Market Forces – Part 2
The Refectory, St Angela’s
“So any plans for this weekend?” Nikki asked as the gang gathered for lunch.
“Getting jetlagged,” Jeans sighed as she opened her salad bowl, “I head straight from here to the airport, fly to LA, spend the weekend shooting new Lerrabella commercials, then the redeye home and maybe, just maybe, I see my bed by two on Monday morning.”
“Oh my God,” Becca shook her head, “and I thought Dad had to fly a lot backwards and forwards to DC.”
“Give me DC any day,” Jeans shook her head. “At least Spring Break is coming – and most of you are coming to Sebring for the party.”
“A racing themed party – it fits,” Ama said with a smile, “and I am so sorry again I will not be there.”
“You get to Spain, then Dublin – don’t fret it,” Jeannie said as Becca swallowed her food.
“Well, with dad home,” she said after she took a drink, “we all get to go to a big Democratic Party fundraiser Saturday night, and I get to hear Hilary Clinton’s stump speech…AGAIN!”
“Well your father is one of her biggest supporters Becs.”
“I know Peps, but it gets tired after a while.”
“So what are you doing Pepsi?” asked Ama.
“I was thinking of going with Mom Janice, and baby sister, to watch Katy do her thing down at Rutgers.”
“Yuck even with the Stallone draw, that sounds BORING!” Ama shook her head.
“You should all come watch our game with Anselma on Saturday morning…”
“NO!” her friends laughed.
“What about you Doc, you’ve been silent,” Becca spoke.
“That’s because I don’t know what I’m doing,” Doc said quietly, “my modeling gig got postponed, my parents are going out of town, I might just rattle round the house on my own.”
“Well don’t get in too much trouble.” Nikki laughed.
“Now would I get in trouble?”
“DOC!” all the girls laughed loudly.
“Weekend chatter,” Letty said as she sat with Abby, “the stuff of legends. So what are you up to this weekend?”
“I have that rarity,” Abby said, “the weekend off, so I’m heading to see Cari, and Jo is driving down for the afternoon.”
“The old gang getting together again?”
“Yup – before the mayhem of two weddings, and the end of the month...”
Veronica looked up as the two veiled women joined them in the booth.
“Good afternoon,” Madame purred, her voice still deep despite the voice modification, “I hear you had an eventful morning.”
“That would be one way of describing it,” Eleanor said as the barman brought the drinks over. She raised her glass and said “to achieving one objective.”
“One which raises further questions, but I agree,” Madame said as she raised her glass in return.
“So what happened to the fish?”
Susan smiled under her veil as she said “the homeless refuges and soup kitchens in the city have received an unexpected bonus today.”
“I have to admit, that is a good move,” Veronica said. “Any word on the men?”
“Our contacts in the local police force have assured me they were found, and are alive. Their wounds have been treated, and they are helping police with their enquiries – in their own fashion.”
“I can imagine – but we now know something is rotten in the world of RoideMer,” Eleanor said.
"Okay - the next
question is whom are they supplying here in the city?" Shirley mused as
she sat back.
"Well, to confirm what I said earlier today to these two ladies, it is DEFINITELY not us." Susan looked across the table through her veil at the two women opposite.
"That is established," Veronica sipped her whisky, "it's well known Madame doesn't traffic in drugs. I presume you incinerated them all?"
Susan nodded in reply.
"But it does leave a huge variety of gangs that do."
Eleanor," Madame sipped her own drink. "And, unless one of you wishes
to forsake all her oaths to her country as to doing her duty, at least on that
end you ladies can proceed no further."
Eleanor smiled and shook
her head. "She means swear sole
allegiance to her and her organisation Veronica."
"Only then would
we be allowed to see behind the masks."
"EXACTLY Eleanor dear," Shirley smiled. "So unless you are willing to do that, please, leave finding out who they supply to us."
"Okay," Veronica looked a trifle reluctant.
"Be assured, when
we have definitive evidence of who they may be supplying, it will be passed to
the relevant authorities.” Shirley
sipped her drink again, and said “your work, ladies, now lies in finding out
how they are getting it in from sea without it being obvious how they transfer
"I guess it is," Veronica nodded.
“Mermaid knows how to contact me, and I will also contact her if need be. Until then, enjoy your return to Washington, Commander. I and my friend must depart – we have a meeting elsewhere.”
Veronica nodded as the two veiled women slipped out of the booth and walked to the door.
“Just what is your working relationship with her,” Veronica asked Eleanor.
“She helped me with a past case, so it’s a sort of mutual appreciation,” Eleanor said with a smile. “Come on – I’ll come out to the airport with you.”
It may have been late on a Friday, but in the conference room on the editorial floor, an important meeting was starting.
"What do we give Pru girls?" Mary Thomas called the assembled group to
"Are we giving as
a group, or from the magazine?" asked Alexis.
"Okay, so what are
"Simple when you
think about it. What do you give the
girl with the beautiful face, fabulous figure, international fame, and who is
about to hook her very own near billionaire?" Janine asked seriously.
"Well I can't
think of anything she wants or needs," Juliette said as she shook her head
and looked round.
"There has to be
something," Anna grimaced.
"Oh come on, thinking caps on girls." Mary sipped some water.
“Tickets to a show somewhere?”
“She’s not exactly a theatre goer,” Juliette said, “unless it’s something to do with cards.”
“I wasn’t thinking theatre,” Janine said. “I was thinking a show – one where she can be part of the act as well.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Anybody got a number for Penn Juliette?”
USCG Headquarters, Washington DC
The Veronica Joyce standing in front of the screen in the MTEC room was very different from the one who had helped steal the truck earlier. She had changed and was in dress uniform as she addressed the senior officer on the screen.
“Drug smuggling – how can you be sure and that this firm is involved.”
“Please don’t ask me how I know Admiral,” Veronica smiled, “but take it from me that your cutters need to start watching the vessels that deliver to the RoideMer company in NYC very closely.”
“Well Commander it’s your job to know these things,” the Commander of the New York Coast Guard district nodded at his computer, “thank you for the intelligence.”
“It’s my pleasure Sir, and can you keep me in the loop as to what is found out.”
“You’ll have a sitrep on your desk daily Commander.”
“Thank you Sir,” Veronica saluted the screen then terminated the call.
“What happened in NY, Ma’am?”
“Intelligence gathering Lieutenant,” Veronica said as she rubbed her eyes. “Now, give me the current sit rep.”
The National Arts Club
The barman was looking at a sight he hadn’t seen in a while – Jack Linklater with a serious face, and Luke next to him deep in thought.
“Really what does one give someone like Pru for her wedding?” Jack moaned whilst he propped up the club bar.
“What does she enjoy?” a member asked casually as he sat next to them.
“Playing poker,” Jack said, “and exposing her breasts…”
“She what?” the member spilled his drink.
“Pru, is Pru Stratton the model,” Luke explained.
“Oh now I understand,” the man regained his composure, “I can understand she might be hard to buy for.”
“She is,” Jack signaled for another whiskey.
“Any thoughts what to get Pru for her wedding?” John asked as he entered the bar.
“Not a one,” Jack turned and smiled.
“The usual Sir John?” the barman asked.
“Please…something that might help me think.”
“Your better half has no ideas?”
“Shirley said, and I quote, you have known her longer so you may choose.”
“I love Shirley,” Jack said, “but she has a mean streak in her a mile wide...”
Saturday 5th March
The Richmond Mansion
As Heather folded the washing into piles, she had one ear on the conversation Sandy was having in the hallway.
