New Beginnings







Saturday 13th August

Midnight BST

The New House



“You still awake kiddo,” Laura said as she looked up at the ceiling.


“Yeah – I’m excited about tomorrow,” Miley said as she turned and looked at her friend.


"Miley," Laura spoke softly as they lay in the dark, "when we heard you were safe I did something..."

"Not something bad?" the younger girl interrupted.

Laura looked up and said "I'm not sure."

As she raised her head, Miley whispered "What do you mean?"

"I hugged Agnes...and I called her Mum."

"Oh God!" Miley turned the bedside light on. "What did she say to that?"

"I didn't realise that I'd said it. It was only when she said that it clicked."

"What happened then?"

Laura smiled and said "she started to laugh and cry, all sort of at once."

"So she wasn't upset?"

"No." Laura paused for a second, '"she said it was wonderful."

"It would be sort of nice if she was our Mum," Miley sighed as she turned the light back out again, "then you'd never have to let men do nasty things to you again Laura, and we could live with Aggie..."

"And go to a proper school." Laura sounded wistful.

"Maybe even have Lord Donald as our dad when he marries Agnes." Miley smiled to herself, "I'd sort of like that."

"It's a lovely dream Miles."

"I know...It will never happen, but it is nice sometimes to just imagine things."


“Yeah – real nice…  Get some sleep kiddo.”


“You too, big sis,” Miley giggled as Laura looked at her, smiling.




“Donald,” Agnes said as he came into the room, “well?”


“It’s her – she really is gone,” Donald said as he sat down.


“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…”


“We could do it together – in bed,” Donald said as he looked over.  Aggie smiled and shook her head.


"I'm finally ready because Catherine is gone, and you are saying no?" Donald laughed.

"Donald Fitzstuart I promised you that I'd come to our wedding bed a virgin, and now I can I fully intend to keep that promise," Agnes smiled as she sat next to him, and kissed him again.

"Who says we are getting married?" Donald teased. "Have I asked you to marry me?"

"I hope we are," Agnes looked bemused as Donald sat up and reached for her handbag. "What are you up to now Donald?"

"Just getting something." Donald opened a small box and retrieved what was inside.

"Oh dear Goddess!" Agnes realised what was happening as he stood up and then knelt in front of her.

"Agnes McAdam will you marry me?" He held up the gold ring with the four diamonds set in platinum.

"Yes...Yes I will," Agnes started to smile and cry lightly, both at the same time.

"Then I better put this on you then," Donald looked deep in her eyes as he slipped the engagement ring on her finger, then got back up and put his arms round her before giving her a long kiss.

"This is wonderful darling," Agnes's eyes danced, "but I'm still not sleeping with you till we are married."


“Damn – but we had better get some sleep.  Lot to do tomorrow…”



The Ardray Estate


“I hope I don’t have a day like this for a long time,” Mike Babbage said as he walked in from the bathroom.


"Did she really die a natural death Mike?" Sherry asked as they climbed into bed.

"Probably not,” Mike said as he kissed Sherry, “but I somehow doubt that we will ever know for sure."

"You mean you think she was murdered?"

"I mean she might have been helped out of her own, and our, misery." Mike paused, "but it was done in a way that leaves no marks, and no obvious clues."

"Is that possible?"

"I've heard it is Sherry my darling."

"Oh my God...I never realised that was possible."

"I hear it takes years of training to learn how to do, but yes I hear certain oriental martial arts specialists know the skill."

Sherry stared at her husband, before she whispered "So it was an oriental killed Catherine?"

"I don't know," Mike smiled, "and to be honest I'm very happy not knowing if she really was or wasn't killed."

"Was it someone Agnes knows...Did she order Catherine's death?"

"No of that at least I'm sure. This was a decision taken by others, by people who know and love Aggie, but they wouldn't have informed her so that she can honestly deny any knowledge."

"It’s hard to imagine the Agnes we know, knows people like that."

"Sherry my love,” Mike said as he turned the light off, “if half of what i suspect about the people Agnes knows is true, it would frighten you to death."



6 am BST

The New House



Sheilagh looked over from the stove as Susan came in with Penny, both wearing dressing gowns over their nightwear.


Guid morning Miss Susan, Miss Penny – ye the furst up?”


“Aye – I mean yes,” Susan said as they sat at the kitchen table, “I know Agnes waited for Lord Donald to get back, but I don’t think anyone else is up.  After the events of last night, they may just sleep in a little.”


“Aye, tha makes sense,” Sheilagh said as she poured coffee for both of them.  “Rory will be here later wi the bairns – I need tae be here tae cook breakfast, and see the marquee is all set up.  The other girls will be here soon.”


“So – this is it,” Penny said as she sipped from her mug, “any last minute regrets?”


“Oh no – none whatsoever,” Susan said with a smile, “it’s a new beginning – and not just for us today I suspect.”


7.30 am BST

Dunmarnock House


“So it’s really over?”


Shirley nodded as she sat with Catriona at the breakfast table.  “It’s over – Donald has formally identified her body, and the initial medical examination is this morning.  The cause seems to be some sort of seizure.”


“That smells good,” John said as he came in and kissed both of them, “so where is the groom?”


“Still to arise – after all, he was late back last night as well,” Elizabeth said as she came in with her granddaughter.  “Have you heard how the young girl is?”


“Miley?  Probably still asleep if she has any sense,” Catriona said as she sipped her coffee, “it’s a busy enough day today anyway.”



8 am BST

The New House




Ghhwwaaaysthherlhhee” Laura grumbled as she turned over.


"Laura, Laura, WAKE UP!" Miley said as she poked at her friend.

"Errrr Miley what the fuck has got your knickers in a twist?" Laura mumbled as she tried to open her eyes.

"These," Miley pointed to the two boxes.

"Oh?" Laura tried to focus.

"They were outside the door.  Read what it says on the note," Miley excitedly waved a piece of paper in the older girl’s face.

