“Hey hey hey – if it isn’t the most glamorous granny in the New York area!”
“And a very good morning to you as well, Sandy,” Juliette said as she came into the house, wearing an open necked blouse under a grey trouser suit. The two women embraced as Heather came out and said, “How is she?”
“Fine – she went to sleep as soon as she got to her room, and Dom drove me back. Where is everyone?”
“Waiting for you,” Sandy said as she and Heather took an arm each and escorted Juliette into the dining room.
“There you are!” Joanne and Abigail jumped up and hugged Juliette, before Diana came up and said “Many congratulations, ma cherie. How do you feel?”
“Exhausted,” Juliette admitted. “I grabbed a few hours sleep, then packed a bag and came out to see you before I headed back to the hospital. Any chance of some breakfast? I haven’t actually eaten since last night.”
“Sit down,” Diana said as she pulled a chair out, “and I will fetch something for you.”
“So what does she look like,” Abigail said as she looked at Juliette.
“About five foot four, ash blonde, totally whacked…”
“I meant the baby,” Abigail nearly shouted.
“OH – small, black hair, and beautiful.”
“Did I hear voices,” Judy McNally said as she and Tony came into the dining room. “Congratulations Mrs Huntingdown.”
“Thank you Judy,” Juliette said, “Did you sleep here last night?”
“Well, it was after midnight,” Sandy said, “So when do you guys need to be back?”
“Bobbi is arriving at the station at eleven – she is going to go wild when she finds out.”
“I can imagine,” Joanne said with a smile.
“I’ll run you home later,” John said as he and Barbara came in with Jeannie. “Well done,” Barbara said as she sat down, “how are they?”
“Probably waking up to the reality of their new life,” Juliette said quietly as the doorbell rang. Diana placed a toasted muffin and a large mug of coffee in front of Juliette as Heather returned with a large bunch of flowers.
“Are they for Carina,” she said as she looked at them.
“Nope – they’re for you,” Heather said as she handed them to the astonished Juliette. Opening the card, she read “Congratulations – Mary, Anna and Fiona.”
“How thoughtful of them,” Diana said as she took them to find a vase.
“So when can we go and see them,” Abigail said, “and what is her full name? Sandy only said Judith last night.”
“That’s my fault,” Juliette said as George and little Sandy came in. “We made this for the baby,” they said as they handed Juliette a homemade card.
“Thank you,” Juliette said as she wiped a tear away. “Listen – I need to go down this morning, but I think they allow visitors from two. Just don’t all try to get in at once – it’s a small room.”
“We’ll wait until tomorrow,” Judy said as she drank some orange juice, “if that is all right?”
“OF course it is – I’ll let you know if she says differently,” Juliette said. “If anyone wants to send flowers, she’s in room 4.F.15.”
“Got it,” Judy said as she made a note on her phone. As she tried to turn it off, it rang and she answered it.
“Bobbi? Hey – wait until I tell you what’s happened…”
She walked out of the room as Tony said, “See Jeannie – you arrive and things happen.”
“That’s me – Supergirl,” Jeannie said as she drank her juice.
“Tell you what,” Sandy said, “I’ll drive the girls and Heather down this afternoon. Coming with us John?”
“Of course,” John said, “but we can wait downstairs while you lot go up.”
“We’ll sort out the logistics this morning,” Sandy said as the doorbell rang again. Heather went to answer it, coming back with a large box.
“What on earth is that,” Juliette said as Heather looked at the label.
“It’s from Almador,” she said as she opened the box, “for the new Huntingdown.” She took out a tiny little dress, and smiled as she looked at it.
“Was I ever that tiny,” George said.
“Was I ever dressed like that,” Sandy said.
“Yes, yes and yes I was as well – you should see the photos of my christening gown,” Sandy said, everyone else laughing as Juliette drained her cup.
“Right, I’m out of here,” she said, “I’ll call later, all right?”
The others nodded as she went out, feeling as if she was on cloud 10, and not worried at all about the drive ahead…
Massachusetts General Hospital
Juliette stepped out of the lift and went through the double doors, holding the bag with Carina’s things in one hand and the strap of her handbag over her other shoulder. As she went in, she smiled at the receptionist and made her way to the room she had left Carina earlier that morning.
As she looked in, however, the room was empty – no flowers, no gifts, no baby and no Carina.
Walking back to the reception, she said, “Excuse me – my daughter gave birth last night, but she’s not in the room I left her in.”
“Can I have your daughter’s name please?”
“Huntingdown – Carina Huntingdown.”
“Oh you’re Carina’s mother? She was moved this morning – room 4.F.2 Turn right down there, second left.”
“You’ll see when you go in – excuse me,” she said as a deliveryman came in with a large bunch of flowers and a teddy bear. Juliette nodded and went in the opposite direction, thinking, “This can’t be right” as she entered the second door on the left.
The room was much larger, but it was lined with bunches of flowers along every free shelf and wall. There was also a dazzling array of soft toys sitting in one of the large arm chairs, while Carina was sat up in bed, reading from a pile of cards with her glasses perched on her nose.
“Hey Mom,” she said as she looked up, “just look at all this!”
“So I see,” Juliette, said as she looked around, “Where on earth did all these appear from?”
“They just started coming with breakfast this morning,” Cari said with a smile, “The huge bunch over there is from Mary, Anna and Fiona.”
“I might have guessed – they sent me a bunch as well,” Juliette said as she looked at the card. The receptionist then appeared with the flowers and the teddy bear.
“More,” Carina said as she took the card and looked at it. “They’re from Aunt Trudi,” she said as she handed it to her mother.
“You are a very popular young lady,” the receptionist said with a smile as a nurse came in and took some observations.
“So did you get any sleep?”
“A couple of hours,” Cari said as her mother sat down and looked at her. “I woke just before seven, when they moved me in here. Judy is going to be brought up in a few minutes.”
“Well, that’s good news,” Juliette said, “but why did they move you? Not that I’m complaining, but…”
“No idea – all they said was when the duty consultant came in at 6, she asked that I be moved to this room.”
“Just how much stuff was there at that time?”
“No idea – there were already four bunches of flowers when I woke up.”
“Well, I still would like to know why..”
"Blame me Pelican." a voice from over Juliette's shoulder spoke.
Juliette turned to look at a tall chestnut haired woman in her early forties, her still attractive face hidden behind large red-rimmed glasses. She wore a white doctor’s coat over her blue and white dress, and was smiling at both of them.
"And you are?" Juliette stood up and shook
hands with the doctor.
"I'm Doctor Karen Boyd." The smile grew bigger as she looked at the
two of them.
"Do I know you from somewhere?" Juliette looked puzzled, there was something annoyingly familiar about her – and what was worse, she had called her by her supermodel name, which meant she knew her from the old days.
"You might remember me Pelican." The doctor laughed lightly as she picked up Cari’s notes. "I saw some of the names on the gifts and flowers earlier and I guessed Carina here would need one of our star rooms."
"Star rooms? Well, it’s a very generous move…"
"I'm not a VIP" Cari
"No just a very important mom Cari Bear." the doctor said as she put Cari's chart down. Juliette stared at her for a little longer, and then gasped.
"Oh my Goddess!" Juliette put her hand to her mouth. "Sweets?"
"Took you long enough Pelican.,”
the doctor said as she hugged Juliette.
Juliette squealed and hugged the doctor back.
"You know who this is?" Juliette turned to Cari.
Carina looked bemused.
“Carina it's someone who knew you when you were a
Cari rolled her eyes and said "Obviously hence Cari Bear, but who is she?"
"Darling this is, or rather was, Charity Royce, the one model sensible enough to get out of the racket and do something real with her life… Plus being the bitch who saddled me with Pelican."
“Oh – so you were on that shoot in North Carolina? Mom told me all about that – and the way the birds chased her around,” Carina said with a laugh. “Forgive me, Doctor Boyd…”
“Sorry, Karen – we’ve all got a lot older since those days.”
“No apology required,” the doctor said as Cari got up. “Anybody mind if I go and change into something better then this?”
