8.am, The Richmond Mansion, Fifth Avenue
“I’m late.” Sandy Richmond, came running into the kitchen of her home on New York’s Fifth Avenue, bouncing from foot to foot as she tried to slip her other shoe on while juggling with a portfolio of drawings at the same time.
“Oh Goddess we’re late as well.” Heather Smith the Richmond family nanny noticed as she glanced down at her watch. “George…Little Sandy…”she called out to her charges who were watching cartoons in the den whilst they finished their cereal. “Get your school backpacks please.”
Sandy and Heather exchanged a brief peck on the cheek as they passed each other in haste, pausing just long enough to whisper, “I love you” in each other’s ear.
“Abigail and her Mom are late too.” Heather’s younger sister Joanne glanced at her watch. “She’s normally here by now.” There was a sound of a door opening and running feet. “Okay I spoke a second too early…SANDY!...Diana’s here.” Jo called out to her sister’s employer.
“I can’t stay…I’m late for a meeting.” Diana paused long enough to give Sandy a peck on the cheeks, and to kiss the two little children before she made a dash to leave.
“Oh Goddess why did I accept a commission all the way out in Scarsdale?” Sandy glanced at her notes, and then at her watch, desperately trying to sip a hot cup of coffee and eat a couple of bites from a Danish pastry, before she had to run out to her car.
“Did you eat Abby?” Heather asked as she shepherded her charges back through the kitchen.
“Yes I did.” Abigail shouted at Heather’s back as she went out of the back door.
“We are going to be late too if Carina and her Mom don’t get here soon as well.” Joanne glanced at her watch.
“Only a couple of minutes…Bye Sandy…” she shouted to Sandy’s back as she too rushed out the back door.
“Bye girls…I’m late.” Sandy yelled backwards as she grabbed her car keys and slammed the door behind her.
Almost as though on cue there was a sound of running feet coming from the other direction.
“Sorry I’m late.” Juliette Huntingdown yelled. “Girls you better come now if you want a ride…Carina’s in the car.”
Abby and Jo picked up their backpacks and headed towards the front of the house.
“There you are.” Juliette stood hands on hips. “Come on girls we need to hurry. You would not believe my workload today with the Fashion Week starting.”
“Oh shit…I need to lock up the back door.” Joanne remembered as she ran back into the kitchen.
“Jo we are LATE!” Juliette yelled impatiently. “Fashion week starts today remember…I have shows to go to!”
“I’m coming.” Jo sniffed as she returned.
All three women ran down the stairs on the front side of the Richmond house and jumped into Juliette’s double-parked Lincoln.
“Hi.” Abigail smiled at her best friend Carina Huntingdown. “How are you?”
Carina just smiled weakly and waved a hand.
“Whoops it’s going to be one of THOSE days.” Abigail thought to herself.
Juliette drove with all the skill of a New York hack driver as she tried to make up some time on the way to dropping the girls off at their school, jumping at two traffic lights, and narrowly missing a cyclist.
She screeched to a halt outside St Angela’s Academy on East 87th.
“Okay girls, don’t dawdle, the Nicholas K show is at nine at the pavilion and I can’t be late. HURRY!” She urged as the girls slipped out the car. “Muah” she blew a kiss to her daughter. “Goddess I’m late she screamed as she glanced at her watch again. “Bye girls.” She shouted as the car took off with a screech of tire noise.
“And what’s wrong with you?” Jo asked as she and Abby turned and looked hard at Carina now they were out of the reach of ‘grown up’ ears.
“Spill it Cari.” Abby whispered as various Angels went by saying greetings.
“We’re all running late today, Cari,” Joanne said with a smile, and then she caught the slightly frightened look in her eye.
“Two weeks,” Carina said as Abby looked between her friends. “I swear, I’m usually regular as clockwork…”
“Two weeks late for what,” Abby said as they turned and looked at her. “Oh shit,” she said quietly, and then “OH….”
“No,” Carina said as she looked at Abby, “we never got that far. No – I need to tell you both something, but later – when we’re alone…”
The Richmond mansion
Heather put her keys down and started a fresh pot of coffee, looking through the mail as she stood at the breakfast bar.
“Business… Bills… Business…”
She stopped as she saw a postmark with an official stamp from Yale University, addressed to her. Opening it, she glanced down the contents, and allowed herself a little smile as she realised what it was.
“Might give me a chance to sell Cari on the place,” she said to herself as she put the letter down, and poured herself a coffee.
“Good morning Heather.”
“Oh good morning Vanessa,” Heather said as she looked up. “I’m afraid Alexandra is away on business this morning.”
“Actually,” Vanessa said as she sat down, “it’s you I came to speak to…”
Conde Nast Publishers
“Knock Knock.” Anna Mitchell said the words as she entered Juliette’s office. “Are you free for a few moments?”
“I think so.” Juliette closed her laptop. “I need to be at the show in twenty. What can I do for you?”
“Oh I’m just touching base. Seeing how you are, being…”
“Anna darling,” Juliette interrupted. “In all the years we have worked together I’ve never known you want to be just touchy feely concerned…what do you actually want darling?”
“Well…” Anna paused and took in a deep breath. “It’s young Abigail…or more to the point it’s the Countess.”
“Oh what’s Diana done now?”
“We wanted to do some pre-publicity with Abby, you know the next young supermodel, and blah, blah, and well you know the type of thing. Well we’d squared it with Missy as her agent, then Diana steps in and nixes everything.”
“Well we did all agree that because Abby is only fifteen her schooling came first.”
“Yes but this would have been just one Saturday. A press conference, a couple of TV interviews, honestly Ju you know the routine.”
“Diana is…” Juliette paused as she thought how to phrase it, “ummm shall we say a little over protective of her chick.”
“But she agreed to some pre-publicity…”
Juliette closed her eyes and tried to think how to talk Anna down without telling her that that Saturday the Pussycats were doing a dry run for a big job.
“Juliette you need talk to the Countess,” Mary Thomas the style director for CS entered the office. “We need that Saturday…Abby’s career needs that Saturday.”
Mary walked in and flopped down in a chair, looking at her two old friends.
“I’ve been trying to tell her she must have a word with Diana.”
“Well I’m here to back you up.” Mary stared hard at Juliette. “Ju darling you know doing the press and publicity is a necessity.”
“I know.” Juliette sighed, and closed her eyes, juggling Pussycat and CS business in her mind.
“I’ll try I guess to talk it out with Diana.”
“That’s all we ask.” Anna got up to leave. “Okay Merlin our work here is done”, she smiled at her colleague.
“Okay.” Mary got up and also headed out the door. “Remember Ju, we must have that Saturday,” she said as she closed the office door behind herself.
“Catch you at some of the shows later.” Juliette called to their backs as she got her things straight. “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Juliette whispered the famous words then put her head back and looked at the ceiling. What other wrinkles would Abby’s new career put in her so well laid plans?
The Refectory, St Angela’s
Carina, Abigail and Joanne found a quiet corner of the eatery and sat down, checking to make sure nobody was listening in.
“All right, Cari,” Jo said in a low whisper, “start at the beginning. What makes you think you’re two weeks late.”
“Jo, you could set your clock by my cycle – 30 days solid, and the last period cleared just before Christmas. Do the math.”
“I am,” Abby said, “and I accept it can’t be – well, what happened Christmas Eve. Has there been anyone since?”
Cari sat back and closed her eyes, before saying “Yeah – one other.”
“When,” Jo said as she leaned forward.
“Christmas Eve, after I left the party. I – I just picked someone up on the street, we went back to his place and I fucked him.”
Abby and Jo, looked at each other, before Abby said, “When you say you picked someone up, who do you mean?”
Cari looked at both of them, the answer plain in her eyes. “Oh shit,” Jo whispered, “and you’re two weeks late?” She looked at Cari as she nodded, before saying “Maybe your body’s just a little out of rhythm – we can skip periods at our age, you know.”
“That’s what I’m hoping,” Cari said quietly, “but what if I’m wrong?”
“Have you told Aunt Ju yet?”
Cari shook her head as Abby put her arm round her friend’s shoulders. “I think you need to talk to her, let her know what’s happening. After all, she’s the one who brought you up, made you the incredibly cute and intelligent brainbox you are. She’ll understand.”
“I guess so – but…”
“No buts, kiddo,” Joanne said quietly. “Talk to your mother, and get her on your side. We’re with you no matter what, you know that, right?”
“Yeah – thanks,” Carina said as she sipped on her drink, “and I can trust to you to keep it quiet, right?”
“Of course you can,” Abby said as the three of them hugged.
“Good – let’s talk about something else,” Joanne said as she picked up her sandwich, not noticing Judy McNally as she got up and walked off, thinking over what she had heard…
The Richmond mansion
“Hey,” Sandy said as she came into the front room, and put her bag down on the desk. She sat down and looked at Heather, who was fretting away at a piece of sewing.
“Not going to ask me how the commission went?”
“Hmm – oh I’m sorry,” Heather said as she put the cloth and needle down, “how was the trip to Scarsdale?”
“Long, boring, but ultimately rewarding, it’s going to be a very healthy six figure check after I’ve finished,” Sandy said as she looked at Heather, her head to one side.
“All right, lover, spill it- what’s bothering you?”
“That obvious, is it,” Heather said as she smiled weakly at Sandy.
“Only to the trained eye,” Sandy said. “Just start at the beginning…”
“Well…” Heather put her hands together on her lap, and said, “Just remember, I’m the messenger here.”
“Oh let me take a wild educated guess,” Sandy said as she leaned back, “Mother?”
“However did you guess? Vanessa called to see me today – she asked if I knew who the mystery man in your life was that was making you so happy.”
“And you said?”
“I said I never enquire into your private life, unless it affects the kids,” Heather replied, “but that’s not the only thing she wanted to talk about. She asked me to talk to you about Allison.”
Heather could see the dark cloud pass over Sandy’s face, as she said “What exactly did she want you to talk to me about concerning that whore?”
Heather took a deep breath, not looking forward one iota to what she had been told to say. “To quote your mother, it would be wonderful if you and the children could see your way to spending the weekend over Easter with George and Allison, so they can meet their new brother or sister.”
Sandy had been listening with her eyes closed, but she opened one at that news. “New brother or sister?”
Heather nodded. “It seems the two traumas she has had have worried the doctors enough to say she needs to have a planned Caesarean – the second week in April. I said I would pass the message on, and talk to you about it – and so I have done.”
She noticed the smile on Sandy’s face, as she said, “I’ll think about it, unless I think of something else beforehand. Now come and give me a kiss – the kids will be home soon.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Mom are you busy?”
“Never too busy for you darling,” Juliette said as she put down her book, and took off her reading glasses.
“I sorta got something to tell you.” Carina said as she sat down on the end of the sofa.
“Must be something serious?” Juliette looked in her daughter’s worried eyes.
“Mom how long after…you know the sex thing…ummm…did you know you were going to have a baby?”
“Why do you ask?” Juliette paused, realizing where the conversation was going as she looked at her daughter. “Are you late?”
“Yeah.” Carina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I’m two weeks overdue, and you know you can usually set your calendar by me.”
“Oh my Goddess…how…when...are you sure you’re pregnant?”
“Nope. The girls thought I should talk to you first.”
“You’ve talked to Abby and Jo about this?”
“Yeah at school today.”
“Have you bought a pregnancy test?”
“No not yet, I was going to give it a few more days and then I was sorta hoping that…” Carina paused in mid sentence.
