Homecoming Queen









Thursday 25th June

12.45 pm

JFK Airport


As Clint stood with April in his arms, Susan nervously looked up at the arrivals board. 


“Will you relax,” he said with a smile, “they’ll be out in a few minutes.”


“I know I know – but it’s the uncertainty, what they will be like…”


Clint looked at his wife, wearing a sleeveless blouse and shorts in the early summer warmth, and then looked at April.  “See – your mummy does worry about a few things, kiddo,” he said with a smile.


“I know – and we have a lot to talk about, but…”


The doors that led from the arrivals area opened as passengers started to come through,


“Where are they, where are they…”


“Err, Susan?”




Clint nodded to the doors, as two young women walked through.  The taller one had her red hair cut in a pixie cut, and wore a pale blue trouser suit, the jacket over a blue silk blouse, a pair of black pumps with three inch heels on her feet.  She carried a large designer bag, which Susan recognized as the Jameson bag, and large sunglasses covered her eyes.


The young teenager with her had her blonde hair cut short as well, and wore a short white jacket over a yellow silk dress, the skirt coming to just above her knees.  She was slim, and walked with a poise and grace that would grace a woman twice her age.  Her legs were thin, and smooth, as she walked in the high-heeled sandals, her large framed glasses sitting on her nose, her smile broadening as they walked towards the young family.


“Kylie?” Susan’s jaw dropped at the sight of the ultra chic young teen.


“Amazing isn’t it?’ Marina laughed as Clint kissed her on the cheek.


“It can’t be…” Susan shook her head.


“Can’t be what darling?” Kylie said in a refined English accent, as she kissed both Susan and Clint.


“Oh no she hasn’t?”


“I’m afraid she has.” Marina laughed again, “and what is worse she finds it hard now to switch this Kylie off and go back to the old one.”


“Well I hear very little North London left in your voice either Rina.”


“Oh I can let it come back…”


“Just about.” Kylie finished the sentence.  “Hello April – you’ve grown a lot as well.”


“Yes she has,” Susan, said as she took April from Clint, who tipped the porter and took the luggage trolley he had been pushing.


“Well how was the flight?” he asked as they walked along.


“Tolerable,” Kylie slowly drawled the word. “Even in first class it is still terribly, terribly tiring.”


“You flew first class?”


“A bonus from Catherine for our respective reports.” Marina nodded.


“She sent me copies, she says that your Cantonese improves every day Rina, and that you are starting Mandarin.”


“Yes I am.”


“And you young lady, other than your problems still with Math…”


“It is improving Susan.”


“Are doing excellently the school says.”


“Well they think I’m on course to do my GCSE’s at normal age, then A Levels when the time comes.”


“Have you looked at any of the London day schools?”


“I have, I’m thinking Godolphin and Latymer might suit me best.”


“It’s supposed to be a top school.”


“So I was reading darling.”


“This new you is going to take some getting used to.” Susan shook her head, as Clint wheeled the baggage cart towards the parking structure.



“I suspect that this feels more like a proper homecoming then London will.” Marina said as she glanced round at the New York skyline.


“It really does feel so good to be back you know.” Kylie stifled a yawn.


“Tired Kylie?”


“A little Susan, but I’m okay.”


“And you Marina?”


“Just lead me to my bed…PLEASE!”


“I can’t tempt you to eat any of my cooking?”


“Later please Clint.” Marina smiled a little.


“So when did you go clothes mad Kylie?”


“Clothes mad? Am I?”


“You know very well you are Kylie,” Marina shook her head. “Her best friend at school is a girl called Natalia Ostrenkova, and Natalia and she seemingly spend half their day looking at, or trying on clothes.”


“Oh and like you don’t Marina?” Kylie giggled, “Catherine is starting to swear that Marina dresses better than she does.”


“How is the training with Helen going?”


“Well we hope,” for a moment Kylie looked serious, “Helen is amazing, what she is teaching us is amazing.”


“Kylie aided Helen on a piece of work last week.” Marina added.




“The deer was harder Susan.”


“I understand.”


“What about you Marina?” asked Clint.


“I go next time Helen needs an assistant.”


“Gotcha.” Clint nodded.


“So who is in residence?  I presume Juliette and the girls are still in London?”


“Yes they are – did you see the show?”


“We did,” Kylie said, “and I want to personally congratulate Jeannie when she gets back.”


“Well, they fly back Monday I think – it’s Shirley’s housewarming this weekend, for which I have sent apologies for all of us, and she understands.  Caroline and Ama are visiting their grandfather, but the other girls are around – and they wondered if you would go with them for a meal tomorrow night.”


“Sounds divine,” Kylie said, “Catherine and Helen are flying in next week as well.”


“So she told me – Marina, I have a message from Janine.  If you are up to it, can you call tomorrow afternoon and meet her new assistant?”


“Of course I can,” Marina said as Clint drove into the car park of their apartment block, “but for now, I need a nap.”


“We both do,” Kylie said with a nod as Clint stopped the car.


“Right then – you two go up with Susan and the baby, and I’ll bring your bags up.  You’re in the same room as before.”


 Friday 26th June

7 am

Upper West Side


Susan was sitting at the breakfast bar, checking her mail as she fed April her breakfast, when a video call came in.


“Hey Juliette,” she said as she answered the call, “how’s the weather in Ordford?”


“Not too bad, thank you – how are the house guests?”


“Not out of bed yet – they slept a little when they got here, and went to bed late, but Ju you are not going to believe the change in them.”


“I spoke to Cathy and Marina on Monday, so I know about her, but they did hint Kylie was a different matter.”


“Well, let me put it this way – Mandy has competition.”


Juliette leaned back, and looked to the side.  “I’ll tell her that at lunch,” she said.


“Well as disguises go, it’s remarkable Juliette, I can’t see anyone connecting this Kylie, to the street smart little thug she once was. Even the way she moves are those slow languid graceful movements, that match to her voice perfectly.”


“Wonderful, well it is hiding in plain sight after all…and Marina?”


“Brisk, business like, sounds like she came down from Oxford only a year or so ago. Catherine has taught her immaculate taste in clothes, frankly I’m envious of most of what she unpacked.”


“Again, who is going to connect her to the leader of a street gang.”


“I know.”


“So how is April?”


“Being a little ratty, she’s teething.”


“That is never fun.”


“Hey, did I hear mention of teething,” Carina said as she looked at the screen.  “Are the rings helping?”


“A little – so you’re all back Monday?”


“We are – we go to Shirley’s party tomorrow, then fly back for Monday lunchtime.”


“Well, I’ll see you then.”  She looked to the door as she heard the toilet flushing.  “Clint’s up – I’ll talk to you later.”


“Have a good day,” Juliette said as she ended the call, and Susan put the lid down.


“Hey – is that coffee fresh,” Clint said as he came in.


“Fresh enough – any sign of life from the girls?”


“Not yet – I’m sure they will get up when they are ready, so I’ll leave a set of keys for them.  What have you got today?”


“Meetings, bloody meetings,” Susan said as she wiped April’s chin.  “I’ll drop April off with Orlanda on the way to the office.”


“It’s good of George to allow her to watch April as well.”


“I know – I owe him a lot for that.  Right little one – you behave for Daddy while Mommy gets cleaned up, and then we’ll get you ready.”


April looked at Susan as she walked off, frowning slightly.


“Oh dear – your gums really hurt, don’t they,” Clint said as he drank his coffee.  “Don’t worry – it’s worth it.”





2 pm

Complete Style Magazine


“Ai, that’s a good piece of work there Janine,” Mary Thomas said with a smile.  “Ju will approve that I’m sure.”


