Saturday 24th May
JFK Airport New York
The red Chrysler Town and Country screeched to a halt in the Blue car parking area, five women and one man jumping out and running as fast as they could to terminal 4.
“Okay its Virgin Atlantic Flight 4002.” John spoke to everyone as they rushed into the terminal.
“It’s just landed.” Heather looked up at the screens.
“Well we can relax then,” Juliette took a deep breath. “We weren’t as late as we thought we were.”
“I’m sorry I started to panic there Juliette.” John smiled, “But it’s her first time in New York, I was worried she’d get here and nobody would be here to meet her.”
“I understand John. This is the start of a huge change for both of them.”
“We can sit over here and wait for them to clear customs and immigration.” Heather indicated some plastic seats that looked more functional then comfortable.
The five women sat and waited while John paced up and down nervously. Juliette smiled at Heather who grinned back.
“John you’re as nervous as a cat.” Heather tried to calm him down.
“John it’s cool,” Abigail spoke, “it’s not like me going to London, nobody over here knows Jeannie yet.”
“So there’s no damn photographers - we can just meet and greet like normal people.”
“Is the Stick normal people?” Joanne asked.
Everyone looked at Abby, she’d put on old jeans, a school tee shirt, and had no makeup on.
“Yes.” Abby hissed, “I’m not taking chances.”
Carina smiled as she said, “All because that guy from TMZ caught you out shopping.”
“Yes.” Abby hissed again as everyone else laughed.
“Oh Abby you looked so terrified.” Juliette laughed.
“Aunt Ju, you try being witty when a TV camera gets pushed in your face and they ask you what your favourite underwear is.”
“But why did you reply Y fronts Abs?” Carina rocked with laughter.
“I don’t know…. it was just the first thing popped into my brain. I panicked…”
The rest of Abigail’s explanation got left unsaid as John spotted Barbara wheeling a cart with their luggage, while someone from Virgin pushed Jeannie.
The girls hung back as John rushed to hug his daughter and granddaughter, with all three of them crying tears of happiness.
“You made it, you made it.” John repeated himself.
“Hey guys!” Jeannie exclaimed as she spotted Carina, Joanne, and Abigail.
All three girls rushed over and bent down to hug their young friend.
“Okay Steve,” Jeannie smiled up at the guy pushing her, “I promised she’d be here, meet Abigail.”
“Jeannie!” Abby hissed.
“Abby this guy has pushed me all over Heathrow and JFK, I promised him a reward.”
“It’s a pleasure Miss de Ros.” The man from the airline stuck out his hand.
“Well thanks for looking after her.” Abby looked round nervously as she shook the man’s hand.
“Now which of you guys is going to push me?” Jeannie smiled, plainly enjoying the whole situation.
“I guess I better.” Jo took the chair from the airline guy.
“Thank you Steve.” Barbara shook his hand.
“Thank you young man,” John did the same, “I think we can take it from here.”
“Oh girls” Jeannie twisted as best she could in her seat… “Look” She flicked her hair up to show the diamond studs in her ears that the girls had given her in London.
“Hey you got your ears pierced.” Carina exclaimed.
“Yup.” The young girl had a contented smile on her face. “Mum finally relented before we went to Rome.”
“By the way Jeannie I saw those prints,” Juliette spoke, “They looked gorgeous. Mary was jealous you’d done them for Italian Vogue and not for us.”
Barbara shook her head as she heard that. “I still have a lot of adjusting to do, you know,” she said as they made their way back to the parking lot.
“Well, you can start by relaxing and enjoying the ride to the Richmond place – the new apartment isn’t quite ready yet.”
“Nice car,” Jeannie said as her grandfather lifted her into the seat, and then loaded the wheelchair and cases into the back, before the others climbed in as well.
“I’m afraid it’s not the most scenic of routes,” John said as the headed north on I-678, through the residential areas.
“I don’t care,” Jeannie, said as she looked out of the window, “It’s all new to me. And I want to enjoy every minute of this fortnight.”
“Even dealing with Immigration,” Abigail said with a smile.
“Oh, I thought I’d just smile and wave… OH my, what is this?”
“Flushing Meadows,” John said as he headed west on the I-495. Barbara gasped as she saw the skyscrapers rising in the distance.
“Where’s the Statue of Liberty,” Jeannie asked as she looked out over the river at the approaching island.
“Other side of Manhattan, and we’re going down,” John said as they entered the Queens Tunnel, emerging on the island and then around before John turned onto 3rd Avenue.
“Wow – so this is where we will live,” Jeannie said as she looked out, Barbara watching silently as John turned and they all saw Central Park, and then the Richmond mansion.
As John pulled up, Sandy came out of the front door to greet them.
“Welcome to New York,” she said as the girls helped Jeannie into her chair. “Come along – let’s get you settled in.”
Sunday 25th May
The red minivan pulled up outside the security cordon, John getting out and retrieving the wheelchair as Barbara climbed out, stretching to work out the stiffness in her limbs.
“So this is the famous Central Park?” Barbara asked her father as she looked round the plaza.
“That it is darling,” replied John.
“Why you wanted to come and see Abby’s shoot I don’t know.” Barbara looked at her daughter, “aren’t we going to see enough photo shoots the next two weeks?”
“I just wanted to see how they do things here.” Jeannie smiled as her grandfather lifted her into her chair. “That way I’m ready for the next few days.”
“In my opinion there are better things to see in this city then Abby posing.” Joanne laughed as she climbed out of the van, “I see too much of that most every day.”
“Yeah – and I want to see as much as I can, but today is the only real chance I get to see Abby at work,” Jeannie said as she looked round. She was wearing a grey jumper and slacks, and was taking everything she saw in.
“Hey Juliette.” John called out.
Juliette glanced over her shoulder and smiled as she said, “Oh hey guys.”
“Can we come in?” John asked.
“Oh yeah.” Juliette indicated to the security guard to let the four people in.
Barbara looked round as they all moved over to where Juliette was standing and watching the shoot. “Wow,” she said as she looked at the groups bustling around and moving equipment, “lots of people.’
“Yeah big crew today, with the three girls working.”
Jeannie sat looking intently as the three tall blonde models displayed some vintage style suits. “Oh my god is that who I think it is with Abby?”
Juliette looked round at the disabled girl. “You mean Vlada and Sasha?”
“Yes.” Jeannie looked up at her mother. “This is unreal Mum.”
“Well I’m sorry I don’t know who they are.” Barbara giggled nervously. “Should I?”
“Mum that’s Vlada Roslyakova and Sasha Pivovarova.”
“Sorry,” Barbara said as she shook her head, “that still means nothing.”
Jeannie just shook her head at her mother’s lack of knowledge of the world’s top models.
“Okay girls next setup.” They heard the photographer call out.
All three models ran to the tent that had been set up as a changing room.
“You can go inside if you want Jeannie.” Juliette motioned.
“I’ll wheel you in.” Jo volunteered.
“By the way,” Juliette said to Barbara, “have you given any thought to what you might want to do once you and Jeannie move over here?”
“Not a lot – I need to find out what the rules are first. Know any openings for an office administrator?”
“I may have one or two contacts I can talk to,” Juliette said with a smile.
As Jo pushed the disabled girl into the tent, the usual picture of barely controlled chaos that was part of most shoots revealed itself.
“Hey Hi Jeannie.” Abigail walked over to greet her friend. “I’d kiss you but they’ll kill me if I smudge these lips.”
“Hey Abby” Jeannie looked up.
“Hey Abs” Jo looked round the tent, nodding hello to a couple of people she recognized.
“I want you to meet a couple of people.” Abby wheeled Joanne over to where the other two models were changing. “Girls this is my friend, the one I told you about.”
Both models waved and smiled.
“Jeannie meet Vlada and Sasha, girls meet Jeannie Brewster.” Abigail did the introductions.
“Hi Jeannie,” the two Russian blondes called out as they tried to get changed quickly.
“Wow.” Jeannie looked impressed. “I’ve loved the work of both of you like forever.”
“I hear you aren’t so bad yourself.” Sasha laughed as she lifted her dress over her head.
“Well I’m just a beginner.” Jeannie answered.
“A spread in Italian Vogue isn’t bad for a beginner,” Sasha smiled as she sat and let the hairdresser work on fixing her hair.
“That spread you did with Abby and Lily was pretty damn good.” Vlada looked round as she was helped into an eighties style power suit by a dresser.
“Oh thank you.” Jeannie blushed.
“You here on holiday? Or are you working?” Sasha asked.
“Some of both, I’m moving here later this year, so we are checking out my new school, etcetera, but Missy has me doing three or four shoots, and I’m doing catwalk for the first time.”
“At the awards?” Sasha stood up as the hairdresser pronounced herself satisfied.
“We’ll see you there then.” Vlada called out as she sat and tried to change her shoes.
“Are you both working the show as well?”
“And me.” Abigail called out as she wriggled into the jacket of a vintage style two-piece.
“Oh God I can’t believe I’ll be working with all of you.” Jeannie shook her head in disbelief.
“You’d better get Aunt Ju to show you the full list,” Abby said as she ran off.
“Can we go back out,” Jeannie said to Joanne, “and get closer - I want to watch them at work.”
“Sure,” Jo said as she turned the wheelchair round, “of course we can.” She took her out to sit next to Juliette. Jeannie sat watching intently as the three models followed the photographers instructions, looking at every gesture and pose closely.
“Penny for them.” Her mother remarked.
“Oh Mum you made me jump.”
“I thought I had, you looked like you were in another world… What’s so interesting?”
“Just watching how the girls use their faces, I can’t move my body like they can,” she looked down at her legs and smiled, “but I can learn a lot looking at their expressions.”
“You really do love this don’t you darling?”
“Oh Mum I can’t say how much.”
“I still find it so confusing.”
“You need to use your eyes Mum, just watch Abby as she works.”
Barbara stood for a second or two watching as Abby and the other girls interacted with each other and the photographer,
“I still don’t know how they decide what is good.”
“You’ll learn Mum.” Jeannie looked up and smiled.
“There is food over there.” John came over with a hot dog in his hand. “Genuine Brooklyn fare – you should give it a try.”
“You go eat Mum, I’m fine here.” Jeannie looked up from her study.
“Okay I’ll be back soon.”
Jeannie went back to watching the three girls, taking note of the way they used the cameras and lights to highlight their best profiles.
“Enjoying yourself love?” John asked his granddaughter.
“Oh Granddad just so much. I can’t wait to come here full time.”
“Well, we have a busy time ahead of us,” John said. “You visit St Angela’s on Tuesday, and the other shoots as well.”
“By the way, Miss Huntingdown…”
“Jeannie,” Juliette said as she looked at her, “my name’s Juliette – I don’t mind if you use it.”
“Abigail said you should show me the full list of who is appearing next Monday.”
“You’ll meet them all at the rehearsal on Saturday,” Juliette said with a smile, “I think you have enough to concentrate on until then.”
Jeannie nodded as her mother brought over some food. “He called this a cheesesteak,” she said as she handed it to Jeannie, “you’re welcome to it.”
Monday 26th May
W 68th Street
The three young women sat outside in the jeep, keeping a close eye out for their target. Each was dressed identically in boot cut jeans with stiletto heeled black boots, a leather jacket over black tee shirts and black gloves. Each had her hair up and was fully made up.
They had been planning this operation for weeks, checking times, checking routes, and finding a safe place to hold their victim till the ransom was paid. Now, at last, the time had come to execute their plan.
“She’s late,” a tall brunette observed as she looked out of the window.
“Of all the damn days for the old witch to be off her schedule,” one of the other women observed.
“She’s probably doing it on purpose, “ the short blonde observed. “She wasn’t warned, was she?”
“No chance – only one other person knows, and I trust her with – hold on, we may have something!”
Suddenly the door of the brownstone they’d been observing opened and the frumpy looking older woman they were after appeared. She was wearing a tweed jacket over a high collared blouse, and a matching knee length skirt, with light hose and kitten heeled shoes. Her grey hair was up in a bun, and she carried a slim black case under her arm.
“Okay ladies time to go to work.” The blonde said as she stretched the doubled up nylon stocking mask over her head and down over her face, obscuring and distorting her features, tucking the ends under the collar of her jacket.
Slowly the two other girls stretched their masks over their heads making them completely unrecognizable.
“Got your guns?” the tall woman asked as she pulled a small, but efficient looking pistol from her pocket.
Each of the other masked women nodded.
“Okay go go go!” the blonde called out as the older woman approached.
The woman was not aware of what was happening until the two women jumped out of the jeep and stood in front of her. It took her a few moments to realise they were masked – but she saw the guns in their hands, as one of them grabbed her arm and the other growled “In the jeep lady – no funny business.”
“What is the meaning of this,” she demanded as she tried to break free, but the two women said nothing, the taller one opening the door as the woman was forced at gunpoint into the back, the door slamming on her.
“I said, what is the meaning of this?” she said in a louder voice as her wrists were secured in front of her with a plastic zip tie by one of the masked women. She saw the driver look at her, her features obscured by a stocking mask, and heard her say “Just keep calm – you’ll be just fine” before a length of tape was pressed over her mouth and a folded black scarf tied over her eyes.
The jeep set off at speed down the road – none of the women noticing the elderly woman, who took a cell phone from her bag and dialled an emergency number…
The woman was still protesting through her gag as she was walked into the cellar, and helped to lie down on a recliner. Her ankles and legs were secured with two more straps, before the blindfold was removed from her eyes.
hold this." the tall kidnapper handed Miss Tennant a copy of that days New
up" the middle sized kidnapper gestured with her gun.
got it," the smaller woman took a picture on a cell phone.
going to pay a lot of money to get you back.,” the tall one giggled.
"Going to go to a very good cause.,” the small one giggled back.
The older woman just watched them as they looked back at her.
“Watch her,” the smallest of the three women said to the tallest, the woman looking at each of them. As her guard sat down, the other two walked out, and removed the stocking masks from their heads.
“You know she’s going to kill us for making it so realistic,” Judy McNally said as she shook her hair.
“Well, we only have a couple of weeks left,” Carina said with a smile. “Come on – we need to send the ransom demand to the girls to collect…”
St Angela’s Academy.
The student body were gathered in the main hall as the teachers filed in. A few minutes later, the deputy principal came in and stood at the dais.
“Miss Tennant,” she said quietly, “has been delayed. I wish to remind all Seniors that the yearbook will be available on Thursday, and of the prom on Friday.”
Her words were interrupted by a massed ringing and buzzing, as every girl and teacher took out their cell phone.
“Oh God,” she said as she looked at her phone, “someone kidnapped the principal.” For a second the deputy principal looked panicked.
Her fear though was met with the entire student body breaking into laughter, girl’s high fiving each other, and general joy.
“Okay, Okay, I forgot, it’s that time of year again.” The deputy principal grimaced as she turned to a colleague. “These damn graduation pranks get worse each year.”
“Yes but at least it raises a nice sum for charity.” Miss Kelly, one of the math teachers hissed back.
“Okay,” the vice principal said as she turned to the room, “some of you girls organize raising the ransom please.”
“All right,” Ally Rocherman said as she stood up, “you all know what you need to do. Collection points at each class room – let’s make this a very special day for everyone!”
“Everyone please give generously.” Joanne stood up laughing. “They look like real desperados, we need to raise a lot to get the Principal back.”
She looked at her phone, and the picture of Miss Tennant holding the paper, with the message “Give generously – or Miss Tennant may not be happy.”
“Okay assembly dismissed.” The deputy principal shook her head as the girls filed out, talking amongst themselves while she led her colleagues to her office.
“Oh Christ I’d have given anything to see the old bat’s face when they snatched her.” The deputy principal broke into laughter as soon as they were all clear of the sight of the students.
“Me too.” One of the French teachers giggled.
“Annie, can you organize the collection in the teachers’ lounge at recess?” The deputy principal asked Miss Kelly.
“Are we sure we want to pay to get her back?” Miss Kelly asked.
“Annie!” the deputy principal laughed as she rebuked her young colleague. “Remember all the money goes to a good cause – and I’m sure she will see the funny side of it.
“So I wonder who did it?” Miss Kelly mused.
“Well I didn’t see Judy McNally out there?” one of the Biology teachers remarked.
“Of course McNally was involved,” the deputy principal stated, “Who else would be that daring?”
“True – and it is a tradition the Head Girl leads on this. Who else was missing?”
“Well,” Miss Kelly said, “I didn’t see Carina Huntingdown or Bobbi Morse either. Carina may have had an appointment, but…”
“Would they really have done it, given what happened to them this year?”
“I think it makes it even more likely,” the vice principal said. As she sat down, the telephone rang.
“Hello? No, Miss Tennant is indisposed today, how may I…”
She looked at Miss Kelly and mouthed “The Police” before she said “It may be easier if we speak in person – feel free to drop by…”
“Okay it’s time to get the alumnae and the parents a chance to ‘contribute’ to the ransom.” Carina giggled as she eased the nylon back over her head.
Judy laughed, “you know you were right saying we ought to make this look as realistic as possible Cari, this is almost better then sex. I feel like one of those Pussycats.”
Cari pulled the small pistol from her pocket, as Judy pulled the tan nylon back over her head.
“You ready?” Cari asked.
“Yep.” Judy nodded.
Both girls walked slowly, but sexily on the huge heels they were wearing back into the room where Bobbi was ‘guarding’ the principal.
“Okay lady we need another picture.” Judy growled in a voice deeper then her natural one.
“Got the camera?” she asked Bobbi.
Carina and Judy took up positions besides Miss Tennant, each pointing their gun at her head.
“Got it.” Bobbi found it hard to keep her voice even and not spoil everything by laughing.
“Okay you two forward that to the right people. I’ll take over guard duty.” Judy ordered.
“Gotcha.” Cari also forced herself to sound serious. As they left, Judy looked at the captive and said, “Want a drink?”
Miss Tennant nodded as Judy opened a bottle of water, and put a straw in the neck before she peeled the tape away and allowed her to take a drink of water.
“Thanks,” she eventually said, and then she continued, “I don’t suppose there is any chance of getting loose?”
“Nope,” Judy said as Miss Tennant took another drink.
“Well, can I at least put in a request for lunch? After all, this may be the last chance I get for you to do something for me?”
“Let me guess – pastrami on rye, mustard and pickle, iced tea?”
“Light on the mustard, but yeah – well?”
“We’ll see,” Judy said as she replaced the tape gag, and sat down.
“So we’re agreed,” Juliette said as she looked at Anne and Mary, “You come to my apartment tomorrow night for me and Cari, then do Diana and Abby on Wednesday. Barbara and Jeannie are expecting you at Sandy’s place on Thursday.”
Anne and Mary nodded as they stood up. “Oh by the way Mary,” Juliette said as she looked up, “the show rang to see if you were still willing to help on Monday night.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do it,” Mary said in her soft Welsh accent, “though what use they think I can be, I don’t know.”
“I think they said something about needing the Mary Thomas touch.”
“Flattery – keep it up,” Mary said as she walked out, Anne holding back a bit.
“She really has no idea,” she said quietly to Juliette.
“Nope – should make for an entertaining sight,” Juliette said with a smile as her cell phone went off. Taking it and picking it up, she stared for a moment at the photo, the two young women pointing guns at Miss Tennant, and almost cried out in shock.
“What the hell,” she said to herself, and then she read the message.
“To ensure Miss Tennant’s safe return, give generously – call…”
“Oh my sweet lord,” she said as she started to smile, “Carina Huntingdown, if I find out you had anything to do with this, you are going to be… Going to be…”
She then laughed, before saying “Oh God they are going to have to pay for this one.” Picking up the phone, she said “Janine!”
“Get the Development Office at St Angela’s on the line for me, will you,” she said as she sat back, waiting for the phone to ring before she picked it up.
“Good Morning – this is Juliette Huntingdown speaking.
“Yes, I did receive the message – I wish to donate five hundred.”
She got out her platinum card and gave the details, before saying “thank you – and pass on my congratulations to those respons…”
“Thank you,” Juliette said as she looked at Diana, who was panting as she stood in the doorway. Ending the call, she sat back and said “I take it you got the same message?”
Diana closed the door, sat down and whispered, “Has Cari lost her mind?”
Juliette looked at the photo again and nodded. “I’m not sure – I do hope she tells me when she gets home tonight.”
“Ju,” Diana whispered urgently, “kidnapping the principal? What was she thinking – and is Abby involved? After the business with Jo…”
“Diana,” Ju said as she leaned forward, “what week is it this week?”
“The week before graduation, the week of…” Diana suddenly stopped and shook herself, then started laughing.
“Last year, they clamped all the teachers to their chairs and would not have them released until the right amount was raised. The year before, the entire cafeteria was papered over - with the faculty inside. And the year before that…”
“Oh lord,” Diana said as she started laughing, “the swimming pool in the yard? I remember seeing the photos of that one. Still, what if the police get involved?”
“Then I trust to the school to sort it out – and I’ll probably have to smooth things over with Tennant. Assuming she doesn’t see the funny side of it. Explains why she sneaked off early this morning, of course. I’ve already donated – will you?”
“I guess so,” Diana said as she took her phone out, “right after I confirm Abby has had nothing to do with this.”
Juliette watched as Diana called her daughter.
“Abigail? This is your mother. Tell me you had no idea this was happening today?
“I see – and you are taking part in the collection with Joanne?
“Very well then, I will see you later.” She then called and made a donation, before sitting back and saying “You know we will have to be seen to be punishing them?”
nodded and sat back as she said, "I should have guessed something was up
when she started picking up Bobbi and Judy to take to school."