“That you’d come with me to get it.”
“Oh darling.” Juliette threw her arms round her daughter. “Of course I will.”
For a few moments neither woman moved or said anything, sharing the moment of mother/daughter bonding.
“So who? When...Oh my Goddess NOT Guy?”
“No we never got that intimate…it was…” Carina paused, and the haunted look in her eyes told Juliette all she needed to know.
“Oh the fuck no, not that guy…not the stranger you?”
Carina nodded her head.
“Oh darling why didn’t you get him to use protection.”
“Mother it’s a bit hard when you have a guy tied to the bed and you’re torturing him to say, ‘Oh would you mind putting a condom on’.” Carina giggled at the thought.
For a second Juliette smiled then suddenly a picture of Carina’s own conception came rolling like a thunderclap into her brain. She gripped the seat cushion tightly as Carina said, “Mother, what’s wrong?”
Los Angeles 18 years before.
“Keep fucking quiet bitch.” The masked assailant hissed as he held the knife to Juliette’s throat and licked her bare chest. His fingers fumbled as he tried to prize open her pussy, slipping on her damp skin, until he roughly stuck two fingers deep into her, withdrawing them then ramming them back in hard again.
“Nnnnnodonnnnn” Juliette screamed into the cloth of her bikini stuffed into her mouth and taped into place to gag her. She thrashed round on the bed, the ropes dragging against her bare skin, but they held firm, holding her arms and legs spread-eagled. Each fucking motion from his fingers was hurting, he’d already taken her in the ass, and that pain had been excruciating. The mental strain and worry from the fact that he’d soon be sticking that horrid thing between his legs deep in her vagina was far worse.
“Cccccoooonnnm” she screamed trying to get the rapist to at least put a rubber on. “Oh my fucking goddess what if he has aids? What if he gets me fucking pregnant? Shit – what if he kills me?” She watched as he pulled his pants down, looking at his throbbing member, and felt sure she was not going to survive this.
“Nnnnnnnnooo” she screamed as without warning he mounted her, tearing her up with the force and savagery of his assault. She felt the rough organ pushing against her passage, tearing her as he thrust in again and again. She threw her head from side to side, the sensations deep in her cunt, producing sobs of pain and shame.
“Mmmm you’re good bitch….” He growled as she felt him let go inside her, and she screamed at the violation, praying it would end there…
Eventually she felt him come out, and looked up, panting as he tied a rope around her waist and pulled it up, her screams as the rough cord sank into her damp lips and brunt her with the friction.
“You’re one hell of a fuck, bitch,” he said as he pulled his pants up, and took two small objects from his jacket pocket. Juliette saw him approaching, but was unable to stop him as he pushed the butt plug under the rope and between her red raw cheeks, and then the vibe into her bleeding passage. She squirmed round, the sensations making her feel even worse, as the man walked out without saying another word…
Juliette shook her head and looked at her daughter. “I’m sorry Darling - I was just reminded of something,” she said quietly, and then she took Carina’s hands “I’ve never told you about your father, Carina – and you’ve never asked about him.”
“No – I always had the feeling that was a no-go area, and I never wanted to upset you. Why?”
“Well…” Juliette’s train of thought was interrupted as Diana and Abigail came in, Abby taking Cari by the arm and saying “I think we need to talk” as Diana sat down.
“How was your meeting today?”
“Boring, but necessary,” Diana said as she looked over at Juliette. “How was life at the publishing coal face?”
“I’m glad you asked,” Juliette said as she sat back. “But I need to talk to you first.”
“Oh?” Diana raised an eyebrow, and said, “Why do I get the feeling this is one of our conversations I am not going to like?”
“I’m not exactly happy to be raising the subject either,” Juliette said quietly, “but Anna and Mary came to see me today about Saturday.”
“Ah – yes,” Diana said, “I did say Abigail would not be available on Saturday for these silly interviews. This is where you tell me they insist, oui?”
“Oui,” Juliette said, “and I’ve been trying to think of a way to accommodate both them and the dry run on Saturday. So far, I’m coming up with nada.”
“But Juliette, Cherie - we have lived by one simple rule, your simple rule, since we started this. The Pussycats come first, last, and everywhere in-between. Won’t this set a bad example if we adjust our plans to accommodate a publicity drive by your magazine?”
“I can’t see an alternative Diana, the girls at work are squeezing me hard, and I have to admit they have a point. We did all agree Abby would do some pre launch publicity.”
“But the run through?”
“We put it back a day.”
“But the Sunday traffic is much lighter.”
“True, so we’ll just have to use our brains to spot any likely bottlenecks.”
Diana shook her head; “I wish I’d never let you all talk me into allowing her to model.”
“Darling it will be fine, and I have to admit she’s good, really good…I just never saw the potential…too close to her I guess.” Juliette shrugged her shoulders.
“But what about the job?”
“If worse comes to worse we can always call it off…it’s not like any of us are hurting for money…right?”
Diana shook her head again. “No, but it’s the principle…I guess I thought nothing would change, I was forgetting life is always changing.”
“Darling we just need to accommodate your daughter’s career…. just see what happens.” Juliette quaked inwardly, what might Diana say if they had to ‘accommodate’ a pregnant Carina?
“Have you told the others yet you are changing the plan?”
“No…I thought I’d ask you first, but I’ll see everyone tomorrow night and we can talk it out then…Okay?”
“Very well,” Diana said with a sigh, “although there is always the possibility of delaying a few hours, rather than a day. The Bronx overpass is as busy on a Saturday evening as a Saturday morning, no?”
Juliette nodded as she closed her eyes. “Let’s postpone any discussion of this until tomorrow – I need to ask your advice on something else…”
8 pm, the de Ros Mansion
“I’m not sure,” Sandy said as she nursed her coffee, “Both have problems. Saturday afternoon has a different type of traffic, and Sunday would be too quiet?”
“There is one possibility,” Heather said. “I could drive the route Saturday morning, use that new dash mounted camera to film it, and we could examine the film on the Saturday night. Then the rest of you could drive it as well on the Sunday to check timings.”
Juliette nodded, her eyes closed. “You’ll take into account the route from the house?”
“Naturally – I’ll check both routes to the rendezvous, and to the location.”
“All right – if we do that, take Joanne with you to take notes and be a second pair of eyes. The rest of us drive it that afternoon, and then we compare notes tomorrow night. Are we in agreement?”
She looked round the table as everyone nodded. “All right – we need to be sure we can pull this off with as portable a set of equipment as we can use – and we’ll need to employ the heavy weaponry again I suspect. I’ve put an order in to Tommy, but he’s asked for extra time, so we’re meeting on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.”
“Acceptable,” Diana said, “the route of the truck?”
“We know the route the truck takes every month – and the next trip is next Saturday. We need to select the right spot to divert and empty it before it gets on the George Washington – that has to be the job of both you tomorrow.”
“Quiet, easily closed off, got it. What about transport?”
“We’ll take care of that next week. Now, let’s discuss the parts we need to play on the Friday night…”
Complete Style, Conde Nast, 4.15 pm
“Abby I know it’s been a long day, but just one more TV interview and I swear you’re done.” Mary Thomas shepherded her young charge into the room where the crew from Fashion Television Network were setting up to film the interview.
“Hey Auntie Jeanne!” Abby called out in surprised delight as she recognized the interviewer and rushed to embrace her.
“Hey Abby,” Jeanne Beckmann kissed the young model on both cheeks. “How are you sweetie?”
“All the better for at last seeing a friendly face.” Jeanne Beckmann was a friend of Juliette’s, and a former model who had moved from the fashion world to the equally cutthroat world of television. She was as tall as Abby, with white blonde hair, and wore a smart pale blue pant suit over a dark blue blouse.
“Mary and the others have run you ragged eh?”
Abigail rolled her eyes, “nobody said modelling involved all this to me. I thought it would be fun and glamour, not the same questions every time…”
“It gets better darling, I can only tell you that…it gets better.”
“Hey Diana, hey Juliette.” Ms Beckmann called out greetings to her two old friends as they slipped in to the back of the room.
Abby sat down carefully in one of the chairs, as a technician wired her up for sound.
“Can we?” Mary signalled to a makeup girl who rushed to repair the slight damage to Abigail’s face.
“Now Abby…” Jeanne paused to take a breath. “Forget that I’ve known you virtually from the day you were born. We meet as strangers for the interview…do you get that sweetie?”
“And I’m probably going to ask questions that sound tough and strange coming from me…just remember for this interview I’m not your aunt, I’m just another one of those pesky reporters who’ve been pestering you all day trying to get a story…Right? Do you understand darling?”
“Yes” Abigail nodded and fidgeted in her chair.
“Okay Brian are we ready to go?” Jeanne stared into the lights at her cameraman.
“Okay on five,” the cameraman signalled back. “…Five…four…three…two…one…go Jeanne.”
Jeanne stared directly at the camera and smiled. “Hi and welcome to New York, I’m in the offices of Complete Style magazine to interview the stunning young model who will grace March’s cover of CS…Abigail de Ros.”
The interviewer swung her chair so she was looking directly at Abby.
“Hi and welcome to FTV Abigail.”
“Thank you for having me on.” Abby parroted the stock line Juliette had taught her to use.
“Now Abigail I understand you’re just 15 years old…isn’t that a bit young to be starting a modelling career?”
“Umm not really,” Abigail had to think of her answer. “I’m only doing this part-time - my schooling comes first, so it’s really not a proper job yet.”
“So how did you get noticed?”
“Well Mary Thomas here at CS is the lady largely responsible, she’s the one been championing me.”
“Now your mother is the well known New York socialite the Countess de Ros, and your grandfather is the Duc de Grechy…did it help you getting into modelling coming from such a blue-blooded background?”
“Not really…” Abby again paused to get her answer right, “Well, yes, it maybe helped that perhaps I grew up round some people in the fashion industry, Juliette Huntingdown is for example my mother’s best friend. But I think I can honestly say it was purely due to Mary detecting something in me that I was given a chance.”
“Not exactly a Cinderella story, hardly rags to riches…”
“You’ve got the wrong fairy tale Jeanne.” Abigail laughed a little note, “my story is more the ugly duckling.”
“Yes until very, very recently my mother wouldn’t even let me wear the tiniest bit of makeup, and my hair…well?” she ran her through her locks, “it never looked this good.”
“Oh and how would you say people looked at you?”
“Well the other girls at school called me ‘The Stick’ because I was so tall and thin.”
“Yeah I was sort of the butt of all the jokes, the other kids thought I was sort of a freak…but well Mary persisted in saying she saw potential in me, and eventually, and at the last minute, she asked me to do this shoot.”
“With Antonio Bell…how was it working with him?”
“Amazing…he was so brilliant…so fantastic…”
“And from that shoot they’ve put you on the cover of the March edition of CS?”
“Yes “Abigail smiled at the camera. In the monitor, she could see the screen split, the cover with her posing on the Wall Street Bull coming into view.
“The first of many I’m sure.” Jeanne turned to face the camera,
“Now it’s New York Fashion Week, have you been asked to walk any shows?
“A few, but because of the child labour laws I can only do a handful, and as I said school comes first anyway.”
“Are you looking forward to walking the catwalk?”
“Oh Goddess am I,” Abby blushed at her own gaucheness.
“I’m Jeanne Beckmann and this is FTV in New York for Fashion Week, with I think we can say a very happy young model.”
