Market Forces – Part 3
West Central Park
Jan looked up at Katy as she stood in front of her. “I know that look – what do you want, Katy?”
"Do you mind if we
have a makeup party here on Friday night Mom?"
"Don't you have a
date with George?"
"Yes, but I can
cancel...Sands and I want to ask Peps and Holly if they will come over and
teach us how to use what we got from Lerrabella, and
we can share it."
"That's good of
you both, sharing with your friends darling,"
Katherine looked up from her knitting.
everything suits every girl, and besides they are our besties."
"Holly might have
a date you know?"
"Oh you already
asked did you Miss?" Jan smiled.
"Okay, okay, I give in," Jan's smile turned to laughter. "I'll lay on the pizzas and drinks."
“Thanks Mom,” Katy said as she hugged her, “I’ll call them now and let them know.”
“Want them to help you with yours,” Jan said as she looked at Katherine.
“Oh no,” her mother said with a smile, “I asked Mary to recommend someone. So, what’s this I hear about an interview for you three?”
“Tomorrow night at Sandy’s place – Henri and Clint will be there as well...”
Tuesday 8th March
The New Calabria
“Hey there,” Tommy said as he came in and kissed Annie, “seems quiet in here today?”
“Nah – just dat lull between lunch and the pre-dinner crowd,” Annie said as she took her coat from where it was hanging. “I needs to go and collect...”
Both of them looked over as the door opened, and Philippe Aumont came in, as always with his two assistants. Tommy glanced over to the corner, nodding to the large man sitting there as the three smartly dressed men came to the bar.
“Afternoon, gentlemen,” Tommy said, “What brings ye to my wife’s place of business?”
“Well, we had to cancel our lunch appointment,” Aumont said, “so I thought it would be easier if I was to come here.”
Raising an eyebrow, Tommy said “Fair dues. Annie, you go do what you gotta do, I’ll see ya later.”
“Okay Tommy – seeya later,” Annie said as she put her coat on, kissing him on the cheek before she headed out of the door.
“So,” Tommy said, “what can I getya?”
“Cognac, if you have it. My friends will not be drinking.”
Nodding, Tommy poured some of the brown alcohol into a glass, and then poured himself a whiskey, before he handed it over.
“Yer very good health,” he said as the two men toasted each other. “So, what can I do for youse.”
“Mister Morgan,” Aumont said, “you may or may not be aware we have had certain – difficulties since we started our business in the market.”
“I hear de scuttlebutt,” Tommy said, trying not to grin, “if youse are asking me, youse guys most certainly got off on the wrong foot.”
“Perhaps,” Aumont said quietly, “in our eagerness to establish ourselves, we did upset some people.”
“Some? Monsieur Aumont, you did more than upset some o me friends. Any troubles you may be facing now, were not down to me.”
“Monsieur Morgan,” Aumont said quietly, “we need to stop what is happening to us, so that we go about our business. I was hoping you would be willing to – form an alliance with us, to help smooth over these problems.”
“Like I said,” Tommy repeated as he looked at him, “Yer problems are not of my making. If you want me honest opinion, whatever it is you are doing...”
“Importing and selling fish?”
“Please, Monsieur,” Tommy said as he shook his head, “don’t treat me like I just got off the boat at Ellis Island. I’ve been in the fisheries business all me life, and I know de people, I know de costs, I know de prices – and youse guys are severely undercutting. So, unless yer like de Chinese, somfin else is going on. And – forgive de phrase – it smells fishy.”
Aumont shook his head as he said "I must
admit, I am surprised at your attitude Monsieur
"Oh,” Tommy said
as he looked at the two men, the large man in the corner sitting up, “why?"
"Because - if I
may speak honestly - your own record as my investigations have shown might not
be spotlessly clean."
how?" Tommy sounded amused.
"Well to be blunt
your dealings in weaponry shall we say..."
"Who says I have
ever dealt in weapons?"
"Oh come on
Monsieur, everybody knows..."
"If everybody knows this, then prove it?"
“Ah but that is why you are so respected – you are very good,” Aumont said. “Now, all we are asking is you help us to avoid unwanted eyes interfering with our business, our shipping...”
“If yose want my help,” Tommy said quietly, “what is it yer moving out with de fish.”
“Shall we say,” Aumont whispered as he leaned forward, “we help people feel very happy. I could make you a very rich man, ensure you and your family want for nothing...”
Tommy looked hard at Aumont, and at the two men, as the tall man stood up.
“Let me make this
crystal clear,” Tommy said quietly. "Monsieur,
I do not like drugs...I have never liked drugs...and I will fight tooth and
nail to keep them, and YOU, out of our fish market."
"As I said I can
make it worth your while to turn a blind eye,"
"Buster there aint enuff cash in this world that would get me to look de other way when drugs is concerned," Tommy sipped his drink, "so be a good errand boy and pass dat message back to yer bosses...please."
“I must ask you to reconsider,” Aumont said, “it would be – most unfortunate if something was to happen to you.
“Or your lovely wife, or your daughter – barely a year old, right?”
Tommy’s knuckles turned white as he looked at Aumont. “Lemme tell ya a story,” he said very quietly, “about the last two people who talked of Annie in dat way. One of dem left dis country in a packing crate wif his knees broken – and den de man who sent him had a short conversation wif me and a hockey stick.”
“And the other gentlemen?”
“Was found floating in de river,” Tommy whispered, “so, finish yer drink, and get outta here.
“Before I ferget I’m a nice guy.”
The door to the bar opened as Eleanor came in, carrying a file. “Sorry I’m late boss,” she said as she came over, “today’s accounts.”
“Gimme a minute Ellie,” Tommy said, “dese gentlemen were jus leafin.”
“Enjoy the rest of your day, Monsieur Morgan,” Aumont said as he walked out, the two men following.
“We good Tommy?”
“We good Big John,” Tommy said as he looked at Eleanor. “Dis just got heavy – youse guys got them rattled.”
“It’s more than that,” Eleanor said quietly, “his boss is in town. I think we need to tread carefully – and we’re increasing security at the market as well as here and your apartment.”
“Well, dey crossed a line – dey threatened Annie and Tammy. I wonder if dey even know what dey have started...”
The Richmond Mansion
“It’s very good of you to let us interview all of you here,” the director said as Sandy watched them setting up the lights, George and Sands watching from the doorway with Heather.
“Come on, you need to finish your homework,” Heather said as she led them away.
“So when will we start?”
“In a few minutes,” he said, “would the five of you like to see what we have for the opening?”
“Why not,” Sandy said as she looked at Jan, Jeanne, Clint and Henri.
“Come with me,” he said as they went into the kitchen, setting up a laptop as they sat round, and then starting a film.
“The 2015 racing season produced many stories, but one of the most remarkable was the success of one of the teams making their debut at the Sebring this year – RCM Racing. Based in Pocono, they became the little team that could. Initially dismissed as three socialites playing at racing, it was evident from early on that those who held that opinion had underestimated both the skills and the determination of the team.
“But then, the pedigree of the team should have been a major clue. For example, the team manager – Henri Marais, himself the winner of several races, and one of the most respected drivers on the circuit before an accident badly scarred him, and he retired. The fact he came out of his retirement to manage this team should have been a warning.
“Or their chief mechanic – Clint Walker, who in the past worked with engineering wizard Ian Nelson when he was based in California, and no mean driver in his own right. Those who followed the Drag circuits in Southern California at the turn of the century may have seen him there. These days he works as a driver for the UN, but his mechanical skills are remembered.