"Alright," Laura paused for a second, then read aloud. "To two wonderful young ladies in the hope you will wear these to our wedding," she paused again, "and its signed Colin and Sue."

"These boxes are from APCO," Miley shook her head, "I wonder what's in them?"

"Well I guess we won't know till we undo them," Laura began to feel a bit more awake.

"Okay," Miley giggled as she undid the box with her name on.  Lifting the lid, she whispered “wow” as she lifted out the cornflower blue dress.  “This is amazing…”


“So is this,” Laura said as she ran her hand over the cream silk of the skirt of her dress.  “Come on – let’s see if they have any breakfast ready.”




"Well at least here in Scotland they don't have to have both a civil and a religious ceremony," Charlotte nibbled on a piece of toast as she sat eating breakfast with Piet and her mother.

"I bet you they are both happy about that." Piet drank his coffee.

"It simplifies things I'll agree." Francesca nodded as she glanced at the newspapers.

"Yes it does," Charlotte reached for another piece of toast, "so anything in there about yesterday’s happenings Mama?"

"Not that I can see darling.  I suspect Sir Simon’s friends are putting a stop on any reports for now."


“Can they do that?”


“Scottish legal process – once a death occurs, nothing is said until everything is done.”




"When did Kylie and Rose get up this morning?" Penny asked as she joined Helen and the other bridesmaids in the breakfast room.

"I spoke to Rose," Bobbie grinned, "and all she did was roll her eyes and say 'don't ask'."

"Doesn't surprise me," Kay laughed, "I think Kylie is even more nervous about this then Sue is."

"She shouldn't really be worried," Lady Roberta spoke as she and Sir Charles walked in with the Milnford's, "we are all going to look fabulous."

"I know," Kay said as she stood up and kissed the grooms mother.

"What's brought you all over from Dunmarnock this early."

"We are escaping the sight of my brother and his friends looking like the wrecks of the Hesperus," Victoria shook her head.

"I thought they had the stag party in London?" Jane looked up.

"They did," Lady Bobbi laughed, "but to celebrate the rescue of Miley last night, Cat brought out several bottles of whiskey and it rather turned into a second mini-stag."

"Whoops," Lacey laughed, "something tells me we better keep that news secret from Sue."


“Keep what secret?”


“Miley,” Eve said as she came over and hugged the young girl, “how are you feeling this morning?”


“Much better thank you – that smells good.”


“Sit doon, lass,” Sheilagh said as she brought a plate of sausages and bacon in, “eat up.  Both of ye.”


“Thanks, Mrs McAdam,” Laura said as she saw Agnes and Donald walk into the room, the others looking over as Tamsin and Kit followed them in.


“What – is something wrong,” Agnes said as she looked round, and then saw Tamsin looking at her left hand.  “Oh – we’ll talk later…”


“Talk about what,” Kit said, but her mother just smiled as she said “so Sue – you and the girls ready for the big day?”



9 am BST

Dunmarnock House


“Oh my head…”


“Ah – we were about to descend on you with a bucket of ice water,” Catriona said as Colin led the male side of the wedding party in, looking somewhat the worst for wear.


“Please – quietly,” Colin groaned, “where are the rest of the family?”


“Gone to join Susan – sit down, we’ll get the full Scottish ready for all of you.”


“Some of you look much the worst for wear,” Shirley said as she passed with Maisha, “we’re going for a walk – be back in time to get ready.”  As they slipped out of the house, Maisha said “so we attend as guests for this one?”


“Indeed – but I wanted to have a word with two others before the festivities begin today,” Shirley said as they walked down to the side of the woods, entering and greeting the two women waiting there.


“Leader, Liz,” Shirley said quietly, “you are aware of the outcome?”


“Indeed – while we wish we could have taken the price, it was right this was ended quickly,” Leader said quietly.  “We will leave later today, and return with Xan.”


“Thank him on my behalf,” Maisha whispered, “and tell Teacher I look forward to learning from you all in a few weeks’ time.”


9 am BST

Kilcraig House


“Victoria,” Mandy said as Victoria came in with Archie and Samantha, “did you manage to get some sleep?”


“A little – but the time for mourning is later.  Today is about Susan and Colin.”


“Indeed darling,” Mandy said quietly as Will came in.  “Donald just called,” he said as he sat down, “and he will see us all at the cathedral.  He did give me one other piece of news.”


“and that is?”


“He asked Agnes – and she said yes.  We may be back here soon for another wedding…”


“What wedding,” Pepsi said as she came in with Jack, “we haven’t set a year yet, never mind a date!”


“We’ll talk later – right now, have some food, and then we get ready…”





10.30 am BST

The New House, Ardray


Agnes looked up as there was a knock on her bedroom door, and said “come in,” smiling as Tamsin and Kit came into the room.  “How are you feeling this morning, Aunt Aggie,” Kit said as she looked at the older woman.


“I don’t know – is it possible to be relieved, saddened and overjoyed at the same time,” Aggie said quietly.  “It is as if the last great shadow of the last twenty years has been lifted, and something oppressive has finally been cleared.  I feel reborn even more today than any time over the last few weeks.”


“I can tell,” Tamsin said with a smile, “so Donnie actually popped the question again?”


“He did – and that’s one decision that was easy,” Agnes said with a smile as she looked at her hand.  “But last night also made me think a few other things over as well.”


“Oh – such as?”


“Tippy,” Agnes said as she looked over and smiled, “what do you think of Laura and Miley?”


“Nice kids – and certainly get on well with the others,” Kit said.  “Why?”


“Just wondering…”






“Wow – and you were given them to wear at the wedding?” Aileen said as she sat with Laura in the bedroom.


“Yeah – we were.  We’ve been very lucky indeed,” Laura said as she looked at the dress hanging up. “Pity we have to go back to…”


“You do know a lot of things are going to change,” Aileen said quietly, “now that she’s gone?”


“I still wish I had the chance to hurt her,” Laura said quietly.  “But I know both Aggie and Lord Donald looked much, much happier this morning.”