“That is an incredibly generous offer, but I will have to discuss it with my fellow teammates and the other sponsors...
“Yes, we can discuss more fully over that weekend, and I look forward to seeing you and your family there...
“Of course – until then.”
As she looked up, she saw Sandy walk in, a very thoughtful look on her face.
"Who was that on the phone lover?" Heather asked.
"Giorgio Mancini - You know from Lerrabella."
"Okay now I place him...” Heather put the blouse down, and said “what did he want?"
“Oh – he just wanted to discuss an offer...”
“What sort of offer?”
Sandy sat on the stool,
and said "He wants to sign a deal to be a major sponsor for RCM
"Wow!" Heather went and poured some coffee, before
handing Sandy a cup.
"I know, and it's
a pretty big league figure that he's offering for two seasons."
"What did you
"What could I say,”
Sandy whispered. “I need to talk it over
with Jan, Jeanne, Henri, Shirley, well everyone, before I can even think on
giving him a decision."
"You are pretty
stunned by this aren't you lover?" Heather
passed her girlfriend a coffee.
"Is it that
"Oh yeah," Heather giggled.
“This is going to make our planning meeting very interesting this afternoon,” Sandy said as she sipped her coffee.
“Everyone going to be there?”
“In sprit and voice at least – Jan is with Katy at the shoot, and Augie is dialling in from Chicago, but Denice and you with Henri and Clint for the technical side...”
“You’re kidding,” Jeanne said as Sandy explained the basic details of the offer.
“No – that is the figure he quoted, for two years, and if we accept he’d like it to be in place for Sebring.”
“That – is a serious amount of money,” Roy said quietly.
"Well I can see
his reasoning," Shirley said as she poured coffee for her Saturday
lunchtime guests. "A team with three beautiful women drivers, RCM and Lerrabella is a natural tie-up."
"But Shirley we
are all amateurs, doesn't he realize that?" Jeanne asked.
"Yes, but thanks
to your regional win last year, your profile will be far higher this
year," Augie van Roon's
voice came out of a speaker. "It's one of the reasons I signed Torware up as a sponsor."
"But they want to
be the principal sponsors," Sandy looked up, "Is that fair on you
"Our signage will
still be on the car," Roy spoke, "and that suits me."
"I'm the same
way," Shirley sat down, "as long as there is some Xavier signage, then I'm quite happy."
“Agreed – the fact is we get as much out of the sponsorship as they will,” Augie said.
"Henri what do you
think, you after all are the professional?" Jan asked on her phone from
the Rutgers campus.
"Girls I am in
charge of the car, not..."
"Papa that is what
they call copping out," Jeanne interrupted.
“I know – but I cannot deny the additional funding will allow us to do much more.”
"I think it would be good, even if it does mean us wearing pink overalls," Clint spoke from the side.
“Actually,” Sandy said, “they were thinking more chartreuse...”
“You asked for that one, my friend,” Henri said with a smile.
“So,” Sandy said, “do I say yes?”
“If we do,” Heather said, “expect them to use Sebring to announce it, and Jeannie to be playing a part.”
“So long as it does not interfere with preparation for the day, fine,” Henri said, the others nodding.
“Okay then – I’ll let him have the answer,” Sandy said with a smile. “Now, practical issues for Sebring.”
“We need to discuss rotas,” Jan said, “and just how much Jeanne can do in this race.”
“I spoke with Doctor Reichmann,” Jeanne said, “she says I may attend, but I cannot drive. Do we need another, or can both of you handle it?”
“We could alternate – one hour on, one off,” Sandy said, “but we would be better with a third driver taking your place Jeanne. Any ideas?”
“Pappa,” Jeanne said as she sat forward, “would Antoinette be able to make it over?”
“Possibly – I can certainly ask, but she would be very much the junior member.”
“My cousin,” Jeanne said, “she has driven similar races to this, and now works for Fiat as a designer. She may prove to be most useful.”
“Let me make enquiries – she is similar in height and build to you, so it is a distinct possibility.”
“Okay – tabling that for the moment,” Sandy said, “travel.”
“Katherine, Tonya, Sandy and I will be driving down over the weekend,” Heather said.
“I will come the next day with Clint,” Henri said.
“Erica and I will drive down on Tuesday, and meet them there,” Denice said.
“The rest of us are following Wednesday night, and the support Thursday. Henri?”
“Formal practice is Thursday and Friday, and we will need it ladies. The race Saturday, and relaxation Sunday.”
“With a Sweet Sixteen before we head back that night,” Denice said with a smile.
“Ah, the joys of Spring Break,” Clint said with a smile.
“Good,” Shirley said, “so, anything else?”
Juliette looked across the table, Mary Thomas, Anna Mitchell and Pippa Ashley all nodding in agreement. On the display, three windows were open, showing Fiona McKenzie in her London home, Marie-France Erec in Paris, and two others, a man and a woman with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background behind them, lit up in the dark sky.
“Well, I think we have agreement here,” Pippa finally said.
"Are you sure
you'll be up to the travel Fiona?" Juliette asked.
"Aye lassie don't worry about me,” Fiona said with a smile. “Ah'll be
"Well then as
planned Australian CS will host this year’s awards show at the Sydney Opera
House." Anna spoke to everyone on the Saturday afternoon conference call,
"So you and Bruce proceed with your plans Sheila."
"Will do Anna,
gonna be a pleasure seein' you all again down
"Yeah it's been a
"Just no plans for
dragging me out in the outback this time for a photo shoot," Juliette
"Now would we do
that to you Ju?" the voice of Bruce Woodcock the
publisher of Australian CS asked.
"To use the local
vernacular, yes you bloody well would mate," Juliette laughed more,
"you did it last time I was there."
"Well changing the
subject, The Body has agreed to host the show." Sheila spoke again.
"Ai Elle is quite
at home on TV now." Merlin spoke.
"Aye, ah agree," Fiona's voice joined in.
“We can also get the usual suspects in one place – so get your thinking caps on for the nominees this year folks.”
“We’re avoiding Abby’s birthday, right?”
“It’s the week after Ju – we know how important that one is.”
“Excellent – a lot of the new girls will do their first round trip for this one.”
“Better than Rio at any rate,” Pippa said.
“This summer, anywhere is better than Rio,” Mary said as the others smiled.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
“So what was the call about, Mom,” Pepsi said as Jan came back to where she and Katherine were sitting.
“A new sponsor for the racing team – it’s going to make the trip to Florida very interesting,” Jan said with a smile as she looked to where the two young girls were standing. Both were wearing summer dresses as they stood by the fountain, the make-up artists applying the final touches.
“So who’s that over there,” Sistine said as she looked across.
“Oh that – my mom and grandma, and Pepsi is – a good friend.”
“It’s good when family can offer support,” the teenager said.
“So is your dad coming today?”
“He said he might drop by later, but he’s in pre-production on a film.”
“I can imagine – I know Cassandra Stone, and she always seems to be busy.”
“Yeah – but like dad, she’s very good at it. So, getting used to the life?”
“Slowly – it’s the people looking at you when...”
“Something wrong Lolita?”
“No,” Katy said as she looked round.
“Okay girls – we’re ready for the next shoot.”
“You must be Katy’s mother. I’m Jennifer.”
“Jan,” she said as they shook hands.
“So getting used to this side of things yet?”
“Not really – I would ask if you have, but...”
“Actually no – it’s very different when it’s my daughter up there.”
Jan smiled as she looked at her own mother. “So it really is no different for you?”