"I know Ju,
but with Joanne now with her own wheels and picking up Abigail it seemed
they should all lose their driving privileges till graduation…. Agreed?"
Diana nodded, "I'm sure Heather will agree, from tomorrow we go back to us doing the school run."
Juliette picked up her cell phone and said, “speaking of which… Good morning Heather, I take it you got the call as well.”
“Oh yeah, I got the call,” Heather said as she stood next to a police officer, “and I am standing with one of New York’s finest now, explaining why Joanne’s car may have been used to kidnap said principal teacher.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“They were seen – and a very observant onlooker took down the number on the plates. I understand one of their detectives is going to the school now. If you talk to Joanne before I do, tell her I desire words with her of serious and meaningful content.”
Ju rolled her eyes and said, “I think we need to talk to her and the other girls together, Heather. Shall we meet at the school at three o’clock?”
Miss Tennant rubbed her wrists as the brown paper bag was placed in front of her, the shortest of the three women watching as she ate.
“Excellent,” she said after she had swallowed the first bite. “You found just the right place – thank you Carina.”
“How did you know?”
“I checked my diary today, of course – excuse me one moment,” Miss Tennant said as she unscrewed the top from the bottle of iced tea and took a sip. “Also, forgive me, but the bump is starting to show a little.”
“I confirm or deny nothing,” Carina said, “but if you are right, I trust you accept it is all in a good cause.”
“I do – and the straps aside, it has been a relaxing day, but I trust it will end in due course?”
“We have a target – when it is reached, you will be taken to a place of safety for your release.”
“Excellent – really good sandwich by the way. Is it from a local deli?”
“No comment,” Carina said, smiling under the nylon as she watched the captive.
“Ah – thank you for calling round, Sergeant,” the deputy principal said as the police officer was shown in, “it was very good of you to come and discuss this in private.
“Okay Miss?” the plainclothes officer said as he sat in the chair in front of the deputy principal.
“Its Mrs actually…. Mrs Kate Hardisty.”
“Okay Mrs Hardisty what is this thing about the principal that can’t be discussed on the phone? I have teams scouring the city, and one has gone to speak to the sister of the girl the car is registered to – a Miss Joanne Smith?”
“Oh dear,” Kate said as she shook her head, “I shall have to ask her to step in in due course, Sergeant…. Umm, I’m sorry, I forget what your name was…”
“Well Sergeant Klosko we have a sort of tradition here at St Angela’s.” The deputy principal paused, “ummmm… at the end of each school year our graduating senior class, or at least its leaders, pull an elaborate prank or stunt and raise money for charity.”
“And what the heck does that mean?”
“Well ummmm….,” Kate said as she tried to gauge the mood of the officer, “it means that the kidnapping of the Principal was a stunt…”
She watched the officer as he processed this information, before he exploded and said “It was fucking what?”
“Sergeant!” Kate Hardisty rebuked the policeman. “Mind your language. This is a school for young ladies, after all.”
“Lady,” he quietly said, “are you telling me that we have half the cops in New York City on alert because of some prank pulled by school kids.”
“Put plainly Sergeant… Yes.”
“Oh jeez some kids going to pay big time for this… those punk girls.”
Kate sighed. “While I understand your anger, you may wish to reconsider that statement Sergeant, do you know who Thomas Morse is?”
“Morse, Morse…, oh yeah that’s one of the deputy mayors.”
“Well one of the girls was his daughter Roberta.”
The officer shook his head as he digested this information. “Oh Jeez, that’s all we fuckin’ need City Hall on our backs.”
“Exactly Sergeant. In fact - one moment.” Kate picked up the phone and said, “Can you give me the running total please?
“I see – thank you.” She looked at Sergeant Klosko, “their little stunt has raised over ten thousand dollars and the total is rising every minute – and I understand the mayor is making a donation as well.”
“That notwithstanding, lady, do these kids know the shit they have caused?”
“I’m sure they will shortly Sergeant.” Looking at her watch, she said “If they run true to form, Miss Tennant should be returned to us at three. Please, join us then and you can explain it to them in person.”
it'll be MY pleasure," the sergeant added ruefully.
Kate smiled as she said "It might help you to calm down if I tell you that two of the three girls involved were shot in that awful business at Tuxedo last fall."
Sergeant Klosko stared at Kate, before shaking his head and saying "And they pulled a piece of crap like this?"
"And the girl whose car they used, she was the girl who was kidnapped then rescued by the FBI last month."
the sergeant looked stunned for a minute.
"I think these girls were looking for a way to rid themselves of a lot of….ummm….crap shall we call it."
“Sometimes I think therapists know what they’re talking about,” he said before he stood up. “I’ll be back at three – and thank you for your time.”
“No, thank you,” Kate said as she shook his hand, and he was shown out. A moment later, she picked up the phone again.
“Ask Joanne Smith to come to my office please,” she said and then she sat back. This was turning out to be a fun day after all.
Miss Tennant watched the three girls as they huddled in a corner, looking at one of their cell phones. The tape had been pressed back over her mouth, but she had a fairly good idea who they were now – and if she was right, then it both made sense and was appropriate in her mind.
“I don’t believe it,” Carina whispered, “we made over twenty five thousand?”
“That’s what Abby and Jo say,” Judy replied, trying to suppress a laugh, “it’s amazing – a new record.”
“Well, we need to keep our promises now,” Bobbi said, “Shall we?”
“Good news,” she then said to Miss Tennant, “the ransom has been paid in full and more. We’re going to blindfold you, and then take you to the place of release.”
Miss Tennant nodded as she was sat up and her legs released, before the scarf was tied tightly over her eyes and she was walked to the door. Two of the three girls held her arms as the third opened a door, and they led her along the corridor, waiting as the heavy door was opened before they walked her up the stairs, and across the yard, entering St Angela’s Academy by the rear door.
The three girls walked her along the corridor until one of them knocked on a door.
Kate Hardisty looked up as a young lady, wearing a leather jacket and a stocking over her head, walked in and put a finger to her covered mouth. Opening the door wide, she waited as two more escorted the bound and gagged Miss Tennant to a chair and sat her down.
Kate took a good look at the captive, before indicating the three girls should follow her out. As they did so, she closed the door and whispered “First the good news – the total just passed thirty thousand.”
The three girls gave fist pumps before she said “and now the bad news – come with me.” She walked the three girls to a classroom, and said “Is there anything you may wish to leave with me for safe keeping.” As she said this, she took a plastic bag from a nearby hook and held it out.
The three girls looked at each other, and then deposited the starting pistols in the bag. Nodding, she opened the door and indicated the girls should walk in.
As they did so, Carina saw a very stern looking police officer, who said, “Well now, do you realise just how much trouble you three have caused today?”
Each girl pulled the stocking off her head and shook her hair down.
“Well do you?”
Closing the door, Kate walked back and into her office, and then removed the blindfold from Miss Tennant.
“Hello, Wilhelmina,“ she said as she looked for a pair of scissors, “restful day.”
“Vrrmshssfnks,” Miss Tennant said as she held her wrists out, and once they were free peeled the plaster away from her mouth. “How much?”
“Thirty thousand and counting – no other trouble, but I believe the three ringleaders are having the riot act read to them by Sergeant Klosko of the Midtown precinct right now.”
“Oh dear,” Miss Tennant said with a smile, “Do you think I should go and bail them out?”
“Not quite yet,” Kate said, “You’d better come with me.” She led Wilhelmina to the refectory, where the student body were standing and waiting.
“Ladies,” she said as she looked at them, “thank you. Thank you all. Now, if you will excuse me…”
“Three cheers for Miss Tennant,” one of the girls called out, and she smiled as they cheered and started singing “For she’s a jolly good fellow…”
She then whispered “I’d better go and talk to the police.”
“And the press.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“There are reporters at the gates. I think you had better explain it to them as well.”
Shaking her head, Miss Tennant said “Police first, then press – and I need to thank all three of them,” before she walked off.
Thirty minutes later, and their ears ringing from the lecture by the police officer, Carina, Bobbi and Judy were sitting in the Development Office, looking at the final totals.
“It was worth it just to see that much raised,” Judy said as she nudged Bobbi.
“Yeah – and it was kinda fun as well,” Bobbi said with a laugh. Carina shook her head as the door opened and she looked up.
“Oh hi Dad,” Bobbi said as she looked at Thomas Morse.
“Roberta – I’ve come to take you home, you have a few things to explain to me and your mother.”
“See you girls tomorrow, if I’m not grounded for life,” Bobbi said as she went with her dad – and Carina saw her mother come in.
“Not if I’m grounded first,” she whispered as she looked at Juliette. “I guess you want an explanation,” she said quietly.
“Later – first I have to get you and Judy home,” Juliette said, “and then you need to decide who is going to take lead responsibility.”
“All three of us,” Judy said without hesitation.
“In that case, you both need to phone Bobbi’s parents and talk to them, and you need to talk to Judy’s,” Juliette said with a smile. “Now let’s go – the back door.”
In the principal’s office, Wilhelmina sat back and sipped her tea.
So did you manage to reschedule my appointments for the day Kate?”
“Yes Wilhelmina…. We ummm…. We told everyone you were a little tied up.”
“Oh Kate that pun is dreadful.”
“I know but expect to see it in the papers.”
The principal shook her head, “I knew the little darlings had something planned, I’d seen Bobbi, Carina, and Judy hanging round my house in the mornings.”
“Oh don’t tell them that Wilhelmina, they think they totally surprised you.”
“Well I must admit the guns and the masks were a refinement I hadn’t expected, but I knew something might happen any day this week.”
Tuesday 27th May
The Huntingdown Apartment
The buzzing distracted her from her dream, as Juliette rolled over and looked at her bedside clock.
“Damn it’s one in the morning.” She said aloud as she picked up the ringing phone.
“Whoever this is, this better be a grade one emergency to wake me up at this time…
“Oh it’s you Fiona… Yes you damn well did wake me up, what’s so all fired important?”
Juliette rolled back on to her back, the luxury of her silk sheets rolling over her nude body a sensual pleasure.
“Fiona I’m glad you remembered who Dominique reminded you of… I know it’s been nagging at your brain…. No I barely knew Stella Jameson, she was a little before my time.”
Juliette lay there listening carefully.
“As far as I know Dominique is not related… No I’m pretty sure she would have said if she was…. You think there’s a strong resemblance?”
Juliette tried to think of a way of ending the call without being rude.
“Well Fi you knew Stella quite well, surely you’d have met her daughter… Yes… No… No… I’ll ask her next time I see her… Okay?.. Alright?.. Okay I’ll see you soon… I’m glad to hear it’s a lovely morning in London… Okay you be good…. Bye Fiona.”
Juliette rolled over again, “Damn I’m going to need something to help me get to sleep.” She moaned to herself. Peeling the sheets away, she sat herself up and stretched. Standing up, she slipped her robe on and her slippers before heading downstairs.
“Funny.” She thought to herself when she saw the kitchen light on. Quietly and silently she moved forward. Opening the door, she saw Carina at the breakfast bar, her top revealing a little of her belly.
“Oh it’s you darling…. Couldn’t sleep?”
“No,” Carina said as she held up a carton, “I came down to get some milk and cookies…. You?”
“Rude awakening - your Aunt Fiona just rang to tell me she’d remembered who Dominique reminded her of.”
“Oh Goddess.” Carina laughed, “She does remember it’s the middle of the night here?”
“You know Fiona,” Juliette said, “When something gets in her brain she has to do something about it.”
“Yeah, I hope you discouraged her, Dominique doesn’t want who her Mom was to be general knowledge.”
“I tried… can I have some of that milk?”
“Here” Carina poured a glass full out of the jug. “Well hopefully something else will distract her.”
“We can but hope, I don’t want to bring anyone any trouble over a lost parent after what happened to Jo.”
“And speaking of parents – you have squared everything with Judy and Bobbi’s parents?”
“Yes. Mom,” Carina said with a sigh, “I have apologised fully and totally. At least Miss Tennant saw the funny side – especially when she saw how much we raised.”
“Good,” Juliette said, “Now, drink up and back to bed – we’re up for that shoot tomorrow.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Hey Carina,” Abby called out from where she and Jo were sat in the kitchen awaiting their ride to school. “The newspapers are less then happy with your little prank yesterday.”
“Yeah, they are using words like wasting police time and resources - one guy here is calling for parents to pay the cost of the cops operation.” Jo looked up from the pages of the Post.
“Did they mention how much money we raised though?” Carina asked as she came in and grabbed herself a coffee. She had been given permission now to wear her blouse over her skirt, covering the slight bump.
“Yeah in the Times of all places, one of their columnists at least saw the funny side.” Jo looked up from her reading again.
“Jane Molloy” Abby interjected.
“Well she’s an alumna. She should at least get it.” Carina smiled.
“What about the Daily News?”
Abby looked at Cari as she picked the third paper up. “They have an exclusive interview with Tennant – want to see it?”
“No way – it’s going to be bad enough today.”
“You know you, Judy and Bobbi are going to face mass heroine worship today don’t you?” Jo asked.
“It was that popular a stunt?”
“Oh Cari you have NO IDEA,” Abby said with a giggle. “Just wait and see.”
As Juliette pulled up outside the entrance to the academy, she saw a line of girls waiting on each side of the gates. Bobbi Morse and Judy McNally were standing just outside the gates with their mothers.
“Claire, Rachel,” Juliette said as she and the girls got out, “Are you coming to see Miss Tennant as well?”
“In a moment,” Rachel McNally said, “I think the girls need to go in first.”
“You’ll see,” Joanne said as she and Abigail pushed the three girls forward. As they walked in, the girls started to clap, each one joining in as they went past and approached the main entrance.
The line turned and followed them as they went in, and approached the Seniors Lounge. As they walked in, they were greeted by a large poster print of the three of them with Miss Tennant, and the caption “Graduation 2014 – Celebration!”
“Here they are,” Katherine des Moines and Suzanne Carter said as they stepped forward, “the heroines of the hour. What say you, class of ‘14?”
“AYE!!!” the other Seniors cheered as the three girls blushed, and the room erupted in applause again.
“All right, all right,” Judy said as everyone calmed down, “enough. We did exceptionally well yesterday, but we still have two weeks to go, so let’s get to work
“Besides, our mothers still need to talk to Miss Tennant.”
Miss Tennant’s Office
“Well, it was certainly an experience,” Miss Tennant said as she looked at the three women sitting in front of her, “but be assured I will pursue the matter no further. The girls did an excellent job of looking after me, and I cannot complain of their intent – even if their methods were a little unusual.”
“Well,” Claire Morse said, “my husband has smoothed things over with the police, and the substantial donation to the work of the children’s mission is most generous indeed. All in all, we have to thank everyone for their generosity and move on.”
“Agreed,” Rachel McNally said. “Now, may we discuss the arrangements for the prom?”
“All is in hand,” Juliette said quietly. “It will truly be a night to remember.”
“Good,” Miss Tennant said as she stood up. “In that case, ladies, accept my thanks for your understanding, and please do not be too hard on them – they meant well.”
The three women nodded and left, walking past the Seniors room as the girls filed out.
“I’ll see you later tonight, dear,” Juliette said to Carina as she walked past, and then to the car outside, smiling at the photographers as she did so. “Right – back to the coal face,” she said as she looked for her car keys. “You two busy today?”
“I need to go with Thomas to an exhibition at Demoines – there is a display of diamond jewellery on this weekend, and we have a private screening.”
“Ah yes – I heard of it,” Rachel said as she walked to her car. “Enjoy.”
Juliette smiled. She had heard of the exhibition as well, and needed to talk to the others about it later.
“Here we are,” John said as he and Barbara helped Jeannie into her wheelchair, “St. Angela’s Academy for Young Ladies.”
“It looks like an old school house from a black and white film,” Jeannie said as she looked at the gates. “Full of history.”
“Well, let’s go in,” John said as he took Barbara’s hand and they wheeled Jeannie through the gates and into the entrance hall. As they entered the main hallway, two freshmen were passing. They looked at Jeannie, and giggled as they talked to themselves and walked away.
Barbara turned and looked at the stern looking woman standing there.
“I’m Wilhelmina Tennant, Principal of St Angela’s – and this must be Jeannie. Welcome.”
“Thanks,” Jeannie said as she looked up.
“Well, why don’t you come with me,” Miss Tennant said, “and I’ll give you the grand tour. I had a long and interesting conversation with the headmistress of your current school, Jeannie – and I think if you come to our academy, we can come up with a curriculum that will meet your particular needs.”
“We don’t want any special treatment,” Barbara said as John wheeled her daughter down the corridor.
“Nor would we give any – but there are certain things that Jeannie will have to take – catch-up classes in, for want of a better word. American history, and so on. We also have to accommodate differences in language, and – well, forgive me, but physical education will need to be specially arranged.”
“No offence taken,” Jeannie said as she looked in one of the classrooms.
“On the other hand, you have much to teach us – so I feel it will be mutually beneficial. Now, this is one of our computer labs – why don’t you see what programs we have to offer…”
As they returned to the front entrance, Jeannie smiled to see Abigail standing there, looking like a normal schoolgirl.
“I believe you know Abigail, both personally and professionally,” Miss Tennant said, “she will take you to lunch in the refectory, while your mother and grandfather discuss some matters of paperwork in my office.”
“Come along,” Abby said as she pushed Jeannie along, “you can sit with me and ask all the questions of the girls you want.”
As she was pushed into the refectory, a group of girls made a line for Abby to walk Jeannie past, to where Carina, Joanne, Judy and a few others were sitting at a table.
“This is Jeannie,” Abby said as she stopped the wheelchair and put the brakes on, “hopefully she’ll be a freshman next year.”
“Hey Jeannie,” Judy said, “let me do the introductions while we get you some lunch…” As Abby went off to get some lunch, Judy introduced her to the other girls round the table.
“So you’re coming to live in the Big Apple?” Ally Rocherman said, “different from your home town?”
“Very much so – but I’m very excited. Life’s been so different since I met Abby in March.”
“I’ll bet – what did your schoolmates say when you went to school after you appeared on that show?”
“They were gobsmacked,” Jeannie said as Abby brought back a salad bowl and a bottle of peach tea, “and very very jealous at what happened. My teacher was jealous I met Sting.”
“Oh he’s a cutie,” Carina said as she ate her sandwich, “Trudi is a doll as well.”
“So what else are you doing while you are here,” Judy asked Jeannie.
“I have some shoots, we’re looking at the house Granddad is buying tomorrow, and I have a few other things to do. Apparently I also have to spend the day with your Immigration department – I’m told that is going to be fun.”
“Dealing with our government always is,” Joanne said with a wry smile.
“So what was that in the paper today – you kidnapped the principal?”
“We know how to have a good time,” Cari said with a smile. “We even have a truce with the Nuns for the rest of this term?”
“You’ll learn soon enough,” Abby said with a smile.
“So,” John said as they went back to the van, “Think you will like it here?”
“Yeah, Granddad, I think I will,” Jeannie said as she was lifted in.
“Well, you can afford the fees, that much is true,” Barbara said, “and they seem very accommodating. Abby and Jo will be here as well, which will help.”
“We had better get moving,” John said as he looked at his watch, “we have another appointment…”
“This is the place love.” John observed as they found the old warehouse on 8th Avenue. “God I hope there’s an elevator, this damn studio is on the fourth floor.”
“I’m sure Missy wouldn’t have booked me a shoot that isn’t wheelchair accessible Granddad,” Jeannie said as she looked up.
“Okay – it’s over there Dad.” Barbara pointed towards the elevator.
“A bit tight.” John mumbled as all three of them crowded in. Closing the gate, they started to move up.
“Stop grumbling Granddad.” Jeannie looked up with a cheeky grin.
“Okay we are here.” John announced as the doors opened.
“Hi you must be Jeannie.” a lanky young man in his mid twenties announced as he bounded over to the elevator.
“Hi,” Jeannie said as she looked round the vast open workspace.
“I’m Karl Pearson.” The photographer smiled at his model as he gave her a peck on the cheek.
“I’m Jeannie’s Mum Barbara, and this is my father John.”
“Hi,” Karl gave Barbara a kiss on the cheek and shook John’s hand.
“Hello.” Barbara blushed, still unused to how fashion people behaved.
“Well we are shooting gowns for next year, so the sooner we get Jeannie into hair and makeup, the quicker we can begin.”
“Where do I go?” Jeannie asked.
“Over there sweetheart, I’ll see you in a few.” Karl indicated an anteroom off his studio.
“Well Mum.” Jeannie took a big breath, “Here we go.” John wheeled her over as an assistant offered Barbara a drink and a seat.
Thirty minutes later, Jeannie emerged looking older with her full makeup on, and dressed in a very cute white empire line dress with a very full skirt.
“Very nice Jeannie.” Karl whistled as he saw her. “Okay while I want to do some shots in your chair I was hoping we can do a few other things, that okay?”
“Fine.” Jeannie looked a little puzzled. “What are you thinking of?”
“Can we get you on the swing?”
“If Granddad lifts me, I should be all right.”
John lifted the young model up and carefully positioned her on the seat.
“Okay Troy, here please.” Everyone turned round to watch a young man in a tuxedo as he sat up.
“Hi Jeannie,” he held out his hand to the girl on the swing.
“Well hello,” Jeannie said with a smile. “Are they all like you over here?”
“Oh behave Mum, I mean it in fun,” Jeannie said as she smiled. Barbara smiled back – looking so beautiful, she could forgive her daughter anything.
“Okay Troy push the swing gently.”