Kit smiled as she nodded, and said “yeah – but there may be other changes.  All I’m saying is…”


“OH – sorry, am I interrupting,” Miley said as she came in.  “Aggie wants us to start to get ready Laura.”


“I’d better get going as well,” Kit said as she stood up, “see you when the cars come.”  As she walked out, Miley said “was Kit talking to you about yesterday?”


“Yes and no – come on, you get washed first, then I’ll do your make up if you want before I get ready.”








“I’m amazed nothing has been leaked to the press yet,” Klaus said as he and Rudi sat with Teri and Juliette.  “Anywhere else, something like this would have been all over the papers.”


“It probably will be by Monday,” Sir Simon said, “but so far, we’ve been very lucky.”


“So, when do we need to be ready,” Juliette said as she put her cup down.


“The ceremony is at 1.30, so we need to be away in good time to be in the seats before she arrives.  Probably around noon – I’ll confirm that with security,” Sir Simon said as he sat down.


“Well, we have time in that case…”



11 am BST



Agnes looked round the marquee as the tables and chairs were laid out, the caterers hard at work as Sheilagh supervised the placing of the name cards.


“Miss Agnes?”


“Ah Rory,” Agnes said as she turned to look at her factor, “are the cars sorted out?”


“Aye – are ye sure ye want the girls to travel wi ye?”


“I am – has Caroline raised any concerns?”


“Only oer whether or not ye want the girls tae appear in any press photos?”


“It’s a fair question Rory – can you call the cathedral, see if we can slip in the side door.”


“Already taken care of, Miss Agnes,” Rory said with a smile.





“You have done an amazing job here Kyles,” Rose said as they made a final check on the dresses.


“We both have darling,” Kylie said as she stepped back, “and now all we need are the ladies themselves.  Caroline darling – and how are you and Ama this morning?”


Ama’s just getting ready,” Caroline said as she came in, adjusting the cuffs of her blue blazer as she looked at the stands.  “Rose, Sheilagh was wondering if you wanted some tea.”


“Oh now that sounds an idea – you be all right here love?”


“Go on darling – I’ll join you once I finish something here,” Kylie said as Rose left, closing the door behind herself.


“Have you had any sleep?”


“I managed to get a couple of hours,” Kylie said quietly, “but I will sleep well tonight, even if I avoid the very old spirits.”


“You did good work,” Caroline said quietly, “and at least it came to a good end for all.”


Kylie nodded as she looked out of the window.  “Such raw beauty – it was a pity it was marred slightly in that way…”




Agnes walked slowly down the stairs as she saw Donald coming to the foot of the staircase.


"Thank you for informing me doctor, please ring if you determine more," Donald sighed as he put his mobile back in his pocket.

"Who was that darling?"

"The coroner Aggie,” Donald said as he looked up.  “It looks like Catherine had an aneurysm on her brain, and that was why she died like that."

"Oh!" Agnes paused, "I know she was doing terrible things, but that is still not nice."

"No," Donald shook his head, "and in addition he found she had a brain tumour. She didn't know it but she probably only had weeks to live anyway."

"Could the tumour have been causing her to do what she was doing?"

"It might not have helped Aggie, but no Catherine was sick in the head long before all this happened."


Nodding, Agnes looked at her watch.  “Time we were getting ready – come on…”




11.30 am BST

Kilcraig House


As Pepsi walked down the stairs, she smiled as she saw Edwina and Fiona, both wearing cream sundresses.  She was wearing a white jacket over a blue short sleeved dress.


“So where’s your brother,” she said with a smile.


“Mick?  Getting into the suit I imagine,” Fi said as she looked to the stairs, and then said “I didn’t know you would be in full regalia today?”


“Well, it’s a Scottish wedding, so it makes sense,” Pepsi heard Jack say, but as she turned round her eyes widened as she saw him in the Stuart tartan kilt, black mess jacket, white shirt and black bow tie.  “I see what Mandy means now,” she said quietly, “about your father thinking the men have the better legs.”


“It’s true,” Will said as he walked down in the tartan, Mandy beside him in a pale green dress and jacket.  “Let’s go and get some coffee while the others are getting ready…”





“Feeling better,” John said as Colin came into the room, and poured himself some coffee.


“A bit better – at least I can think,” he said quietly, “I need to go and put the monkey suit on in a few minutes, but I need this first.  Where’s Catriona?”


“Where do you think?  They have all retired to prepare for the event, and I suspect I should do as well.  Nervous?”


“Oh yes – more than you might…  Excuse me…” Colin said as he ran off, John shaking his head as he stood up and followed.


A few minutes later, Colin came back in, looking to Tom as he said “how do you feel?”


“Don’t ask,” Tom said as he downed a glass of fizzy water.


“Oh boy, I’ve got my work cut out, haven’t I?”


“What do you mean,” Colin said as he looked at the tall teenager, “you’re fine.”


"Well I'm under firm instructions from Aunt Aggie to make sure that everything is great by the time we get to stand by the altar," John Gaunt looked at the bleary eyed Colin and Tom.  “So more coffee, and then showers – come on, let’s get going.  I don’t want the Knight of the Red Hand mad at me…”



12.45 pm BST



“Well,” John Gaunt said as he came into the main room, pulling the cuffs of the jacket of his grey morning suit down, “where is he?”


“Coming,” Tom said as he stood by the fire, dusting his top hat, “I hope anyway.”


“True – but it is a beautiful day for…”  John looked forward as Catriona came in with her mother in law and daughter, all three women wearing light blue coat dresses with white hats, gloves and shoes.  “Very coordinated, my ladies.”


“Well, it behoves us,” Liz said with a smile, “and Kit will be very impressed by you.”


“Okay,” Colin said as he came in, adjusting his grey cravat, “let’s do this…”






"Alright, let me think," Aileen pursed her lips. "Your hair looks great Miley, are you sure you don't want me to put a little makeup on you?"

"No thank you," Miley smiled, "I talked with Edwina and Clodagh and they aren't, so I won't."