“Nah – in fact, I can think of someone it’s worse for?”
“Oh – who?”
“The Huntingdowns – I saw the photo shoot they did in Russia, and now she must know how CeeCee feels.”
“So, forgive me for asking, but...”
“He’s coming to collect us later – I’ll see if I can get him to come and say hi.”
“Okay girls – next outfit please!”
actually go out and buy outfits because they see photo spreads like this?"
Katy asked as she and Sistine posed in front of the red brick colonial style
"If they didn't
we'd all pretty soon be looking for other jobs," Candy Sullivan, the shoot
director, called back.
"And I'm too old
to start fryin' burgers," Tim Weston, the
photographer, laughed as he put his camera down. "Alright
girls next change and setup."
"Thank God for
that," Sistine smoothed down her skirt, "that wind was getting under
this thing, I was starting to get cold."
"When are the magazine likely to use this?" Jan asked Candy.
"It's for the
"Back to school
outfits," Jennifer nodded, "you know one of my first shoots was doing
just this, modeling for that issue of 17."
"I probably bought
it," Jan laughed, "I was a fan of the magazine."
"And now you both have daughters going to be in it," Katherine brought over some hot coffees.
Noon Pacific Time
Jeannie was looking across the table at the young, blonde, and extremely handsome man, who smiled back. He was wearing a tuxedo, his bow tie immaculate, his teeth gleaming as Jeannie smiled back at him. She was wearing a black cocktail dress, her hair arranged in soft waves, her make-up perfect.
“I like the New You,” the boy said, Jeannie’s smile getting wider as she said “thank you...”
“And – cut!”
“Halfway there,” the boy said as he stood up, revealing the jeans he was wearing under the table.
“Can we get Jeannie into the casual clothes now, and we can do the scene in the school cafeteria,” the director said as Jeannie pushed herself back, and then made her way to the changing area.
“How many of these are we making today,” she said as the dress was taken off her, and she pulled a t-shirt on.
“We have a lunch break once we’ve done this,” Barbara said, “then two more today and tomorrow.”
“Oh deep joy,” Jeannie said as she rolled her eyes.
“On the other hand, your table had been booked at Spago’s tonight.”
“Good – I need some down time, and I love talking to Bertrand,” Jeannie said with a smile. “Hey Giorgio – what do you think so far?”
“It looks good,” Giorgio Mancini said as he walked over. “Jeannie, can we have a quick chat while you are been made ready?”
“Sure – what’s on your mind?”
“How do you feel about Motor Racing?”
“Motor racing? I can’t say I have a view one way or the other. I mean, I understand why they have models and good looking girls at the races, but to me its eye candy.”
Giorgio nodded as he said “but you’ve worked with Maryeve Dufault?”
“Yeah – she’s one of the exceptions rather than the rule. I mean, if the girl is there for a reason over than to gratify the male stereotype...”
Giorgio looked at Barbara, who smiled and shook her head. “They’re covering Gloria Steinman in Social Studies,” she said, Giorgio nodding in understanding.
“Well,” he said as he looked at Jeannie, “I only think it fair to warn you that LerraBella is about to sign a major sponsorship deal with a female racing team, to be announced in two weeks time, and we may wish you to be there for the announcement.”
“Two weeks?” Jeannie looked at Giorgio and said “but that’s when we’re going to Florida to support Jan and the girls. I’m having my birthday there, everything’s arranged, we can’t jus...”
She suddenly stopped and looked at Giorgio, who was smiling. “Oh lord,” she said quietly, “you’re going to sponsor RCM Racing?”
“We are awaiting their response to the offer,” Giorgio said, “but if they agree, we’d like to announce it on the Friday, and have you there for the press conference with the ladies.”
“Oh Jan is going to love that,” Jeannie said as the make-up artists finished. “All right Giorgio, but you owe me for this.”
“It’s all in the contract Jeannie darling,” Giorgio said with a smile, “it is merely a fortuitous coincidence you are there for the announcement.
“But I will sweeten the deal – I believe Maryeve will be there as well as a commentator...”
Jeannie smiled as she was called to the set – now made to like a cafeteria, as she stopped on the other side of the table.
As Katy and Sistine posed in jeans and tops, Pepsi walked over to the commissary and got hold of two bottles of Coke.
“Hey kiddo – havin’ fun?”
“Yeah, I am thank you Mister...” As Pepsi turned and looked at the tall man, his face lined and his hair tinged with grey, she stuttered as she said “mmmmister Stallone, sir?”
“Call me Sly – so you here with Sistine’s young friend?”
She nodded mutely as she said “wooooould you like to meet her mother and grandmother?”
“Why not,” he said as they walked over to where Jan was standing with Katherine.
“Thanks Pepsi,” Jan said as she turned and took the bottle – and then turned again.
“Hi – I’m Sly. You must be Jan, Katy’s mother?”
“Yes I am,” she said quietly, “it’s a pleasure to meet you Mister Stallone.”
“I said it’s Sly,” he said with a smile. “She looks real good out there, not as good as Sistine, but hey – I’m biased.”
“Of course you are,” Katherine said as Sly kissed her. “I think you should have won the Oscar as well.”
“Nah – if anyone deserved the nod, it was Ryan Coogler and Mike, not me. Nice honour, yeah, but the right guy won.” Looking over, he said “besides, I heard a rumour that you had a part to play in a film that may be up next year.”
“What? Oh that film – I was a technical consultant, nothing more.”
“Still, word is back home it’s looking like the sorta film that will get people talking,” he said with a smile. “Hey Jenn - our girl nearly done?”
“One more, then we’re done,” Jennifer said as the girls walked back to the changing area. As Jan watched, Katy suddenly stopped and looked round. She followed her eyeline, and noticed a man walking away quickly, his collar pulled up and a woollen hat on the top of his head.
“Now who was that,” she said to herself as the girls went to get changed.
“Nice place,” Jo said as she sat back in the tavern, “I can see why you like it.”
“Well, the steak you just put away tells its own story,” Carina said as she wiped her chin.
“Well, the Irish Stew is delicious,” Abby said as she took a drink from her Coke.
“Must be hard, being the one who cannot have a wine or a beer here.”
“I’ll cope with it – I mean, let’s see. Wedding next weekend, then Spring Break. You’re off to Ireland, and the rest of us go to Florida. Jeannie’s party, back to school, Easter weekend, and then Munich.”
“Nice quiet month then,” Carina said with a smile.
“On the other hand, there is one other thing happening that Abby has forgotten about...”
“There is?” Abby looked at both of them and said “what have I forgotten?”
“That on the day we meet in Munich,” Jo said with a smile, “you find out your future for the next four years.”
“Oh Goddess – I forgot,” Abby said as she put her glass down. “How do I find out?”
“On line, the same as the rest of us,” Jo said. “Having said that, I do get it is a little bit more tense for you.”
“Yeah – Blair thinks I stand a good chance, but Stanford is still a good back up. So what are you getting Jeannie for her birthday?”
“Clint and I have ordered some earrings – he’s going on behalf of both of us to Sebring, so he’ll pass them on then. You?”
“Mom has had Fiona working on something – I have no idea what, but it is in hand.”
“Well, I think you’re going to miss a great party, but for the right reasons,” Abby said with a smile as she looked at Jo.
"So where is your roomie Cari?"
"Right this second?" Carina glanced at her watch before she said "playing Bach at a church in New London."
"David didn't want
to go with her?" asked Jo.
"No, he hears her
"Judy is really
good though," Abby adjusted her glasses as someone stared at her.