Jeannie felt the sway of the swing and understood what this was all about. She started trying various expressions.
“Oh Jeannie, that is gorgeous darling.” Karl looked pleased as he snapped.
To herself, Jeannie was analysing the shot, thinking it was clever that Karl had devised a way to introduce movement without her having to use her legs.
“Oh Jeannie, just one thing, your feet, can we maybe put some heels on you?”
“Ummm Karl, is that a great idea?” Barbara asked.
“Mum can you go and get a pair from the wardrobe for me?” Jeannie instantly picked up what the photographer was looking for.
“Okay.” Barbara shook her head when she returned and slipped her daughter’s lifeless feet into a pair of 4” heels with ankle straps to secure them.
“Okay swing her again Troy.”
Jeannie felt the rush of motion as her feet appeared out the bottom of the dress on each upswing.
“That’s great,” Karl said as he continued take the photographs. “All right, now stand behind her and put your arms round her waist, head over the shoulder…”
John put his hand on Barbara’s shoulder as she watched. “She really is a natural, isn’t she?”
Barbara could only nod in agreement….
The Huntingdown Apartment
Juliette watched as the photographer’s crew finished setting up in her drawing room. They’d been in the apartment for nearly two hours rigging the lights, while she and Carina had their hair and makeup done. It reminded her of the old days.
“Nearly done Juliette.” John Hammond the photographer said as he looked at the light meter.
“You told me that 30 minutes ago John,” Juliette said as she folded her arms in mock anger.
“Well this time it’s the truth,” John said as he smiled at her. They had known each other for years, and knew exactly what they could and could not say to each other.
Waiting round for the setup was one thing Juliette did not miss about modelling – that and the severe boredom.
“Mom, can you help me get these gloves and your bracelet on?” she heard her daughter calling from the hallway.
“Coming Darling,” she said as she got off the stool and walked to the doorway.
“Well how do I look?” Carina did a twirl in the stunning black and gold empire line gown that Juliette had had made up by Tom Ford.
“Amazing.” Juliette smiled, “The empire line can hide a multitude of sins.”
“A bit unfair on baby though,” Carina said as she pouted, “she could have made her modelling debut.”
“Mary would kill me if your bump ruined her shoot…. Here let me button those wrists on the gloves.”
Juliette buttoned up Carina’s long black opera gloves, and then slipped the diamond bracelet on over the gloves.
“We’re ready Juliette.” John the photographer called.
“Okay, well do I look okay darling?” Juliette removed her robe to reveal a curve hugging midnight blue evening dress.
“Oh Mom... Do you look all right? … You look AMAZING!”
“Oh come on I’m an old lady.” Juliette giggled as she pulled her own long black kid gloves on.
“Old... my fanny,” John Hammond looked round. “She’s right Ju, you do look amazing.” He gave her a peck on the cheek. “Maybe better than in the old days…”
“Oh come on John be serious?”
“Darling I’ve photographed you how many times?”
“Well I can honestly say you never looked better, time to think of a comeback maybe?”
“Oh my Goddess…. NO!” Juliette laughed, “I’m far happier BEHIND the cameras.”
“Our loss,” John said with a smile. “Well girls, we have lit that armchair, want to try Carina sitting in it and you sitting on the arm Ju?”
“Okay.” Juliette motioned for Carina to sit down.
“Alright ladies.” John picked up his camera, “you are both pros, give me your best.”
The entire crew burst out laughing as mother and daughter both posed with their tongues stuck out.
“And if you dare have shot that John Hammond, I’ll kill you.” Juliette laughed.
“Only to show a few people.”
“Bastard!” Carina laughed as she threw a cushion at the photographer.
“Okay now we are all loosened up, show me some smiles ladies.” John started snapping as the two models started posing.
Juliette slipped an arm round her daughter’s shoulders, turning to give a three quarter profile.
“Okay that’s beautiful girls.” John said as he took some more photographs. “Now try looking at each other.”
Carina looked up into her mother’s eyes.
“John I want one of those for myself, it will make a lovely Christmas card.” Juliette called out.
For ten minutes the photographer encouraged and coaxed images from his models.
“Alright Juliette, let’s try another setup?”
“Can I see what you got so far John?” Juliette asked as the makeup girl sat Carina down and started repairing her face.
Juliette looked over the photographers shoulder as he downloaded the images he’d taken.
“These are great John…. Truly.”
“Thank you darling, but let’s see if we can get even better.”
“Slavedriver.” Juliette laughed.
“Okay Miss Huntingdown, now you.” The makeup girl called out
Till one in the morning and though two changes of dress, they worked on. By the end, both mother and daughter were exhausted.
“Okay Juliette, Okay Carina, let’s call that it.”
“Thank you John.” Juliette moaned.
“Both of you upstairs to bed, we’ll tidy up and let ourselves out.”
“You sure John? We can stay and help.”
“No you both go sleep, you need your beauty sleep, and I promise we’ll be quiet as mice.”
“Okay John I trust you.” Juliette barely suppressed a yawn.
“Time to go up and remove that makeup darling.” Juliette poked her daughter who was all but asleep in the armchair.
“Okay.” Carina stretched.
“You’ve got school in the morning.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“Come on sleepyhead.” Juliette pulled her daughter towards the stairs.
“Bye guys.” They both called out as they started to ascend.
Wednesday 28th May
E 74th Street
“Well girls,” John said as he stood in front of the two-storey brownstone, “this is it. Our home from August – what do you think?”
“How on earth can you afford this Dad,” Barbara said as she looked at it.
“A gift from Vanessa actually – the Richmond trust own it, and she’s letting me have it at a peppercorn rent,” John said as he pushed Jeannie up the ramp, and they went into the wide entrance hall. “It was a residence for the former treasurer of the trust, but when he passed away they kept the property.”
“Oh my,” Jeannie said as she looked in the large main room, “I think I could like this place.”
“The top floor would be my granddad flat, bedrooms and study on the second floor, and main living in here. There’s a lift to the three floors that can take Jeannie and one of us.”
“Dad,” Barbara said, “this is truly amazing. Juliette says she may be able to get me a job though – how do we look after a place like this?”
“You let me worry about that,” John said quietly, “let’s go through to the kitchen.”
The three of them went into the back of the house, looking at the large kitchen with the heavy oak table.
“The place comes furnished, but I’ll replace the beds and get Jeannie’s room furnished for her,” John said, “on which note, you come with me, and pick your room upstairs.”
John pushed Jeannie to the lift, while Barbara stood for a moment looking at the sink.
“It takes a little getting used to, doesn’t it?”
Barbara turned to see a tall, grey haired woman standing there, wearing a grey dress with a thin black belt around her waist. She looked like an older version of Sandy, so Barbara took a chance and said “Vanessa Richmond, I presume?”
“I am – and you must be Barbara. A pleasure to meet you at last,” Vanessa said as she extended a hand. “Is John around?”
“He’s upstairs, showing Jeannie the bedrooms. Mrs Richmond, I cannot thank you enough for your generosity.”
“Nonsense,” Vanessa said as they walked up the stairs, “John has served me very well over the years, and it is about time her accepted something from me.”
They could hear Jeannie saying “Oh I love this room Granddad,” as they entered a high ceilinged room. John turned and said “Mrs Richmond – I wasn’t expecting you to call round.”
“I was in the neighbourhood,” Vanessa said quietly, “and I wondered if you and your family would like to come up to the Manchester house for the weekend? I think young Jeannie here should see where she may spend some time.”
“Oh wow,” Jeannie said, “can we go?”
“If you think so – but we have the rehearsal Saturday…”
“So come after the rehearsal, and return on Sunday – as my guests,” Vanessa said as she kissed Jeannie. “Well, I must run – until then…”
St Angela’s Academy
“Well I see these girl pranksters from St Angela’s Academy are still making the news. Personally not sure what the fuss is, so they swiped some dumb old broad and held her hostage to raise money for charity. BIG DEAL! Now if they’d got hold of a guy, a REAL man that might have been both a challenge, and something to crow about. Hey I got a challenge for those underage would be Bonnies… You kidnap ME and hold me for 24 hours anytime in the next week and I will personally DOUBLE what you so called ‘tough girls’ raised. Personally I don’t expect to pay out, these girls aint got the balls… Know what I mean! …This is Tom Julian and your listening to W-XJQ in the morning”
Miss Tennant paused the web recording and looked round the group assembled in her office. Mister and Mrs Morse, Miss Huntingdown, Miss Smith, Janice Carter from the FBI, Sergeant Klosko of the NYPD, Jane Molloy from the New York Times, Patricia van Roon, Kate Hardisty and Annie Kelly from her own staff, as well as Carina, Judy, and Bobbi.
“Opinions please?” the principal asked. “Personally, I think I don’t look that old, and I want to forget the broad comment.”
“I’d like to kick the male chauvinist bastard right where it hurts.” Jane Molloy said with an angry look. “Apologies Mister Deputy Mayor, Sergeant,” she nodded to the two men in the room.
“Well as I said when I phoned into his damn show, I’ll double his double if the girls can do it.” Pussy van Roon stated. “It’s about time he was put in his place.”
“Should we accept his challenge then?” Judy looked round.
“Well can I ask our two representatives of law and order?” Wilhelmina Tennant said as she looked at Janice.
“Well,” Janice said as she brushed some flecks from her skirt, “speaking as an FBI agent, I’d like to point out that it would be risky and stupid, but speaking as a mother, and as a woman, I’d really love to get that bastard.” Smiling, she looked over at Sergeant Klosko.
“Well strictly speaking it wouldn’t be against the law since he’s invited you to snatch him.” Sergeant Klosko offered an opinion.
“Yes it’s really a private bet…”
“That will be played out on the streets of our city.” Sergeant Klosko interrupted the deputy mayor.
“Well I spoke to the mayor this morning, and HE says he’d agree to turn a blind eye should the girls take up the challenge.” He looked at his daughter, “So Roberta, because it’s in a good cause, we are lifting your grounding and you and your friends can try this.”
“Thank you Daddy.” Bobbi hugged her father.
“What about me?” Carina glanced at Juliette.
“Well I spoke to Judy’s parents, and they are up to letting Judy do it, so I guess I can’t be the one to say no.”
Carina and Judy both hugged the stylish ex-model.
“Well I have just one stipulation,” Miss Tennant interrupted, “Miss Kelly will go along all the way to provide teacher supervision.”
“I wondered why I was here?” the Math teacher spoke up, “If the girls don’t mind I guess I’ll do it.”
“I want along as well.” Jane Molloy spoke up, “So I can document every second of that pigs humiliation in my paper.”
“You’ll need to dress like us to keep the illusion up,” Carina said as she looked at the two women.
“Well, perhaps we should break this meeting up?” Mrs Hardisty asked, “And leave the ‘gang’ to their planning.”
“Yeah I need to get back to work,” Janice glanced at her watch. “Can I give anyone a lift downtown?”
“Can you drop me at my office?” Juliette asked, “I came by cab.”
“Sure no problem.”
As Juliette got into the car, she said to Janice “Did you ever try anything this outrageous when you were at school?”
“Me? No – straight A student.”
“Well, apart from the time I sold some real hash brownies,” Janice said with a smile as she drove off. As they headed downtown, they passed Demoines jewellery store.
“Hmmm – for a store hosting an exhibition of private gems, they don’t seem to have much security,” Juliette said as she saw the two well dressed men at the door.
“True – but they don’t allow anyone in without an appointment, and access is strictly controlled by the manager. Only he can open and close the doors. I did make a comment they may need to beef up their security, but they insist it is good enough.”
“You don’t believe them?”
Janice shook her head. “If those Pussycats got one whiff of the value of the gems in there, we’d have a repeat of the Fratton case.
“Indeed – and nobody would want that,” Juliette said, nodding as they drove past…
“So what do you think?”
Carina sat back, and said “we need to hit him when he least expects it – so let’s find out as much as we can about Tom Julian. Judy, we’re going to need access to the school over the weekend – co-ordinate with Miss Kelly. Bobbi, meet me after school – we’re going shopping.”
The de Ros Mansion
“Mom you agreed to this shoot, just chill PLEASE!” Abigail pleaded with her mother as John Hammond’s people moved and rearranged things in her dining room.
“I’m sorry for the trouble Diana,” the tall, distinguished Englishman apologized. “We are being as considerate as we…”
“Dieu nous sauve de ces imbéciles!” Diana looked upset as her floor was scuffed by the leg of a particularly ornate recliner.
“Well just look at them darling?”
“We will put everything back as we found it Diana sweetie.” John Hammond shook his head. He had of course known Diana for years, he’d even photographed her back during her brief modelling career, but he knew that she would be the most difficult, and opinionated of his sitters for this spread.
“John I trust you… but what about them?” Diana pointed accusingly at his assistants.
“Just wait and see.” John sighed.
“Je l'espère très bien.” The Frenchwoman glared again at her ‘guests’.
“Just think of that wonderful gown you’ll be wearing?” Abby tried to distract her mother.
“Well it’s vintage Dior, it belonged to your grandmother… Vous êtes un putain de connard ou quelque chose ?” Diana interrupted herself cursing as an assistant juggled a Sevres vase.
“I’ll get her dressed and into hair and makeup John.” Abby literally dragged her mother out of the room as John shook his head.
“Calm yourself mother,” Abby said as she made Diana sit down, and the hairdresser got to work, ”I’m sure they know what they are doing.”
“I am sure they do as well,” Diana said as she looked into the mirror, “but they are such buffoons – a herd of wild elephants would take more care.”
“Diana you can’t be in the pictures and take them yourself.” John Hammond’s usually infinite patience was getting stretched almost to breaking point. The famed portraitist was two hours into the shoot and Diana had argued with him on every little detail.
“Mother, just let John do his job, please.” Abigail whispered in her mother’s ear.
John smiled at the young model, he’d been keen to photograph the young modelling sensation, and it was why he’d taken the assignment when Mary Thomas offered it. He was happy that he had, at least Abby was a total professional, in contrast to her Mother, and the photos he was getting proved that all the hype about Abigail was not just empty words.
“All right girls, stand back to back and turn slightly to the camera.”
John ran off a burst of clicks on his camera.
“That looked great.” John smiled.
“Did you get my grandmother’s picture in it?” Diana asked.
“Yes I did… Here come look.” John handed his camera to an assistant who started downloading images.
“Oh John those last few are great.” Abigail looked impressed. “Voir mère lorsque vous s'arrêta de parler il a réussi à créer quelque chose de merveilleux.” She turned and looked at Diana who was looking over her shoulder.
“Okay darling, I concede that.” Diana looked at the stunning images closely. You know you have a lot of your great grandmother about you darling.”
“Yes just look at the painting in the back.”
“She’s right you do Abigail.” John peered closely. “I just about remember her, she was stunningly beautiful still in her eighties.”
“Yes… you really do take after her.”
“Well I’ll be happy if I still look as good as ma chère mere.”
Mother and daughter embraced in a tender moment.
“Okay now for the good news Diana, I think we are done.”
“Oh cher Dieu Merci beaucoup.” Diana looked to the heavens as both John and Abigail laughed. “Come my dear – I agreed we would change and briefly visit Juliette to update her.”
“Let’s do the quick change then,” Abigail said as they both walked off, John shaking his head at both of them.
“Yes, John,” Diana said as she turned and looked at him.
“Do you trust me to get things back as they were?”
“I do,” Diana said with a wave of her hand.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Carina darling,” Juliette said as she knocked on her daughter’s bedroom door, “are you all right?”
“Fine Mum – I’m in a three way chat with Bobbi and Judy. Want to make sure we have our initial ideas sorted out. Want to hear them?”
“No I don’t” Juliette said, “my own suggestion would be to do it on Saturday and Sunday.”
“Way ahead of you,” Cari called out as Juliette headed downstairs. Diana and Abby had just arrived, joining Jo, Heather and Sandy in the front room.
“Apologies for the late hour,” Juliette said as she sat down. “Heather?”
“I did what you asked,” Heather said as she looked at her laptop. “the manager of Demoines is Alexander Demoines – he lives in the village with his wife and twin seventeen year old daughters. Simple brownstone – no additional security I can see.”
“He is supremely confident that nobody would dare attack him? That would suggest additional security we are unaware of.”
“Agreed,” Jo said. “But why the interest?”
“The collection of gems – no additional security, perfect for an early morning raid.”
“I see,” Sandy said, “so the plan?”
“Well, we have a small problem – it has to be Friday night and Saturday morning, and we have the proms on Friday night. So this is going to be a really tight timeline to follow.”
“Already contacted him – we will see him on Friday. It also means we have to work out of a safe house in the city – thoughts?”
“We could use John’s new place – I can get a hold of the keys. Meet there late Friday or early Saturday, hit the family, do the job, and clean out in time for your rehearsal on Saturday afternoon and evening.”
“My thoughts exactly – Sandy, we will need a completely clear and good route for the raid and the getaway. Heather, a suitable vehicle?”
“One problem – Carina.”
“I know,” Juliette said, “but I want her left out of this. She has enough to do this weekend, but she will get her full share.”
“Tom Julian lives by the showroom.”
“So the others run interference without knowing?”
Juliette nodded slowly. “Given the timelines, and the need for a full team, I have placed an invitation. Dominique will join us tomorrow night – she arrives by private jet, and Madame has agreed to process the gems at a much more advantageous rate then last time.”
“And much safer too,” Diana said as she nodded. “I just hope she has forgiven me for the last time.”
“So what are you going to tell Carina?”
“That it is time for her to recognise we have to be careful with her, Miss Lynx, and the baby for the next few months – and that we will find a way to feed the beast,” Juliette said, “but that is a job for tomorrow. We will meet at Diana’s.”
“One other thing,” Jo said quietly, “Barbara and Jeannie?”
“They’re going out to dinner Friday night – I’ll ask mother to come and stay over, because Heather and I are being invited to visit Patricia on Friday.”
“Will she back you up?”
“She will if I say it helps support Cari with her plans,” Heather said with a smile.
“Good – I’ll see you all tomorrow at dinner.”
Thursday 29th May
Conde Nast, Complete style Offices
For all her excellent qualities, Mary Thomas was not known as a morning person. As she walked into the office, in her waistcoat and thick denim blouse, she had a few choice words to offer the kind, considerate person who had woken her an hour earlier to come into work.
“Okay what is so important that you’ve dragged me in here at this ungodly hour?” Mary said as she came into the main office, and looked at her five visitors.
“Aunt Mary, you’ve heard this challenge that damn shock jock has laid down to us?” Carina opened the conversation.
“I had heard. Damn fool idiot if you ask me, but then nobody did. What about it?”
“Well we have a plan to grab him, but to do the surveillance we’ll need disguises, with our faces having been all over the papers this week, he or his bodyguard will notice us hanging round his apartment and radio station.”
“That he might darling.” Mary said in her lilting Welsh accent as she took a deep breath, “Okay let’s see what we can do - and I’m warning you Carina not a word to your mother.”
“Cross my heart Aunt Mary. She wants nothing to do with whatever we’re planning.”
“Okay darling what size are you?” Mary looked at Bobbi.
“I’m a four.”
“Yes and you are tall, I probably have a few things we can use.”
“I’m a six.” Judy looked a little embarrassed.
“Well I can maybe help.” Mary smiled.
“Sorry I’m a six as well.” Jane looked a little sheepish.
“Stop worrying about it, for goodness sake girls – honestly you’re worse than Abby when she first started. But you - girl you are a two if I ever saw one.” Mary looked at Annie.
“Right.” The teacher smiled.
“And Carina you WERE a four… “
Carina smiled sheepishly as she nursed the bump under her Angel’s hoodie. “Aunt Mary just maybe a six now, or can we disguise baby?”
“We’ll see what we can do.” Mary sighed as she ushered the girls towards the wardrobe. “Come on then – let’s see what we can do…”
Ninety minutes later a total transformation had taken place. Mary stood back and looked at the five young women.
“No wonder they call you the Wizard Aunt Mary.” Carina whispered in awe.
“Flattery always works darling.” Mary smiled.
“From humble teacher to high end socialite,” Annie looked at herself in the mirror clad in a leather outfit, topped off with a stunning mink jacket. Her hair was covered with a lovely honey blonde curly wig. “I’m just not sure I can recreate this makeup Mary.”
“You’ll be okay Darling.” Mary reassured the young teacher, “And you have your change outfits in the bag?”
“Yes.” Annie nodded.
Judy checked herself out, the auburn wig and the new makeup gave her a tremendously sexy look. She wore a grey jersey dress with a scallop tail dress, and a pair of long grey fabric boots. “I just love this.” She whispered.
“You okay Bobbi?” Carina asked.
“Oh yes.” Bobbi ran her fingers through the long blonde wig. “This suit is divine.” She smiled at Mary and looked again at her blue tailored pant suit.
“Jane?” Mary asked. “Happy?”
“You’ve just blown my feminist credentials out of the window Mary.” The journalist laughed at the glamour girl in the mirror with the jet-black pageboy hair, her split skirt and off the shoulder top making her look completely different.
“And you Cari?”
“Oh Aunt Mary, just love it,” she posed flicking back the red wig, as she checked out the green leather jacket over a white pair of pants. “I look a lot older.”
“Just remember your contacts, no glasses.” Mary reminded her. “Okay all got your bags? … Good…. Maybe now I can grab an hour’s sleep in my office before people start arriving. Get out of here - and good luck.”
“All right,” Cari said as they headed for the lifts, “we’re too late to see him go to the studio. Judy, you, Bobbi and Jane head for there, and see what you find out from the receptionist. Miss Kelly – sorry, Annie, you come with me – we need to look round the block his apartment is on and the surrounding streets, see how busy they are and so on. You take the Toyota,” she said as she threw the keys to Judy, “I’ve got the beast.”