“So the backroom crew had a solid foundation – and then there are the drivers of RCM. Sandy Richmond, socialite, interior designer, but a fearless force on the road. Janice Carter, FBI Agent, but once the queen of the Long Island dirt tracks. And Jeanne Marais, the daughter of Henri, and a champion Kart driver in her own right.
“Last year saw them win their class, and earn an invitation to drive at the 12 hour this year. But who are they really, and how did they form such a formidable team... Dick Berggren and David Hobbs sat down with the drivers, and the crew, for a chat last week in New York...”
“I like it,” Clint said, “although Susan may not like to be reminded of my own racing days.”
“They form part of our glorious history,” Henri said, his face smiling. “Ah, David, how long has it been my friend?”
“Far too long,” the former driver said as he shook Henri’s hand. “You are looking well.”
“My lust for life never diminished,” Henri said, “it merely needed a new focus. You remember Jeanne, of course.”
“Of course,” David said as he kissed Jeanne. “And I see you are to be a grandfather soon. How soon?”
“Later in the spring,” Jeanne said as she held her bump, “so this time, I am the spectator and support.”
“Dick,” David said as the race commentator came over, “are we about ready to begin?”
“We need to make sure the team are ready, but once that is done,” he said with a smile, “we can begin.”
The director nodded as he said “In three... Two... One...”
Dick Berggren smiled as he looked at the camera, and said “Can I say, Sandy, thank you for inviting us into your home.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Sandy said as she sat between Jan and Jeanne, Henri and Clint behind them. All three women were wearing sweaters and long skirts, while both Clint and Henri were in open necked shirts and trousers.
“So tell the viewers, Jan – how did RCM Racing get started?”
“Well,” Janice said as she looked at Dick, “it truly started when both Sandy and I realised we had a love of fast cars, and signed up together for a series of racing driving lessons. We’d been friends for some time before that, but as we did the lessons, we both felt we would like to try the real thing.”
“And how did you join Jeanne?”
“Well, I first met Janice when I was sent to New York to work on a case in my capacity within Interpol,” Jeanne said, “and we became firm friends. I was then invited to join Janice and others at a weekend at Curragh House...”
“That is the Richmond home out on the island, correct?”
“It is,” Sandy said with a nod, “and as it was a Roaring Twenties themed weekend, my mother retrieved from a museum Betsy, a racing Bugatti that my great aunt used to drive.”
“That would be Anabelle Richmond,” David Hobbs said, “we have here some archive film of her driving in the UK. Would you like to see it?”
Sandy looked at the two men, and then said “of course” as the television to their side came to light, and they watched the film of Annabelle racing at the Brooklands circuit. As Heather looked on from the sidelines, she saw a small tear in the side of Sandy’s eye.
“That... That was quite a sight,” she finally said as the film finished on her smiling face.
“I think the racing blood runs in your family as well as Jeanne’s,” David said with a smile, “Janice, I remember reporting on you some years ago when you raced on the dirt tracks on Long Island. So I would say, despite what people may think, there is a rich racing heritage behind you.”
“So, returning to Curragh Park,” Dick said, “you had the chance to race in this magnificent car?”
“All three of us,” Sandy said, “and that, combined with the generous sponsorship of other friends, allowed us to begin what was then Richmond-Carter racing. Having said that, Jeanne was part of the team from the start – hence the change this year to RCM Racing.”
“So it literally was friends deciding to do something for fun?”
“Essentially, Dick – yes.”
“Turning to the obvious racing heritage,” Dick said, “and to you Jan, you were a champion driver on the dirt rings, and then you quit. What happened?”
“Essentially,” Jan said, “real life pitched me a few surprises – in my case, I found I was expecting, and my father passing away meant I had to find a real job. So I joined the FBI, and became an agent based in New York.”
“When I was researching for this interview,” Dick said, “I came across an article I wrote back in 2002. In it, I wrote ‘In Janice Carter, I believe we have a future champion in the making, and I personally look forward to seeing her progress in the years ahead.’”
Jan smiled as she said “thank you – but, well, times changed.”
“Indeed – and now your daughter, Katy, is beginning to make a name for herself as a model. Does this mean she has no interest in racing cars?”
“Not at this time, no, but she is still only thirteen,” Jan said with a smile.
“Henri,” David said, “there is also a strong history in your family, of course. How does it feel when you see Jeanne out on the track?”
“A mixture of fear and pride in equal measure,” Henri said with a smile, “but it is a pride I share in all of them.”
“When Jeanne was a kart racer in France, I remember watching you and your wife there, and the pride was evident in your face then. It almost seemed as if you were prouder of that than some of your own achievements.”
“Of course,” Henri said as he put his hand on Jeanne’s shoulder, “as any father would be. Now that my own days behind the wheel are in the past, I am honoured to help her.”
“How do your employers feel about your driving, Jeanne?”
“They are most understanding,” Jeanne said, “I think they view it as an – additional skill. However, on this occasion, for this race, I must sit on the sidelines and support.”
“For very obvious reasons,” Jeanne said with a smile as she patted her bump. “My doctor assures me this is the time for rest, so we have invited Antoinette Marais, my cousin, to join us for the Sebring meeting.”
“Do you regret that?”
“Not at all,” Jeanne said with a smile.
“Sandy Richmond,” Dick said, “you are the odd one out in a sense in the team.”
“Well, in the sense that I am the true amateur, and they have to carry me a little...”
She smiled as both Jeanne and Janice shook their heads in disagreement, while Clint said “she preaches false modesty.”
“Indeed – although you had no previous experience, the times from last year show you more than holding your own as part of the team,” David said. “The legacy of Annabelle Richmond most definitely is carrying on.”
“Well, it’s very kind of you to say so,” Sandy said with a smile.
“And of course, with Henri and Clint heading the pit crew, you have first rate support.”
“May I say one thing,” Henri said as the ladies looked round.
"No one is quite
sure who came up with the saying an army marches on its stomach,” Henri said, “but
whether it was Frederick the Great or Napoleon, as you very much remember David
a motor racing team certain is only as good as its cook."
"That is true
"Well I need to
especially praise Janice's mother Katherine, who keeps everyone happy and well
fed, and who if you asked most of our backup crew at least, can be considered
the most important member of the team."
that Henri," Jan smiled.
"Well after a lifetime round racing I'll vouch to the fact that the happiest teams are the best fed ones," the interviewer smiled.
“So here we are, at the start of a new season, and the word is you have new sponsors.”
“Indeed – as was announced yesterday,” Sandy said, “LerraBella have agreed to act as the major sponsor for us, alongside our existing supporters.”
“Does this now put you at the same level of some of the more established teams in terms of finance.”
“Well, we are proud to be sponsored by them,” Clint said, “as well as our other sponsors. And yes, it provides funding. But at the end of the day, the race is won or lost by the skill of the driver, not just how much money we have to spend.”
“Exactly,” Jan said, “it is the skill of Henri, Clint and the others that makes this a true team effort.”
Dick smiled as he said “So you are sponsored by some high powered companies. How to you respond to the claim you should be sponsored by the Social Register?”
“If they want to sponsor us, fine – but I think they can find other things to support,” Jeanne said with a smile.
“So, today – what would be a good day for you?”
As the other two laughed, Jan said “seriously, it’s an honour just to be invited to be here, and to take part. So we hope we show what we can do, and we take it from there.”
“Well, thank you for talking to us, and good luck today.”
“Thanks,” Jeanne said as the camera stopped rolling...
The Astoria Waldorf
As he approached the doors to the suite, Philippe Aumont was nervous. He knew exactly who it was he was coming to see, and the prospect was one he did not like at the best of times.
And by any measure, the last few days had not been the best of times.
Swallowing hard, he adjusted his tie and knocked on the door, waiting as a tall, broad shouldered man looked out, and then indicated to Aumont to follow him inside.