"That she is, but
at least with him not going David can babysit for me."
certainly helps," Jo smiled, "so what are we going to with the rest
of the evening?"
"We could knock
over a couple of convenience stores," Carina laughed. "I know a few
"CARINA!" Abigail shook her head, "everyone
would have a fit we did that."
"I know, but you asked for ideas."
“Let’s try that again – what can we do that does NOT involve us in our other profession?”
“Well, I know where a good band is playing – interested?”
“There ya go,” the young girl said as she pushed the tray over, “have a nice day.”
“Thanks,” Jan said as she took the tray, Katy carrying the drinks on a second tray as they headed for the window booths.
"Oh the glamour of
it all," Katy laughed as she slipped into the booth beside her sister,
"Jeannie texts that she has a table reserved at Spago's
tonight, and where are we eating?"
"Hey it was you
chose BK darling, we could have gone to Micky
Dee's." Jan smiled as she slipped in next to Katherine.
Katy said as she ate a fry, "this is good, but still we should have
reserved something back in the city."
"Maybe next time." Jan laughed.
“Stop complaining,” Pepsi said as she unwrapped her burger, “I heard this was good enough for Jo and Annie when they won their first races, so it’s good enough for us.”
“Very true,” Katy said as she picked up her burger and bit into it. “So what is Uncle Adam doing tonight?”
“He’s gone to see his nephew...”
5 pm Pacific Time
“Nuovo È da LerraBella . Perché si vuole il vero te di brillare.”
Jeannie removed the headphones as she looked at Giorgio, who smiled and beckoned her through.
“Well how badly did I butcher that Giorgio?” Jeannie shook her head, “I just wish I was better at other languages.”
“Actually,” Giorgio said with a smile, “they were both wonderful Jeannie.”
“Even though I am having to read the French and Italian from cue cards?”
“Yes…they will do nicely our advertising people think.”
“As long as you and they are happy,” Jeans shook her head.
“Will you be dubbing her voice for other countries as usual?” Barbara asked as she passed her daughter some water.
“We will, we debated getting Jeannie to try speaking Russian, but decided against it,” a smile broke on the Italian mans lips.
“Good thing, can you honestly think how bad I would sound speaking Russian…OY!” Jeannie rolled her eyes.
“No, I think we leave that for others. So enjoy your evening off, and we will see you tomorrow.”
“Come on,” Barbara said as she handed Jeannie her coat, “a shower and a change of clothing, and you’ll be ready for dinner.”
“Oh before I forget,” Giorgio said, “RCM Racing have accepted our offer of sponsorship. I will explain more tomorrow morning.”
The Carlton Home
Anna looked at the telephone by her bed as it rang, sighing before she picked it up.
“Anna? I’m just calling to see how you are.”
Rolling her eyes, Doc smiled and said “Yeah I’m fine Mom.”
“And you’re eating? Getting your assignments done?”
“Yes Mom - I cooked my own lunch, and I cracked that book on bio-chemistry like I said I was going to.”
“Well as long as you are okay, your dad and I are worried leaving you on your own.”
“Mom, I’m 16 years old and a native New Yorker, I think I’ve learned how to stay out of trouble.”
“Well I hope so…look I must run, your Aunt Aileen is calling.”
“Okay you run…Love you Mom.”
“We love you too Anna…see you tomorrow…Byeee.”
Doc put the phone down and smiled.
“Alright now where was I? Oh yes…”
Doc reclined on her bed, turned her vibrator back on, and started rubbing it up against her breasts.
The Carlton Home
Anna opened one eye, suddenly alert. She had heard something, of that she was certain, but what she needed to ascertain was what it was she had heard.
The light was off in her room, as she slowly sat up, grabbing a dressing gown and putting it over her naked body before she put her glasses on. Allowing her eyes to adjust to the gloom, she opened her desk drawer, taking something out before she padded noiselessly over to the door.
As she opened it, she heard the noise again – someone was moving around downstairs. Walking back to her room, she found her cell phone and dialled a contact number, before slipping her phone into her gown pocket and walking slowly down the stairs.
As she reached the bottom, she saw the light moving round in the front room, and smiled. “Let’s play the scared schoolgirl for a moment,” she thought to herself as she opened the door to the room, saying “who’s there,” as she turned the light on.
The woman turned and looked at the blonde schoolgirl, wearing her glasses and a dressing gown, standing in her bare feet. For her part, Anna quickly took in the intruder – a little taller than her, before accounting for the four inch heels on her black patent leather knee length boots, and long opera gloves over her hands and lower arms. Both the boots and the gloves covered the legs and sleeves on the black latex cat suit, and Doc had to admit it suited her, the fabric hugging her curves as the zip was fastened up to her throat. The intruder’s dark hair fell over her shoulders, while a folded black silk scarf covered her nose and mouth.
“Ah – it would appear the house is not as empty as I thought,” the intruder said as she looked at Anna, “lucky me.”
“Who are you,” Anna said quietly, “and what are you doing in my house?”
“It’s never a good idea to ask questions of someone holding a gun,” the woman said as she pointed a hand gun at Anna, “now sit down, with your hands on your head. Let’s see if we can’t do something to keep you amused while I finish robbing the place.”
“Oh god,” Anna whispered as she sat down, “please don’t hurt me...”
“Then do as I say,” the intruder said as she looked at Anna, and then turned her back as she picked up a holdall. “First, you can tell me where your mom and pops keep their safe.”
“All right,” Anna said quietly, “but can I ask you a question first?”
“If you must – what is it?”
“Do you realise just how much guano you’re swimming in right now?”
The intruder turned round to see Anna behind her, her expression no longer scared but grim as she pointed a .45 at her.
“Oh, found Poppa Bear’s gun did you?”
“Nope,” Anna said with a smile, “this one’s mine – and I know how to use it. So I’m telling you now to sit down, and put your hands on your head.”
“I think not,” the intruder said as she raised her gun and pointed it at Anna, “I think you should put that down and sit down.”
“Interesting,” Anna said quietly, “you’re a brave young woman. That much I can tell, but I think you need to look at your situation with a little more detachment. You are the intruder here – I would be within my rights to shoot you, and then all I need to do is tell the police I heard someone break in, and I was so scared I found Dad’s gun, and shot them...”
“Then you would be tried for murder...”
“That depends on how they found me – the ropes that had been used to bind me scattered on the floor, the tape, the bruises...”
“Very cute, very smart,” the intruder said quietly, “perhaps I should just shoot you now, but then I wouldn’t have any fun...”
As she spoke, there was something in her eyes, in the way she spoke, that made Doc think. It was so like Carina before Miss Lynx appeared...
“Now,” the masked woman said as she walked forward, “drop the gun before...”
“Before what,” Doc said quietly, “you see, there’s something else I needed to tell you.”
“And that is?”
The intruder suddenly looked over as a set of headlights appeared through the covered windows, and she heard tyres squealing.
“We have a silent alarm, and just in case I sent an alert to our security company on my phone. Much as I would love to discuss this further with you...”
“Clever – very bloody clever,” the intruder left as she sprinted for the back door, Anna hearing the shout of “follow her” as Dominique came in.
“You all right, Doc?”
“Yeah – I think she realized in the end she’d bitten off far more than she could swallow,” Doc said as she put the gun down, and removed her phone. “What did you get?”
“The conversation was recorded, but I really wish we had visual here as well. Can you describe her?”
“No problem – but I will tell you two things off the bat. First, she’s young – I think she can’t be much older than Abby.”
“Okay – and the second thing?”
