The Waldorf Hotel, New York
The ash blondes walked into the lobby of the hotel and looked round, unsure of where to head to next.
“What floor did they say she was on,” Joanne said as she looked round. She then felt under the collar of her blouse – she didn’t like having to wear one when it wasn’t necessary, but Heather had insisted they wore blouses and skirts today, so she had picked a blue silk blouse and a pleated matching skirt.
Heather wore a grey blouse and knee length skirt, with matching heels. “Twentieth,” she said as they walked over to the lifts, and waited for one to come down.
“Have you ever met her,” Joanne said as the lift doors opened, and they stepped in.
“No – but from what both Juliette and Diana said, she’s not as bad as you may have heard,” Heather said as the lift slowly climbed. Eventually, the doors opened and they stepped out onto a deep carpet, turning left and heading for a set of double doors.
“Ready,” Heather said as she saw Joanne rubbing her shoes on the back of her leg.
“Why do I feel as if I’m going into Miss Tennant’s office,” she said as Heather knocked on the door. Both girls looked round as the door opened.
“Welcome,” Dominique said as she held the door open for them, “Thank you for coming today.” She wore a black blouse and trouser suit, as she indicated they should follow her.
“So why here instead of the office,” Heather said as they walked past some doors.
“Madame felt it would be better to gather here,” Dominique said as she opened a door. They walked into a meeting room, as Dominique closed the door.
“May I offer you some coffee – it is a Colombian blend.”
“Thank you,” Heather said as Joanne walked to the window and looked out. As she gazed over the park, a young voice said, “An amazing view, is it not?”
She turned and looked at the young African girl, smiling as she said “It is – I never think I will get used to it.”
“Joanne – do you know Dominique?”
“She does,” Dominique said as she came over. “Ama, this is Joanne’s sister Heather – she and Joanne will be helping us to find your friends.”
“Then I thank you,” Ama said with a smile, “because my lady Dominique says you are her friends.”
“Ama, what did I say? I am not your lady.”
“As you say, but I may disagree,” Ama said with a smile. “I hope we see each other again, Joanne.”
As she left the room, Heather said “was that her?”
Dominique merely nodded as the door opened, and Susan came in with Annie. Both women were wearing grey skirts and silk blouses.
“Juliette would kill us all if she saw us,” Heather said as the three women stared at each other.
“Let us never speak of this,” Susan said as Joanne and Dominique burst out laughing.
“Please, be seated,” Susan said, “Madame will be with us shortly.”
“She likes to keep things formal then,” Heather said as she sat with Joanne.
“Yes,” was all Susan said as the doors opened and a small, red haired woman walked in, followed by a tall, thin dark haired woman with shoulder length black hair. While the smaller women wore a red skirt and blouse, the taller one wore a black roll necked sweater and long skirt, slit from the hip down one side.
“Please, be seated,” she said as she approached the table, her voice rich and mellow as Heather and Joanne looked at her. Juliette could demand respect when they were one as the gang, but this woman managed it with no effort at all.
“My thanks to you all for coming today,” Madame said as they sat. “I think most of you know each other, but Charlotte, this is Heather and her sister Joanne.”
“Hello.” The redhead nodded.
“Hi,” both Heather and Joanne waved back.
“I believe I do not need to, as you Americans say, bring you up to speed as to why we are here today,” Madame said as she looked at Heather and Joanne.
“Heather told me on the way in,” Joanne said quietly, “to believe people still do this sort of thing nowadays.”
“Sadly,” Dominique said, “Ama is living proof that is indeed the case.”
“We are in an intelligence gathering phase ladies,” Madame said quietly, “and I want to launch a series of covert operations to enable us to get further names, and to work out the extent of this cancer.”
“Oh is that why you wanted to know about some of my little tricks?” Heather asked.
“Exactly dear.” Madame nodded, “I don’t want to interrupt your vacation overly, but if you and Joanne can come back to Manhattan occasionally over the next couple of weeks it will be of immense help.”
“After what Susan and Dom did to help free me I’m at your beck and call.” Jo spoke softly.
“Excellent – I believe you will be of immense help,” Madame said as Susan and Dominique smiled at her. “Now, I have worked out a list of potential targets, our surveillance operatives, that is Dominique, Annie and Joanne will plant bugs and other surveillance equipment where hopefully it will be of the most use.”
All three nodded.
“Susan will be in charge of logistics and backup. Charlotte will support her whilst doing analysis of any information we gather, and Heather will supply the technical expertise.”
“Well for starters give me a list of computers and telephones you’d like to listen in on.” Heather paused, “I’m not bad at getting into systems.”
“Not bad is one way of putting it. Do you know how long it was till my people detected your - shall we call it snooping in our systems?” Dominique asked.
Heather shrugged her shoulders and said “Juliette wanted to know more, and I know you guys were doing the same to us.”
“Yes but nowhere near as well or as efficiently as you did Heather, that’s why I’ve asked you to join this little operation.” Madame spoke softly.
“Still, we managed to find all the worms and clear them out eventually,” Dominique said with a smile.
"Oh - are you sure you have me out of your
systems?" Heather grinned.
"My tech security people swear it."
Dominique looked hard at her friend.
"Well as long as they tell you that." Heather giggled, “It would be churlish of me to disagree.”
“Very well – Susan, the names please.”
Susan opened a manila envelope and removed some papers.. “Based on information obtained, and with the help of Ama, we have some names to start with. The first on the list is one we have visited already, Oliver Cohen. I believe he still has much to tell us.”
“Annie,” Dominique said, “I want you not to undertake that one. I am concerned you will not remain – objective.”
“You’re right – I would not,” Annie said with a grim smile.
“So who else is on the list?” Joanne looked at the file Susan handed to her. There was a picture of a swarthy looking gentleman dressed in a Nehru jacket.
“That is Dominic Rice, a member of the Australian delegate. We have found evidence of payments made between Rice and Cohen, and it is possible he is the arms contact. We wish to find out more.”
“The lady is Xiang Chen, a member of the Chinese delegation to the UN in a junior position. Ama spoke of a woman with yellow tinted skin who knew her former Master named Chen, and she is the closest fit we have to that profile.”
Heather looked at the stern faced woman, in a red Cheongsam, and said “charming lady. Any known vices?”
“Some evidence she has connections with underground gambling, but nothing concrete.”
“What about him,” Susan said as she looked at the third picture, a thin grey haired man.
“He is a particular concern of mine,” Madame said quietly, “Sir Winston Twining, head of the British delegation.”
“You are kidding me,” Heather said as she looked at Madame, only to see her shake her head.
"They must never realize you've even been in their homes or offices girls, so no thefts please, though I know you'll probably be tempted."
"What I call a virgin break in," Jo nodded.
"Oh?" Annie looked at her.
"Yeah nothing gets taken or broken and there is
"Oh my God that's an awful line." Susan giggled slightly.
Annie just shook her head as she looked at Joanne and Heather.
“One last person – Francois Legault. Although we have much information from him, we wish to monitor his communications.”
“Then he is the one I start with,” Heather said with a smile. “When would you like us to start?”
“Let me have your initial plans by the end of the day, using the secure channel. Thank you – and good hunting.” She stood, the others standing as he left the room.
“Does she have that effect on everyone,” Joanne said as she sat down.
“You get used to it,” Dominique said quietly. “Anyone fancy another coffee?”
The Richmond Holiday Home
“Hey,” Carina said as Heather and Joanne came in, “Got a minute?”
“Sure,” Joanne said as Carina led her toward the kitchen.
"So what did Madame want?" Juliette asked
quietly while Janice played outside with the children.
Heather asked as she looked out of the window.
"Both of you."
"Well,” Heather said quietly, “she wants to do some intelligence gathering on those she believes are key players. From me it’s basically tech expertise, but she wants Jo to do some discrete break-ins to plant bugs. Etc."
"She doesn't have enough burglars of her own?" Sandy joined them at the French doors.
"The whole thing is on a need to know basis, so
the less people know Madame thinks the better." Heather waved to little
"Well I suspect Jo was and is more than willing
to help." Juliette observed.
"Anything the rest of us can do?" Sandy asked.
"Well I'd be a lot happier if Jo had backup outside if needed be." Heather admitted. "So if maybe one of the girls can do that long drive with her then play lookout then backup I'd be happier."
“I concur – once we know the targets and dates, we can work things out.”
“Good,” Sandy said as George ran up and showed her the butterfly he had caught.
“It’s beautiful,” Sandy said, “but let it go now, so it can fly home.”