“He’s expecting you,” the man said to Aumont, “in there.” He indicated an interior door, Philippe nodding as he opened the door and went in.
“It is a pleasure to see you again, sir,” he said as he closed the door, and looked over to where Alain Rey was standing by the window. Aumont stood five foot ten tall, so he towered over the five foot two Rey, but as the grey haired man turned and looked at Aumont there was a look of pure evil in his eyes.
“A pleasure? Tell me why it has been necessary for me to come here, Aumont.”
“I know there have been delays, sir...”
“I understand another truck was hijacked today, despite the route been changed?”
“Sadly, sir yes, but the second truck was left alone...”
“That is unacceptable,” Rey said quietly as he walked to a table. He was impeccably dressed, in a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, his shoe leather gleaming. Pouring a drink, he said “what else have you done to try and end the trouble?”
“I went to see a man I believe is behind much of our troubles – a Thomas Morgan.”
“I saw the company name in the reports – one of the leaders of the owners in the market?”
“Correct – I offered him a share of profits in return for his support, but...”
Rey looked at Aumont, an eyebrow raised as he said “and?”
“He refused, he wants no part of it, and I fear I may have caused more trouble.”
“I see,” Rey said quietly. “Will he go to the police?”
“No – he is old school, and will wish to make it clear what he feels without involving law enforcement.”
“And the other issue – the interest of Madame X?”
“She had – not responded to my requests for a meeting.”
He didn’t hear the door open behind him, as Rey sipped his drink.
“I am – disappointed,” he finally said, “and I think you need to know the extent of my disappointment.”
“Sir, I assure you, I have...”
The breath left him as the man drove the knuckledusters into his stomach, Aumont doubling over in pain before the knee was driven in.
“You have forty eight hours to fix this,” Rey said as he watched the man beating Aumont up, “or I will be forced to take more – permanent measures. I want Morgan taken care of, and I want these difficulties to end. I trust I make myself clear.”
“Yes,” Aumont groaned as he stood up.
“Good – leave.”
Walking slowly to the door, Aumont left, wondering what his next move should be...
“Excuse me Aunt Shirley,” Maisha said as she came into the drawing room, “but you have a business call in the den.”
“Ah,” Shirley said as she stood up, “I have been expecting this call John – it’s about a business deal on the West Coast. I should not be too long.”
“Of course,” John said as Shirley made her way into the den, securing the room before she sat down.
“Good evening Madame.”
“Ah Mermaid – Tommy has already communicated on the subject of his meeting today. What news do you have for me?”
“I can confirm Alain Rey arrived in the US yesterday – he is resident at the Waldorf.”
“Ah – I did wonder how long it would take for him to come.”
“Madame, I am concerned – Aumont is nervous, and he may try and do something stupid, involving Tommy’s family.”
“Hmm – past experience would tell him that was not a good idea where Tommy is concerned. Remain vigilant Mermaid – I will arrange additional cover for his apartment and the Calabria in the meantime.”
“I think that is a good idea – I also have a message from Veronica. The troubles for RoideMer are just beginning.”
“Excellent – now, I must consider how to let Monsieur Rey know I am watching...”
Wednesday 9th March
Susan looked up as Pamela opened the door and looked in.
“Visitor – can you spare a few minutes?”
“I could do with the break – show them in,” Susan said as she put her pen down.
"Katy Carter to
see you Susan," Susan's PA ushered the girl in her school uniform in.
unexpected Katy,” Susan said as Pamela closed the door, “what can I do for
"Well for starters,”
Katy said as she looked round, “you can say if we are secure?"
"We are now,"
Susan said as she pressed a button, before they sat down. "Now what do you
"Mom thinks I'm
going shopping with the girls tonight, but that's only because I don't want her
"Oh and why might
said quietly, “I'm now convinced I'm being followed."
"Are you sure you
aren't being paranoid, now that you are becoming a celebrity Katy?"
"I thought that
might be the case at first,” Katy said as she sat forward, “but well... It's like I keep seeing a blur out of the
corner of my eyes that vanishes when I look properly."
"That sounds like
what people say when they see ghosts."
"I thought of that
as well, but no, this is someone real, and they are trailing me for sure."
"Well,” Susan said
as she sat back, “I know you mentioned it to your Mom."
"Yes and I know it
concerned her, but with this Fish Market thing she has more than enough on her
plate..." Katy took a breath, before she said "So I'm asking directly
if you can put a team to watch me for a few days to see if they can see anyone
else doing the same?"
"Well we could try," Susan said quietly, “but we need more discretion than a team.”
She sat and looked at Katy for a few minutes, before she said “I have an idea – I need to make a couple of phone calls, but if you can tell Janice I’m coming round to see her later, I can see if the idea I have is feasible. Sound good?”
“Sounds good to me – and thanks Susan. I know it’s asking a lot.”
“Not a problem,” Susan said as she walked round and hugged Katy. “I’ll get Pamela to call a cab to take you home.”
As Katy went out, Susan said “Can you arrange a cab for Katy, Pamela, and tell Shirley I need to see her for a few minutes?”
“Got it boss,” Pamela said as Susan went back to her desk.
“Dom? Susan,” she said as her call was answered, “I need to run a scenario past you...”
As Susan looked at her laptop, she saw Bev Martello appear on the screen in answer to her Skype call.
“Hey Susan – You needed to talk to me,” the brown haired girl said.
"Bev I have two questions
for you," Susan spoke to the former Viper back in London. "The first
is do you fancy a few days in New York?"
"Does the Pope
"Yeah I know that
saying," Susan laughed, "the second thing is do you think you could
pass for a 13 year old if I asked?"
was clearly thinking, "probably...just about...why?"
"Have you heard of
"Yes, that's her,”
Susan said. “Well I'm a friend of her
"And Katy is
convinced she is being followed by someone as she goes about her life."
said, “so what do you think I can do?"
"If I can get
Jan's permission,” Susan said, “I want you to pose as Katy's cousin from
"Okay, but aren't
they Irish...you do remember my family is Italian?"
"I think you can pass...Anyway what I want is for you to bodyguard Katy for a few days. I will tell her grandmother that you are one of Caroline's operatives, but apart from the family and me, only Caroline and Madame will know you are there for security."
"Alright Susan, when do you want me there?"
"Pack a bag and get your passport, Lily will be there in 30 minutes to get you to Heathrow."
“What if they say no?”
Thursday 10th March
As Caroline stood in the near-deserted reception area, she smiled as she saw Bev make her way through the arrival doors, pulling a case behind her.
“Hey,” the younger woman said as she came over, “thanks for coming out to meet me. I have NO idea if I can get a cab this time of night.”
“Best not to ask,” Caroline said as she took her case, “come on – the parking lot is over here.”
“It was strange coming in over the water,” Bev said as they crossed the lanes, “only able to see the boats in the water. We did see a couple of boats with bright lights, but that was all.”
"Are you alright
Bev?" Caroline asked as they got to the car in the airport parking lot.
"Other than being wiped out from the flying,” she said as she lifted her case into the trunk, “yes I'm fine."
"Yeah, that is an uncivilised time of night to fly over."
"You are telling
me. At least I managed to get some
sleep, so i don’t feel totally dead."
said as she moved away, “did Lily brief you?"
"Alright - so you
know this is a completely legal, kosher, piece of security work?"
celebrity protection. I made sure to
bring clothes a young teenager would wear, as opposed to me and Tracy at work."
"Excellent. I have a gun for you at the office, and a
permit to carry...Both are legitimate."
Bev turned and looked
at Caroline as they drove down the road.
"Am I actually for the first time earning an honest dollar?"