"I love the little bit of makeup you did for me," Laura looked in the mirror.


“Good – right,” Aileen said as Eve appeared in the doorway, “time we were gone.  Come down when you’re ready…”



"Well Tippy am I going to let Sue down wearing this?" Agnes asked as she turned round.

"Not a bit darling," Tamsin said with a smile as she looked at her sister in the pale green dress with the matching jacket. "The girls were right in steering you to Nick Wu, he's made you look amazing."

"Can you help put my hair up?"

"I can," Tamsin said with a smile as she stood up. “You know the matching cream gloves, shoes, and hat, will make this look even more special."

"Well fingers crossed."

"So who will you be asking to design your wedding dress Aggie?"


“Let’s get today out of the way first,” Agnes said as Caroline and Ama came down with Kit.


“We’ll see you there,” Tammy said as she and Kit left with Caroline and Ama, Agnes nodding as she looked into the mirror, adjusting her new hat.


“May I say, you make a lovely mother of the bride?”


“Why thank you,” she said with a smile as she saw Donald standing in the doorway, wearing his full Highland dress.  “And where is the rest of the party?”


“So we look all right Agnes?”


“Of course you both do,” she said as Laura and Miley came in, looking nervous in the new dresses.


“Ah – I see you have my designs on Darlings.  You both look fabulous in them.”


“Thank you,” Miley whispered as they saw Kylie in her blue jacket and slip dress, and Rose in a white blouse and light blue trouser suit.  As they came in, the bridesmaids followed in their dresses, and then Sue, smiling under her large hat.


“Right then,” Agnes said, “Miley, Laura, you come with me, Rose and Kylie.  The second car will take the girls, and then something special for you and Donald…”


1 pm BST

St John’s Cathedral



The small crowd standing outside the main entrance to the church were watching from behind the police line as the two cars drew up, Daffy and Jimmy getting out of the first one with Charlie, and the rest of Colin’s family alighting from the second one.


“Right – let’s head in,” she said as the next set of cars drew up, the Rochermanns alighting from the first one, the Treharrans from the second, and finally the Fitzstuarts with Pepsi.  As that car left, Julette and Klaus arrived in a limousine.


“Glad you all made it – isn’t Victoria coming,” Juliette asked Mandy.


“No – she wanted some time alone darling.  But she will join us later.”


"So how did your daughter and her friends do Juliette?" Fi asked.

"Well they made the final tomorrow Fiona. She sounded very happy when we spoke."

"Good, it’s nice to remember that despite our crisis here the past couple of days normal life does go on."

"Well I'm not sure my daughter yet considers rowing to be normal."

"Well her friends must have seen something to get her to do this with them."





"Well hopefully we can look forward to several days good shooting now that all the fuss is over and done with," Peter Latimer stood chatting with some of the other men by the doors.

"Agreed," Sir Simon nodded. "We got a pretty good bag yesterday."

"Even the weather seems like it is going to cooperate." King Rudolf smiled broadly, "just for once we might not get soaked gentlemen."


“Will Donald join us?”


“Unlikely,” Sir Simon said, “he will need to make arrangements, and be seen to be doing the right thing.”


“You have heard the rumour?”


“I don’t think it’s a rumour,” Klaus said as he joined them, “I think it is fact, but we shall see.”




"Not a bad turnout," Grace looked round the cathedral nodding to a couple of relatives who she hadn't seen in many long years.

"Not at all," Margaret Harker smiled. "so how do you feel today Grace?"

"That at long last I have fully completed my re-emergence."

"Were you never tempted to go to any of your family things over all those years?"

"I was," Grace sighed, "but I knew if I did then it was only a short hop from there back into modelling, and I was still desperate to avoid that."

"Your poor family though," Maggie shook her head.

"They knew I was alive, I sent birthday and Christmas cards, I just never got in proper contact."


"I think they knew I had to do what I was doing, and they respected my privacy.  On which note – where is Amelia?"


“Flying to the US to see the family…”



"So what news from home?" Ama asked Pepsi as they stood in the aisle.

"Not a lot. Mom and Dad are in Saratoga to watch Sinnerz race. my other Mom and all the RCM people are at Watkins Glen for their race today. Becca says several of the girls may be going to the pool this morning. Jeans is in China..."

"Life goes on without us." Ama laughed softly as she interrupted.

"Looks like it."

"Well we fly home next week and virtually straight away fly back with the team."

"I know," it was Pepsi's turn to smile. "I have to admit I'm looking forward to that."





"It was so lovely of Miss Sue and Mister Colin to invite us," Sheilagh McAdam said as she fidgeted in her seat, "but I keep thinking of what I should really be doing to prepare for the reception."

"Everything is fine," Rory gave his wife a hug. "Everyone there knows just what they need to do, so relax and lets us enjoy ourselves."



“Dad – do you have to have your phone on?”


“Sorry kids - I have some news for Aggie," Mike Babbage looked up from his device as he and his family were shown to their pew.

"Good news or bad?" Sherry asked as they all sat down.

"I suppose that all depends on your point of view my darling."

"Meaning what?"

"Seeing Aggie and those two young girls together I decided to run a few unofficial enquiries."

"You did?"

"Yes," the police man smiled. "I think Aggie in the back of her mind is wondering about adopting those children."

"Well that's reasonably obvious," Sherry smiled.

"I know, anyway I just found out young Laura's mother died 6 weeks ago after walking in front of a car while she was bombed."

"Meaning that officially Laura is now an orphan?"



“What about Miley?”


“A little more complex – her mother and step-father have emigrated to Qatar.  So technically there is nobody to be her guardian.  I think Catriona may be able to help with that…”




"So which of us will be the next bride?" Charlotte asked as she spoke to Lily.

"Well don't look at me," Lily shook her head, "you and Sue have grabbed two of the best guys out there, and I am no further finding anyone even half as good."

"I'm sure there is someone out there," Piet chuckled slightly, "even for you Lily."