“Okay Mom,” George said as he let the butterfly out, Sandy and Katy running after it.
“She’s loving this,” Janice said as she came into the house.
“So I see – let’s go and get some drinks.”
They went into the kitchen, where Joanne and Carina were sitting over a tub of ice cream.
“Hey – you’re not replacing chili with that are you,” Heather said as she looked at them.
“No, I am not,” Carina said with a white smile, “we’re just talking about Jeannie and Abby. They called to say they had started their shoot.”
“Good – get another tub and some spoons. We’ll all have some.”
Later that night, Juliette, Jo, Heather and Sandy were sitting round the table, as Heather looked at some information on the computer.
"Believe it or not the biggest challenge isn't
revealing my presence to the victim." Heather looked serious for a moment,
"It's making sure anyone else listening in doesn't notice."
"These are prominent people, surely… "
"That makes it more likely other people are
listening in as well." Heather interrupted Juliette. "Our people, the Russians, their own security services, the list is
"Do you feel up to doing that lover?" Sandy
asked in a concerned tone.
"Oh yeah I know a few things that I can do."
“Things we need to know about for the future?”
“Could be,” Heather said as she looked up. "I’d better send Susan a shopping list of the things you and the other girls will need
"Yeah but also some little counter measures I've
thought up to make sweeping difficult."
"Why the hell did you study art history and
not computer science in college darling?"
"I did art history because it was harder."
Sandy and Jo looked at each other and both shook their heads.
The Waldorf Hotel, NY
Susan scanned down the list on her sheet again, shaking her head before she knocked on the door.
“Enter,” the deep cultured voice said, and as Susan walked in Madame X looked up.
“Madame, I hate to disturb you while you are working...”
“My door is always open to you Susan,” Madame said with a smile. “Now, what is the problem?”
“It’s this list from Heather, some of the items she wants us to have are going to be awfully hard to obtain, even with our contacts.”
“Well do your best Susan, I’m sure if Heather says that we need them, then I’m sure that we do.”
“I’ll try Madame.” Susan looked to the heavens. Heather had named some very state of the art devices, both for listening in and for recording discussions.
“Problems?” Dominique asked as she entered the room.
“Susan is having doubts about our ability to obtain the items Heather has requested.”
“Let me have a look,” Dominique said as she took the list from Susan, letting out a low whistle as she read down. “Well some of it is pretty out there on the tech frontier,” she admitted.
“And by the way Madame she was right, she has left more little jokers inside our system, my people don’t know if we will ever be able to clear her out.’
“Well may I suggest we give up then, I think it’s pretty clear we can trust the Pussycats not to misuse information they obtain, and I get the feeling that in a battle between your cyber security people and Heather we’d lose anyway.”
“Probably” Dominique yawned.
“Ama had nightmares, we sat up talking,” Dominique said, “and as always Madame, if that’s your wish, it shall be done.”
“Still doesn’t help me with finding some of these items.” Susan sighed.
“Do you want me to help Susan?”
“Thank you Dominique.” Susan smiled.
“Well I think I can let you both get to work.” Madame waved a hand to dismiss the girls.
“For starters,” Susan said as she pointed to one item, “is there anywhere outside of Langley you can get that?”
“No – which is why it is fortunate I know someone in Langley. Come – let us conquer and divide.”
The Richmond Holiday Home
The women looked at the line of three, wearing their pajamas and with their arms folded.
“I think we have answered that already,” Sandy said from her chair.
“But why can’t we stay up and watch Abigail and Jeannie on TV?” Little Alexandra said - she was clearly the spokeschild for the three youngsters.
“Because it comes on too late.” Sandy looked severely at her petulant daughter.
“It’s also past your bed time – and you have had a very busy day.” Janice added her weight to the argument as she looked at Katy, who was holding her teddy in her arms.
“It’s still not fair.” Little Sandy looked rebellious as she said this, and Sandy saw a little of herself in that.
“No it’s not fair,” Katy said as she copied her friend.
“Listen - how about I record it and you can watch it tomorrow?” Sandy offered.
“Okay I guess.” George spoke. “But I’d still have liked to stay up.”
The girls looked at each other, and reluctantly nodded.
“Come on you three, it’s bed time.” Heather swept the three youngsters up and took them upstairs.
“Can I refill your glass,” Sandy said as she poured some more wine into Janice’s goblet.
“Thanks. It’s nice of you to invite us to stay Sandy.” Janice grinned as her daughter blew her a kiss from the foot of the stairs.
“Well Juliette, Carina and the baby were coming down to watch the show, could hardly leave you alone up there.” Sandy said, whilst remembering that Juliette had also not wanted the FBI agent poking round her house anyway.
“Still, it’s nice of you – and it’s nice not to be the FBI agent for a few days.”
“Of course – it has been quite a year for you, as well as for us,” Sandy said with a smile.
“Yeah – but I’m not going to worry about work tonight. Tonight, I just want to kick back and have fun.”
“Janice,” Sandy said quietly, “stop me if this is too intrusive, but – what happened to Mister Carter?”
Janice put her glass down and sat back, crossing her legs as her skirt rode up. “There was no Mister Carter – Katy came after my last long term relationship. He was dispatched to Afghanistan, and died in a mortar attack – he never even knew he was a father.”
“Oh,” Sandy said quietly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude…”
“It’s all right – when she’s old enough, I’ll tell her about her father, but not until then. My mom helps out as well – we live with her in the city.”
“I know I would have fallen apart without my mother’s help,” Sandy said with a smile.
“Ah, but you also have Heather – she is a godsend I’m sure.”
“In so many ways,” Sandy said as Joanne came in.
“Oops – looks like I’m interrupting something,” she said as she turned to leave.
“Don’t be stupid, Jo,” Sandy said as she picked up her glass, “Come and sit down – but you need your own drink.”
“I don’t suppose a beer is possible?”
Sandy looked at Janice before saying “all right – but only a light one.”
“Gotcha,” Jo said as she headed to the kitchen. “She’s a bright girl, with a big future ahead of her,” Janice said as she sat back.
“I know – Heather is very proud of her,” Sandy said with a smile.
"Oh that is good." Jo came back in with her
"You look tired Jo." Janice remarked.
"I am, I decided I'd let myself slacken off more
than enough this summer, so I hit the gym."
"Don't you run track?"
"Yeah the 800 metres."
Jo smiled, "We've got a pretty good shot at winning the Independent
Schools Indoor Championship this winter, so I need to get back to hitting the
roads AND the gym."
"Oh to be that young again."
Janice and Sandy's eyes met.
"As Coach Kelly says, ‘preparation now, pays
dividends later.’" She mimicked the
math teacher’s accent as she said it.
"Annie pushes herself just as hard as she does
you girls." Sandy replied. "She was telling me her workout regime, it
made me tired just listening."
"I think maybe I need to join the gym she
uses." Janice looked at her waistline.
"Ask her, I bet she'll be glad to introduce you." Heather spoke as she came down stairs, “and I’ll have some more as well please Sandy.”
“Are they asleep?”
“I left Sandy and Katy debating who the best MLP is, and George is out,” she said with a smile as she sat down.
“Who knows what goes on in the mind of kids these days,” Janice said with a sigh, “when I was her age it was who the best Power Ranger was.”
“The innocence of youth, speaking of which,” Heather said as she sat down, “I need to take you to get some new uniform next week young lady. I think you’ve grown almost as much as Abby this summer.”
“Do you have any special uniform as a Head Girl,” Janice said as she sipped her wine.
“There’s a ceremonial headdress, that we apparently wear on high days and holidays, but apart from that, nope. Tennant feels the uniform is important enough without it.”
“I think Diana is going on Monday next week with Barbara,” Sandy said, “might as well make it a three way trip.”
“Ah school uniform – something I never have to face again,” Carina said as she came in, setting Judith on the floor as she took her jacket off.
“True – until you have to buy hers, isn’t that right Judith darling,” Jo said as she tickled the baby.
“Hey – she only just went to sleep,” Carina said as Juliette came in, accepting a glass of wine from Sandy as she sat down.
“We’ve got a while,” Heather said quietly, “who wants a game of Scrabble?”
7.30 pm PST
E! Network studios, Los Angeles
“Is it always this damn hot out here,” Barbara said as she looked at the television screen, wiping her brow with a handkerchief. She looked over at Diana, who looked as cool as ever in her white jacket and skirt.
“Sadly, it is,” Diana said with a nod as she looked over at Barbara. They had spent most of the day in the photographer’s studio, doing some winter scenes for Roche, and had barely time to change before they headed to the studio. Barbara had put on a pale blue short sleeved dress and blue heels.