“Good to hear,” Janine said as she stood in her peach jumper, blue jeans and short boots.  “But Alexis deserves some credit as well.”


“Oh I’m sure you will make sure she gets it,” Mary said as the door to the conference room opened.


“Ah – I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were having a meeting.  I was looking for Janine.”


“Marina?  Good lord girl, you have changed,” Janine said as she walked over and hugged the new arrival.  “Hong Kong has done you the power of good.”


“Hard work, I assure you,” Marina said as she stood in her white blouse, dark trousers and waistcoat.  “Mary, it’s good to see you as well, and congratulations.”


“I congratulate you girl – you look good,” she said with a smile. 


“You wanted to introduce me to someone Janine?”


“Sure – we done Mary?”


“We done girls,” Mary said as Janine took Marina by the arm and led her to her work area.  Alexis was sitting at her desk, looking through some papers, her hair pulled back in a ponytail.




“Oh hi boss,” she said as she looked up, “what’s up?”


“I wanted you to meet Marina, Cathy Lu’s assistant.  Marina, this is Alexis my assistant.”


“Pleased to meet you,” she said as they shook hands.  “So you’re around for the next couple of months?”


“That’s right – looking forward to working with you.”


“Right – come on, let’s go and grab a coffee.”



3 pm

Central Park


“Hey,” Becca said as she and Nikki walked towards the fountain, “how’s your week been so far?”


“I can’t complain,” Pepsi said as she sat on the edge.  All three girls were wearing short-sleeved blouses and jeans, with sneakers.  “Any sign of Doc yet?”


“Someone mention my name,” Anna said as she came and joined them.  “So where is she?”


“She should be here by now – I wonder what’s keeping her?”


“Hello girls.”


The four of them turned and looked at Kylie, in her white satin blouse, skintight jeans and black high-heeled sandals.


“Kylie?”  Doc stared at the young woman and said “Wha…  What…”


“Yes, it’s me,” Kylie said with a smile, “let’s just say I have learned a great deal over the last few weeks.  How are you all?”


“Amazed,” Pepsi said as she looked at her.  “Are we worthy?”


“Of course you are,” Kylie said as she hugged each of them.  “So what are we going to do?”


“Go and find a drink, I think,” Nikki said.  “Let’s go.”




Half an hour later, they were sat at a café, watching the world go by as they sipped their drinks.


“So Jeannie and Ama get back on Monday, I understand?”


“That’s right – We’ll get together my place Monday night, trade stories.”


“That sounds divine, dar…  Everyone,” Kylie said with a smile.


“That’s settled then – now…  Oh shoot.”


“What’s up?”


“Mom,” Becca said as she looked at her phone.


“We’ll go and get more drinks,” Nikki said as she and Pepsi got up.


“We’ll give you a little peace,” Doc said as she indicated with her head, Kylie following her as they looked out over the lake.


“Family problems?”


“Not really – they’re trying to decide what they’re doing after the fourth.”


Kylie nodded as she whispered “Well Kitten have you had to?”


“Twice, and you Kittycat?”


“Just the one occasion, but there were two scores.”


“Looks like we are tied.”


“It does Kitten.” Kylie smiled as they leaned over the railing.  “I read about Philadelphia, a very nice piece of work.”


“We thought so.” Doc laughed lightly.  “I’ll tell you what happened the night before later though – that one still has not become public.”


“And what is this I hear about a steady boyfriend?”


“You hear right, he’s from Chicago, he’s cute and he is adorable…anyone in your life?”


“Who gets the time?”


“That’s what all of us used to say.”


Kylie smiled as she said, “No – I go to a girl’s school, after all.  But I seriously have had little spare time until this holiday.”


“Hey – you two, come on.  Fresh drinks here.”


“We’ll talk later,” Doc said as they walked back over.


“Oh sorry girls,” Kylie looked at her mobile as it rang, “Its my friend in HK.” She grinned as she answered, “Hey Nat, you’re up early for a Saturday morning...I’m in a café with the girls…Nat says Hi Guys…So what are you doing today?” Kylie grinned some more. “Well tell everyone at the Beach Club, I’m having fun in the Big Apple, and yes that includes Tommy Wen…No I’m definitely not interested in him Nat, but if you are? Go ahead…Yeah I hear your sister calling, Have fun at the club…Bye darling.”


“Nat?” asked Becca.


“Natalie my best friend at school.” Kylie sipped her drink.


“And who is Tommy Wen? I thought you said no boyfriends Kylie?” Doc asked.


“He’d like to be, but he’s four inches shorter then I am, and that’s before I put shoes on.”


“Sounds a definite non-starter to me.” Pepsi remarked.


“Did you hear our Anna landed herself a man?” Nikki asked.


“I did, he sounds dreamy.”


“Leaves me and you Kylie as the only two bachelorettes left.” Nikki smiled.


“Well I’m not in a hurry, I am still catching up on my schooling, I’m learning martial arts, and I’ve discovered I simply adore fashion, men come a poor fourth in my priority list.”


“Well, the way you’re looking now, I don’t think it will be too long.  Me, on the other hand…”


“Now come on darling,” Kylie drawled, “he’s out there for you, I’m sure of it.”


Nikki smiled as the girls started talking.



8 pm

Sports Bar


“And that’s another fantastic strike…”


“A girls night out was a great idea was a great idea Janine?” Marina shouted above the roar from the bars patrons as the Yankees hit a grand slam homer.


“I heard Caroline raving about this place when she dropped in the office a while back, she said she and Dan had a great night here.”


“I can understand why,” Marina cast an eye round, “the food is good, the beer is cold, and the room is full of likely looking men.”


“So I hear you are a linguist Marina?” Alexis asked as she drank her beer from a bottle.


“I try to be.”


“And don’t let her modesty fool you, she speaks four, is mastering a fifth, and starting a sixth.” Janine smiled proudly at her friend.




“My company wanted me to add Cantonese, so they arranged this year with Huntingdown’s to learn it, I’m picking it up fast so I’m starting Mandarin as well.”


“And getting to live in Hong Kong while you do it?”


“That’s a bonus Alexis.”  Marina smiled, realizing how much she had become accustomed to this life now.


“So what will you do back at Xavier once you’ve finished in Hong Kong?”


“Basically what Janine does Alexis, a PA to a senior manger in the International Division back in London.”


“Changing the subject girls,” Janine whispered, “men ahoy.”


“Can we buy you girls a drink,” a tall blonde haired man in a jumper and khakis asked.


“Three Coors Lights.” Janine spoke for the group, “And I’m Janine, this is Alexis, and she’s Marina.”


“Hi, well I’m Bobby, this is Derek, and our shy friend is Linden.”


“Nice to meet you boys,” Marina shook hands.


“So what are you doing here?” Linden asked.


“It’s a welcome party for Marina, she’s visiting from Hong Kong.” Janine replied, “We all sort of work for the same people though.”


“Doing what?” asked Derek.


“We all work in fashion…”


“Are you models?”


“I wish Bobby,” Marina laughed, “no we are just three humble PA’s, they work for a fashion writer, I work for a manufacturer.”


“Could have fooled us,” Derek said.


“Flatterer,” Janine said with a smile as Alexis watched them all.


“I’m sorry, are you all right,” Linden said as he looked at her.


“Hmmm – yeah I’m fine.  Just a bit shy,” she said quietly as she sipped her beer.


“Listen, we know a club near here.  Want to go there later?”


“Maybe – if you boys behave yourselves,” Marina said with a smile.