“Pheww.” Abby relaxed as the technician took the microphone of her. “Auntie Jeanne what was all that about blue blooded?”
“Darling, people look at your surname and they wonder did you get this big break through talent or family influence?”
“It was a fair question Abigail,” her mother kissed Jeanne on both cheeks.
“Jeanne – you haven’t lost your touch I see.”
“Always give the audience what they want,” she said as Mary rushed off Abigail, and Juliette came over. “The Stick?”
“Regretfully true – as is the comment about the makeup. I sometimes forget she is turning into a beautiful young woman.”
“That she is – just tell Mary never to mention that nickname again.”
“Yes, that did worry me,” Juliette said, “unless we do a Twiggy on her.”
“Make fun of it – I’ll talk to Mary and you later about it. Forgive us Jeanne, we have to dash to a family engagement – I’ll see you on Wednesday?”
“I look forward to it, and to seeing Abby do her stuff” Jeanne said as the two women went in the same direction as Abby.
The Huntingdown apartment
“I am beat,” Abby said as she lay back on the couch, Cari and Jo sitting beside her. “I knew it would be hard work, but even so…” She pulled off her boots and started massaging her toes.
“Models are usually tired and their feet ALWAYS hurt,” Juliette laughed. She had spent the last 40 minutes working with Abby on her runway walk, refreshing the lessons she’d been giving her for weeks.
“Well, you relax for a little while,” Jo said as Heather plugged the USB cable into the television set, “Let’s have a look at what we filmed today.”
She started the player off, showing first an apartment block in the West side. Out of the front door stepped a tall, young looking man with short brown hair, wearing a leather jacket over his t-shirt and jeans. Behind him came a woman, slightly smaller, wearing a black vest top under a denim jacket, black leggings, and grey socks peeking over her long black boots.
“Geoff Thomson, one of the assigned drivers for the truck,” Juliette said as she consulted her notes, “and that is his wife, Sarah. Married for two years, trying for a family. They will be your target on Friday.” She looked over at Diana, Heather and Joanne, who nodded as they studied the couple.
The film then drove through the downtown streets, and north to Queens, where they stopped in a residential street.
“67th Avenue and 174th Street,” Heather said as theory looked at a detached house. “The home of Jack Clark, the other driver.”
“Married with two teenage daughters, twenty years with the firm, coming up to retirement – he’s our key to keeping George in line.”
“Well, him, the wives and the kids,” Carina said with a smile, “Any pictures?”
“This is his wife Philippa,” Juliette said as she passed Abigail a photo of a woman in her mid forties, wearing a purple top under a brown cardigan, a brown skirt with white spots and brown short boots.
“A large woman,” Abigail said as she handed back the photo. “The daughters?”
“Kim and Gail,” Juliette as she laid down two more photos. One was a nineteen year old, wearing a white top under a sleeveless mustard coloured tunic, blue jeans and brown knee length laced boots. Her brown hair was up in a rough bun. The other daughter was eighteen, and wearing a light blue blouse under a brown Fair isle sweater, jeans and black boots that came over the knee.
“Nice girls,” Carina said as she looked at them, “Look forward to making friends with them.”
“What about the third man – the one in the armoured car,” Sandy said.
“That’s the unknown – and the reason one of these two girls will be coming with us on the Saturday. I’m fairly sure he has been told to shoot first and ask questions later – so we have some cannon fodder.”
“Right,” Heather said as she advanced the film, “there’s the truck setting off from the last bank it collects the used notes from, at 10.30 this morning. From there, it makes its way to the George Washington – let’s follow it.”
The gang watched as the car made it’s way through the streets of the financial district, and along West Street before it went on the Lincoln Highway.
“Any scheduled roadwork’s for next week,” Diana said as she looked at Juliette.
“None I know of – but I will double check. Our first possible diversion point is here.”
Heather stopped the film as the truck approached the Hudson River Park.
“There’s a side street – Weehawken street, between West 10th and Christopher. We could block the truck in there, if we were quick enough.”
Starting the film again, they followed the truck up the road.
“Another possibility – between Bethune and W 12th… Then we need to take it down the river highway instead of Broadway.”
“Understood – drop-dead point before it goes over?”
“Force them to go down Henry Hudson and into a side street.”
Juliette nodded and said “Good work – let me check possibilities and decide. Now, let us discuss other matters – I think we need to wear pantsuits this time. We need the movement and freedom that will bring.”
She showed them a picture of a possible outfit.
“Nice,” Abby said, as she looked at it, “with gloves and scarves of course.”
“Of course, we need to be seen to be properly attired,” Juliette said with a smile. “Right – enough. We need to celebrate the new star in our midst. She has one heck of a week ahead of her.”
“Don’t I know it,” Abby said with a groan, “I wish I was going with you tomorrow.”
“No you don’t – being at the tent in Damrosch Park is what you want to do.” Cari picked up a cushion and threw it at Abby, who dodged out of the way.
10 am, New Haven – Yale University
It felt good to be back in New Haven. Heather rather missed it. Coming up from New York with Carina and Jo she’d felt both proud that she was a graduate of such an illustrious school, and happy to be bringing Carina for a visit to the campus.
She’d been talking Yale up to Carina for months as probably the best place for Carina to go to college. She knew Carina was interested in the challenge Yale, as an elite educational institution, placed in front of those students it admitted.
When she saw Harkness Tower soaring above the skyline of the old campus it seemed almost like she’d returned home. Yale indeed had been what she considered her first real home. Her joy when she had been accepted and she knew she would be escaping the clutches of her sexually abusive father had been total and absolute. Yale would always be special to Heather for reasons that even the most sentimental alumnus or alumna would never comprehend.
“Well what do you think girls?” Heather asked as she parked the car and they started to walk across the campus.
“Wow it’s a big place.” Jo stood looking round.
“It stretches a fair way.” Heather acknowledged.
“It’s beautiful.” Carina said almost reverently.
“That it is.”
“Well I know MY grades will never be quite good enough to get in here.” Joanne said quietly. “Though I have to say thanks to you girls ‘adopting’ me, my grades are a hell of a lot better than Megan’s ever were.”
“Stop putting yourself down little sister.” Heather hugged her adopted sibling, “keep working hard, who knows where you might end up?”
“I was reading the requirements for history majors.” Carina went on. “Some of the courses and electives sound amazing, but some sound so hard…are you sure I’d do well here Heather?”
“Cari you are amazingly smart, of course you’d thrive here, you’ll thrive at whichever school you decide to honour with your presence. “
The girls walked on in silence taking in the sights and sounds of the campus.
“This is Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus,” Heather indicated as they stood in front of a brick building which had mellowed with age to a dark pink colour. “It dates from 1752.”
“Who’s the guy up on the plinth?” Jo asked.
“That’s Nathan Hale, he was a Yale graduate who was executed by the British after he was caught spying for George Washington.” Carina answered.
“You’ve been doing your homework.” Heather’s pride in Carina was obvious.
“Yeah I’ve been looking at the Yale website for weeks trying to learn about this place.”
“Is it what you imagined?”
“It’s amazing…Heather I’m pretty sure Yale’s going to be my first choice if they’ll have me.”
Heather and Jo put their arms around Carina, hugging to celebrate her announcement.
“Come on I want to show you my old college Branford, I had four very happy years in residence there.” Heather brushed a little happy tear aside.
The Richmond mansion
“Hey there you two,” George said as he hugged his two children, Allison looking on, “where’s your Mom?”
“She’s in the kitchen baking muffins,” little Sandy said, “I helped to stir the cake mix!”
“Your Mom’s baking,” George said as he looked to the kitchen, “This I have got to see.”
As they walked into the kitchen, George holding their hands, he did indeed see Sandy with an apron on, pouring mix into a series of muffin cakes.
“Hey,” she said with a smile, “Let me put these in and I’ll put the coffee on. How are you Allison?”
“Tired, if truth be told,” Allison said as she put her hand on her back. “I never knew it could take so much out of you.”
“Fucking my ex has consequences, bitch,” Sandy thought to herself, but she them smiled and said “Well, let’s go into the front room when the coffee is made. Mother says you have a favour to ask of me?”
“Yeah,” George said as he rubbed his head, “did she tell you what the doctor said?”
“Something about what’s happened over the last few months affecting you, and them saying you need to have the C,” Sandy said as she poured coffee into three mugs.
Handing them out, she ushered them through to the front room and sat down.
“So what is this about letting the children meet the new baby?”
“Well,” Allison said, “we’re going to rent a house up in Maine for the Easter weekend, and we would love it if the four of you joined us for that weekend.”
“The four of us? You mean Heather as well?”
“Well, yes, it would be good if she met the baby as well, in case she ever needs to watch him – or her – for us.”
Sandy nodded before she said, “Tell me more…”
Branford College, Yale
“Wow,” Carina said as she ran her hand along the back of the long sofa, looking at the oak panelled common room, “I cannot believe this place.”
“Like I said, the first place I really considered home,” Heather said as she sat down. “My goodness, it feels as if I have never been away.”
Joanne looked at the names on the wall plaques, not recognising any until she saw…
“Wow – you were a Freshman Counsellor Heather?”
“For my sins, in my final year, yes I was,” Heather said as she closed her eyes, only to open them when she heard a voice she had not heard for a couple of years say “Heather? Heather Smith?”
Opening her eyes, Heather looked at the small, brown haired woman standing there, before she stood up and said “Alex? Alex Curran?”
“The very same,” she said as they embraced, Cari and Jo looking on. “My goodness, girl, what are you doing back here?”
“Showing a friend’s daughter round,” Heather said as she held the new arrivals arms. “Oh I’m sorry, Carina, this is Alexandra Curran – we studied Art history together. Alex, this is Carina Huntingdown – she’s giving very serious thought to Yale next year.”
“Very nice to meet you,” Alex said as she shook Cari’s hand. “Oh – and this is my younger sister, Joanne,” Heather then said.
“Pleasure,” Alex said. “So where are you working now – the Met? The Guggenheim?”
“The kid’s bedroom – I had a career change and became a nanny instead. You?”
“I’m the Operations Manager for Branford,” Alex said as she tapped her name badge. “So does the idea of Branford appeal to you Carina?”
“It very well might,” Carina said with a nod as she looked round.
“Carina’s a potential history major.” Heather stated.
“Well this place fills up with damned scientists, be nice to have a ‘sane’ historian in the college. “
Heather and Jo glanced at each other after Alex’s description of Carina as ‘sane’.
Alex gestured, “Here let me give you the VIP tour – starting with Heather’s old room,” she said as she took Cari’s arm, Jo and Heather following behind.
The Richmond Mansion
“Look,” Sandy said as she sat back, “I cannot speak for Heather, but I have no objections to the kids going, and I will come unless something stops me. Right now I really cannot say more than that.”
“That’s all I ask,” George said as he and Allison stood up, “Thank you.”
“Come to dinner on Tuesday – we can discuss it with Heather then.”
George hugged and kissed Sandy as she showed them out, then shouted into the den “I know you were listening – you don’t mind do you?”
“No Mom,” little George shouted back, “but we want Heather to come as well. She’s much nicer than Allison.”
“How true,” Sandy said honestly as she went to collect the coffee cups, “How true…”
Lincoln Center, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Abigail tried to pause for breath as she rushed into hair and makeup for the second show of the day she was walking. She still felt very much like a fish out of water, though she knew that Missy and Mary, etc., were nearby if she needed them. It just amazed her how many of the other girls already knew who she was. She’d only done the three photo shoots, and yesterdays press launch, that was her entire modelling career to date, but she was feeling like she was getting the star treatment.