“She has the same look as Cari when Miss Lynx is around in her eyes.”
“Has she now,” Dominique said as another woman came in.
“Sorry boss – she got away. I think she was this new cat burglar that’s appeared on the scene.”
“Really – what you just said may make a lot more sense,” Dominique said with a smile. “How did she get in?”
“Forced the back door. I’ve got a crew coming now to do the repair – we’ll get it back good as new.”
“You’re not going to get much sleep now,” Dom said as she looked at Anna, “and you may wish to consider getting some clothes on before the rest of the crew arrive. Nothing taken, so no need to worry your mom, but I’m asking you round to mine tomorrow afternoon. I’ll get Cari on the line, and we’ll talk then.”
“Yeah – I had better,” Anna said as she headed upstairs. “Get the office on local CCTV, see if we can see anything,” Dom said to the other woman. “Unlikely, but you never know...”
Sunday 6th March
The New Calabria
“Hey Annie,” Jan said as she and Adam came in.
“Agent Carter – dis business or pleasure?”
“A bit of both,” Adam said as Tammy waved from her high chair.
“The usual then?”
“Thanks,” Jan said as they sat on the stools.
“So hows life treating yous,” Annie said as she handed them the drinks.
“I can’t complain,” Jan said, “apart from some bad memories resurfacing, and Adam here having to deal with family problems.”
“Oh yeah,” Annie said with a smile, “anything dramatic?”
“Just a mother I find it difficult to handle...”
“Oh come Adam – I’m not that bad am I?”
Jan and Adam looked at each other, before turning to see Eleanor walk into the bar with Tommy.
“Hey there,” Tommy said as he walked round and kissed Annie, “meet de two mos’ important women in my life. Annie, meet Eleanor, my new co-worker.”
“Pleasure,” Eleanor said as Tammy waved at Eleanor. “Dis is our little angel Tammy.”
Eleanor nodded as Tommy said “we’re gonna take a booth out back for a few minutes toots.”
“Don’t take too long – we’re taking Tammy to the zoo remember?”
“I aint forgot,” Tommy said as the four of them moved into the back.
“Nice place Tommy – I can see you do good business here,” Eleanor said as they sat down.
“Yeah – well Annie’s da boss here. So, the word?”
Adam looked at Tommy,
before saying "So my sources say they are moving drugs through the market
"We had that
trouble in the past, and well lets
just say we don't likes it."
thought Tommy," Eleanor nodded.
"We may or may not
do a few non kosher tings, and remember I aint sayin' anyting one way or der other, but drugs is a bad bizniz,
and we don't want it in der market."
principles...I respect that."
"It still means
though we have to prove all this Mother," Adam
spoke, "and proof isn't the same as knowing."
"Well Veronica and the Coast Guard will track how they get it ashore, I'll find out how it’s unloaded, your job is to catch who they are supplying."
“We’ve got feelers out,” Jan said, “both with the PD and our own people.”
“Da guy in charge, he asked me to lunch one day,” Tommy said, “maybe I take him up on that?”
“Just watch your step, Tommy...”
“Hey – I can take carea meself,” Tommy said with a smile, “and I bring backup jusin case.”
“Ah – hello Anna,” Ama said as she opened the door, “mom’s expecting you. Did you manage to get any sleep?”
“I caught a few hours once the repair guy had gone,” Anna said as she came up, “so I’m not too bad. Hi guys.”
“I suspect some coffee would still be a good idea,” Annie said as the two girls came into the main room.
“Oh yes, thank you,” Anna said as she sat next to Dominique at the table. “So what have you managed to find out?”
“Well, based on your description, we think it’s the same woman who’s been responsible for a few aggravated burglaries in the city over the last few weeks,” Dom said as she looked over. “We’ve been looking into the street cams in your area, but no joy spotting her. As it is, I think you got off lightly – the reports we have of other incidents she was involved in show she has a taste for inflicting pain.”
“Which means we need to talk to our resident experts on that area,” Doc said as Annie brought three mugs of coffee through.
“Well,” Annie said as she handed the young girl one, “from what Dom has shown me, and from what you said, this is a woman with a definite dominant streak. How confident are you about the age range?”
“I’d say she was eighteen, maybe nineteen, but no older. She knew how to walk in heels as well – which suggests someone who has done this for some time.”
Nodding, Dom said “then it’s time to call in the real experts.” She typed into her laptop, before Cari appeared on the screen.
“Hey folks,” she said with a smile, “what can I do for you?”
“Where’s Judith,” Annie said as she sat down.
“Play date with some of the other nursery kids,” Cari said with a smile. “Dom told me what happened – how are you Doc?”
“I’m fine – and Mom and Dad won’t know what happened, but I want words of import with this woman.”
“Now where have I heard THAT before,” Annie said as she rolled her eyes.
“Understandable – but why me?”
“Because,” Dom said, “from the reports of her activities, everything screams a daughter to me.”
“A daughter? Someone want to clue me in on what that means?”
“It’s a story for another time,” Annie said, “but Cari knows exactly what we mean.”
Doc looked at the image of Carina as she slowly nodded. “What can you tell me, without going into specifics?”
“She’s late teens, not quite twenty at my guess, dark shoulder length hair, slim build.”
“Hair means nothing,” Cari said with a smile, “the build?”
“Form fitting Latex – trust me on that.”
Cari sat back and thought. “Okay – get comfy Doc. Time for a history lesson...”
“Oh Goddess,” Anna said as Carina finished, “that explains so much...”
“Yeah – and no I’m not going to tell you who the others are, but some of us do know. If you’re right about the age – and we allow a little latitude – two names come to mind immediately. Dom, Doc, I need you to leave this with me for the moment. As soon as I know, we’ll let you know.”
“Sure,” Anna said, “so long as you tell me who it is at the time.”
“Come with me a minute, Doc,” Dom said as she stood up, taking Anna out of the room as Annie looked at the scream.
“You and Natalya are already in this, aren’t you?”
“We’ve got other things to discuss, but we were wondering. Annie, you’ve got to know who I’m thinking of?”
“Alexis Bronheimer and Sharon Kennedy. They were the two last May who fit the description.”
Cari nodded as she said “Natalya’s back in Germany, making preparations for the wedding, so I’ll follow up with Mom on Alexis. I need you to ask Abby about Sharon – see what she’s been able to pick up on the circuit.”
“On it,” Annie said as Dom and Anna came back.
“Right, Anna – as I said, leave this with me. I need to do some digging myself – Dom, send me all you got.”
“Got it – and have fun. See you Friday if not before.”
The others looked at Doc as she suddenly sat up...
“Something has just occurred to me... Oh Goddess, I’m so stupid…”
“I’d love to be just as stupid,” Ama smiled.
“Not in that way… I should have remembered about her boots.”
“What about her boots Doc?” Dominique asked.
“I’ve seen them before.”
“On someone you know?”
“No, in a shoe store…those are three thousand dollar designer boots.”
“Are you sure?” Ama asked.
“Which means either our burglar is doing very well and can afford the best things in life…”
“Or she’s a rich kid dabbling in crime,” Dom interrupted Carina.
“That’s my guess.”
“Carina do you know anyone else from your genetic pool who lives here in New York?” Doc asked.
“No…but Aunt Natalya can probably research us some names.”
“Okay – let’s do what we can and regroup when you come down Friday.”
“Right – I need to get home and meet Mom and Dad – see you tomorrow Annie.”
“I’ll show you out,” Ama said as she walked Doc down the stairs.
“You already have an idea, don’t you,” Dom said as she looked at Cari.