"Well he's taking his time finding me."

"A little patience." Francesca smiled.






“Who is this, Aunt Shirley,” Maisha asked as two taxis drew up, and a group of women got out.


“Some very special guests - You made it then?" Shirley said as she embraced the party from Sue's former place of work.

"Barely, I really should have given everyone yesterday off and we could have stayed in a hotel overnight. I understand I missed some excitement?"

"You might call it that.  How is business for you anyway Margot?"


Margot Harman smiled as she said “good – my sister sends her apologies, but she had another matter to deal with.  So where is Sue?”


“On her way I believe – Agnes and her group are coming in the side door…”




The crowd was growing larger as one car slipped to the side of the cathedral, the Deacon watching as it came to a stop by the side door before the driver came out and opened the door.


“Welcome Miss McAdam, Mrs Mahan-Gaunt,” he said as Agnes and Tamsin got out, then stood to the side as Kit exited, followed by Laura and Miley.  “If you will follow me?”


“Wow,” Miley whispered as she held Laura’s hand while they walked through the door, along a side aisle and then into the front pew on the left hand side, Charles and Bobbi smiling at them from the front pew on the other side.


“Glad to see you made it,” Daffy whispered from behind, “how are you Miley?”


“A little overwhelmed,” the young girl whispered back.


“Well, I think you both look amazing,” Daffy said with a smile as Jimmy nodded in agreement.





Colin looked nervously round the small side room as both Tom and John looked out of the door.


“Looks like most of the people are here,” Tom said quietly, “I can see Agnes and the girls there.”


“How do they look?”


“Amazing,” John said with a smile as he looked at Kit.


“And the younger girls?”


“Oh, they look amazing as well.”





“It’s amazing to see so many people here,” Gabriella Baines said as she sat next to her husband.  “And a good break from the campaign.”


“Well, there’s no point for the next week anyway,” Nicholas said with a smile.  “We just enjoy the day….”


“Is that Charlie over there, Jimmy’s brother?”


“It is - good to see him as well…”


“Here we are, darlings,” Kylie said to Rose as the car pulled up, the door held open as Penny got out with Helen, Kay, Jane and Bobbie, each wearing their white dresses with the overlay.  “Let me make sure everything is perfect for all of you.”


As she fussed over the dresses, Penny whispered to Helen “this is almost as bad as the Naples wedding.”


“Stop complaining,” Kay said with a smile, “at least it’s dry in Scotland in August.”


“There is that,” Penny smiled back as she looked round.





“Penny for them,” Donald said as he and Sue sat in the back of the limousine.


“Sorry – was I miles away?”


“It looked like it,” Donald said with a smile.  “Where were you?”


“Wondering if this is really happening – especially after yesterday.”


“I can imagine – but Catherine is gone now, and we all need to look forward.”


“Even you and Agnes, Lord Donald?”


“Especially me and Agnes – and Sue, I think it can be Donald now.  I’m hoping we will see a lot more of each other.”  As Sue smiled, Donald looked over and said “we’re here – let’s get you married.”


Rose opened the door as Donald stepped out, then helped Sue out as she held her hat on.


“Truly beautiful,” Kylie said as she made a small adjustment, while Rose handed Sue a bouquet of white roses mixed with sprigs of heather.  “Shall we?”





As a side door opened, and Colin walked out with Tom and John, the congregation quietened down and waited as the organist looked to the doorway, Kylie and Rose nodding as they slipped into a pew at the rear.  Turning to the sheet music in front of her, she adjusted her glasses and started to play Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary as the congregation stood and turned to look at the doors.


Penny and Kay led the way down, holding their bouquets as they smiled at the others, followed by Jane and Bobbie, and then Helen, before Donald and Sue walked down, Sue with her arm in Donald’s as she looked round.


“She’s radiant,” Roberta whispered, Charles nodding in agreement as Sue nodded ot Margot and Shirley, then smiled and mouthed “thank you” to Agnes as she passed the front pew, and stood next to Colin.


Reverend Pearson stood at the front, smiling as he said “welcome to this joining in holy matrimony of Susan and Colin.  We begin with the hymn Amazing Grace…”








As the organ began playing, Maggie nudged Grace, grinning as the blonde shook her head…




“We are gathered her to witness the union of this man and this woman,” the Bishop said “join together in holy matrimony.  This is a sacred and serious commitment, and is not to be undertaken lightly or without consideration.  For this reason, I call on those here present – if any know of any lawful impediment to the wedding of this man this woman, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.”


For a moment, Donald could have sworn he heard Catherine shout out, but as he glanced at Agnes and saw her smile, he nodded.


“Colin, repeat after me.  I call on these people here present.”


“I call on these people here present,” Colin said clearly.


“To witness that I know of no lawful impediment.”


“To witness that I know of no lawful impediment.”


“To my taking Susan Fletcher as my lawfully wedded wife.”


“To my taking Susan Fletcher as my lawfully wedded wife,” Colin said as his mother and father nodded.


“Susan, repeat after me.  I call on these people here present.”


“I call on these people here present,” Susan called out.


“To witness that I know of no lawful impediment.”


“To witness that I know of no lawful impediment.”


“To my taking Colin Gareth Gresham-Fox as my lawfully wedded husband.”


“To my taking Colin Gareth Gresham-Fox as my lawfully wedded wife,” she said with a smile, both Shirley and Margot wiping a tear away as she did so.


“Who gives this woman away?”


“I do,” Donald said as he gave Susan’s hand to Colin, and then stepped back, joining Agnes in the front pew as Mandy saw them hold hands.


“Colin,” the Bishop said quietly, “do you take Susan Fletcher to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, from this day forward until death do you part?”


“I do,” Colin said as he smiled at Susan.


“Susan, do you take Colin Gareth Gresham-Fox to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, from this day forward till death you do part?”


“I do,” Susan said as she looked into his eyes.


“Do you have the rings?”