"You might put it
that way," Caroline said as the lights shone when they moved past. "Just remember this is not bent at all,
so no thieving or other such activity."
"As if I would...Now?" Bev laughed.
“Right – we’ll go back to my place, and you can crash on the couch for a few hours. Then I’ll take you into the office for Susan to share the full details. By the way – what do you think of motor racing?”
“Can be fun – why?”
“You’ll be working as pit support crew next weekend at Seiberg – RCM racing are taking part in the 12 hour, and as Katie, George and Sands help with food and drink...”
“So will I? Oy vey...”
“I told you it would be fun...”
4 pm Local Time
Kylie came into the apartment, smiling as she looked into the main room, and then made her way to her room. She removed her hat and hung it carefully on the hook behind the door, before removing her jacket and hanging that as well.
“Ah – there you are kiddo.”
“Hello Marina darling,” she drawled as she turned, “you have finished early.”
“Indeed,” Marina said with a smile, “would you come with me please? Catherine and Helen wish to see us on the balcony.”
“But of course,” Kylie said with a smile as she followed her friend out to the balcony that ran along the side of the apartment.
“Ah good – there you are Kylie,” Catherine Lu said as she and Helen looked over, “I trust you had a productive day?”
“I did, thank you Mistress,” Kylie said as she stood with her head bowed, “how may I serve you this evening.”
“By relaxing and taking the night off.”
Kylie looked up and said “Mistress?”
“Kylie,” Helen said, “we wish to say two words to you.”
“And that is?”
“Happy Birthday,” Marina said as she hugged Kylie. “I know we cannot have the same sort of sixteenth birthday as your friends in New York have, but that does not mean we cannot celebrate.”
Kylie stood there, for once speechless as Helen produced a bottle of champagne, opening it and pouring into glasses while Catherine indicated a small side table, on which were a number of presents and cards.
“I... I don’t know what to say. I thought you had forgotten, and did not wish to make a fuss,” she finally said as Marina handed her a glass.
“Indeed – forgive me darlings, thank you,” Kylie said with a smile.
“There are cards here from us and others, and we have bought you a few presents,” Helen said, “but we will all go out for dinner tonight. It does mean an early start tomorrow, but...”
“Tonight, we celebrate,” Catherine said, “to Kylie – happy sixteenth birthday...”
Fulton Fish Market
“What’s going on over der,” Tommy said to Eleanor as he saw Aumont coming down from the offices of RoideMer, gesticulating wildly.
“You ain’t heard,” Nicky Marino said as he came over.
“Obviously not, or I wouldn’t be askin,” Tommy said as he looked at the other man.
“Word is two of their boats got stopped by de Coast Guard,” Nicky said, “and impounded. No catch for dem today.”
“So how comes der truck is going out,” Tommy said as one of their trucks set off.
“Not to worry,” Eleanor said, “they’ll be followed.”
Tommy nodded as Aumont walked past, a face like thunder fixed on him.
Bev wrinkled her nose as the aroma of freshly baked bread and coffee mingled in the air. Opening her eyes, she saw Ama passing by in her school uniform, before she looked over and smiled.
“Good morning – we’re just having breakfast, if you would care to join us.”
“Sounds good,” Bev said as she stretched, and saw Annie coming out, her top covering the very prominent bump.
“Good morning Bev,” she said as Caroline came out of her room, “did you manage to get a little more sleep?”
“I did thank you,” Bev said as she came over, “but the coffee would be very welcome.”
“There you go,” Ama said as she handed it over, and then began to eat a muffin.
"So,” Bev said
quietly, “any clues as to who might be stalking Katy Caroline?"
"We are not
totally sure anyone is yet Bev, but Katy is pretty sure she can sense someone
"Okay, so what are
we talking a fan stalking her?"
possible scenario, a second is that it relates to the
current case her mother is working..."
"Jan is trying to
bring down some extremely nasty French drug dealers."
"The sort that
aren't above kidnapping a cops daughter to get her to
"That is what
worries us...Jan also was very prominent in bringing down a gang from Buffalo
recently, Shirley wonders if that might be relevant."
"So much for my
thoughts this would be a few days vacation."
"Yes you'll be working Bev, just remember to keep those street smart eyes of yours wide open."
“So, Spring Break gets underway tomorrow,” Alexis said as she sat next to Janine.
“Indeed – Carina and Ingrid get back tomorrow, and Jo is bedding down with Diana and Abby for the weekend, before she flies to Dublin.”
“And the racing road trip?”
"Well, the advance Guard are leaving today," Judith sat on her desk sipping her coffee. "Heather and Sandy will drive the truck, whilst Katherine and Tonia will handle the Winnebago."
"And the rest of the crew?" Alexis asked.
"We get to fly down in the coming days," Janine smiled.
"Is Jeanne flying in her condition? and what about Annie and Frieda?" Alexis thought aloud, "Is Karen supervising travel for them?"
“Well, they’re not flying to begin with,” Janine said. “Ken and Karen, with Pussy, are going down by train on Monday. I think the kids are flying down with Janice, Adam and George on Tuesday, and the others follow Wednesday.”
“And then the fun really begins – what about the team colours?”
designed, and Cathy has promised delivery on not only the new overalls, but
also team jackets, and lots of other fashion items."
“So this really will be a party?”
"We may not win
the race," Janine laughed, “but we are going to be very prominent in the
"Well just remember your assistant back here manning the desk, and grab me a team jacket." Alexis looked up.
“Oh I’ll make sure I bring something back,” Janine said as Juliette came out.
“Right girls – team meeting. I want to make sure everything is good for next week...”
The Richmond Mansion
“Okay,” Katherine said as she closed the door to the rear of the Winnebago, “everything is stowed away now.”
“Are you going to be all right driving Mom,” Jan said as she stood with Katy.
“Of course I am – Tonia and I will split the work, and we’re following these two all the way,” Katherine said as they walked into the house, joining the other road trip candidates in the kitchen.
"Okay... Not allowing for us getting lost, or other
detours, this should be about a 1,170 mile drive," Heather looked up from
her computer. "I've printed up maps, I've
programmed the gps in both vehicles."
"If we drove
limits," Heather interrupted Sandy.
"...and hit no bad
traffic, then we can do it in just under 18 hours."
"But allowing for
things like eating, and some sleeping?" Katherine asked.
"Then I figure we
get there about this time tomorrow," Heather smiled.
"Or a bit earlier
if we are lucky," Sandy and Tonia said as they high fived each other.
“Mom – you still here?”
“Of course we are,” Sandy said as Sands came in with Katy and George. “No way would we leave without saying goodbye to you guys.”
“In here Orlanda,” Heather said as the young nanny came in with Jennifer.
“I’ll go and get their bags,” Heather said as she left the kitchen.
“You are going to drive safely down, aren’t you mom,” George said with a serious face.
“I will save the speed for the track,” Sandy said with a smile as Katherine came in.
“Now you keep safe – and give Bev my love,” she said as she kissed Katy.
“My English cousin,” Katy said, “she decided to come over for a few days, and she’ll be coming down with us for the race. She’s even going to help us out.”
“Sounds like she’s a
fun girl to meet,” Heather said, “but we need to get going.”
"Now kids behave for your father, and we will see you in Florida when you arrive...okay?" Sandy asked as she kissed both her children.
“We will mom,” Sands said as they went outside with Katy, Jan and Orlanda, Jennifer waving as well as they got into the two vehicles and drove off.
“Right,” Jan said as she hugged Katy, “we need to go and meet your cousin...”
The de Ros Mansion
“Are you at home, Mamma,” Abigail said as she came in.