“Over here Abigail”, one of the hairdressers motioned for her to sit down facing a mirror. “So the look for this show is minimalist, just your own hair pulled back into a ponytail.” She pulled Abby’s hair up and started combing it out. “By the way I’m Esther, and she’s Karen”, she gestured towards one of the makeup artists, “she’ll do your face.”
Abigail looked in the mirror as Esther fixed her hair, and then relaxed as Karen started to work her magic.
As she relaxed Abby started to take in some of what was going on round her. It could only be described as organised chaos, as models, dressers, assistants, everyone worked feverishly to be ready on time.
Abby tried taking it all in, the sights, the smells, the sounds…it just seemed amazing she was part of it all. She truly hoped she’d never get blasé about this wonderful industry.
She sat patiently as her face has heavily made up. Long, long eyelashes, dripping mascara, dark smoky eye shadow, full very red lips. Karen glanced at the instructions for makeup artists, applied another coat of lip-gloss, stood back and said ”Okay you’ll pass inspection.”
An assistant led her to the rack of things she would be wearing, and Abby started to strip, in a room like this, there was little room for modesty, and she stripped naked. A dresser tried easing her into a corseted red leather mini-dress. For five minutes the two of them struggled to get it to fit right.
“Damn this” the dresser looked at the notes on the rack. “Here’s the problem sweetie, it say’s you’re an A cup, you might have been once but you’re a B now.”
Abigail squirmed and tried to evaluate her own breasts, she’d thought maybe they were growing at last, but in all the excitement, she’d never thought to ask anyone.
“Okay two minutes darling,” an assistant with a clipboard, grabbed her…”Get the rest on sweetie.”
Abigail quickly put the earrings in and the bracelets on. She shrugged herself into the red fun fur, and the huge red stilettos that completed the outfit.
“Hurry!” the assistant with the clipboard hurried her towards the side of the stage.
“Okay five, four, three, two, one…Go Abigail.” The stage manager counted her down.
On cue Abigail felt blinded by the lights as she started to wiggle her way down the catwalk.
The Refectory, St Angela’s, 1 pm
As Abby picked up her tray and turned to find the others, she couldn’t help noticing the eyes of all the girls turning to her. Other girls had been looking oddly at her all morning. She blushed slightly as she walked to the table Joanne and Carina were sitting at, hearing the hushed whispers behind her.
“Hey,” she said as she sat down, “what’s up with everyone? Don’t tell me The Stick is making a re-appearance.”
“Not after what you said on Saturday it isn’t,” Bobbi Morse said as she sat down with them. “You’re the Star Angel of the moment, Abby.”
“I am? How did that happen?”
“Ummm let’s see you’re walking several shows in New York Fashion Week, you were featured being interviewed on FTN, and you are on the cover of the new CS…that enough?”
“I haven’t seen the magazine yet…” Abby started to say.
Bobbi shook her head in amazement, but said nothing; she just dug out a copy of the new Complete Style magazine and laid it on the table. Carina and Joanne looked at the photo of Abby’s head and shoulders, draped over the bull.
Abby looked, then picked it up and looked closer. Then she blushed slightly. Oh my! – That is a good picture,” she finally said. “Who else has this?”
“Every girl in the school – and the rumour is every staff member as well. Face it, Abby – you’re famous now.”
“Let me take an educated guess here,” Joanne, said as she looked at her friend, “Diana drove you straight to the school, right to the gate, and she had the window up?”
“How did you know,” Abby said quietly.
“Because, my dear Abby,” Cari said with a laugh, “if you had walked, you would have seen the billboard across the road from the school entrance.”
Abby looked at them, and then ran to the entrance, where Judy McNally and Buffy McMaster were standing, looking out of the gates. Looking up, she saw the billboard on the roof, showing the shot of her across a couch and the tagline “Complete Style – finds the next great model” underneath.
“Oh my Goddess,” Abby whispered under her breath as Judy and Buffy turned to look at her.
“Let’s see those Nuns try anything with you now,” Judy said as they took her by the arms, and walked her back into the school…
As they walked in, Abby heard her phone ping, and she looked at the messages.
“You are fantastique – Mom”
“Well done kid – Missy.”
“Told you you’d be a sensation – Mary.”
“You are beautiful – T H.”
“Gorgeous – Aunt Ju”
Abby blushed even more, unsure of what was going on any more. The sound from her cell phone broke her thoughts, as she looked at it.
“Another appointment?” Cari said as she came back in.
“No – two shows one after the other tomorrow. Sandy sent a message that John would pick me up at school to take me there.”
Abigail blushed bright red when two freshmen shyly came up to her with the magazines and pens asking for her autograph.
6.30 pm, Broadway
“Enjoying the view?”
John turned to see Mary standing beside him, as the models walked down the great way, Abigail dressed in a fur jacket, tight blue jeans and over the knee black suede boots. Her hair was up in a bun, and she looked as if she was having the time of her life.
“Don’t pretend you’re not enjoying this as well, Mary,” John said with a smile as the photographers took their pictures, and Abby came back. “She’s your discovery…you’ve done it again, spotted another star no one else could see.”
“Well she has been right under my nose,” Mary said, but she had to admit – she was proud of the young woman as she waked over,
“Brilliant,” Mary said as she took the jacket from Abby, “now go and change, and grab your stuff. John will take you to the next show, and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Give me five, John,” Abby said as she walked into a tent.
“No rush, Miss Abigail, I will get you there on time,” John said as Mary hurried in the same direction. Ten minutes later, Abby ran out in her school uniform, a reminder that he’d picked her up earlier outside the school, and jumped into the car, John walking round after closing the door and getting behind the wheel.
He wove his way down the back streets, arriving at the model’s entrance to the parade tent at Central Park with minutes to spare.
“There you go, Miss Abigail,” he said as he opened the door, a runner coming out to greet them.
“This, way, Ms de Ros,” he said as Abby waved to John, and was literally run off her feet to the next show. John smiled as he checked his phone. “Right,” he said, “no rest for the righteous…”
The Huntingdown apartment
Something wasn’t quite right and Carina couldn’t put her finger on it - all day her Mother had been nervous, fidgety, uptight, very much not herself. When she had returned from school, instead of asking how her day was her mother had just sat, looking at some papers. At dinner she’d been terse to the point of being monosyllabic. She didn’t even comment on the fact Carina was wearing a stained t-shirt and joggers. After dinner Carina had decided she probably wanted to be alone and had retreated to her own bedroom to do homework.
From downstairs she heard the ring of the doorbell. “Eight o’clock” Carina spoke aloud, “awfully late for visitors.” She tried to return to her algebra, but something told her she was not going to get very much more done.
For a couple of minutes she heard her mother in hushed conversation with the visitor in the hallway.
Then, “Carina can you come down here for a few minutes.” Juliette shouted out a summons.
Slowly Carina got up and meandered to the stairs, she didn’t rush; this had all the feel of one of those conversations you didn’t want to be in a hurry to have.
“In here darling.” Juliette called from the drawing room.
“What’s up Mom...Oh hi Aunt Diana.” Carina reacted as she saw who her mother’s visitor was.
Diana stood and let Cari kiss her on both cheeks before settling down on the couch besides Juliette. She was dressed casually – which for Diana meant a pair of designer jeans and short boots, with a roll necked sweater. Sometimes Carina wondered if she knew what casual clothes really were.
“Darling please sit.” Juliette looked both scared and frightened as she gestured for her daughter to sit in the armchair. She sat, wringing her hands as she watched Carina.
“Okay what did I do wrong now…besides the obvious?” Carina tried to lighten the moment.
“Chere Carina, your mother has something very difficult to tell you…something she only told me when you were in intensive care after the shooting.” Both Diana and Juliette winced at the memory. “She’s asked me to come over tonight to give her support, and just maybe to help comfort both of you.”
Carina sat forward on the edge of her chair, this obviously was something very, very, serious.
“Darling…ummm…a few days ago I started to try and tell you something about your father.”
“Well…” Juliette paused to wipe a little tear. “I think the time has come you know what happened, and how… how you were conceived.” Juliette’s voice cracked with emotion.
“Courage mon ami.” Diana hugged her best friend.
“Carina…oh sweetheart I wish I didn’t feel I needed to tell you this…I can’t tell you who your father was…” Carina could see how pale her mother was, as she sobbed again and wiped a tear away, before looking at her daughter with red eyes. “I can’t tell you because… because he raped me and the police never caught him.”
“Oh my Goddess!” Carina looked at her mother in shock. She had speculated in her own mind for most of her life as to her father was, and what he had done to be totally cut out of her life - but this, the truth, was one scenario she’d never even thought of.
“Come.” Diana signalled for Carina to come sit on the sofa as well. She moved aside as she sat between her mother and aunt, as Juliette took her hands.
“Oh Mom…” Carina felt her own tears start to flow. “You kept that secret all these years, even from Aunt Diana.”
Juliette nodded, the tears coming more freely now, both of regret and of relief.
Diana spoke quietly. “I think your Mother couldn’t and didn’t want to admit there had been a moment in her life when she wasn’t in control.” Carina watched her mother slowly nod, as she reached up and stroked her hair.
“Did the psycho bastard hurt you Mother? A lot?” Carina knew inwardly that given her own demonic personality that was a weird question, but at that moment she was resolved inwardly to find and kill the bastard who had done unspeakable things to her mother.
“The details aren’t important…and maybe best you don’t know.” Diana looked for Juliette’s approval of that.
Juliette nodded an answer. “Carina…my beautiful, wonderful, darling daughter,” she said as more sobs escaped from her, “I just thought it was time you knew… ummm…” more tears flowed. “With all that’s been going on… ummm… knowing this might help us, you and me, sort out of some of the issues you’re facing.”
Carina flung her arms round her mother. “It’s all right Mom,” she said between sobs of her own, “I’m just sorry I brought such horrible memories back to you. Forgive me, please forgive me…”
Diana watched as mother and daughter embraced, saying nothing. She knew there was a time when nothing needed to be said, and a time when things had to be said – and this was one of the former rather than the latter.
Eventually, Juliette looked at Cari and said “It’s up to you whether or not you tell the others, or when, but know this – whatever happened that night, however I was treated, a miracle came from that time, and I love her very much.”
“And I love you so much,” Carina said as they embraced again, Diana standing and heading for the kitchen. There was another time she knew – a time when coffee was the best thing you could provide.
The de Ros Mansion
“Are we evil Jo?” Abby asked.
Jo was sleeping over at the de Ros house because of all the activity back at Fifth Avenue. Heather had thought it was better that she was safely out of the way while they discussed “Richmond Family Matters” as she put it, so she was in the spare bed in Abby’s room, wearing a pair of pale blue cotton pyjamas while Abby wore a long t-shirt. They’d been talking about clothes and modelling, but out of the blue Abby had thrown this question in.
“Yes…we both know that despite us trying to keep things separate we are both Pussycats…”
“We are that.” Joanne interrupted.
“Do you ever dream about them?”
“The people you’ve killed.” Abby whispered the words.
“Nope.” Jo sat up in bed. “If I did then I’d quit, I think we’d probably all do that.”
“When I close my eyes sometimes I see the splatter of blood.”
Jo looked over and said “Goddess Abs where did all this come from?”
“I was thinking back to what Tommy the Fish said…you know, that we were ‘good’ girls.”