Tom nodded as he took two gold rings from his pocket, and placed them on the bible as Shirley wiped her own eyes.  Colin took the smaller ring and put it over Sue’s third finger as he said “with this ring I thee wed, from this day forth and forevermore” as he pushed it gently on.


Susan took the large ring and put it on Colin’s finger, as she said “with this ring I thee wed, from this day forth and forevermore.”


“In so much as this man and this woman have exchanged their sacred vows and rings, and in the sight of the Lord almighty and this congregation, I now pronounce them husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride.”


Colin nodded as he said “hello Mrs Gresham-Fox” before he gently kissed Sue, as the congregation clapped and cheered.  They then both sat down as the lesson was read.






“Why are they going into the side room,” Mindy asked as Colin and Sue followed the Bishop into the vestry, Penny and Tom going with them as the photographer closed the door.


“They need to sign the Wedding Register, with witnesses and the Bishop as well,” Donald whispered, “and then when they come out, they will go to the front – which reminds me.”  He leaned forward and whispered into John’s ear “do you have it?”


“The coins?  I have them in my pocket – but what are they for?”


“You’ll see,” Donald said with a smile as the organ played quietly, the congregation talking amongst themselves.




The opening bars of Mendelsohn’s Wedding March played as Colin and Sue came out, walking arm in arm past the congregation as Tom accompanied Kay, and John Penny, then Bobbie, Helen and Jane before Donald took Agnes’ arm, and Simon and Roberta followed them while Laura and Miley came out with Kit and Tamsin.


There was a small group of children to the side of the main entrance, and as Colin and Sue came down the stairs he stopped and looked at John, taking the small bag from him as he said “all right kids – ready?”


As they nodded, he threw the coins over the grass to the side, the children scrambling to collect the money as he and Sue stood for the photographer.


“A scatter – another tradition seen to,” Agnes said as she and Donald watched.


“Why did he throw the money,” Laura asked as she watched.


“It’s a tradition at a Scottish wedding – the gift of money to the children, so they may share in the good fortune of the newly married couple,” Donald said as the congregation slipped out behind them.




We better nip away back to the New House," Rory whispered in Sheilagh's ear, "Make sure everything is perfect for when they arrive back."

"Aye we better," his wife smiled, "I'm glad we were invited here though, she made a bonnie bride."

"Aye that she did.  Cum on – let’s get going…"




“Right then,” the photographer said in his West of Scotland accent, “Can I have the parents with the bride and groom please?”


“I guess that means us,” Donald said as he and Agnes went and stood with Sue.


"Now this time try and hold on to him...Okay?" Agnes whispered in Sue's ear as they posed for the photographer.

"I never make the same mistake twice," Sue giggled, "this time he's mine for ever."

"That I am," Colin looked at his bride.

"Well to make sure," Tom Baxter said as he produced a pair of handcuffs from somewhere, "do i need put these on?"


“No – I think we’re fine,” Colin laughed as John Gaunt shook his head.


“Right – Bride and bridesmaids please…”





"Should I know this photographer?" Will said as he watched Sue with the other girls.

"Probably not Will darling, though one day you might," Mandy smiled as the photographer posed the bridesmaids with the couple, "his name is Joe Pescarello, and despite that name he's a Glaswegian."

"I take it then he's a rising star?"

"Well in John Hammond's opinion he is. When Colin and Sue were trying to find a wedding photographer it was John recommended him."

"I'll try to remember the name then," Will smiled.


“And can we have the groom and his best men please?”



"So what did you make of the ceremony girls?" Bobbie Gresham-Fox asked the two youngsters as they stood to the side.

"It was so beautiful," Miley smiled, "when I get married i want a wedding just like that Lady Gresham-Fox."

"Miley,” the older woman said with a smile, “call me Aunt Bobbie please."


"What did you think Laura?"

"She cried a couple of tears," Miley giggled.

"I did not.” Laura blushed as she said “I just got something in my eye."

"I'll take that then as evidence you liked it," the Ambassadors wife smiled herself as the photographer asked for the families to be in the next picture.

"Girls, come here please," Aggie called out. "You should be in this."

"But we aren't part of the family."

"Oh I rather think you are," Bobbie smiled as she led the two girls over.  They stood in front of Donald and Agnes as Victoria and her girls stood with Colin, Charles and Bobbie.


“Happy girls,” Agnes whispered as the photographer snapped away.


“Yeah,” Laura said, “pity we go back next week.”


“Well, I want to talk to you about that – later…”



"Who is the man organising all the transport Cat?" Caroline asked as the tall sandy haired man directed some of the guests to the waiting cars and coaches, "I've seen him round the last couple of days but no one has introduced me."

"That's Thomas Douglas," Cat smiled, "he's Elizabeth's estate manager, cum general factotum."

"Meaning what?"

"That Gran would be lost without him like we keep telling her," Lizzie joined the conversation. "He basically helps run her life."

"And despite that look in your eye Caroline it's a purely platonic relationship."

"Thomas's family have served ours for generations."

"As Lizzie says, he really is devoted to Elizabeth, but as her friend and servant."

"That's lovely."

"He's the one person on earth can actually bully my Gran," Lizzie giggled.


“Mom,” Ama said as she walked over, “we are being directed back to the cars…”




2.45 pm BST

The New House



"How far behind you are they Sheilagh?" the woman in the black skirt and white blouse asked as the housekeeper removed her coat.

"I'm guessing about 30 to 40 minutes Anna, once they get all the photos taken." 

"Good - We'll be ready."

"So what was it like?" Morag asked as she walked over.

"Oh it was a lovely ceremony."

"Do you know where they are going for their honeymoon Mum?" Morag asked.

"They are borrowing miss Penny's country cottage," Sheilagh checked her daughters blouse and skirt. "Now you know what you are supposed to be doing?"

"I do Mum, " the young girl smiled, "I make sure everyone has an invitation, and i tell them where to go."


“Excellent – I just have time for some tea…”




“Happy Mrs Gresham-Fox?”


