you will fill out the registration forms?”
“Can we reserve a table in the Tiara restaurant for 8.30 tonight,” Juliette said as she filled out the form.
“Of course – I’ll make the arrangements for you,” the man said as Olivia and Fiona signed. “These men will show you to your rooms.”
“That gives us time to unpack and relax before dinner,” Juliette said as three porters took their bags and followed them to the lift.
A few minutes later, Fiona ran her hand along the bed and then looked out onto the harbour.
“Oh this is going to be fun,” she said with a smile.
5 pm Pacific Time
“So, how were the lessons?”
“Illuminating,” David said as he hung his coat up, and Mary hugged her father. “Where are the others?”
“Gone to the movies – so it wasn’t a waste of time?”
“Oh no,” David said. “Did you know that The House dates Jeannie Brewster Pop?”
“The disabled model?”
“No I didn’t kiddo.” Dave smiled as he watched his oldest children.
“He says he literally swept her up once and started dancing with her.” David tried a couple of the steps he’d learned.
“Suddenly dancing aint such a sissy thing eh?”
“Not when I know that he dances,” David grinned, “he reckons that the quick footwork helps him on the field, especially like his Rose Bowl touchdown when they brought him as an extra Tight End.”
“Can you hear him Dad?” Mary smiled.
“I can, and what about you Poppit, did you learn anything?”
“Yeah that I need practice if I’m not going to look totally outta place at Trina’s ball,” she said as she sipped her coffee, “but also that dancing can be fun…even when I’m dancing with David.”
“Hey I aint so bad…The House said so.” David did a couple of turns.
“Ya know moves that like can work on the basketball court as well kiddo?”
“Kind of what I was thinking Pop.” David jumped into an armchair.
“So, what do you want for dinner?” Mary stretched as she went to the kitchen, and said “How does chicken and rice sound?”
“Sounds good,” David said with a smile. “I might just like this event after all.”
The de Ros Mansion
“I – am exhausted,” Abby said as she looked at her laptop. “How are things up your way?”
“Well, I’m tired in a different way,” Jo said as she looked out from the screen, “Coach had us doing a ten mile hill run this morning – and I spent the afternoon in the company of Wordsworth. I really do not like poetry.”
“Oh I don’t know – it can be fun,” Abby said with a smile.
“So what was the highlight of the night?”
“Oh I don’t know – probably the father’s dance. Grandpapa is a really good dancer,” Abby said as she smiled.
“So on your own tonight?”
“I am – Fi has gone with Juliette and her mother to Niagara, Cari went out with Annie, and Tony...”
“What about Tony?”
“He’s gone to the Bachelor’s Night Out.”
The New York Athletic Club
“This is the place Mac,” the cab driver said as he pulled up outside.
"So this is the
famed New York Athletic Club?" Todd spoke as he and his British friends
climbed out of the cab.
"It's a pretty
impressive barn." David looked up from paying the driver.
"We shouldn't get in a lot of trouble here." Jack looked pleased.
“Certainly looks up to it,” Mick said as they walked up the stairs, “so why did everyone shudder when this was mentioned.”
“Look – they swore it was just going to be a meal, a few drinks. Now what can possibly go wrong?"
"Those are famous last words Jack." David rolled his eyes as he opened the door.
“Good evening gentlemen,” the man manning the entrance desk said, “are you members?”
“Associate members,” Jack said as he handed over a card.
“Viscount Millingham, Lord Fitzstuart, Lord Treharran,” he said as he checked the cards of David and Mick, “and the other gentleman?”
“Officer Cadet Verducci is here as my guest – we are meeting a party in the Tap Room?”
“Of course sir – if you will sign the book please?”
As Jack signed the book, the others took off their great coats, all wearing shirts, ties and jackets.
“Thank you sir – the Tap Room is that way.”
As they made their way in, they saw Rick Shelby and Stewart Pardee standing by the bar.
“Ah there you are,” the Runt said with a smile, “come on – have a glass of champagne with us...”
“Andy – you got here early,” David said as Andrew MacFarlane raised a glass.
“I did indeed,” he said with a smile, “so why don’t we sit and talk of manly things...”
“Who had the most beautiful escort last night?”
“Hey not fair,” Mick said as he accepted a glass, “I can’t take part given mine was my own sister!”
“Yeah – why did you agree to do that, Mick Harran,” Todd said.
“Because, my dear Officer Cadet,” Mick said, “Lady Fiona Treharran is a lady who appreciates the ladies.”
“Oh... OH! Damn...”
“I know – a great loss to all,” Mick said with a smile as Harry joined them. “Whereas these two Harrovian fellows of mine certainly have hit the jackpot.”
“Well what can I say,” Harry said with a smile, “but given two of her brothers are here, I plead the fifth.”
“Wise move my boy,” Tony said with a smile. “Although I must say, that night in London will always live on in my memory....”
“So you had a pleasant drive up, Ma Cherie?”
“I did, Diana – a nice way to spend the afternoon, if nothing else.”
“Do Bandit and Fiona really have no idea what you are up to up there Juliette Cherie?”
“I hope so.” Juliette looked at the secured communication screen. “The last thing I need over the next day or two is having to explain to them what this whole mess is about.”
“I totally comprehend.” Diana smiled. “But at least they will be kept busy for most of tomorrow.”
“Giving me time to do the final scouting. So what is Abby doing?”
