Happy Families – Part 3
“This is Jeanne Beckman, and you’re watching the Beckmann Report.”
The cameraman panned round the organised chaos as Jeanne stood and smiled.
"I'm backstage at
the SOBER gala fashion night, being held at the MOMA here in New York, and
talking with Dr Karen Boyd who many of you might recall as the model Charity
"This is some turnout
of famous names both on the catwalk and in the audience tonight."
"It is,” Karen
said with a smile, “we are very lucky that so many dear people have given of
their time to help support SOBER."
"I understand that
you personally engaged in twisting a few arms..."
Karen laughed, "but I did ring a few friends and
persuaded them to come along."
"More then a few I think.
I saw Eve Stone here, as well as Linda Evangelista."
"Have all been
donated by designers and in the case of some of the vintage pieces museums and
"And I understand
some of the designer pieces will be auctioned for charity later."
"That they will." Karen nodded.
“You’ve also got some of the new faces of 2016 walking tonight. Any words of advice for them?”
“Enjoy the night, don’t be afraid, and remember – we’ve all been there before.”
“Wise words indeed – thanks Karen.”
“Thanks Jeanne,” Karen said as the cameraman signalled the end.
“Juliette – what’s this I hear about Anna?”
“Given your boss, I could not possibly comment,” Juliette said as they kissed each other on the cheek.
“I know – he’s in town for the interview tomorrow. What are you doing?”
“Staying well out of his way unless he comes to the shop floor.”
tonight Ju?" one of the girls called out.
"Yes, but not modeling, I'm writing this for the magazine..."
"Hey no comments
about my boobs then." a voice interrupted from the makeup stations.
"I'll try Kate." Juliette giggled.
“Okay folks, heads up!”
“Sounds like a Welsh Warning,” Mandy laughed as Mary Thomas came in.
“Late addition to the
show - we need someone to model the famous swimming costume, hat and glasses
from Lolita. The parcel just arrived from Sue Lyon." Merlin called out.
"It’s a bit late,
everyone is booked."
“And you need to be a certain size to do it – Elmore’s not here, remember?”
"I know,” Merlin
said, “but this is a very special iconic thing, and Sue has never loaned it
"Can I suggest
"Go grab Katy
Carter from the foyer, she'd be perfect."
"And it would mean
I'm no longer the baby...YAY!" Jeannie cheered.
Mary Thomas laughed, "I'll go grab Katy. Ju can
you give Cassandra the program change?"
“ALL RIGHT LADIES – STARTERS IN POSITION PLEASE!”
“Wow – this is an incredible place Mom,” Katy said as she came in with Katherine, Janice and Adam. She was wearing a white jersey dress under a jacket, to match Janice’s own blue jersey, while Adam was in a jacket, shirt and pants, and Katherine was wearing a brown jumper and slacks.
“Hey Katy,” Sands said as she came over, “you’re sitting with us.”
“That’s good,” Katherine said, but before they could take two steps Mary Thomas appeared and said “The very people I wanted to see.”
“Oh – why,” Janice said as she looked at her.
“Would you guys mind awfully if I borrowed Jan and Katy for just a few minutes,” Mary said as she guided the mother and daughter to one side.
“Why am i worried,” Jan said as Mary walked with them. “According to Juliette, every time you borrow someone, something happens.”
“Name one time...”
“Caroline, Grace, Abby, Jeannie...”
“You may have a point, but this is serious – we just received an extra outfit for the show, and it would be perfect for Katy.”
“Me? But I’ve never...”
“I know, but when you see it, you will understand why. Bu it need your mum to clear it first...”
“What do you think they’re talking about,” Adam said as he stood with Katherine, and then saw Jan almost scream “WHAT!”
“Hey – what’s going on?”
“Hi Caroline,” Adam said as he looked round, “you working tonight as well?”
“Double duty – what’s got Jan worked up?”
Mary was calming Jan down before they disappeared backstage.
“I’ll see if I can find out,” Caroline said as she followed them in, George watching Adam and Katherine from a discrete distance.
“Mary, she’s only 13 for the love of... the same age as the character!”
“I know I know – but she can pull it off, and all of us will be watching her?”
“Don’t worry Mom,” Katy said, “I can do this.”
“All right – but we discuss limits afterwards, understand?”
“Trust me – ah Caroline, take Katy back stage will you?”
“Sure – why?”
“A little surprise...”
“Well now, you are a sight for sore eyes,” Eve said as she recognised the thin woman sitting next to her.
“Good to see you as well, Eve – I never got the chance to congratulate you after the evening you hosted,” Twiggy said as the make up artists got to work.
“Did you see Jerry in the theatre?”
“With her new fiancée? You literally could have knocked me down with a feather when i saw that one.”
“Well, I saw Mick last week, and he said he wished her good luck.”
“Do you remember that time the three of us were in Paris, and Brian appeared in the audience?”
“Well, she was well over him by then, but still...”
The two older women laughed as Doc and Mary walked past.
“God, I hope these nerves die down...”
“You’ll be all right once you’re out there,” Doc said quietly as they joined the line. A few pairs down, Olivia and Fiona were putting on a pair of horn rimmed glasses each.
"Did we get the
right lenses in the frames Bandit?"
"You did Merlin,”
Olivia said with a smile, “Fi and I can both see with these glasses."
"I hoped you might." Mary smiled, "it's VERY Marilyn, but saves you walking off the end of the runway."
“She needed glasses as well?”
“Oh yes – but Hollywood at the time, strange place.”
5 pm Pacific Time
“Only if you have all finished your homework – have you all finished your homework?”
“Yes Dad,” the three girls chorused.
“All right then – you may watch.”
“Thanks,” Vicky said as she, Alison and Suzie jumped onto the couch.
“I guess we’re cooking,” David said as he looked at Tom and Bobby. “Let’s see what’s in the icebox...”
“Oh look,” Vicky said, “that’s Cassandra Stone, the actress. She must be the announcer tonight...”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, your hostess for tonight, Cassandra Stone!”
The audience applauded as Cassandra walked down, wearing a deep neckline silver dress, and smiled as she stood at the podium.
“Good evening,” she said, “and welcome to the SOBER Charity Fashion show.”
As the audience applauded again, Cassandra looked round.
"Before I begin,
may i say that we have been very lucky that so many
people have given of their time and property to make this show what it is tonight." Cassie paused for the applause.
"SOBER is a
charity dear to the hearts of many of us both in the world of media, but also
particularly in the fashion industry. There are not many people here who do not
have a personal story to tell of addiction problems either for themselves, but
especially among their friends, and it is to those friends, the casualties of addiction, that the girls have asked me to dedicate this
Suddenly the audience rose to its feet in applause.
“We hope you enjoy tonight, and ask you to remember as you watch, those this fine charity help. To start, welcome in a tribute to the memory of Marilyn Monroe, Olivia Savage and her daughter, Fiona Treharran!”
The audience applauded as Fiona and Olivia came out, wearing flowing fifties dresses from her early movies, smiling as they saw the catwalk in front of them.
“Now I see what you mean,” Mary said as she stood behind Abby, watching on the monitor, “She makes it look so simple...”
“Like i said, Mary, the girls are watching more likely than not, so walk so they are looking at you, not the audience.”
As she nodded, Olivia and Fiona came back in, high fiving some of the girls as Cassandra said “Next tonight, welcome Karen Boyd and Mandy Carrow, in outfits worn in Breakfast at Tiffanys...”
“Going well so far, isn’t it,” Alice said as she sat with Linda. "Any PTA candidates
among these youngsters Mother?"
"Oh a few Bats." Linda smiled as Maggie walked onto the stage.
"I think young
Mary for example..."
"Will be a huge success...” Linda looked at her waiting in line.
“I agree, and I am also
insanely jealous of her face."