“How on earth do they cope with the heat, and under those lamps as well?”
“Plenty of water and infinite patience,” Diana replied as the door opened, Abby pushing Jeannie in with her. Both girls were wearing white chiffon dresses with a pale blue cornflower print, the sleeves coming to just above their elbows while the skirt flared out from the gathered waist. Their blond hair was pulled back in ponytails, and they had the minimum of blusher applied.
“When this is done,” Abby said as she sat down and crossed her legs, showing the two inch white heels she was wearing, “I say we go and get something to eat, somewhere quiet – I’ve got a hankering for seafood.”
“Sounds good to me,” Barbara said, “so long as it’s somewhere with dark lighting.”
“I’ll ask the show runner to recommend somewhere,” Diana said as she stepped out.
“Not really,” she said as she looked at Abby,” I was more nervous behind the scenes at the Graham Norton show.”
“I remember that – I was shaking like a leaf,” Barbara said as Diana came back.
“They have suggested a place that I think you will like – a car is waiting to take us there after the show,” Diana said quietly. “I personally will be glad when we get home the day after tomorrow.”
The door opened and Chelsea Handler came in. “Thank you both for agreeing to come tonight,” she said as she shook the hands of Jeannie and Abby, “I promise you, it will be quick and painless.”
“Thanks,” Abby said with a smile as she left, and then yawned. “I am beat – I really hope I sleep tonight,” she said, Jeannie nodding in agreement as the watched the television.
“Good evening, everyone,” Chelsea Handler said as she walked out onto the stage, “I just want to spend a moment tonight discussing the number one issue that is making the pop world buzz tonight – Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus. Why?”
“Okay, they lost me at Justin Beiber,” Janice said with a shrug of her shoulders.
“Here here,” Jo and Cari said as they clinked their beer bottles while the host continued her monologue. Eventually, the clapping started as the announcer said “Tonight on Chelsea Lately – Sarah Colonna, Annie Lederman and Greg Proops discuss the new this week’s new films, and Chelsea talks to the new faces of fashion, Abigail de Ros and Jeannie Brewster. Ladies and gentlemen – Chelsea Handler.”
“Thank you, thank you,” Chelsea said as she sat at the round table, and started to discuss the latest Marvel film with her three guests.
“BORING,” Jo shouted out, “we want to see our friends!”
“Girls,” Heather said with a warning look as Greg Proops went into a routine about the sound in space. Eventually, however, they went into a commercial break.
“This is it,” Heather said as they gathered and watched the screen, glasses in hand,..
“All right,” Chelsea said as the cameras focused on her “This year has seem the rise of two new faces in the fashion world, the first after a stunning debut and a Vogue cover at the tender age of fifteen, the second on an emotional show seen on BBC America and then at the recent fashion awards. Please welcome the teen model sensations Abigail de Ros, and Jeannie Brewster.”
Chelsea came out from behind her desk as Abby pushed Jeannie onto the set and greeted them both.
“Welcome,” she said as she sat down, “especially as you’ve only just moved to the land of the free, Jeannie.”
“It’s a great pleasure for us both to be here,” Jeannie said as she smiled at the cameras.
“Okay you both recently had birthdays.”
The audience applauded as both girls blushed.
“But even so Abby you’re only 16, and Jeannie you are just 14, how does it feel to be so young and yet so famous?”
Jeannie looked up at Abby then grinned, “Pretty cool.”
“It’s tiring,” Abby said as she relaxed in her chair, “but it’s still fantastic fun.”
“It’s been an amazing year for both of you though, especially you Jeannie, to come from a schoolgirl in England to this level of stardom.. Let’s see you at work at the Fashion Awards dinner.”
The girls watched the clips from June, especially when Jeannie flew through the air, before the audience applauded.
“Now,” Chelsea said, “the reason we asked you on is this fantastic spread in Vogue that comes out this week, how did that come about?”
Abby giggled, “well I think the Vogue people saw Jeannie do her flying thing, and wanted to capitalize on it, so we got called in by Anna and Grace and asked if we wanted to pose for Annie.”
“Basically it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.” Jeannie added.
"And the theme of the shoot was babes in the
wood, aren't you both basically babes in the modeling world?" Chelsea
popped another question.
"Well we are lucky to have the support of our
The camera panned to Diana and Barbara in the wings.
"But we also have some great friends."
"One of whom had a baby last week, so we'd like
to say hi to Carina and little Judith.”
The two girls waved at the camera.
“Well congratulations to her” Chelsea said, “but you’ve also become in many ways a role model for girls who have disabilities Jeannie.”
In the wings, Barbara smiled as the audience applauded.
“We sent our cameras out on the streets of LA to ask how many teenage boys would date a girl in a wheelchair.” Chelsea smiled at the camera. “When we asked the generic question, the answers were to say the most discouraging.”
Abby and Jeannie watched the clip of boys basically saying a girlfriend in a wheelchair would be a hassle, I’d be afraid of breaking her, and other such excuses.
“Then we asked if they’d like to date this girl in a wheelchair?” On the screen flashed a shot of Jeannie dressed to the nines. “Funny how quickly reactions changed.”
Abby and Jeannie both laughed as the same boys basically tied themselves in knots saying they’d make an exception for someone that gorgeous.
After the clip had run and the audience stopped laughing, Chelsea turned to Jeannie and asked, “Well do you have a boyfriend Jeannie?”
Jeannie blushed and giggled.
“And that means what?”
“There may be someone – I can’t say though.”
"So I understand you'll be going to the same school."
"Yeah St Angela's in New York City." Abby answered.
"It has to be one hell of a transition from catwalk glamour girls to school?"
“Not really,” Abby said, “we’re just schoolgirls, after all, if incredibly lucky ones. Still, the two worlds have a lot in common?”
“OH – such as?”
“Long hours doing things we think are useless, but turn out to be necessary,” Jeannie said as everyone laughed.
"By the way girls those nails are amazing."
"Thank you,” Abby answered. "Courtesy of Miko
our fantastic makeup lady at the shoot we did earlier." Jeannie held up
the inch long red talons.
"So I throw away those questions," Chelsea dropped some cards, "And I avoid getting my eyes scratched out with those."
“We were offered a part in the next X-Men film when the photographer saw these,” Jeannie said, “but I turned it down – James MacAlvoy looks better in the chair than me.”
“Now Abby,” Chelsea went on, “You were one of those who helped discover Jeannie, despite only being a new model yourself. Tell me, do you think she is a positive role model?”
“Oh yes - I think you’d be amazed at the number of girls in our industry have had severe self-image problems at some time in their lives.” Abby spoke seriously.
“But these are by definition surely beautiful women?”
“Being mainly very tall girls, most of us stood out like sore thumbs at one time or another in school, I think most models at sometimes in their lives have cried themselves to sleep wishing they were petite and cute, since that was what the popular girls always seemed to be.”
“How tall are you Abigail?”
“Thanks to another growth spurt this summer I’m a fraction of an inch under six feet.”
“And you Jeannie?”
“You stretch me out flat, I’m about five eight.”
“So if you could say one thing to the tall girls out there, what would it be?”
Jeannie and Abby looked at each other and nodded, before Abby said “Stand tall and proud – you are beautiful.”
“Good place to end it – ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Jeannie and Abigail!”
“Well, they did good,” Sandy said as she turned the television off. “Now, who wants a nightcap?”
9 pm PST
“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had fresh scallops,” Jeannie said as she cut into the white disc, and slipped it into her mouth.
“What do you think,” Abigail said as she took a piece of salmon and put it in her mouth. “I think I’ll keep these nails for a while, they have their uses,” she remarked as she used the tip of the nail to remove a spec of sauce from beside her mouth.
“Different – not bad, but the salsa makes it special. I guess after a lifetime of fish and chips, I need to try some new experiences in food as well.”
“On the other hand, I’ve never had fish and chips,” Abigail said, “have you mama?”
“Only the one time I visited a restaurant run by Gordon Ramsay – I cannot say I enjoyed it that much,” Diana said with a smile. “And on the nails darling Miss Tennant would have a fit, so they come off before school.”
“Well, perhaps I will cook fish and chips for you both some time for you some time – Dad loves it,” Barbara said as she looked at her prawn dish. “And that goes for you as well young lady.” Barbara looked sharply at her daughter admiring her own hands.
“Carina will be pleased you mentioned her and the baby.” Diana looked happy and content.
“Well she’d have killed me if I hadn’t.” Abigail smiled as she looked up from her food.