“Honestly, young girls these days,” Mary said as she walked to her office, not hearing the lift doors open….
“There we go,” Jane said as she put the two cappuccinos in front of Judy and Bobbi, and sat at the table in the courtyard opposite the studios.
“Thanks,” Judy said as she looked at the entrance. “He must be inside now – how can we be certain?”
“You got a plain envelope of some sort?”
Jane looked in her bag and took out a large manila envelope. Bobbi took a pen and wrote on a piece of paper “Look behind you,” before she sealed it into the envelope and wrote “FAO Tom Julian – Personal and Confidential” on it in bold print.
“What are you going to do with that,” Judy said as she watched Bobbi seal the envelope.
“Me, nothing – you everything,” Bobbi said as she handed the envelope to Judy. “Go into the reception, say you are from Complete Style Magazine, and say you have been instructed to hand this to Tom Julian before he starts his show.”
Nodding, Judy got up and walked across the courtyard, the heels of her suede boots clicking on the flagstones, before she entered the reception. A bored looking young woman looked at her and said “Yes?”
“Package for Tom Julian – delivery by hand?”
“One moment,” she said as she tapped the side of her head. “Mr Julian? Delivery for you at reception.”
She listened to someone and nodded her head, before she said “George will come and collect it form you.”
“Oh no,” Judy said, trying to maintain her Chicago twang, “I was told to deliver it to him personally.”
“First time doing this honey?”
Judy nodded as the receptionist said “Look at George when he comes in, and then decide what to do.”
The lift doors opened, and Judy’s jaw almost dropped open when she saw a six foot ten mountain of a man walk out, built in a way that made Mike Tyson look small.
“This the package for Mister Julian? I’ll take it from you.”
“I am – you new?”
“Then you get a break – all mail for Tom Julian comes through my hands first. Thank you.”
He took the envelope from Judy’s hand and walked back to the lift, as the receptionist smiled at her. “Gets everyone that way the first time,” she said.
“Right - thanks,” Judy said as she walked slowly back to the café.
“You met George, didn’t you?”
Judy simply nodded as she sat down and drank her coffee, Jane putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Sorry – should have warned you that’s the big problem.”
“Big – the right word,” Judy said slowly, “big…”
Corner of Prince Street and Lafayette Street.
Carina and Annie were sitting in the Maserati, looking through dark glasses at the people as they walked past.
“That’s his apartment block,” Cari said as she looked across the road, “Looks fairly normal.”
“You’re thinking of Saturday morning, from what Judy said, right?”
Carina nodded. “He doesn’t have a show, but I’m willing to bet he has a routine round here. We’ll go and ask round in a bit.”
As she looked round, she saw a medium height, well built man looking in the window of Demoines Jewellers, with a well built blonde woman on his arm. She allowed herself a little smile when she recognised them, but said nothing.
As they walked past, she turned to Annie and said “beats trigonometry, doesn’t it?”
“It’s nice to get out of the school – come on, we’ll have a look round.”
As they got out of the car, a tall, thin woman with shoulder length black hair and dark glasses walked up to the door of Demoines and rang the door bell.
“Miss Du Plessis – I have an appointment?”
There was a short pause, before the door was opened from inside and Miss Du Plessis walked in, taking a good look round as she removed her glasses.
“Welcome,” a tall, grey haired man said, “I am Alexander Demoines. How may I be of assistance to you?”
Sandy slowly drove past the brownstone for the third time. The street was fairly busy, but she had a clear route in mind now from there to Charles Street.
As she pulled in, she saw a tall woman coming out, dressed in a long black coat and a cashmere sweater, tan riding breeches and knee length brown boots. With her were two identical young women, in long coats with black boots visible underneath.
“The Demoines, I presume,” she said to herself as she picked up her camera and took pictures of them as they walked past, heads in the air and no attention to anyone around them…
After a few moments, she set off again, trying yet another route to the store…
“… Well, we’ve come to the end of another show, and no sign yet of the three little ladies. Guess my money’s still safe – but they have six days left. Who knows? This is Tom Julian wishing you all a good day…”
“Sanctimonious little prick,” Jane said as she turned the radio off. “I am so going to enjoy watching you girls get the better of him.”
“Let’s hope we can,” Bobbi said as she stood up. “Come on – we need to be in the car before he comes out.”
From behind the wheel of the Toyota, they watched as a small, wiry looking man came out of the front entrance of the studio, accompanied by his bodyguard.
“So that’s Tom Julian,” Bobbi said as she watched them both get into a car, “but why the man they call George?”
“He’s had a few death threats in his time,” Jane said as they moved off behind the car. “Serious enough for him to employ George 24/7. So the real challenge in this is not capturing and holding Tom – its taking care of George.”
They moved onto the Lincoln Highway and south to the village, Judy staying a safe distance behind until they arrived at Prince Street. From the road, they watched as Tom and his friend walked into a local diner.
“Well, I hope we can successfully fill your request Miss Du Plessis,” Alexander Demoines said as he opened the door, a Toyota parked outside.
“I believe you will be most accommodating,” the tall woman said as she shook his hand and then left the jewellery store, glancing left and right before she hailed a taxi.
“Hey Mr Julian, what’s your choice today?”
“Pastrami on rye, and hold the pickle. What for you George?”
“The usual Gerri,” the man mountain said as they both stood at the counter. From the booth they were having lunch in, Kelly and Carina watched them intently.
“Here you go ladies,” the waitress said as she brought their orders overs.
“Isn’t that Tom Julian,” Carina said as the plate was placed in front of her.
“Yup – gets lunch here every day, and comes in every Saturday at ten for his breakfast – accompanied by George of course.”
“Who is he anyway – his lover?”
The waitress smiled as she said “looks that way doesn’t it? Nah – his bodyguard. You want a refill on that?”
“Please,” Kelly said as she watched the waitress pour more iced tea into her glass.
“Well, that makes it interesting,” Cari whispered as the waitress walked off. “I think we have a particularly good handle on his routine, especially on a Saturday, but George is the key to this?”
“He is? How?”
“Take him out of the equation – nicely of course – and things go a lot more smoothly.”
“Something tells me he won’t be intimidated by women carrying guns.”
Carina just nodded – she already had a plan forming in her mind…
“Good afternoon, Juliette – I trust your meeting went well?”
“It did Janine thank you – have you seen Mary today?”
Janine smiled as she said “I did have to wake her up in her office earlier – something about an early start.”
“Mary Thomas early to work – whatever will they think of next?”
“Hi Missy,” Juliette said as she walked into her office, “Sorry I’m late – I had to talk to some new suppliers.”
“Not a problem – Janine, can you give us a moment please?”
“Sure,” the young assistant said as she left the messages on Juliette’s desk and closed the door behind her.
“She doesn’t know – none of us have said anything, and I haven’t even told the girls yet.”
“Good – because I had a phone call today. There’s one teeny tiny problem that they wanted my advice on – who was going to announce the award.”
“I would have thought Kate or Trudi or someone like…”
“They want you to. Something about bridging the generations of her career is what they said.”
Juliette looked over her glasses at her former agent. “Me? What do they expect me to say?”
“Something honest and heartfelt,” Missy said as she stood up. “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
The Richmond Mansion
The crew were working on moving furniture and making sure John Hammond had all the room he needed while Barbara stood to one side. It still seemed surreal to her that this was the world her daughter wanted, never mind the fact she was playing a part in it.
“Can I help Mister Hammond?” Barbara looked round at the crew setting up in Sandy’s drawing room. She wasn’t used to standing by while others worked, and she felt as if she should be doing something, if only making the tea.
“Barbara, I’ve told you half a dozen times, just call me John please.”
“I know, it just sounds a bit disrespectful with you being so famous and all.”
John smiled; he liked the Brewster ladies, no airs and graces, just very down to earth.
“Listen Barbara - you scuttle off upstairs and I’ll send the girls up to help you and your lovely daughter get ready.”
“Alright Mister… ummmm I mean John, as long as you don’t need me here.”
“I promise you, I will personally tell you when I need you, and it will be to make you look beautiful. Now go – I have to make sure everything’s ready.”
John watched as Barbara headed towards the hallway, looking back over her shoulder as though she was leaving her post by letting the crew work on alone. Smiling, he turned back to the crew, before saying “not there, Charles – THERE!”
An hour later a very different looking Barbara re-entered the drawing room along with Jeannie and her father. Her hair done in an elaborate updo, her makeup impeccable, and her dress a satin strapless fishtail gown that showed a lot of her cleavage, as well as her beautiful milky white shoulders.
“Well, what do you think, John - doesn’t Mum scrub up pretty well?” Jeannie looked upwards from her chair.
“Yes she does.” John gave Barbara a little peck on the cheek. “Barbara you look beautiful.”
“That’s what I told her,” her father laughed, “but then she’s never listened to me.”
“Oh Dad give over.” When she had seen herself in the mirror, however, Barbara had been amazed at how good she looked.
“Well do I pass as well John?” Jeannie asked.
John ran an expert eye over the young models ensemble. The very pale blue jersey evening dress hugged Jeannie’s emerging curves, the fish tail matching her mothers, a pair of high heels on her feet, and made up she looked 17 or 18.
“No not really.” John teased.
“Hey!” Jeannie laughed, “I know I look fabulous!”
“Don’t talk back Jeannie,” her mother said, looking a little panicked.
“Barbara it was a joke.” John could see she was as nervous as a kitten.
“Okay… Alright… as long as she looks okay.” Barbara twittered for a few moments.
“Now.” John took a deep breath, “this gentleman,” he indicated a burly man in a dark suit, “is from the Richmond trust. Vanessa has kindly offered to let us use some of her jewellery for the photo-shoot. He is here to make sure nothing happens to them.”
John Bolden looked at the security guard, he thought he recognized him, but wasn’t sure from where.
“These are the famous Richmond emeralds… Girls would you mind putting them on Barbara please?” John indicated to his assistants.
Barbara stood as the green jewels were attached to her outfit, startled at the way the light was reflected in them.
“And these are the legendary Marie Antoinette diamonds for you to wear Jeannie.”
“Oh my God!” the young models jaw dropped, while her mother looked almost catatonic with shock.
“How much are these worth John?” John Bolden asked.
“Do you really want an answer John? Your poor daughter looks worried enough as it is.”
“I guess not.” John looked at his daughter and granddaughter with a tear in his eye. “You both look so fantastic darlings.”
“Okay to business.” John Hammond clapped his hands. “John, would you mind lifting Jeannie onto the sofa so she can sit up and have her legs just touching the floor.”
“So I show a long body line Granddad.” Jeannie directed how she was posed.
“Now Barbara sitting on the arm… Arm round Jeannie please… smile girls.” John started clicking.
Two hours later after he’d packed Jeannie and her mother off upstairs, John Hammond reflected what a pleasure this shoot had been, no tantrums, no fuss, a stunning young model and her attractive mother to work with.
Yes, compared to a couple of his sitters this past week – well, one if truth be told, the Brewster’s were wonderful to work with. He’d worried about working with a disabled sitter, but honestly in or out of her chair, Jeannie had been a delight, a total professional. Yes at least tonight John remembered why he loved photography.
Bergdorf Goodman, 5th Avenue
Carina and Kelly walked into the shoe department, Kelly looking at the collection of boots.
“There you are,” Judy said as she, Bobbi and Jane came in, “How was your day?”
“Intriguing – I’ll tell you more later,” Carina said, “but first I wanted us to meet here for a reason.”
“Good afternoon, Madame,” the assistant said as he walked over, “was there something in particular you were looking for?”
“Indeed,” Carina said with a smile. “My two friends here are in the market for a good ankle boot – leather, black, with a minimum of a four inch heel, and naturally we thought of you.”
“Thank you for the compliment. Which of your group are shopping today?”
“These two ladies,” Carina said as she indicated Kelly and Jane. “Perhaps you can show them some possibilities?”
“Of course – if you ladies will follow me?”
He escorted the two older women to one side of the store, while the three girls talked.
“Jane and I are going to follow him tomorrow, from start to finish, in our other clothes. I take it you’ve seen George?”
“Oh yes,” Carina said with a smile, “I’ve seen him. That makes it all the more interesting. What we learned is he has a definite routine to his Saturday – Goes for an early morning trip to the gym with George in tandem, then stops off to pick up the papers and goes into his favourite diner for a later breakfast, regular as clockwork.”
“So if we’re going to do it, it’s going to have to be on the Saturday morning – but how do we deal with the bodyguard issue?”
“I’ll give it some thought,” Carina said, “there are one or two things I can do.”
“Well, Kelly and I have the basement ready with supplies and a few cots, so that we can stay overnight. I take it your mum is still in the dark.”
“that’s right she…” Carina suddenly stopped and looked at the other two.
“What is it?”
“She kicked. I just felt Baby kick!”
Judy and Bobbi put their hands on Cari’s belly and giggled as the assistant came over.
“Forgive me, ladies, but your friends have asked for your opinion?”
“Oh – sure,” Carina said with a smile as they walked across to Kelly and Jane.
“These are amazing,” Jane said as she stood up in a pair of Prada black leather ankle boots with stiletto heels. “I love them?”
“These are just perfect,” Kelly said as she walked up and down in her pair. “But they’re…”
“Exactly what they are looking for – we’ll take them,” Carina said with a smile. “Box them up.”
“Cash or charge miss?”
“Cash,” Carina said as the two women watched her walk away.
“Just now much is she worth?”
“More than most of us,” Judy said with a smile.
As Carina came back, the dulcet tones of Def Leppard emerged from her bag.
“Sorry,” she said as she answered the call. “Oh hi Mom.
“Actually, I was going to go grab a pizza with the girls, if that’s all right?
“Fine – I’ll see you at Aunt Diana’s later. I’ve got something to tell you. Have fun.”
“Yeah,” Carina said, “let’s take these back to the school, get changed, and then hot somewhere good. I’m starving, and we can talk over the food.”
The de Ros Mansion
“Hey,” Abby said as Jeannie and Barbara came in, “welcome to my little pad. How did it go today?”
“Your little…” Barbara stared at the large open front room, and quietly sat down.
“She’s still getting used to some of this,” Jeannie said as she applied the brakes to your wheelchair. “Who is the woman in the portrait – she looks just like you.”
“That would Yvette, Duchess des Grechy, my grandmother,” Diana said as she came in. “She was a close friend of Coco Chanel.”
“Oh my – I wonder what it would have been like to know her?”
“My own memory is of an elderly and very gracious woman,” Diana said as she sat down. “Anyway, thank you both for joining us for dinner tonight.”
“Is Cari coming or is she too busy plotting,” Joanne said as she came in with Sandy and Heather, the two younger children hugging Abby.
“She will join us later – for now, we are a small party.”
“Sorry I’m late,” Juliette said as she came in, “Have I missed much?”
“We were talking about Carina.”
“She’s having a meal with Bobbi and Judy. I’ll talk to her later. So how did the shoot go today girls?”
“It was… I can’t describe how it felt. Mum looked gorgeous, and the jewels…”
Sandy nodded. “Mother let them borrow some of our jewellery collection. I think you’ll find the photos – illuminating.”
“I felt as if I was a duchess or a princess – it was truly amazing,” Barbara said as she looked at the others.
“Would you like to do it again,” Heather said with a smile.
“Not in a million years – but Jeannie is welcome to it.”
“On which note,” Diana said as her housekeeper appeared at the door, “we shall dine.”
After dinner, little George and Sandy went with Barbara and Jeannie to watch a cartoon film, while the others gathered in the front room.
“And how did Miss du Plessis enjoy her visit to the Demoines emporium,” Juliette said as she looked at Heather.
“Very much so – they have the display stands ready for the gems, and Alexander was most accommodating in saying they were going to be setting things up tomorrow ready for Saturday. The poor man really has no idea what he is in for.”
“I’m not sure we do either,” Sandy said. “After I drove a few times, I went and looked at the brownstone they live in. Nice security system – so nice I think we need to get someone in before we can go in.”
“Perhaps that is something I can assist with.”
The group turned to see Dominique standing in the doorway, smiling and embracing Diana as she came to welcome her.
“Thanks for coming Dominique,” Juliette said as she sat with them.
“My pleasure – so you need someone to break in and enable you to enter as part of this raid?”
“Correct – possible?”
“Allow me to study the plans and I will let you know. What of the location of the target store itself?”
“Mixture of residential and business – should not be too much of a problem on a Saturday morning, especially early. One interesting point – I saw one Tom Julian when I left the store.”
“Not surprised – he lives locally, and I suspect the girls may snatch him…”
“I’m sorry,” Dominique said as she accepted a drink, “snatch whom?”
“We’ll explain later,” Heather said, “on which note, have you spoken to Carina yet?”
“No – I’ll do that later. Part of the reason we invited you, Dominique, is that Carina will be busy with something else – and I want to keep her out of the line of active fire from now until after the birth.”
“hmmm – how do you think she will take that?”
“Not well,” Joanne said quietly, “be prepared for storm clouds.”
Dominique nodded as Sandy said “I think we have several routes there and back – I suggest a midway change point, as we did last October. I can bring one of the vehicles down from the farm as well.”
Juliette nodded, her eyes closed as the others watched. “What of the family?”
The others looked to the laptop as Heather brought up the pictures Sandy had taken earlier that day. “Very proper,” Joanne said with a smile, “I think I’m going to like taking them down a peg or two.”
“So what’s the timeline like?”
Juliette opened her eyes and looked at Abigail. “What time does the prom finish for you tomorrow?”
“Between eleven and midnight – The House has something he has to go to on Saturday morning as part of his Stanford football thing.”
“Okay – we meet at the rendezvous address at one, and dress there. Dominique, we go to the home, you get in, disable the alarms and open the front door, and we take control from two am.”
“I’ll let you know if that is a problem,” Dominique said quietly.
“I want papa Demoines willing and compliant to get to the jewellery store at eight thirty, and us out of there by nine thirty. We all have appointments that day to keep.”
“Diana and I are meeting Tommy tomorrow to collect supplies.”
“Well then, the only remaining question is, what happens after that?”
“If I may, the jet I came in on is waiting for me. I believe I can guarantee a customs free transit to Basel.”
“Straight to the dealer?”
“Madame extends her greetings, and a direct line in her name.”
“I thank her,” Juliette said quietly. “Well, I think we have neglected the others long enough – Diana and I will ensure everything is in place tomorrow.”
“Agreed – I’m not being a very good host,” Diana said as she headed for the door, as Carina came in.
“Hey – sorry I wasn’t here for dinner,” she said, and then she looked at the tall dark haired woman.
“Dominique? What are you doing here?”
“Carina, darling, I need to have a word with you,” Juliette said as the others filed out, Abby whispering “Find us when you’re done” as they did so.
“Sit down, sweetie.”
“Why do I get the feeling I’m not gonna like this,” Carina said as she sat by Juliette, Dominique on the far side.
“Then let me say it,” Dominique said quietly. “Your mother and the others have asked me to help with a job this weekend, and it is better if you are not part of this one – for your sake and that of the child.”
Carina looked at her mother, who nodded without saying a word. “I also understand from your mother you have something else to do this weekend – otherwise, I would not be here and you may well have been taking part.”
“It’s all right,” Cari said quietly, “something happened today that made me realise my active time was over for a while, but the beast ain’t too happy about it.”
“What happened?” Juliette looked at Carina, who smiled and said “She kicked me. In fact,” she groaned for a moment, “she’s started again. I don’t think spicy pork agrees with her.”
Juliette leaned over and placed her hand on Carina’s bump, smiling as she felt the little kicks against it. “She’s a lively one, isn’t she,” she said eventually. “Look, we’ll find another way for you to get satisfaction, but this one…”
“It’s all right Mom – I do have other plans for this weekend, starting tomorrow, so this once Miss Lynx will sit it out. I hope Miss Civet has fun.”
Inside, she was angry, and the beast was screaming, but this once Carina knew her mother as right. Of course, if Mister Julian caused a problem…
Friday 30th May
St Angela’s Academy
Wilhelmina Tennant smiled as she looked over the assembly.
“Next week,” she said quietly, “we say goodbye to the class of 2014 as they graduate. It has been an eventful and emotional year for all of us, and we have suffered tragedy and loss. But through it, we have grown stronger, wiser and more fulfilled, and I will miss every single one of the senior year – despite the events of earlier this week.”
There was a titter around the room as the girls laughed at that last comment.
“Yearbooks will be available from the refectory at lunchtime, and as is traditional, the Seniors are free from now to graduation to talk to the faculty, Juniors and of course each other. As this will be the last time I address you as a group between now and the graduation ceremony, let me say this to you all.
“Well done, and may you find the success you all truly deserve. You are dismissed.”
“Three cheers for Miss Tennant,” Bobbi Morse said as she stood up. “Hip Hip…”
“Thank you,” she said quietly as she left.
“My room, now,” Kelly whispered to Bobbi and Judy as the others slipped out. When they got there, they were surprised to see a red haired woman in tight black leather pants and a crop top, her wedge sandals giving her extra height.
“Oh, sorry girls,” Judy said as she turned and looked at them, “I haven’t changed from this morning yet. Jane should be along in a few minutes.”
“I’m here,” Jane said as she came in, “What did I miss?” She was wearing a black blouse and A-line skirt, with a pair of four-inch heels strapped to her feet. “I need to get used to walking in this height of heel – not that easy.”