"Yeah, I expect a
major cosmetics company will not be able to resist that face."
Princess as well.
Another second generation girl."
"I forget Terri
was one of us for a while." Alice nodded.
"Bandit’s girl as
well, as long as she can carve out a career with her eyes being that bad."
"I think so Mother. Merlin worked a miracle with the glasses, and the photographers that have worked with them have found ways to make it easier."
“I know – with them, Jeannie, and the others, the world has moved on so much...”
“They look amazing,” Alison said as she grabbed another handful of popcorn.
“Maggie Fife with Charly Elphberg.”
“Wow – I love her red hair.”
The girls watched as Maggie walked down, before Cassandra said “Please welcome to the stage Anna Carlton, wearing a Versace creation from 1974.”
Mary took several deep breaths as she watched Anna step out, the heels of her boots clicking as she swayed from side to side in the long skirt.
“Your turn next,” Merlin whispered as she stood by the young model. “Remember everything I told you today.”
Mary nodded nervously as Cassandra said “Now, we move from the look of the seventies to the glamour of the fifties.”
“Showtime,” Mary whispered to herself.
Dave walked in with their brothers as they heard Cassandra Stone say “wearing a Christian Dior gown from 1958, kindly donated by the Museum of Fashion, please welcome to the catwalk an exciting new model, Mary Clarke!”
The family watched as Mary walked out, looking very different from their usual sister’s attire. Her blonde hair was swept back in soft curls, falling over the shoulder straps of the silver silk dress which held the dress over her chest. Her long legs moved with grace and ease as the skirt flowed round them, as she smiled and looked at the flashing lights and cameras.
“Pops, you’re not crying are you,” David said as he looked at his father.
“No – just something in my eye,” her father said as she watched the audience stand and applaud her, Mary smiling as she walked to the end of the catwalk, smiled and posed, and then walked back.
“That’s my girl,” Merlin said as she clapped Mary on the back, “now go and get into your next gown, then do the same again.”
“Oh now that was a thrill,” Mary said as Abby embraced her, and then Charly.
“Welcome to the big leagues,” Doc said, “now onwards and upwards.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are coming to the end of our first half,” Cassandra said as she looked at her notes, “and as you may expect, we have a surprise for you. When the show was announced, the organisers were contacted by Sue Lyon, the star of the classic Stanley Kubrick film Lolita, offering the loan of her most famous outfit from the movie.”
“I am so going to regret this, you know that,” Jan said as she sat with the others.
“I’m sure Katy will be fine,” Adam said as Cassandra said “please welcome to the stage one of the most exciting new models to appear this year – and one of the youngest – Katy Carter.”
As the curtains parted, Katy walked onto the catwalk, the audience gasping as they saw her in the classic fern print bikini, and the wide straw hat made famous in the film.
“She looks as if she is really enjoying it,” Doc said as she and Abby watched Katy.
“Yeah – she’s playing the Toronto role,” Abby said as Katy sashayed down, looking through the heart shaped dark glasses and smiling, her red lips in a pout.
“Adam,” Jan said as she looked at her partner, “are you all right?”
Adam was staring at Katy as she stopped by their seats, pulling the glasses down and looking over them as she sucked seductively on the lollipop.
“Sorry,” Adam said as he shook his head and looked at Jan, “I was a million miles away for a moment.”
Katy smiled as she turned and started to walk back, the audience standing and applauding as she went back in.
“Goddess, what a rush,” she said as she went back through.
“Wonderful Katy – now go, change, get the makeup off and go back to the family...”
13?" Mary's sisters looked stunned at the screen as Katy walked off
swinging her hips.
"Who's only 13?"
"A model called
Katy Carter Pops."
"She just closed
the first half, and she looked incredible."
"I wonder what
clothes she wears in real life?"
"And for school?"
“Well, it doesn’t matter, because you have your clothes for school, don’t you? Right – go and get changed. It’s a school day, and they’re on a break...”
“Everyone get into second outfits,” the stage manager called out as Doc sat with Katy.
"Okay where have
you been keeping her hidden?" Mother asked as Katy undressed.
"Have we been
hiding her darlings?"
Alice laughed. "She's the daughter of a friend of ours."
"Well,” Linda said
as Katy put back on her clothes, “one day she's going to be pretty
"Just my thoughts
when I first photographed her Linda my love." Jack Linklater
said as he kissed the veteran star on both cheeks.
"So she's your
so," Jack paused for thought. "I was asked by her Mom to take a
routine picture, and well I got to trying her in various outfits and
poses...and what came out was what you see tonight."
already got her pencilled in as my replacement one day." Pru Stratton spoke from where she was having her hair
"Well she has the
tits darling." Mandy drawled.
"Given she will probably grow another 4 or 5 inches, she will be a near perfect model for your bra and lingerie people Pru." Linda smiled. “But that’s the future...”
“Hey,” Katy said as she joined her mother, “I’m back.”
"So how did that
"Oh Mom,” Katy
said with a sigh, “like almost nothing I've ever done before."
"What did Mary say
"That I could have
made the play with the lollipop more suggestive..."
"Actually she just
said well done Mom, but I wanted to see your face if I said that." Katy
"Young lady, you
and I need to take time to have a serious conversation soon." Janice
breathed deeply to calm herself down. "In the meantime
though I'll just say well done."
"Yeah?" Katy looked seriously at her mother,
"you really think that?"
"Well we have been invited backstage for the after party."
“I think I may need a large drink,” Jan said as the others shook their heads.
“Well done Katy,” Juliette said as she came over and hugged Katy. “Do you folks mind if I borrow Jan for a few minutes?”
“Sure,” Katherine said as she took Jan to one side.
“I think Mary opened a hornets’ nest tonight, Ju.”
"Possibly... Anyway, a heads up Jan, the agents are
impressed with Katy."
"Meaning what Ju?"
"That Missy will
be bugging the hell out of you to get her under contract to us."
“Look, all I will say is listen to her, and we can talk later.”
“Okay – well, that was coming anyway...”
"The other thing,”
Juliette said quietly as she looked round, “is that we think THEY are going to
come after you..."
"Don't worry we have surveillance already in place on you guys, and hopefully we can head any trouble off at the pass."
“Even so, I was expecting this – I’m going to go and see Welch tomorrow. Time to turn the screws.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Cassandra said as the models lined the catwalk, “please join me in thanking everyone for their help tonight, and show your appreciation. Thank you, and good night!”
The audience stood and applauded as the models smiled and waved, and then stated to disperse. “We’re going this way,” Sandy said as they made their way backstage.
“There she is, the girl fo the hour,” Jeannie said as she looked at Katy. “Come and join us.”
“In a minute,” Jan said as she saw Missy approaching, “Katy and I need to do something first.”
“Katy you were amazing up there,” Missy said as she kissed the teenager on both cheeks.
“Thank Aunt Missy,” Katy said with a blush.
“Jan, you can probably guess what I’m going to say...”
“Yeah, I can – Missy, you know I’ve got worries and concerns...”
“I do – which is why I think I want to handle this differently. You know that Norstar have links with an agency in LA that specialises in child models?”
“What I’m proposing is is Katy signs for us, she will actually by managed jointly by us in NY and Rising Stars in LA – Maddie Moore acts as our agent for both. You know her, right?”
“We’ve met – so she would be managed by an age appropriate agency?”
“Jointly with us – interested?”
“Okay – let’s talk.”
Katy beamed as Missy said “Good – I’ll come round and see you both over the weekend.”
“So enjoy the experience Mary?”
“I guess I did Abby,” Mary said as she held a glass of water, “but I still feel I have a lot to learn.”
“Oh of course you do,” Merlin said as she joined them, “but that’s the nature of the industry. You learn all the time – ask Mother here.”
“Mary, it’s a real pleasure to meet you,” Linda said as she kissed Mary on both cheeks.