“Her school homework,” Diana said as she leaned back, “and she is worrying about what trouble Tony and the other boys might get into tonight on their bachelors night out.”
“And I can understand that as well.” Juliette shook her head as she said “I’d like to say there is safety in numbers, but in the case of this kind of event the pack mentality seems to make them worse.”
“Yes they egg each other on.” Diana took a sip from her mug, and then said “So where are Carina and Annie tonight?”
“Visiting Gale with Natalia,” Juliette said, “and no with that foursome I definitely don’t want to know what they are talking about.”
“Absolutely not,” Diana gave an involuntary shiver.
“Did you look at Louise’s photos by the way?”
“Yes,” Diana said quietly, “and they are absolutely convincing to me, is she sure they are men?”
“I trust her expertise on the subject.”
“Well men or women they hopefully have an unpleasant surprise coming their way.”
“If I have anything to do with it they have.” Juliette nodded. “I have to sign off – dinner with the other two. I’ll call tomorrow when everything is in place.”
Allentown, Buffalo NY
“Well now there’s a friendly face,” the cultured English voice said as Louise looked at the screen.
“Jill darling - I heard that you’d left Tokyo,” Louise smiled at the face on the screen.
“Yes I got that promotion at last and I’m here in Canada with the British High Commission.”
“High Commission?” Louise questioned.
“It’s like the British embassy, except Commonwealth countries don’t have such things to each other.”
“Okay I think I get that…”
“Well it puts me in the right place to act as eyes and ears this side of the border on this operation. I’m in Toronto as we speak.”
“Maybe I’ll get to that side of the border one day,” Louise said with a smile. “Are you up to speed on what we are trying to do?”
“Yes, but it will be a hard trap to spring, one thing looks wrong and these women will run away.”
“I had not realized before that the tentacles of our operation reached here into Canada.”
“Madame has interests everywhere it seems, and she knows the most ‘interesting’ people.” Louise smiled.
“So it seems,” Jill smiled back, “Oh and by the way before I forget, congratulations on the operation.”
“Thank you Jill darling. What happened to Niki?”
“Madame promoted her in a way – she now acts as a liaison between her and the families. She meets with Tamiko regularly. What about Victoria and Charlene?”
“Both work with Maddie in LA now. Victoria is in the insurance arm, and Charlene assists in the media business. Both recovered as well.”
“Now that is excellent news. Anyway – the ladies in question?”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” Louise said as she stood up, “I’m heading to work now. Late shift.”
“Have fun – and Louise?”
“Always, darling – always...”
The Richmond Mansion
"So are the kids
okay lover?" Heather asked as Sandy closed down her phone.
"Yes, it sounds
like the party is great, and Pepsi will have them all home by eleven
thirty." Sandy poured herself a glass of wine, "so what did Ju have
"Not a lot, she's
safely checked in and ready to start."
"Have you spotted
"No, everything I
can see and hear looks and sounds routine."
"Well I hope so,
but you know me I've learned to expect the unexpected..."
Sandy interrupted by putting her hand under Heather's skirt.
"Just like that!" Heather giggled and opened her legs to her lovers touch further. “You are an evil woman Alexandra Richmond.”
“Oh I know – and you love it don’t you,” Sandy whispered into Heather’s ear, before taking her by the hand and leading her up the stairs...
“I hate doing this job.” Ama said as she looked up from reassembling the gun she had just cleaned.
“Well,” Dominique said as she smiled, “I said you could go to the party with Pepsi and the girls.”
“No I’d rather be with you.” Ama took off the gloves she’d been handling the weapon with.
“You are worrying again aren’t you?”
Nodding, Ama sat back and said “these women sound particularly nasty.”
“So that’s why I’m worried.”
“Ama,” Dominique said as she smiled, “just remember your aunts and me, we can be pretty nasty and ruthless as well.”
“I know,” Ama said, “but I will like it best when you all safely return Mom.”
“Well as long as these people don’t realize it’s a trap we should be fine.”
“I’ll cross my fingers, and say a special prayer at mass in the morning.”
“You know I need to leave at lunch time?”
“I do, and I’ll be home in time to say au revoir.”
“Good,” Dominique finished and stored the guns, then removed her gloves. “Let’s make some food and watch a film – you can pick.”
The New York Athletic Club
“No shit – you met Abby de Ros on a blind date set up by your cousin?”
“That’s right,” Tony said as she sipped his wine, the remains of the main courses been cleared by the waiters, “Me, Harry and Simon Leventhal, were asked to take three friends of Judy out, so we go to the Savoy, and this vision walks towards us.”
“So who were the other two?”
“Carina Huntingdown,” Harry said with a smile, “and Joanne Smith.”
“Shit,” the Runt said, “three of the world’s best known models?”
“Well they weren’t at that time,” Tony said. “But we had an amazing night, and then we hooked up again when I came over here. Simon hooked up with Bobbi Morse – her dad’s...”
“Congressman Morse,” Todd said, “I saw him in a political science class.”
“And Harry has since hooked up with Angel,” Dave said as he punched Harry’s arm.
“Hey – get another couple of bottles you guys,” Mick said as he stood up, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
As he made his way to the men’s room, Mick smiled and shook his head. He’d forgotten how much fun it could be just to cut loose with a few friends.
Washing his hands, he was surprised to hear someone beside him say “so how was Annabelle last night?”