“In the drawing room, darling,” Diana said as Abby came in. “I was just confirming the delivery arrangements for next weekend, as well as our travel arrangements.”
“Have you heard from Jo,” Abby said as she sat down, and poured herself some coffee.
“She called a few minutes ago,” Diana said, “and hopes to be with us in time for dinner tomorrow. I take it they left safely?”
“I passed them on the way home,” Abby said, “quite a sight. How far are they going tonight?”
“I believe they intend to stop south of Philadephia to eat, and then get past Richmond before they stop.”
“Some journey – I’m glad we’re flying down later in the week...”
West Central Park
“Can you get the door Katy,” Jan called out from the kitchen as she heard the bell.
“Sure, Mom,” Katy called out as she went to the door, opening it and saying “you made it – thanks for meeting her Caroline.”
“Well, you and your mom had to wave Katherine off,” Caroline said as she came in, pulling the case behind her as the young girl followed her, wearing a white t-shirt over a black long sleeved top, jeans and trainers.
“Well, welcome to New York Bev,” Katy said as she closed the door, before she said “and I really mean it. Thanks for coming.”
“My pleasure,” Bev said as Jan came out.
“Are you sure this is necessary,” Jan said.
“Put it this way,” Caroline said, “this frees you to concentrate on the race and affairs of work. Bev sticks close to Katy, and makes sure she feels safe as well.”
“Have you been taking lessons from Sigi,” Jan said as she looked at Bev.
“If you mean Ingrid’s aunt, no – and trust me, this is tight,” Bev said with a smile, “but I’ve been fully briefed and I come prepared.”
“You’ll come to school with me tomorrow,” Katy said, “my teachers know you are here on holiday, and want a taste of school over here.”
“I’ve got some dinner ready – can you stay Caroline?”
“Sorry – Ama and I need to finish our packing tonight,” Caroline said with a smile, “I’ll leave you to settle in. Susan will check in with you twice daily by phone, and she’ll update me.”
“Got it – have fun in Spain.”
“I intend to,” Caroline said as she left the three of them alone.
“So,” Jan said, “my niece from the home country who speaks with a North London accent?”
“Dat’s de way de cookie crumbles,” Bev said with a shrug.
“Come on – let me show you where you’ll sleep...”
The Waldorf Astoria
As Eleanor stretched and yawned, she noticed her phone buzzing. Picking it up, she said “hello?”
“Eleanor? Veronica – we hit paydirt.”
“In what way?”
“The two boats we seized this morning – full of drugs. Tom is getting a warrant together, but I wanted to give you a heads up – they’re moving in the morning at five.”
“Right – so the guano is flying?”
“Indeed – be prepared...”
“Thanks Veronica,” Eleanor said as she ended the call, and then dialled another number.
“Madame? Mermaid – the fire starts tomorrow morning...”
West Central Park
“So it is drugs?”
“It is,” Tom said as he sat with Jan and Adam, “so we have a warrant. We’re going in tomorrow at five, and we want you both there.”
“Great – i hope Katy and Bev don’t mind being left alone...”
Adam looked over as he said “one of Katy’s cousins – she called yesterday to say she was coming to stay at very short notice. Katy!”
“Oh hi Uncle Tom,” Katy said as she looked in with Bev, “What’s up?”
“Katy, I need to go into work early tomorrow – can I trust you and Bev to get yourselves to school?”
“Leave some money for a cab, and yeah.”
“See – she copes,” Jan said as they left the room.
“Yeah,” Tom said, “her cousin?”
“Yup,” Janet said, “so when do we meet?”
“We need to be in position for 04:30. Eleanor will notify Tommy.”
“Okay then,” Adam said, “mind if I stay here tonight?”
Janet raised an eyebrow as Tom stood up. “Just be there on time, all right?”
“Now why would we be late?”
Friday 11th March
“Okay boys,” Tommy said as he slapped the side of the Morgan Fish Merchants truck, “I don wanna hear any complaints, got it?”
“Gotcha boss,” the driver said as he started the engine, and the truck drove off.
“Ellie,” Tommy said as he turned, “filed and processed please.”
“Got it boss,” Eleanor said as she took the chitties. She then whispered “the wife and kid?”
“I got friends watching,” Tommy said quietly, “good friends who I trust.”
The Waldorf Astoria
Alain Rey wrinkled his nose as he slowly opened his eyes.
“The scent is unmistakeable,” he said as he slowly sat up, “although it has been some considerable time. Madame?”
As he switched on the bedside lamp, he looked at the woman sitting there, her long dark hair falling over the shoulders of her black trouser suit. She wore a black roll neck sweater underneath the jacket, her heels visible under the hem of the trousers.
“You look as beautiful as ever,” he said with a smile, “I assume you did not come alone?”
“My associate knows, if I do not return in,” Madame said as she looked at her watch, “fifteen minutes that she is to come in and leave nobody alive.”
“And who is your number one these days? The divine Madeline?”
“Oh no,” Madame said with a smile as she stood up from the chair, “I refer to Dominique.”
“Ah – but of course,” Alain said with a smile. “When I heard you had connections with the Fulton Market, I knew sooner or later we would talk. May I take it you have my shipments?”
“No,” Madame said with a smile, “they have been – disposed of. I merely wished to let you know that I know – and I have turned my eye to you.”
“Should I be afraid?”
“Ask those who knew Kimba,” Madame said with a smile. “I also need to inform you that Thomas Morgan, his family, and his associates are under my protection – whatever may happen today, they are not to be harmed. I presume you still remember what happens when my wishes are ignored?”
Rey nodded as he said “I do remember – I hope someday, we can discuss that. And my men?”
“Are not really my concern, unless they cross me. Do warn them.” Madame stood up, and said “do enjoy your return trip to Marseilles Monsieur Rey – and stay there. If our paths cross again, you will not survive the experience.”
“It should be an interesting experience,” Rey said. “May I presume the fact you are here means it is already too late?”
“Possibly – I leave that to you,” she said as she walked to the door. “Farewell, Monsieur Rey.”
As she walked out, Alain stood up and put on a dressing gown. Taking a phone, he dialled a number.
“Sir – we cannot talk now, we have company.”
“So I have been led to understand. When your visitors leave, bring Aumont to me.”
Fulton Fish Market
“Everyone in position,” Tom said as he looked across from Tommy’s office.
“In position,” Adam whispered as he and Jan stood at the foot of the stairs to the offices of RoideMer. Tommy had spread the word, and the workers had decided to take an impromptu break – the various cafes and stands full of people, waiting.
“In position,” the second team said at the dock side, watching in case anyone attempted to move that way.
“Okay,” Tom said as he looked at his watch, “two minutes.”
“It is suddenly very quiet out there,” one of the two smartly dressed men said as Philippe Aumont sat at his desk.
“Is it? Now where could they have gone,” he said as he stood up and started to walk to the window – only to stop as he heard the commotion in the outer office, and said “what the...”
“FBI,” Adam called out as he opened the door to the office, showing his badge as Jan followed him in, “stay where you are, hands where we can see them.”
“What is the meaning of this?”
“We have a warrant to search these premises,” Jan said as she handed Aumont the paper, “and seize any and all records, equipment and fittings.”
“Two boats owned by this company were impounded yesterday, and evidence of drugs found on board,” Adam said as the telephone rang. One of Aumont’s assistants looked to it, Jan nodding as he picked it up.
“Sir – we cannot talk now, we have company.”
Jan watched as he nodded, and then replaced the handset. “Our owner calling from France,” he said quietly.
“Inspector Jeanne Marais, Interpol,” the pregnant woman said as she came in. “You will go with these officers and answer their questions. All computers and records are to be catalogued and impounded.”