“Miss Evangelista, I’m the one who is happy to meet you...”
“Why don’t we go over there and talk,” Linda said as she took Mary over.
“She’s a real nice girl,” Doc said as she came over with Jeannie.
“Yeah – I like her,” Abby said quietly...
Thursday 28th January
1 pm GMT
The coach parties were starting to make their ways to the picnic areas and the cafes as the taxi made its way up the wide driveway, and then drove to the rear of the imposing house. Grace looked out at the well maintained lawns, and thought back to the days when she used to run across them, her parents laughing as they watched from the side.
“So you’re staying with His Lordship are you,” the driver said as they pulled up by a white door.
“Yeah – but I said I would arrive discretely,” Grace said as the door opened, and a gray haired woman came out, wiping her hands on a towel.
“Dave, what brings you round here,” she said as the taxi driver got out.
“Picked someone up at the station, said she wanted to come in the back door,” the driver said as Grace took a deep breath, and stepped out of the taxi. She looked round, in her grey leather jacket, white top and pants.
“Oh my goodness,” the woman said as she looked at her, “Miss Grace. We weren’t expecting you until later today.”
“Hello Sophia – it has been a long, long time.”
“I know,” the woman said as Grace hugged her. “Bring her cases in Dave, and I’ll pay.”
“That’s not necessary,” Grace said quietly.
“I have my instructions Miss Grace,” Sophia said as they went in, the driver bringing Grace’s luggage as Sophia handed him some notes.
“Are they home at the moment?”
“I was about to take them lunch,” Sophia said as Dave left. “Have you eaten yet?”
“Apart from airline food, no. I went to shower and change, grab some coffee, and then caught a train to Saffron Walden, then a cab – sorry, taxi to here.”
“Well, you go up, and I’ll get an extra portion set up. It is good to see you again, Miss Grace.”
“I hope the rest of them are as welcoming,” Grace said as she hugged Sophia again, and then walked out of the kitchen, running her hand along the walls as childhood memories came flooding back.
She walked along and entered a hallway, slowly walking along as she looked at the portraits, smiling as she looked at one of her grandfather.
“Sophia, is that you... Grace?”
He turned to see a brown haired woman, the hints of grey showing in her temples, wearing a two piece mustard coloured suit and a grey sweater.
“Hello Aunt Annabelle,” Grace said with a smile, “surprise?”
“Who is it Anna,” a male voice said, as a tall grey haired man came out. He stared at her for a moment, before he said “now this... This is a fine birthday present. When did you get here?”
“A few minutes ago,” Grace said as she hugged both of them, “but I wanted to arrive quietly. You both look well.”
“So do you,” Annabelle said, “how long has it been?”
“Too long, Aunt Annabelle, Uncle Stephen,” Grace said, “and I first need to say I am truly...”
“Never mind that now,” Stephen said, “come and sit down. We have a lot to talk about...”
West Central Park
“Is that you up and about Katy?”
“Yes, Mom,” Jan heard Katy call from the corridor.
“Hurry up – breakfast is nearly ready.”
"Oh this is
Katy?" her mother looked up from cooking breakfast.
Katy looked up from
where she was standing, looking at her cell phone. "A well done from Miss
Lyon on how I showed her outfit last night."
"You are right,
that is something nice,” Jan said as she went back to the pan, “you need print
it and keep it."
Katy paused before she sat down, "Mom about my Lolita performance..."
"It really was
just as how I was asked to do it by Aunt Mary."
"I know...she told me."
“I don’t want you to think I was...”
“Katy,” Jan said as she passed her daughter her breakfast, “I know you find this difficult, and I certainly do, but I trust Mary, and Missy, and I trust them not to get you doing anything that is wrong. I just want you to be a kid as well, all right?”
“Okay mom,” Katy said with a smile.
The Astoria Waldorf
“There you are,” Missy said as she looked up to see Mary walk in, wearing a pair of jeans and a sweater, “Come and sit down, then we can order breakfast.”
“Thanks – I think.”
Missy raised an eyebrow as she said “coffee for two please” to the waitress.
"Can I ask you for
an honest answer please Missy?" Mary slipped into the booth next to her
"How did I really
do last night?"
Missy smiled as the
waitress poured some coffee into the mugs, before she said "honestly? Better than I expected."
“Drink your coffee, and
I’ll give you my answer.” Missy watched
as Mary took a drink, and then smiled. "Your
walk still needs work Mary, but that session with Merlin clearly helped, and
she can fit you in for another lesson later today before you fly out."
"Did I look
"Well purely on
looks Mary you were in the top echelon of girls walking the show."
"How can you say
that,” Mary said with a sigh, “they are all so beautiful and famous?"
"Easy,” Missy said
with a smile, “because it’s the truth."
"Mary,” Missy said
with a smile, “when will you get it that you are the real deal...a young top
my own mind?
Probably never." Mary shook her head.
"Well you asked
for honesty, and I gave it to you. Yes you need to improve your walk, but that
comes with time...and practice. So you have something to work on at home."
"I guess I do."
“What will it be ladies?”
“Eggs Benedict for me – you Mary?”
“I’ll just get the buffet,” Mary said. “So what is the plan for this morning?”
“Well, when we’re finished, we head to Merlin’s Cave – sorry, Mary Thomas’ office. You do the lesson there, and I understand she has something she needs you to try on – a ball dress?”
“It’s been made already? But I only agreed the design the other day?”
“When it needs to, Huntingdown works really quickly – I’ll walk to the buffet with you...”
Miss Panther sat with Miss Puma and Miss Tigress, watching the recording of the fashion show from the previous night.
"That among other
highlights the performance of Katy Carter, the 13 year old daughter of
socialite Janice Carter..."
"An FBI agent can
be a socialite?"
Panther looked back at the recording.
Lyon's iconic swimsuit outfit from the movie Lolita has to stand out as one off
the greatest highpoints."
"So she's not too
bright?" Miss Panther played with her fingers. "Has nobody thought to
work out how she can be an FBI agent and a socialite on the same salary?"
"I'll get on
it." Miss Puma eased herself to her
feet, and hobbled on her crutch to a laptop.
"I think we might have an idea how to extract some revenge on Miss Carter."
“Will it involve hurting her,” Miss Tigress said as she played with her blonde hair.
“Oh yes – I think this will hurt her. “Let me know when you have finished, Miss Puma, and I will call the others...”
Louise sat with a mug of coffee as she glanced at the paper, and then saw the icon on the screen.
“Good morning Madame,” she said as she looked at the screen, “I trust all is well?”
“It is – but we are on high alert. What news from there?”
“At this stage, no change, but...”
The knock on her door took Louise by surprise, as she said “forgive me Madame – I will report later?”
“Of course,” Shirley said as Louise closed her laptop, and walked to the door of her apartment. Looking through the peephole, she put the gun in her and safely away before she opened the door.
“Lynx – I didn’t know you knew where I lived.”
“The boss gave me your address,” the dark haired girl said as she came in, her black leather jacket and jeans contrasting with the grey sweatshirt and joggers Louise was wearing. Looking at the blonde, she smiled and said “I guess you need to dress down after what you wear at work.”
“Sure – coffee?”
“Thanks – nice place?”
“No it’s not,” Louise said as she put the machine on, “but I can afford it, and it gives me somewhere on my own. So, what brings you down here?”
“Remember when you did that thing outside the club? The Boss was very impressed – you notice she asks you to being the drinks up now?”
“I did – caused a little discussion, I can tell you.”
“Listen, Louise,” Lynx said as she took the coffee, “you’ve gotta know the boss is not the most usual of owners.”
Louise tried not to laugh as she said “Nope – unless you mean the fact you all like to send time in private.”
“So if I asked if you would be interested in earning some extra cash?”