Saturday 27th June

11 am

The Vanderbilt YMCA


"Well it might not be the Hong Kong Beach Club, but it’s still a good place for a swim." Doc spoke as she admired the cut of Kylie's bathing suit.

"It's the company that's more important than the venue darling." Kylie said as she slowly wiggled her way to the pool edge, where Ally Rochermann was sitting with Pepsi and Nikki.

She looked up, wearing her red swimsuit, and saw Kylie in her black and white suit, cut with side panels from hip to chest bare.


"Surely that's not you Kylie?"

"Well if it isn't somebody has taken over my body Ally." Kylie hugged the former Angel. "I thought I heard you and your family vacationed up on the North Fork?"

"We do, but we came back for a few days to welcome home all those who've been in Europe."

"Not Hong Kong Darling?"

"Oh and of course Hong Kong. Kylie you look different, sound different, and well I thinks it's FANTASTIC!"  Ally hugged her again.

"Kylie!" Nell's jaw dropped, "OH MY GODDESS!"

"Hey Nell," the English girl kissed her on both cheeks.


“What has happened to you?  Your look, your voice, everything…”


“I found myself – the school has taught me so much in so short a space of time, and living where I do I started to blend in more and more.”


“Well, girl, you are going to be a hit with the boys round here looking and talking like that – just be prepared if Mandy or Angel see you.”


“Oh I am ready,” Kylie said as she slipped in and started to swim up the pool.


“Talk about Eliza Doolittle,” Ally whispered.


“I know – and she looks amazing for it,” Doc said with a smile as she dived in, catching up with Kylie.



1 pm

Belmont Park


“Thank you for inviting me to lunch Gus.” Curt said as he shook his host’s hand.


“Well we decided that with SaintzandSinnerz running this afternoon, we’d make it a gent’s afternoon here at Belmont Park.”


“Here Curt.” Henri passed him a glass of wine as he sat at the table.

“I heard you talking on Public Radio about the contradictions that must have existed in the personality of Birgitte von Furstenburg.” Roy said as he passed Curt a salmon sandwich.


“I know, the more I read, then the more fascinating she seems. She was a complete psychopath, but I think we can clear her on this new evidence of the racist and Nazi tags. Jews were just the victims because they were available.”


“But she also used her position to save the lives of thousands at the risk of her own life.” Gus nodded as though he found very hard to understand.


Curt nodded.  “I believe she had two distinct personalities, one the sadistic psychopath, the other this humane woman who did what she could.”


“Do you think each personality was aware of the other?” Tom Callaghan asked.


“Probably.” Curt nodded, “and they fought for control in her head.”


“Well I for one must be grateful to her?” Adam Ball looked up from the pages of the Daily Racing Form.


“How so Adam,” asked Willie de Grechy.


“But for her I’d not be alive, my great-grandmother was among those she helped escape.”


“Well that is a good motive.” George Edwards nodded.


“So where is Grant?”


“”Down in the stabling block, fretting as always.” Guy topped up Curt’s glass.


“And what are the ladies doing this afternoon?”


“Well,” Gus said as she looked at her watch, “those in New York are gathering for lunch.  Those in London – they should be getting ready for the housewarming party that Shirley and John are throwing tonight.”


“Wish you were there?”


“Surprisingly, no – this is for their friends over there, and then they are flying back after that.”





7 pm British Summer Time



“This must be the place,” Will Fitzstuart said as he stopped at the gated entrance to a riverside row of flats.  “Who wants to do the honours?”


“I’ll do it,” Juliette said as she climbed out and walked up to the entry phone, pressing a three-digit number into the panel.




“John, it’s Ju – I have a vanload of assorted Huntingdown, Fitzstuart and Smith with me.”


“Welcome – end house,” John said as the gate swung open, and Will drove in, Juliette walking along before the gates closed.


“Nice,” Mandy said as they stopped outside a Georgian house, “Very nice indeed.”  She climbed out with Carina, Annie, Angel and Jo, while the boys got out with Will.  All were dressed for the warm June weather, the women in short sleeved dresses and comfortable shoes, the men in shirts and trousers.


“Welcome,” John Hammond said as he opened the door, “welcome.  Shirley is holding court out on the balcony – come and join the others.”


“Thank you for inviting us John,” Will said as they made their way into a large white hallway, with some of John’s photos hanging on the wall, as well as some of Shirley’s art collection.  As the maid took their coats, John said “through here” and led them into a large, long room that looked out over the river.  As they went in, Juliette went out onto the balcony, saying “hi,” to Shirley and Sandra as they stood outside with some other guests.


“Juliette – you made it,” Shirley beamed as she kissed her on both cheeks.   “I’ll give you the grand tour later, but for now, grab a drink and relax.”


“Is Jo with you,” Heather said as she stood with Sandy, both wearing sleeveless blouses and shorts, and looking tanned after their trip to the Chateau de Ros.


“In there with Carina,” Juliette said as the two of them went in.


“There you are,” Jo said as she hugged both of them, “how was the holiday?”


“Wonderful – and very profitable,” Sandy said.  “I hear you had a great time in LA and London last week as well.”


“I’m not complaining,” Jo said.  “Having said which, I think Cari has all of us beaten in terms of excitement.”


“You have no idea,” Carina said as she stood with her arm round Annie’s waist.  “We have got a lot to talk about.”


“Did I hear Mary Thomas got some sort of royal medal?”


“She did – she can tell you all about it later when she comes with her group.  Lily and some of the others are coming with her.”


“But not us – it’s so good to see you guys again.”


“You too,” Jo said as they embraced Abby, Diana talking to Mandy and Will.


“Hey Abby,” Angel said, “If you and your mum can spare a few minutes tonight, my parents want to discuss next year.”


“Oh great – my year is mapped out, and the holidays have barely begun,” Abby said, raising her eyes to the heavens as the others laughed.




“So how has business been, Shirley?”


“Very profitable – you heard about Los Angeles?”


“I heard something of it,” Ju said with a smile.  “And I see Maisha has come more out of her shell.”


“She is indeed,” Shirley, said as she looked at the young African girl, talking to David and the other Fitzstuart boys.  “She is much more confident with her English now, and has really enjoyed spending some time with Ama and Jeannie last week.  Talking of which,” she said as John signaled, “Jeannie is here now.  If you will excuse me?”


Sandra and Juliette watched as Shirley walked off, her pleated skirt moving with her walk.  “She may be the Queen of Park Avenue, but here she’s John’s partner through and through,” Sandra said with a smile.  “By the way, I saw the reports on young Marina and Kylie.  A true transformation – especially Kylie.”


“I haven’t told Mandy yet – they’re coming to join us for next Saturday, and she can find out then.”




“So how was your grandfather,” Penny said as she handed Caroline a drink.  She was wearing a white sheath dress with strapped sandals, while Caroline was in a peasant blouse, floral skirt and heels.


“He was fine – he held a party to introduce Ama and me to some of his friends, and one or two of the local boys tried to hit on her.  She politely rebuked them – citing one Nick in defence.”


“Given what was happening to her a year ago, she is coming along so much,” Penny said as she watched Ama and Maisha sitting with Jeannie.


“So back to the grindstone next week,” Lily said as she came over.


“I suppose so – but we’re going up to Beverly at Juliette’s invitation next Saturday, and then we have the christening and the wedding.  I think that’s enough to be going on with for now.”


“True, true,” Penny said with a smile.  “It will be like the old factory holidays they used to have here – a fortnight with no work to worry about.”




“It was magnificent – time with nothing to worry about but how long I could spend with the paintings.”