“I was proud of the way that Chelsea mentioned you are becoming a symbol for disabled girls.” Barbara looked at her daughter.
“Still less then flattering what those boys were stating about dating paraplegics till they saw a picture of me.”
“I know Jeannie.” Abigail sighed, “I just wish people could accept that everyone is basically the same inside.”
“That’s a profound thought Abby.” Barbara nodded.
“You both did well tonight,” Diana said with a smile. “One more shoot tomorrow, then this Jimmy Fallon show, and we get the redeye back to New York.
“So we have to catch that plane,” Abigail said as she put her fork down.
“Regretfully, yes – we have to start considering getting ready for school – and there are some other business matters I have to attend to on Friday.”
“Look at it this way,” Barbara said, “at least you’ll be so tired, you get some sleep on the plane tomorrow night.”
“And you can sleep when we get back to the house,” Diana said quietly.
“But not for too long – we have a baby shower to organize for Saturday, remember.”
“Oh yeah – and then back to the city on Sunday, right?”
“That’s right girls – now eat, you need to get to bed at some time…”
Heather was talking with Susan and Dominique when Madame X entered the room.
“All right ladies,” Madame said as she sat at the table, “Status update please.”
“Thanks to Clint and some slick computer work by Heather, I’ve been hired as a member of the janitorial staff at the UN.” Dominique reported.
“I’m sorry if the work is tedious Dominique.” Madame sympathized.
Dominique smiled and said, “Well for Ama and girls like her I’ll clean all the toilets I have to.”
“Have you started scouting out our targets Dom?” Heather asked.
“Yeah,” Dominique said as she looked at the notes she had made, “each delegation has its own security as well as general UN security, but I think we can get to the places we want to.”
“Well I should have all those bits you ordered Heather in the next 48 hours.” Susan joined in, “It’s not been easy but I think I’ve got them all.”
“I know and I apologise, but we need surveillance equipment capable of not being detected by standard security sweeps. We have to assume everyone else is listening for different reasons. The last thing we need is the CIA or Homeland Security discovering us.”
“Which means I better start prepping plans for Annie and Jo for their end of this.” Dominique nodded.
“Once I activate everything it’s going to require full time monitoring Madame, 24/7.” Heather reminded everyone.
“Well Charlotte has been training up some of our girls from the West Coast the past few days.” Susan looked round the room. “So yes we’ll have enough human monitors I hope.”
“Good.” Madame nodded her approval.
“Do we have all the relevant languages covered Susan?” Heather asked.
“I hope so.” Susan crossed and uncrossed her legs nervously.
“Well anything we don’t recognize I’m sure we can find someone to translate.” Dominique tried to look optimistic.
“We have French, Chinese and German translators on standby, and Charlotte is fluent in the relevant African languages. If anything else comes up, I can call on operatives from most countries.”
“Excellent,” Heather said. “One last thing – with you permission, I want to bring one of us as a backup for Joanne, in case of complications.”
“Agreed,” Madame X said with a nod. “Well, let us re-convene on Saturday. Good work, everyone.”
Madame stood up and left, as Heather turned to Susan.
“Just how did you get those recorders I asked for anyway?”
“Dominique did – she knows some people who know some people who work in Langley. Don’t worry – they can’t be traced to us.”
“Good – well, I’ll see you on Saturday.”
“By the way,” Dominique said, “I understand you are having a small party for Carina on Saturday night?”
“That’s right – why?”
“I may have something to take to her from me – until Saturday, Heather.”
The Richmond Holiday home.
“Now where do you think they have got to?”
Sandy and Janice came back into the house, where Joanne was helping George with a holiday report.
“Jo, have you seen the girls anywhere?”
“Nope – they went upstairs after watching the recording of the show. They’ve been quiet since then.”
“Well, we need to head off soon,” Janice said, “perhaps we should go and see what they are up to?”
The two women walked up the stairs, and could hear the sound of the two girls laughing in one of the rooms – but not Sandy’s room.
“Why are they in Jo’s room,” Sandy said as she slowly opened the door, and looked in.
Little Sandy was standing in front of Katy, using a lipstick to rouge her mouth. They both had used some eyeshadow to try and make their eyes darker, and their cheeks were pale from powder. Katy was wearing one of Jo’s sleeveless tops and a pair of jeans, with a pair of Jo’s brown leather boots on her legs – but on Katy they came up nearly to the top of her legs.
As for little Sandy, she was wearing a black t-shirt and one of Jo’s short skirts, which came over her knees, and a pair of her mother’s high heels.
“And what are you two doing,” Janice said as she looked in.
“We’ve decided we are going to be models like Abigail and Jeannie when we grow up.” Katy pronounced proudly as she and little Sandy stood there.
Both Sandy and Janice broke back into fits of laughter at the site of their little girls in clothes way to big for them and with the makeup smeared all over their faces.
Suddenly Janice noticed the jeweled brooch on her daughter. “Katy Elizabeth Carter did you get into Ms Richmond’s jewel box?” she said sternly.
“No it was in Moms purse, and I think it looks good on Katy.” Little Sandy stomped her foot.
“Darling that’s a very expensive thing that belonged to your Great Grandma.” Sandy tried to sound and stay calm at the thought of Janice having seen her pussycat pin.
“Hand it over miss.” Janice stood hands on hips.
“Alright.” Little Katy pouted as she handed it to Janice.
“Oh my God are these real.” Janice whispered to Sandy.
“Yes it’s an heirloom piece I should never have left in my bag like this.”
“Well take it and speaking as an FBI agent… BE CAREFUL!”
“Oh believe me – I will,” Sandy said quietly. “As for you two, get washed and changed – Katy needs to go soon.”
7 pm PST
“What was that expression from that old TV show, Beautiful Downtown Burbank?” Barbara said as she looked round at the various studios from the limousine.
“I know,” Abby sighed, “Why the hell Jimmy Fallon wanted us on while he’s filming out here in LA rather than New York is what I want to know?”
“Because Vogue comes out this week.” Diana sighed.
“This heat is beginning to get to me.” Jeannie looked a trifle wilted. “And in an hour I’m supposed to be bright and entertaining.”
“Here drink some water,” Barbara reached into the limo’s mini fridge.
“Thanks mum.” Jeannie took the bottle, opened and drank deeply of the clear liquid.
“I’m going to be glad to get back to school.” Abby looked round as they entered a guarded gate.
“My daughter actually happy to go to school?” Barbara looked shocked.
“I’m going to need a holiday from my holiday Mum.”
“Welcome, I’m Kerri, I’m one of Jimmy’s assistants,” a bright perky blonde opened the limo door as it pulled up.
“Hello Kerri.” Abby smiled as the driver lifted Jeannie into her chair.
“Umm Miss de Ros, Miss Brewster, I’m afraid there is a slight change in the running order, you are going to be the last guests.”
“Oh no.” Abigail moaned, “that gives us even less time to get to the airport for our flight.”
“I know Miss de Ros, I’m sorry. We’ll try to get you to the airport as quickly as possible.”
“Please,” Barbara said with a sigh as they entered make up, “we really want to get back to New York.”
“You go on ahead to the Green Room, Mum, we’ll see you there,” Abby said as Diana and Barbara went to the waiting room.
“Thank the Goddess we checked in for the flight before leaving the hotel,” Diana said as she poured a glass of wine, handing it to Barbara before she poured one for herself.
“It’s funny you all say that instead of thank God,” Barbara said.
“It’s an expression we all ended up using,” Diana said as she sat down, “A faith thing if you like. Why?”
“It’s just curious,” Barbara said with a smile. “So what will new York be like when we get there – cooler than this hopefully?”
“I think so yes,” Diana said as she relaxed. The door opened and a red hared woman came in – one Barbara recognized from British television.
“Oh my – you’re Karen Gillan?”
“That’s right,” the Scottish actress said as she poured herself some water, “Forgive me, have we met.”
“No, we have not,” Diana said as she stood up, “I am Diana de Ros and this is Barbara Brewster.”
Karen looked at both the older women, and then said “oh yeah – you’re Abigail de Ros and Jeannie Brewster’s mothers. I saw you both in Complete Style – it’s a real pleasure to meet both of you.”
“So you are appearing in the show tonight as well?”
“That’s right – my film comes out next week. So I get to meet your daughters – that’s cool.”
“Not as cool as it will be for Jeannie – she has a real thing for Matt Smith, and may ask you about him.”
“Well, I could talk about Vin Deisel – but he’ll be here soon, so they can meet him anyway.”