“Comes with practice,” Carina said quietly. “Right – I have a plan for tomorrow, and I need to run it past all of you. Annie, you need to say you are happy, and Jane, that this will not be too difficult for you.”
All four nodded as Carina said “the big problem, in every sense of the word, is George. If we do not take him out, then the whole thing is a dud, so we need to remove him from the scene.”
From her shoulder bag, Carina took out a small pistol, and placed it on the table.
“This is a tranquilizer gun – I got it from a friend of a friend, and it fires a dart tipped with a sedative. We use this to bring down George, and Tom Julian is ours.”
“How do you know how much of a dose is safe,” Annie said as she looked at it.
“Jane, you’ve met him before, what do you know of him?”
“Five ten, nearly two hundred pounds, former quarterback – I can show you his stats on line.”
“Do that – I’ll get the right dose in a couple of darts. Now, his Saturday routine means he gets back from the gym at nine thirty, goes to buy a paper, and then heads to the diner for breakfast. Our window of opportunity is then – so I suggest we drop George as they leave the vendor, pull Martin into the van, and bring him back here.”
“Quick, clean neat – and George is not permanently hurt?”
“Nope – he gets to sleep it off, with a little help from the local NYPD – Annie, Bobbi, you need to let the right people know.”
“Understood,” Bobbi said, “I’ll call Daddy now and let him know.”
“I’ll talk to Klosko – get him to liaise with the right precinct.”
“We’re covered,” Jane said as she looked at Annie, who nodded in response.
“Great – right, we meet tomorrow, eight am, in the cellar. Right now – it’s book time!”
Mary Thomas looked up as her mother and grandfather wheeled the young girl into the office.
“John Bolden as I live and breath,” she said as she walked over, “What on earth brings you into – oh slap me for a stupid one, you must be Barbara, and you are most definitely Jeannie. I’m Mary Thomas – welcome to the crucible.”
“Thanks,” Jeannie said as she looked round. “It’s a lot bigger than Fiona’s place?”
“Yeah, well – Fiona firmly believes that if you are not within earshot of her, or within two minutes walk of a cup of tea, you’re not at work. Me – I let you have some room, but you come when I call.”
“And if you don’t come running then, heaven help you, because she does her Owain Glyndwr impression,” Juliette said as she came into the office. “Come on through – John is waiting for you.”
Jeannie giggled as she heard Juliette speak.
“What’s funny,” John said as he looked at her.
“Sorry – Horrible Histories. Just imagining Mary singing like Tom Jones.”
“Juliette Huntingdown, if you were the same size of your daughter,” Mary said, smiling as they went through to the conference room. Diana was waiting for them inside.
“No Carina and Abigail?”
“School day,” Diana said as John started the projector. The three mothers sat and watched as he projected the pictures he had taken, one after the other.
“See,” John said as he nudged Barbara, “Now maybe you’ll believe it when I say you are the two most beautiful women in my life.”
“Dad,” Barbara said as she started crying, “shut up.” She gripped his hand however, and nodded as Anne came in.
“An absolute winner,” Juliette said with a smile, Diana and Barbara nodding in agreement. “It is going to be so difficult to pick – John, thank you, thank you so much.”
“It was my pleasure,” John Richmond said with a smile, “even with you, Ma Cherie Diana.”
“Well, that’s why Mary, Fiona and I are going to decide this layout. Jeannie, why don’t you and your mother come with me.”
“We need to go as well,” Juliette said as she looked at Diana, “we have a lunch appointment. Jeannie, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Jeannie said as Diana and Juliette made their way out of the office.
Tommy the Fish was in an exceptionally good mood for once – not even the meeting he was in the deserted warehouse for was going to spoil his day.
When he saw the Lincoln pull up, he felt the new signet ring around his finger and smiled, waiting for two of the women he feared and respected more than almost anyone to step out.
As Miss Panther and Miss Leopard got out, she looked at them – grey pinstripe jackets with padded shoulders, matching knee length skirts, dark hose and those killer shoes with the four inch heels. Their scarves today were gold and black, and as always the hose pressed their black hair down around their heads.
“Good afternoon Tommy,” Miss Panther said as she walked towards him, “thank you for fulfilling our order at such short notice.”
“Not a problem, ma’am,” he said as he looked at them. “Of course, it helped it was a little smaller than usual – made it easier to get them for youse.”
“We appreciate it,” Miss Panther said quietly. “Where are they?”
“In the trunk,” Tommy said as he popped the lid, “large canvas holdall, nice and anonymous as usual.”
As Miss Leopard walked round, Miss Panther looked hard at Tommy. “Forgive me for saying so, but you seem unusually happy today, Tommy.”
“Yeah, wells, it’s a special day for me ma’am. We open the new Calabria tonight.”
“Ah,” Miss Panther said quietly, “I am pleased to hear that. I imagine Annie is eager to get back to work.”
“That she is,” Tommy said, “but she’s more than that now. She has consented to be my lawfully wedded missus.”
Miss Panther smiled and said “Well then, our most hearty congratulations to you. Tommy and Annie are to be married, Miss Leopard.”
“That is indeed good news,” she said as she walked round. “Exemplary as always, Tommy – if you would do the honours?”
“Of course,” Tommy said as he lifted the back from the trunk of his car and placed it in the trunk of theirs, before retrieving a small holdall and closing it. “I leave first as usual?”
“OF course – and do pass on our congratulations to Annie as well.”
“I will – thank youse ladies,” Tommy said as he got into he car and drove off.
“Tommy the Fish a married man,” Diana said as she removed her mask, “who would have thought it?”
“True – but we have a most difficult task now.”
“Getting the guns to the house?”
“No – getting our daughters to the prom.”
The de Ros Mansion
Abigail and Diana contemplated the two dresses that Abigail had laid out on the bed and looked hard at each of them.
“You know I’m far more nervous about this mother then about the damn job.”
“I know darling.”
“The only good thing is Winston having to fly out to San Francisco early tomorrow for that evaluation camp at Stanford.”
“So to use a horrid American expression, he won’t get lucky tonight?”
“MOTHER!” Abigail shouted and blushed at the same time.
“Well I do understand it’s something of a prom night tradition.” Diana giggled at her daughter’s shocked expression.
“Vous êtes une mère mal.”
“Qui moi ?”
“OUI, VOUS !”
Diana laughed out loud. “You know when we argue darling, you suddenly revert from being all-American to being very, very French.”
“Je sais.” Abigail switched languages, “I just feel I can make myself better understood by you in French.”
Diana hugged her daughter, “It still doesn’t solve the problem of the dresses though.”
“I know.” Abigail looked hard at the dresses. “If I wear this one, it’s so spectacular, so glam, I’ll look like the supermodel. On the other hand I wear this one, It’s dowdier and safer, but will Winston be disappointed that his date is more The Stick then The Model?”
“I really don’t know.” Diana shook her head. “Let’s put our thinking caps on darling.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
Carina and Juliette contemplated the two dresses that Carina had laid out on the bed and looked hard at both of them.
“You know I’m far more nervous about this mother then about the damn kidnapping.”
“I know darling.”
“The only good thing is Tommy knows I have something more important to do.”
“So he doesn’t get lucky tonight?”
Juliette giggled, “Well it’s not as though you are exactly a virgin my darling.”
“Mom I’m nearly 5 months pregnant, I’m just lucky Tommy wants to take me tonight… I bet he thinks I’m unclean.”
“So it gives you the perfect excuse to leave just when you want to.”
“Yep.” Carina nodded. “We are all sleeping over at Judy’s tonight.”
“Don’t tell me any more darling, the less I know the happier I’ll be.”
“Okay - then expect me home sometime on Sunday.”
“Just give me a call and let me know everything is okay please.
Juliette hugged her daughter, “It still doesn’t solve the problem of the dresses though.”
“I know.” Carina looked hard at the dresses. “I bought this one and it is fabulous, but it shows my bump a little, this one, the one you bought me for the shoot, conceals baby, but somehow just doesn’t mean as much as one I shopped for and bought myself. What do you think Mom?”
“I really don’t know.” Juliette shook her head. “Let’s put our thinking caps on darling.”
Carina, Judy, and Bobbi looked at each other, flushed with excitement as the limo the boys had hired drew up outside the front entrance of the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue.
Lesser schools might hold their proms in school gymnasiums and other such lowly venues, but for the young ladies of St Angela’s only the best would do, and for generations that had meant hiring the ballroom at the Waldorf for their senior prom.
“Okay guys deep breaths.” Judy looked excited as the driver opened the door.
The boys slipped out of the car and in turn took the arm of his date as she emerged.
First Bobbi appeared, in a pale green sheath gown with matching gloves, shoes, and purse, her long dark hair up in an elaborate knot.
Jimmy Robertson took her arm as a couple of photographers snapped their picture.
Next Judy stepped out with Cameron Masterson taking her arm. Judy shone in a gold satin strapless gown that emphasized her curves, her black gloves, accessories, and antique comb worn as decoration in her hair contrasting beautifully with her dress.
Finally Carina emerged, she’d opted for the dress she had bought herself, the off the shoulder black number that she; Abby, and Jo had picked out weeks before. The girls had been right she thought, her mom’s diamonds did dance in the lights of the photographer’s flashes. Tommy beamed with pleasure as he escorted her to the entrance.
Across town at the Harker School’s gymnasium the House was glad he’d been able to borrow his father’s Lincoln town car and driver. This was the way to make an entrance.
As the driver opened the door, Winston took Abigail’s arm and helped her out.
Slowly they walked into the gymnasium, the photographers outside ignoring them. Abigail smiled, they hadn’t recognized her. She and Diana had finally decided that this really was the House’s big night and that it would really be best if all the fuss wasn’t about her. So she’d opted for the traditional long white full-skirted dress, and braided her long blonde hair so it hung down simply. Very little makeup and her glasses on, she looked cute, but a million miles away from the supermodel.
At the Waldorf the girls had made a huge entrance, their friends snapping pictures of the three heroines, the official photographer taking pictures of them with their dates.
At one of the tables set up round the edge of the ballroom, Principal Tennant slipped into a chair next to Miss Kelly.
“So I understand it’s all set for the morning Annie?” she whispered.
Annie nodded, “I’m supposed to be collecting Jane and meeting up with the girls.”
Wilhelmina Tennant allowed herself a rare laugh. “You’ll be fine Annie, just remember if it starts to get dangerous then abort the whole thing, just please bring yourself and the girls back safely.”
“Okay.” Annie breathed a slight sigh of relief.
Back at Harker, Abby and the House found themselves meeting and greeting dozens of people eager to meet the supermodel.
Abby fingered the corsage Winston had given her nervously, she still wasn’t over fond of her own celebrity. Yes, she knew people were keen to meet her, and yes she knew that the model and the guy who was going to be playing big time college football next year made an intriguing couple, but she’d still rather not be crowded like this. It made her nervous, and she was nervous enough as it was.
Looking round, she spotted the entrance to the powder room.
“Ummm Winston I need… “ she pointed towards the ladies room door.
“Okay.” Winston nodded. “I’ll still be out here.”
Quickly Abby scooted into the powder room and sat in one of the stalls. She heard two girls coming in behind her.
“Well I don’t see what all the fuss is about?”
“I told Sarah, I bet all her photos are photoshopped to make her look good.”
“She’s a geek.”
“I know lots of girls would make better models.”
“Well you would for starters.”
“And to see all those people round her like she’s the Queen of England or something.”
Abigail just sat there, her dress up round her waist, her panties round her ankles, the colour in her cheeks rising as she had to sit there and listen to the crap.
At the Waldorf, The Living Zombies were pounding out a hard fast rhythm as the girls and their dates hit the dance floor.
“These guys are great.” Carina shouted to Judy trying to be heard above the sound of the band. “Great choice Jude.”
“Thanks.” Judy smiled.
“Congrats Judy,” Miranda Jones the school’s basketball heroine called out.
Judy smiled at the black girl who would be going to West Point over the summer.
Back at Harker, Abby had excused herself and slipped outside. She retrieved her cell phone from her purse and dialled a number, tapping her foot as she waited for an answer.
“Mère ? pouvez-vous attraper l'autre robe, ma trousse de maquillage et obtenir plus rapide ici ?”
Abby listened carefully as her Mother exploded into a series of questions and objections.
“C'est parce que certaines chiennes stupides étaient dénigrants mon apparence. Si vous intentez ceux pour, je vais leur montrer ce qui ressemble à un véritable modèle!”
Abigail listened as her mother capitulated.
“Je vous verrai bien en dix minutes.”
Ending the call, Abigail looked back into the gymnasium. “Demean me,” she said quietly, “I’ll show you…”
Miss Tennant called up Judy onto the stage, after the principal had made her brief speech.
“Okay class of 2014…. WE RULE!” Judy shouted into to the microphone to loud applause. “Three cheers for Miss Tennant, the rest of the staff, the parents, our organizing committee, and all the wonderful people here at the Waldorf Astoria who made tonight possible… HIP HIP!”
The revellers broke out into spontaneous applause as she looked over the excited crowd.
“Okay Okay guys, Quieten down please. Before I announce the usual awards, there is someone we all remember who would not have been at this prom, hers would have been next year, but who we all miss, can we have a minutes silence to remember Jamie Kirkham.”
Suddenly you could hear a pin drop as the entire room stood still and bowed their heads.
“Thank you,” Judy said quietly, “and now for the first award – Voice of the Year!”
Back at Harker, Diana and Abby had found an open classroom, and started the transformation.
“I’ll show those bitches,” Abigail gritted her teeth, as her Mother zipped her into the curve hugging cream and gold patterned lurex gown, slit to her hips.
“Darling why get so upset?”
“Because no one calls Abigail de Ros names like that.”
Diana watched as her daughter carefully applied her makeup.
“I thought you said tonight was about Winston?”
“Well those bitches made it about me!” Abigail took her makeup and started to apply the red lipstick, Diana watching and admiring the fire in her daughter’s eyes.
“And finally,” Judy said, “the big one, the St Angela’s prom queen. I have to say the voting was closer than I expected, there were actually a couple of votes for me,” the audience laughed, “but of course, baby and all, it had to be my friend Carina Huntingdown.”
Judy led the thunderous applause as Carina was escorted up onto the stage by Tommy. With due ceremony, Miss Tennant put the tiara on the blonde beauties head.
“CARINA! CARINA! CARINA! CARINA!” the girls started chanting.
Carina put up a gloved hand for silence.
“Thank you for the honour ladies, I’d like to echo Judy’s thanks for all responsible for this great prom.”
Once again applause broke out.
“As you know my Mom is a trustee of the Jamie Kirkham fund, she asked me to pass on the news that the endowment has now thanks to some wonderful donations, passed the three million dollar mark.”
Carina again signalled to quieten the applause.
“Thank you to all the girls who voted for me, and one last thing, someone gets his comeuppance VERY soon.”
Carina moved away from the mike as Tommy escorted her back to the hall.
“Okay girls,” Judy finished up, “LETS PARTY!” The band started playing again as the couples danced, and the room rocked…
Over at Harker, Abigail made her re-entrance, walking in without any announcement. At first only one of the boys glanced over, but his exclamation of “WOW!” turned other heads, soon everyone was silent, jaws dropped, even the band stopped playing, as Abigail wiggled her way through the crowd towards Winston.
“Oh my God!” Winston whispered as she found him.
“Oh my God!” The House repeated himself.
“That good eh?”
“Abs you have no idea.”
Once again they were mobbed, but this time Abby played the part of the supermodel to the hilt.
“This will show them,” she smiled to herself as she looked at the girls across the hall.
We go to a party
And everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady
That's walking around with me
And then she asks me
Do you feel alright
And I say yes, I feel wonderful tonight
Jimmy danced with his arms round Bobbi, her with her arms round his neck, as the bane played the Clapton classic. They gazed into each other’s eyes, and then gave each other a gentle kiss on their lips
I feel wonderful
Because I see the love light in your eyes
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize
How much I love you
Cameron and Judy had their eyes closed and their lips locked together, oblivious to the other people in the room.
“They seem to be having a good time,” Tommy said as he danced with Carina, her head resting on his chest.
“Yeah – funny, I never knew they were that close?”
“She’s going to be your roomie at Yale, and you didn’t know that?”
Carina looked at up at Tommy and said “thanks.”
“For being a perfect gentleman.”
“Cari, you know I’ll do anything for you – after all, you’d smack me up my head if I didn’t.”
Carina smiled as she said “Tommy, you are one of life’s true gentlemen.” She gave him a little kiss on the mouth, and then nestled against him as he held her close.
It's time to go home now
And I've got an aching head
So I give her the car keys
She helps me to bed
And then I tell her
As I turn out the light
I say my darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight
“Ladies and Gentlemen, take your partners for the last dance.”
The House took Abigail by her gloved hand and led her to the centre of the dance floor, the others giving way as the band started to play New York State of Mind.
“I’m sorry I ducked out earlier,” Abigail whispered into his ear, “I guess I felt you deserved something a little less Plain Jane.”
“Abby, want to know the honest truth?”
She looked into his face and nodded.
“If you had turned up tonight in a hemp sack, you would still have looked like a million dollars.”
“Really really – although the corsage would have clashed a little. It’s you I’m in love with, not the clothes you wear.”
The two of them kissed as other couples started to come onto the dance floor.
“But I’ll say it again – wow, Countess de Ros, you looked stunning in both your dresses tonight. I am the luckiest guy in the world – I just wish I didn’t have that early flight.”
He nodded and wrapped his huge arms gently round her, as they danced and the band continued to play.
“Guys, I think it’s time.”
Judy and Bobbi nodded as the three of them made their way to the exit, the room standing and applauding them as they went out with their escorts.
“Thanks boys for a wonderful evening,” Judy said as the limousine made its way back to her house.
“It was our pleasure,” Cameron said as he looked at the other two. “Give them hell tomorrow from us as well.”
The girls nodded as they made their way through the city streets.
“Thank you for a wonderful evening,” Abigail said as The House walked her to the front door of the mansion.
“You’re welcome,” he said quietly. “If you’re free next Tuesday, perhaps we can catch a movie?”
“I’d like that,” Abigail said quietly as she kissed him, and then she walked to the door, Diana waiting in her dressing gown. “Safe journey.”
The House smiled and blew her a kiss before he turned and walked back to the limousine, and Diana closed the door behind Abigail.
“Ten minutes,” she said as she removed her dressing gown to reveal the grey tracksuit she has been wearing underneath.
“No problem – help me with this,” Abby said as Diana unfastened the dress, and she stepped out, walking quickly to the front room.
Saturday 31st May
E 47th Street
“How did it go,” Juliette said as Diana and Abigail came in.
“Magical – but I have a desire to hurt someone,” Abby said as he went to join Joanne.
“What happened,” she said to Diana as the older woman removed her top.
“Ungrateful upstarts,” she said quietly. “I need to get ready.”
“Whoa, who lit your fire,” Joanne said as she looked up from the bed, the silk stockings halfway up her legs.
“Certaines petites filles coincé qui ont eu moins de sens que les regards,” Abby said as she stripped off and let her hair fall down, then sat at the table, adjusting her make up. “Where is it?”
“Right here,” Joanne said as she held The Thing up, helping Abby to strap it around herself. She grunted as he picked up the white camisole top, and slipped it over the padding, before pulling on the stockings.
Joanne pulled on the knee length black skirt, and then sat back down as she slipped on the soft Italian leather shoes. “It’s strange going out without Cari,” she said as she took the matching jacket from the hanger and slipped it on, then added the black and gold scarf as a band around her neck.
“Don’t worry,” Abby said as she stood up and donned her outfit,” tonight, Miss Cheetah has a need for blood. What do you say to that, Miss Bobcat?”
“Dahlin,” Joanne said as she slipped into her Louisiana accent, “You have no idea…”
Abigail picked up the black wig and placed it on her hair, covering her blonde hair as Joanne did the same, and then they checked each other, before walking down the stairs to the hallway.
The others were waiting, dressed identically save for the jewelled brooches. In Dominique’s case, she was wearing tight black leggings and ankle boots, but she too had the jacket, scarf and camisole.
“Usual checks ladies,” Juliette said as she pulled on her soft black leather gloves. “No papers, jewellery, or other distinguishing items?”
She looked round the room and nodded, donning her dark glasses.
“Good – let’s go to work.”
The SUV Heather had purloined from the heights earlier pulled up outside the brownstone.
“What do you think,” Miss Panther said as she looked at their visitor.
“Give me 15 minutes,” Miss Civet said as she stepped out and walked round the corner to the back alley. Steam rising from the vents in the road was the only thing breaking the atmosphere, as she looked up the fire escape.
Taking a deep breath, she moved quickly, jumping up and scaling the ladder onto the fire escape, and then as quietly as possible making her way to the top floor. Peering through the window, she saw one of the daughters peacefully sleeping.
“That’s it,” she whispered to herself as she pulled the nylon stocking down over her head, and slowly opened the window, “you stay nice and rested for now – I have a feeling you will be woken soon.”
Dropping lightly onto the bedroom floor, Miss Civet closed the window to again, and crossed the room, letting herself out and glancing along the corridor. She made her way along, keeping to the sides of the passageway, and then slowly down the stairs.
She had studied the plans obtained for her carefully, so she knew her first objective was the alarm control, which was situated in a cupboard on the ground floor. As she made her way down, she took note of the doors, remembering where the office and the main bedrooms were.
Before she stepped off the staircase, she took from a small pouch at her waist a can, and sprayed a form of smoke along the floor. She smiled as the beams for the silent alarm became visible, and stepped between them, reaching the target and opening the door as she looked at the panel.