“Sounds wonderful, Heather,” Barbara said as she stood with them, “and what was Sandy doing while you admired the collection?”


“Enjoying myself raiding the antiques markets,” Sandy said.   “I found quite a few pieces for clients, and they’ll get shipped over eventually.”


“So you’re about ready for a holiday then?”


“A holiday from the holiday, I like the idea,” Sandy said as John came in with a young man and woman.  “Neighbours?”


“Hello Tom,” Shirley said as she came over, “I’m so glad you and Yvonne could come over for the party.”


“Thanks for inviting us,” the young brunette said, “We feel a bit out of place here.”


“Come and meet some of the others,” John said as he walked them over.  “This is Sandy Richmond, Heather Smith and Barbara Brewster.  Tom and Yvonne moved into the house across the road on the same day we moved in.”


“Pleasure,” Yvonne said as they shook hands, “where are you from, Hampstead?”


“New York,” Sandy said, “we’re using this as an excuse to regroup after we have been in Europe for various reasons.  So what do you do for a living?”


“Tom works in the city, and I do a bit of voice acting.  You?”


“Interior design,” Sandy said, “Heather is my nanny, and Barbara works as a records clerk at a hospital.  She’s over here with her daughter, Jeannie.”


“Jeannie…  Jeannie Brewster,” Yvonne said as she stared at the young girl seated on the leather recliner.  “I saw the show last week – you must be very proud of her.”


“Oh I am,” Barbara said as she smiled…



“So what does this Independence Day holiday involve,” Maisha asked as she looked at Jeannie and Ama.


“Don’t ask me,” Jeannie said, “this is a first for me as well.  I was still in school this time last year.”


“As for me,” Ama said quietly, “it was a day like any other – then.”


“Jo, Abby, Cari, help me out here,” Jeannie said, “what happens on the Fourth of July for you?”


“We celebrate,” Carina said with a big grin.  “Family time, picnics, fireworks later in the night.  Mom’s inviting everyone to our place for this year.”


“So it is like thanksgiving in a way,” Ama said quietly.


“Only with picnics rather than a formal turkey dinner,” Jo said with a smile.  “I hear the fireworks in Beverley are spectacular.”


“And no work for the weekend, for which there is much rejoicing,” Abby said as she sipped her drink.  “Mainly because even Missy has down time that weekend.”


“I look forward to it – a long weekend away.”


“Missed the others?”


“A little,” Ama said as she smiled shyly, “some more than others.”


“I think he’ll be waiting on Monday,” Jeannie said as she nudged her friend, as Winston brought her some food.




“Uncle John – I’m so glad you were able to make it,” Shirley said as she kissed John Jacobs on both cheeks.   He was wearing a blue blazer over a white shirt, and tan trousers.


“How could I miss such an event,” John said with a smile.  “I hope you do not mind that I brought a friend with me.”


“Of course not, and it is good to see you again as well,” Shirley said as she kissed John’s friend.  The woman was small – about as tall as Carina – with grey hair and was, to put it politely, stout in build.  She dressed and carried herself well, however, in a grey silk jumper, trousers and leather jacket, and her periwinkle blue eyes shone as she looked round the room.


“John, it’s good to see you,” John Hammond said as she shook her hand, “and this is?”


“John, may I introduce my friend Colette Aldington.”


“Call me Coco,” the woman said as she smiled and shook John’s hand.  “And you must be John Hammond – it’s an honour to meet you.”


“So how do you know Shirley?”


“I work as a consulting engineer – when Shirley needed some help with irrigation methods on one of her vineyards, she called me in to advise.”


“And she is very good at her work,” Shirley said as she took Coco’s arm.  “Come – let me introduce you to some of the others.”


As they walked off, Coco whispered, “I like the new look.”


“Thank you – how much has John told you?”


“Enough – worry not, I know the importance of keeping quiet.”


Shirley nodded as she said, “I knew I could count on your discretion.  Coco, may I introduce you to Diana, Countess de Ros, and her daughter Abigail.  Ladies, this is Collette Aldington, a good friend of John Jacobs, who much prefers to be called Coco…”



“I see Shirley has taken your partner under her wing, John,” Sandy said as she stood with Heather and John Jacobs.


“Coco?  We’re friends, not partners,” John said with a smile as he sipped his drink.


"So did you manage to find me those Colonial pieces in Chicago John?" Sandy asked.

"I did, and I assure you they won't be at too high a price to you."

"Well that's what we like to hear." Heather grinned.

"Since you started keeping the books you've become a tightwad lover." Sandy smiled as she kissed her girlfriend.

“Well, look after the pennies, Sandy…”


“I am a man of integrity and honesty, Heather – I never knowingly undersell a possible client.”


"We heard you also helped get Doc out of a spot of trouble?" Heather whispered.

"I did,” John, said as he lowered his voice, “that little punk shouldn't try anything again."

"How much did Blair find out?"

"Nothing Sandy, she didn't want to know and she didn't ask.  I wasn’t told much by Carina either – but I do know how to tell when someone is not telling the absolute truth."

"Kudos to Blair." Heather nodded.


“Do I want to know the absolute truth?”


“Not really,” Heather said with a smile, “not really.”

"So what are her parents like?" asked Sandy.

"Well he's every inch a van Roon, very like Gus...she's a classic socialite, I suspect rather like you were when you were married Sandy."

"Is that good or bad?"

"I think it's good Sandy," John's eyes sparkled. "I liked her immensely."


“Well, according to sources, i.e. Pussy, they’re coming to visit in a few weeks time, so we may get a chance to meet them then.”


“I genuinely think you will get along,” John said as Carina came over.


“I never got the chance to thank you for helping Anna out in Boston, John.”


“It was a pleasure, as I was telling Sandy,” John said, “hopefully he will never bother her again.”


“I hope not,” Carina said with a smile.







"Did you see Missy on her flying visit Shirley?" asked Diana.

"I did...I'm just amazed how quickly she got here."

"Well when news spread that Mrs. Brand was who she is, you knew Missy would be first in line to sign her to a contract." Jeannie smiled as she looked up.  “What amazed me was she got an earlier flight.  The look on your faces when she came in at seven that morning…”

"I'll admit she was never one to let grass grow under her feet." Juliette said as she sampled some of the wine.

"Who are you gossiping about darlings?" Mandy asked.

"Missy and the Palomino." Diana looked up from her canapé."

"Missy missed signing her once, she never makes the same mistake twice." Mandy drawled.

"Are all model agents that competitive?" Shirley asked.

"My love you have no idea." John leaned over and kissed her as he fetched some more food for other guests. "They can't afford not to be, talent can appear any time any place, they make their crust finding beautiful girls for people like me to photograph, it's a dog eat dog world."


“I’m just glad Caroline has set the example for part time contracts now - Jo has taken advantage of it, and Grace can now as well.  Word is Alice wants her for a shoot in August.”


“Do you think you lot can stop talking shop for one night,” Jo said as she walked by, taking a canapé from John’s tray, “and just enjoy yourselves?”


“Hark to the new freshman,” Carina said with a laugh. 


“Come on,” Abby said as she took one of Jo’s arms, and Carina the other, “let’s take her outside.  Coming Annie?”


“Right behind you,” Annie said as they walked onto the terrace.


“This is a different view,” Abby said as she sat down, “a lot more peaceful than Central Park even.”


“I did hear John say it’s different on match days, but he’s trying to avoid them.”


“So what do you make of John Jacob’s friend?”


“She’s nice,” Carina said, “and it makes a nice change to have an eye to eye conversation as well.”