“Well if you say good girls don’t screw around, and they preserve their virginity then I guess we are.”
“But we rob and we kill, he knew that we both did that…” Abby paused. “I just get a bit confused sometimes. I’m not psychotic like Carina, does that make me more evil because I’m not totally mentally bonkers?”
“Well maybe I’m the wrong person to ask…I get…ummm…damn how do I put this…ummm…pleasure hurting people. I guess that by ordinary standards that does make me an evil woman…but”
“I get so wound up sometimes…” Abby interrupted. “And when that happens, I need to get it out of my system – and what we do as Pussycats is the right sort of release. But still – looking into that woman’s eyes when we killed them.”
“Abby,” Jo said quietly, “they hurt our family. You’ve seen the nature films of the prides of lions in the plains – they stay together, and they look after each other. What we did was just that – looking after each other.
“I think of all the evil that is out there beyond our little gang…we aren’t hooking kids on crack, we aren’t poisoning the environment, we aren’t a government abusing the human rights of its own people killing hundreds of thousands.”
“No…” Abby shook her head. “And I felt it was right – just as I felt it was right what you did to that bitch Nun. She was trying to be a big thing, and needed to be taught the order of things. Mother says that a lot – the natural order of things needs to be preserved.”
“So we are like that – we hunt those who hurt others, including our own, and what we take we put to good use for the good of the pride.” Jo got out of her bed ad walked over, sitting next to Abby.
“Yes we are predators…Thanks to Juliette’s brilliance we can see opportunities to hunt that others neither have the courage nor the opportunity to do.”
“Meaning?” Abby asked.
“It’s a dog eat dog world Abs is how I see it. We’ve just made it a cat eat dog world.”
“So you think what we do is okay?”
“Probably not.” Jo sighed, “most people would say we are sick sociopaths, but what I’m saying is that on a worldwide scale what we are doing is really just small potatoes. Very profitable potatoes, true, but small none the less.”
“So you see us as big cats on the plains of Africa hunting weaker animals?”
“Yeah I guess I do…All I know is Abs’ that I can live with myself, live with my conscience, and you should too. Look at Saturday – the money we’re taking was going to be destroyed, so we’re liberating it for our use, right?”
“Right,” Abby nodded.
“And if we need to make use of others to meet that goal, then the end justifies the means, right?”
Abby nodded again, as Jo said, “As your mother says sometimes, it is necessary for sacrifices to be made for the good of all.” She hugged Abby, and said “You’re our conscience, Abby – and I’m glad you are, but you’re a stone cold killer as well. Now, let’s get to sleep.”
Abby turned over, thinking about what Jo said, and smiled as she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of she and the pack hunting on the Serengeti…
11 am, An abandoned underground parking lot, Long Island
Tommy the Fish was having a good day – well, as good a day as you can have when Maroni gives you his personal thanks for supplying new weapons for his goons. If ever a man was designed to put the willies up someone, it was Maroni – there was something about his voice, his eyes, so that even in his fifties he scared Tommy shitless.
But not as much as the clients he was going to meet today – and not as much as the load he was delivering to them. Yeah, he obtained guns for the criminal fraternity. And yeah, these clients were regular and paid well – but this load meant they were doing something big, and he had had to take special care with this.
He turned the van into the quietest part of the parking lot and turned off the engine, looking round to see if they had arrived yet. It was quiet, but for them that was not unusual, so he stepped out of the van and looked round.
He wheeled round to see Miss Panther standing behind him, smiling through the usual stocking mask covering her head. She was wearing a dark blue jacket and skirt, with the usual four-inch heels, and today had a red and gold scarf tied around her neck, the ends tucked into the jacket and held by her clasp.
“Morning,” Tommy said as he removed his cap, nervously running his hand over his index finger.
“Tommy, you must learn to relax,” Miss Panther purred as he turned to see Miss Leopard beside him. “You know how highly we value your services, right?”
“Yeah – yeah I know how much youse ladies think of me,” he said, “and I’m mighty grateful, mighty grateful for that.”
“Indeed – which is why we allowed you the extra time. I trust you have not come to disappoint us.”
“Lady, I know better than to do that,” he said as he opened the rear doors of the van. Miss Leopard stepped inside and lifted a dust cover nodding approvingly at the small-motorised inch inside.
“To the specifications we requested?”
“Absolutely, lady – the pulling force is actually slightly greater, so if I was youse I’d stand a little further back. That’s the jelly you asked for – send a current through that and it burns hotter than napalm.”
“Do I wish to know where you got it?”
Tommy smiled and said “Let’s just say I owe some guys some favours – and I’ll have to do them that some day. But don’t worry – nothing that can trace back to youse or me ladies. I know you value your privacy.”
“Most thoughtful,” Miss Panther said as she stroked a gloved hand over the semi-automatics in the back. “Serial numbers removed – excellent.”
“Listen – if youse ladies need this kinda stuff, is there somewhere I don’t wanna be this week?”
Miss Panther looked at Tommy the Fish, smiling as she said “If I was you, Tommy, I’d avoid the west side on Saturday. I will say no more than that.”
“Fine, fine – the keys are in the front as requested, and the block number’s been filed off. I just have one more question?”
“And that would be?”
“Howse am I gonna get outta here?”
Miss Panther just smiled as she raised a gloved hand, and he saw a Lincoln driving towards them. “Part of your payment,” she said as Miss Lynx climbed out from the driver’s seat. “You will find the full amount in the trunk – consider this an additional bonus, although if I was you I’d sell it on. You never know what a previous owner may think.”
“Yeah, I figured as much,” he said as he caught the keys. “I knows a man over in Brooklyn that can take care of it for me. And thanks for the tip – I may just get outta the city Saturday.”
“I hear Atlantic City is very nice at the moment.” As Tommy walked over, Miss Panther said “Oh, Tommy – the other matter?”
“OH yeah – forgot for a moment,” Tommy said as he fished the keys from his pocket and tossed them over. “It’s a place on 80th – near Broadway, an empty brownstone with a parking lot round the back, just like you asked. Details are in the glove box.”
“Many thanks, Tommy – and enjoy your day away.”
“Thanks for the advice, ladies – and say hi to the girls for me,” he said as he climbed in and drove off.
“Is he getting too friendly,” Heather said as she looked at the receding tail of the car.
“Let him have his fun, he knows what we are capable of – you take the van and store it in our city vault.” Juliette removed her mask and wig, before saying “I need to make a final decision on location.”
“Wow,” Joanne said as she followed Sandy and Heather to their seats a couple of rows back from the front, “so this is the world you occupy, Juliette.”
“It’s not as glamorous as it looks,” Juliette said as she sat next to Diana, Sandy and Heather next to them, and finally Joanne and Carina.
“Juliette, Diana, you made it,” Jeanne said as she hugged and kissed both of them. “You must so proud, Diana, the whole business is talking about your daughter.”
“So long as they remember she is an amateur for this,” Diana said as she greeted Missy, who looked at Carina. “My goodness, you get more beautiful each time I see you,” she said with a smile, “and this must be Joanne. Abby talks a lot about you…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, take your seats place, the show is about to start.”
“Now remember,” Cari whispered to Jo, “Lots of camera flashes, so watch your eyes.”
“Maybe we should have worn shades,” Jo joked, until she saw the row of fashion reporters put their shades on as the lights dimmed, and the music started.
The first part of the show was for evening gowns, with all the models wearing identical pink pageboy wigs. Jo and Carina sat staring at each girl in turn, but neither of the girls recognised Abby at first as she walked out, wearing an asymmetrical black silk gown with a low plunging neckline and a full train, as well as long black boots. It was only when she stopped and posed, then winked at them, that Jo said “Oh my fuck – that’s Abby?”
“It is indeed,” Diana said quietly as they all clapped at her walking past, only to return a few minutes later in black leggings and high-heeled boots, with a pink top and long jacket over it. Her make up and pinned back hair made her look one of the most beautiful women on the cat walk, and as Jo looked down she saw how proud Diana and Juliette were of her.
At the end of the show, when all the models, male and female, walked past and were named, the announcer said “and welcome please the newest star of the New York fashion scene, Abigail de Ros,” to rapturous applause.
“Amazing,” Heather said as the lights went up, “simply amazing.”
“I know.” Carina shook her head in amazement. “Who’d of thunk it?”
“Yeah who would?” Heather smiled
“Diana I know you weren’t happy at first with Abby modelling,” Missy said as she turned round, “but now she’s becoming a star we must work together more closely. I do not wish to upset you or your plans, and I apologise to you for Saturday.”
“It is all right, Missy,” Diana said quietly, “we coped, but we should align our diaries more closely. Will you join us for dinner? I have reservations at the Ritz-Carlton?”
“Why not – we can get to work then,” she said as they went to find Abby back stage.
Thursday 13th February
‘The Friday night basketball game between St Angela’s and Sacred Heart would not normally have been this exciting an event, but with both teams undefeated so far this year and demands for tickets reaching an unprecedented level, the two famous girls schools from the Upper East Side are taking their famed rivalry to the West Side and will be playing at Columbia University’s Francis S. Levien Gymnasium at Broadway and West 119th Street.’
WNBC Radio Sports announcement.
St Angela’s, 11 am
The basketball game between the two schools was a must see event for all Nuns, and Angels. Girls who were normally apathetic to sports were consumed with excitement. Judy McNally had for days been making sure all her friends would be there and prepared.
The past couple of days, though, something else had been preying on Judy’s mind. The conversation she’d overheard between Carina, Abigail and Joanne, both worried her and saddened her. Judy had come to respect Carina as brilliant academically, but love her as a friend. She might not be part of the tight little CariJoAbs grouping, but she still felt as though they were all close and dear friends.
That Carina might see her life changed or ruined by an unwanted pregnancy blew Judy’s mind. Shit like that didn’t happen to the likes of Carina, it was only dumb girls like her got knocked up.
She’d tried to corner Carina to have a quiet chat, and tell her that all her sympathies were with her and that if there was anything she could do to help, then all Carina had to do was ask. But every time someone walked by, or Carina suddenly had to dash away.
Thursday morning gym class was Carina’s least favourite class of the week. Yes she took pride in keeping her body trim and supple, and yes at one time she’d had a passion for gymnastics, but nowadays swimming laps at the Y was far more her idea of exercise then doing vaults and beam.
The best moment of Carina’s school week was showering after gym class; it meant it would seven more whole days before she needed pull her damn leotard on.
Judy saw Carina run into the showers, and realised this maybe was her chance to start a conversation. Pulling her towel round her Judy cautiously made her way to the showers, glancing round she saw no-one and thought “thank God”, it was just she and Cari.
“Ummm Cari…can I ummm borrow your shampoo?”
“Sure Judy.” Cari passed the plastic bottle, and went back to washing her own hair.
“Oh you use this brand eh? Always wondered if I should try it?”
“Well feel free…” Cari rubbed soap from her eyes as Judy took the neighbouring stall and the water started running.
“Going to the game?” Judy tried another conversational gambit, shouting to be heard above the noise of the water.
“Of course…tomorrow we kick the Nuns fannies good.”
“Yeah…teach them who really is Number One.”
“Go Angels!” Cari shouted back the schools battle cry.
“Ummm Cari I overheard a conversation you were having with Jo and Abby…”
Suddenly Carina’s body tensed up. She stopped washing her hair and looked over as Judy looked back.
“Ummm sweetie you know you can always count on me as well if you need help?”