Mick looked to his side and recognised the man from the ball the previous night. “I’m sorry,” he said as he dried his hands, “were you talking to me?”
“I saw you last night at the ball,” the man said with a smile. “She’s a real class act – even looked like one of the debs.”
“Sir,” Mick said quietly, “I don’t know who you think you saw me with last night, but I was escorting my sister at the ball, and her name is not Annabelle.”
“I meant the girl you spent half the night dancing with – what did you do, slip her in and pay her extra to play the part?”
“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” Mick said, “What did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t – but I know Annabelle, and I’m sure she was worth every penny of...”
The final words of his statement were lost as Mick’s fist connected with his stomach, and he sank to his knees. “I have no idea who you are,” he said quietly, “or who you think it was I was with last night, but whoever she may have been, she was not a whore i had to pay to be there. In fact, I’m insulted you would think that. Now, I think you owe me an apology.”
“I’ll take that as an apology,” Mick said, “but if you mention this to anyone again, I’ll say you tried to proposition me – and trust me, the press would love to publish that. Do we have an understanding?”
The man nodded as Mick smiled.
“Good,” he said as he left the restroom, returning to the table as Andrew looked at him.
“You all right Mick?”
“Yeah – just someone trying to get a signature.”
“Takes all sorts – so, where to next?”
“Well, why don’t we retire to the Tap Room and continue this conversation over some fine whisky?”
“Mister MacFarlane, you speak wise words,” David said as he stood up, “shall we gentlemen?”
“What did you just say, Your Lordship,” Stewart Pardee said quietly as he swirled the brandy around in his glass.
“I said,” Jack replied carefully, “that you American Football players would not survive five minutes on the rugby field.”
“They sound like fighting words,” Rick Shelby said. “After all, they are very similar games?”
“So why all the padding?”
“Why all the bandaging of the heads,” the Runt said as he looked at Tony. “And besides, you must watch the games. What did you do when it was Yale-Cornell?”
“Went with the girls, and drank beers, as I recall,” Tony said with a smile. “Abby was away that weekend. There are worse things in the world though?”
“Oh yes – like what?”
“Harvard-Yale – when they met this year, you had the rare sight of both Ally and Nell Rochermann lining up against Judy and Carina,” Dave said. “And we were sitting next to each other as well.”
“Sounds like the Harrow-Eton game – only with added legal beer,” Jack said as he finished his drink, and ordered another glass.
“Still, I bet we could beat you in a touch game.”
“Now that’s a challenge,” Runt said as he stood up. “A kicking and throwing contest – loser buys the winners champagne, me and Rick against the Fitzstuarts.”
“Challenge accepted – come on,” Dave said as they made their way outside.
“Okay,” Richard said as he grabbed a ball on the way out, “kicking first. Tony, will you act as umpire?”
“Sure,” Tony said as Rick held the ball down, and Runt kicked it down the lawn. Tony and Andy went down, Tony staying as Andy brought the ball back.
“So that’s my target,” Jack said as he looked at Dave.
“I think so – ready?”
“Oh yes,” Jack said as he walked back, and then punted the ball down the field, Andy and Todd watching as the ball landed past Tony.
“First blood to the British,” Jack said as he and Dave high fived each other, and Tony came back with the ball.
“Now the throw – go long,” Rick said as the Runt ran down, and he tossed the pigskin, Stewart catching the ball as Todd tossed a second one to Dave.
“GO,” he shouted as Jack ran down the lawn, and he caught it – twenty yards in front of Stewart.
“We need a tie-breaker – Todd?”
“Oh no – my game is Ice Hockey.”
“That’s it,” Dave said, “let’s go and finish our drinks first, then we’ll hail a cab.”
As they went back in, however, they were greeted by a voice saying “well now – what brings you young bucks here?”
“Oh hello Luke,” Dave said, “we were just discussing the difference between American Football and Rugby. Guys, meet Luke Heller, the photographer for the St Angela’s calendar this year. Luke, I think you’ve met most of the others, but this is Rick Shelby, Andrew MacFarlane and Stewart Pardee.”
“Pleasure, Luke said with a smile, “so let me guess – Harrow against the US?”
“Well, rugger isn’t your game, is it?”
“Nope – mine was the Eton Wall Game.”
“Oh lord,” Andrew said, “you’re THAT Luke Heller, champion in 2002?”
“The very same,” Luke said with a smile.
“What is it – another Rugby game?”
“Kind of – it’s actually and literally played against a wall and a strip five metres wide beside it. Two teams try to move a ball from the centre of the strip to either end, with both teams essentially making a ruck to either move or stop the ball.”
“And you were?”
“Captain of the College team, the last time there actually was a decent score – and the last person to score a goal at the Tree end,” Luke said proudly. “Anyway, it’s no contest – rugby wins every time.”
“Oh really? Care to put some money on that?”
“Nope – I’m with a friend having dinner tonight. Where are you guys off to?”
“Central Park – to settle the bet with a little touch game. Coming?”
Looking at them, Luke said “just how much have you guys drunk?”
“Not enough,” Dave said.
“Right – Todd, sit this one out. When do you have to be back?”
“Eleven hundred tomorrow – why?”
“Sit this out, say your goodbyes. I’ll look after them.”
“He’s right Todd,” Tony said, “go and sleep. I’ll call you in the morning.”