As Tommy was locking up, he and Eleanor looked over to see Aumont and his two men walking to a car.
“Looks like he has had a rough few hours,” Eleanor said as the FBI agents continued to carry computers and files to the waiting vans.
“Couldna happen to a nicer guy,” Tommy said quietly as Aumont turned and looked at him.
“My apologies, sir,” the man said as he opened the rear car of the door, “but he wants to see you.”
Aumont nodded, before saying “I want him to suffer.”
“Monsieur Rey first, sir – he insists.”
“Careta join me at my place for coffee an bagels, Ellie? Dis looks like a good day.”
“I would be delighted,” Eleanor said as they headed for his van.
The Waldorf Astoria
As Philippe stood again in front of the doors, the men said nothing – only opening the doors and pushing him in.
Alain Rey was sat at a table, sipping coffee as he looked over. He said nothing, merely indicating to Aumont’s assistants to wait outside, watching as they closed the door behind themselves.
“Monsieur Rey, I...”
Rey merely held his hand up, Philippe suddenly feeling his arms been grabbed from behind as he was held.
“I understand you had some unexpected visitors at the Fulton Market this morning,” Rey said as he patted his mouth with a napkin, and then stood up.
“Sir, I do not know how...”
“Do not speak,” Rey said as he walked over. “How they knew is not important – the question you should be asking, Philippe, is how I knew.”
“How... How did you know?”
“I had a visitor this morning,” Alain Rey said as he looked up at Aumont, “a great lady whom I have met before, who made it very clear she was behind our recent problems. She would not have called unless she already knew you were to be raided.”
“Monsieur Rey, I...”
Aumont gasped as Alain hit him in the stomach, the man holding him stopping him collapsing.
“Your intransigence has cost me dearly, Philippe,” Rey said as he hit him again, “both in terms of money and personal standing.”
“IT... It must have been Morgan, Monsieur, he made his views very clear, he must have tipped the federal bureau off...”
“Ah yes – I was coming to Monsieur Morgan, and that rather efficient assistant he has had recently. Did you know she was placed in there by the FBI, and she is a former head of Naval Intelligence?”
Philippe stared at Alain as he digested this information. “Oh yes – you have been played, and most efficiently played,” Rey said as he hit him again. “But when I met Madame X – well, when she called on me earlier, she made it clear that Monsieur Morgan, his family and his associates are under her protection. I did some research – did you know Morgan’s bar was blown up by Moretti before his unfortunate demise?”
Aumont shook his head as Alain looked at him. “I thought not - Monsieur Morgan is old school, and deserving of respect. Unlike you. Take him out of here and indicate the depth of my displeasure to him, but do not kill him.”
“Monsieur Rey, I...”
“You have until midnight to put your affairs in order, Aumont – I will see you again then.”
“Get him out of my sight,” Rey said as Philippe was dragged away, and his two assistants came in.
“Go back to the office, cooperate fully - but i want operations shut down tonight. I refuse to allow this to continue.”
“And Morgan, sir?”
“Is off limits – they won this one,” Rey said with a rueful smile.
“What are your instructions on Aumont?”
“I will tell you in due course...”
“Miss Harker is here, Madame,” the assistant said as she stood at the door.
“Show her in,” Shirley said as she stood up, coming round to welcome Penny. Her number two was wearing a red jumper and skirt, with a black leather jacket and heels.
“Welcome back to New York – how was the flight?”
“Peaceful – and the jet will be ready to head down to Sebring next week.”
“Excellent – you arrive on an interesting day. We are about to end the business we were involved in at the fish market, hopefully with minimal damage.”
“That is good news – I was going to go and see Jan after lunch anyway, so I will catch up with her then. Lily said she sent Bev over last night?”
“Indeed – do not be alarmed if you see her around as well. She is doing an assignment for Dominique while she is away that involves young Katy.”
“Okay then – should be a fun week at any rate,” Penny said with a smile. “I spoke to Helen, and Kylie asked her to ask me to thank you for her present.”
“I am sure she will find it useful,” Shirley said with a smile. “The present for Jeannie?”
“I have it at the hotel...”
FBI Field Office
“Well, Popeye,” Alberto Moletti said as he came in, “what news?”
“Apart from the fact you’re still an idiot,” Jan said with a smile, Moletti looking at her.
“The computers confirm they were importing drugs using their boats,” Jeanne said, “but no record of who was sending them in. Commander Joyce?”
“My colleagues at the Coast Guard have traced the boats they seized back to Marseilles,” Veronica said as she sat in her uniform, “but the records there have been – lost.”
“One thing,” Adam said, “there is a record that the murder at the market was ordered by Aumont, to ‘teach them a lesson.’ We’re trying to find him now – he seems to have disappeared.”
“We may find him sleeping with the fishes,” Moletti said with a sigh. “Still, we cut them off. What about at this end?”
“Oh they kept very good records of who they supplied – Narc are going to have a field day,” Adam said. “So we’re gonna stay out of your hair now. Nice working with you.”
“Not,” Jan whispered as she stood up. “I need to go for a meet, Tom – I’ll be back by two.”
“Go,” Tom said as Moletti watched her walk out, the soft leather of her skirt rippling over her bottom.
“Oi - eyes off Moletti, she made her choice.”
“Keep yer hair on Popeye...”
“Hey,” Jan said as she met Penny in the lobby, “thanks for meeting up. I wanted to go over the plans for next Weekend from your perspective.”
As the two women walked out of the lobby, they didn’t see Philippe Aumont watching them from behind the wheel of a car, and then drive down the road after them...
Bishop Walden School
“I have to admit, cus, this is some school.”
“Well, I like it,” Katy said as she and Bev took their trays to a table where the others were waiting. “This is my posse – Sands, Liz, Cassie, Laura and Shawnee. Girls, meet Bev, another of my cousins.”
“Hey,” Sands said as she looked over, “come over for the holidays?”
“Yeah – Aunt Jan has invited me to come and help you lot out next week, if that’s all right.”
“Oh yeah – the road trip. Lucky you.”
“Lucky us? Mom and Heather are over half way there now with the car and equipment,” Sands said, “they get the weekend in Florida before anything gets started.”
“So when are you going down,” Liz said as she looked at Katy.
“Tuesday morning,” Katy said. “We’re flying down with your dad and Orlanda with Jennifer, right Sands.”
“That’s right – Dad’s got two day passes to Universal Studios for all of us for Wednesday and Thursday, while our moms practice.”
“We got one for you as well Bev,” Katy said with a grin.
“Great – I always wanted to do the rides there.”
“So is this your first time in the US,” Shawnee said.
“Yeah – my mum had to go somewhere at very short notice, so I got sent over here. Nearly gave Aunt Jan a heart attack when she saw me.”
As she spoke, Katy noticed the way Bev was looking round, taking mental notes, watching positions.
“Well, only two more lessons, and then time off!”
“And there was much rejoicing...”
“Now this is one of the reasons I like coming back here,” Penny said as she finished her hot dog. “Juliette is right about how good they are.”
“I agree,” Jan said, “so anyway, you know LerraBella are going to be the star sponsors for the team?”
“Yeah, no problem – they get Friday, but the rest of us are hosting Saturday, so no harm done. I presume Susan and I will work the floor with Shirley, Roy and Augie?”
“Effectively – I am told you are going to love the jackets Alice has designed for you to wear.”
“I am – i saw them when I last spoke to Helen,” Penny said with a smile. “So what have you got on this afternoon?”
“Filing on the Fulton business,” Jan said as she wiped her mouth. “I’ll be back in a minute – call of nature.”
Penny nodded as she watched her friend walk to the small building, before she took her phone out.
“Susan? What’s up...”