“Help with what?” Cari tried to establish what Judy knew and said a silent prayer to the Goddess it wasn’t…
“That you’re worried you might be pregnant…Cari we’ll all support you you know?”
Carina was just about to answer when two voices from outside the stalls suddenly yelled, “Oh my God Carina are you knocked up?”
“No,” Cari shouted back, “I’m just a couple of weeks late. The doctor thinks its just nerves over what’s happening with colleges and so on, and not to worry.” Looking at Judy, she sighed and said “Look, I appreciate the concern and the offer, but I’m sure it’s just my body – honest.”
“Oh,” Judy stammered as she turned red, “I’m sorry, but…”
“I know – and thanks, but I’m fine – and I’d appreciate it if this particular rumour was squashed dead. Today, if possible.”
“Sure, sure,” Judy said, “Leave it with me.”
Cari grabbed a towel and walked out, smiling at the other girls as she went to change. Inside, however, she was offering up prayers that what she had just said would be the truth…
6 pm, the de Ros mansion
“Good evening, Countess – is Abigail ready?”
“Come in, Winston,” Diana said as she looked at the man mountain standing in the doorway, “she is just finishing getting ready with the girls, but Tommy and Kevin are waiting in the front room.
“Thank you,” Winston said as he walked in, and saw the other two boys sitting there. They were casually dressed, in polo shirts and jeans, and smiled at each other as The House sat down.
“Did Abigail like the card,” Tommy said as he sat forward.
“Yes, she did,” Abby, said as she came in, her hair in a ponytail that hung down the back of her school hoodie. Cari and Jo followed her in, their hoodies over their jeans and short boots.
“Thank you, Winston – the flowers were lovely as well,” Abby said as she reached up put her arms round the neck of The House, pulling him down to give him a kiss.
“Yeah, where’s my flowers,” Joanne said as she nudged Kevin in the ribs.
“I thought you’d prefer these,” he said as he reached own and produced a box of chocolates, handing them to the surprised girl while Tommy gave Carina a small bottle of perfume.
“So, pizza and the game?”
“That’s right,” Kevin said as he looked at Joanne, “and I promise, we’ll keep them out of trouble this time.”
“Good – I want them home in one piece,” Diana said quietly, “and if there is trouble, one of you calls me and I come to collect them, understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Tommy said as they escorted the girls out. Diana smiled to herself, and picked up the telephone.
“It’s me – I’ll let you know if they call.”
The Calabria Club
Tommy the Fish walked in and came straight up to the bar.
“Gimme a cold one, Annie,” he said, looking at the barmaid as she poured the beer. She was smiling, and as she handed him the glass she reached over and gave him a kiss.
“Hey, hey – I’ve got a rep to keep, Annie,” Tommy said as he looked round, “what made youse do that anyhoo?”
“That,” Annie said as she pointed to a card that was set up on the shelf. “No name, but I know who sent it.”
“Damn – I’m not a great thief, am I?”
“No, but you’re a real nice guy, Tommy – a real classy guy.”
As Tommy blushed, he said “So youse won’t mind taking tomorrow off – letting Kate there manage the bar?”
“Now why would I do that, Tommy?”
“Soes you could come down to Atlantic with me – take a walk, play some slots, maybe have some dinner?”
Annie turned and looked at Tommy. “Are you asking me out on a date, Tommy?”
“Nah – just two old friends spending a day together. Of course, if you’d rather…”
Annie reached over and kissed Tommy again. “I’ll see you at Grand Central tomorrow at nine – now, another beer?”
Francis S, Levien Gymnasium
As the girls and their dates found their way to their seats, they took in the spectacle. One side of the arena was full of the cardinal red and white colours of Sacred Heart, the other a sea of the maroon and gold colours of St Angela’s.
Though known colloquially as the ‘Nuns’, Sacred Heart’s actual team nickname was the “Cardinals”. In the same way, St Angela’s teams were officially the “Wildcats” though the girls always referred to themselves and their teams as the “Angels’.
Abby had heard the expression ‘electric atmosphere’ but she had never understood what it meant till now. She looked round waving to friends in nearby seats, glad that she had Winston with her to act both as boyfriend and bodyguard. Her own recent celebrity was just a bit frightening, and it was comforting to have the enormous presence of ‘The House” by her side.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, can everyone please stand and remove their hats as we ask you to bow your heads to honour and remember the memory of both Jamie Kirkham from St Angela’s, and Suzanne Bold from Sacred Heart, both of whom were killed in tragic circumstances in recent months.” The Public Address announcer said solemnly.
For a minute the gymnasium fell silent as girls from both schools each remembered one of their own, murdered in shocking circumstances. Grief united them in a way that nothing else would – at least for a few seconds.
“Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, and…” The rest of his words were drowned in a cacophony of sound from either side of the arena.
The gymnasium staff and other neutrals must have been asking themselves how so much noise could be generated by teenage girls. The high pitched screaming was like standing next to a jet airplane taking off, except it was indoors, and was echoing off the building’s roof and walls.
Choruses of abuse were thrown across the court as the two teams ran into the playing area.
The PA announcer looked round, dug deep into his years of experience and turned up the volume on the speakers, in order to be able to make himself heard above the din, “Ladies and Gentleman, can I please beg your silence for the playing of our national anthem.”
The room fell silent as two girls stepped forward to a microphone, one each in the uniform of the competing schools.
“Oh say can you see…” the words sounded beautiful from the lips of the two singers. Abby stood with her hand on her heart, signing along with Winston and the others.
“And the home of the free.” The end of the song triggering the restart of the noise as each side called out their war cries to the enemy opposite.
The officials looked round nervously at the crowd, girls prep school basketball rarely drew more than family and friends, but NEVER a near capacity crowd in a university gym of over 2,500. Two other schools it might not have been so bad, but most people knew how rough the rivalry between these two schools was, the fights, the flour bombings. There was actually a rumour going round that bookies were offering no better than even money that the game would even be completed without a riot breaking out.
Certainly the two principals had agreed to pay for additional security people just in case of trouble, and as both took their seats, together, hoping to set a good example, each had their fingers crossed.
By half time, their fears had been to some degree allayed, the game was close, but so far, beyond shouted abuse that was unfit for general audiences, and made the principals blanche at where their young ladies picked up such expressions, nothing too untoward had happened. As the cheerleaders came on, facing their respective sides, the crowd started to show signs of restlessness.
Abby, Carina, Jo and the guys sat in the stands, the girls singing along to a song insulting The Nuns- one that had even The House shaking his head at some of the crude words.
“Dear God, where the hell did you learn that?” he asked Abby.
“We learn it at senior school freshman induction.” Abigail giggled, “but Cari had already taught it to me the year before when Mother had agreed I was going to go to St Angela’s.”
“And you guys don’t say bad things about…” Carina intervened in the conversation.
“Cari I can honestly say I have NEVER heard such words in a boys’ locker room even, sure we cuss a bit, damn it that was terrible.”
“Oh big strong football player is embarrassed by girls…” Carina and the others laughed.
“They sing worse than that to us.” Abby offered up an excuse. Winston looked at Tommy and Kevin as they listened to the words that were coming over, before Tommy said, “You got an escape route mapped out?”
“Oh yeah,” The House said, “and I told McNally and the other ringleaders we would be protecting the girls if anything happened. In fact, she insisted that all three had to be got out if things got out of hand.”
“Oh – not like you to back down from a fight,” Tommy said as he nudged Carina. She in turn shot a glance at Winston, who was looking at Abby and deliberately not at her.
Winston shook his head. It was big kudos dating the girl whose face was on half the billboards in the city, but he hadn’t bargained for this. He looked round him at the ranks of girls, some who he recognized as kids he knew the brothers of, and they looked wild eyed and crazy. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as the Angels started to respond to the cries from over the way as the two teams made their way back onto the court.
As each team scored cries would go up from its side of the arena, Bronx cheers from the one who lost the points. Fouls were greeted with anguished cries for justice from the aggrieved supporters.
A keen observer would have seen man’s, or in this case, women’s desire to identify and belong to a tribe at its very worst. As the game stayed amazingly close, both sets of spectators worked themselves up into a frenzy, each girl passionately identifying with her own team, and her hatred of the enemy growing.
The wise thing might have been for the authorities to have stepped in and stopped the game because at least that would mean no team had lost - and neither had one won. Wisdom, however, is often the gift of hindsight, as the game went into the final period.
In the end the game down to a pair of free throws with St Angela’s trailing 90 to 89.
For the first time since the game started there was complete silence. Miranda Jones bounced the ball nervously at the free throw line, she bent her knees, up went the ball, swoosh it went through the hoop off the backboard.
The schools were tied, Miranda took the ball from the referee, she bounced it three or four times, she moved, the ball went up…
For a second it looked like it might ring round the hoop and come out…There was a collective gasp from the crowd…then the ball descended through hoop and net.
The noise was unbelievable as the St Angela’s girls celebrated their victory. They bounced up and down, they hugged each other, they screamed at the top of their lungs.
On the Sacred Heart side, there was a rising tide of angry shouts and comments – and then the first flour bomb was thrown, landing right behind the two principals. Several more followed, and then the retaliation began, with flour bombs flying through the air from the St Angela’s side.
Had it just been that, it would have been contained – but then the first bag filled with manure was thrown, and all hell broke loose. The two teams barely had time to get off the court before both sets of girls poured onto the wooden floor, and the air was filled with shouts and debris.
“That’s our cue,” The House said, “Get behind me.” He took point, pushing the girls aside as he made a path to the rear of the bleachers, and through a fire exit, the others following.
Running down the external stairs, they turned onto West 119th, to find Juliette waiting in her car.
“How did you…”?
“Educated guess, Tommy,” Juliette said as the girls climbed in. “If I was you three, I’d be heading down that way and home – and thanks for getting them out.”
“No problem, Miss H,” Tommy said as she drove off. “Come on guys – we’ll go back to my place and see what happens.”
“Who won,” Juliette said as she looked back at the girls.
“We did – the game that is. The riot…”
Juliette shook her head as she headed for 80th Street…
“Go – change. We’re on the clock,” Juliette said to the three girls as she walked into the front room of the apartment. As soon as they went in, Abby pulled off her clothes and waited as Joanne strapped The Thing into place around her.
“I am so pumped,” Carina said as she pulled on the trousers and a camisole top, and then sat at the dresser, fixing her make-up. “I need to get this out of me somehow.”
“Yeah, well remember – we need them alive at least until tomorrow morning,” Joanne said as she slipped on the jacket, fastened the buttons at the front, and then selected a royal blue scarf, folding it into a wide band and tying it round her neck so that the ends fell down her back.
“I know, I know,” Carina said as she smiled at them, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun tonight.” She pulled her pantsuit on, then picked up the soft black leather shoes and put them on, standing on the four inch heels as she walked to the table, tying her black scarf with the ends to the side and then pinning the brooch to her lapel.
“Five minutes,” they heard Juliette say as they each placed the black wigs on their heads, covering their hair before picking up a stocking each.
“Ready,” Abby said as she pulled the stocking down, covering her head as she tucked the opening under her scarf, and then pulled on the tight leather gloves. She saw the smile on Carina’s face as she became Miss Lynx, and allowed herself a smile at the feel of the nylon on her face, and the warmth that was already starting between her legs.
The trio walked out to join the others, all dressed identically, all nodding as Juliette spoke.
“All set? Let’s do this…”
W 122nd Street
“George, are you coming to bed?”