“Let me just wrap things up,” Luke said as he went into the dining room, returning ten minutes later to find Todd alone.
“Yeah – and I don’t feel...”
“Oh dear,” Luke said, “toilet first, then I’ll get you home, and then find them...”
“Jan,” Juliette said as she answered her cell phone, “where are you?”
“I’m on my way Ju.” Jan Carter spoke into the hands free communications system.
“Have you got the bullet-proof vests?”
“As ordered. That’s why I’m late.”
“Good, and Madame’s girls have brought up and stashed the faux FBI uniforms.”
“So how much longer are you on the road?”
“About another four hours…if this snow doesn’t get worse.”
“Fingers crossed…So heard from the rest of your family?”
“Adam is at his mothers, mine is with her Daughters of Erin group down in Atlantic City, and Katy is spending the night at Sandy’s place with George after the party.”
“Doing what?” Juliette laughed.
“I don’t want to know,” Jan laughed back.
Sunday 24th January
“So what are we doing here,” Andy said as the six men stumbled down the path.
“We’re going to settle this with a little game of touch rugby,” Dave said as they approached the lake, the ice still glistening.
“Oh no – you have got to be kidding,” Jack said, “not the ice scrum?”
“The Ice Scrum? What the heck is that,” Andy said.
“We’re going to scrum down on the ice, and see who can push the ball out first,” Tony said. “Andy, the Scots are going to have to side with the Yanks.”
“Hang on,” Jack said, “you’re forgetting the most important rule of the Ice Scrum.”
“Down to Boxers gentlemen,” Dave said as he started to remove his greatcoat.
“Deal,” Rick said as everyone removed their outer clothing, and stood in their boxer shorts before they walked onto the ice, three against three.
“Ready to be beaten,” Jack said as he looked at Rick, Stewart, Jeff Petersen and Andy.
“I’m a Scot – for Freedom!”
The four linked arms and rucked down, forming a scrum as Tony dropped the ball between them, and they started to try and move each other on the ice.
The game was intense, with no quarter given, and the cold unfelt, as Luke arrived and watched from a distance.
“Oh god – not this one,” he said as he looked on, “and here? How long have they got before...”
“HAH!” Dave and Jack shouted in triumph as they, Mick and Tony pushed the other four over.
“All right, you win,” Andy said. “I brought a bottle of whisky with me – anyone want a swig?”
"I need a
slash." Mick looked around for a suitable place.
"Go behind the
tree, and watch out for the cops." Jack looked for some cover. "They
tend to get nasty about urinating in public."
"Didn't I hear
about you once 'borrowing' a coppers helmet as a pisspot while we were at
Harrow Jack?" Tony laughed.
"Oh God was that a
night." Jack stood up and smiled.
"Well fond memories or not...I need to go." Mick ran into the small clump of trees.
As Luke looked on, he saw the patrol cars approaching – and prayed they had seen it too.
He then heard two things simultaneously – the crack on the ice as the six young men ran off, sitting in the snow and laughing – and the siren as the police car arrived, the lights flashing.
The group were drinking from the whisky bottle as the torches shone on them.
“Hello officers,” Dave said as the four policemen looked at them, “I assure you; there’s a perfectly good explanation for...”
“That’s better,” Mick said as he came out, and then saw the police officers. “Ah – yes, well...”
“Had a good night, boys?”
“We have,” Jeff said as he sat down. The officers looked at each other, as one said into his radio “Control – need a wagon in central park. Eight on Public disorder and drinking in public charges.”
“Now come officer – we are peers of the realm...”
“Save it for the judge tomorrow,” one of the officers said as a paddy wagon arrived, and Luke shook his head before he took his phone out.
“Jack, you gone to bed yet?
“Good – we have a small problem to clean up...”
The Marais apartment
“Yes I have seen it Jack,” Jeanne said as she sat in her pyjamas, her bump showing as she looked at the screen. “I’ll see what I can do, but I may have to call in some advice for the local legal information. Tell Luke I’ll see what I can do.”
“What has happened,” Henri said as he came out of his room.
“Eight young men charged with public disorder and drinking in public, amongst other things,” Jeanne said as she drank her coffee.
“And this is of interest to you because?”
“Viscount Millingham, Lord David Fitzstuart, Lord Andrew MacFarlane, Mister Tony McNally, Lord Michael Treharran...”
“Ah – the bachelor’s evening. I heard of it from Guy, and it appears to have gone as many others have gone before it.”
“Indeed – go back to bed Papa, I know who to call.”
“No, I am awake now – and besides, often the most fun can come watching the aftermath,” Henri said as he poured a coffee, Jeanne smiling as she dialled a number.
“Brooke? My apologies for waking you, but I need your help...”
Central Park Precinct, 86th Street and Traverse Road
“Well, big brother,” Dave said as he looked at the others, “this is another fine mess you’ve got us into.”
“Hey – I didn’t issue the challenge.”
“Actually,” Tony said as he looked over, “you did.”
"Oh boy am I in
trouble if this gets back to Yale." David shook his head.
"You think you are in trouble bro, my tutor already thinks I'm an incorrigible drunk." Jack shook his head, and then discovered quickly how painful that act was.
“Hey – young bucks.”
Mick looked over as the officer stood by the door.
“You got a visitor – this way Your Honour.”
As the door was opened, the Runt watched as a woman walked in, dressed in a black leather jacket, pants and heels.