“Here,” Juliette said as she handed her daughter the bag, and she disappeared towards a toilet.
"So you reverted to Karen, and got married I
see." Juliette said as she held up the doctor’s left hand.
The doctor giggled as she said “Six years now – he’s a radiologist here. And about that doing something real with her life, miss award winning writer?”
“I meant outside of fashion – wait until Mary hears I ran into you.”
“The wizard? I saw the awards show – one hell of a surprise to pull on her, my dear.”
“I don’t get it though – how did you know?”
"I was reading the tags on those beautiful
flowers, and I'm seeing Olive Oyl, Boo Boo, Fractures, I've not been out of the game long enough I
don't recognize those aliases. Then I looked at who they were for and saw Huntingdown, I thought at first it was maybe you who had
another kid, and then I remembered you still live in the Big Apple."
"At my age?"
"Darling I'm only two years older then you, remember?" Karen shook her head and said "Then I saw it was Carina, and it made sense. So who’s the proud dad?"
“Long gone – he disappeared when we found out. We’ll bring her up ourselves.”
“Still the independent woman, Pelican,” Karen said as Carina came back in a blue nightdress. “That’s better,” she said as she sat in the bed.
“Well, I need to go and do my rounds, but I’ll drop by later,” Karen said as she left the room. A few minutes later, a nurse wheeled the crib in, Judith sleeping on her back. She was wearing a pink baby suit, and a tag on her wrist had “Judith Huntingdown” printed on it in tiny letters.
“Hey Baby,” Carina said as she looked at the sleeping child, “Just wait until you see what people have sent for you…”
“Wait until you come back – this huge box of designer clothes arrived just before I left.”
“Is it all right if we come in?”
Juliette turned to see Susan, Annie and Dominique standing in the doorway. Susan and Annie were wearing jeans and v-necked sweaters, while Dominique was wearing black chinos and a roll necked sweater.
“Hey,” Cari said, “come on in before the real mob descends.”
“How are you,” Annie said as she came in, looking at all the gifts.
“Tired and ecstatic at the same time,” Carina said as Annie hugged her. “How are you,” she said as she looked at her former teacher.
“Adjusting,” Annie whispered as Susan and Dominique looked down into the crib.
“Dark hair – the father?”
“Who knows – I’m told it might change later,” Carina said as she looked over.
“And how is the proud grandmother,” Susan said as she looked at Carina.
“Proud,” Juliette said as he hugged them all. “I can’t thank you all enough for your help yesterday – despite everything, you were there for us.”
“I’ve been asked to pass on congratulations from Madame as well,” Dominique said as she looked at them.
“I’ll call her later,” Juliette said as Annie looked at the baby. “I called the school this morning, and they said to offer their congratulations as well,” she said quietly. “Oh – and she’s on the list.”
“Thanks,” Carina said with a smile as Karen came back in. “Oh – visitors already?”
She stopped for a moment, looking at the three women,
and then said "Hey Caroline - long time no see."
"Sorry my name is Susan." the shorter woman said,
as she turned round.
"Mine is Annie." Juliette and Carina looked at each other.
"Caroline?" Karen asked again.
Dominique turned slowly, and for the first time ever
Susan would have sworn she blushed.
"It is you." the doctor smiled. “Good lord, girl, what are you doing over
"Hey Aunt Charity." Dominique looked shaken to her core as she spoke.
“Caroline?” Annie mouthed to Susan, who silently shook her head and watched the doctor take hold of Dominique’s arms.
“You look well – what have you been doing since…”
“I found a position as a security consultant for an international corporation,” Dominique said quietly. “Annie and Susan are friends from New York – We all use the same gym - Susan knows Juliette professionally, and Annie was one of Carina’s teachers at school.”
“Still – I was so sorry when your mother…”
“Aunt Charity,” Dominique said quietly, “it’s good to see you, but I can’t talk now. Perhaps we can meet tonight for dinner?”
“Yeah – I’d like that,” Karen said. “I’ll call my husband and tell him I’ll be home late. Meet you in the lobby at six?”
“That sounds good,” Dominique said as Karen looked at her pager. “Damn - back to work. Nice to meet you all.” She smiled at the tall dark haired woman and then left the room, as Carina turned to Dominique and said, “What the hell was that all about?”
“My past come back to haunt me,” Dominique said. “I trust you said nothing?”
“Of course not – but will you be all right?”
“A very good question – we must go, Juliette. Do say hello to everyone for me.”
“Of course,” Juliette said as the three of them left. As the stood in the lift, Annie looked at Susan, and then they both looked at Dominique.
“Yes, my name is Caroline,” she eventually said, “but if you tell anyone else…”
“Let’s go back to the hotel,” Dominique said as she looked round, “I’ll tell you there.”
“Eeeyooo – is it always this bad?”
“It can be,” Juliette said as Carina put the soiled wipe into the bag, and fastened the nappy around her daughter’s bottom before fastening the suit up again. Juliette tied the bag and dropped it in the disposal box.
“HEY!” Carina said as Abigail and Joanne came in and hugged her, Barbara following with Jeannie.
“My goodness,” Jeannie said as she looked round, “all these flowers – and you should see what arrived at your house today.”
“Diana went round this morning and took a lot of deliveries for you,” Barbara said as she looked at Judith. “She has your eyes,” she said quietly.
“She has at that,” Juliette said as she gently picked her up and laid her in Jeannie’s arm, the young girl looking at her as Judith looked back up.
“She looks so small,” Joanne said as she looked down.
“She’s also tired,” Carina said, “so put her back in the crib. I just fed and changed her.”
“The joy of nappies,” Barbara said, Juliette nodding as Abigail picked her up and lay her down.
“Is this Logan airport or a hospital room,” a voice said from the doorway.
“Sorry Doc – half the party must be trying to park.”
“Actually, they wanted us to come up first,” Abigail said as the doctor walked towards her.
"You must be Stick." Doctor Boyd shook
Abby's hand, "and you must be BS." she leant over and shook hands
"Girls meet Karen Boyd MD, formally Miss Charity
Royce, aka Sweets." Juliette did the introduction.
"Oh Miss Royce I have a picture of you on my
wall." Abby gasped in amazement.
"It's a pleasure to meet you girls. You’ve caused quite a stir – flying lessons?"
Jeannie giggled a little as Cari sat on the bed.
"So do you stay in touch with the biz a lot
Sweets?" Juliette asked.
"Well I see Bats every week, and Mother took me
out to dinner when she was in town last week."
Barbara looked round, before saying, "Okay - for
a civilian - translations please."
"Bats is Alice MacKinnon, Mother is of course,
Linda Evangelista." Juliette translated.
“And I’m Sweets, and Juliette here is Pelican.”
Juliette looked at Jeannie and Abigail, before saying “another time, all right?”
"Did you hear Alice is having her fourth?"
Karen passed on the gossip.
"How the hell does she have time to run the store and keeping popping them out like that?" Juliette looked amazed.
"And Abigail I have one of your pictures on my office wall." Karen remarked as she looked over.
"Yeah - it's that one from London of you leaning up against the pillar in the Ralph Lauren."
“Oh yeah – outside the National Gallery.”
"That's one of my faves of Abby." Jeannie remarked as she looked to the door and said “Hello.”
"Oh my God." a new arrival announced himself. "If it isn't Charity Royce. How long has it been girl?"
"Oh God John, it's been years." the doctor kissed the arrival on his cheeks. "How did you recognize me?"
"I never forget a beautiful woman."
"Flatterer." Karen giggled as the fashion photographer looked at her.
"Who the hell is Karen Boyd?" John read her name tag.
"For my sins it’s me John Hammond. I'm a respectable married lady now."
"Welcome John." Juliette kissed the photographer.
"Where's the new mother?" he enquired.
"Over here John." Carina smiled, "and this is Judith." John stopped over the crib and looked at the tiny girl, who stared back up at him.
"She has your eyes Juliette." He fussed for a second over the baby, smiling as he made cooing noises.