“In a minute,” George Thomson said as he watched the television, a can of beer in his hand. Turning, he could see Sarah standing in the doorway, looking at him with her arms folded.
“Come on – you’ve…” A knock on the front door of the apartment made them both look.
“It’s probably Mrs McTavish looking for her cat again.”
“I’ll go,” Sarah said and George looked back at the television. The scream from his wife, and the voice saying “Shut the fuck up bitch,” made him jump up, but before he could reach the revolver hanging by the chair he heard the click of a gun, and looked up to see the masked woman standing there, saying “Do me a big favour, stud – don’t. We need you alive – for now.”
He looked at the tall, well built woman standing before him, wearing a fitted dark pant suit with highly polished killer heels, a royal blue scarf tied round her neck and hiding the bottom of a stocking that was pulled down over her short, black hair. Looking behind her, he saw two more identically dressed women, with scarves, and stocking masks. One had a revolver pointed at Sarah’s head as she held her arm; the other had a sawn-off shotgun like the one pointing at him.
He then saw the brooches on their jackets – a leopard, a cheetah and a bobcat – and said “Oh fuck – not us…”
“Yes fuck, it is you,” the woman standing in front of him said, “so just do what the fucking hell we fucking tell you to do. Secure him, Miss Bobcat.”
“With pleasure, dahlin,” the other woman said as she walked behind George, pulling his hands behind him as he felt the plastic zip cuffs been secured round his wrists. “I do love a big strong fucking machine.”
“I thought you attacked banks,” George said as the woman called Miss Bobcat then levelled her gun at Sarah, allowing the third woman to cuff her wrist behind her back.
“Perhaps we’re diversifying,” the woman said with a smile. “Miss Cheetah, we need to silence them.”
“Agreed,” the woman she had spoken to said, as she laid her gun down, reached into he jacket pocket and drew off two strips of flesh coloured plaster. Tearing the backing paper off one, she stuck it firmly over George’s mouth, and then did the same for Sarah, before they were both blindfolded with black scarves.
“Let’s go,” Miss Cheetah said as the couple were dragged out of the apartment, the television still playing. Miss Bobcat slipped into the bedroom before they left, picking up George’s workbag with his uniform before she closed the door.
They marched the two captives into the van, and sat them on the metal floor, as Miss Leopard got in and drove off.
“Kim, will you turn that down please?”
Phillipa shook her head as she carried the two mugs of cocoa through to the front room, handing one to Jack. She sat down, took a sip and said “that’s better. A little brandy always helps.”
“Cut the kid some slack, Phillipa, she got dumped today.”
“Again?” She raised her eyebrow at he husband, and said, “How many is that now?”
“I lost count at ten,” he said with a smile, and took a drink. “Still, she took it a bit better this time – I haven’t heard anything break.”
“Hey there,” Gail said as she came in, taking off her brown leather jacket to show her jumper, leggings and boots. “How’s the patient?”
“Calm,” Jack said as she sat down, and looked at her parents. Her dad was wearing an old blue shirt and jeans, while her Mom had on a denim pinafore dress over an old grey sweater, and bed socks on her feet.
“Any of that cocoa left?”
“Help yourself,” Phillipa said as Gail stood up and walked into the kitchen. Thirty seconds later, there was a scream of “SHIT” and then she was pushed back in by four very elegantly dressed women, carrying sawn off shot guns, they gestured with as they looked at her parents.
“Get the other kid,” one of them aid as tow walked up the stairs, their pants moving like liquid as they did so, while Jack took in their stockings masks, their scarves hiding their necks, and the jewelled brooches that glittered in the ceiling light.
“Who the fuck are – shit,” they heard Kim say before the two masked women dragged her down the stairs.
“Thank you, Miss Tigress, Miss Lynx,” the women said before Kim was pushed over to join the others. “We’re the Pussycat Gang, and we’re here to take you out for the night.”
“Wha… But I’m not a bank manager, I’m a blue collar guy,” Jack said as he put his arms round Phillipa.
“Precisely – Miss Puma?”
The final masked woman looked at George and Phillipa, then handed them each a pair of zip cuffs and said “If you want to live through this fucking night, secure your little cocksucker’s wrists behind their backs, now.”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” Phillipa shouted at the masked women, only to go white when one of them walked forward on a pair of very high heels, stick the barrel of the gun against her, and say “When we tell you to do something, you little shit stirring whore, you do it or you die, right here, right now, is that 100% fucking clear to you?”
“Mom, Dad, what’s happening?”
“I don’t know,” Jack said, “but we’d better do what they say.” He moved Kim’s hands behind her back and secured them together, then took the cuffs from Phillipa and did the same to Gail – his wife too terrified to move.
Miss Puma walked behind both Jack and Philippa and secured their wrists, as their leader said “Where is your uniform for tomorrow?”
“In the bedroom,” Jack said as he felt the plastic grip his wrists, and then realised what she meant. “Shit – you’re after the van tomorrow?”
“Bright mother fucker, isn’t he,” the other woman said as she went upstairs, returning with a bag to see plaster gags been applied to all four, before thick scarves were tied over their eyes.
“Move out, shitheads,” Miss Lynx said as she pushed the four of them towards the back door…
George winced as the tape was pulled away from his mouth, and the cuffs cut away. “Don’t move a fucking inch,” he heard the woman say as his wrists were re-tied, the feel of the rope as it dug into his skin harsh, and then he felt his arms being pulled into his sides.
“Where are we,” he said as he moved his head round, “and where’s Sarah?”
“Safe as long as you don’t ask stupid questions, assfucker,” the woman behind him said as he felt a sharp blow to the back of his legs, and he fell onto his knees, unable to stop them securing his ankles together.
A door opened, and George heard two sets of footsteps, one sharp and staccato, and the other heavy and scuffed, as if someone was being pushed in.
“Oh look, dahlin,” the voice behind him said as the blindfold was removed, “your partner’s here.”
George blinked and looked round the bare room, then said “Jack,” as the other man had his wrists released and re-tied.
“Grrggeee ow,” the other man said as the gag was removed, and he was forced to kneel. “Fuck – the most dangerous gang in New York, and they kidnap both of us?”
“And Sarah – where are Phillipa and the kids?”
“They got them too,” Jack said as his blindfold was removed, and they both looked at the tall woman holding the gun over them.
“That’s right, asswipes,” she said as she cocked the gun, “so shut the fuck up, or they get hurt – badly.”
“Language, Miss Leopard,” the other woman said.
“You’re right, Miss Bobcat – shut the fuck up, asswipes – please.”
Jack looked at the smile on her covered red lips, and then said, “Where are they?”
“If you listen carefully, you may hear them having fun,” Miss Bobcat said, “So keep quiet, sugah – all right? Otherwise I may be tempted to have some fun with you…”
Sarah wriggled on the floor, the ropes biting into her wrists, arms, ankles and legs as she lay on her side on the mattress. She knew someone was beside her now, but with her eyes and mouth covered she had no way of knowing who it was.
“Whrrrmdhtrs,” she heard the new arrivals say, only to be followed by a moan.
“If I was you, cocksucker, I’d shut up,” a female voice said as she felt something pressing against her crotch. It was lumpy, and as it was pulled tightly it dug through the fabric of her leggings and into her clit. She groaned as she fell the effect it was having on her, and heard similar moans behind her.
The blindfold was suddenly removed, and looking down she saw the knotted rope running down from between her breasts, between her legs and up behind her. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the larger woman, and the dark hair, before saying “hrruuu?”
“Hmgdhmgdhmgd,” the other woman said as Sarah saw the two masked women standing over them, smiling through the nylon masks.
“Sarah, meet Phillipa. Phillipa, Sarah. Now, we’re going to have a fine time together, you and us, aren’t they Miss Puma?”
“Why yes they are, Miss Cheetah,” the other woman said as she leaned down and pulled on the rope, making both the women moan, “a fine old time…”
The two women blinked as the blindfolds were removed, and they found themselves in a small room, with two chairs set in the centre of the room. Three of the masked women were looking at them, smiling as two of them held the sawn off shotguns, and the other a large knife.
“Welcome, my name is Miss Panther,” the one with the knife said as she cut their wrist free, “and this is Miss Lynx and Miss Tigress. Strip.”
“She said strip, you little cocksucking whore shit,” Miss Lynx said as she looked at Kim, “so get a fucking move on, or we’ll rip the clothes off you.”
The two girls looked at each other, and then slowly started to remove their clothing, Miss Lynx and Miss Tigress offering encouragement in the form of the shotgun barrel pressed against their backs. Eventually they stood there, naked save for the brown strips of fabric covering their mouths, as Miss Lynx smiled – a truly evil smile.
“Very good – now, why don’t you stand back to back, and put your arms round each other?”
As Miss Tigress covered them, Miss Lynx picked up two lengths of brown rope, and waited. “NOW, YOU TWO FUCKING WHORES,” she roared, the two girls moving quickly before she tied their wrist together in front of each other’s bellies.
“That’s better, you little shits,” she said as she slapped them both on their bare bottoms, “now don’t fucking move.” She picked up a long length of brown rope, and started to tie large knots in it at regular intervals as Miss Tigress, took another coil of rope, and started to bind the two women together, wrapping the rope tightly around their upper bodies, forcing their chests up and out.
“Hmm,” Miss Lynx said as she picked up a shotgun, and stroked the barrel between Kim’s breasts, making her shiver as the cold oiled metal ran down her skin, “very nice, very pert breasts. Don’t you agree, Miss Tigress?”
“Oh I have to agree with you, Miss Lynx,” Miss Tigress said as she grabbed Gail’s breasts in her gloved hands and started to squeeze them, “very pert, but we can make them more pert, can’t we?”
“Of course we can,” Miss Lynx, said as she picked up the knotted rope, and tied it between Kim’s breasts, then around her wrist, before she pulled the rope down tightly and between her legs.
“To you, Miss Tigress?”
“To me, Miss Lynx,” the other women said as she grabbed the rope and pulled It up, making both girls scream as the knots sank into the soft flesh between their legs, then tied it round Gail’s wrists and between her chests. As she did this, Gail looked at her ample body, the fitted jacket hugging the curves as the yellow and blue scarf at the front of her neck looked like the top of a blouse.
Kim moaned at the way the rough ropes and knots rubbed at her, as Miss Lynx traced around the rings of her nipples with her gloved hands. “Hrrru,” she said as she moaned again, the attentions of Miss Tigress making Gail squirm and forcing the rope further between her legs.
“We’re your teachers,” Miss Lynx said as she pushed hard against Kim’s crotch, the knots almost disappearing between the lips, “and school’s in bitch.”
“That’s right,” Miss Tigress said as she pinched Gail’s firm nipples, making her scream into the tape gag, “and here’s the first lesson – don’t fuck with us.”
“Ah Gentlemen,” Miss Panther said as she walked into the room Jack and George were kneeling on the floor of, “I trust you’re going to shut the fuck up and listen to what I have to say?”
“Where’s my wife,” George shouted out, only to groan as the barrel of the gun was smacked into his stomach, courtesy of Miss Leopard.
“The little whores are here,” Miss Panther said, “but if you shout at me like that again, I’ll have the breast cut off one of them, understood?”
“Yeah, we understand,” Jack said as he looked at his colleague, “but why us? You hit banks – we’re just drivers and guards.”
“Who have a very busy day ahead of them tomorrow,” Miss Panther said with a smile, “so you’re going to go to work tomorrow, and act normal – while we take care of your loved ones. Do as you’re told, and they live. Don’t and…”
She walked to the door and said “Miss Puma, kindly let the wives speak.”