Abigail and Jeannie joined them a few minutes later. Abigail was wearing a black short sleeved blouse and leather mini skirt, while Jeannie wore a white blouse and skintight white jeans.
“Well, at least you can wear them on the plane,” Barbara said with a smile as Jeannie looked at the other guests.
“Oh my,” she said as she saw the redhead in a sleeveless mini dress, “it’s Amy Pond!”
“And you must be Jeannie,” Karen said as she walked over, “it’s a real pleasure to meet you.”
“Oh my,” Jeannie said as she blushed, “I would love to ask you so many questions…”
“Perhaps after the show,” Karen said with a smile.
“Sadly, that is not possible,” Diana said quietly, “we have to return to New York tonight.”
“Tell you what then – we can meet when I come there in a couple of weeks.”
“I’d love that,” Jeannie said, “I loved you as Jean Shrimpton as well.”
“It’s a date,” Karen said as Kerri came in. “Miss Gillan, Mr. Deisel – it’s time.”
“One moment,” Karen said as she and Jeannie fixed a date and time. “Right – lead on.”
As they walked out, the others looked at the monitor as the announcer said “Live from LA, it’s the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon! Tonight’s guests, Karen Gillan, Vin Deisel, Abigail de Ros, Jeannie Brewster and the legendary Roots crew!”
“I really hope they have nice seats on this plane,” Barbara said as they sat to watch the opening monologue…..
“Karen you’re going to stick around a while longer, right?”
“That’s right,” Karen said before Jimmy Fallon called out “Ladies and Gentlemen, Karen Gillan and Vin Deisel.”
As Vin walked off, Jimmy smiled at the camera.
“Okay my final two guests tonight are two of the worlds most beautiful young women, Abigail de Ros and Jeannie Brewster.” Jimmy rose from behind his desk and came out and kissed both girls as Abby positioned Jeannie’s wheelchair then dropped into the grey chair beside it.
“Okay first things first… “ Jimmy turned to the camera, “Hands off guys they are both under age.”
As the audience finished laughing, Jimmy turned back to look at the girls.
“Well let me say I’m honored girls. Before we start, do you mind if I show this?” Fallon held up a copy of Vogue and the camera went into close-up showing pictures of the girls.
“Can I say these pictures look amazing?” Jimmy put the magazine back down on the desk.
“Thank you,” both girls answered and smiled.
“I bet you are sick and tired of everyone saying it’s been a remarkable year, but I guess it has been for both of you?”
“Pretty much.” Jeannie laughed out loud as a voice from the audience was heard to call out “Jeannie I love you.”
“Umm buddy, just 14 years old remember.” The host spoke. “But I guess I’ll ask, do you both have boyfriends?”
“Please say no.” someone shouted out.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” Abby smiled, “but my boyfriend will be a freshman on the Stanford football team this year.”
“I’m still not taken though.” Jeannie grinned.
“Truth is though with school and work neither of us gets a huge chance at enjoying a social life.” Abby interrupted.
“Understandable – and let me just say education is important. I presume you have an understanding principal?”
“And a mother that can be very persuasive,” Abby said as she looked off stage at Diana, seeing her nod sagely.
“Karen, when you see these two sitting here, what do you think the likes of Jean Shrimpton would say?”
“She’d say well done and be careful who you work for,” Karen said with a laugh,
“Well, the Vogue set is not the only set you have featured in recently,” Jimmy said with a smile. “Did you see the recent photos in Complete Style with their mothers?”
The audience clapped and cheered. Jimmy then smiled and said, “Of course, it was difficult to tell who was the mother and who the daughter – except for you Jeannie in some photos.”
“The wheelchair is a dead giveaway,” Jeannie said, which also got a laugh.
“Still, your mothers were real beauties as well – let’s give them a hand.”
The camera panned to Diana and Barbara, who blushed as the audience cheered them.
“Now you know Lily Cole,” Jimmy said as he looked at Karen, “and these two first appeared together in a shoot with Lily.”
“That’s right, Jimmy – Lily told me all about it a few days later.”
“And you’ve done a bit of modeling yourself?”
"Yeah, but I was NEVER in the same league these
two are in, and acting was always my real career choice."
"How Karen does it I'll never know, it's bad
enough doing the few lines I do in my Memories ads" Abby looked at the
redhead admiringly as she said that.
"Now it's funny you should say that." Jimmy
laughed as they ran a short series of outtakes of Abby.
"Oh I need a copy of those." Jeannie laughed
Abigail looked slightly pained and embarrassed.
"You should see my outtake reel… " Karen laughed.
"Funny you should say that… "
"No Jimmy." Karen looked round.
The host laughed, “no it seems the doctor took them forward in time so we couldn't get our hands on them.
“Well, while we have you here,” Jimmy said, “we wondered if you would do a little fashion show for us. We have some top designs if you are willing?”
He threw t-shirts at each of them, which they put on over their dresses. They each had a picture of Jimmy on them, saying “I met Jimmy Fallon, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
“Do you think they will make the catwalk burn?”
Abby stood up, motioning to Karen to follow her, and began to walk round the set, stopping and posing as the band played. As they did so, Jeannie moved her chair over to the desk and sat, staring into Jimmy’s eyes as she smiled at him.
“Work it baby,” Black Thought shouted out as Karen and Abby walked back over, kneeling with Jeannie and pouting at the camera with her. Jimmy waved his cards as a fan and said “Wow – that’s a way to end the show. Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to all my guests, and good night!”
Friday 14th August
“Look who I found at the airport,” Heather said as four very tired travelers entered the house.
“Welcome back,” Juliette said as she hugged Barbara and Diana, “the girls were fantastic last night.”
“They don’t look so good now,” Diana said as Abigail pushed Jeannie in, then collapsed into a chair.
“I… hate… the redeye,” Abby said as she looked at the others.
“Bed for a couple of hours, both of you,” Juliette said as Heather took Jeannie’s chair.
“I need to crash out for a while as well – let me know when dad gets here,” Barbara said as she went to her room.
“How was everything here,” Diana said as she went into the kitchen and poured a coffee.
“Interesting – Carina is with Janice and Katy at the moment.”
Juliette shook her head. “Heather and Jo are going to new York for the weekend tomorrow, to do some work for our mutual friend.”
Diana nodded. “I need to shower and change – I have some business meetings myself.”
“Boring family affairs – oh, I heard from Natasha. She arrives in two weeks time.”
“Good – she needs to get settled. You go and clean yourself up, I’ll take care of things here.”
Saturday 15th August
The Waldorf Hotel
“Well, we’re all here,” Dominique said as Charlotte came in and sat down, “you have the floor Heather.”
“Okay we need cameras and transmitters in the high traffic areas of the houses, that means sitting room, kitchen, hallway and bedrooms.” Heather said as she started her briefing.
“I’ve managed to get layouts from the housing department at City Hall for you to look at.” Dominique added, laying them out on the table.
“These cameras are about as small as you can get. “Heather held one up, “They are state of the art and possession alone is probably a crime.”
“So be careful with them… Please.” Susan pleaded.
“These are the dampers.” Heather held up a tiny cube. “These will hide the transmissions from our cameras, making them virtually impossible to detect with electronic sweeps.”
“So just hide them in places a visual check isn’t going to notice them.” Dominique added.
“Dominique’s right.” Heather nodded in approval. “By my reckoning one of these can hide three of our devices, so calculate how many of these you need to plant from the number of camera’s and listening devices you leave behind after your visits.
“Okay when do you want us going in?” Joanne asked.
“You and Annie both go in during the wee small hours,” Dominique looked at both of them. “You’ll both be dressed as The Black Cat, and if perchance anyone wakes up you make it look like a Black Cat burglary.”
“I’ll need a peashooter like Annie’s then.” Jo remarked.
“Hopefully you’ll not need to use it.” Annie nodded at her student.
“It will be taken care of,” Dominique said quietly. “My shift at the plaza starts at ten, and I will take care of the offices of all the targets.”
Joanne looked at the first set of plans. “Twining looks easy enough to get into – classic brownstone.”
“Chen is more difficult – a penthouse apartment, so we need to go in through the parking garage and use the lift.”
“Study and formulate your plans,” Dominique said as she looked at her watch, “I’ll order some lunch.”
“Fine,” Joanne said as she studied the plans of the Cohen home, “but Heather and I need to go out for an hour or two later.”
“Oh,” Charlotte said, “what for?”
Saks of 5th Avenue
“Oh the annual joys of buying my daughter a new school uniform.” Diana sighed as they entered the school suppliers department of Saks Fifth Avenue.