"So why are you here John?" Juliette asked.
"Yes Mary, Fiona, Anna and Missy have subscribed to pay my fees to get pictures of the new Mother and Baby."
“Oh no,” Carina said, “no way, I look a mess and…”
“You look perfect,” John said with a smile, “and this is a private commission. All they ask is that they get a copy of a picture with the three of you together.”
“And that’s my cue to get back to work,” Karen said as she looked at the others. “See you around.”
“Right,” John said as he took out a camera, “Let’s take care of this, shall we? Sit up Carina, and we’ll put Judith in your arms.”
Carina sat herself up as Juliette adjusted her hair, and then put Judith in her arms.
“All right, and smile for me…”
“We’ll let the others know they can come up in a minute,” Barbara said as she wheeled Jeannie out, Abigail and Joanne following behind.
“Only Carina would end up having a former supermodel as her doctor,” Abigail said as they made their way into the café, where Heather, John and Sandy were sitting with George and Sandy.
“Can we go up yet,” Sandy said as she held a pink bunny in her arms.
“Give them a few minutes,” Abby said as she sat down, “John Hammond just turned up to take some photographs.”
As Barbara looked round, she could see one or two people looking over at them. “Sandy,” she said quietly, “why are they looking at us?”
“Who,” Sandy said as she looked round, and the other tables turned away. She thought for a moment, and then said “Uh oh – be right back.”
As she headed off, Juliette came in. “There you are,” she said as she sat down, “you can go up in a minute. John just finished taking photos of the three of…”
She suddenly looked up, Abigail and Jeannie looking at her as she did so.
“You feel it as well?”
“Yeah – why are they all looking at us?”
“Apart from the fact two of the newest faces in the fashion world are sitting with us?”
“Four.” Sandy placed the new issue of Complete Style on the table between them.
“Oh Goddess – it came out today didn’t it?”
“It did – we’ll leave you four to have a look while we head up. Juliette?”
“I need to step out and get a few things – I’ll be back in a little while. Think they have anything edible in here?”
“I have no idea,” Joanne said as Sandy and Heather took the younger kids up, John going with them.
Juliette took a deep breath before she knocked on the door.
“Hi Juliette.” Susan said as she opened the door to the suite. “How’s the new mom this afternoon?”
“She’s great, she has a room full of flowers, stuffed toys and visitors.” Juliette looked round. “Is Dominique here?”
“Yeah I’m here Ju.” Dom called out from her bedroom. “Come through.”
“Girls can we have some privacy,” Juliette asked Susan and Annie.
“Yeah we’ll stay out here.” Annie nodded as she sat on the couch. “I guess you two have things to talk about.”
“To say the least,” Juliette said as she went into Dominique’s room, closed the door and sat on the bed.
“I owe you an apology Dominique,” she said as the dark haired woman looked at her, “I should have remembered about Sweets and your Mom and given you a heads up.”
“It’s not your fault Juliette.” Dominique sighed. “I guess I always knew I’d eventually run into someone who remembered me. I just didn’t expect it to be Aunt Charity.”
“You know she totally turned her life around and avoided becoming one of the fashion industry’s casualties?”
“I know Juliette, I sorta read all the magazines, about her going to medical school, etc. Honestly, when I heard her voice saying my name, it brought some old memories flooding back.”
“I think she wants to bury Charity a bit. That’s why I think she calls herself Karen again.”
“Like I buried Caroline?”
Juliette nodded and said “Yeah, and like Joanne buried Megan.” Looking at Dominique, she said, “You guys need to talk… badly, I think you both have a lot to say to each other and a lot of catching up to do.”
“I have a lot of secrets in my life Juliette.”
“So do I.”
“How much should I tell her?”
“Only what you feel comfortable with Dominique.” Juliette stood up and hugged the younger woman.
“I’m not sure I feel comfortable with any of this.”
“Well yesterday I had to tell Annie I’m the mass murdering leader of a gang of armed robbers…. I don’t think this is worse.”
“I guess not.” Dominique smiled.
“Just go and have fun with her Dom, I think this will be as hard for her as it is for you.”
“Thanks for coming over Juliette, this has helped.” Dominique paused. “Now hadn’t you better get back to Carina?”
“Yeah – if only to rescue her from a posse of adoring aunts. Take care, all right?”
“I will,” Dominique said as Juliette stood up and left, closing the door behind her.
“How is she?”
“Feeling much the same as you did yesterday Annie, I suspect,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Yeah – I got that feeling. She told us when we got back here.”
“Well, I need to get back,” Juliette said as she headed for the door.
“Thank you for trusting me.”
Juliette turned and smiled. “Welcome to our world,” she said as she left.
Massachusetts General Hospital
“Right – out,” Juliette said as she gently ushered Abigail, Joanne and the others out of the room, “Mother and Baby need their rest now.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow with Judy and Bobbi,” Joanne called over her shoulder as Carina flopped back into the bed.
“Thanks,” she said as she gazed at the sleeping Judith,” I could do with a couple of hours to myself before feeding time comes round again.”
Juliette looked at the growing number of flowers. “Well, it smells fresh in here anyway,” she said with a smile.
“It didn’t a little while ago, I thought Jeannie was going to faint when I changed the last nappy.”
Juliette laughed softly as she sat down. “What would you like to eat for dinner,” she said, “I can go and get something – just promise me one thing.”
“What’s that Mom?”
“Lay off the chilli for a while, all right?”
“Don’t worry –I don’t think Baby would like it either,” Carina chuckled. “Actually, I’d kill for some chow mein.”
“Leave it with me,” Juliette said as she walked out to the reception desk, returning a few minutes later with a menu. “Let’s make a dinner of it,” she said as they looked at the choices.
The Lobby Restaurant
Dominique walked behind Karen as the waiter led them to a side table, holding the chairs as they sat down and then leaving the menus.
“This is a nice place Aunt Charity.” Dominique said as she looked around, the candles flickering on each of the tables.
“Sweetie,” Karen said as she looked up from the menu, “you are all grown up now, I think we can dispense with Auntie, and its Karen now, not Charity.”
“People call me Dominique nowadays.”
“Oh?” Karen looked over at the dark haired young woman, who blushed again.
“It’s a long story Aunt… sorry… it’s a long story Karen.”
Dominique looked round as the waitress came over.
“Hi – I’m Missy and I’ll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you ladies?”
“I’ll have a vodka martini please, and a mineral water for you Karen?”
“Yes.” Karen smiled.
“Are you ready to order yet?”
“Can you give us a few more minutes?”
“Sure – I’ll bring your drinks right over,” Missy said as she walked off.
Dominique looked over the table and said “Do you still go to meetings Auntie?”
“Darling!” Karen warned.
“I know but … Well do you?”
“Yes, I’ve been clean and sober for twenty years, but I’m still an addict and an alcoholic. There’s a meeting in the hospital I go to.”
“At least you…“ Dominique fell silent, as she looked at the table top, Karen looking at her.
“Caroline,” she whispered, “I’m sorry I ran away from your Mother, but if I hadn’t I’d be dead like her now.”
“He’s dead you know?”
“I heard darling, it happened right about the time I lost track of you.”
Missy came back over, placing their drinks in front of them before she said “Well, ready to order?”
“I’ll have the steak mignion,” Dominique said, “and you Karen?”
“Tuna Nicoise salad.”
Missy made a note and took the menus before walking off. Dominique took a sip from her glass, and said “You were mum’s best friend you know.”
“No,” Karen said as she shook her head, “I was your mother’s worst enemy, I was the one who introduced her to McCabe, and I was the one who got her hooked on smack.”
“Yeah but you were the one who got clean and tried to get her both clean and away from him.”
Karen sat back and sighed. “Stella – your mother - tried for a while, but he kept pulling her back, and when you arrived he used you as a tool to control her.”
“I realise that now,” Dominique said quietly, “but at the time I was just so glad to be in Mum’s world. I remember you both taking me to an AA meeting, I was so proud of her when she stood up and said she was an alcoholic.”