“I would say how, and is it legal?”
“Not totally, but it is stopping someone worse getting it. Want to hear more?”
Louise nodded as she held her mug in both hands...
Jeannie spoke as she exited the disabled stall and saw her friend washing her
"I gotta run, I'm late for my Phys Ed," Jeannie quickly
washed her hands and checked her face.
"What is it? You getting massaged? Most of us would love that
"Not the way they
jerk her body round," Doc came out of a stall, "have you seen
"Yeah, it doesn't
Jeannie laughed as she pushed herself outside.
"What are you..." Abby was halted as Doc put a finger to her lips then
checked all the stalls.
"Okay we are
"Alright we are
"Did you get all the
up to date intel?"
"Does this answer
you?" Abby answered her Jameson bag and showed the small pistol in the
"Okay as long as
you know we are on high alert."
"Yep," Anna nodded a reply.
“Good – I really hope those bastards do try something. I’d love to see their faces...”
4 pm GMT
“Well,” Stephen said as he put his coffee cup down, “I know you had your reasons Grace, but we could have helped, you know?”
“I know Uncle Stephen – but the way my mind was at the time, I had to make a complete, clean break. I did do one thing – I let Mum and Dad know I was fine, which is why they won’t be upset that I came here first. I asked them to keep quiet as well, so don’t be angry at them please.”
“Did they know where you were?”
“No,” Grace said as she looked at her aunt, “but that I was alive, and I needed to do this by myself. Then there was the fashion show last year, and – well, you know what happened after that. I saw Uncle Charlie back in November, but this – this is big ‘Hi I’m back’ moment for most of you.”
“We’re just glad you’re back,” Annabelle said as the door opened, and Sophia came in. “Master Thomas is on the telephone, Your Lordship.”
“How is Tommy?”
“Director of an insurance firm now,” Stephen said, “I’ll take it outside.”
“So are you happier now Grace,” Annabelle said as the door closed.
“I am, Aunt Annabelle. All those years I was been a teacher, there was something missing – and now I know what it was. It took me relocating to New York to make it complete though – and I guess to bring Glorious Grace back.”
“I never really liked that name you know?”
“I know,” Grace said with a smile, “but it’s the one that stuck.”
“Do you see any of the girls from those days?”
“I’ve renewed my friendship with Phillipa Ashley,” Grace said, “we cleared the air, and her daughter is now a pupil at the school I work in. Jeannie Brewster, and a few other younger models, also attend.”
“And you are the Dean of Students, correct?”
“Yeah – enjoying every second of it. I also meet some of the girls on occasion – Olivia told me she and the family are coming tomorrow.”
“Indeed – we saw Fiona at the ball, she looked wonderful.”
“Tommy is coming tonight” her uncle said as he came back in, “give you a chance to see his kids Grace.”
“I’ll look forward to that,” Grace said with a smile as the door opened, and they all stood up. She smiled as she saw who was coming in.
“Let’s leave them alone,” Stephen said as he guided his wife out of the room, while the two new arrivals embraced Grace...
Bishop Walden School
“Have you seen how everyone keep looking at us,” Cassie said as she sat with the other five at a table.
“Can’t think why,” Katy said as she ate her lunch.
Sands just shook her head as she said “Oh I think you know why, Katherine Carter...”
"So how the hell
did a treat night out at a fashion show with your family turn into a
performance on the catwalk?" Shawnee asked.
"Purely by being
the right body,” Katy said with a large smile, “in the right place, at the
that if Carina Huntingdown had been there instead of
working on an essay at Yale, then I'd never have been asked."
"Now you've lost
me." Liz spoke.
really,” Katy said, “the Lolita costume got lost in transit and only showed up
at the last minute. To show it at its best it needed a model with a good
figure, but who isn't too tall.” Taking
a drink from her bottle, she continued “normally Carina fits that bill, but
with her not there Aunt Juliette remembered that I was and suggested Mary
Thomas recruit me."
so that was how?"
"So what did it
feel like? I'd have been so embarrassed." Sands shook her head.
"I actually didn't
have time to get nervous, the show was getting
underway as they got me into hair and makeup."
"So did you meet
some of the other models? Cassie spoke.
"I did, and they
"Do they look as
beautiful without their makeup on?" Shawnee asked.
Katy smiled, "most of them are just very tall girls with very fit
Abigail." Sands mused.
"Right, but being
tall like that they show the clothes off so well. One of them was as nervous as me – a girl
from the West Coast, but we got on great."
"How did you get
the idea with the lollipop?"
"I didn't. Laura -
they showed me some pictures and told me what to do."
"Make it look like
you were sucking on a cock?"
"Precisely Liz," Katy laughed at the memory.
“So is this going to happen again,” Shawnee said as the bell rang.
"Hey Letty...” Abby moved
to the side as Letty sat next to her in the
Refectory. “Sorry I missed helping at
training last night."
"I know life as a
glamorous top model takes precedence."
"Well,” Abby said
with a smile, “only sometimes."
"I taped the show
"What did you
"I loved the
historic stuff...not so sure about the other bits, the modern designer
"Well some of it
can be an acquired taste." Abby
took a drink from her water and wiped her mouth.
looked incredible, I forgot she's only really just 13."
"There were some
complaints in the media about that."
"Yeah I saw."
what news of you?"
e-mailed and said they'd verified my descent from Benjamin Franklin."
though it’s from his 'Tory' son?"
"Yeah, he might
have been on the wrong side in the revolution, but the terms of the scholarship
don't say which member of Franklin's family you need descend from."
you'll get the scholarship Letty?"
“See,” Merlin said as she and Mary watched the recording of her catwalk, “you have the basics there, Mary, so it’s a case of practice, practice, practice.”
“I suppose,” Mary said quietly, “practising walking in heels is also helpful.”
“It will help – in every aspect,” Mary said with a smile. “So – lessons later. Come with me now please.”
They walked into the changing area, where Merlin’s assistant Lesley was waiting with a clothes bag.
“Arrived from Hong Kong a couple of hours ago – go with Lesley and let’s see you in it.”
“Is that what i think it is?”
“Hm-hm – oh and Lesley? Make sure she has the right height heels on.”
“Got it boss,” Lesley said as she led the young model into the changing area, and Mary put on her dressmaker’s waistcoat.
“One moment, Boss – i think she’s in shock.”
“No time for that, Mary – let’s be seeing you.”
Merlin smiled as the young model came out, wearing the pale blue silk gown with the bolero jacket over her arm.
“Ai – Kylie has a real talent, doesn’t she?”
“This... This is amazing,” Mary said as she looked at herself in the mirror. The gown had the capped sleeves and neckline she had asked for, but Kylie had arranged for the front of the bodice to be decorated with lines of thin pearls, moving in waves from the waist to the top. The skirt flowed out in layers to just above the floor.
“Now, is that the height of shoe you’d planned to wear?”
Mary could only nod as Lesley walked her over and helped her to stand on a raised box, as Merlin walked round.
“Hmm – needs to come in a little here,” she said as she pinned the waist, “and possibly raise the skirt a fraction, but damn that girl is good. How does it feel?”
“As if I’m a Princess at Walt Disney World,” Mary whispered.
“Can we see the jacket on Lesley?”
As the assistant slipped the Bolero jacket onto Mary’s shoulders, Merlin walked round and started to pin it in certain places.
“Not much, but I hate to see perfection missed,” she finally said with a smile. “I’ll get the adjustments made and the gown sent on to you, lass.”
Looking at her, Merlin then said
"Do you want to
wear matching gloves with that Mary?"
"It's up to you, but I think they add both elegance and glamour. I have a friend can dye both gloves and shoes the exact matching shade if you want?"
“Okay then,” Mary said with a smile. “When can I thank this Kylie – in person?”