“Yeah – but I don’t want Doc to know. We need her angry.”
West Central Park
As Katherine passed Katy’s room, she heard her say “okay then – see you in a few weeks. Keep safe now.”
“Who were you chatting with on your computer darling?” she asked as she looked in.
“Orion Gran…” Katy closed the lid and looked over. “She was telling me that this one particular nun has been giving her a hard time since she got back to school.”
“Now that triggers some bad memories,” Katherine shook her head, “what do they call it? A Nam flashback?”
“I take it then you had a rough time Gran?”
“Yes,” Katherine said as she sat on her granddaughter’s bed, “but I thought today’s nuns were a lot cooler than they were back in my day.”
“Not this Sister Beatrice by the sound of it.”
“In my case,” Katherine said as she looked at Katy, “it was Sister Mary Agnes, and somehow she knew I was putting out… And well when it came out I was pregnant… Boy did the crap hit the fan.”
“Well, Sister Beatrice has practically called Orion a whore for some of her pictures.”
“Oh Sister Mary Agnes did more than imply it,” Katherine rolled her eyes, “she called me a whore, a slut, and worse.”
“How did a nun know words like that?”
“You know I never thought of that before Katy darling.” Katherine laughed. “I’d loved to have asked her that back then.”
“Pity she’s not around anymore...”
“Knowing my luck,” Katherine said, “she’s a Mother Superior now. Come on – give me a hand with dinner...”
Monday 7th March
RoideMer, Fulton Fish Market
The two men looked at Philippe Aumont as he stood behind the desk, his fists down on the table.
“I am afraid so,” one of the men said, “this one was seized before it was able to make the delivery to the Heights.”
“The same way as before?”
“Indeed – the driver was left unharmed, but the guards were not so lucky.”
“How are they finding out...”
“There is more sir – we had a ship stopped outside the docks this morning. The Coast Guard are still searching it.”
Philippe looked up from his desk as the secretary stood in the doorway.
“I have Head Office on Line 1.”
“Mon dieu... Put it through,” he said as he sat down.
“Sir – to what do I owe the honour of this call?”
“Philippe,” the voice said quietly, “we are most disturbed at what we hear – most disturbed.”
“I assure you, we are pursuing the source of our difficulties...”
“The source of your
difficulties is painfully obvious,” the voice said. "We warned you not to get on the wrong
side of the local people Philippe, but against our judgment..."
"I know, I
know," the man in the suit looked downwards, "I did not realize that
our actions would truly provoke the local fraternities so much..."
"And didn't we
warn you that Madame X has a proprietary interest, and
that with her contacts..."
"I know,” Philippe
said quietly, “I realise now..."
"Do we need to liquidate
Philippe looked at the
two men, his face white as he said "No, No, I am sure I can put it
"I hope so,” the
voice on the other end interrupted, “such a well thought out and planned
exercise would be painful to lose."
"And we might
literally need to terminate some employees,” another voice on the call said –
one that made all three of them pale.
"Is that a threat?"
"No just a warning," the first voice spoke again. “We will discuss further when I arrive tonight.”
“Of course, Monsieur Rey – I have your reservation ready.”
“Good – now fix this, before I need to.”
As the line went dead, Aumont looked at the men. “Get both the drivers in here now – I need to talk to them.”
“And have my secretary call Mister Morgan – I wish to meet with him at one.”
The New Calabria
As Annie looked over, she saw the dark haired young man walk in and close the door behind himself.
“Well now – what brings youse down to our neck of the woods Bobby?”
“I gotta call from him to pop in – where is he?”
“Out back wif some others – got time for a coffee after?”
“Try and stop me,” he said with a grin as he went to the rear of the bar, and opened the door.
"Hey Unca Tommy, how are you?" the Lieutenant asked as he entered the back room.
"I'd be better if you hadn't just told everyone that I has a nephew with der NYPD," Tommy said as he looked at his fellow traders.
"Well family connection upon family connection eh?" Eleanor purred.
"And you'd be
Captain Ball I take it, the military's point-woman on all this?"
"I would be, and
this is Veronica, she's Coast Guard Criminal Intelligence."
to meet you Ma'am."
"He's nice,” Veronica said as the door opened, and Moletti came in.
“So dis is your place Tommy – classy, real classy...”
“You know, I can see
what you saw in him Janice..."
Adam looked daggers in her direction.
"Well I thought
now youse was a socialite you hung out in better
joints then this Carter?"
"Just shut up Moletti," Jan looked nastily at her ex-boyfriend.
down...please," Tommy spoke, "we are here to talk over what we do
next to get these bastards?"
"I agree Tommy," Jeanne spoke, "and speaking for Interpol I need to know more about their supply system."
“I can help with that,” Veronica said. “My colleagues here stopped a boat outside the harbour today. It came up clean, but there was evidence another boat had docked beside it earlier that day. I suspect the boats that RoideMer are using make an unscheduled stop before coming in with the catch.”
“Sounds plausible,” Eleanor said. “I’ve been watching their trucks – seem very well loaded given the catch that comes in.”
“Bobby,” Tommy said, “you work narcotics. Any word on changes in suppliers?”
“We know a new player has been moving in on the Heights and downtown,” Bobby said. “Lieutenant Moletti?”
“Another RoideMer truck got hit today – the driver left secured, two men shot dead,” Moletti said. “That’s the second this week. Someone is sending him a message.”
“So the fishing boats bring the drugs in with the catch, it’s distributed in the trucks – except they’re not getting through now? Who’s stopping it?”
“Disgruntled rival,” Bobby said. “So what are you going to do?”
“It’s a good theory,” Eleanor said, “but we need proof.”
“Excuse me,” Jeanne said as she stepped out to answer a call.
“Well, I’s having lunch with de guy in charge of RoideMer today – I’m taking backup, and we can talk later,” Tommy said.
“Want a shadow,” Adam said.
“’preciate it Ball. Guys – we watch the catch coming in, as experts, clock anyfing sus, pass it to Ball Mater here.”
“I’m getting regular reports from the coastguard here,” Veronica said.
“Okay,” Janice said, “we need to pull the evidence together.”
The room looked at Jeanne as she came back in.
“That was my colleague in Marseille – Alain Rey is apparently flying over today. He’s the head honcho of a French family – and the owner of RoideMer.”
“He’s under pressure from both ends – Tommy, watch yer... I mean your step.”
The Refectory, St Angela’s
“So when exactly did you get in,” Doc said as she sat next to Jeannie at their table.
“One thirty – I literally got in, went to bed, and got up. Tonight I sleep early and long – and I had the joy of The Rivals this morning?”
“Could have been worse – could have been Monday Morning Math,” Pepsi said with a smile, “but was it worth it?”
“Yeah – I may bitch, but I had a good time,” Jeannie said, “and I learned I’m going to have to do a little job when we’re in Florida.”
“Oh,” Ama said as she looked over, “and what is that?”
“Lerrabella are apparently going to be major sponsors of RCM Racing – and they want to announce at Sebring. Guess who gets to spend the day in the pits?”
“Well, that can be fun,” Pepsi said, “or so Bones tells me. But I did hear that – I was with Katy when she was doing the shoot with Sistine Stallone.”
“Oh yeah – I heard about that,” Jeannie said, “who was there with her?”
“Well her mom, but her dad turned up towards the end. He was a really nice guy as well – he talked to us for a while as they finished up. Very intelligent as well.”
“Doesn’t surprise me – Arnie is an expert in Dresden pottery as well as a Doctor of Economics.”