“Well it is just for two more years Mama,” Abigail said as she looked at the blouses.
“Darling please try and avoid another growth spurt before you’ve at least get some use out of this uniform.”
“There’s Barbara.” Abigail said as she stifled a giggle at her mother’s complaint.
“Oh yes.” Diana walked up and kissed Barbara on the cheeks. “How are you darling?”
“I’m fine.” Barbara smiled, “despite her many complaints they are dressing my daughter in a uniform.”
“Oh? Is it any worse than her old school uniform?”
“Actually,” Barbara whispered, “I think it looks better, but she is a fourteen year old – try telling her that.”
“Yuck I look bloody awful.” Jeannie wheeled herself out from the changing rooms and looked in a mirror. “Red tartan? Really?”
“Look on the bright side, darling,” Barbara said as she adjusted the red jacket, “at least you don’t have to wear a tie at this school.”
“Yeah, there is that,” Jeannie said as she moved in her chair.
“Countess, Mrs. Brewster said you’d be in as well.” The head of the department came out and chatted. “It’s not very often we get to dress such two famous models in THIS department.”
“You might not think so in a minute.” Diana pointed to her daughter. “Abigail has grown again over the summer, do you have ANYTHING for a girl her height Louise?”
“I think we can maybe find her a blazer.” Louise giggled as she looked at the young girl.
“I’m six foot now Louise… sorry.” Abigail looked down.
“Abby,” Louise said as she put her hand on her shoulder, “How many years have we been doing your school uniforms?”
“Loads I guess.”
“I always order a long but small sized blazer just for you.” Louise smiled. “Come on – let’s get you fitted out.”
“Good luck Stick.” Jeannie commiserated with her friend as Louise took her back into the fitting rooms.
“Umm Miss Brewster would you mind signing some autographs for the girls in the department?” one of the assistants asked.
“I guess not.” Jeannie smiled.
“Please.” The assistant produced a pen and a copy of Vogue from under her counter.
“See – even when getting a uniform she ends up signing autographs.”
“Hey there you two,” Jeannie said to Heather and Joanne as they walked up, and handed back the magazine. “How’s tricks?”
“Not too bad – we got George’s uniform sorted out, and now it’s my turn.”
“Right, Miss Smith,” the assistant said as she looked at Joanne, “let’s get you measured up.”
“So how does it feel to finally arrive at your new home,” Heather said to Barbara.
“Honestly? I’m glad we’re there now. We have a couple of weeks to get things settled before school starts for Jeannie and I start work.”
“Well don’t forget tomorrow at Juliette’s – it should be fun.”
“I won’t” Barbara said as Abby came back out, and looked in the mirror.
“Hmmm – sure I can’t have the skirt a little shorter?”
“No, darling, you know the rules,” Diana said as Jeannie went back in to change.
“I meant to ask,” she then said to Barbara, “what they said about physical education?”
“One of the teachers will help her with the gym, and she will participate as much as possible in team sports, as well as swimming. They’re doing the best they can.”
“Good – she needs to be part of the school as much as possible.”
“Well, allegedly Becca Morse already has her lined up as a basketball cheerleader.”
“Oh my – did you hear about last year?”
“Don’t put her off Mama,” Abigail said as she took off the jacket, “this could be a quiet year.”
“So,” Joanne said as she came out, “do I look like a head girl?”
“You look like Jo Smith,” Abby said with a laugh. “School Sports Head.”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Jo said with a laugh as Jeannie wheeled herself back out.
“Now then,” the assistant said, “let’s find the rest of your outfit…”
The red headed cleaner emerged from the gent’s toilets, mopping her brow as she pushed her trolley down the corridor. Smiling at the security guards, she stopped at the next set of toilets and looked round, before she retrieved a small bag and went to the locked office door of the Australian delegation.
In the security room, the man failed to notice the slight distortion on the picture before it showed the empty corridor, as the cleaner slipped in. Using a pen light, she found Dominic Rice’s office, and let herself in, smiling as she got to work…
“You two ready,” Heather said as Joanne and Annie climbed into the back of the car.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Jo said quietly, “where first?”
“Oliver Cohen – I want you in and out as fast as possible, Joanne.”
“Gotcha,” Joanne said as they drove to the townhouse Annie and the others had visited only a few days before. Joanne pulled the stocking down over her head, said “back in a few minutes,” and slipped out of the back of the car.
“Will she be alright in there on her own,” Annie said as the black clad girl walked round the block.
“She’ll be fine – she can be as quiet as the proverbial church mouse when she needs to be,” Heather said as she looked at her watch. “Want me to drop you off at the Twining place?”
“Yeah – might as well make a start,” Annie said as Heather drove a few blocks, letting Annie out before she turned in the road and drove back. Annie looked at the three storey building, and then walked into the back alley, pulling on her gloves and her stocking mask before she looked up the rear.
Smiling, she saw the second floor window that was open, and climbed up the drainpipe, working her way over until she eased the window open and slipped in. The window was to a bathroom, Annie stepping carefully over the sink and onto the marbled floor before she opened the door.
The house was in silence, and as Annie closed the door behind her she slipped along the corridor, down the stairs and into the main hallway. She stood for a moment, remembering the floor plan in her mind.
“First door office, second door kitchen – right side, first door reception room, second door library.”
Turning left, she let herself into Sir Winston’s office, and started to place a listening device in the base of the telephone stand, a camera on the top shelf of the bookstand, and a damper behind the potted plants.
Smiling, she made her way to the main room, her soft shoes making no noise on the carpet as she walked in, and positioned three cameras, allowing all corners of the room to be seen. The damper she placed behind several large books in a bookcase, before crossing the hallway to the office.
She spent the next half hour carefully planting the devices, following Heather’s instructions, before she looked round the hallway and nodded. She was about to head upstairs when she heard a noise in the kitchen.
For a moment, she wondered if anyone had come downstairs – Sir Winston and his wife had been asleep in their room, but you could never be sure, so she took her gun from her pocket and very quietly opened the door.
The room was dark, but she could hear a soft crying, so she closed the door behind her and walked to where the sound was coming from.
Looking next to the large refrigerator, Annie put her hand to her mouth at what she saw. A young African girl, maybe only ten, was curled up in what looked like a large dog basket, sleeping fitfully. Her black dress was too big for her, and she had a collar around her neck, with a leash attaching it to a ring in the wall.
Annie stepped back, a multitude of thoughts racing through her mind. This was inhumane in the extreme – and she wondered if this was the only girl servant in the house. Looking round the kitchen, she noticed a door, and opening it she walked down to a cellar.
The older girl looked at her from the cage she was in, wondering who this masked intruder was. Annie walked up to her, looking at the chains on her wrists and ankles, and said “I am sorry – I cannot release you, or your little friend, but I will get you free soon. Will you keep the fact I was here a secret?”
As the girl nodded, Annie turned and walked slowly up the stairs, feeling the gun in her hand. The outrage she felt was burning in her heart, and the anger growing so bright, she walked past the bathroom and slipped into the master bedroom.
The Twining’s were lying in their bed, oblivious to what was going on. Sir Winston had his head on the pillow, snoring gently, while Lady Constance had a white scarf tied over her hair.
“You bastards,” she whispered under her breath, “to think so little of life that you would treat two innocent girls this way. You do not deserve to live – killing you both now would end their torment, and bring this to a quick end.”
She pulled back on the safety of her gun, and held it close to the head of Lady Constance, her hand shaking as she looked at her.
“One little pull – two little pulls – and that is all it would take,” she whispered, and then she thought of the other girls, of their fates – and of the satisfaction of seeing them all fall.
“You may never know,” she whispered as she released the safety and returned to the bathroom, climbing out and down before returning to the car.
“How did it go,” Jo said as Annie got in the back.
“I need to do the others with you,” Annie said quietly, “before I do what I almost did in there.”
“What’s that,” Heather said as they drove off.
“Kill them before we can bring them to justice.”
Joanne looked at her teacher, and said “what did you see?”
“Two of them, treated no better than dogs,” Annie said quietly, and then she turned to Joanne. “Did you see her?”
“In passing, yes – she was sleeping at the kitchen table, but I did not disturb her. We need to work together for the Chen apartment, anyway – so let’s back each other up. Deal?”
“Deal,” Annie said quietly.
“Are you sure you’re all right,” Heather said as they headed downtown.
“No, I’m not,” Annie said, “I really am not…”
The red headed cleaner slipped out of the British Delegation office, and walked down the corridor, reaching up and removing the device from under the security camera before placing it in her cleaning trolley.