“She’s flying over in a couple of weeks, and here for Fashion Week – are you coming?”
“Not sure yet,” Mary said as she stepped down.
“Well, we’ll sort something out. Now go and change back...”
“Well,” Miss Panther said as Miss Lynx came in.
“I think she’s interested,” the dark haired girl said as she sat with Miss Tigress and Miss Bobcat. “Why the meet?”
“Agent Janice Carter – we’re considering an appropriate way of showing our displeasure, and trying to discover just how she manages to live the life she leads.”
“You’ve been looking,” Rochelle said as she looked at Miss Puma, who nodded slowly.
"So how do her
financials look?" Miss Panther asked.
"Squeaky clean,” Miss Puma said, “but stinking of nepotism and the old girl network."
"Take for example her apartment on Central Park West."
location," Rochelle said.
"Yes, but the rent
in her lease from the Richmond Trust is microscopic..."
"How did she
being a personal friend of Alexandra Richmond.
Her daughter is a close friend of Miss Richmond’s children."
"Alright,” Miss Panther said, “a friend rents her a cheap apartment...what else?'
"Her daughter's school fees are mainly paid by a bursary that the school gave young Katy."
importantly,” Miss Puma said, “is her income from being a non-executive
director in Juliette Huntingdown's company."
"She invested an
inheritance in her friends company..."
Miss Panther interrupted.
"Cleared it and okayed it."
"Is that how she's
channeling dirty money?"
"Not that I can
see. She pays her taxes on income from her investment, which by the way was an
outstanding one given Huntingdown's recent link-up
with APCO. She takes her directors fees..."
"Are bought at
trade and best friend prices, and she declares them if she wears them for work
as a deduction."
"This all stinks
so badly to me..."
"But try proving that its really crooked Boss."
“Okay then,” Miss Panther said, “anything else?”
“Nope – so what are we going to do?”
“Miss Tigress, Miss Bobcat – take a vacation. Watch them, see if you can establish their routine – then we make our move...”
1 pm Pacific Time
Oakland Junior High
“Hey Clarke – wait up.”
“What’s up Cher,” Vicky said as she turned and watched.
“Your sister looked amazing last night.”
“Thanks – she called to say she’s got tickets for us to go to a concert with Mick Harran in a few weeks.”
“And we get to meet him,” Alison said.
"So your sister
knows Mick Harran's sister well enough she can get backstage passes?" one
of the girls asked Vicky as they stood in the schoolyard.
"You are so damn
Vicky looked at the
girls, before she said "that's not what any of you used to say."
started getting famous." Alison
"That's when you
wed just like us bitch...now ya have a sister can
open doors for you."
"Yeah life gets
real easy when ya got money," one of the black
"Well we aint got much, what Mary's earned so far is all going on
setting up college funds for us all."
"You gonna have a rich bitch sister and youse still plannin' goin' ta college?" one of the girls spoke, "ya do realise youse gonna get life on easy street?"
“Not us,” Vicky said, “we know just what Pops and Mary did for us, and we’ve learned that lesson. What we get, we earn – pure and simple.”
"What do you buy a
girl whose two main interests in life are soccer and old movies?" Jeannie
asked as Pepsi helped her out of the car.
"Well once upon a
time things related to those two subjects,” Jeannie said as she settled in her
chair, “but I think she has everything she wants now."
"But they aren't
really 16th birthday presents anyway." Nikki looked up and down 5th
"Well I know as
always the Rochermann's are giving her jewelry." Doc spoke, "and Caroline is giving her
great-grandfather is giving her the pearls that once belonged to his
"Oh that sounds
lovely Becca." Jeannie smiled.
"We could club
together and get her some earrings to go with that pearl necklace?"
my parents are getting her those." Becca answered.
"Don't parents realise that we HAVE to buy her something good?" asked Doc as she wheeled Jeannie down the avenue.
“Come on girls, thinking caps on – the theme for the party is 60s glamour, right?”
“Right- so maybe there’s a hook there.”
“Well well, look who’s coming,” Doc said as she looked along the road.
Sands, Hey Girls."
Jeannie called out as they spotted the younger posse of girls approaching from
the opposite direction. "What are you up to?"
for a birthday present for Ama." Katy looked away from a store window.
Becca grinned, "Any luck?"
Sandy replied, "we don't even really have any
"We have to get
her something great after she invited us." Liz checked out the older
girls. "By the way you all look so dolls."
Liz." Pepsi checked her reflection in the store window.
"We are in the same position though as you," Doc spoke, "we have very few ideas that other people aren't already giving."
"What about a
purse?" asked Shawnee.
"She has a
Jameson...after all it's named for her Mom."
"Scratch that idea
"Yeah we thought
of that and discarded the idea." Nikki spoke.
"Come on between us we must be able to come up with an idea." Jeannie looked at all the others.
"What does every
16 year old girl want?" asked Sands.
16 year old boy."
"She already has Nick." Jeannie laughed.
“Come on – concen...”
“We’ve been approaching this the wrong way,” Jeannie said as she stroked her chin.
“I know that look Jeannie – where are you thinking of?”
“Columbus Circle – I’ve got an idea...”
“Okay, we’re here – now what?”
“Well,” Jeannie said, “I’ve had three ideas. Katy – I want you and Pepsi to get on the phone to Diana, because she’s the only person I know who can do this.”
“Tell her you want a complete set of Jacques Tati films on DVD or Bluray. See what she says.”
“We’ll head to the cafe outside,” Pepsi said as they went off.
“Girls,” she said to Sands and the other younger girls. “Papyrus, third floor. Tell them you have a sweet sixteenth coming up, and ask them about special stationary.”
“Ama loves to write – go and see what they say, within their budget.”
“And the rest of us,” Becca said as they went off.
“Get me to the lift – we’re going to Sataya.”
A few minutes later, Doc wheeled Jeannie into the store, an assistant looking over and then doing a double take before she came over.
“Miss Brewster,” she said quietly, “how may I be of assistance to you today?”
“Actually,” Jeannie said as the girls looked round, “I have a very dear friend who is coming up on her sweet sixteenth. She’s a very spiritual girl, but loves classic retro style, particularly from the sixties. My friends and I are having some problems finding her a gift – do you have any suggestions?”
“I may have a few to suggest – if you would like to come over here...”
“I don’t get it Jeans,” Nikki whispered, “why here?”
“We’re all thinking too big – this is Ama we’re talking about here. What would she appreciate from her friends more than anything?”
“Small gifts from the heart – Jeannie, you are a genius?”
“Sometimes – let’s go and have a look...”
Friday 29th January
8 am GMT
“Good morning,” Grace said as she came into the dining room, wearing a white jumper and jeans. “How is everyone?”
“Sit down, have some breakfast,” Stephen said, “where are Arnold and Geraldine?”
“Mum and Dad? I heard them up and about, so I presume they will be down soon. Thank you Sophia.”
As she sipped her coffee, she said “I need to head into town to visit a friend, but i will be back in plenty of time to dress for tonight.”
“Charles and Olivia will have arrived by then as well,” Annabelle said. “so who are you visiting?”
“Two people actually. I’m going to see Fiona MacKenzie at her home, then meeting up with Margaret Harker for a late lunch.”
“Has she started her campaign yet?”
Grace nodded. “She’s in town to discuss media strategy, but I wanted to meet up with her while I was here.”
“How is Phillipa anyway?”
“Pippa’s good – she has an interview next week for the job of Editor at US Complete Style, which could be interesting.”
11 am GMT
“Thanks,” Grace said as she paid the cab driver, and walked up the steps to the front door of the house.
“Fiona? It’s Grace?”
“Ach come awa in lassie,” she heard Fiona McKenzie say as the front door opened, and she made her way up to the flat.
“Fiona? Where are you?”