“I remember that as well. I really thought she was ready to turn a corner.”
“Yeah, so did I,” Dominique said as she took a drink and put her glass down. “Then we went home, he came round and beat her up, and she drowned her misery in a bottle of vodka.”
Karen shook her head, “I never knew that – I’m so sorry you had to see that.”
They stopped talking for a moment as Missy brought over the food, and they started to eat in silence. Eventually, Dominique looked at her and said “Were you in love with him as well Karen?”
“I guess I must have been, just like your Mom, but in the end I guess I saw him for the bastard he was, Stella didn’t.” Karen paused and looked skyward, “So I ran and came home to the States, leaving you both. I never felt more cowardly or ashamed in my life.”
“You did what you needed to do to stay alive. You cannot – must not feel guilty, you tried, but she was too deep in the guano to see what was happening. Then she died, and – well, that’s a different story.”
Karen put her knife and fork down, and said “Did he ever… well you know what.”
“He tried the night he died.” Dominique looked down.
“I heard he got shot… was that you Caroline? Sorry I mean Dominique?”
Dominique nodded silently as the waitress brought new drinks to them. Karen took a drink, then put her glass down and her hand on Dominique’s.
“He deserved it and it was probably right that you were the one, ultimately you were his biggest victim, he deprived you of your Mother.”
“You don’t sound shocked Karen.” Dominique spoke softly.
“I’m not - I guessed it all those years ago when you disappeared. There was so much of your mother in you, but there was the strength she never really had.”
“Doesn’t it worry you?”
“That you killed him? … No I just wish I’d been the one to have the courage to do it myself.”
Dominique finished the piece of steak she was eating, and said “Well Caroline Jameson disappeared that night, and was buried until today.”
“Sorry.” There were tears in the doctor’s eyes as she looked at the dark haired woman.
“No,” Dominique said as she put her free hand on top of Karen’s “it has been so special seeing you again. I would like to keep in touch – but as Dominique, not as Caroline.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Dominique reached over and hugged the older woman.
“Do the others know who you are?”
“Now they do, but I will speak to them, and I trust them to keep my secret.” Putting her knife and fork down, she said “So, Doctor Karen Boyd, tell me about yourself…”
Massachusetts General Hospital
did Karen change her name to Charity?" Carina asked as she held Judith,
the baby feeding hungrily from her breast.
back and said "because there was another girl called Karen Roy and they
used to be confused all the time."
used her middle name which is of course Charity, and that was the name she
became famous under."
does she know Dominique?"
was Stella Jameson's best friend. They did everything together for a
“Including everything – they roomed together in London for a year. I remember a lot of us being extremely worried about them – and then we heard Charity had started to clean her act up. Next thing we knew, Charity had returned to the US, and was in rehab of her own choice.”
“And now she’s a doctor?”
“And a very good one,” Helen Reichmann said as she came in. “Forgive the interruption, Carina – I’m on my way back to New York, and just wanted to make sure you and baby were all right.”
“She seems to be,” Carina said as Judith let go of her teat and seemed to smile.
“So I see – I spoke to Doctor Boyd, and she wants to keep you in for a couple of days for observation. After that, go home, rest and I’ll see you before you head up to Yale.”
“Thanks for everything Helen,” Juliette said as she hugged the doctor.
“Hey – it’s a pleasure,” Helen said as she looked again at Judith. Walking out of the room, she passed a tall, well dressed woman with greying dark hair and a tall, well built man wearing a dog collar.
“Is it all right if we come in?”
“Vanessa! Alex! Of course you can come in,” Juliette said as Carina hastily adjusted her top.
“Sorry we’re coming so late,” Alex Richmond said “but we wanted the others to have a chance first.” He came over and looked at the baby in Carina’s arms, smiling as he stroked her forehead.
“You’re welcome any time,” Juliette said as she hugged Vanessa.
“So this is Judith,” Vanessa said as she looked at her, “a truly beautiful name, Carina. How are you feeling?”
“Tired, and it’s starting to hurt a bit – but I can cope with it.”
“I’m sure you will,” Vanessa said as she stroked Judith’s cheek with her finger. “You’re about to discover a big secret – when you have a child, they become everything, and you find that you will do anything to protect and provide for them.”
“Amen to that,” Juliette said as Alex gently picked Judith up in his massive hands and held her.
“I see a few people have sent you messages,” he said as he looked round.
“Just a few,” Carina said as she shifted and stood up, watching Vanessa as she glanced at some of the messages.
“Well, you are truly blessed,” Alex said as he gave Judith back to Carina. “And you look as if you have come through the other side as well. Now rest while you can – the real fun starts when you take her home.”
“Oh I understand that,” Carina said with a smile, “and thanks.”
“Oh, and I almost forgot,” Alex said as he produced an envelope, “A gift from me. A priest’s stipend is not much, but I have a little more than most.”
Carina opened the envelope, and said “I can’t accept this – it’s too much.”
“Nonsense – invest it on her behalf.”
“I have something for her as well,” Vanessa said as she gave Juliette a small thin box. Opening it, she took out an identity bracelet with Judith’s name and date of birth engraved on it.
“I’ll say thank you for Baby,” Juliette said quietly as she looked at Carina and Judith, Alex talking to both of them.
The Waldorf Hotel, New York
“I look forward to seeing you as well,” Charlotte said as she spoke on the telephone to Dominique, “you’ll be back later tonight?”
She nodded towards Ama before saying “All right, see you then,” and replacing the telephone. She sat down opposite the young African girl, who was wearing a short sleeved blue blouse and a pleated skirt.
“How are you feeling this morning, Ama?”
“Much better, thank you Miss. I slept well last night. And thank you again for all the nice clothes.”
“Well, you need to have something to wear,” Charlotte said with a smile, “but I wonder if I can talk to you about when you came to this country.”
“I remember very little of it,” Ama said quietly, “why do you ask me for that?”
“Ama,” Charlotte said quietly, “I will be honest with you. I grew up in countries like the one you were born in, and my father gave his life to stop what happened to you happening to others. I want to stop it as well, and the people I work for wish to do the same.”
“Oh yes she does – and I know it may not be something you wish to remember, but it will help us if you can remember anything.”
“All right,” Ama said, “I will try to remember.”
“Thank you – what do you remember of growing up?”
“It was hot – my momma and poppa tried to care for me and my sister, but we needed the rains to some to grow the food, and the rains never came. Then the men came from the city.”
“Men from the city? How did you know they were from there?”
“They told us they were. They told my parents they were taking all the older children from the city to teach them, to make them better citizens for the mother country, and that they would pay momma and poppa to allow us to come.”
Charlotte nodded and said “So what happened?”
“We were all gathered together in the school. I remember I had a blue checked dress, and my friend Nyala had this lovely white dress on. The men from the city put us all on buses, and we cheered and laughed as we left our village.”
Ama sat still for a moment, and said “It was the last time I really laughed. The girls had been put on one bus, the boys on another. We went a long way down the road, and then the boy’s bus turned one way, and we turned another. That was when we stopped laughing and singing.
“I remember we pulled into a large building, and we were all given a drink. It tasted very bitter, and then I fell asleep. I remember seeing Nyala, and her eyes were wide in fear – then nothing. Only the black.”
She started crying softly, as Charlotte came over and held her. “It’s all right, Ama,” she said as the young girl put her head on her chest, “I know this is a painful thing for you. Take your time…”
Eventually, Ama said “When I finally woke up, I saw we were all in a large room. I also saw we had all been stripped, and as I got up I saw men with guns standing along the wall.
“Nyala was next to me, and I shook her to wake her up. When she did so, she looked at me and the others. We were cold – it was not like home, a bitter cold that we felt in our bones.
“Then two women came in – tall women – and told us to stand and put on the clothes we would be given. That was the first time I was forced to wear the black dress – the only clothes I have worn until Dominique took me from Master and Mistress.”
“You said before that three winters had passed since you came – how do you know this?”