“You know I am,” Sue said as she rested her head on Colin’s shoulder, “and I got those cuffs from Tom…”


“Oh my good lord – and what do you intend to do with them?”


“Just you wait and see…”




“All right, the first cars are approaching,” Rory said as he came to the doorway, standing formally as Will and Mandy came in with Angel, David, Jack, Billy and Pepsi.  “Welcome, yer Graces,” Morag said as she curtsied and Rory bowed, “if ye will head through to the rear, you will find refreshments in the marquee.”


“Thank you darlings,” Mandy said as they walked through, and were surprised to see they were not the first to arrive.  “Your highness – I did not know you were in the area,” Mandy said as Itzy smiled at them.


“Let us say we helped to solve some security issues, alongside my friends Liz and Karen.  I am not sure if you remember Mandy and Will, their sons, daughter and future daughter in law Pepsi.”


“I remember we talked at Charlotte’s wedding – you all work for her, right,” Will said as he kissed each of them.


“That’s right,” Liz said with a smile, “so Agnes, as I do some work for her now, invited us all to join her at the reception.”




“Welcome back, Miss Agnes,” Rory said as Agnes walked into the front hallway with Donald, Miley and Laura following with Tamsin and Kit.   “It was a beautiful ceremony.”


“Aye, it was – Kit, will you take Laura and Miley to the marquee, and get them a drink please?  I need to have a quick word with your mother.”


“come on girls – we’ll get some champagne,” Kit said as she took their hands, Donald smiling as he said “I need a word with Sir Simon.”


“So,” Tamsin said quietly, “it’s on again?”


“Oh yes,” Agnes said as the car with the bridesmaids drew up, “but I’ll tell you all about it later…”



“Maggie,” Grace said with a smile as they walked into the marquee, and gave Morag their cards, “I may be an educator and not a politician, but I'm warning you DO NOT raise the subject of the forthcoming election this afternoon...please?"

"As if I would Grace?" Dame Margaret laughed as she accepted a glass of champagne, "though I think there may be several people here getting just the same information being sent to them as I just got."

"Which as what?"

"The first opinion polls from Kensal-Queens Park,” Margaret said as they looked round, “they will be in the Sunday Times tomorrow."

"How is Colin doing?"

"Oh he's trailing, but the good news is that bitch from UKIP is in fourth place."


“So holding his own?”


“Oh yes – but you’re right, not for today…”




Rory smiled as he walked down the stairs, opening the door of the Jaguar ad holding his hand out to help Sue get out of the car while Simon walked round.


“Welcome home,” he said with a smile, “come through and hae a drink.”


“Oh yes,” Sue said with a smile as Colin held her arm, and they walked up the stairs, through the hall and into the marquee as Tom and John walked in.


“HERE THEY ARE,” Kay called out as the growing crowd clapped and cheered, while Shirley and John watched.


“Are you all right darling,” Shirley said as she looked at her partner, “you seem a bit nervous today.”


“I’m fine,” John said with a smile, but Shirley could see something was on his mind.





"So many engaged couples, I wonder in this year of weddings who will be the next?" Klaus brought Juliette and Terri glasses of champagne as he looked at Mick and Nell.

"Oh I suspect it will be Aggie and Donald," Juliette smiled.

"So you don't think John and Shirley will spring a surprise on us all?" the Queen asked.

"I don't think so..."

"Don't be so quick Juliette my love," Klaus interrupted. "I'm not as sure on that as I once was."


"Meaning what?" Ju whispered as she raised an eyebrow.

"Just something John told me a few days ago.  It may be nothing, but still…"




“Susan, Colin,” Roberta said as she walked over, “time to welcome your guests.”


“Here we go,” Colin said as he and Susan stood at the start of the line, Agnes and Donald standing next to them, and then Charles and Roberta with Penny and John.  Sue glanced down at Agnes’ hand, and whispered “do I need to make sure you book some time off soon as well boss?”


“No comment…”


“Your Majesties, Honoured Guests, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,” Rory called out, “please, make your way to greet the wedding party, and take your place at the wedding meal.”


“Come on,” Tamsin said as she and Kit guided Laura and Miley over, “we’re going first.”  They walked over, Tamsin kissing both Sue and Colin and Kit shaking their hands before Sue looked at the girls.


“You both look lovely in those dresses,” Sue said as she kissed them both on the cheek, “and thank you for being here for Aggie and Donnie today.”


“Thank you,” Laura said, Miley nodding as they walked down, and Aggie hugged them both.  “Donald and I want to talk to both of you about something later tonight – something good,” she whispered as hey made their way down the line, the other guests following as they took their seats at a table near the head one.




"Thank you so much for coming," Sue smiled as one of Colin's distant relatives kissed her.

"Heads up, Uncle Rupert is in the reception line," Colin whispered in his brides ear as the elder relative came forward, resplendent in his morning suit.

"It was a lovely ceremony young Colin," he said as he shook his nephew’s hand.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it Uncle."

"And you looked radiant Sue," he actually sounded genuine as eh kissed her on oth cheeks.

"Thank you Uncle Rupert."


“I admit, I was wrong – and I am glad I was…”





"So what is this I hear that the Scottish coaches might be checking you out Ama?" David asked as he sat down at the table.

"So Coach Nightingale told Mom." the African girl smiled broadly, "it seems because Mom's father was born here that I'm eligible to play for Scotland."

"Well I'll keep my fingers crossed."

“Oh I think she is a possibility,” Caroline said as she sat next to Jack.


"Have you heard from Judy, David?" Ama asked.

"I have, and she wishes she could be here." David looked a little sad. "I wish she was as well, I miss her like hell but she was committed to spending the summer teaching young musicians how to play the organ."

"Darling stop fretting," Mandy sat down as well, "you know that this means an awful lot to Judy."


“So what is on the menu for today?”


“For once, we don’t need a translation,” Will laughed, “Salmon with a watercress salad and a horseradish roumilade, vegetable soup, Highland Chicken with the trimmings, and a sabillion.”


“Highland chicken?”