As Grace called out and closed the door, she heard Fiona say “In the front room, lassie.” She walked in to see Fiona sitting there, in her grey cardigan and Laura Ashley dress, looking at her over her glasses.
“Grace, darling, yer lookin’ well.”
“You look as if you’re getting stronger as well, Fiona,” Grace said as she took her coat off. “Want some tea?”
“Ah’ll make it,” Fiona said as she stood up and walked slowly to the kitchen, Grace walking behind her.
“So how’s the reunion coming along?”
“Better than I hoped,” Grace said as she sat at the table, “I had a long chat with my mum and dad last night, and tonight is the big party.”
“Yer uncle’s birthday?”
Grace nodded as Fiona switched the kettle on. “Did you see Mary last week?”
“Aye she dropped in – she went to her home after that, then did some business for me at the office afore she went back.”
“Fiona – how bad has it been? One night I went to see Caroline, and she had just spoken to you...”
“Aye – I frightened her ah think. Ah mean, she lost her ma, and she’s got her life back – but seeing me shocked her.”
Grace nodded as Fiona poured the hot water into the pot, and then sat down. “Actually, ah’m glad ye called today Grace – it saves me calling on ye in yer home tae ask a wee favour of ye.”
“Oh,” Grace said as she watched Fiona switl the pot round, then put two mugs of tea out and had one to her. “What’s that?”
“Be mah executor?”
“Your... Your will?”
“Aye.” Fiona took a sip from her mug, and said “tha’s the funnae thing aboot this – it gies ye a sense o perspective. I have targets, I hae goals – like been in Munich in April – but I know ah’ve been dam lucky this time. And there could be anether.”
“So, I saw a solicitor, and mah affairs are in order – but if it comes tae that time, ah’d like you tae take care o things.”
Fiona shook her head. “It cannae be Mary, fur guid reason, nor can it be Anna or Ju. Will ye do this fer me?”
Grace wiped a tear from her eye, as she said “see what you made me do now? All right, I would be honoured, but I pray that day is still years off.”
“Aye – so dae I,” Fiona said with a grin. “Now, tell me wha else is happening...”
2 pm GMT
The Sanctuary House
Tothill Street, London
“Grace! Over here!”
Grace smiled as she saw Maggie waving from a table in a back corner, and walked through the bar to join her there.
“Now this is the sort of place I know you’re at home in,” she said as she kissed Maggie on both cheeks before sitting down. “How are you?”
“Exhausted if truth be told. I’ve been in Central Office all morning, and I needed a break. What will it be?”
“A large – very large – white wine.”
“Bring us a bottle of chardonnay and two glasses,” Maggie said to the barmaid, who nodded as she turned to look at Grace. “So, how’s it going?”
“So far so good – just tonight to get through now, and then a local event tomorrow night I said I’d help out with when i arrived.”
“Want to swap places?”
“Not for all the wine in France,” Grace laughed as the wine was brought over.
“I went to see Fiona McKenzie today,” Grace said as Maggie poured the wine, “she asked me to be the executor of her will.”
“I thought she was in remission?”
“She is – but the Scots in her means she plans ahead. I asked why not someone like Mary, and all she said was she couldn’t ask Mary.”
“Probably because she has left her something – English law, the executor cannot be left anything beyond a small token of thanks.”
“Enough of me – how have you been?”
“As I say, rushed off my feet – oh you are an angel,” Maggie said as the barmaid brought over two Ploughman’s lunches. “I hope you don’t mind that I ordered for you.”
“Not at all – how’s the campaign going?”
“So far so good – what about Pippa?”
“The job at CS? I’d say she’s in with a fair shout, but she’ll be working all weekend.”
“Her turn on Monday?”
Grace nodded as she put some ham and cheese in her mouth. “So – Martin’s estate?”
“They have recovered a great deal of the money he stole – Amy is making sure any money recovered is invested for the girls. We both feel they would appreciate what Pippa’s father was unable to leave for them.”
Grace nodded as she looked at Maggie. “Poppy is doing very well, by the way – good grades across the board.”
“Well she’s a bright lass – takes after her mother...”
FBI Field Office, New York
“Well, what’s the word from Bufallo,” Adam said as he and Jan got into the lift.
“No idea – Welch has been on sick leave, and his boss in meeting after meeting. That cop been discovered in drag at the Pussycat shooting in Niagara has caused an absolute stink.”
“Well, at least we heard about it – suggests the block was at the PD.”
“Perhaps – what the heck is she doing here,” Janice said as they walked into the office.
“She arrived fifteen minutes ago,” Jeanne said from her desk.
"Now there is a
sight I never expected to see in the FBI Building," Adam laughed at Missy
sitting chatting with Tom Callaghan in his office.
"What chance he's arrested her?" Janice smiled.
“Absolutely none,” Jan said as Missy looked out and saw her.
“Thanks for the coffee, Tom,” they heard her say as she came out. “Jeanne - looking good.”
The French police officer shook her head as she patted her stomach, while Missy said "I have an offer for Katy that I need a decision right away on Jan."
"Oh? Am I going to dislike it?"
"No, not at all I think. One of Maddie's girls from the coast was coming in for the weekend to do a catalog shoot, but the silly child has damaged her face taking a basketball in it during Phys Ed at school."
that." Adam looked pained.
"Okay you need a
replacement and like quick?"
"Okay what is it modeling?"
"Would you believe
confirmation and communion gowns and dresses...for once VERY age appropriate?"
daughter in white?"
Janice laughed. "I guess we can be there for that."
"You miss out on
skiing." Adam reminded her.
"Yeah, but we can ski most weekends, how often will I see Katy looking like a young angel?"
“Good – I’ll get the details to you later. Now, about her next job...”
“Come,” Shirley said as she knocked on the door.
Madame...it has started." Susan came in fussing over some messages in her
people are after our girls?"
"No, that still
looks fine,” Susan said as she sat down, “this is AMININCO asking for a meeting
regarding a possible bid for one of our units."
Shirley closed her eyes
and sighed. "This I was not looking forward to."
"Have they requested a date for the meeting?"
“They have suggested some,” Susan said, “but i have said you have to return to London on the 12th. I would suggest a date that week.”
“All right – tell them we will welcome the meeting, and make sure everything is ready for them. Call Charlotte – we’re going to need make sure everything is airtight.”
“Of course Madame.”
“Looking forward to the vistors?”
“I am Madame – what I do not understand is why?”
“Another small matter we need to discuss that week,” Shirley said as she took her glasses off, “it is almost certain that Anna Mitchell will approach Marina to become one of her PA’s when she takes up her new position.”
Susan nodded. “It was always a possibility – especially after the trip to St Petersburg – but she won’t even consider it if she doesn’t have your backing. And then there is Kylie to consider.”
“Precisely – it will be a busy week...”
"Here is our latest model!"
Harriet led the applause as Ingrid Mueller came into the teachers’ lounge.
"You've seen it already?" Ingrid blushed.
arrived at home,” Harriet said as she waved the copy of New Mode, “and we
brought it in with us."
"I am frankly
jealous." Sarah gave Ingrid her coffee, "you look so bloody
retouch the pictures Sarah," Ingrid still looked a little in shock as she
"Even so, they
can't make something out of nothing."
"Well Caroline Jameson was kind enough to suggest me while she was in Russia. I'm just amazed they've been published so quickly."
“It does happen,” Annie said as she had a look. “Grace is back on Sunday, right?”
“Yeah – but she may already have seen them...”
10 am Pacific Time
“This is nice,” Mary said as she leaned back, “a chance to put my feet up this morning.”
“When is your appointment at the hotel?”
“Two – I’m meeting David at 5 for another dance lesson.”
As her father sat down, Mary flipped through the magazine in her lap.
"What's that Poppit?"