“Oh lord,” Tony said, “boys, meet District Court Judge Brooke Hatton.”
“Give me five minutes,” Brooke said to the officer as the eight young men tried to stand up, “and can you get some bottles of water as well.”
As he walked off, she folded her arms and stared at them.
"What have you
boys been up to?" Brooke shook her head as the remains of what had once
been a selection of society's finest blinked at her.
"We just were
trying to prove the merits of different games Judge," Tony said.
"Well it’s a good thing Jeanne spotted this on the wire and then called me. HOPEFULLY I can quieten things up."
“What, get the charges dropped?”
“Oh no – they stay. I’m hoping an old friend will hear your pleas in camera, and a deal can be struck. Besides, I can think of a far worse punishment then what the state could throw at you.”
“Oh god, not...”
“Oh yes,” Brooke said as she looked at Tony, “The de Ros family for you, and certain other families for the rest of you. I presume they will have been told by now.”
As the others groaned, Brooke said “One good thing – Todd Verducci got home, and has no part to pay in this. So he’s going back to West Point – after a word from his grandmother. Now,” she continued as the officer brought some water bottles, “start drinking – I need to find Jeanne.”
As they opened their bottles, Brooke went out and found Jeanne in the corridor.
“They’re damn lucky they weren’t in protective custody, from the look of things – so they need to face a judge, but Judge Portland is willing to see all of them in chambers, given the names – especially young Treharran.”
Judge Robert Portland’s Chambers
The grey haired, distinguished man looked through his glasses at the eight young men as they stood in front of him, and then back down at the charge sheet as Jeanne and Brooke stood in the corner.
“I knew it would take something fairly spectacular to bring you here, Brooke,” Judge Portland said eventually, “but this is possibly the most unusual collection of accused I have seen in chambers in many a long day.”
“I’m grateful you could do this for us,” Brooke said as he looked at them.
“Just so I am clear – all eight of you are charged with disorderly conduct and drinking in a public place, to be exact the lake in Central Park. All of you were in your boxer shorts, and you,” he said as he looked at Mick, “were – seeking relief behind a bush?”
“Yes Your Honour,” Mick said as he looked down.
“One of the reasons I am doing this,” Judge Portland said, “is because if you appeared in open court, the entire NYPD may be needed to keep the court clear, Mister Harran.”
He then looked at Jeff Peterson.
“Young Peterson,” he
said with a sigh, “what is this about resisting arrest?"
"Judge all I did
was sit down in the snow...it's not my fault that I weigh 245 and it took three
of them to lift me," the former football player laughed.
"Oy," Brooke rolled her eyes.
“A sense of humour is needed in some places, son – not here, not now,” Judge Portland said as he looked at him. “Now, normally, the severity of the charges would require a short, sharp sentence, but I was young once, so here’s what I’m willing to do.
“I will strike the charges from the record, in return for a donation from each of you to the tune of $1000 dollars to the Catholic Benevolent fund. In addition, Mister Harran,” he said as he looked at Mick, “I am ordering you to hold a concert in New York, to aid the Central Park Restoration Fund, at a date to be agreed in the next six months. You three,” he said as he looked at Jeff, Stewart and Rick, “will also agree to help with a community football scheme for six weeks, again on a date to be arranged. As for the rest of you – consider yourselves very lucky indeed.”
“Thank you Your Honour,” Dave said on behalf of the eight of them, as Jeanne said “Outside, all of you.”
“Thanks Robert,” Brooke said as the door was closed, “I owe you.”
“Yeah – well, you did me a few good turns back in the day. And they were young, stupid and drunk – make sure the cheques are deposited and I see the chitties by Tuesday.”
“Leave it with me – and l’ll coordinate the other things as well,” Brooke said as she walked out.
“Thanks, Brooke,” Tony said.
“Don’t thank me yet – I’m taking your eight to breakfast with Jeanne, and you can expect some visitors during the meal...”
The Village – Greenwich Florists
Grant and April looked up as they heard Pepsi making various utterances.
"Oh is he going to
get a roasting from me." Pepsi muttered as she came in for breakfast,
looking at her cell phone.
darling?" Grant asked.
she said as she sat down and took a muffin.
"What did Jack do
now?" her mother asked.
"Oh let's just say
their 'boys' night out degenerated to the stage where they got picked up by the
cops shall we."
okay?" Grant asked.
"Yes,” Pepsi said
as she ripped the muffin apart, “Jeanne and Judge Hatton smoothed things over,
but they still have to pay for their little crimes."
"I know Mom, but they were only misdemeanours,” she said as she ate some of the pastry. “But Jack is still going to feel the lash of my tongue for being so stupid."
“You may have to get into line then – won’t they have to see their parents first?”
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel
As they entered the suite, Jack and Dave slowly and quietly closed the door, putting their shoes down and hoping to make it without being spotted.
“Oh, so THERE you two are.”
“Please, Angelica darling,” Dave said as he held his head, “not so loud.”
“Oh it’s not me you need to be worried about,” she said with a smile, “it’s Judy, it’s Pepsi, but more immediately it’s...”
“Step in here Gentlemen,” Will said as he appeared at a door, waiting as Jack and Dave walked slowly past. As they went in, they saw their mother sitting there, drinking coffee and with a stern look in her eyes.