“When did you meet Arnie,” Doc said as she looked at Jeannie.
“Well, he just happened to be in the same building as we were doing the shoot...”
“One of these days,” Doc said, “I will have the luck.”
“Oh yeah – how was your quiet weekend at home?”
Doc looked over at Ama, before she said “just that – quiet and boring. Nothing to write home about...”
“So,” Ama said as she looked at Jeannie, “if LerraBella are going to be the sponsors, what do you think they will do to announce it to the team?”
“Guess we’ll find out soon enough,” Jeannie said with a smile...
Bishop Walden School
“You met Rocky?”
“I certainly did,” Katy said as she and Sands finished their lunch. “He came to pick Sistine and her mother up, and stuck around as we did the last part of the shoot.”
Shawnee sighed as she said “I would love to have met him...”
“She’s got a bit of a granddad crush on him,” Liz said as she nudged Laura, Cassie shaking her head.
“Come on – let’s go and see what’s happening in the world,” Katy said as she stood up, the others following.
“So what was she like?”
“Nice – no airs and graces at all,” Katy said as they sat down. “Just a normal teenager.”
“Some girls have all the luck...”
As they looked across the road, they saw the van pull up, and a young man get out, looking across the road before he opened the back.
“Wonder what he’s looking for,” Lisa said as she swung her legs to and fro.
“Well, he’s heading this way...”
As the girls sat on 'their' wall, they watched the messenger in the cerise jacket approach, clearly looking for someone.
"Can we help you?" Liz asked as he approached.
"Only,” he said as
he looked at his clipboard, “if you can point me in the direction of Alexandra
Richmond and Katherine Carter."
"Well, I'm Katy
"And I'm Sandy
Richmond...what we can do for you?"
"Oh in that
case," the young man look relieved, "these are for you, courtesy of Lerrabella."
The girls looked on
with surprise as he produced gift boxes for both Sandy and Katy. Handing them over, he smiled and said “you
have a good day now.”
"Are you sure you don't have one of those for me?" asked Shawnee, her jaw dropping as Katy opened the box full of cosmetics.
“Sorry,” he said with a smile as he walked off.
“I have no idea,” Sands said as he looked at Katy, “but we’ll share them out...”
Nelson Automative Testing
As Denice saved the spreadsheet, she looked up to see the receptionist standing by her desk.
“This is Denice Burton,” she said as he looked at the cerise jacketed courier.
“A gift for you, Miss Burton,” he said as he handed over a gift box, “courtesy of LerraBella cosmetics.”
“Thank... thank you,” Denice said as she put the box down, the rest of the girls moving round her desk to see as she opened it.
“A full set of their cosmetics – what have you done to earn this,” one of her colleagues said as she opened the inner box.
"It's part of Lerrabella's sponsorship of RCM," Denice explained to her co-workers, as the eyes of Michelle her supervisor expressed her dissatisfaction. “I guess the technical staff are all getting these gifts.”
“All right,” Michelle said, “lunch break. Denice, put that away.”
“Put what away,” Ian said as he passed by, and looked at the gift. “I heard RCM had found a new sponsor – well done. Michelle, I need Denice in the workshop this afternoon.”
“Yes, sir,” Michelle said quietly, Denice whispering “thank you” as she grabbed her coat and headed out.
West Central Park
“Just a minute, just a minute,” Katherine said as she walked to the apartment door, and looked through the spyhole.
“Can I help you?”
“Delivery for Mrs Katherine Carter?”
As Katherine opened the door, the young woman smiled and said “If you would sign here?”
Katherine signed and then watched as the courier walked to the lift, before carrying in the box and placing it on the table. Opening it, she took out the box and then opened it.
“With the compliments of LerraBella? Now isn’t that nice of them...”
“Hey Clint – delivery in here for you?”
Clint nodded as he came into the driver’s lounge, and looked at the box sitting on the desk.
“What on earth is that for,” his colleague said as Clint looked at the accompanying letter.
“With the compliments of LerraBella – it’s their male grooming range,” he said as he looked round.
“They’re sponsoring the race team you work for – right?”
"Well," Clint smiled at his UN co-workers, "if this is going to continue to be part of the new sponsorship, well then - I'm all for it."
Tavern on the Green
“That’s wonderful Mum,” Jan said as she looked at Shirley, “I’ll see both of your gifts when I get home tonight.”
“LerraBella – they delivered gift boxes to Mum and Katy, as well as Sands. I think Henri, Denice and Clint are also getting something.”
“They certainly take their responsibilities seriously – what of you three?”
“They said they would tell us at Sebring,” Jan said as she sipped her water.
“So,” Shirley said, “what can I do for you?”
“We had a tipoff earlier as to who was really in charge of the RoideMer operation,” Jan said, “I was wondering if I could tap your knowledge, so to speak.”
Smiling, Shirley said “Well, if I do know of the person, I will tell you what I can.”
“Something tells me you may already know who it is – so,” Jan said, “I’ll write a name down, you write a name down, and we’ll compare notes.”
“I do like this,” Shirley said as they each scribbled on a slip of paper, folded them and passed them over.
“It would appear we are hearing the same thing,” Shirley said with a smile.
“So – Alain Rey. What do you know about him that you can tell me?”
The two sat silently for a moment as their food arrived, before Shirley said “Well, let me say this immediately. Monsieur Rey and I have – some past history.”
“Now why does that not surprise me?”
“Well, it dates back several years, to when Sandra, Maddie and I had returned to the UK, and my father had just died,” Shirley said quietly. “Some of our – former associates had been recruited by this family, and were running a kidnapping ring in Paris.
“We got wind of it, and the fact they had a particular target in mind, so we followed them. Their previous victim had been the wife of someone who had supported us when we lived in Paris, and he asked us to share his displeasure.”
“So what happened?”
“Sandy and Maddie trailed them to where their latest victim was staying, and captured them. They told me their intended guest was putting up a very good fight with a cutlass – but they said nothing to her.” Sipping her wine, Shirley said “I must remember to find out in Munich if she recognised them at all.”
“She... Don’t tell me it was Sigi?”
“It was – but we didn’t know it at the time. We only realised it ourselves recently. At any rate, we stopped them. As for Alain... Ever see a picture of Napoleon Boneparte?”
“In history books – why?”
“He’s Corsican as well – and thinks he is the Napoleon of Crime. Obviously, he had never read Conan Doyle...”
“What is it about small men,” Jan said as she shook her head.
“At any rate, he flatters, but he is deadly – so I hope Tommy watches his step...”
Near Gilder Boathouse, Housatonic River
“I’m glad you got the day off,” Carina said as she and Annie walked along the riverbank.
“Well, I was seeing Helen this morning, and Wilhelmina said I could have the rest of the day off, so I drove up to see both of you.”
“Look Momma – birdies.”
Carina smiled as Judith pointed at the birds floating on the river itself.
“So why are we out here by the river Carina?”
“Well,” she said as she looked at Annie, “first of all it’s a beautiful day and I thought I’d take advantage to bring Judith out for some fresh air.”
“That’s always a clever idea.”
“The second reason is that I have a couple of tests coming up, and I can study while little one plays.”
“And thirdly I know a couple of girls who row, and Judith likes to come and watch them training.”
“I bet they spoil her rotten.”
“They do,” Carina cracked a smile, “they also tease me that with my size and weight I ought to be the cox for one of the boats.”
“Well you are small enough.”
“Yes, but if I was going to do it, I needed to start when I was at school, I think I’m too old to learn now.”