"It's my advance
copy of the February issue of Complete Style Pop," Mary smiled broadly,
"it's on the newsstands tomorrow, and it features that sweater shoot that
Trina and I did out on the bay with the yachtsmen."
"Yeah? Is it good?"
"You tell me Pop."
"That sounds like
you already know it is?"
"Well the girls at the hotel liked it, so did the kids, but it's your opinion that I want." Mary smiled, "here you look while I make coffee."
She handed him the magazine, Dave flipping through as she headed to the kitchen and made some coffee.
When she came back, she saw her father staring at picture of her and Trina, laughing as their hair blew in the wind.
“I wish your mom could have been here to see this,” he said quietly as she sat next to him.
“I’m sure she’s watching us, and smiling,” Mary said as she hugged her father.
8 pm GMT
The string quartet played quietly in the background, waiters and waitresses walking round with trays of canapés or glasses of champagne, as Grace walked into the main room. She was wearing a dark blue gown with long sleeves, ad smiled as she saw her uncle and aunt there.
“Uncle Charlie, Aunt Roberta – I hope you had a good slight over last night?”
“Very pleasant thank you,” Charles said, “it turned out some friends of yours were on the same flight.”
“So I see,” Grace said with a smile as she saw Will, Mandy, Olivia and Charles talking to her father and mother.
“Well, I am glad you could make it over – and meet the others again. I was talking to your mother earlier, and she was especially glad you had the chance to talk yesterday.”
“So am I,” Grace said with a smile.
“Charlie, Bobbie, can I borrow Grace for a minute?”
“I’ll talk to your later,” Charlie said as Annabelle took her niece to meet two new arrivals.
"Grace,” she said
with a smile, “you know Tom and Paula Gaunt don't you?"
"Well I know His
Grace's sister better,” Grace said with a smile, “but yes we are old
"It's lovely to
see you back this side of the pond," the Duchess of Lardarn
said as she kissed Grace on both cheeks.
is," the Duke said as he shook her hand.
rather then talk about me,” Grace said, “hadn't I better ask how you both
Shaking his head, the
Duke said "Big Sister's been spilling her guts."
"Indeed she has
Tom,” Grace said quietly, “you must have both been so frightened?"
said, “I'll admit we were until those two men intervened, and saved us."
"I can't believe
they just left like that."
"Well Tom has a
theory," the Duchess spoke, "he thinks they work for one of the
covert services and they had a brief that we might get attacked. Whoever they were, we will always be grateful
"I can't believe
such things still happen," Grace shook her head.
"Well even after
850 years some people still can't accept that the Gaunt's
are a real Irish family."
"The bastards made
it pretty clear in the way they talked to us, Grace, that they were still full
of the ancient hatred after even all these years."
"We still have the
curse of being members of what was once a dominating
elite, and of conforming to the wrong religious faith." Paula sipped her
"Well are you
going to leave Ireland?"
"God No!" the
duke smiled, “I'm getting your friend Caroline to come over and upgrade our
security, but it will take a lot more then this to frighten us away."
"I've put too much
effort into the Kildare Street house to just walk away," Paula gritted her
"Well we quit
after Ardendoyle was burnt down in 1921,"
Grace's father spoke as he came over.
"Yes, but you had the English properties to retreat to...we Gaunt's are totally Irishe based."
“Well, I admire your courage anyway.”
“That’s my brother – stubborn as a mule and strong as an ox,” Eve said as she came over. “Grace – you look wonderful.”
“Thanks,” Grace said with a smile.
“It is so good to see you again, Charles,” Stephen said as he shook Charles Treharran by the hand, “and you as well Olivia. Fiona being presented at the debutante balls has finally brought you out of Cornwall?”
“It has indeed,” Olivia said as she looked round, “and helped me realise what I had been missing. These last few weeks in New York have been a revelation.”
“So is it Vienna next for you and Fiona?”
“That’s right, then a trip to San Francisco – if she catches up with her studies.”
“The life of the debutante,” Annabelle said, “it’s so different from my day.”
“I also hear you’ve started to do some modelling again?”
“I know,” Olivia said, “it’s amazing how open people are to working with me, bad eyes and all.”
“I kept telling her,” Charles said, “but it took Fiona and meeting old friends to finally get through to her...”
“Eve, Mandy, it’s good to see you here,” Grace said as she kissed her old friends on both cheeks.
“Well, it was a pleasure to accept darling,” Mandy drawled, “and besides, it keeps Will away from the pigs for another day.”
“How did the show go on Wednesday?”
“It was an amazing success,” Eve said, “those new models Missy has found are amazing, especially Mary Clarke – I know Mother has already noted her.”
“Mother was there?”
“Indeed – don’t tell Olivia, but Fiona and Charly Elphburg are both earmarked for an invitation as well.”
Grace nodded as she said “what else?”
“Well,” Mandy said, “there was young Katy Carter?”
“Katy? What about her?”
“Well, we were sent the iconic swimsuit and hat from Lolita, we needed a model that size, and...”
“Mary! Sheesh, how did Jan Carter take that?”
“I think she is still coming down – I understand Missy found a nice, safe, non-controversial shoot for her this weekend.”
“Talking of our beloved agent – Fashion Week?”
“I’m hoping for a few days at home after Vienna,” Mandy said, “and then over for a few days before we go to the ball in San Francisco.”
“Forgive me ladies, I need to borrow my niece again for a few minutes,” Stephen said as he took Grace by the arm.
“Uncle Stephen,” Grace
said as they walked, “I have to say Thank You for inviting some of my
"It's our pleasure
Grace,” her uncle said, “besides, though we see the Fitzstuart's
reasonably often, how many people in recent years have entertained the Treharran's?"
"I know, Olivia
did something like I did, she hid herself away."
"And the Stone's
are always good company."
"You know he is
Stephen looked over to
where Stephen Stone was sitting with some other guests. "Yes poor chap, I'm just amazed that Eve
copes so well."
"Well it helps
that Stephen doesn't let it get him totally down."
"That is true
"Eve, Mandy and
Olivia did that show in New York Wednesday night,” Grace said, “I'm just amazed
at their stamina."
"Well we also
invited your friend Philippa..."
reluctantly turned you down," Grace smiled, "Pip has the job
interview of her life coming up, and I'm not surprised she couldn't make
editorship of American Complete Style?"
"Yes, and by the way I'm far from being the only person who hopes she gets it."
“She deserves it – I met her beloved mother at an event last week, and somehow she seems to have calmed down a bit.”
“Well, they’ve had a few shocks over the last few months – the break-in at Pippa’s flat, that unfortunate business with Martin Peverell, and then Maggie getting both a nomination for Parliament and the honour.”
Her uncle nodded. “Well, it seems to have been for the good in the end...”
As Ju got into the elevator, she glanced to her side and recognised the woman standing there. Everything about her exuded Paris chic – the carefully coiffure hair, the Yves St Laurent trouser suit, the perfume, the handbag.
“Marie-France,” she said with a smile, “it has been a long time. How are you?”
The blonde turned and looked directly at Juliette. “Juliette – I am well. How is the family? I understand you have another grandchild on the way?”
“That’s right – due later this year. What brings you over?”
“Meetings with the board,” Marie-France said as the elevator stopped. “I hope we meet again soon Juliette.”
“As do I,” Juliette said as she stepped out, then as the lift doors closed she whispered “with the business end of a gun against you.” Collecting herself, she walked quickly to the wardrobe.
“Back here Ju.”
Juliette made her way back to where Mary was working.
are. Any hints on how today’s interview
"Not a one Ju," Merlin shook her head, "all my usual sources
upstairs have gone very silent."
types." Juliette shook her head.
distracting myself working on Mary Clarke's dress...Kylie has designed a little
"So Cathy led me to believe."
“Have a look,” Mary said as she took Juliette to the side, and she let out a low whistle.