“Well,” Jack started, “we went to the Athletics Club, had a few drinks, a nice meal, and we decided to play some football...”
“In Central Park? After Midnight? IN YOUR BOXERS?”
“Well,” Dave grimaced, “it seemed a good idea at the time...”
should be ashamed of yourselves." Mandy spoke with an unusual crispness in
her usually languid voice.
possessed you?" Will asked.
“It was a matter of honour,” Jack said, “us versus them...”
"Dad, we thought
that knowing about you and Robert Palmer that you'd at least
"David,” Will said
as he rubbed his eyes, “that was done protecting your mothers good name...This
was just old fashioned upper class drunkenness."
"I know Sir,"
Jack looked down at his feet.
"Just be glad darlings that on a Sunday morning Brooke could find a friendly judge and get this dealt with quietly."
“On which note – how much?”
“A thousand dollars each.”
“Okay – I will settle this up, but you have some making up to do. Now, go and get some sleep – you’re going to need it.”
The de Ros Mansion
“Well, best get this over with,” Tony said to himself as he rang the doorbell.
“Good morning, Master Anthony,” Edith said as she opened the door.
“Good morning Edith – is Abigail at home?”
“Of course – if you will come this way?”
“Thank you,” Tony said as he walked in, Edith closing the door, and then followed her to the front room – only to see not just Abigail, but Diana, Valeria and Guy sitting there.
“Thank you Edith,” Diana said as the housekeeper left, closing the door behind them. “Well, Tony?”
“I... I apologise for whatever you may have heard about last night,” Tony said as he tried to straighten up.
“And what may we have heard?”
“We did get a little over exuberant...”
“That, from what we have heard, is an understatement,” Valeria said. “Is it true you tried to play football on the frozen lake?”
“Well, we thought it was rugby...”
"Honestly - Jack I
sort of expect this from...but not you Tony." Abby smiled sadly.
"I know,” Tony
said as he held his hands up, “I guess I just got carried away with the
"Tony dear boy we
have all had such escapades..." Guy beamed until he saw the hard stares
from Valeria, Diana, and Abigail.
"Times aren't what
they once were Papa... Nowadays the
courts take a perverse delight sometimes in punishing boys from our social
"That is true
Diana my darling, but..."
"And we all know the things you got up to at Cambridge Guy, but what was once hijinks that created a good story, could have had serious consequences."
“I appreciate that, and I am grateful to both Jeanne and Judge Hatton for stepping in,” Tony said. “If it is any consolation, I would have pled guilty and taken the punishment.”
“Very noble,” Abigail said as she walked over, and kissed him. “Do not do it again.”
“No chance – I’m just glad Todd didn’t get caught up in it. Would it be possible to get some paracetamol?”
“Come with me, young man,” Guy said as he took Tony by the arm. As they left, he whispered “How much?”
“A thousand, sir.”
“Allow this old devil to settle for you – and learn your lesson. Come Vienna, this must not happen...”
The Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Mick Harran walked into the lobby of the hotel from the rear, looking carefully around and heading for the lift, before a hand grabbed his and he was walked to the coffee shop.
“You have some explaining to do,” his father said as he sat him down, and signalled to a waitress. “Two black coffees please – well?”
“I got drunk, we did a stupid thing, got caught,” Mick said.
“Michael Treharran, can you imagine what the gutter press would do if they heard,” Charlie said in a low whisper.
“I know – but I and the others got lucky. A friend of a friend heard, and called in some favours.”
“And the cost?”
“A grand, and I agreed to do a charity gig for the Catholic Benevolent Fund.”
“Good – you can add a date in San Francisco when we go there as well.”
“Who added that?”
“Oh – hey Derek,” Mick said as Derek Coverall, his manager, sat next to him.
“It’s a good thing your mother and sister are away – you do know Fiona is going to tear you a new one when she hears?”
“Don’t remind me,” Mick said as he rubbed his head.
“While I’m here,” Derek said, “tell me about this singer – Nessa Richmond?”
Juliette laughed out loud as she heard the news from New York.
"So how serious
was the trouble they got into?" Juliette asked Carina on screen.
"Oh really just mischief and misdemeanours,” Carina said, “but thank the Goddess Brooke was able to keep it private knowledge."
"Yes, and hopefully all of them now know better."
"Oh I think when
vengeful families and girlfriends finish with them they will have learned their
"I wish I could be
there to see it."
"I guessed you might, which reminds me, what are you up to today?"
“I accompany Fiona in a few minutes with Olivia, but I have a lunchtime meeting with Jan and a few others, to lay the plans for tonight.”
“Well, good luck with that – and stay safe, all right?”
Niagara on the Lake
“Nice place – quaint,” Natalia said as she looked out of the diner window, at the photographer working with the model dressed in Edwardian clothes.
“It has a certain style,” Jill Hudspeth said as she sipped her coffee, “and very very different from Tokyo.”
“Sometimes – but then I visit a place like this, and...”
“I understand, it reminds me a little of the Dachas at home,” Natalia said with a smile. “So is all in readiness?”
“The local police believe there is a training exercise – that is the story anyway, so they will stay out of the way. Your contacts?”
“Arrive soon – so I need you to disappear. This, I am afraid, is above your pay grade, Jill.”
“I know – I’m going to hit the antiques stores. Have fun.”
As Jill left, the young Russian woman sipped on her coffee.