As she wheeled it down, and opened the door to the men’s room, she was surprised to smell smoke. “Cleaner,” she called out, only to be taken by surprise when a tall African woman walked out. She walked past her, her short skirt barely covering her bottom, and made her way down the corridor.
A moment later, Francois Legault stepped out of a booth, adjusting his tie and saying “All clear” as he headed in the opposite direction. The woman just smiled and shook her head as she hung the “cleaner inside” sign, and then started to clean out the booths.
Joanne and Annie slipped under the barrier and ran quickly down the driveway to the underground car park, stopping by the key code controlled entrance to the resident’s lift.
“How long will it take you to crack it,” Annie said as she watched Jo take out a thin metal blade.
“About thirty seconds,” she said as she slipped the blade between the crack in the box, and then opened it before cutting two wires, watching the doors slide open.
Closing the keypad box, they stepped in, Annie watching as Jo disabled the security camera.
“Top floor,” Joanne said as she pressed the button, and they stood back, feeling the lift move at speed.
The lift doors opened out onto the dark reception area of the penthouse apartment, the two women looking cautiously out before Joanne edged along the wall, stopping by a small box which she quickly opened and then worked on. She watched as a set of lights went green, and then motioned to Anne to come out.
“All clear,” Joanne whispered as they looked at each other through their stocking masks. “You take the kitchen and rear rooms, I’ll start in here.”
Annie nodded as she made her way across the room, Joanne looking carefully before she took a camera out and placed it high on a ceiling fitting, looking down at the chairs.
She then went round the room, hiding the cameras to allow them maximum view before placing the damper out of sight of the entertainment centre. As she did so, she noticed that the DVDs under the player looked a little strange, and managed to open the concealed safe.
“Quite a collection,” she said to herself, but then heard Annie say “Not this time – virgin break-in, remember?”
“Yeah, I know, “Joanne whispered as she closed the door. “Where did you put yours?”
“Found the office and the kitchen.”
“Any sign of a girl?”
“No – but I’m not doing the bedrooms. Want to check the rest of the place?”
Joanne nodded as they walked to a set of double doors at the far end of the room, and quietly opened them.
“Oh my,” Joanne said as they looked at the walls, lined with all forms of intriguing items, “It would appear Madame Chen enjoys vigorous exercise of one form or another.”
“So I see,” Annie said as she lifted up a leather cat of nine tails. “Remind me not to cross her.”
“I think one of these here,” Joanne said as she slipped a recorder under a shelf. “It’s amazing what can be said in situations like this.”
“And how would you know,” Annie said with a smile.
“A story for another time,” Joanne said. “Come on – let’s go.”
They slipped out of the apartment and took the lift down, Joanne removing the scrambler from the lift camera before they walked up the ramp and got into the car.
“One more to go,” Heather said as she drove off…
“He lives here?”
“Apparently,” Joanne said as she looked at the plans, then at the two storey town house. “I’m willing to bet the security inside is state of the art. So I go first.”
“How do we get in?”
“Front door,” Joanne said as they got out, the street dead quiet at 3 am. They walked up to the door, their stockings pulled down and the collars of their jackets up, Annie watching as Joanne picked the lock.
“Right,” she said quietly, taking a metal box from her pocket, “the moment I open the door, we have twenty seconds to get to the alarm box and switch it off, using this. So you open the door, and wait for my mark Understood?”
Annie nodded as Joanne took several deep breaths. “Three… Two… One… - GO!”
As she opened the door, she watched Joanne run across the carpet, barely touching the floor as she opened a small white box on the far wall and clamped the device on her hand to the inside. She started counting under her breath “one, two, three, four…. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…”
Jo gave the thumbs up as Annie slipped inside, closing the door behind herself. “Two seconds to spare,” Joanne breathed as they looked round. Annie pointed up the stairs and headed up, Joanne heading for the front room.
Reaching the top of the landing, Annie opened the first door to see the Australian diplomat sleeping under silk sheets. Smiling, she placed a recording device under the table, and then stepped out, hiding a damper behind a ventilation grill that sat between the two rooms, and then entering the bathroom next door.
In the main room, Joanne placed the cameras and damper in the positions she had identified earlier, and then stepped out, making her way to the office next door.
Looking round, she saw a safe, but resisted the temptation to open it, concentrating instead on the placement of the recording devices. As he hid the last one, however, she heard footsteps approaching, and hid behind a large potted palm, hoping whoever it was would not look her way.
The door opened and the light went on, Joanne holding her breath as a tall African girl walked in, and checked the telephone for messages. She wore a black maid’s dress, but looked well fed and happy.
“Perhaps he cares for them better than others,” Joanne thought as she turned and looked at her. Putting her finger to her lips, Joanne shook her head slightly from side to side.
“You are not seeking to hurt my master are you,” the girl said. As Joanne shook her head, the girl nodded and said “Good – then I have not seen you.”
“How can I trust you?”
“I could say the same of you – but if you are not seeking to hurt Master, are you seeking to end the trade in girls like me?”
Joanne nodded as the girl said “Then I will forget you – if you will forget me.”
“With regret,” Joanne said as she stepped forward, and produced her gun, “I must make sure you do not fall under suspicion as well. Please, sit in that chair.”
The girl nodded and sat down, crossing her ankles as Joanne produced a roll of white tape and secured her wrists and elbows to the arm of the chair. “I will take your watch and jewels,” Joanne said as she stripped them carefully from the girl, “and you surprised me before I could take anything of value.”
The girl nodded as Joanne taped her ankles and legs together, and then said “Put your lips together please.”
As she taped over her dark lips, the girl nodded and said “fnku” when Joanne turned off the light and closed the door, placing the jewellery in her jacket pocket.
“What happened,” Annie said as she came down the stairs.
“I met his girl – she seems to like him, so the Black cat struck. Done?”
“Done,” Annie said, “let’s go.”
Joanne removed the alarm device as they slipped out of the house, and back into the car.
“All done,” Annie said, “back to base.”
The Waldorf Hotel
“Any reports yet?” Madame X said as she came out from her bedroom.
“No Madame.” Charlotte looked round.
“Well hopefully Charlotte no news is good news.”
“Are any of the cameras live yet?”
“I was leaving it to Heather to do her thing, I’m not sure I feel competent fully with this software.”
“It’s probably for the best then.”
A call on her cell phone made Charlotte jump as she answered it.
“Charlotte? Susan. Heather and the girls have just arrived. Any word from Dominique?”
Charlotte looked over as the red haired cleaner walked in.
“She just arrived,” she said as Dominique removed her wig and nodded. “You’re good to go.”
“Inform Madame,” Susan said as she ended the call. Looking at the four women, she said “ready?”
As they nodded, she turned to Heather.
“Here goes nothing,” she said as she typed some commands into the terminal, and the monitors sprang into life.
“And now, we wait,” Susan said. “What do you do now?”
“Sleep – we have a party tonight…”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“GIRLS!!! Come on in – we go this way, mums go that way!”
Kelly Rochermann came into the kitchen and hugged Juliette and Sandy, handing Juliette a small package.
“I always think the grandmothers should get something as well,” she said with a smile as she accepted a glass of champagne. “So this is their last hoorah?”
“And celebration,” Juliette said with a smile. “Thank you Kelly.”
“You’re welcome – hey Rachel, Claire,” she said as she embraced Judy and Bobbi’s mothers. “So how’s the happy mother?”
“Very happy,” Juliette said as she glanced into the drawing room, where the girls were gathering round Carina and Judith. Jo and Jeannie were talking with Becky nearby, and the champagne was flowing as Carina opened the gifts.
“Hard to think in just two weeks, they’ll be gone,” Diana said as she looked at them, “I remember when they first gathered at the gates of St Angela’s.”
“So do I,” Rachel said, “I was convinced Judy would be kicked out in the first week.”
“I thought two,” Claire Morse said with a smile.
“And now they’re off to college,” Diana said with a sigh.
Juliette turned and cocked her head as the girls in her drawing room burst into the St Angela’s school song. Carina’s baby shower was turning into an impromptu reunion, and the girls hadn’t even entered college yet.
“Let me top that up for you?” Kelly Rochermann offered a freshly opened bottle of champagne.
“Now explain to me again why we mothers got relegated to the kitchen.” Diana complained as Mrs. Rochermann filled her glass.
“Because we are too old to party like teenagers anymore.” Rachel McNally smiled.
“Says who?” Sandy asked, “I’m still in the prime of my life.”
“I suspect they do.” Juliette said with a laugh as she pointed to the other room.