As Jan dried her hands, she looked at herself in the mirror before leaving and looking round.
“The pressure you feel in your back, Miss Carter, is a .45. Please, do not call for help.”
“Monsieur Aumont,” Jan said quietly as she looked round, “we were wondering where you had gone. You do realise this is not going to help your position?”
“Perhaps,” Philippe said, “but then, I will be dead by the morning anyway. Monsieur Morgan is protected, but I will have my say on those who brought me down.”
“I wonder,” Jan said as she smiled, “if you realise just how stupid a move it is you are making.”
“I do not think this is stupid – it may save my life. Now, move.”
Jan turned round and smiled as she looked at the man.
“Mademoiselle, I have the gun?”
“Well, yes you do,” Jan said, “and I have the friend with the tazer.”
Aumont’s eyes shot open as the electric shock ran through him, and he crumpled to the floor, Jan smiling as she saw Penny there.
“So this man thought he could hurt you? Susan warned me that he had been seen leaving the hotel, and figured he was after one of a few people.”
“So what do we do with him,” Jan said as they lifted him up and walked with him.
“Let’s get him to my car – I’m going to make a call. I think I know someone who can help me...”
“There we go,” Cari said as she strapped Judith into the car seat, “ready to go and see Grammy?”
“Yes,” Judith said, “and April and Jennifer too.”
“And April and Jennifer too,” Carina said as she heard Ozzy sing. Taking out her cell phone, she said “hello?
“No I was about to head off – why?
“Well – if Jan calls Mom and lets her know we’ll be late, I can detour. Can you get someone to come out with you to keep an eye on Judith?
“That sounds good. See you there?
“Okay – try not to get started without me.”
Ending the call, she looked at Judith and said “we need to go somewhere on the way home, all right? Aunty Jo will meet us there.”
“Okay Momma,” Judith said with a grin.
The Waldorf Hotel
As Alain Rey walked into the lift, he wasn’t paying much attention, so he didn’t notice the tall dark haired woman who got into the lift with him.
The first thing he noticed was when the lift was stopped between the floors. As he turned to look, he saw the dark haired woman towering over him, smiling as she said “Good Afternoon, Monsieur Rey. My name is Dominique.”
“Ah,” he said quietly, “let me guess. Philippe Aumont.”
“Indeed – he tried to share his views on an associate of Mister Morgan. Madame asked me to share her – displeasure.”
“Not of my doing, I assure you,” Alain said quietly, “I will make that very clear to him when I see him.”
“No,” Dominique said with a smile, “you will not. Madame has asked a friend to show him her level of displeasure – and I have been asked to remind you if you do not leave tonight, she will ask this person to share that displeasure with you.”
“And that would be you?”
“No,” Dominique said with a smile, “that would be Miss Lynx. I believe this is your floor.”
The lift moved again and then stopped, the doors opening as Alain stepped out. “Remember what I said,” Dominique said as the doors closed again.
“I knew it was a mistake to come here,” Rey said quietly as he headed to his suite.
For a second as he walked towards his door the tiny Corsican felt his knees wobble. He was a tough, bad, man, but if half the stories he had heard about Miss Lynx were true he genuinely pitied Aumont, and was glad he was having the sense to now leave this business well alone.
Jo glanced out of the window, then relaxed as she opened the door and walked out, smiling as Penny got out of the car.
“What did you do to him,” she said as she saw the unconscious Aumont in the passenger seat.
“A sedative – I reckon we have an hour or so before he comes round,” Penny said as they both watched the Masserati pull up, Carina smiling as she got out and picked up Judith.
“Hey little one,” Jo said as she tickled the little girl’s chin, “we’re going to have some fun, aren’t we?”
“Yes Aunty Jo,” Judith said as she and Carina went in, while Penny threw the unconscious Aumont over her shoulder and carried him into a barn.
“So is this about the business at the Fulton?”
“Yeah – they broke it up today,” Carina said as they went in, “he was in charge, thought it would be a good idea to threaten Jan – but Penny was around and forewarned.”
“So I brought him here,” Penny said as she came in, “called Cari and you – and here we are.
"Are we dressing
for this Penny?" Carina asked.
"Well,” Penny said
with a smile, “I did grab some leather as I was getting ready..."
"I always keep a
few bits here anyway."
"Alright so whilst
I go make sure he's ready, you two can go pretty your faces and get
dressed," Joanne nodded.
"Sounds like a plan to me," Penny nodded.
“Want to come and see Mommy and Aunt Penny dress up Judith?”
“Yes,” Judith said as she was carried upstairs...
West Central Park
“That was wonderful – thanks Aunt Jan,” Bev said as she passed her plate to Pepsi.
“You two go and watch some television,” Jan said as Katy and Bev stood up, “and then we can have a girly night in once we’ve washed up.”
“I’ll help clear up,” Pepsi said as she carried the plates into the kitchen. “Bev’s a real bundle of energy, isn’t she?”
“Must run in the family blood,” Jan said as she emptied the leftovers into the trash can.
"Okay as great as
she is, who is Bev really Mom? If she was an actual cousin Gran would have told
me about her long since." Pepsi asked as they put the washing up in the
machine. "Also there is no way she is only 13."
"She works for
"You mean she is
bodyguard? Yes she is."
"WOW!...So you really do think Katy is being stalked?"
"I'm still not
sure, but we decided not to take any chances. What with her sudden fame, and the nature of some cases that I have been
"You decided to take no chances," Pepsi nodded as she interrupted.
“Right – but keep it to yourself, all right? If there is nothing, I have a house guest for a few weeks – and an extra pair of eyes can’t hurt.”
Philippe Aumont slowly opened his eyes, wondering where he was. He remembered the shock in the park, and now...
He tried to move his arms, but soon realised they were immobilized. As his vision cleared, he saw they were strapped down with think leather straps to the arms of an old wooden chair – and his legs were strapped in the same way together as well as to a foot rest.
He tried to move his head – and then realised another strap was around his forehead, holding it firmly against a thick rest. As he struggled, he heard a door open and close, and two sets of footsteps approaching.
“Good evening Monsieur Aumont,” he heard a voice almost purr, “thank you for joining us tonight.”
“Who are you? Where am I? You are making a big mistake.”
“Funny,” a second voice said, this one with an English accent, “they always seem to believe bravado will win the day.”
As Philippe watched, two women came into view. One was barely five foot four tall, but the leather catsuit she was wearing was struggling to keep her ample breasts in place, the thigh length boots creaking as she stood in front of him.
The taller women had reddish brown hair, and wore a black silk blouse and a knee length leather pencil skirt, a slit at the back allowing her to move. Her hair was pulled back, while she wore a four inch heel pair of shoes, and dark stockings.
“Who the fuck are you meant to be?”
“Well, that is a fair question,” the taller of the two said, “allow me to introduce myself first. My name is Penelope, and I am the number one to Madame X.”
Philippe could feel the sweat under the band holding his head in place, as he said “and your friend.”
“Oh my real name isn’t important,” she said with a smile, “but they call me Miss Lynx. You threatened to hurt a friend of mine today, Monsieur Aumont. That makes me – cranky.”
“And when Miss Lynx gets cranky,” Penelope said as she caressed Philippe’s cheek with her leather gloved hand, “she needs to vent her feelings.”
“Mon dieu,” Philippe whispered, “what are you going to do to me?”
“Now that,” Carina said with a smile, “is an exceedingly good question. An exceedingly good question Monsieur Aumont, and so I give you the choice.
“Where shall I start – your fingers, your toes, or your kneecaps?”
“Actually,” Penny said in a soft voice as Carina opened a velvet bag, “she is. Best you know that in advance, Monsieur Aumont.”