She looked up to see Janice Carter standing beside her, alongside Juliette Huntingdown. Jan was wearing a red wig, as well as a red leather jacket and jeans.
“You must be Jan, and you are certainly Juliette Huntingdown – Dom said you would meet me here. Please, be seated.”
“Dom just called to say she’ll be here by six,” Juliette said as she sat down. “Your team?”
“Ready to move, at eleven tonight. What makes you think the ladies will try?”
“Louise called – the owner of the Speakeasy and her ‘friends’ left this morning, so I think they may be here already.”
“Can I get youse ladies anything else?”
“Thank you, no,” the platinum blonde said as she looked at the small group by the window. The dark haired woman sitting with her said “the intel all says tonight, lakeside. Where are Miss Lynx and Miss Cheetah?”
“Making sure the guns are cleaned and ready,” Miss Panther said as she sipped her coffee through her red lips. “We’ll be in place and ready, don’t worry...”
The Cenotaph, Niagara-on-the-lake
“This is an amazing outfit,” Olivia said as she looked at Fiona. The young model was wearing an Edwardian low cut dress, as they stood in front of the redbrick monument. Fiona’s dress had a flowing white skirt and a structured and jewelled bodice, with her white gloved hands holding a furled umbrella.
“I agree,” Juliette said as Clive set up his camera, and then looked to his assistant.
“Now remember,” he said as he walked up to Fiona, “you need to look for the red square my assistant is holding, and smile as you lean on the umbrella. Keep focused on that, and I will tell you what to do after that. Ready?”
“Yeah – as ready as ever,” Fiona said as Clive went back and picked up the camera.
“I can’t believe there is a market for this,” Olivia said.
“Well, according to Clive, there’s a television program – the Inspector Murdoch mysteries – set in this area and this time that is very popular. That, and the interest in history, means there is a market for a book of these photos.”
“That’s great Fiona,” Clive called out, “now sit down, look at the card as it moves, and look forlorn.”
“Perfect,” Clive said as he continued to take some shots, and then stood up. “Right – we’re going to the Georgian Residence for some internal shots after you change.”
“I’ll go with her,” Olivia said as Juliette walked over to where Jan was sitting.
"Honestly as long
as there has been an international border this area has been a haven for
smugglers Ju." Janice looked up from the history book she was reading.
"From just about the revolution till today I would suspect a large amount
of the local populace both sides of the river somehow made its living from the
illicit trade in something."
"Especially in the
twenties I bet?"
"Yeah,” Jan said,
“prohibition was an open invitation to try and get legally made Canadian booze
into the States. A couple of Canada's greatest families that to this day
dominate the booze trade made their fortunes smuggling beer and whiskey to
Capone and the others."
"I know some of
them,” Juliette said as she looked round.
“The funny thing is they achieved wealth and social prominence, while
Kennedy's" Jan interrupted.
true," Juliette reflected, "If only half the stories about the old
man are true."
"But yeah you are right, most gangster families faded back to where they came from."
“And yet a place like this is so wonderful,” Jan said as a tall women walked towards them. She wore a red wool jacket and skirt, with matching gloves and heels, dark glasses over her eyes.
"Did I overhear
you talking about the history of smuggling?" the well-dressed redhead
Juliette's antennae twitched as she smiled.
"And what is your
"Well I'm an FBI agent,” Jan said as she looked up, “but strictly here on holiday while my daughter gets babysat for a few days by my mother, and this is Juliette Huntingdown, the model and writer, she's up here doing a fashion shoot...I just tagged along."
The redhead relaxed slightly, an FBI agent would not identify herself so publicly if she was working, and Miss Huntingdown was a well known celebrity.
"Jan thought she'd
explore some of the local history, while I have my picture taken."
"A sort of
busman's holiday as I once heard it described." Jan laughed lightly.
"Do you know anything of the local legends...."
the redhead shook hands, "Rochelle Anderson....And I can see you already
have the best book on the subject."
"Yeah,” Jan said
as she looked at it, “it suggests a couple of places I might go look, though
the truth really is that I'm enjoying being away from my 13 year old and her
problems for a few days."
"Kids can be like
that." Rochelle smiled back.
"Tell me!” Jan
laughed as she said “Juliette is luckier, both her girls are already in
"And from what I
remember famous models in their own right."
"True, but never tell them that," Juliette laughed, "they already have swollen enough egos."
“Well, I have a meeting,” Rochelle said with a smile. “Enjoy your stay both of you.”
As she walked off, Juliette and Jan watched her rear.
“Hhmhmhm – go and have some fun. I’ll see you later.”
The Georgian Residence
“Lovely,” Clive said as Fiona sat on a long couch, wearing a 1930s dress as she was reading through a book, Olivia looking at her and offering encouragement as Juliette made her way into a side room, and opened her laptop.
“Well good afternoon Ju,” Heather said into the earpiece Juliette wore as she appeared on the screen, “how’s the trip?”
“So far so good – Jan has gone walkabout, and I’m expecting our mutual friends to meet in the next hour or so.”
“So, how can I help?”
said quietly as she sent an e-mail, “I have a name and a photo for you Heather,
he/she calls herself Rochelle Anderson, and she seemed very interested at first
when she overheard us talking about smuggling."
"You think she's
one of them Ju?"
"That or one of
their security ring. Anyway we were very open about who Jan and I were, and
that Jan had a sort of professional interest in the history of smuggling...We
seemed to allay her suspicions."