“Simple enough,” she muttered to herself as she pressed a small metal box to the panel and waited, until with a soft ping the alarm system was remotely switched off. Smiling,” she took the box and closed the door, then went to the front door and opened it.
“All clear,” she said as the other six walked in, Miss Leopard handing Miss Civet a matching skirt. Nodding, she unzipped the lower half of her leggings and pulled them up, before donning the skirt and covering them.
“Shall we,” Miss Panther whispered as she primed the shotgun in her hands, the others nodding as they walked up the staircase.
Alexander Demoines was dreaming peacefully in his bed, his wife Natasha beside him in her gold silk nightgown. That dream was rudely interrupted by a female voice saying “Wake up mother fucker – you’ve got visitors.”
He slowly opened his eyes to see a tall, thin woman standing over him in the bed, dressed in a tailored jacket and skirt, and with a black and gold scarf tied as a cravat around her neck. His professional eye saw the jewelled brooch in the form of a leaping cat – but his personal attention was riveted on the stocking covering her head, her black hair pressed down, and on the shotgun currently pointing between his legs.
“OH god,” he whispered as he slowly turned to look at Natasha – who stared back at him, her lips closed over the barrel of the gun an identically dressed woman had placed in her mouth.
“I’m Miss Panther, this is Miss Leopard,” the woman said, “and you, prick, are being visited by the Pussycat Gang. You’re not going to cause us any trouble, are you?”
“Nnnnnoooo,” he stammered, as a wet patch appeared below the gun.
“Oh how nice,” Miss Leopard said, “He knows what’s going to happen. Both of you, roll over, and don’t say a fucking word, understand?”
In the room next door, Miss Cheetah and Miss Puma looked at the sleeping Angelica Demoines. She was on top of her covers, her legs curled as she lay there in a powder blue vest and shorts.
“She looks so cute like that,” Miss Puma said quietly.
“Oh I agree,” Miss Cheetah cooed, “you just want to reach down and stroke her, don’t you?”
She stroked the young woman’s cheek with the back of her hand, smiling as Angelica murmured “mmmthssnsss.”
So she took her hand down her body, stroking over her chest, her legs, and then her crotch. Angelica gasped at this last touch, and rolled onto her back, as Miss Cheetah gently moved her gloved hand up and down between her legs.
“Whssdngtthth,” she mumbled as she slowly opened her eyes, only to see the two masked Pussycats looking down at her, one of them pointing a sawn-off shotgun at her face.
“Not a word, bitch,” Miss Puma said as Miss Cheetah stroked more firmly, before she picked up a pair of soiled panties from the floor, and stuffed them into the young woman’s mouth, “just enjoy…”
“What’s that noise,” Marianne Demoines said as she opened her eyes. It had been muffled, but it sounded as if someone was crying. Reaching over, she turned on her bedside lamp – only to see Miss Bobcat standing there, the shotgun in her hand as she smiled and said “Good morning, sugah – this is your wake up call.”
“What the fuck…”
“Language,” Miss Tigress said as she grabbed Marianne’s arms and yanked them behind her back, making her call out in pain as she quickly bound her wrists together with thin cord. “You’re going to do exactly what we tell you, aren’t you you little cocksucking tease?”
“Oh god, oh god, oh god…”
“Shh Dahlin, Shhh,” Miss Bobcat said as she stroked the barrel of the gun down her cheek. “God’s not here tonight – we are, and we know how to make you feel real special. Don’t we Miss Tigress?”
“Oh we do indeed,” the reply came from behind her as she felt her elbows being pulled together, making the front of her cream silk pyjama top nearly burst open, “especially for little fucking whores like you. Comments?”
“You’re them aren’t you – that bunch of murdering bit….”
The slap from Miss Bobcat took Marianne by surprise. “Show some respect to your betters,” she said as she looked into Marianne’s eyes, “and you might, mind you I said might, live through tonight.” She pushed Marianne onto her back, Miss Tigress using her gun to spread the young woman’s legs apart.
“What are you thinking, Miss Tigress?”
“I’ll show you, Miss Bobcat, I’ll show you…”
“Please, I’ll do anything you want, just don’t hurt my family…”
Alexander Demoines was whimpering as he watched the third woman in the room, who he heard called Miss Civet, wind ropes around Natasha’s arms and body, pulling them so tightly into her sides that they seemed to sink into the bare flesh of her arms. Her wrists were already tightly secured behind her back, and the tallest of the three women was smiling as she used what was left of the rope to form a rope bra, forcing his wife’s breasts even further out.
He himself was looking at the one called Miss Leopard, who was covering him, eyes ablaze under the nylon covering on her face, while Miss Panther spoke.
“Well, Alexander, if you want them to survive, don’t be a complete assprick and do exactly what we say. After all, this not be a totally unpleasant experience – I wonder how aroused your darling wife is at the moment?”
“I’m not, I’m scared,” she whimpered as Miss Civet reached round and slowly stroked her gloved hands over her captive’s chest.
“Oh I need to disagree,” she cooed, “your body says something very different. Shall we find out?”
She pressed firmly, groping Natasha as she let out an involuntary moan.
“I thought as much,” she said as she reached for another length of rope, and doubled it over before she started to tie a series of knots in it, “Now, Mister Demoines, I saw a lovely safe when I came into the building in the office. Combination, please.”
“Oh dear,” Miss Panther said quietly, “that was the wrong answer. Miss Leopard?”
As the butt of the shotgun connected with his body between his legs, Alexander groaned out loud, looking at his wife with pain filled eyes as the knotted rope was wrapped round her waist, before the knotted length was pulled up between her legs, making her squeal as Miss Civet tied the rope to her wrists, and then started to massage her chest.
“As my friend said,” Miss Panther continued as Natasha started to move, groans and screams coming in equal measure as the knots rubbed between her legs, “combination, now…”
“My…. My babies…”
“My friends are taking very good care of them,” Miss Panther said as Miss Leopard pressed the shotgun against Alexander’s head, “but my patience is wearing thin. The combination – NOW!”
Angelica looked up at the two masked women as they finished binding her ankles to the bottom of her bed, her legs spread wide apart as she wriggled her toes. The ropes were biting into her skin, but they seemed to enjoy that even more.
Her arms were also spread wide apart either side of her head, and tied to the top of the bed, while a length of white tape held her panties in her mouth. She watched as the one called Miss Puma took a pair of scissors and cut away her shorts, revealing her pussy still red from the wax she had earlier that day.
“oh – nice work,” Miss Cheetah said as she ran a leather gloved finger up the slit between her legs, making her squirm even more, “whoever did this knew what they were doing.”
“Whttrrrusmmmgfddddd” Angelica said, closing her eyes as the gloved finger worked along the lips of her passage, and gently pressed at the top.
“Does that feel good, you little fucker,” Miss Puma said as she looked into her eyes, and pinched her nipples. Angelica opened her eyes in shock, as she heard her say “then this is really gonna feel good to you, cocksucker.”
She wondered what she meant, until she saw her round hairbrush in Miss Cheetah’s gloved hand, and shook her head violently as she brought the handle between her legs.
Marianne was panting, trying her damndest not to scream at the situation she was in, the things these two masked women were doing to her. Her legs were bent at the knee, her ankles tied tightly to the back of her thighs, and her legs spread apart as she sat on the bed, the rough taste of nylon in her mouth from the hose that they had used to gag her, the gusset pressing her tongue down as the legs pressed into the sides of her cheeks.
“Have you managed to find anything, Miss Bobcat,” Miss TIgress said as she knelt between the young girl’s legs, her hands pressing and groping on her chest as the front of her pyjama top lay open and to the sides, Marianne groaning and closing her eyes as she did so.
“Well well, dahlin – you really are a racy little cocksucking cunt, aren’t you?”
Marianne stared at the other masked woman as she brought over her very special, very private toy.
“Like to play with this, do you,” she said as she switched it on, the low humming filling the air. Marianne slowly nodded as Miss Tigress climbed off the bed, taking the device and running it over her captive’s breasts, then down between her legs.
“OH the little whore really does like it,” she said with a smile as she stroked it between Marianne’s legs. “But I wonder, does she know how to really use it?”
“Shall we find out, sugah?”
“Let’s,” Miss Tigress said with a smile, Marianne’s eyes opening wide as she screamed into her gag at the pain caused as the end was rammed inside her passage.
“There – isn’t that better?”
Miss Panther smiled as she heard Natasha scream again into her panties and tape gag, another orgasm forced on her by the knotted rope sweeping over her body. Alexander looked on helpless, as Miss Civet came in.
“All taken care of, a nice little haul as well,” she said with a smile and glancing at the clock. “Five o’clock – time to move on?”
“Indeed,” Miss Panther said with a smile. She looked at Alexander, as he lay hogtied on the bed, and said “Do you think your darling wife is hot now?”
He slowly nodded, too scared to say what he really was thinking. “Why don’t you two take his wife downstairs – make sure she is really comfortable,” she then said to Miss Leopard and Miss Civet, “I need to take him and show him his daughters.”
The two women nodded as they made Natasha stand and walked her out of the room, the rope rubbing against her red, moist and very sensitive crotch as they did so. He heard her muffled groans as Miss Panther untied his legs, and then hauled him to his feet.
“How are we doing in here,” she said as she walked Alexander into the bedroom of Angelica.
“Hlpmtddeee,” she moaned as he looked at her, her bed sheets damp between her legs as Miss Cheetah put the hairbrush to one side.
“Untie her, bring her downstairs to join Mommy,” Miss Panther said, dragging Alexander to the next room. He started crying when he saw Marianne, her eyes closed and the shaft sticking from between her legs.
“Kinky,” Miss Panther said quietly. “Bring her downstairs – without the toy. I can think of something else that would be just as amusing.”
The McNally residence.
Carina opened her eyes and sat up, blinking as she focused her eyes. Bobbi was still asleep, curled up in the sleeping bag on the mattress next to her, but Judy’s bed lay empty, the covers taken to one side.
Opening the sleeping bag, she slipped her feet into a pair of slippers and went to the bathroom, then down the stairs to where she could see a light shining. Judy was sitting at the breakfast bar, drinking from a glass of milk as she looked at a book.
“Hey,” she said as she saw Cari come in, “Just woke up.”
“Yeah,” Carina said as she picked up a glass and poured the milk for herself, “you?”
“I got a couple of hours sleep, but I’m still on a bit of a high. Chances of getting some sleep today?”
“Let’s get him there first, then we’ll sort out a rota – let us get a few hours during the day. Got any pastries?”
“Look in the box over there,” Judy said as she pointed to a large bread bin. “How long do you want to give Bobbi?”
“Enough time to walk into the room,” Bobbi said as she appeared, rubbing her eyes. “When are we meeting them at the school?”
“Eight – I have the keys to Jo’s jeep, and it’s parked outside.”
“Heh – must have been a quiet night for her, with you and Abby elsewhere?”
“Oh, I think she may have found something to keep her entertained,” Carina said with a little smile.
“Plsssnmrrrr,” Marianne whimpered as she felt her wrist been pulled down her back as they were secured to the rope between her ankles. She felt as if she had been raped by several men, as opposed to the brutal attack by two masked and very determined women.
She knelt on one side of her mother, Angelica on the other, as the masked women tied them in kneeling hogties, their chests forced up and out by the ropes around and between them.
“Now isn’t this nice,” Miss Panther said as she stood behind Alexander, holding the grey haired man’s head in her gloved hands as she forced him to look at them, “your wife and family, very very horny and really wanting a total release. What do you say ladies?”
“I’m not sure, dahlin,” Miss Bobcat said as she looked at the old man, “I think the mother fucker wants to be part of it.”
“I think so too – take aim.”
Alexander said “no” as Miss Bobcat, Miss Cheetah and Miss Leopard placed the business ends of their shotguns against the heads of the three women.
“Now then, Alexander,” Miss Panther said, “service your family – or we kill the little bitches, right in front of your eyes.”
“I’m so sorry,” Alexander said as he shuffled over on his knees and started to kiss Natasha, caressing her bare breasts in his mouth as she looked at him, and then moved his head down, his wife gasping as she felt his lips and tongue on the rope between her legs.
“That’s right,” Miss Bobcat said as she put her hand between her legs, “Taste her fucking juices, you little mother loving bastard, and show her how much you love it.”
“Oh yeah,” Miss Puma said quietly, “that does sound so good…”
Miss Civet watched with an amused expression as Alexander was forced to move onto his daughters, making both of them cum and scream into their gags as they orgasmed again.
Natasha had closed her eyes, but opened them as she screamed in pain, mainly due to the clamps Miss Tigress had fastened onto her nipples. As Alexander moved on to Marianne, Angelica also had her nipples clamped, and then Marianne as her father was pulled to his feet.
“Time to go to work – you need to clean yourself up, your dirty little fucker,” Miss Panther said as he pushed Alexander up the stairs.
Annie and Jane looked round as the three girls came into the cellar. All three were wearing black leather jackets, jeans and their high-heeled ankle boots.
“Get any sleep,” Annie said as she looked at them.
“Some – but we have a job to do,” Carina said as she looked at them. “Nice outfits – they fit in nicely.”
Annie and Jane smiled. Jane was wearing a collarless black suede jacket and black leggings, while Annie was wearing black chinos and a biker jacket. Both also had on their new boots. “Thanks – so what have you got there?”
“Replica pistols - borrowed from a film set,” Carina said as she opened the bag, “Gloves and stockings in here as well. What about Julian?”
“We followed him to the gym – a friend is going to call if he leaves early.”
“Right then,” Judy said as she handed the two women a pair of leather gloves each,” Let’s go raise some more money.”
Alexander Demoines was weeping as he came down in his suit, shirt and tie, his family lying on the floor, hogtied with ropes holding their ankles to their chests and tape wrapped around their heads, covering their eyes.
“Miss Cheetah, Miss Bobcat, you remain here until we contact you to say the job is done,” Miss Panther said as she looked at them. The two women nodded as she took the jeweller by the arm and led him out of the house, the other four women following.
“So, my dear,” Miss Puma said as she looked at the three women, “What do you think?”
“Here we are,” Miss Panther said as they pulled up in the street, “you and I are going to open the store, Miss Civet, Miss Tigress and Miss Leopard will follow. Miss Puma, keep watch.”
The woman nodded as the tall woman made Alexander get out and walk to the front door, her dark glasses covering her eyes as she watched him unlock the door. As they went in, the other three quickly followed, the door closing behind them as the car waited outside.
“Now then,” Miss Panther said as she pointed her magnum at Alexander, “disable the alarms. Miss Civet, the safe. Miss Leopard, Miss Tigress – prepare to receive the two assistants please.” All four pulled the stockings back down over their heads.
As the tall woman went in the back, the other two stood either side of the front door, shotguns at the ready while Miss Leopard began to bind Alexander again.
They heard the sound of the intercom, and Miss Panther pressed the access button, allowing a blonde haired woman in her early twenties to come in. She was wearing a long sleeved white blouse with a bow tie at the neck, a black waistcoat and knee length skirt, and dark hose with high heels.
“On the floor bitch,” Miss Tigress said as she pulled the young woman in and forced her onto her knees, Miss Leopard closing the door as she taped her wrist tightly together behind her back, and then her arms to her side, before she pressed several strips of the tape over her mouth.
“Get over there, you fucking bitch,” she screamed s she forced the assistant to her feet and took her into the back office, making her lie face down as Miss Civet looked over, then turned back to the safe as the girls legs were taped from knee to ankle.
The sound of the intercom made Miss Tigress walk back through, as the door opened and a young man walked in. He took one look at the masked woman, and turned to run out – only to collapse to the ground as Miss Leopard fired her gun straight into his gut.
“Stupid bastard,” she said as she kicked him over, Alexander looking into his lifeless eyes as he was pushed into the back office, and gagged in the same way as the young woman. Miss Leopard and Miss Tigress started to empty the display cases, while Miss Civet emptied the safe.
From the jeep parked across the road, the girls watched as traffic started to build up. They saw the SUV parked outside Demoines, but their attention was focused solely on the brownstone on the corner of Lafayette, and the arrival of their mark.
“There they are,” Jane finally said as a taxi drew up, and Tom Julian got out, dressed in a grey tracksuit. The man they called George got out with him, looking to both sides as they crossed over to a newsvendor.
“Right,” Carina said as she pulled the stocking down over her head, “Mask up ladies.”
The others pulled the stockings over their heads as well as Carina got out. “Keep the engine running Judy – the moment I drop George, you three get out of the car and get him in here. Got what you need?”
Bobbi nodded as she picked up the zip tie, tape and pillowcase. As Tom spoke to the vendor, Carina smiled and left the car, walking up to the stand as George took the paper and walked two paces behind him.
Inside the jewellers, Miss Tigress was looking out of the window as the others closed the bags. The two live captives were locked in the back office, while the dead assistant was still on the floor.
“Wait a minute,” she said, “Something’s going down outside.”
Miss Puma was also watching, smiling under her mask as she realised what was happening.
Carina turned and walked behind George, drawing the dart gun from her hand before she fired three darts into George’s arm and bottom. The man mountain stopped and turned, reaching inside his jacket, before his eyes closed and he fell to the ground.
“Hello Mister Julian,” she said as she walked up to Tom, “I believe you wanted to spend some time with us?”
“What the…” Tom Julian said, turning to run but instead finding himself grabbed by two other masked women, who dragged him kicking and screaming into the back of a jeep. A few people were watching as the final woman got into the front of the jeep, and it drove off, to a round of applause.
“What the fuck did you do to George,” Tom Julian shouted as he watched one of the masked women zip tie his wrists together.
“He’ll wake up soon enough – gag and cover him,” the smallest of the women said from the front seat. Before he could say anything else, Tom Julian found his mouth covered with tape, and a pillowcase pulled over his head.
As the crowd watched the jeep drive off, four women walked out of Demoines and climbed into the SUV, carrying several bags between them, and the car drove off in the opposite direction. As they did so, the driver watched a police car draw up and the two officers tend to George.
“Miss Cheetah? Evacuate – and tell Miss Bobcat it appears the other matter has been resolved.”
Back in Charles Street, Heather and Joanne walked out of the brownstone and started to head to the subway.
“there we are – nice and cosy,” Judy said as she finished securing Tom Julian to the chair. His legs were taped to the front wooden legs, while his stomach was taped to the chair back. “I think you can take the hood off now.”
He blinked as the hood was pulled off, to see two of the masked women standing in front of him, one of them holding a cell phone. His paper was placed on his lap, the date showing, as a photo was taken, and then the voices behind him said “Get comfy, Tom – I believe the deal was for twenty four hours?”
“Don’t worry,” Bobbi said as she walked round and looked at him, “I talked to the powers that be, and he’s fine, if a little groggy. Now, you just sit back and relax – if you promise to be a good boy, we even brought you your breakfast.”
E 47th Street
“Hey,” Joanne said as she and Heather came in, “everything go smoothly?”
Juliette nodded as she sat in her pale blue pant suit and cream top. “Go and get changed – coffee is brewing.”
As the two sisters went upstairs, Abigail and Diana came in. “What time does the rehearsal start,” Abigail said as she picked up a bagel.
“Noon – we’ll head straight there. You coming Diana?”
“No – Dominique and I will take the proceeds to a secure area for transport, and then I promised her lunch and a tour of the city. Sandy?”
“Nope – I promised the children we’d go to the zoo today, so that’s all three of us taken care of. Then we are going with Barbara and Jeannie to the Manchester house for the night.”
“That was quite invigorating,” Dominique said as she came in, carrying the coffee. “Thank you for inviting me to take part. Now, are there any Danishes there?”
“Well, I at least thank you for that,” Tom Julian said as he wiped his lips, the napkin in his bound hands. “Thank you – but I see five of you. You three I can guess,” he said as he looked at Bobbi, Judy and Carina, “but the other two?”
“Special guests – find out tomorrow,” Carina said with a smile. “In the meantime, we’ll bring in a radio, and you can be kept company by one or two of us – starting with the two mystery guests. Now, purse those lips of yours.”
“Fair enough,” Tom said as his mouth was taped over, Jane watching as the others walked out.
“there’s three cots in there – get some sleep,” Annie said as the others peeled off the stockings, yawning as they did so.
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Centre
“No, no, no, no, NO – like this!”
Heidi and Naomi shook their heads as Mary walked along the catwalk, showing precisely where and when she wanted them to stop. Anyone else would have had several ear bashings of a lifetime, but this was different.
Jeannie was sitting in her wheelchair, watching as the two icons completed the walk, and then wheeled her onto the stage. Mary watched her as she manoeuvred her way down the catwalk, turning and posing as she watched.
Eventually she walked over and knelt next to the young girl. Smiling, she said “not bad, lass, not bad. So what do you weigh Jeannie?”
“About 7 stones.”
“That’s 98 pounds over here,” Mary translated.
“Probably.” Jeannie looked at the small woman, and said “Why did you ask?”
“Because I have an idea of how to get you out of that chair.” Mary smiled that smile which her friends knew meant she was going to go ‘mad’ again, but Jeannie thought back to the swing, and said “What?”
Over on the other side of the hall Abby was chatting with Lily Cole and telling her the story of the previous night’s prom.
“Oh my God,” Lily said when she heard the comments, “I can’t believe the bitches said that!”
“I know… No way after that I wasn’t doing something.”
Lily shook her head. “I’d have done the same thing,” she said quietly.
In another corner, Juliette was talking to Barbara.
“John showed me the full set of pictures, you both looked amazing.”