“When Master and Mistress chose me, there were three times I heard the cheers of Happy New Year.”
Charlotte nodded, and then said “You speak very good English Ama. Did you learn that over here?”
“Some – we had a teacher at our village school, a kind lady, who taught us as well. I also had to learn what Master was saying at times – if he had too much to drink, he would swear and only speak in his tongue.”
“And what of your mistress?”
“She spoke my mother tongue, the words of my childhood.”
Charlotte nodded and said “all right, Ama – you were asked to put on the black dresses. What happened then?”
“The men with guns made us go into another room, and stand in a circle facing out, with our hands by our side. Nyala gave my hand a little squeeze, and then a group of people came in.
“They were men and women, all very well dressed, and they walked round, looking at each of us in turn. The women would look at us as if we were the lowest of the low, and the men – some of them touched us…”
“It’s all right,” Charlotte said quietly, “so they were all well dressed?”
Ama nodded. “They looked like Master and Mistress when they would go out for a dinner. Every so often, one of them would touch one of us on the shoulder, and one of the men with guns would take them away.
“I remember the one who touched Nayla – he was a large man, and smiled as the guard said “For Mister Cohen.” The look on Nyala’s face as she was led away – and then Mistress was standing in front of me.”
“And she touched you on your shoulder?”
Ama nodded. “I was led off to a small room, and made to sit in a chair. A few minutes later, a man came in and tied a black cloth over my eyes, and I was led away. When the cloth was removed, I was at the home of Master and Mistress, and my service began.”
Charlotte looked at the fading marks on the young girl’s arms and legs. “Ama, apart from Cohen, did you hear any other names mentioned?”
Ama sat in thought for a moment, and then said “I do remember a few as my friends were led out – Rice for example, because I used to only have that to eat. There was a woman with yellow skin; I think she was called Chen. And a thin man, whose name was Twining.”
“You seem very sure.”
“I am – Mistress liked to have Twining’s Tea in the morning.”
“Only one – Kimba. As each of us left, we were told ‘you have been sent to serve Kimba.’”
Charlotte smiled as she put her pen down. “Ama, I wonder if I can show you some pictures at some time, it may be you recognise some faces.”
“Of course – you have been so kind to me, I should be as kind to you.”
“All right then,” Charlotte said as she stood up. “Ama, would you like to go for a trip this afternoon? See some of the sights of the city from a car?”
“Yes – I would like that very much. Will you take me?”
“Of course – but you will need to put some shoes on. Decide which ones and I will join you for lunch.”
Charlotte smiled as she left the room, and then her face turned into a frown as she headed for Madame’s suite. Knocking on the door, she heard her say “Enter.”
As she went in, Madame waved her in as she said “Thank you Dominique – I will see you all later.” Ending the call, she said “Well?”
“Some useful information – the girl Annie found at the Cohen house is almost certainly a friend of Ama’s. We also have a few names – we can start to investigate possible candidates.”
“Excellent – we will meet with Dominique and the others tonight. For now, tend to Ama.”
Massachusetts General Hospital
“If you didn’t want to spend last night with the Rochemanns, all you had to do was say so Cari!”
“Hey you guys how was Europe?” Carina put down the copy of Complete Style she was reading to face her new visitors. She was wearing a pale blue tracksuit over a grey t-shirt and slippers, but she was smiling.
“Okay so who bought up the entire stock of flowers in Boston?” Judy stood with her hands on her hips looking round the room in amazement. She was wearing a black hoodie and chinos, with short suede boots.
“Europe was great.” Bobbi laughed, “But I’m glad I got back when I did so I didn’t miss all this.” She stopped to pick up a stuffed rabbit, sporting a grey Angel’s hoodie. “I thought we’d left this place behind us?”
Carina stood up and went and hugged her friends. “I’m glad you guys are here as well.”
“So where is the star of the show?” Bobbi said as she looked round. She was wearing a red vest top over a white long sleeved top, white trousers and red heels.
“They took her to be weighed, she’ll be back in a second.”
“I’m disappointed in her name.” Bobbi pouted as she said, “No room in all that for Roberta?”
“And naming her for Judy of all people.” Rebecca Morse poked her head in the room then came in. She looked like a younger version of Bobbi, although she wore a green and white striped smock top over black leggings and green Ugg boots.
“Well,” Carina said as she sat down, “it was principally for Jude, but Mom approves since it was also Grannie Huntingdown’s name. Besides, you’re not the only disappointed one – little Sandy Richmond had to see her before she’d accept why Alexandra was not in the list.”
Carina watched as Rebecca walked round the room, looking at the cards and whispering “Olive Oyl? Fractures? And who is Sweets?”
“Hey Becca,” Carina called out, “did you meet Jeannie yet?”
“Did she?” Bobbi rolled her eyes, “they spent three hours talking last night at Mrs Richmond’s place!”
“She’s pretty cool.” Becky nodded as she looked at the cards. “I filled her in on some of the girls who will be in our class, and she told me a few tales about her old school. Did you know she’s never studied Spanish?”
“Neither did I,” Carina said, Judy nodding in agreement. “Not all of us speak the same languages.”
“Oh here she is.” Judy smiled as the nurse brought Judith back in and handed her to her Mother. Carina held her gently in her arms as the girls looked at her in her pink outfit.
“Oh God she has your mom’s eyes Cari.” Judy cooed over her very young namesake and tickled under her chin.
“Why does everyone say that?” Carina laughed, “Aren’t my eyes good enough?”
“Well most important question.” Judy turned to look at Carina. “Will we get much sleep?”
Carina got the giggles as she shook her head. “Hey baby is a lady Jude, she only cries when she wants to eat.”
“And at the other end?”
“Well,” Carina said with a grin, “Can I suggest you buy a gas mask?”
“Oy that bad eh?” Bobbi asked.
“Yep.” Carina nodded. “I guess you get used to it after a while – and it might improve once I finally get all that chilli out of my system.”
“Hey, Abby told me about that,” Bobbi said, “She said it was getting progressively hotter.”
“Half right – I just kept wanting it.”
“Can I hold her?” Rebecca asked.
“I guess so,” Carina said, “sit in the chair Beck and I’ll show you how.”
“So how are preparations going for Amherst Bobs?” Cari asked as she showed the 14 year old youngster how to hold the baby in her arms.
”Probably as well as yours are going for Yale,” Bobbi said as she looked at her friend.
“That bad eh?”
“Well we can plead Baby hindering things.” Judy knelt and stroked the baby’s fine hair. “What’s your excuse?”
“Europe.” Bobbi shrugged and smiled.
“Okay you are forgiven.” Carina laughed. She then turned Bobbi to one side and said “So?”
“Not in front of the brat Cari.” Bobbi hissed.
“Oh if she wants to know about the guys you did in Europe, go ahead tell her, you talk in your sleep so I know it all anyway.” Becky snorted.
“I do not!”
Becca smiled and said “Oh Jacques, you are so strong – hold me and…”
“All right, all right,” Bobbi said as she held her hands up. “There may have been one or two close friendships.”
“In each city,” Becca whispered as she looked at her older sister.
“Oh yeah, oh younger sibling,” Bobbi said with a wicked grin, “and shall we discuss Jorge and Rolf?”
Becca blushed as Judy laughed out loud. “This is when you can tell they really are sisters, right Cari?”
“Oh yeah, two peas in a pod,” Cari laughed out loud. “Oh hi Mom – get some sleep?”
“Yes, thank you,” Juliette said as she looked at Becca holding her granddaughter. “I hit the pillow and woke up at about ten. Alex and Vanessa stopped at my place – I asked him to stop by before they headed back to New York.”
“Oh – why?”
“Christening, Cari – would you want anyone else to do that?”
“No – no I wouldn’t,” Carina said with a smile.
“Well, even more visitors,” Karen said as she came in. She picked up a small Raggedy Anne doll with a tartan skirt on and said “Let me guess – Fiona?”
“Got it in one,” Carina said with a smile, “It arrived this morning with some other gifts.”