“No you aren’t Specs,” a couple of tall muscular girls said as they joined them, “we can take you out and see how you like it.”
“Maybe one day,” Cari shook her head, “by the way this is Molly Kerrigan and Kelsey Widdowes, they are both in my college. Girls, my partner Annie Kelly.”
“Pleasure – hey little one, come to see us row?”
“Yes,” Judith said with a smile.
“Well, here we are,” Cari said as they entered the play area, Annie closing the gate as she let Judith out of the stroller. “On you go, darling – have fun.”
As Alexis watched, Janine put the box down and opened it up, looking at the contents.
"A cosmetics set
from Lerrabella?" Alexis asked.
"It seems everyone
connected with RCM is getting one," Janine said as she shook her head,
"I'm surprised they thought of me though, I thought I was just Henri's eye
candy, looking decorative in the pits."
"Is she putting
herself down Alexis?" Juliette asked as she came out of her office.
sure she is more then merely a blonde racing car
definitely," Juliette smiled, "Okay returning to work, do you have my
notes ready for the editorial meeting?"
Janine said as she passed a small folder to her boss.
"When am I due
down in the art department?"
"About ten minutes
ago," Alexis said as she looked at the clock.
"Don't worry they
are waiting for you Ju."
else is desperately urgent?"
"Very little that I can see," Janine consulted her note pad.
“Right – if I’m not back in an hour, find me.”
The Richmond Mansion
“So, like your gift?”
“Well, it was certainly a SURPRISE when it was delivered,” Heather said, “and then the kids told me of their own deliveries.”
"It's nice that
Giorgio thought of everyone," Sandy looked over Heather's shoulder while
Heather sent him a thank you e-mail.
"Yes, it's VERY nice
that the backup team gets remembered, not just the drivers."
believe she got a set."
"I think George was a little embarrassed to get his set delivered to school like that," Heather said before she hit send. “I’m sure he will live it down – eventually...”
"So,” Sandy said, “do you have everything worked out for getting us and the car safely to Florida Lover?"
long as the truck doesn't break down on the way."
Sandy tapped her own head.
"You and I will do
most of the driving, but at least we will have Katherine along to mother
"Which is always
nice...there's nothing fancy about her cooking, but it really is good and
filling," Sandy sat down, "so are the guys packing the truck?"
"Car, spares, techno stuff, everything we hopefully can think of needing."
“So – Road Trip. Radical...”
“Lover,” Heather said, “you are not hip and trendy, but I love it when you say that.”
Shirley looked up from her laptop as she heard the knock on the door.
"The report on
Napoleon Madame," Tanera, one of the PA's said
as she brought in a sheaf of papers.
"Thank you Tanera," Shirley looked up as she accepted the papers.
girl smiled and nodded before she turned and made her exit.
"Alright what have
you been up to recently you little Corsican bastard?" Shirley spoke to
Quickly she scanned the pages, it seemed that he had been a very naughty little man. Enquiries with a friend in Sardinia suggested he was bankrolling a fight for supremacy in the Italian islands amongst the organised crime gangs - always a dangerous occupation.
Ah, he was heavily into people smuggling, getting would be migrants out of North Africa for a price. Shirley felt instant contempt and loathing come over her. Currency frauds in Switzerland, well that was endemic, illegal banking with a certain firm in Panama, well she hid some of her own secrets in the same place.
Shirley checked details against other matters she knew of. A series of
assassinations of other gangsters in Paris, well the dead were not exactly
innocents, but it was the reports of his ambitions in the drug trade that
alarmed Shirley, it seemed New York wasn't the only market he was trying to
Well it was about time she did something about him, Little Napoleon was getting too big for his boots, and far too dangerous to others.
Susan and Clint’s Apartment
“Ah Clint – I bless the day you decided that motor vehicles were more profitable than cooking,” Henri said as he sat in the armchair. “That way, I see both sides to your talents.”
“Always happy to please, Henri,” Clint said with a smile as Susan brought the coffee in.
“So, what can we expect when we get to Florida,” Susan said as she sat back.
“If the storms keep away, sunshine and petrol fumes,” Henri said as he sipped the coffee.
“So we pack the sunscreen and floppy hats,” Susan said with a smile. “So, seriously – what are their chances?”
Clint and Henri looked at each other, before Henri said "Well for privateers like us, really just finishing the 12 hours is something of an achievement."
asked, "and why is that?"
"It's a track that
has been known to murder cars," Clint replied.
"And we do not
have the resources of the big factory sponsored teams."
"Okay I think I
understand. It’s an honour to be
invited, to see hwo you stack up, but you set the
"That is why we
have been packing the truck tonight with everything we can possibly use,"
Clint sipped his drink, "we need to be as prepared for all eventualities
as we can be."
any chance of the girls winning anything?"
"The ladies prize
is not completely out of reach Susan, but as I said before a mere finish will
be excellent at our first attempt."
“Did you ever win
"Not quite,” Henri said as he looked at Clint, “we had a handful of top 3 places, but we never quite got to that top step...still I always preferred it to Le Mans."
“Partly,” Henri said with a laugh, “but it’s also a much friendlier atmosphere. I know Mario is coming down for the memorial service.”
“Ah yes,” Clint said, “fifty years.”
“The 1966 race,” Henri said, “a brilliant young driver called Bob MacLean crashed, his car caught fire... He died. Then later, another car left the track and killed four spectators. The track wish to honour the ones who died, so a memorial service will be held on the Friday – just before the announcement.”
“That should be interesting,” Clint said, “but we have another horror before us.”
“Ah yes,” Henri said, “the interview...”
"I take it you
went out by the river today?" Judy asked as she watched her namesake
sitting on the floor pretending to slide and swing an oar.
"We did,” Carina
said as she drank her coffee, “I got some work done, Annie had fun, little one
"And we got to eat
with the crews."
"Sounds like a
good afternoon...” Judy sat down and
said “Better then mine anyway."
"You got it in
one...Doctor Zylewski is brilliant, but I'm finding
it hard to please her with the music I write."
"Didn't you get an
"I did, but it’s
the way she tears my compositions apart that worries me."
"Well you can't be
too bad or she wouldn't grade you that well."
"I know, I know,
but her own music is so beautiful..."
"Judes I think you are worrying about nothing."
"Just what I told
her," David said as he came in with some late night snacks. "Hey
Judith are you still rowing?"
"Yes," the little girl looked up and grinned.
“Well, time for our little rower to rest,” Carina said as she picked her up. “Come on – bedtime, or you won’t be able to play tomorrow.”
“So how were Carina and Judith?”
“Great – I learned a new thing today.”
“And that is,” Ama said as she looked over.
"The other girls
at Yale call her 'Specs'," Annie looked up from her cocoa.
because she wears them?"
"No because she
"Ah - I can see
the logic of that then."
"I will admit,” Annie said, “it was fun watching the crews train, and then having dinner with them."
"You should see how much some of the varsity rowers tuck away, and I'm not just talking about the guys, I thought I used to have to eat plenty of calories when I was training, but it was nothing compared to what these guys and the girls have to eat."
"Well they have to have a different physique to a distance runner like you."
“True – but I think I preferred our...”
“Annie? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine Ama,” Annie said with a smile, “I just felt a kick.”
Ama walked over and put her hand on Annie’s bump. “Oh yes,” she said quietly, and then she looked at Annie, her eyes wide open.
“I... I feel...”
“It’s a secret,” Dom said, “so tell nobody. Understand?”
“Of course I will not,” Ama said with a smile.