“I can imagine,” Jo said as she stood up.  “Refill?”


Both girls nodded as Jo went back into the house, smiling as she made her way to the drinks table.  Shirley noticed her heading over and joined her with her glass.


"So what did you make of Maddie's team Jo?" Shirley asked quietly.

"They'll be fine once they've had some specialist training with Diana. They are good already, Diana can make them better."

"Maddie said the same thing, I'll need to make the arrangements with Diana."

"Maddie's idea to adapt movie and TV heists is brilliant, once they do some more they'll have the cops so confused."

"I must admit I agree, I was skeptical at first, but the more I think on it the more I like it."

Turning and smiling, Shirley said "On a different note how did your modeling work go?"

"Don't ask..."Jo rolled her eyes, "Graeme Finney was not fun to work with.  The TV spots were I suppose better, though both involved me standing round a lot doing nothing."


“Not something I see you comfortable doing, right?”


Shaking her head, Jo said “that’s why it will never be more than a part time thing for me.  I have other calls on my time as well.”


“I understand, but Maddie says to remember the offer is always there.”


“Let’s see how the wedding goes in a few weeks,” Jo said as she picked up the glasses.  “Right now, I want to enjoy the sun outside.”



"How was the Burberry shoot Caroline?" John asked as he joined her by the windows.

"If I say I'd have paid THEM to do it, does that tell you something?" the blonde amazon grinned.

"Sounds like you had fun then?"

"I enjoy shooting as a sport, and to have two days of clay pigeon and other instruction from top shots while I waited for set ups, yes I think you can say I had fun."

"Did Ama enjoy it?"

"I think she did a little, but having my grandfather with us also helped. He and Ama have really bonded."

"That's lovely to hear darling, I think Stella would be so proud of both of you."


“I hope so – so what do you think of the latest return?”


“Grace?  I know why she walked away, and I understand Karen has asked her to come out for a shoot Alice has booked.  I think the two of them together will be good for her return.”




“There you are, Charlotte,” Lily said as the young South African girl came in, “what kept you?”


“Sorry – I had to pick someone up from the airport,” she said as the huge form of Piet van der Byl filled the doorway.


“Good evening ladies,” he said as he came in, “I hope you don’t mind a gatecrasher, but I surprised Charlotte from the airport.”


“Of course not,” John said as he shook the tall man’s hand.  “I think you know most people here, so grab a drink and relax.”


“So what brings you over, Piet?”


“Same question I asked him – but he won’t tell me,” Charlotte said to Penny.


“Nothing serious – I have some research to do in the city, so I decided to have a bit of a holiday as well.  I know this little trouble maker is going to the US in a couple of weeks, but she’s going to have some time off between then and now – her boss allowing of course.”


“Oh I think she can be persuaded – you’ve put in some phenomenal hours over the last few months Charlotte.  Some time off is well overdue.”


“And they may even get to know each other again,” Lily whispered to Penny.



"Alex you made it." Shirley greeted the priest.

"Yes I did Shirley...Hello John," he kissed his hostess and shook his host’s hand. "This is a lovely place."

"Glad you approve Alex," Shirley smiled, "how was Rome?"

"Interesting." Alex accepted a glass of wine as he looked round. "I'm still not sure how a humble parish priest like me got asked to join such a distinguished group, but we did have some very frank discussions about things such as birth control and contraception."

"His Holiness at least is willing to have them discussed, that has to be a step in the right direction surely?"

“I think so. He's seen first hand in his own country the associated problems of population growth and poverty."

"So can we look forward to some changes?"

"The optimist in me is hopeful, but the church moves very slowly Shirley, just say we live in hope and give prayers for a pope who at least listens."


“One can ask no more than that,” she said as Sandy came over.


“Uncle Alex?  You didn’t say you would be stopping here on the way home?”


“How could I refuse the invitation?  And besides, I brought a house-warming gift.  It’s out in the hallway.”


Shirley and John looked at each other, and then went out into the hallway, looking at the plants that were in the small pots.


“From the Vatican Gardens,” Alex said, “with his blessing.”


“April is going to be so jealous,” Shirley said with a smile.



“Will you be coming over with your parents Jack,” Winston asked the young heir.


“For the weekend yes, but I have to report to the du Grechy stables on the Tuesday.”


"So Jack looking forward to the summer?" John Hammond asked.

"I am.”  Jack smiled as he looked at the other men.  “It's going to be hard work, I think the Duke thinks I'll crack, but he forgets we are all basically farm boys, we've always worked round Home Farm and helped Dad with the pigs, so I'm used to plenty of muck."

"I remember that stench all too well from our estate in Ulster." John shook his head, "as you say most sons of so called privilege get a good grounding in farm work nowadays."

"What are you talking about?" Will asked.

"Farm work Dad."

"I swear the reason you took that job in Normandy is to get out of your share of mucking out the pigs." Will smiled at his son and heir. "So I hope living here John you are a Chelsea fan."

"A little," John smiled, “though I'm more a rugby man, I follow the Quins."

"Well Dad is a diehard Sheffield Wednesday fan." Jack said quietly.

"Really Will?"

"A season ticket holder for 15 years." Will answered proudly.  “I would have thought London Irish would be more your choice.”


“No,” John said as he shook his head, “I prefer to watch my rugby at the Stoop, thank you.  I have a season ticket for there – I might even get Shirley there sometimes this season.”


"Did I hear you are a rugby man John?" Piet asked.

"For my sins yes Piet, looking at you I guess you played yourself."

"A little."

"Listen to him being modest." Charlotte laughed, "he played Craven Week for Western Province Schools while he was at Bishops, and for Northern Universities while he was at Wits, and just a couple of games for the Golden Lions."

"You play the game very well then young man." John laughed.

"Charlotte likes to boast," the big man smiled.

"Well it is something to boast about Piet, I just wish I'd been that good myself."

"Now my man is being modest." Shirley laughed, "Get him to show you his Army representative caps, and the programme for the final Irish trial he played in."


Piet was the one who looked impressed now, as he said, “So did you play the Army-Navy game?”


“I may have,” John said with a smile, “I may have…”


"Who were the toughest team you ever played against John?" Piet asked, “out of interest?”

"That's easy, I still bear the scars, Graham Mourie's 1979 All Blacks, I played full-back for Combined Services against them. That was back when New Zealand still rucked in the old style, if you were on the wrong side of the ball you were fair game."

"Ouch!" Piet winced.

"You can still see the stud marks on his back." Shirley added.

"I'm glad I played under modern rules interpretations." Piet shook his head.

"Yes it’s not quite as deliberately dangerous now as it was then, but you chaps are bigger and fitter then we ever were."

"I know you were a gridiron star Father, but did you ever play rugby?" Piet asked Alex.

"A bit while I was in the seminary at Georgetown, but we only played basically social rugby."

"Shirley found some clips on You Tube of you playing at Notre Dame Alex, with your size and speed you'd have been a formidable rugby forward."

"It's a fun game to play,” Alex agreed, “you aren't as regimented as we were where on each play you had a set assignment, and yes I think I might not have been bad."

"I once played what was supposed to be a social game down in Cork against a team entirely made up of priests." John shook his head at the memory. "They'd be about the second worst opponents I ever played against."

"Not fun eh?" Alex said as everyone laughed.





“Not long until the wedding of the year,” Juliette said as she stood with Shirley.


“Indeed – did Jo tell you what she was told of the arrangements?”


“I know – quite something.”


"Have you got your hotel reservations for the wedding Juliette?" Shirley poured her guest another glass of champagne.