“Wow – that is amazing.”
“Isn’t it just? I heard a rumour she may come to New York instead of London after the spring.”
“Alexis and Janine?”
“I cannot tell a lie – might she?”
“I know Anna wants her, but it’s up to her. She’ll be here in a week’s time, and we can talk then.”
9.30 pm GMT
As Grace walked round the room, memories of childhood games and discussions with her grandparents came back.
“It must be strange to be back here, Palomino.”
“It was at first, but I feel more at home every second,” Grace said as she looked at Eve Stone, “I was worried I would be chastised, but everyone has being so understanding...”
“Well, you made the first move, I guess that does help,” Eve said as they took a glass of champagne, and then looked at the portraits.
“There he is – the first Lord Standerdon.”
mutual ancestor Grace."
Eve remarked as she and Grace admired the portrait by Reynolds of the late 18th
"You know,” Grace
said with a smile, “I'd forgotten one of his daughters married a Gaunt."
"Makes us quite
distant cousins you know."
"I suppose it
"Old houses like
this always rekindle my interest in history."
"I know, having been away from this all for so long, you can probably imagine the stories and memories came bouncing back into my head."
“I can imagine.”
“How is Stephen?”
“As always, good days, bad days,” Eve said with a smile. “I spoke to Cassandra today – they’ve started editing her new film, and she’s got the money in place for the next one she’s producing.”
“The Ladydown biopic?”
Eve nodded. “I could hear the music playing in the background when we talked – Rick was using it for some re-write inspiration.”
“She always amazes me – that she can go from Costume drama, to a hard hitting crime film, and then to Ladydown?”
“Well, she is very good,” Eve said with a smile, “come and talk to Stephen – he’ll appreciate it.”
2 pm Pacific Time
Hilton Union Square, San Francisco
“Sorry I’m late,” Mary said as she came in, “traffic.”
“Still relying on cabs,” Brenda said as she handed Mary a coffee.
“Only when Dad can’t drive me.”
"Mary you know you
really ought to buy yourself a car,” Heletia said, “it
would make getting to appointments like this on time so much easier."
"I know, I know,”
Mary said as she put her cup down, “I've been talking it over with Dad."
"And your opinion
was?" Brenda asked.
"I'm going to look
for something small and second-hand over the weekend."
"Not new?" Heletia looked stunned.
"Nope,” Mary said,
“and it's not because I'm cheap, but this is the Bay Area - the streets are car
destroyers, anything really nice in our neighborhood
would get stolen, and with something like that I can put David on the Insurance
and it won't cost a fortune."
"You have to admit,
the girl has got her head screwed on." Brenda smiled.
"Well it's a case
of being practical."
suck." Heletia shook her head, "now if I
had my choice, I'd want something long, black, and easy on the eye."
"I'm buying a car, not getting a man Heletia." Mary laughed broadly.
“Am I interrupting?”
“Of course not,” Brenda said as Roger Harriman came in, “Heletia, I will finish going over the staffing rotas with you later.”
As the maid walked out, she winked at Mary as Roger said “So, let’s get down to business...”
11.30 pm GMT
“Well, that was a memorable party – and i am glad you could all make it,” Stephen said as he sat with the family. The rest of the guests had left, and it was just them, grace sitting with them as she held a glass of brandy in her hand.
“Especially you Grace,” her father said as her mother put her hand on hers, “it is so good to have you back amongst the family again. We watched that show, you know – and when you appeared, it was all we could do to stop ourselves from leaping up and cheering.”
“Oh no,” her mother said, “and then you called us, and we talked. I just wish you had seen us then.”
“Yeah – but I needed to get myself sorted out, and then that business with my lords and masters...”
"You know you
could have asked for help in your fight against that school board of governors darling." Grace's father spoke quietly.
"Well,” Grace said
as she looked at him, “at the time I still wasn't sure that I didn't really
want to retreat back into my safe little cocoon."
"So you approached
friends instead of family?"
"Not really - I
was granted my due from an organisation that supports models." Grace
supped her drink, "and I've paid them back since."
"But you felt you
couldn't ask me for a loan?"
"Daddy after that
awful scene in Geneva two days before I did my flit, I honestly wasn't sure
you'd ever talk to me again."
"I'm sorry, but at
the time you needed to hear the truth about your
drinking and the drugs...You were destroying yourself."
"Well you threatening to have nothing ever to do with me again certainly helped focus my mind."
“So I guess in a way, what I said then hit home – but I regret the fact I had to do that.”
“No, neither of you should do that,” Grace said as she looked at them. “I knew I had hurt you both, and I knew I had to deal with it. It’s too long past for regrets now, and I made some mistakes along the way, but...”
“It’s in the past,” her mother said, “and that’s where it should stay.”
"You know, I met
your ex-husband a few years ago Grace?"
"Oh?" Grace looked at her father as he held his
"He tried to get
money from me in return for not going to the News of the World with your
"Oh Daddy," the tears came to Grace's eyes. "what did you do?"
“Called the police, told them I was been blackmailed. Somehow, I don’t think he will bother us again.”
Grace threw her head back and laughed. “Oh lord I am so glad you did that.”
“Has he approached you?”
“Nope – and if he did, i would do the same.”
"Didn't you ever
just think of picking up the phone and resuming your old life Grace?" one
of her cousins asked.
"Every day,” she
said as her glass was refilled, “but as time went on I made friends, I found I
"But didn't you
miss the glamour?"
"I suppose so,”
Grace said as she took a drink. “I kept
a locked room in which I kept magazines and scrapbooks devoted both to the
fashion industry and my friends. It was where I'd go and cry..."
"Did you cry a lot
She looked at her Aunt Annabelle and nodded. "For years I cried every night, but over time I learned to cope, and depression medication helped as well."
"That sounds so horrible."
"It was better then thinking how close I came to killing people when I wrecked that car."
“Short term – I stopped, and I don’t need them now. I honestly felt I was coping – and then Jeannie Brewster burst onto the scene, and the old feelings came back. What the show at the O2 did – and I only realized it later – was to release the safety valve. I was able to come back in a way that worked for me, and for my old friends.”
“What’s she like?”
“Jeannie? A fashion history nerd, to use the current phrase – but she is an incredibly bright and very personable sixteen year old, who just happens to be a top girl now.”
“Can I ask a question, Grace?”
“Of course you can,” she said as she looked at Thomas’ daughter, in her grey dress.
"How did no one
recognise you...you were after all a major celebrity once."
"I hid behind bad
hair and large glasses. It's amazing how most people do not look even twice at
most other people."
"But you were
"I was a human disaster, Tommy – be all and end all of it."
"Was it really that bad?" Uncle Stephen asked.
Grace sighed as she
looked round the room. "Well - Stella
overdosed, Charity had to go through long and painful rehab, I did it the
coward’s way, I simply ran away and stopped using either alcohol, or
"I know enough to know that isn't easy." Stephen murmured quietly.
“Nor is it the coward’s way,” Charlie said as he stood with Roberta. “You did what you had to do Grace – and now, you are back with us. That is the important thing, that is all that matters.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“I’m back,” Klaus said as he came in.
“Here,” Juliette said
as she handed him a glass of wine. "So
how was your day darling?"
looked thoughtful as he sat down. "Edwin Breitz
took me out to lunch and he is still keen on doing a documentary about Furstenheim."
"Did you tell him that
your redoubtable lady steward had doubts?"
"I did, and he's
going to contact her directly."
"I just personally
don't think we have the time to do it my love."
"I also said that,
but he said his crew would be very unobtrusive."
"Is there such a thing?"
"I don't know." Klaus passed Juliette a glass of wine. "Still with the girls home for the weekend we can all discuss it."
“I know – why didn’t they come tonight?”
“Something about wanting to give us some time – and Cari was meeting up with some friends tonight...”