“If they knew some of the things we got up to.” Sandy said as she reached for some more champagne. “After all, we all were good school girls, were we not?”
“Every generation thinks they are the ones who invented sex.” Diana spoke up. “Whereas the simple truth is, we French created it!”
“Vive La France,” the women all toasted as they drank.
“Well I’m happy to be a grandma.” Juliette smiled.
“Yeah who would have thought you’d be the first Gran in the group?” Rachel McNally said with a smile, “I was so sure it would be me.”
“Does Judy?” Mercy Sullivan asked.
“Mercy darling I’ve had her on the pill since she was 14.” Rachel looked round.
“14” Diana looked shocked.
“How many of them do you think are still actually virgins Diana?” Kelly asked.
“Well I hope and pray Abby is.”
“Okay Abby I’ll give you.”
“Jo is.” Sandy added.
“She is? Are you sure?” Kelly asked.
“Dear God,” Kelly said with a laugh, “she’ll be the first St Angela’s head girl to be a virgin since long before my time at the school.”
“Well, traditions are there to be broken – and speaking of which, Kelly, who got the job at the Nunnery?”
“Not Nell, if that’s what you’re wondering!”
“And what are you old hens clucking about out here?” Carina said as she stood in the doorway cradling Judith.
“We were just saying how lucky you and the baby were to have received so many more lovely gifts.” Juliette lied effortlessly.
“Oh good, good - so I didn’t hear our mom’s speculating on their daughter’s sex lives?” Carina giggled.
“Now would we do that?” Kelly Rochermann asked as she put her hand to her chest.
“Yes you would.” Carina giggled.
“Bitch!” Kelly laughed.
“There are some things a mother would rather NOT KNOW.” Rachel laughed. “And you know I can’t believe I just said that.”
“We sound like our mothers.” Sandy observed.
“When did we grow old?” Juliette stood up and took the baby out of her daughter’s arms.
“We didn’t… they grew up.” Rachel observed as girls started wandering in from the drawing room to see what was up.
“You are all still the most vibrant and young group of moms in the world.” Carina looked round.
“And I second that sentiment.” Judy nodded.
“More champagne girls?” Sandy offered.
“Am I late for the fizz again?” Janice spoke from behind the girls.
“Hi Aunt Janice –and you’re never too late for champagne” Carina said as she hugged the FBI agent.
“Aunt? … EXACTLY how many glasses am I behind everyone?” Janice gave Carina a peck on the cheek and presented her with a small gift.
“Well I call all these other older ladies Aunt…”
“Older,” Janice and a half dozen other ladies interrupted.
“Well maybe I should say more mature…”
“I’d give up before you start Carina dear.” Janice giggled as she downed her first glass. “Top up please, I’ve some catching up to do.”
“Happy darling?” Juliette whispered in her daughter’s ear.
“Oh yes Mom.” Carina beamed, “And I’m so glad Judy didn’t organize this as some dull tea party, champagne just makes everything go with a swing.”
“I agree totally,” Juliette said as she looked at the sleeping Judith.
“Hey Cari – want to play a game of spin the bottle?”
“Not with you Ally Rochermann – Mom still hasn’t forgiven me for what happened last time,” Carina said as she went into the room.
“What happened last time,” Kelly said as she looked at Juliette.
“I understand it involved a lewd set of playing cards and a bet to streak through Central Park,” Juliette said with a smile.
“OH God I remember the call on that one,” Janice said as she downed her third glass, “a troop of naked girls running through the park…”
“Oh yes – you get all the juicy stuff in the FBI. We never properly thanked you for all you did for Joanne either – come on, sit and talk with us.”
“Did I miss much,” Heather said as she came in.”
“Nah – just a lot of gossip,” Sandy said as she kissed her. “About school days.”
“Boring as hell for me,” Heather said quietly, “so where’s my glass?”
“Here you go,” Juliette said as she filled Heather’s glass up, while Rachel took Judith and sat with the others. Looking round, she motioned for Heather to follow her and they went up to her bedroom.
“So has it worked,” Juliette said as she closed the door.
“So far so good,” Heather said as she sat down. “The cameras all seem to be working fine, and with one exception they were not disturbed.”
“You mean the Rice home?”
Heather nodded. “The good news for Joanne is the maid, when Rice found her the next morning, kept to the story that she had disturbed the Black Cat, and she fled after tying her up.”
“I do not understand that one,” Juliette said quietly, “she was sold as a slave, but she will not betray Rice?”
“Some form of Stockholm Syndrome I think,” Heather said. “Anyway, the cameras are working, both at the homes and at the UN. We already have some information confirmed – Rice is the middle man between Cohen and the arms suppliers.”
“I wonder if our friend Mister Lion may know something of this?”
“I had a similar thought – we may need to talk to him, discretely of course. As for the others – Chen is a bit of a Madame in the dungeon sense, and then there is Twining.”
“Oh,” Juliette said as she looked at Heather, “what of him?”
“If ever the Pussycats wished to visit him and rob him, then killing would be too simple for him and his wife. We have to change the person monitoring that house every two as opposed to four hours, the way he treats those two girls.”
“We will take that into consideration,” Juliette said quietly. “What of the reason for this?”
“Legault is, to use the vernacular, in the shit – those diamonds Madame took were for a large arms shipment, and the local suppliers are not happy at all. He needs to take a large shipment back from Mazengwe next week.”
“I am sure Madame will have taken note,” Juliette said. “anything else?”
“One curious thing – all of them talk about someone called The Walrus. He must be the key figure, but no hint yet as to who he or she may be.”
“Well, that is good so far,” Juliette said as she opened the door, and they heard Janice start to sing some old nineties ballads. “Let’s get back to the party.”
“Good evening Sir – may I help you?”
“Yes,” Adam Ball said, “I had a call to collect someone from Juliette Huntingdown’s apartment?”
“One moment sir,” the doorman said as he picked up the telephone. “Your name?”
“Ball – Adam Ball.”
“Miss Huntingdown? I have a Mister Ball in the lobby – he says he was asked to come and collect someone?
“Of course – I will inform him,” he said as he replaced the phone. “She will be down presently,” he said as he indicated the seats.
“No thanks, I’ll stand – old wound,” Adam said as he looked at the pictures.
“ADAM!!! Adam, Adam, Adam, Adam!”
He turned to see Janice grinning as she walked out on Sandy’s arm.
“Agent Ball,” she said with a smile, “thanks for coming to collect her.”
“Yeah – I can see why you called now,” he said as he took Janice’s arm. “Come on – let’s get you into my car.”
Sandy blew a kiss, waving as Janice waved back and Adam strapped her in, before driving off.”
“So,” he said after a minute, “how many glasses of Juliette Huntingdown’s very expensive champagne did you down Janice?”
“I’m not sure exactly,” Janice said with a laugh, “but the girls all declared I’d had too much to drive and to call you Adam.”
“Yes… The girls.” Janice smiled, ”they really are a nice bunch.”
Adam shook his head. “Don’t say the suburban girl who went to Thomas Jefferson High School is turning into some Upper East Side socialite?”
“On my salary? … Adam you should see what some of these women wear.”
“That’s what I guessed.” Agent Ball said with a laugh. “I suspect some of them make more in a week off their trust funds than I make in a year.”
“But being round Juliette, Carina and the others has opened my eyes a bit.”
“I’m thinking of maybe trying to get Katy into the same private school little Sandy Richmond goes to.”
Adam turned the corner and made a funny face. “Ouch - that will dent your salary even further.”
“Well Sandy explained they do offer aid packages for less well off parents, and Katy and little Sandy get along so well.”
Adam Ball smiled.
“And besides why am I justifying myself to you Ball, what’s wrong with trying to give Katy a few of the advantages in life?”
“Nothing, nothing Janice.” Ball laughed.
“Oh - and you’d better get your good suit cleaned, we are going to a cocktail party at the Rochermann’s on Friday.”
“Well it was a couples event and I need a date.” Janice giggled. “And the girls got a big laugh as I tried to explain what you being my partner meant exactly.”
“Janice Carter, are you hitting on me?”
As Adam pulled up outside the Carter house, Janice put her head back and laughed. “No, Adam – but you are a good guy, and you’re kind, and I do like you – as a friend.”
“Then as a friend, I will accompany you,” Adam said as he got out and rang the doorbell, returning to help Janice walk into the house.
“Good party,” her mother said as Janice looked at her.
“The best,” Janice said as she staggered to the kitchen.
“All yours,” Adam said as he walked back to his car…