"No, but a friend of mine has come up trumps, she and her husband will be in Europe, so she's loaning me her house, my lot, plus Diana and Abigail, plus Sandy, Heather and the kids will all lodge there."

"Well it’s a solution." Shirley smiled.

"The nearest I was able to book a room was Anaheim." John Jacobs shook his head as he said, “Is there really such a place?"

"It’s where Disneyworld is John." Juliette smiled, "and yes it’s a long way from Beverly Hills."

"Oh calamity!" John smiled as he rolled his eyes.

"Is Coco staying there as well?"

"Yes I am." Coco joined them, "but unlike John I not only know where Anaheim is, but I have visited and love Disneyworld."

"What odds you going on the rides Uncle John?"

"There are two chances Shirley dear, fat and none."






“So what are you going to get for a wedding present Caroline?”


“I have a few ideas, but I’m not going to do anything about it before I return.  There’s a guy in the village I need to talk to on behalf of myself and Ama – Annie and Carina are going together on another present.”


“As I expected,” Penny said, “they seem to have grown closer since I last saw them.”


Caroline nodded in agreement.  “I can see that as well.  At any rate, what about you?  I don’t think Emma’s quite ready yet for your taste in entertainment.”


“That’s not what I heard.”


“Unconfirmed as yet – and if it is, Maddie doesn’t know.  So?”


“Don’t worry – I sorted something out jointly with Charlotte and Lily.  I think they will appreciate it.”


“And Maisha?”


“Did you know Maddie invited her to be one of the attendants?”


“No that I did not know.  Who’s the other one?”


“A cousin of Emma’s from north of the border.  They should make quite the couple.”


“Male or female?”


“I have no idea – their name is Andy, but how that is spelt she will not tell me.”




“I think most of you know Stephen and Eve Stone don’t you?” John called out as a smartly dressed couple in their sixties arrived.


“Alright hell must have frozen over.” Mandy shouted. “How the bugger did you get him out of Dublin Eve?”


“By the same miracle that helped you get Will away from his pigs,” the Irish former supermodel answered as they hugged.  “And it is so good to see you as well, Tufty – so many of you in fact.”


“Stephen you never did book me for THAT shoot,” Juliette laughed gently as she kissed the famous photographer.


“Missy would never let me do it Juliette darlin’. She always claimed that posin’ nude might ruin yer marketability.”


“Oh there is nude photography, and then there are Stephen Stone nudes darling.” Mandy kissed him as well. “Yours are high art, not pornography. Most of us back in the day would have killed to model for you.”


“Well compliments are always graciously accepted,” the Irishman’s eyes twinkled, “and what do you mean back in the day? I’d still love ter photograph yer now.”


“Not unless I got my boobs fixed first.” Juliette shook her head.


“In my case Will would want to buy all the prints just for himself darling.”


“I see Cassy when she’s in New York Eve, who’d have ever thought that little Cassandra would ever become such a great actress?” Diana kissed her old friend.


“I could say the same, who would have ever thought that Abigail would become such an iconic model?”


“I know,” Diana looked proudly across the room at her daughter, “I certainly never saw it, luckily Merlin did.”


“Uncle Stephen!” Carina threw herself at the Irishman. “No one said you were coming.’


“Cari mah darlin’ aren’t yer getting’ a little bit too old ter do that?”


“Never,” Cari smiled broadly.


“I remember when yer were still a tiny baby, and now yer have one yerself.”


“I do, and you and Aunt Eve must meet her.”


“Is my daughter being a brat Stephen?”


“Juliette mah darlin’ she’s still perfect, but she reminds me how old ahm gettin’.”


“Nonsense,” Juliette said, “if there one man who will never get old it’s you.”


“Oh compliments yet from a lady who never ages.”


“You Irishmen are all so silver tongued.”


“And what is this I hear about you and a certain German prince?”


“Book’s still open,” Sandy called from across the room.


“I may take some of that action,” Eve said as she walked over to greet them.


“Klaus and I are getting on well, thank you – although the shock of discovering her was Carina’s father still surprises me from time to time.”


“Girls if ah may, can ah beg an introduction ter…” he nodded towards Caroline.


“Certainly,” Juliette said as she led him over by the arm.


“Stephen Stone, meet Caroline…”


“We don’t need introducing Ju.” Caroline kissed the Irishman, “Thank you for the lovely words you said at Mum’s funeral Stephen. I never got the chance to thank you.”


“I wasn’t sure you’d remember me, it’s why I asked Juliette fer an introduction. I bet everyone says it Caroline but you are the image of her.”


“They do, and I take it as the highest compliment,” she smiled. “You know that reclining photo of Mum in the nude with just the sheet draped on her was her favourite picture of herself?”


“Well, she was a special presence and seeing you out there as well just shows how special she was.  And this must be young Jeannie Brewster?”


“It is indeed,” Jeannie said as she shook his hand.  “I’ve seen a lot of your work, Mister Stone…”


“Please – call me Stephen.  I think you’re a pioneer young lady, and some day perhaps…”


“You’d need to go through the protection first,” Jeannie said as she looked at her mother and boyfriend, “but I am flattered you would think of inviting me.”


“The offer will be there,” Stephen said with a smile as Ama and Maisha came over.  “Would this be yer daughter, Caroline?”


“It is indeed.  Ama, this is Stephen Stone; he’s a very famous photographer.  Stephen, meet Ama and Maisha.”


“You are a beauty as well,” he said, “any plans to follow in your mother’s footsteps?”


“Oh no,” Ama said quietly, “My path lies elsewhere, and Maisha lives here.”


“Still, you must allow me to take a picture of both of you at some…”


“Now, boyo,” Eve said as she came over, “leave the poor girl alone.  A pleasure to meet you at last, Face, BS.”


“Likewise,” Jeannie said, “I keep meeting my idols all the time…”


“I like this one,” Eve said as she looked at Juliette and Mary.










“So how are things really going Eve?” Diana asked as she and Juliette sat in a corner with the former model.


“I presume Cassy told you?”


“She did.” Diana held the Irishwoman’s hand.


“He has his good days like today, he has his bad ones. This party was a very good excuse to get him over to London to see a specialist at UCH.”


“Parkinson’s is a lousy disease.” Juliette shook her head.


“Well he keeps working, and it does seem to be a little in remission at the moment, but it’s such an unpredictable thing.”


“We see a lot of Michael and Tracy in New York so we understand,” Diana spoke.


“Well his case is far more advanced, I’m amazed how well he does. Tracy and he did send me a lovely supportive letter after Cassy told them.”


“Did Cassy tell you she is lending us her house while she’s visiting with you in a couple of weeks?”


“She did Ju, I hear there is a hotel room crisis for this wedding you are going to.”


“There is, I think Maddie is regretting choosing that particular weekend.”


“So have you known Shirley long? She seems really nice and so good for John.”


“Both Diana and I have known her a while, among her businesses she owns a specialist insurance company, I’ve insured shipments with her.”


“Oh that explains it, they met at one of your sets parties didn’t they?”


“They did, and I think it was instant attraction.”


“Talking of attraction, what is this I hear about you and Klaus back together?”


“They are VERY together.” Diana smiled.


“Let me just say, we are happy as we are.” Juliette smiled shyly.


“Okay that gives me some inside information when I lay my bets with Sandy.” Eve smiled.


“What is this about betting?” Stephen asked as he walked over.


“The Juliette and Klaus Stakes Stephen.” Diana looked up. “Eve reckons she has gained some valuable insight.”


“Well my dear wife seldum backs a loser.”


“I didn’t when I married you,” she stood up and kissed her husband.