A hard thwacking sound was accompanied by two muffled screams and pleas for help.
“Fuck - what are you doing to them,” Jack shouted at the masked woman.
“Whatever it takes to make you two shitheads realise we mean business,” Miss Panther said quietly, “so, prepared to listen?”
“Just don’t hurt her,” George said as he looked at her, his eyes pleading.
“Then listen, and listen good,” Miss Panther said as she looked at them, the other two smiling.
Sarah screamed as the ropes brought her to the second climax in a row, Phillipa following soon after as the rope bit more and more into the damp fabric between her legs.
“Oh I think these two lovebirds are all hot and bothered,” Miss Puma said to Miss Cheetah, “I wonder what they might want to do next?”
“How about look at each other,” Miss Cheetah said as they removed the crotch ropes and turned to make them look at each other.
“Oh yes you two know each other,” Miss Puma said, “so how does it feel to realise you’ve made each other the horniest whores on the island?”
“Hgdgdmsreee,” Sarah said as she looked at Phillipa. Phillipa nodded to show she understood, as they looked at the two masked women.
“See,” Miss Puma said as she raised Sarah’s chin in her gloved hand, “A little fun can be so relaxing. But now we come to the real fun part of the evening.”
Slowly, carefully, she pulled down Sarah’s pants, and then stuck her gloved fingers into her damp pussy, making her scream out again as within seconds she started to cum once more.
“NnpplssnddnnntNNNNNNN” Phillipa said as Miss Cheetah reached under the skirt of her dress and performed the same act on her. “Oh yes,” she said with a sigh, “so gooddddd….”
“Whyrudngthts,” Kim said before she screamed, her eyes closed tight as the metal clamps were attached to her hard nipples. She had heard Gail scream a moment before, and then pull hard on the rope, as if she was reaching up to try and remove something. Now Kim knew what it was.
“That feels so good,” Miss Lynx said as she closed her eyes and sighed, rubbing her own crotch as well.
“Oh I know what you mean,” Miss Tigress said as she ran the barrel of the gun between Gail’s legs, forcing the knotted rope into her passage and making her buck again.
“Hey – I got an idea.” Miss Tigress went over to the standard lamp in the corner, and brought it over, ripping the shade off and revealing the incandescent white bulb.
“I want to make a real impression on you,” she said with a smile as she cut the wire away with wire cutters, and then pressed the bulb on Gail’s stomach, screaming in pleasure as Gail screamed in pain.
“OHH YEAAHHHHH,” Miss Lynx screamed out, as she reached down and pulled Kim’s hair back, and pulled down on the chain linking her clamps together, orgasaming to the sound of fear and pain in her muffled voice.
The two men had listened to their families scream and call out for hours, before their legs were finally released and they were allowed to stand up.
“Right,” Miss Panther said as she looked at them, “Here’s the deal. You two dickwads go to work, act as if everything is normal, and make your pick-ups. You detour onto West 10th and Weehawken – we will be in front of you and behind you. Say nothing to anyone – we will know if you do, and if you do we torch this shithole with your loved ones in it.”
“You can’t expect us to stand by – what about the third man?”
“You let us worry about that person, shithead,” Miss Leopard said as she hit George in the stomach. Jack nodded and said “We get it – and when we do as you say?”
“We release the women here – guaranteed.”
Jack knew that was an empty promise, but nodded as if he accepted it.
“Good – oh, and Jack?”
“What,” he said to Miss Panther.
“Heads or tails?”
He watched as Miss Bobcat handed Miss Panther a coin. “Heads or tails?”
He watched as she tossed the coin in the air, smiled as she caught it, slapped it onto the back of her gloved hand and looked at it.
“Excellent,” she said with a smile, “Get changed – I’m going to run you to work.”
“It’s heads, dahlins.”
Miss Lynx nodded to Miss Bobcat, as they slapped strips of white tape over the eyes of Kim and Gail.
“You come with us,” Miss Tigress said as she led one of them away, leaving Miss Lynx with Miss Bobcat to care for the one remaining.
“Out,” Miss Panther said as George and Jack were pushed out of the back of the van, “and don’t forget, we have your loved ones, and if you try anything – Boom.”
They watched as the van doors slammed shut, and then turned to walk round the corner as it drove off, the tyres screeching.
“What the fuck are we going to do,” George said as he looked at the older man.
“What they said – you know the reports, what they’re capable of. Let’s just hope the bosses…”
“Hey – where did you two come from?”
“We got a lift from a friend,” Jack said as he put his arm round George’s shoulder. “Come on – let’s get moving on the van. Who’s inside?”
Sarah grunted as her ankles were pulled back, the heels of her feet resting on her bottom as her ankles were tied to her chest ropes. She had been forced to strip, the crotch rope tied tightly back in place, and then her eyes and mouth had been covered in white tape, wrapped tightly round her head, before she had felt the ropes all over her body.
She wriggled on her stomach, as she heard others wriggling round in the same room as her.
“Right, you cocksucking whores,” she heard the one called Miss Puma say, “There’s a bomb with a motion sensor between all of you. Move more than a millimetre, and it goes off, so stay fucking still. We’ll be seeing you.”
Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Avenue
“Right, that’s the lot,” the employee said as Jack loaded the last bag into the back, and slammed the iron door shut, “Safe driving.”
“Yeah – let’s hope so,” Jack said as he got into the cab, and took his helmet off. Looking at George, he said “Here we go,” and started the engine, moving west along the road.
“And away we go,” Miss Leopard said from behind the wheel of the old grey van followed them onto Albany Street, then right onto West Street, a blue van pulling in front of them as they drove up the road.
“Van two to van one, welcome aboard.”
“Roger that van two,” they heard Miss Cheetah say, “cargo ready?”
“We’re ready,” Miss Lynx said as she stroked the barrel of her gun up the inside leg of the girl sitting with them, “Aren’t you?”
As they approached West 10th, the blue van turned sharply to the right, and Jack followed suit, turning into the quiet side street as the van screeched to a halt in front of them. In his door mirror, he saw the grey van execute a three point turn, as two of the masked women walked out, pushing shotguns through the glass windows as they said “Out, fuckers.”
At the same time, the grey reversed back, tyres screeching as t came to a halt. There was a metallic clang as the rear doors opened and two of the Pussycats jumped out, walking over and applying the gel to the rear door of the armoured truck. One then stuck a detonator in, and stood back as the explosive melted the door away, the metal falling to the floor with a loud clang.
“Out, shitheads,” Miss Lynx said as she opened the door to the driver’s cabin, “up against the wall, hands behind your heads, and don’t make a fucking sound.”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” George said, more to alert the third member of the crew than anything as Miss Panther pushed him up against the wall, spreading his legs with her gun as she did so.
Miss Tigress then grabbed the metal hook from inside the grey van, walking quickly over and climbing into the van as she clamped it over the handles of the inner door.
There was the sound of a motor starting as the chain between the vans started to tense up.
“Your turn,” Miss Leopard said as she pushed the fourth Pussycat into the door, handing her a shotgun as she did so.
There was a horrible, twisting sound as the metal on the inner door of the armoured car started to buckle and split. Inside the small metal box, the young male guard took out his gun and took up his position. He knew the drill – if the truck was breached shoot the first villain he sees. He tensed himself, his fingers over the trigger as the metal door buckled and was pulled away.
He saw the woman standing in the door of the truck, pointing the sawn off shotgun directly at him. Her grey pantsuit fitted her well, and a blood red scarf was tucked into the front, covering the bottom of the stocking covering her head. The stocking held her dark hair down as she looked at the man and shook her head.
“Die,” he said as he fired three shots into her chest, watching as she crumpled to the floor of the van – and then felt the three shots from the shotgun into his own chest, as another masked woman appeared and fired, as did the other two outside.
“Move it,” Miss Panther said as she joined Miss Bobcat, Miss Tigress and Miss Leopard, forming a human chain as she stepped over the bleeding body. She picked up a sack and threw it to Miss Tigress, who passed it to Miss Bobcat and then to Miss Leopard to put in the grey van.
Within five minutes they had emptied the contents of the armoured car into their transport, and Miss Bobcat climbed in, kicking the dead Pussycat out of the back so that she fell on the tarmac, her lifeless eyes staring up into the sky.
As this was happening, Miss Lynx covered George and Jack, who were cowering against the wall, looking both ways as she did so.
“Hey – what the hell is…”
The female cop never stood a chance, as Miss Lynx wheeled round and discharged the shot into her stomach, then pumped the gun and covered the two men again. She heard the other van doors slam shut, and then the squeal of tyres as it drove at speed back onto W 10th street, disappearing into the traffic.
As they went off, Diana pulled her mask off and placed a pair of dark glasses over her eyes. “Nice work girls,” she said to the others as she turned onto the main road, “Now we go to the car park, ditch this and load the bags into the car, before we get to the farm.”
“That feels so much better,” Abby said to Joanne, “and it was good of her to volunteer as well.”
Miss Panther came back round to the front of the van, looking at the two guards before she said “Let’s go.” Miss Lynx walked off with her, then turned and shot George in the back of his left knee. “Thank you,” she cried out before the two women walked away, laughing as they climbed into the van and it drove off at speed, tyres screeching as the black marks were left on the tarmac.
“Shit,” Jack said as he looked at George. “Shit shit shit – I’m going to get an ambulance.”
“I know – but we have to hope they keep their promise,” he said as he checked the cop, and then got to the cabin, picking up the radio. “Code Red, Code Red, West 10th and Weehaken. Officers down, repeat, officers down.”
He then looked at the dead body behind the truck, and walked over. “At least we get to know who one of you bitches are,” he said as he knelt down and removed the stocking, and then the wig, breaking down as he looked at the clear tape covering her lips…
Phillipa had had enough, as she rubbed her head gently on the floor, and managed to ease the tape up her head and away from her eyes. When she was able to see, she could see two other naked women in the room. She looked at both of them, and then said “Whrsssgnna?”
“We did it – we fucking did it!!”
Joanne and Abby high fived each other as they came in. They had made their way to the farm through the city, having abandoned their van and used a stolen SUV to get there, while the others had taken a more direct route. Diana had gone with Heather to dispose of the second van, while Juliette and Sandy were checking the contents of the bag.
“At least six million,” Juliette said finally, “a good day all round.”
“I could stay awake for a week,” Carina said as she danced round, “the look on that cop’s face.”
“I know – I wish I could have seen it.”
“Right – change, and we head back in my car,” Juliette said quietly. “There’s something we need to do – a question that needs to be answered.”
The de Ros Mansion
Diana turned and looked as Juliette and Carina came in. Abby and Jo were sitting there as well – anxious as Carina took the paper bag, and went to the toilet.
“It is better we know,” Diana said as Juliette sat next to her, “then we can decide on the next steps.”
“If she is,” Abby said, “she’ll need to step down, won’t she?”
Juliette nodded as they listened to the toilet flushing in the silence.
“Two minutes,” she said as they looked to the doorway, holding their breaths. The phone rang, but as Diana stood and walked over she said “Sandy – we’ll call her once we know.”
Eventually, the door opened and Carina walked slowly out, holding the pale blue tester in her hand.
“Well? Are you or aren’t you?”
Abby, Diana and Jo watched as Carina handed her mother the device, and hugged her, sobbing into her chest as Juliette looked at the clear window.