“I just can’t believe Mrs Richmond let us wear those gems.” Barbara shook her head still in shock and awe.
“Now don’t forget, not a word of what I told you about Mary gets passed on.”
Barbara nodded. “My lips are sealed.”
“Jeannie, this is Adamson and Milo.” Mary introduced two men who could have doubled as mountains.
Jeannie found herself looking up…. Then up…. Then up some more.” “Oh my God,” she mouthed. “Err….. Hi?”
“These guys are both bodybuilders and models Jeannie.” Mary completed the introductions as the two huge men, gently took Jeannie’s tiny hands in their huge ones and shook it.
Looking at both of them, and said quietly “Guys - I take it you can both lift a 98 pound girl?”
“So how’s work been?” Lily started talking shop.
“I’ve been as busy as the child labour laws allow me to be, Missy says she’s been turning down work… You?”
“Busy,” shook her red hair out, “I’ve been in Japan, just flew in a couple of hours ago.”
“Goddess you must be tired?”
“Yeah but I know from experience you skip a Mary Thomas rehearsal at your peril.”
“True.” Abigail laughed lightly.
“Even I recognize some of these faces.” Barbara glanced round the room, “I still can’t believe that my little girl was asked to do this show with so many famous people in it.”
“Well she’s going to be a star.” Juliette smiled.
Barbara just stood shaking her head. “So they tell me, So they tell me.”
“Okay Adamson, gently lift Jeannie up so she can sit on your shoulder.”
The huge West Indian, as gently as a butterfly resting on a plant, put his hands under Jeannie’s arms and hoisted her up.
“Comfortable up there?” Mary looked up as Jeannie steadied herself on his broad shoulder.
“Not totally Mary,” Jeannie said, “it’s strange seeing everyone from this height.”
“Get used to it Darling.” Mary looked at both of the men. “Then we’re going to try something…”
“When’s she going to start?” Lily glanced at her watch.
“I don’t know….Whoa!” Abby gasped as she saw Jeannie hoisted up.
“When’s she going to start?” Barbara glanced at her watch.
“I don’t know…. Whoa!” Juliette gasped as she saw Jeannie hoisted up.
Barbara and Juliette looked at each other as Jeannie was walked down the catwalk on Adamson’s shoulder, and then started to head to the catwalk.
Mary could see them coming, as Adamson turned and faced Milo, who was standing at the end of the catwalk.
She looked at both of them and said quietly “Now, what we discussed boys.”
“Brace yourself, Jeannie darling.” Adamson spoke softly as he took hold of the young girl.
“For what?... oh my fucking…” Jeannie suddenly found herself flying through the air.
“Got you.” Milo grinned as she came down in his arms and spun her round, Jeannie gasping as he held her.
“Oh dear God.” Barbara arrived just in time to her daughter safely gathered in.
“What the hell was that?” Juliette looked accusingly at Mary.
“That was FUN!” Jeannie intervened before Mary could reply.
“Are you okay?” Barbara fussed as Milo gently placed her Jeannie back in her chair.
“I’m fine mum- it just took me completely by surprise.”
“I’ll repeat myself, what the hell was that Mary?” Juliette stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at her old friend.
“Oh just an idea I wanted to try out.” Mary smiled. “I think it worked rather well – took you by surprise, didn’t it?”
“What if they’d dropped her?” Barbara turned accusingly on Mary.
Mary shook her head and gestured to the two men, who were grinning from ear to ear. “Honestly, Barbara, do these two look as though they’d drop a little thing like her?”
“I absolutely forbid you to use that stunt in the show Mary.” Juliette shouted angrily.
“And so do I.” Barbara looked daggers at the Welshwoman.
Neither caught the wink that Jeannie gave Mary.
“All right, all right – like I said just a thought,” Mary said as she wheeled Jeannie off the catwalk.
“She hasn’t lost her touch, has she,” Lily said with a huge grin on her face.
“Nope – come on, we’re up next.”
Juliette sat next to Jeannie and Abigail as other models went to and fro.
“Has anyone actually shown you the full program yet, Jeannie?”
“No, actually – have you got the running order there?”
As she spoke, she saw a silver haired woman walking past with a young girl, who smiled at her and Abby before she went on.
“Well,” Juliette said as she returned the wave she received, “That’s Carmen Dell'Orefice, 82 years old and still working – she’s the oldest woman doing the show, and I guess you’re the youngest at 13.” Abigail ran her eye down the cast list and let out a low whistle, before letting Jeannie see it.
“Oh dear god, so many famous names.” Jeannie looked stunned at the array of talent she’d been included in. “And they’re all here? I don’t know any of them!”
“Well you know Sasha and Vlada, and of course Lily.”
“And I’m sure the organizers wouldn’t have included you except on merit.”
“But, but, oh my dear sweet god…. Just look Abby.”
“Gisele Bundchen, Kate Upton, Kara Kloss, Cara Delevigne, Miranda Kerr, Anja Rubik.” Abby read a few of the names.
“They are all SUPERSTARS!” Jeannie breathed in awe.
Abby shook her head. “Two or three months ago I’d have been worried too Jeannie, you soon learn though that they are just working models the same as us.”
“The same as us?” Jeannie shook her head. “That is an incredible thought.”
“Yep.” Abby reached down and hugged her friend.
“Hey Abs.” a passing model greeted her.
“Hey Kate.” Abby waved back.
“Was that who I think it was?”
“Her, Abigail.” Jeannie pointed a finger as the blonde walked over to talk to Carmen.
“Oh yeah - that was Kate Moss.”
“OH MY FUCKING GOD!”
“No, just Kate – anyway, back to work.”
Eventually, Mary said, “Right – fantastic. Take five everyone.”
“Carmen tell Jeannie how young you were when you started in the business?” Kate asked as a group of girls sat round Jeannie on the side of the runway.
“I was the same age as you Darling, just 13.” The venerable white haired model smiled. “A photographer spotted me on a bus. Seventy years later I’m still hooked.”
“Oh lord… Well I KNOW I’ll never be lucky enough to have that long a career.” Jeannie looked up.
“Never say never, dear,” Carmen said as she looked at Jeannie. “The first thing you learn in this industry is that luck plays a large part – and then talent after that.”
“I was 15.” Kate mused.
“Same as me.” Abby added.
“14,” Lily ventured.
“They get most of us at the same sort of age.” Carmen smiled.
“Are you telling these girls horror stories Carmen?” Juliette came up and kissed the older lady on both cheeks.
“We were swapping ages when we started in the biz Ju darling.”
“How old were you Juliette?” Lily asked.
“14… I’d come to town with friends and a talent scout spotted me in a McDonalds on 8th Avenue. I did a few shoots, when my parents allowed me, but a couple of years later Mary saw my shoot – and the whole thing went on from there.”
“It’s always the same story,” Carmen grinned, “someone sees something special and suddenly we find ourselves modelling. I sometimes think the real superstars of our industry are the likes of Mary over there.”
“Can I tell you a famous story about Carmen here?” Lily enquired.
“The clean version Lily.” Juliette nodded towards Abby and Jeannie.
“Well it’s not as much fun,” Lily said with a grin, “but anyway there is a picture of Carmen in the Royal Collection.”
“You mean our Royal family?” Jeannie asked.
“Yes.” Lily nodded.
“A Photograph?” Abby asked.
“No - a painting by Salvador Dali.”
“We studied him in history at school.” Jeannie volunteered
“Oh never do that to an old lady child.” Carmen looked pained
“Remind her that people she knew are now studied as history.”
All the girls laughed as Jeannie blushed.
“Well anyway,” Lily said, “Carmen was what age?”
“Okay so Carmen here was 15 when she was painted nude by Dali…”
“As Botticelli’s Venus.” Carmen explained.
“Well, Lord Mountbatten gave it to the Queen and Prince Philip as a wedding present and I was lucky enough to see it when I was doing my art history TV show.” Lily said proudly.
“Oh there’s that horrible word again.” Again Carmen looked pained.
All the models started laughing.
“Carmen, darling, I mean it as a compliment. Of course, if I was to tell you what Prince Phillip really thinks of it…”
“Jeannie, we need to get going. Mary, are we done?”
“We are,” Mary said as she came over, “Remember, here by five on Monday – have a good weekend everyone!”
“Come on,” Abby said as she took the handles of Jeannie’s wheelchair, “I’ll push you out.”
“I’ve heard so many stories about bitchy, back biting models, but those girls all seem sort of well nice.” Barbara shook her head a little as they reached the minivan.
“Oh they can get plenty bitchy when they have to, but for a Mary Thomas show you have to park your ego outside, even if you’re the most famous of supermodels.” Juliette smiled as she helped her mother lift Jeannie into the minivan.
“Yeah Lily was telling me she got straight off a plane from Japan to get to the rehearsal.” Abigail said as she climbed in besides Jeannie. “She hadn’t even checked into her hotel yet.”
“That’s the ‘Mary’ effect for you.” Juliette smiled as she climbed into the driver’s seat. “Oh excuse me,” she pulled out her ringing phone.
“Is that Cari?” Abigail sounded concerned.
“Yes.” Juliette hissed.
“Say hi.” Barbara called as she climbed in the front passenger seat.
“Okay it all went well?... Good… All of you safe?... Well tell the girls well done… Okay I’ll talk to you later…. Byeeee!”
“They did it?”
“They did it,” Juliette said with a smile as they set off.
Janice Carter was sitting in the park, watching Katy as she played in the sandpit on her leggings and black top. Her mum sat next to her, watching through her glasses as Janice looked at her phone, and then smiled.
“In a way – someone just got a well deserved kick up the…”
Her homily was interrupted by her phone ringing. Looking at the caller id, she sighed and said as she answered “Carter.”
“Janice, it’s Adam. Where are you?”
“At the playground with Katy. Why?”
“They struck again.”
Janice glanced at her mother as she said “Where?”
“Demoines – apparently they got into his house in the early hours, and then hit the store this morning. One dead, and the others badly shaken up.”
“And we’re hearing now because?”
“Robbery called Tom, Tom called me, and I’m calling you. I’ll be with you in five minutes.”
“Damn,” Janice said as she ended the call. “Mum, I’m sorry…”
“Go – I’ll call you later.”
“Katy, Mommy’s got to go to work,” she said as she went over and hugged her daughter, “I’ll be back by bedtime.”
“Bye Mommy,” Katy said as she waved Janice off…
“I swear,” Adam Ball, said as they looked at the ransacked shelves of the jewellers, “they’re getting more cunning.”
“Did you hear what Demoines said about yet another of them,” Janice said as she looked at the destroyed CCTV system.
“Yeah – do you think they are calling in specialists or something?”
“Adam,” Janice said as she looked at him, “If I knew the answer to that, we’d be one step closer to catching them. As it is, I guess we should count our blessings – they seemed more restrained this time.”
“There’s still one man dead, Janice,” Adam said in a tone of reproach.
”Sorry – Gallows humour,” Janice said quietly. “Well, we collect what we can. And we add it to the files.”
“I take it you’ve all called home?”
Carina nodded as Annie brought the pizza delivery down.
“Not much, but it will feed us all,” she said as Bobbi opened the door, Tom Julian looking up from the seat and nodding.
“Thanks,” he said as his hands were relapsed and the tape removed from his mouth. “All right, I admit defeat – can I go home now?”
“Oh no,” Susan said with a smile,” you said one day, and one day it shall be. Now, eat up – I’ve got a Monopoly set for after the meal.”
“Oh great, my favourite game,” Tom said with a sigh, as he accepted a slice of pizza.
Sunday 1st June
“All right,” Carina said as they released Tom from the chair, “it’s time. Blindfold him.”
Tom watched as the pillow sack was pulled over his gagged mouth, and then he felt himself being lifted out and walked some distance, before he was sat down. He turned his head from side to side, wondering what was going on, before he heard a female voice say “Good morning, Mister Julian. Allow me to introduce myself – I’m the old broad you spoke of in your broadcasts.”
He blinked as the pillowcase was pulled off, and he heard the click and shatter of flash bulbs. As he allowed his eyes to focus, he saw he was in a school hall, with cameras of both the static and the television variety pointing at him.
A grey haired woman looked at her, dressed in a grey leather jacket and flecked pants.
“I am Wilhelmina Tennant, the principal of St Angela’s Academy for Young Ladies and the ‘victim’ of the prank on Monday,” she said as she stood by Tom Julian. “This man promised, if the three young ladies responsible, managed to hold him for twenty four hours, he would match our total raised – which ended up at forty thousand dollars.”
Reaching down, she pulled the tape away from his lips and said, “So, Mister Julian, will you hold to your promise?”
Tom looked at the five women standing on the other side of the stage, and said, “May I know who to thank, apart from Carina, Bobbi and Jane?”
“OF course – first, Miss Annie Kelly, a member of my faculty.”
Annie removed her stocking mask and bowed as the assembled crowd of girls and parents clapped and whooped.
“And secondly, Jane Molloy, from the New York Times and an alumna of St Angela’s.”
“Jane?” Tom looked at the last woman as she removed her stocking and her wig, before saying “Gotcha Tom – expect to see the story on Saturday.”
“Oh Lord – I’m never going to live this down. Well, a deal is a deal, if you ladies will untie me?”
“OF course,” Carina said as she cut the bonds away, and George stepped forward, saying “Sorry Boss” as he handed him the chequebook.
“Well,” Tom said as he cut the cheque, “I will say this much. These three ladies have a very bright future ahead of them – though hopefully not as criminals.”
Signing the cheque, he handed it to Miss Tennant and posed for photos as the three girls went to their parents.
“You’ve all done wonderfully well,” Juliette said as she embraced Carina, “but now home for some sleep – we have a little party planned for tonight. Oh, and before I forget – here.”
“What are these,” Bobbi said as she looked at them.
“Tickets for tomorrow night – I want all four of you to join me at my table tomorrow at the Awards night. Tonight however – we party!”
The private dining room at the St Regis Hotel resounded with laughter. The venerable old hotel on 55th Street had seen many parties its 110 years of existence, but never one quite like this.
It was a gathering of the great, the good, and the parents of three very happy girls who were sitting at the centre of the table.
“Can I offer a toast?” Wilhelmina Tennant stood and held her champagne glass out, “To the Kidnappers.”
“To the Kidnappers!” glasses clinked as the party toasted Carina, Judy, Bobbi, Annie and Jane.
“Thank you, thank you all,” Carina said as she gave a little curtsey.
“Okay to prove I’m as good as my word.” Pussy van Roon climbed to her feet. “He doubled the forty grand, here is my check for 80 thousand!”
“Oh my God.” Kate Hardisty looked at the check as she passed it on to the Principal
“Thank you Doctor van Roon.” Wilhelmina called down the table.
“My pleasure Wilhelmina.” Pussy smiled.
“And thank you for throwing this party Puss.” Heather called from across the table.
“Again… My pleasure Tee.”
“I think you girls have pulled off a minor miracle,” Thomas Morse said as he looked round the table, “so if the members of our legal bodies will forgive me, a further toast, this once – to Crime.”
“When it can do good like this,” Sergeant Klosko said, “then yes – to crime.”
The room raised their glasses, and said “To Crime!” As they did so, Heather and Sandy looked at Juliette and Carina, and smiled.
At one end of the long table, Juliette and Janice sat watching as Abigail and Joanne played with Little George and Sandy, as well as Janice’s daughter Katy at a table designated for ‘children’.
“I think Katy has made some friends.” Juliette smiled.
“I think she has too.”
“So I read the papers, our girls weren’t the only ones busy yesterday morning.”
“No,” Janice sighed. “The bitches pulled their usual crap.”
“Only traces and the damn idiots from the NYPD fucked up most of those before even calling us in.”
“Well I’m glad the biggest things in my life are deciding what words I use to write about clothes.” Juliette smiled, “I’d hate to swap jobs.”
“Yeah, I sometimes could do without the pressure.”
“Well Annie it’s back to trigonometry and calculus.” Carina spoke softly to her partner in crime. “Did you enjoy yourself?”
“Yeah.” The attractive math teacher smiled. “I did.”
“Yeah it is sort fun being bad!”
Annie nodded before she said “Well one thing I learned from this.”
“What was that?”
“I love beautiful clothes.” She glanced down at the Prada evening dress that Mary had sent over from Complete Style. “How the hell am I going to make my salary stretch?”
“You’ll need to take up crime for real.” Carina giggled.
“I just might.”
“To being bad.” Carina clinked champagne glasses with her former teacher.
“To being bad.”
“So are you ever going to explain why Pussy calls you Tee?” Sandy whispered in her girlfriend’s ear.
Heather smiled and shook her head. “All right - Did you ever play dorm golf?”
“Nope.” Sandy nodded her head, “That particular sport never reached Smith.”
“Well.” Heather giggled, a little the better for champagne. “The idea was to create the most inventive golf shot possible.”
“Well we were a bit blotto, and Puss comes up with an idea.”
“Am I going to like where this is going?”
“Well you’ve been there plenty of times yourself.”
Sandy grinned as she got the message.
“Well anyway, Pussy bets the floor she can hit a sand wedge shot off my pubes.”
Heather giggled. “Well as I said we were all drunk. I immediately strip off and lay down on the floor.”
Sandy shook her head.
“Well Puss dives into her room and returns with her club. Gently she puts the ball down there, and then hits a beautiful shot 40 yards down the hallway.”
“Okay now I get it, hence you became Tee because she used you as a golf tee.”
“You’re right.” Heather planted a tipsy smooch on her lover’s lips. “But only one person gets to do that now.”
“What she’s not telling you,” Pussy said as she looked at them, “was Tee had not shaved for some time – if the ball had a better lie, I could have hit it sixty yards.”
“So,” Judy said as she sat with Bobbi and Carina, “Fun as this is, we need to get ready for Saturday now, don’t we?”
“Commencement – I still need to buy a dress for that.”
“We all do,” Bobbi said to Carina, “Any idea who is giving the speech?”
“I think Jane just got tapped,” Judy said as she looked at Wilhelmina and Kate talking to the journalist.
“It’s strange – this time next week, we can call them by their first names.”
“This time next week we’ll be free women – for a while anyway.”
The three girls nodded and drank a toast to each other.
Monday 2nd June
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Centre
The scene was one of controlled chaos, people walking to and fro, and at the centre of it all was Mary, unusually for her wearing a dress, although this one was a verdant green silk creation with a high collar. A pair of kitten heels completed her outfit.
Carina and Juliette were walking round, talking to the staff, as Abigail waved Carina over to where the girls were sitting round in robes, their makeup done, their hair up in curlers.
“Well from here it’s London, then back to Montreal, London, Paris, Sydney…” Lily sighed as she looked at her diary for the next few weeks.
“Just think of the frequent flier miles.” Carina joked.
“Think of the jet lag!”
“Well as soon as school lets out I’m flying to LA for filming the next batch of Memories commercials, then Paris and Berlin promoting the perfume… YUCK!”
“Hey what are you complaining about Abs?” Carina hauled out her diary. “I’m stuck here while you girls are jet setting round the world, spending three days shooting maternity wear for a catalogue.”
“What are you complaining about Carina? At least you’re working, I go back to Harlow and six more weeks of school.” Jeannie looked up from her diary. “Mind you, I come out here after that, and I’m coming up to the Manchester house for the first two weeks.”
“Hey ‘Baby Supermodel’, at least you get the pleasures of home cooking and sleeping in the same bed every night.” Kate chimed in. “look at my schedule!”
“Wow!” Jeannie glanced at Kate’s diary. “That is BUSY!”
“Hey I like that Kate.” Lily laughed, “Baby Supermodel suits her beautifully.”
“Yeah BS for short.” Carina laughed.
Jeannie looked imploringly at Abigail who just laughed.
“No BS. Suits you.” Carina joined in the laughter.
“Oh great! Fine friends you lot are.” Jeannie looked at the laughing models.
“You’re stuck with it Jeannie,” Abigail laughed. “It could be worse, it could be The Stick.”
“Didn’t hurt Twiggy,” Mary said as she walked past.
“Grrrrr!” Jeannie looked daggers at the others before dissolving into laughter herself. “All right, all right – I accept it in good grace.”
“Come on,” Juliette said as she came over, “Leave the grunts to get ready.”
As they turned, they almost walked into a tall, dusky coloured woman who was walking past. Apologising, Carina and Juliette headed out as Jeannie gasped.
“Was that Rhianna?”
“Hmmm – might have been. She’s the Fashion Icon this year,” Lily said as she sat back, smiling as she saw Jeannie from the corner of her eye.
As they walked out, they met Judy and Bobbi in the foyer, standing there in pant suits and blouses and looking around as if they were in paradise.
“Hey you two,” Carina said as she hugged them, “thanks for coming. Where are Annie and Jane?”
“I don’t think Annie is here yet,” Judy said as she looked round, “Jane is talking to someone over there on the press line.”
“Hey you two,” Joanne said as she came in, followed by Sandy and Heather, “Glad you could make it.”
“I would not miss this for the world,” Judy said as she hugged Joanne. “Did they talk to you about Wednesday?”
“Yeah – we’re ready. How’s Abby?”
“Nervous as heck,” Juliette said, “but not as nervous as Jeannie. Barbara and John are at the table with John – why don’t you take them through, Cari, and I will wait for Annie and Jane.”
“Gotcha Mom – come on, let’s go get a drink,” Cari said as she led the others in.
“I am going to have a lot of explaining to do coming here,” Jane said as she walked over in her tailored pant suit.
“Nonsense – where does it say you cannot be a feminist and fashionable at the same time?”