“Well,” Karen said as she looked at the notes again, “Judith seems to be thriving, and you don’t seem to have any major health problems, so I think we might be in a position to discharge you into the tender care of Helen Reichmann in the morning. We just need to go over some paperwork and things, but I really don’t think it will be an issue.”
“Maybe I should get John to come up with me, just to have something big enough to put everything in,” Juliette said as she looked round. The girls followed her eye line and burst out laughing.
“Before I forget,” Karen said as she handed Carina an envelope, “a present from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.”
“What’s this,” Carina said as she opened it and looked at the sheet. “Well, that makes it official, Judith Diana Abigail Joanne,” she said with a smile as she handed the birth certificates to her mother.
“Too late to go back now,” Judy said as she tickled the baby, “we’ll just call you baby – or perhaps something else. Cari?”
“Oh dear,” Juliette said as she lifted Judith from Becca’s arms, “Allow me.” She carried her over to the changing table and started to unfasten her clothes.
“Hey – if you’re coming home tomorrow, we need to par-TAY!”
“Well, in a nice civilised manner,” Carina said with a smile.
“Oh of course – it will be very tasteful,” Bobbi said, but Carina saw the wink to Judy as she said it…
“Of course I will – I’d be honoured to do the baptism,” Alex Richmond said as he held Judith in his arms. “How soon were you thinking?”
“I’m not sure if there is time before she goes to Yale,” Juliette said form the seat, “so what about September?”
Nodding, Alex said “I’ll check my calendar, but I think the 21st of September is free. It also gives me a chance to talk to the prospective godparents – any thoughts?”
“A few,” Carina said from the bed, “but I want to talk to them first. Is there an age limit?”
Alex looked at her, and said “Well, we do prefer them to be over eighteen, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Here – I think she’s getting hungry.”
Carina nodded and adjusted her top before taking Judith from Father Richmond’s arms. She latched onto her mother’s breast as Alex smiled over them.
“One other question – private or as part of the standard mass?”
“If you want it as part of the service, feel free,” Carina said as she stroked Judith’s hair.
“Let me check the liturgical calendar and I’ll give you a call later in the week,” Alex said with a smile.
“You know it may be one of the events of the social calendar,” Vanessa said as she looked over, “we need to find a suitable venue for a reception afterwards. I imagine a fair number of your friends will want to come as well.”
“Oh yeah – swop stories about our first few weeks away,” Carina said with a smile.
The Waldorf Hotel
“Welcome back,” Madame said as Susan and Dominique entered her suite, “and how is the proud mother?”
“Blooming,” Susan said as she sat down. “Remind me not to schedule a couple of days like that in the near future however.”
“Hmmm – Dominique did mention that Annie found out about the ladies. How did she take it?”
“Better than I expected,” Dominique said quietly. “I think the last few days have opened her eyes to a few things – and as such, she will be better for it.”
“Well, I will speak with her as well – I presume she has returned home?”
“She has – there are some matters at the school that she requires to take care of in the morning, but she will join us for lunch. So, what have we missed?”
“Charlotte is currently out on a sightseeing drive with Ama,” Madame said, “she had a talk with her this morning, and we discovered how she was brought to this country. It may be that Annie met a friend of hers a few nights ago.”
Dominique turned and looked out of the mirror. “Tell me she gave some names,” she eventually whispered.
“Some leads – we’re following them up. We’re also compiling a list of known associates of Cohen and Legault. Would you be willing to sit with her when we go through some photos?”
“Whatever it takes,” Dominique said quietly, “whatever it takes…”
Massachusetts General Hospital
As she looked up, Carina was delighted to see Diana walk in, wearing a cream trouser suit, black blouse and heels as only she could.
“Hi Aunt Diana.” Carina smiled broadly. “All on your own tonight?”
“Sorry I didn’t get into now darling,” Diana said as she walked over, “but someone had to stay and manage the flow of visitors and gifts at your house.”
“Yeah,” Carina said as she adjusted her top, “I hear baby and I have a lot to come home to.”
Diana rolled her eyes. “Sweetie you have no idea. So where is the new arrival?”
“Here she is.” Carina passed Judith to her own godmother as Diana sat on the edge of the bed.
“She has your eyes darling,” she said as Judith looked up at her.
“THANK YOU - Everyone says she has Moms.”
“No she’s going to be as beautiful as you are.” Diana smiled tenderly.
“Well as long as she grows to be five nine, she’ll be even more perfect.”
“Oh?” for a few seconds Diana looked perplexed.
“So she can do catwalk.” Carina giggled as Diana smiled.
“Oh - so you’ve already decided she’s going to model?”
“It’s in her genes Countess.” A voice spoke from the doorway.
“Hey Karen.” Carina spoke up brightly. “End of day check already?”
“Hello Charity, sorry Karen.” Diana stood and went and kissed the doctor on both cheeks. “It’s been a very, very long while.”
“Oh yes - You must be very proud of Abigail.”
“I am darling, I didn’t see she was a model till Mary virtually forced it upon me.”
“Well, she gets that from you - you are still the most chic woman I ever met.” Karen said as she admired Diana’s clothes.
“Now you are just flattering me darling.” Diana blushed.
“Well it’s true, Countess” another woman said as she came in and gave Diana a peck on the cheek, before holding her back.
“Hello Alice. Juliette said you stay in touch with Karen.”
“Both personally and professionally,” the former supermodel patted her hump.
“How long to go Alice?” Carina asked, as the pregnant woman waddled over to kiss her and the baby.
“Eight weeks. I just dropped in for my check-up.”
“And all looking good,” Karen said as she stood by the bed, looking at Judith.
“Well lay off the chilli.” Carina said with a laugh, “This one objected and popped out early.”
“I will, I promise – but no promises about Rocky Road Ice cream.”
“So I read you are opening two more stores Alice?” Diana asked.
“Yes - Dallas and Washington.”
“How many will that make?”
“Including here in Boston? … That will make 10.”
“Who’d a thunk little Alice MacKinnon here was actually paying enough attention to the damn clothes she was modelling to become such a successful designer?” Karen said as she picked up Carina’s chart.
“By the way Diana,” Alice said as she looked at her old friend, “is that one of mine you are wearing?”
“It is actually Darling.”
“I hope you didn’t pay retail?”
“Oh no no no,” Alice said with a laugh, “Next time you are in the New York store get Betsy to ring me. I give a special discount to old friends.”
“Thank you darling, I will bear that in mind.”
“The amount she buys at APCO that will save her a fortune Alice.” Carina giggled.
“And it’s the same for you, Abby and your friend Jeannie as well.” Alice said, and then looked pained for a second.
“Alice?” Karen asked.
“Don’t worry Sweets, baby just kicked.”
“Well include our friend Jo and you have a deal Alice.” Carina looked concerned. “This one kicked like hell you know.”
“My second one did – and he’s now in a soccer squad.”
“Well you’ve done this enough times to HOPEFULLY know what you are doing Bats.” Karen put down Carina’s chart. “Well Carina I think we can send you home very soon.”
“Oh that is GREAT news.” Diana beamed and hugged the young Mom.
“And remember the discount, hot young models wearing my clothes is great advertising.” Karen laughed. “Right – got time for a coffee, Alice?”
As Karen and
Alice were about to leave a tall chestnut haired woman with her hair in a
ponytail poked her head round the door.
"What's this - a reunion meeting of Pi Tau Alpha and I wasn't invited?”
"Hey Baby Gia." Karen said as she embraced the newcomer.
"I just dropped in to see the new baby and bring these,” she said as she held up a bunch of flowers, “but I see others had the same idea."
"Hey Aunt Cin." Carina laughed. "Baby is over here with Diana, and I'm not a member of your damn sorority."
you were born one," she said as she came over and looked at Judith.
never claimed membership either." Diana said as the new arrival took the
honorary membership by association, Countess."
Diana laughed. "Okay that is possible."
Bats?" the newcomer looked round from admiring the baby. "Number
number four." Alice smiled. "It’s lovely seeing you again though Baby
"Girls I have to run, but I'll see you all soon." The newcomer said as she handed Judith to Carina and hurried out.