“Oh me? I’m a sadistic bitch who likes to hurt those who think they can hurt my friends.”
For a second Carina
paused in thought.
"Before I start
though,” she said quietly, “there is a question I need answering, and if I get
an honest answer from you, it might just save you some pain."
sidewise at Aumont.
"Is it you who has
been having Katy Carter followed?"
Carter's daughter," Cari said as she squeezed
the fleshy part of a finger with some nut crackers as a warning.
"No, why would
"You know I think he's telling the truth," Carina smiled as he screamed as she broke one of his knuckles.
“I think so too – so scratch that theory,” Penny said as she watched his face, the pain and fear growing as one by one his knuckles broke under the pressure of the nutcracker jaws.
“Why are you doing this,” he said as the last knuckle on his left hand broke.
“Oh – just for the fun of it,” Carina said with a smile. “So, the big bad gangster could not face the fact a woman brought him down?”
“You bitch,” Aumont hissed, “my boss...”
“Was going to kill you tonight,” Penny said with a smile, before she slapped his face hard. “Do not worry – we told him we would take care of you instead.”
He looked at Penny as she produced her nail clippers, and sipped a small piece of flesh from his right pinkie. As he grimaced, she said “but we have some time ahead of us – so tell me what else you have done. For example, a friend of Thomas Morgan was murdered – did you order it?”
“What is he to YOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSHHHHHHHHHITTTTTTTTTTTTT”
Philippe’s eyes almost bulged out as Penny rubbed her gloved finger on the raw, freshly exposed flesh.
“Language,” Carina said with a smile, “we asked a question.”
“Yes – he refused to move, so I removed him. Morgan would have got the same...”
“Be glad he didn’t, or you would be dead right now.”
“And where is the fun in that,” Penny purred as she rubbed the finger again...
“Judith? What are you doing in there?”
As Jo looked over, she saw Judith carefully carrying a jug out of the bathroom, filled with what she knew was urine.
“Sorry Aunty Jo,” Judith said as she looked at her, “I was just doing something to help Mommy.”
“Oh? And what was that,” Jo said with a smile.
“Drink for the nice man,” Judith said as she held it up. Jo looked at her for a moment, before she said “that was very thoughtful Judith. Why don’t I keep it safe until Mommy takes a break?”
“Okay – fankew Auntie Jo,” Judith said as she went and sat on the floor. Jo looked at the jug, and put it by the side before she came and sat with the toddler.
“Judith – where did you get the idea for the drink from?”
“Auntie Birgitte,” Judith said with a smile, “she told me.”
Aumont stared at the two women, panting to control the pain in his fingers as they stood there, drinking water from plastic bottles.
“What... What are you?”
“Well, I am a fully functioning psychopath,” Carina said, “and my friend here has real anger issues. But I guess you already figured that out. Now, let me explain something.”
Looking at Philippe, she smiled and said “Mister Morgan is a friend, and as such, we care what happens to him. We heard you threatened him and his family – not a good idea.”
He barely had time to see Penny before she brought the crop down on his arm, making him squeal with pain.
“Oh does that hurt,” Carina said as she reached between his legs and cupped his sac in her gloved hand, “believe me, we haven’t even started yet.” As she tightened her grip, Aumont screamed – only added to as Penny hit his arms again and again.
“Shall I tell you what happened to the last person who threatened Mister Morgan?”
“He... He told me he sent him to Boston in a packing crate...”
“Oh that’s what happened to the man who did the deed – but the ones who ordered it, some of them came under our tender care.”
“We broke them,” Penny said as she pulled the riding crop back against his throat.
“And then,” Carina said with a laugh, “we killed them. You tried to smuggle drugs in with fish – I wonder how you would feel to be treated as one. First, a chef would descale the fish.”
He watched as Carina stood up, and began to unbutton his shirt, while Penny fetched a pair of scissors, and started to cut them away.
“No,” he moaned, “please, let it be quick.”
“Oh no,” Carina said as she pulled his jacket and shirt away, and moved to his trousers, “a chef takes great pride in the preparation of his work.”
“After all,” Penny said with a smile, “the secret to good cooking is thorough preparation.”
“Oh dear,” Carina said as she looked at the naked man, “a lot of surface hair and dirt to remove. Miss Penny – prepare the razors.”
“I advise you to sit very still,” Penny said as she handed Carina a cutthroat razor, “we want to be sure we do a good job of this.”
“You would not dareemmhgddd,” Aumont said as Penny pushed a cloth into his mouth, and then wound duct tape tightly round it.
“Hush,” Carina said as she started to shave his legs, and Penny his chest...
“I know you are,” Jo said as she looked at Judith. “How does some chicken nuggets sound? I think we have some in the freezer.”
“Yes please,” Judith said as she followed Jo into the kitchen, and sat at the table.
As Jo put the oven on, and put some nuggets and fries on a tray, she looked at the little girl and said “are you looking forward to the holiday?”
“Yes – Grammy is getting married to Grappy.”
“I know – and we’re going to be with her on the big day, aren’t we?”
Judith nodded as she said “and wear pretty dresses.”
“That’s right,” Jo said as she put the tray in the oven, and found a sheet of paper with some coloured pencils. “Would you like to draw me a picture of your dress?”
Judith nodded as she started to draw, while Jo looked at the jug of amber liquid...
Philippe looked up as the two women looked at his shaved body.
“This is hot work – a drink?”
“Why not,” Carina said as she and Penny walked to the table, each one taking a bottle of water as Aumont tried not to move.
“Aw, we are ignoring our guest,” Penny said as she picked up a bottle of water, and walked over – pouring the clear vinegar over his freshly shaved flesh as he screamed in agony.
“Now that was not nice,” Carina said as she poured water over him – heavily laced with lemon juice. As he writhed round, Penny put the razor to his throat, and said “I would suggest remaining perfectly still, we have not finished yet.”
Carina knelt in front of him, caressing his cock and feeling how firm it was as she said “it’s amazing, isn’t it – how fear stimulates all the senses?”
“Oh yes,” Penny sighed as she watched Carina move her hand up and down Aumont’s manhood.
“And I always wonder in these cases – was the director of Ai No Corrida right?”
Penny smiled as she said “I must be the one to find out.”
“Of course,” Carina said as they swapped places, the smaller woman holding Aumont’s head as he said “Nnnn – frrthlfggdddnnttt....”
He saw the flash of the razor – and then screamed in agony and ecstasy as Carina amd Penny both screamed in sexual arousal, Penny holding up the still solid organ.
“Oh god – he was right,” Penny said as she stood up, the blood spurting from between Aumont’s legs.
“Well, if you insist,” Carina said as the razor went across his throat, both women watching as he shook, and then his head fell to the side, his eyes lifeless.
“He wasn’t much fun,” Penny said quietly.
“Oh I don’t know,” Carina said quietly, “the water on a shaved body was new. Want some coffee after you change?”
“That’s better,” Penny said as she came down, she and Carina now back in their own clothes. “Susan is coming later with Clint to dispose of the body.”
“What have you got there little one,” Carina said as Judith showed her the picture.
“Is that your dress,” Penny said as she looked over.
“Yes –are we going to see Gramma now?”
“Once Penny and I have had a drink,” Carina said as Jo passed them one.
“Listen – Judith wanted you to give a drink to the man.”
“Oh – where is it Jo?”
As Jo pointed to the jug, Penny sniffed it, and then looked at Carina with a raised eyebrow.
“What gave her the idea to do that?”
“Tell her Judith.”
“It was Aunt Birgitte, Mama.”
As Jo looked at Carina, she saw an unusual sight – Carina’s face with eyes wide open, as she whispered “Goddess....”