“Ah but that was more the lack of the Irish,” Stephen said with a smile.  “My glass appears to be empty – anyone else want a refill?”


“Let me walk with you,” Juliette said as she took Stephen’s arm, Eve smiling as she watched them walking away.



"Penny for them?" John Hammond asked as he saw Jeannie with her brows knitted.

"I was just thinking about Mrs. Brand, I know when she fled she dyed that beautiful hair of hers, but why didn't anyone recognise her name?"

"Because Grace's real surname was double barreled, she modeled as Grace Gresham, but her name was actually Grace Gresham-Fox, so she simply called herself Grace Fox and no one knew anything different."

"Oh is that how she did it?"



“Mind you, if they ever found out what my middle name is…”


“Annie must know – she’s your teacher.”


“Uh oh,” Jeannie said as Annie walked over, “Annie, you don’t…”


“Don’t what?”


“Know my middle name – do you?”


Annie smiled as she said, “I do – but its confusing enough keeping track of everybody’s first names.  So your secret is safe with me, Jeannie L….”


“NO – don’t say it,” Jeannie said as she shook her head, “don’t say it.”


"Did you invite Maeve and Rose Shirley" Abby asked.

"I did, Maeve rang and said her car wouldn't start so they'd be late."

"Oh that explains it?"

"Explains what?" Shirley asked as Abby led her to the window.

Down below a group was gathered round an old Honda Civic that was belching smoke from the bonnet, and Maeve and Rose looking harassed and harried.

"What's wrong?" Piet asked as he looked over their shoulder.

"I think Maeve's car just blew up."

"Winston, Jack, come and help me," Piet called across the room, "I think we have some ladies to rescue."


“On it,” Jack said as the two man mountains walked out of the house, Piet and Winston returning with Rose and Maeve on their arms.


“Welcome,” Shirley said as she hugged and kissed both of them, “what happened to the car?”


“I think the distributor is shot,” Jack said as he came in, “I’ve called a mechanic I know in the area, and we’ll get it sorted as soon as we can.  In the meantime, we’ll make sure you get home tonight.”


“You would do that for us,” Rose said as she looked round. 


“Of course – you’re friends,” John said, “now come on – I have instructions to show you to the kitchen and make some tea.”


“Thank you,” Maeve mouthed to Shirley as John escorted them to make a pot.





“I spoke to the kids earlier,” Heather said as she sat with Jo,” they’re so looking forward to showing us what they did in Orlando.”


“I can imagine,” Jo, said, “I still can’t believe I only have a few weeks before I have to set off for college.”


“And that time is going to fly,” Heather said as she looked across the river.  “I couldn’t be more proud of you, and I couldn’t be dreading a day more.”


“I know – me too.”


“Hey, why the long faces?”


The two of them turned to see Mary Thomas standing there, as John and Shirley greeted Fiona and the other guests behind them.


“Growing up Mary – happens to the best of us.”


“Oh really?  Tell you what – when I do, I’ll let you know, all right?”


The two women looked at her and then burst out laughing, as Jo said “come and sit down with the youngsters then.”


“Why thank you kindly,” Mary said as she took one of the seats.


“So has it fully sunk in yet?”


“What the award?  Nah – I’ll end up leaving it somewhere like a certain photographer and forgetting.  Honestly, work is the reward for me.”


“Enough of a reward to fly over here just for the housewarming?”


“Not just for this – Fiona wants my help with some arrangements, and I thought I might head home for a couple of days as well.  Janine and co have things well in hand.”


“So you’ve seen Marina?”


“I have – and a confident young lady she has turned into.”


“It’s going to be interesting seeing her again,” Heather said with a smile.




“Ah that hits the spot,” Rose said as she sipped the hot steaming drink.  “Thank you very much John.”


“So how are you doing Rose?”


“Surprisingly well – I go to meetings twice a week, Maeve keeps me on the straight and narrow, and I’m practicing my old skills for the new job.”


“Well, practice makes perfect,” Maeve said with a smile.  “So are you coming for the christening John?”


“I believe I have been hired as the official photographer, but even if I wasn’t, I would be coming.  Shirley and I will be out with Maisha next Thursday.”




“Shirley, is that your phone ringing,” Lily said as she looked over at a side table.


“It would appear to be,” John said as he picked up the handset, and said “hello?”


Smiling, he handed the phone to Shirley, who said quietly “Shirley Xavier.”


“Hi Shirley.  So how is the party going?" Kelly Rochermann asked.

"If I put you on speakerphone you can hear and talk with everyone." Shirley replied as she pressed a button and replaced the handset.

"Okay, can everyone hear me now?"

"We can Kel." Juliette called out.

"It sounds like a great party going on there."

"Well we have had the odd thing go wrong. Maeve's car blew up outside."

"Oh no Shirley is she okay?"

"Yes but her poor car isn't."

"You can say that again." Maeve shook her head as she drank her wine.

“Don’t worry – Jack Fitzstuart called their mechanic, and he’s going to have a look at it.”


"So how did SaintzandSinnerz run?" Sandy asked.

"He won very easily I heard, and at three to one."

"Ooh my bookie will be paying out." Heather laughed.

"I think most of us will have made money."

"How are Ally and Nell?" asked Abby.

"We are great," Ally shouted from her end. "Just wait till you meet the new Kylie."

"I hear I will notice a resemblance." Mandy spoke.

"You will." Nell called out.

"Well they do say Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery Mother." Angel laughed.

"I suppose so." Mandy answered in her languid drawl.

"So any other news?" Carina asked.


“Not really – we went swimming with the girls this morning, and Pepsi said something about Ama bringing her home some vintage clothing.


“She has it packed and ready to deliver,” Caroline said as Ama looked over from her seat with Jeannie.


“I think you have a lot more to tell us than we you, Cari – both the fashion show and what happened in Germany and Vienna.”


“We’ve seen the reports here – how was the burial Ju?”


“Very moving actually – there was a honor guard from the government, and there was even a message of eulogy from the Israeli ambassador.  It’s Birgitte that is the talking point.”


“I know – Curt has made a number of radio appearances to discuss her.  Jo needs to know she has to talk him down.”


“Don’t worry – I have my game plan ready,” Jo called out, “and it starts with dinner next week.”


“Kelly, what’s happening with the special event Nessa and Paulie are setting up?”


“She’ll tell you next week Ju – she says she needs to talk to Sandy and Heather first.”


“Mom,” Ally called out, “Dad’s back.”


“Right – gotta go.  See you all next week, girls.”


“Bye Kelly,” Shirley called out as they party cheered, and the line went dead.




“Lily, a word,” Sandra said as she took the young woman into a corner.


“How can I help you,” Lily said quietly.


“I heard of what you did last week – nice job.”


“Bullies need to be shown the error of their ways,” Lily said quietly as she looked at Jeannie, “and I hope I showed them a few lessons.”


“Well, we are watching them now – we’ll see what will happen next.”


Lily nodded.  “One of them showed remorse and promise more than the others – I wonder if one day she will be of use to us?”


“We will watch, and we will learn,” Sandra said as she sipped her wine.




Monday 29th June

2 pm

JFK Airport


“Home again,” Carina said as their luggage was loaded onto a trolley.


“We’re going to get a cab back to the village,” Caroline said as she loaded her bags onto a trolley, Annie adding hers.  “April promised to get some things in, but we need to get back to normal.”


“Understood,” Juliette said as Annie kissed Carina.  “See you for lunch tomorrow?”


“You bet, Monster Momma,” Carina said as she smiled.  “Have a good night.”