A moment later a nurse stumbled in to the room. "Was that who I think it was?"
“Probably,” Karen said with a smile. “It’s certainly going to be a lot quieter around here when you head home.”
“Karen – will you come to the christening? Bring your husband with you.”
“If I can, I’d be delighted,” Karen said. “Right, let’s get that coffee Alice. Countess?”
Both women bowed and backed out, laughing out loud as Diana shook her head.
“I need to head back,” Diana said with a smile, “John is going to come with your mother tomorrow. And then, we’ll get you settled – well, if we can find any room at the house.”
“Is it really that much?”
“You’ll see,” Diana said as she kissed Judith, “you’ll see…”
Massachusetts General Hospital
Fastening the last button on her pants, Carina looked at herself, and then at Judith, sitting in the car seat, wrapped in blankets with a little pink cap on her head.
“How are you feeling,” Juliette said as she came back into the room.
“Is it meant to be this scary?”
“Oh yes,” Juliette said as she handed Carina her glasses, “there’s always that fear, trust me. But use it to be strong.”
Carina nodded as she looked round the room. “It looks funny with nothing in it,” she said with a smile.
“Well, that’s everything in,” John said as he came into the room, “Ready to come home?”
“We just need the discharge from Karen,” Juliette said as Karen walked in.
“Somebody mention my name,” she said as she handed Carina a form. “I just need you to sign where the crosses are, and you’re good to go.”
“Thank you, and thank – YOU!” Carina handed the board back to Karen who added her own signature, then tore the top page off and handed it over.
“You are now officially free to go, darling, with baby – and the girls say thank you for leaving all the chocolates.”
“Well, I don’t want to get fat,” Carina said as her mother picked up the car seat. “Ready to go home, baby,” she said to Judith, before the three of them went out of the room, thanking the staff as they left the unit with one of the nurses.
“In the front seat,” she said as they approached Juliette’s car. Carina nodded as the nurse fixed the car seat in place, facing back before helping Carina to sit in the rear.
Juliette sat behind the wheel, looking at Judith and Carina before she said “Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be,” Carina said as the car started, and they followed John to the main road.
The Huntingdown Holiday Home
“Well, baby, this is our summer home,” Carina said as Juliette pulled into the driveway, “wait until you see our apartment in the city.”
“One step at a time,” Juliette said as she opened the door, and then opened the door for Carina.
“Hey momma – welcome home,” Abigail and Jo said as they came out and hugged Carina. “Where’s the bonnie baby?”
“Oh goddess, don’t tell me Fiona is here,” Carina said as she unclipped Judith’s chair and lifted her out.
“No don’t worry – but there may be one or two other people here to see you. Bring her in.”
“One or two – how many?”
The other two just smiled as Carina carried Judith into the house, and into the front room.
Carina stared at Mary and Missy, who were standing in front of all her friends, clapping and cheering while Juliette took Judith from her.
“Welcome home, love,” Mary said as she came forward and hugged Carina. “I hope you don’t mind me and Missy dropping in – Anna had some work to finish off, or she would be here too.”
“She’s in need of a sit down,” Abby said as she guided Carina to one of the armchairs, and sat her down. As she was taken there, she saw the flowers that were all round the room, and said “I thought John wasn’t that far in front of us.”
“I wasn’t,” John said as he came in, “the stuff is still in the bus. This lot – it was here already.”
“I told you there were a few things delivered here,” Diana said with a smile. “A few more bouquets turned up, from family and your friends, but the real surprise is in the next room.”
“Let her get to that in a little while,” Juliette said as she lifted Judith from the car seat, and handed her over to Carina, “for those who are not getting the official mother and daughter picture, now’s your chance. Cameras at the ready…”
“Smile for them, baby,” Carina whispered as the mob descended, Ally and Nell at the front for the pictures. At the back of the room, Sandy and Heather watched the girls cooing and looking at them.
“Ever wish you could have another?”
“Oh no, lover,” Sandy said quietly as she watched her two push to the front and sit either side of Carina, “I have more than enough, thank you very much.”
“So what the heck is waiting for me in there,” Carina said as she looked at the doors to the rear room.
“What, the fact that you won’t need to go clothes shopping for Judith for a year,” Joanne said.
“Or the mobiles and nursery furniture,” Jeannie added
“Or the complete bassinette?”
Carina looked down at Judith, and said “Who’s a lucky little girl then?”
“Can you take her for a moment, Mum,” Carina said as she stood up, “I really want to go and have a look.”
“Put her in her chair, dear,” Juliette said, “I think we need to drink a toast first. John, Tony?”
The two men walked round with trays of glasses, before Mary and Missy popped the cork on some bottles of champagne and went round filling them – apart from little George and Sandy.
“Why do we have to have lemonade,” George said as he frowned.
“Because you’re too young,” Heather said.
“But it’s only us two,” Sandy said.
“True – but we can do something else later,” Heather said as Juliette held up her glass.
“A toast – Carina and Judith!”
“CARINA AND JUDITH!!”
Carina blushed as she said “thanks – thanks, everyone, from both of us.”
As she stood talking with the girls, Juliette and Diana walked over to join Sandy while Heather held Judith.
“Darlings I just can’t believe that so many people are in this old house celebrating.” Juliette said as she shook her head.
“Well Cari’s a popular girl.” Sandy said with a smile as she sipped from her champagne.
“Little Judith is never going to want for attention and people to love her.” Diana reflected.
“I’m glad she named her after my Mom.” Juliette looked very happy. “I can feel her with us right now and she’s very happy with her Great Granddaughter.”
“Well she was named for both Judy and your Mom darling.” Sandy giggled, “but yes I feel her with us too. Do you remember what she said when you brought Carina home for the first time?”
Juliette nodded. “She said ‘I think you have a very special and beautiful daughter, and you will be the best mother she could possibly want for.’”
“And she was right, wasn’t she,” Diana said as she handed Juliette a handkerchief.
“Another refill Miss Huntingdown?” Tony offered the champagne bottle he was carrying.
“I don’t mind if I do Tony.” Juliette lifted her glass.
“You know technically I should bust all of you for serving alcohol to minors.” A female voice was overheard.
“So why don’t you Janice?” Juliette turned and hugged the newcomer.
“And miss out on this beautiful champagne?” Janice laughed. “Now young man…. Tony was it? Can you find me a glass and then I’ll take some of that as well.”
“Coming up.” Tony grinned.
“So where’s the new Mom, I have a present.”
“Oh she’s over there somewhere Janice.” Juliette pointed vaguely to the side of the room, over the throng of well wishers.
Janice nodded and accepted the glass, allowing Tony to fill the glass before she raised it and said “Your very good health, Juliette.”
“And yours,” Juliette said as the three women returned her toast. As Janice walked off, Diana said “I’d forgotten you invited her and Katy to stay for a few days.”
“Well, an extra mum around the house will help at the moment,” Juliette said, “and fi we are needed, we have the farm.”
“Well how does it feel to be a Mom?” Abby asked as she got Carina alone for a few seconds in a corner.
“Amazing.” Carina shook her head and looked at her best friend. “She’s so little, so precious, I’ll do anything for her and to protect her.”
“And what does ‘she’ think?”
“The same, except she has a lot more violent things in mind for anyone who harms her daughter.”
Abby nodded as she sipped on her drink. “So are you going to be alright at Yale?”
“Yeah,” Carina said with a smile, “with Jude to keep me grounded and in the real world, I think we’ll be okay.”
“So Lynxy won’t need any outings?”
“Oh I’m not saying that.” Carina giggled. “Just there will be nothing outrageous.”
“I think she needs her Mom.” Jo said as she walked over holding Judith. “What were you guys talking about?”
“Me and her.” Carina said as she took the baby and grimaced. “Hey no fair Jo.” Carina said as she felt the dampness in Judith’s diaper.