"Okay – I see what
you mean,” Heather said as she looked to one side. “I'll get to work on the back ground...No
gloves...actually worked beautifully with her outfit, but no luck for me
getting her fingerprint."
"I'll see what I
can do with this then."
let me know what you find out please."
"Will do." Heather paused, "and Juliette be careful up there."
“I usually am – and I’m only observing anyway,” she said as Olivia came in.
“We’re getting ready for the outdoor shots – coming to join us Pelican?”
“In a moment, Rocket – business first...”
As Olivia went out, Juliette’s cell phone went off.
“Caroline? Excellent – I’ll see you both later tonight. Gotta go – call on the other line.”
Ending the first call, she said “Juliette Huntingdown?”
"Okay,” she heard
Janice say, “I have a tail Ju."
professional, took even me a while to spot her."
"Our friend from
"No but going by
the style of her clothes, and the BMW she is driving, she's not a cop or
"So they are
checking you out?"
"Yeah, and I'm
just playing strictly tourist, keeping myself in open view, and probably boring
the heck out of her as I do the sights."
"As you say...or
him?" Jan giggled.
"So seen anything
"A few bits....by
the way did you know that at one point due to the bends in the river you
actually go north from Canada into the US?"
"No I didn't....I
live and learn something new everyday."
"Just what I thought. So – update?"
“On her way – we’ll meet at eight.”
“What are you doing, Judith,” Carina said as he saw her daughter arranging her dolls on the floor of their rooms.
“Tea party,” she said with a smile as she toddled off to where her toys were stacked, Carina smiling as there was a knock on the door.
“Do you want us to leave,” Carina said to Judy as she came out of her bedroom.
“No – I’m past the angry bit,” she said as she opened the door – to be confronted by a large bunch of flowers facing her.
“You think that’s going to calm em down,” she said as she stood with her arms folded.
“I thought it wouldn’t hurt,” David said as he looked round the flowers.
“It doesn’t – come in,” Judy said as Judith put some tea cups down.
“Hello unca David – want tea?”
“NO thank you, little one,” David said with a weak smile.
“So how’s the head?”
“Clearing – how long it will take for Mum and Dad to stop being mad at me...”
He turned and looked at Jude, as he said “sorry – stop me doing that again all right?”
“Oh trust me, I will,” Jude said with a smile. “Sit down, I’ll get some more coffee.”
Hobart William Smith
As Jo dried her hair off, she sat at her desk and opened up her laptop.
“Hey Heather – how’s the family?”
dealt with,” Heather said with a smile.
“How was training?"
"Don't ask Big
Sis...” Jo grimaced as she said “just
say that I hate running in snow."
"As bad as that
eh?" Heather smiled.
say...Anyway to what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?"
"Juliette asked me
to do a check on somebody, and it leads back to that part of the world."
"No, this person
is a townie,” Heather said, “but she has some interesting connections, and
she's playing eyes and ears up in Niagara."
"Okay I get that,
what can I do?"
"If I give you her
address, can you slip out and take a look inside her apartment?"
"I can try."
"Good, the big
complication is that she's a local cop in your area, state not local force, and
she might just have her place more secured than is usual."
"Okay thanks for that, now tell me who she is Big Sis?"
“The name’s Rochelle Andersen...”
Niagara on the Lake
Miss Panther sat in the hotel room, and looked at her compatriots.
“So what do you have for us, Miss Leopard?”
“Well, I think the info’s good – I checked out the route as well as the other thing, and it seems legit.”
"So what of the FBI
agent?" she purred.
"Well you guys
know her, would she be this open if she was working?"
she said, “though hiding in plain sight is a nice way of concealing your real
hanging with what my friends in New York tell me are her real life socialite
friends...she strictly played tourist today."
brunette said, “I never thought Janice was over bright so the idea of her
playing two games at once is I think beyond her limits."
"High Society, and fashion industry airheads...Nothing to worry us."
“Excellent – then we are in agreement?”
The others all nodded as she said “meet again at ten – and be prepared.”
West Central Park
“Thanks for taking me to my shooting practice Sis.” Katy smiled as she opened the apartment door and let herself and Pepsi in.
“Well it’s not my kind of sport,” Pepsi said as she took her jacket off, “but I can see how much you enjoy it…and I have to admit it’s kinda cool getting down onto the FBI gun range.”
“Yeah I love it,” Katy hung up the coats.
“That you girls?” Katherine called out.
“It is Gran.” Pepsi called back.
“How did it go?” Katherine came in from the kitchen with three large mugs of coffee.
“One of the FBI instructors praised my shooting,” Katy smiled proudly as she took her cup, “but he thinks I need a customized air pistol soon.”
“Because every shooter is an individual and for competition shooting the gun needs be expertly fixed to fit the shooter.”
“Well if you are this keen maybe I’ll see what I can do to help buy you what you need.”
“Talk it over with Mom first like I said.” Pepsi sipped from her cup.
“Talking of Mom?”
“She rang from upstate,” Katherine said, “she’s settled in and awaiting developments.”
“Which is FBI speak for either she’s sitting round her hotel room, or is sitting in a car doing a stakeout.” Katy yawned as she drank some more.
“I think you need an early night young lady – school tomorrow.”
“Don’t remind me,” Katy scowled...