“So what chance of finding a cab that can take a baby as well,” Carina said as Judith gurgled against her.


“I don’t think we’ll need it,” Juliette said as the doors opened in front of them.


“Janine you are a lifesaver.” Juliette embraced her assistant as they came into the International Arrivals hall.


“I figured you guys might appreciate a friendly face to pick you up.”


“It’s nice to be home.” Carina smiled as she cradled Judith in her arms.


“She’s grown again.” Janine smiled back.


“She has,” the proud mother looked at her daughter, “she’s become an experienced traveller while we were away.”


“Any problems at the office?”


“Nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow Juliette.”


“Good,” Juliette said as she yawned, “a nice long bath and an early night in my own bed are just what I need.”


“So any news Janine?” Cari asked.


“Not a huge amount, Marina’s been helping in the office…”


“Good,” Juliette nodded.


“She, Alexis and I have had a couple of girls nights out.”


“Did you meet any guys?”


“We might have Cari,” Janine giggled.


“Oh tell me more…” Carina signaled for the skycap to load their luggage in the back of Janine’s van.


“I’ll tell you as we drive.” Janine climbed in as Juliette tipped the skycap.



“Welcome home,” John said as Sandy and Heather appeared with Jo, “I trust you had a good trip?”


“Very good, thank you John,” Sandy said as she let him take the luggage trolley.  “Jeannie and Barbara are on the next flight in – do you have time to get us back and come back for them?”


“Naturally,” John said with a smile.  “Your mother and the kids are waiting for you at home.”


“I can’t wait to see them either,” Heather said as John loaded the bags into the car, and they climbed into the back.


“And they want to see you – I understand they have bought Joanne a Minnie Mouse hat, and they expect her to wear it.”


“Oh deep joy,” Jo said as they drove off.



2.45 pm

The de Ros Mansion


“Oh thank the goddess – home again,” Abby said as she stepped into her home.


“I agree entirely,” Diana said as the cab driver put their bags into the hallway, and then accepted their payment.  “It is indeed good to be home.”


“Welcome home,” Edith said as she came through from the kitchen.  “I have coffee ready for you if you so desire.”


“Thank you Edith – bring it through to the front room please,” Diana said as she and Abigail sat down, stretching their legs out.


“At least we have a few days off now,” Abby said, “and I intend to make use of every second of it.”


“Ah – you have safely returned.”


“Hello papa,” Diana said as she saw Guy walk in, “we’re just having some coffee.  Care to join us?”


“I would be delighted – we can share stories of the last week or two…”




3 pm

The Richmond Mansion



“It’s very quiet in here,” Heather said as the three of them walked back in.


“Too quiet,” Jo said.  “John, I thought you said the kids were here?”


“They are,” John said as he put the bags down.  “Forgive me, Sandy, but…”


“Go,” Sandy said, “and we’ll see you tomorrow.”  As John left, Sandy walked to the front room, and opened the door.




Little Sandy and Little George jumped out fo their hiding places and hugged their mother, while Vanessa and George sat in the armchairs.


“Sorry – they wanted to surprise you, and it was worth it for the look on their faces,” Vanessa said as she stood up.  “Welcome home, all of you.”


“It’s good to be back,” Jo said as she hugged the kids.  “So, tell me all about Disneyland…”


“It was fantastic,” George said as Jo took them by the hand, “we met Mickey and Buzz and Donald, and we saw lots of animals…”


“Where’s Jennifer?”


“She should be here any minute – ah, that will be her now,” Nessa said as she walked to the door, returning with Jennifer in the arms of a tall, thin red haired young woman, wearing a white blouse and a knee length skirt.


“Welcome back, Miss Richmond, Miss Smith,” she said as she handed the toddler to George.


“Please – it’s Sandy and Heather, Orlanda.  How was Jennifer?”


“As good as gold,” she said with a soft Irish accent.  “Shall I do tea for the children now?”


“Not tonight,” Heather said quietly, “Allow me to cook for you – a thank you for the last few weeks.”


“Well, if you insist,” Orlanda said as she sat down.




7 pm

Village Florist


“Hey there,” Pepsi said as she opened the door to see Jeannie with her grandfather, “come on up, the gang’s all here.”


“Great – I’ve missed all of you,” Jeannie said as John lifted her up and carried her up the stairs, Pepsi putting her wheelchair at the bottom before closing the door.


“Hello Jeannie,” April said as she came into the open area, “have a seat, I’ll have the snacks ready soon.”


“It’s so good to see you guys again,” she said as she looked at Nikki, Becca and Doc, “but where’s this transformed Kylie?”


“I believe Jeannie is asking where you are, Kylie,” Pepsi called out.


“I am helping Nicola’s mother with the food,” a posh English accent called back, Jeannie looking at the others as John sat her down.


“That’s Kylie,” she whispered, the others nodding.  Pepsi, Nikki, Doc and Becca were all wearing t-shirts and shorts, while Jeannie was still in her leggings and top from the flight.


So when Kylie came in, wearing a short sleeved khaki blouse and matching short skirt, Jeannie could only look on as she said “hello Jeannie darling, you look wonderful” before setting a dish of chopped peppers and celery on the table.


“All right,” Jeannie said quietly, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Kylie Mitchell?”


“Oh, it’s me all right,” Kylie said with a smile, “I just made a few changes while in Hong Kong.  Do you like them?”


“I love it – come here,” she said as she hugged the young woman.


“You look radiant,” Kylie said as she eventually sat down, Nikki reclining on the couch as April brought through some drinks.


“So where’s Ama?”


“She cried off – something about a quiet night in for all three of them.”


“So what was the highlight of the trip Jeans?” asked Pepsi.


“You mean other than finding out my former Headmistress was a long lost Supermodel?”


“Yes – apart from that little bombshell,” Becca said.


“I think sitting with and talking to Eve Stone.”


“Who?” asked Doc.


“You know as smart as you are Anna there are big gaps in your general knowledge…Eve Stone was one of the greatest models of the late sixties and seventies.”


“She must be ancient then?” remarked Becca.


“If I look that good when I’m that old I’ll be VERY happy…no she’s still so beautiful.”


“Is she any relation to Cassandra Stone the actress?” asked Kylie.


“Her mother.”


“Wow you met Cassandra Stone’s mom?” Nikki sat up suddenly. “You all know she’s my favourite actress?”


“We do,” groaned Anna, “you’ve dragged us all to enough of her movies.”


“You enjoyed them.” Nikki glared at her friend.


“Ladies!” Jeans laughed, “Getting back to Eve, she knew and worked with people like Twiggy, Lauren Hutton, Cheryl Tiegs, and so many more.”


“Who?” Doc asked, ducking as Jeannie threw a cushion at her. “Okay,” she laughed, “I do know who they all were.”


”She was telling me some wonderful stories. Did you know when she started models had to do their own hair and makeup?”


“Wake me up when she’s finished talking about model history.” Nikki lay back down again.


“Oh I don’t know, I find it fascinating,” Kylie said, “so she told you about the old days, Jeannie?”


“Oh yes – her husband was a charmer as well.  He’s what the call an artistic photographer?”


“And what does that mean,” Pepsi asked.


“He gets to take nude photos that are not pornography – I do know a few things,” Doc said with a grin.


“Only because he was in that magazine you were reading at the bookstore yesterday,” Pepsi said with a grin.


“All right, I admit it,” Doc said as she held her hands up.  “So sue me!”


“Not a chance, we would lose,” Jeannie said with a laugh.  “So come on – what happened while I was away…”


As she listened to the gossip, Jeannie leaned back and whispered “it is so good to be home…”







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