“She’s your daughter,” Jo said with a laugh/
“Excuse me girls,” Carina called out loud, “Thanks to Jo’s inability to change a diaper, I have to go clean and change little Madame here.” She carried the baby through to the back room, gasping at the number of boxes before she laid Judith out on the changing table.
“Well, baby,” she said with a smile as she removed the lower half of Judith’s outfit, and then the diaper, “we’re just going to have to teach your Auntie Jo how to change you, aren’t we, yes we are.”
She soon had her cleaned and powdered, humming happily to herself as she put on the new diaper and then replace the clothing.
“There we are – lovely and dry and happy, aren’t we?”
“You really are going to be a wonderful mother, aren’t you?”
“Miss Tennant,” Carina said as she saw her former principal standing in the doorway, “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Of course I came,” she said as she walked in, “and you don’t need to call me that any more, Carina.”
“I know – but it still seems like only yesterday I was the scared freshman.”
“And now you’re a young mother,” Wilhelmina said as she came over and looked at Judith. “It’s amazing – I envy you in a way.”
“Thanks,” Carina said with a smile. “So do you think you’ll be there when she comes through the doors?”
“Who can say,” Wilhelmina said, “but if I am, I will be very proud to welcome her.”
“Thanks,” Carina said, “would you like to hold her?”
“Thank you,” she said, “I would be honoured.”
The fitness room was filled with the usual assortment of people using the treadmills, bikes and other cardiovascular equipment as part of their exercise routines. On two of the machines, a small brunette and a slightly taller blonde were pounding away the miles.
“Okay tell me again why I’m pounding this damn treadmill?” Susan looked over and moaned at Charlotte as she worked through the program.
“Because if anyone looks,” Charlotte said as she wiped her brow, “they will see that me, you, Annie, and Dominique do use the same gym. It maintains the cover.’
“It’s alright for you Miss Skin and Bones, but some of us are not built like you guys.”
“Just be glad I’m keeping you company,” Charlotte panted out, “I’d rather be on the wall myself.”
“You three are bloody cats.” Susan grimaced. “I can think of better ways of burning up calories in bed with my husband.”
“Hey – whatever private fitness regime you and Clint have is your business – this is public.”
“Still would be better,” Susan said with a smile as she kept running…
Becky walked over and sat down next to Jeannie.
“So you are flying to LA on Monday.” Becky asked as she handed Jeannie a plate of food.
“Yeah - my first time there. Thanks – the problem with a chair is you get lost in crowds.”
“You’re welcome,” Becky said as she nibbled on a potato chip. “It’s an interesting city.”
“You’ve been? When?” Jeannie questioned her new friend as she turned round.
“Yeah a couple of years ago, dad had some political thing out there. We saw all the sights.’
Jeannie shrugged her shoulders. “Well according to Abs all I’ll get to see are the insides of photographers studios and TV studios.”
“Yeah.” Jeannie sighed.
“But I guess it’s what you models do?” Becky said as she looked round.
“Pretty much. You soon learn the biz is not as glamorous as it looks from the outside.” Jeannie reflected.
“I learned that the first time I saw Abby working.” Judy joined the conversation. “You guys work damn hard.”
“True – but I would not to be doing anything else,” Jeannie said with a smile.
“So getting excited about St Angela’s girls?” Judy asked.
“I guess so.” Becky looked down at Jeannie. “Going to be nice having a new friend to share it with.”
“For me too.” Jeannie looked up and smiled.
On the other side of the room, Missy tickled Judith as she was held in Mary’s arms, before walking over to Carina.
a who's who of the modelling world either visited or have sent gifts
Carina." Missy said as she looked round.
you've been round the biz literally since the day you were born darling."
but I'd still like to know how word spread so fast."
secret models hotline I guess." Missy laughed. "Actually blame Mary,
me and Anna - we rang people, they rang people, soon it was all over the
Taking a sip
from her glass, she said "So who was the furthest away to contact
thought, "I guess The Body if she was at home."
"Yeah she's in Sydney… I phoned her myself."
“Did you see what she sent,” Juliette said as she came over.
“No – did it come here?”
“It did – I’ll show you it later, but Judith sould sit comfortably in the pouch,” Juliette said for a smile. “Seriously though, Missy, thanks to all three of you.”
“Hey – no
problem,” Missy said with a smile. "By
the way Ju, Italian Elle wants to know if you are
coming out of retirement and want to do a double with Ceecee ?"
Juliette said with a smile, "What did Cecelia say?"
game if you are."
"No, I retired, let other girls have their time in the
your choice – but they are offering a lot of money and Ceecee
said you could both donate it to Mass Generals ante-natal appeal."
"Oh the bitch." Juliette laughed, "She knows that currently would pluck at my heartstrings. All right, I’ll think about it."
“HEY! I heard there was a new mother in here, and I want to say hello to her.”
Heather grinned from ear to ear as the red headed woman came in the door. “Pussy! You managed to come!”
“How could I refuse,” Pussy van Roon said as she came in, “so where is she? THERE you are,” she then said as she embraced Carina, followed by Judith.
“So how are you both,” she said as she looked at them.
“Getting tired, if truth be told – would you like to see her?”
“Of course I would silly girl,” she said as Mary Thomas came over and handed the baby over to Carina. Pussy looked into her blue eyes, and then said “Hey – welcome to an interesting world.”
Judith seemed to look at Pussy and smile. “Hey – she likes me. Thank you,” she said as she shook her finger. “Listen, I hope you don’t mind, but I brought a gift with me.”
She handed a box to Juliette, who opened it and took out a lace christening gown.
“It’s Belgian lace, but if there is a family tradition…”
“No – no it’s beautiful,” Carina said, “thank you Pussy.”
“Good – now, is there any champagne left? I could do with a drink.”
“Just say the word,” Sandy whispered as she came over, “and we can start to leave in a managed way. You must be getting tired.”
“I’m all right for the moment,” Carina whispered, “but having said that…”
“Say no more, leave it to us,” Sandy said as she went and whispered in Heather’s ear.
“We need to be heading off,” Judy said as she came over and hugged Cari. “See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah – just leave it a little while, OK? We’vet got house guests now as well.”
“Sure,” Judy said as she saw Katy Carter with George and Sandy. “Bobbi – round your sister and my cousin up. We need to get home.”
“See you, Jeannie,” Becky said as she followed the other three out of the room.
The party slowly broke up, until only the Manchester group were left.
lace on this christening gown is beautiful." Diana fingered the garment
carefully. "Who was it from.?"
"Pussy." Carina laughed.
should have guessed,” Diana said as she replaced it in the box, “work of this
quality does not come cheap."
bit like our family one." Abby looked carefully.
guess it will become the Huntingdown family one from
now on." Juliette looked happy at the suggestion.
many lovely things."
Carina looked round her.
a lucky girl darling." Juliette kissed her daughter.
till we have a proper baby shower." Abby looked at some of the labels.
sure I can fit one in." Juliette spoke, "With school starting,
"It's tradition." Heather came and sat down. “We just have to fit it in some time when we are all here.”
“Well, we’re away all next week – what about the weekend we come back?”
“Sounds good to me,” Barbara said as she looked at her daughter, “bur after that we need to go to our new home.”
“We all need to head back after that,” Sandy said as she stood up. “Right – time we left them alone. Come on.”
“We’ll see you in the morning,” Diana said as Barbara wheeled Jeannie out with John.
“See you all,” Carina said as they left, leaving her with Juliette, Janice and Katy.
“Thanks for inviting us to stay for a few days,” Janice said as they sat down, “I’d have understood if you called it off.”
“No,” Juliette said as she looked round the room, “it just means we have an extra person. Talking of which,” she said as she saw Carina falling asleep in the chair. “Go to bed, darling – there are two other mothers here who can keep an eye on Judith if she doesn’t need a feed.”
“No – I gave her one a while ago, so she should be good for the night,” Carina said as she stretched and yawned.
“Can I go to bed as well, Mummy,” Katy said as she cuddled with Janice.
“Come on,” Juliette said as she stood up, “I’ll show you to your rooms.”