“Gloria Steiner may have had a word or two to say,” Jane said as she saw Annie walk in, wearing a grey sheath dress and high heels. “On the other hand…”
“Thanks for inviting me,” Annie said as she hugged Juliette, who herself was wearing a gold silk dress, “am I too late?”
“Nope – the show should start in few minutes,” Juliette said with a smile, “Let’s head in.”
As they approached their table, they saw Diana with Barbara, Carina, Judy, Bobbi, Heather, Sandy and Joanne – and a woman Juliette greeted with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.
“Thanks for coming Missy,” Juliette said, “this is Annie Kelly and Jane Molloy – ladies, Missy Auerbach.”
“A pleasure,” she said as the meal started to be served.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, taking to the catwalk now, dressed by Stella McCartney, welcome the latest sensation in the modelling world – Jeannie Brewster.”
Juliette and Barbara clapped with the others as Jeannie was wheeled onto the stage by Adamson and Milo. Jeannie was wearing a long black coat with an orange, black, white and gold patterned scarf wrapped round her neck, black leather gloves, dark tights and flat black shoes. Her hair had been brushed back, and she looked at the crowded hall with a bored look.
Adamson and Milo were dressed in dark suits, white shirts with dark ties, and black leather shoes, as they took turns in pushing her down as she sat, playing with her hands and not showing much interest. As they got to the end of the runway, Jeannie tutted and turned her chair round, complaining to Adamson and Milo.
“That wasn’t what they rehearsed,” Barbara said to Juliette as Adamson and Milo looked at each other.
“No, it wasn’t,” Juliette, said as she looked at the stage. “Oh no, don’t tell me she…”
“No,” Barbara said as she watched Adamson gently lift Jeannie out of the chair, and place her on his shoulder.
The room gasped – and then shrieked as he suddenly tossed Jeannie in the air, the young girl smiling as she soared towards the waiting Milo. As the giant caught her in his arms and twirled her round before placing her on his own shoulder, she smiled and removed her coat and scarf, letting them fall to the ground to reveal a black short-sleeved dress, with a round neck.
The room was silent – and then burst out in applause, the cameras flashing as Jeannie was walked round the catwalk, Milo holding her safely.
Juliette and Barbara looked at each other, before Missy’s phone started ringing.
“Yes? You don’t say? No, I’m not surprised – log them all and tell them we’ll be in touch.”
As she talked Milo smiled as he threw Jeannie back to Adamson, the girl spreading her arms wide as the tall man caught her in his arms and then placed her back in her chair. They then walked her off the catwalk, the cameras flashing as the audience stood and applauded.
“What… What just happened,” Barbara said as she looked at Juliette and Missy.
“She did it – she actually did it,” Carina said as she hugged the others.
“Sorry Mom – she made me promise not to tell you.”
“Oh my goodness,” Annie said as Jeannie was wheeled off the stage, “This is amazing.”
“Indeed,” Juliette said as she wiped her chin. “Would you ladies excuse me for a few minutes, I need to talk to someone.”
“I’m coming with you,” Barbara said as she accompanied Juliette, Missy following them backstage where Jeannie was sitting with her ‘servants’.
“MARY THOMAS!! STAY RIGHT THERE!!!”
“Oh hi Ju,” Mary said as she turned and smiled, “enjoy the show?”
“I thought we both said no,” Barbara said as she stared at the small Welsh woman.
“Listen,” Mary said as she turned Barbara round to hear the praise Jeannie was getting from the other models. “She is an instant success, and everyone is talking about her. The producer of the television show just told me the switchboards at the station are jammed.”
“So is my office,” Missy said quietly, “you would not believe the people who are asking about her.”
“Barbara,” Mary said quietly, “All the models here have had one moment of luck. With Ju, it was me seeing her and pushing that swimsuit issue of the sports magazine, and then the work increased. With Abigail, it was a model who was tardy once too often, and a mother finally giving in. With Jeannie, it’s two men I trusted to take care of her, and the courage to go through with it. After tonight, everyone will know her name.”
Mary took Barbara’s arm and led her off with Missy, and Juliette looked at Jeannie. “Next time, warn us,” she said with a smile, before she looked at Adamson and Milo.
“And as for you two, I have a little job for you…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome back to the stage our models for tonight!”
Carmen led the line out, pushing Jeannie in her wheelchair and placing her on one side of the catwalk as she stood on the others, and the rest followed in line, standing and turning to applaud the audience as they took up their position, Abigail next to Jeannie.
“You did a fantastic job Mary,” Juliette sad as she stood just behind the entrance with the Welsh Wizard.
“Thanks,” Mary said, and then she turned round. “What are you doing back here?”
“Funny you should ask that, Mary,” Juliette said with a smile as the announcer said “and now, please welcome to the stage the chief fashion writer of Complete Style, Juliette Huntingdown!”
“Keep an eye on her boys,” Juliette said with a smile as she walked out, Mary looking round to see Adamson and Milo standing behind her.
As she walked down the catwalk, she smiled and looked at the assembled models, before standing at the dais and taking her glasses from her purse.
“Forgive me – a sign of age,” she said to a peal of laughter from the crowd.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, before I do what I’ve been asked to do, can I just say this has been an amazing evening, and ask you to join me in thanking the models and all who have had a part to play in tonight’s show.”
The room applauded as she adjusted her glasses.
“All of us, models past and present, have been fortunate to have behind us a dedicated and in most cases devoted staff, to help us to present ourselves and the clothes we wear in the best way possible. All too often, however, these people go unnoticed, precisely because of the fantastic job they do.
“They are, however, essential to our work, and none more so that the stylists who select the outfits – and in many cases, make ordinary women into superstar models. Over twenty years ago, one in particular looked at a sixteen year old girl from Beverley Massachusetts, saw something and propelled her into the limelight.”
“Oh no,” Mary said as she backed away from the entrance, only to feel Adamson’s hand rest gently on her shoulder.
“Ever since then, I have been privileged to call that woman my mentor, my teacher, my friend and my colleague – and a few other choice words at times, words I suspect many of the ladies beside me here have at least thought in their career.”
She turned and looked at the line, all of them nodding and clapping.
“For over thirty years, she has been spotting talent and making those she works with the best they can be – and through all the time, she has never ever sought the spotlight herself. With us tonight are many who count themselves privileged to have known her, encouraged by her, and cursed by her – because we all know she is the best there is.
“Which is why I hope she can forgive me for what I am about to do. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my extreme pleasure to announce that the winner of the 2014 Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award is my very, very dear friend, the style guru at Complete Style, and the person who has done so much for us tonight – the Welsh Wizard herself, Mary Thomas.”
Carina and Joanne looked at each other before they joined the entire room in standing and clapping.
“Now, Mary is a very shy person, so I’ve enlisted some help to get her on stage to accept the award. Boys?”
Mary gasped as Milo and Adamson lifted her gently onto their shoulders and carried her onto the stage, the models clapping and cheering as they carried her to the front and gently lowered her to the ground.
“Consider this revenge for Jeannie,” Juliette whispered as she handed Mary the gold statuette.
“You are so dead,” she whispered, but then she smiled and took the statuette, before taking a large handkerchief from a pocket and wiping her glasses as the room gave her a standing ovation.
“Oh my,” she finally said as she looked round. “I… I really don’t know what to say, except – thank you. Thank you all. You are the ones who make this job worthwhile, and…”
Juliette held the smaller woman as she started crying, and walked her off the stage, followed by the models as they embraced her one by one backstage.
“Well I hate to say it, but Mary has just made another star.” Juliette looked on in amazement as the world’s press literally fought each other to take pictures of Jeannie as she came out, pushed by Barbara.
“She went up in the air just another very promising young model,” Missy too looked on in amazement, “she came down a star.”
“I don’t understand it, we told Mary she wasn’t to do that.” Barbara shook her head as she walked over; bewildered by everything that had happened tonight.
“Baby is lapping it up.” Carina clapped her hands in excitement and happiness.
“Baby?” Juliette and Missy asked simultaneously.
Carina giggled, “Jeannie acquired her modelling nickname earlier backstage. ‘Baby Supermodel’.”
Juliette and Missy looked at each other then burst into laughter.
“Oh that poor child.” Missy wiped away a tear, before she started laughing again.
“Can someone please explain?” Barbara looked from woman to woman.
“Okay.” Juliette suppressed her laughter as she put her hand on Barbara’s shoulder. “Most girls acquire a nickname from the other girls. It sort of is a way of talking about each other without outsiders catching on who they are talking about.”
“And they are calling my Jeannie ‘Baby Supermodel’?”
“Yes.” Juliette laughed, “And just look at her handling the press…. She really is the Baby Supermodel.”
Barbara shook her head, before saying “and what did they call you?”
“That would be telling – come, I’ll help you get her out. You have a lot still to do this week.”
Tuesday 3rd June
A private airfield near Newark
Diana drove her Daimler up to the side of the airstrip, as the private jet slowly taxied out from the hanger.
“Well,” Dominique said as the car stopped, “time to return home I think. It has been an honour, Diana – and I hope one I can repeat some time.”
“Of course – I am sure we will be in touch.” Stepping out from the car, she opened the trunk and handed Dominique a large canvas bag, as well as her own travel bag.
“I have a message for you to pass to Madame from Juliette – if you would be willing?”
“Of course. What is the message?”
“Please tell her that Miss Panther looks forward to the day she hunts again with Miss Lioness.”
Dominique allowed herself a little smile. “Miss Lioness. How appropriate. I will tell her that when we meet in Basel tomorrow.”
“A safe journey my friend,” Diana said as she held her hand out.
“And to you – keep safe,” Dominique said as they shook, and she climbed onto the plane, the doors closing as it slowly taxied out onto the runway, and then sped off, Diana watching until it became a speck on the horizon.
“Portez-vous bien, mon chat de la nuit.”
Thursday 5th June
The studio was set up as a woodland scene, with seats covered to look like grass mounds and trees set up around the main set. Abigail and Jeannie were sat on one of the green mounds, waiting to begin work.
“Okay girls, show me something.”
“Okay it’s official.” Jeannie whispered as she smiled, “THIS is the highlight of the trip.”
“Yeah getting photographed by Annie Leibovitz is pretty cool.” Abigail whispered back.
“Are you girls okay?” They heard Anna Wintour’s distinctive voice from beyond the lights.”
“Yes.” Both girls sung out.
“Alright then, I’ll leave you in Grace and Annie’s tender care.”
“Okay concentrate girls.” Annie checked her light and started to take some photographs as they looked into the lens.
Abigail and Jeannie put an arm round each other’s waist as they sat on the bench. Each was wearing a floral minidress, with white tights and sandals. They looked fresh as daisies, little makeup, and their natural beauty shining for all to see.
“Okay Girls, I don’t care what you get away with Mary,” Grace Coddington, Vogue’s equally famous style director spoke. “Remember the storyline we discussed. This is a modern day Babes in the Wood, so be looking round, give it a little edginess.”
“Okay.” Jeannie answered taking the instruction in.
“Try looking out of the corners of your eyes girl, as if something was coming at you from the side.” Annie suggested. Jeannie immediately glanced to her left, leaning into Abigail as she looked in the other direction.
“That’s better.” The girls heard Grace’s voice.
“How about I try this?” Abby stood up and hugged Jeannie as they both looked sideways.
“Yes, more of that sort of thing girls.” Grace sounded happier.
“Keep it going girls.” Annie encouraged her sitters. “That’s the look I want – someone’s looking at you, you know it, but you can’t see them.”
Abby thought of Joanne before the kidnapping, and channelled that as she held Jeannie tighter…
“Phew!” Abigail relaxed as she removed her makeup. “That was a tough shoot.”
“You both looked beautiful from where I was sitting.” Barbara smiled as she came and joined them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard.” Jeannie stretched and yawned.
“You okay darling?” her mother asked.
“Yeah just tired Mum.” Jeannie smiled at her Mother. “I’d heard they were both perfectionists, but they made Mary look like a baby lamb.”
“Who?” Abby looked over at Jeannie.
“Grace and Annie, I’ve seen ‘The September Issue’ and I’ve read Grace’s book, but working with her was amazing.”
“Just think a couple of day’s you’ll be back home Baby…. Excited?”
“More excited thinking of when we move here Stick.” Jeannie stuck her tongue out.
“Actually, so am I,” Barbara said. “I had a talk with Juliette this morning, and if we can get the permit sorted out I have a job waiting for me when we come over.”
“That’s great Mum,” Jeannie said with a smile. “I might just get through school now!”
“Anyway,” Barbara said, “Come on – we need to pack soon.”
Friday 6th June
“I can’t believe this trip is over,” Jeannie said as John pulled into the parking lot at the terminal.
“I know,” Barbara said with a smile, “but next time we come, it’s to stay – and I can honestly say it will be the most exciting time of my life.”
“For all of us,” John said as he opened the back and removed Jeannie’s wheelchair. As he lifted her in, Heather and Joanne went to collect a luggage trolley and started to load their bags on.
“Now, Annie will be in touch at the end of the week to discuss some dates, and Missy will see you next week,” Juliette said as she stood with Abigail. Both Jeannie and Barbara were wearing jeans, sweatshirts and trainers, wondering what the flight like was going to be like.
“I wish Carina could have been here as well,” Jeannie said as she looked at the others.
“Well, with commencement tomorrow, she has to go to a rehearsal – and but that white dress. She sends her love, however… John?”
“Yeah, I see them,” John said as he looked at the collection of photographers gathered at the entrance to the terminal. “I don’t think there is a lot I can do about between here and there.”
“Agreed – Abigail, can you and Joanne go on ahead and alert someone inside that Jeannie is coming in?”
“Gotcha,” Joanne said as the two young girls sauntered over the road, past the photographers and into the entrance hall.
“When we give the word, Jeannie, Barbara,” Juliette said quietly, “we go straight ahead, and however tempted you may be, say nothing to anyone who sticks a microphone in front of your face.”
“She can’t be that famous, can she?”
“Have you been watching Good Morning America all week?”
“Yeah,” Jeannie said, “they tried to get me on, but Missy said no.”
“Well, the coverage of this week’s awards was massive, but the question they asked was, what will Jeannie do next?”
“Try and sleep on the plane?”
“I hope you do, lass,” John said with a smile, “because I think it might be as bad over there.”
“Barbara,” Juliette said quietly, “Just step back for a minute and look at Jeannie as if she was another girl. What do you see?”
Barbara looked and said, “I see a beautiful, confident young lady who happens to be in a wheelchair.”
“Exactly – she is a beautiful and talented young lady, and people saw on Monday she is not afraid to show that talent – and she is determined to use the wheelchair as a prop, not a crutch. She’s got people’s attention – well done to her. Accept it, Barbara – Jeannie is going to be a star.”
Juliette looked up to see Abigail waving from the entrance. “Here we go,” she said as she and Heather pushed the trolley, and John pushed Jeannie, Barbara walking beside her.
“THERE SHE IS!!!” The cameras started flashing as soon as they saw John pushing his granddaughter to the entrance. He said quietly “Sorry guys, no interviews,” but the assault of light and questions kept coming, as they pushed the young girl into the entrance lobby of the terminal.
“Good afternoon, Jeannie, Mrs Brewster.”
“Hey Steve,” Jeannie said as she looked up, “do I get the pleasure of your company for the trip back as well?”
“I am afraid you do, Jeannie yes – may I see your tickets please?”
Barbara handed the young man their passports and tickets, Steve looking at them before he said, “hmmm – yes, I’m afraid we have a small problem with the tickets.”
“A problem? What sort of problem?”
“Not a bad one – at the request of the Chairman, you are both to be upgraded to First Class for the flight over.”
John and Barbara looked at each other, before Barbara said, “I can’t, and I mean we can’t…”
“Mrs Brewster, on the other side of the security gate are even more photographers and TV crews. Please, take our offer – it guarantees you privacy for the rest of the flight home, and until our chauffer takes you to your house.”
“Wow – thank you,” Jeannie said as Steve took the handles of her wheelchair.
“I think we’ll say goodbye here until August, Jeannie – keep safe until then.”
“I’ll see you soon,” John said as he embraced his daughter and granddaughter, the others doing the same before Barbara followed Jeannie and Steve to the VIP entrance as a porter pushed the luggage trolley.
“Come on,” Heather said as she put her hand on John’s shoulder, “we’d better get going as well.”
Saturday 6th June
New York Botanical Garden
The sun was shining down on the open ground, the seats laid out in perfect rows as the covered stage faced the front. Kate Hardisty walked onto the stage, dress in a pale blue dress coat, and placed a box with neat white parchments rolls inside on a small table.
A short distance away, the parents of the graduating class were standing, drinking tea and talking amongst themselves with the faculty. Juliette was standing next to Bobbi’s parents, as Jane Molloy came over.
“I remember when it was my turn,” she said to Juliette, “it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done.”
“I can imagine,” Juliette said as she looked to a pair of curtains drawn over a covered over part of the marquee.
On the other side, Carina adjusted the front of her empire line white dress, looking down at the white heels she was wearing as the skirt fell just below her knees. She looked at Judy, who was wearing a round necked white dress with a skirt that came to just above her knees, and Bobbi, whose dress had lace capped sleeves and a flowing lace covered skirt.
“I’d prefer the charity kidnap to this,” Bobbi whispered.
“I know – hang on, I need to talk to the other two,” Judy said as she walked over to Miranda Jones and Beth Fitzgerald. She then handed ach of them a daisy chain, placing one on her hair as the others did the same.
“I guess it’s an end of an era for them as well,” Bobbi whispered.
“For all of us,” Carina said as Annie Kelly came in.
“All right, girls,” she said as she clapped her hands, “I need you to line up in alphabetical order, and then wait until the curtains open.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Miss Tennant said, “please take your seats – the ceremony is about to begin.”
“Showtime,” Juliette said as she put her cup down, and they walked out into the sunshine, taking their places in the seats as the junior class came in and sat as well.
Miss Tennant and the faculty took their seats on the stage, before she stood at the lectern and said, “Please, be upstanding for the graduating class.”
The assembly stood as the girls were led to the front rows, smiling at their parents as they took their seats. Once they were in position, Miss Tennant said, “Welcome to the 2014 commencement ceremony. We open as is traditional with the school song, sung by the Senior and Junior Classes. Miss Harkness?”
The bespectacled music teacher nodded as she played the opening bars, the senior class starting with the first verse on their own.
As the second verse began, the junior class joined in, and then the third verse was for them alone, as the transition of the year began.
The music stopped, the attendees sat down, and Judy McNally walked up to the stage.
“Senior Angels,” she said with a smile as she looked out onto the group, “Today marks the end of our life as students, and the start of our life outside of school. On behalf of all of you, I want to say thank you to the teachers, our parents, and all who have supported us these last four years.”
There was a ripple of applause, before Judy said, “Each of us goes to a new future, a new challenge. But we do so knowing we are ready, and we are able to meet that challenge, because St Angela’s has made us ready. So we step out in hope, in courage, in anticipation. Thank you for making us ready, and as we leave, we hope we will make you proud of us.”
Another round of applause rang round as Miranda and Beth joined Judy on the stage.
“And now, I have one last act – we have one last act to perform. Katherine des Moines, Suzanne Carter, and Joanne Smith – join us on the stage please.”
The Juniors applauded as Jo and the others walked up in their school uniforms.
“Today,” Judy said, “we hand the role of Head Girls to you. Make us proud and lead wisely.”
“We will,” all three said, as Judy, Miranda and Beth reached up and removed the daisy chains from their heads, placing them on the heads of the other three, before embracing and kissing them.
As the six of them walked off the stage, arm in arm. Miss Tennant came to the front again. “Please welcome to hand out the scrolls Jane Molloy of the New York Times and alumna of St Angela’s.”
The assembly applauded as Jane came onto the stage and stood next to Miss Tennant.
“As is our tradition, we ask that silence be maintained as the girls come up. Rachel Dunbar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
Rachel walked up the stairs, dressed in a white sheath dress, and shook the hands of Miss Tennant and Joan as she received a scroll, then headed back to her seat.
“Agatha Erskine, Cornell”
“Kath Fitzgerald, Harvard.”
One by one they were called up, one by one they shook hands and received their scrolls.
“Carina Huntingdown, Yale.”
Juliette beamed with pride as Carina walked up and received her scroll, then walked back down as “Miranda Jones, West Point” was read out.
Finally, Miss Tennant called out “Yvonne Walker, Cambridge” and the last girl came up, shook hands, and walked back down. Jane came to the microphone and said “From the class of 2001 to the class of 2014, I say to you, congratulations, and very very well done indeed. Parents, students, graduates – thank you for the honour of being here today, and I have only one thing to say to you.
“Remember you are, and always will be, Angels – and to be an Angel is to be someone very special indeed. Now, let’s congratulate all of them today.”
The Seniors remained seated, as the others stood, clapped and cheered, led by Jo and the other new head girls.
“Thank you, Jane,” Miss Tennant said. “Our ceremony is nearly at an end, but there is still one tradition that we need to observe. The time next year, it will be you,” she said as she looked at the Junior class, “who will stand here. It falls to you to give our departing Seniors the last gift they will receive from the school.”
As the Seniors stood in a line in front of the stage, the Juniors each came out and handed to each of them a small silver box. As Jo handed hers to Cari, the older girl opened it to ass a silver pin in the shape of an angel.
“Wear them with pride, ladies – class dismissed.”
The girls looked at each other, and then let out a loud cheer as their parents came forward to accompany them to the celebration lunch.
“Well done, my baby,” Juliette said as she hugged Carina.
“Hey mom – careful with baby,” Cari said as she hugged her back.