“Chicken breast stuffed with haggis and served with a whisky sauce…”



 "When do you start shooting the GND stuff?" Pepsi asked Eve as she passed their table.

"In Boston next weekend," Eve said quietly.

"Are you and Aileen looking forward to it?"

"Honest answer?"


"I think Aileen and I are both scared stiff."


As Aileen nodded, Pepsi said “good – use that…”




“Will you all please stand, and welcome Colin and Susan Gresham-Fox!”


As the guests stood and clapped, a piper escorted the married couple to the high table, the tune of Marie’s Wedding filling the large tented area as they sat at the centre of the high table, and the meal was served…






“In so many ways,” Agnes whispered to Charles as they ate, “and you?”


“I think so – it’s not been easy, but they got there in the end, and they do belong together.”




“Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,” Rory called out as drinks were served round the tables, Rose smiling as she was served a fresh cup of tea, “pray silence for Lord Donald Fitzstuart!”


There was a round of applause as Donald stood up and looked round the room, before he said “well, this is quite a gathering isn’t it?  And before I say anything, I want to say how blessed we have been with the occasion, the weather, and everything, so let’s take a moment to give silent thanks for that.”


Laura gave Miley’s hand a squeeze before Donald continued “so we have gathered today to see Colin and Susan joined – again – as husband and wife, and for some reason, I got to play father of the bride, a role I have to say I never thought I would play, but have been honoured to do so today.


"You know when Susan asked me to give her away, I should have warned her that there would be an unfortunate consequence," Donald paused momentarily, "and that was that it would mean you were all forced to hear me give a little speech."

"Well as long as it is only a little one Donnie," Will answered as people laughed.

"He's a civil servant like my husband," Lady Fiona laughed, "he's incapable of only saying a few words."

"If you all keep interrupting I will make a long speech," Donald laughed.

"And he means that," Agnes said as she joined in the laughter.  Eventually, Donald said “all right, all right.  Sue...Colin..." Donald turned to the couple. "I've not really known either of you that long, but in the short time that I have I've come to learn just how deeply that you both love each other. The path you have taken to get here this afternoon has been long and torturous, and for a long period I know that a wedding like we witnessed this afternoon seemed to be an impossible dream."


As people nodded round the room, Donald said “but let’s be honest – they are not the only couple in this room who have been through separation and adversity, and yet have still come together and found their true life partner again.”  Looking at Sir Simon, Donald said “if I may briefly take a moment, most of you here are aware of my own situation, and the events of the last few days.  I mourn the passing of Catherine,” he said quietly as he looked to where Veronica and Archie were sitting, “and I will see she is at rest, but I also need to move on in my own life.  So, here in front of all of you, let me say now that Agnes has consented, in due time, to be my wife.”


“Told you,” Fiona said with a smile as Donald looked at Agnes.  “but today is about Colin and Susan, so as the father of the bride, let me say this.  Mìle fàilte dhuit le d’bhréid, Fad do gun robh thu slàn.  Móran làithean dhuit is sìth, Le d’mhaitheas is le d’nì bhi fàs.  Please, raise your glasses and join me in the toast – the bride and groom!”


“The bride and groom,” the room called out as Donald sat down to applause, and Rory stepped forward.


“Pray silence for the groom, Colin Gresham-Fox.”


As Colin stood up, he looked round and said “thank you Donald, for those kind words – and thank you all for joining me and Susan for this special day.  I am well aware that, as another civil servant, I run the risk of saying too much and precisely nothing…”


“NO!” Victoria called out in mock indignation.


“So let me say one thing first,” he said as he turned to Sue, “fate has brought us together again, and I swear I am not letting anything happen to split us up again.”  Sue smiled in return as he turned and said “so, there are some thanks in order – and I want to start by thanking all of those who have served either here or at the cathedral, both for the wedding ceremony and also for this wonderful feast, but most especially Seilagh and Rory who have coordinated everything – let’s give them all a big round of applause.”


He waited as the applause died down, and then said “I also want to thank Lord Donald for acting as the father of the bride today, given his own recent loss as well.  We are truly blessed that you have done that for us – and we are equally blessed that Agnes has both thrown her doors open to act as our host, and her heart to be the one to play the part of Sue’s mother today.  Together they are a formidable team – and we are the better for it.  My own mother would agree she is the true force in our family – apart from cousin Grace.”


“Amen,” Charles called out as the room laughed.


“But, with that in mind, I want to make a special gift to the three women of power here today – Agnes, Sheilagh, and my own mother.  And I have three special ladies lined up to do just that.  Girls?”


The room clapped as Miley, Ambrosia and Antonia each carried in a large bunch of flowers, Agnes crying as Miley handed one to her and whispering “thank you…”


“Now who else – oh yeah…  In a few moments, we will be hearing from my best man, Tom – so before I find new reasons to want to kill him, let me thank both him and John for standing by me today.


“But finally, and most importantly, there are five other women who have supported Sue through everything, and especially today.  With that in mind, and on behalf of both myself and Sue, please, raise your glasses in a toast to Penny, Helen, Jane, Kay and Bobbie – the Bridesmaids!”


“The Bridesmaids,” was the response as the five of them blushed, before Colin sat down and Sue whispered “Well done.”


“Now comes the fun,” Colin said as Rory called out “Captain Tom Baxter will now share a few words.”


The room applauded as Tom stood up, and said “I have a few messages to pass on.  Firstly, to Colin and Sue, best wishes on your happy day from Kensal and Queens Park Conservative Association – and also one from Teresa May and Jeremy Corbyn?”


“Playing both sides,” Nicholas Baines called out as the room laughed.


“We also have a message – many congratulations, from Lilian Harmon.  Okay - as Colin's best man I'm supposed to make a speech right about now." Tom Baxter said as he looked round the marquee.

"I've actually known Colin since we met on our first day at Winterfields, which is where we ended up eventually sharing a room. Despite his going from there to Eton, whilst I went to Sherborne, we have remained best friends I hope ever since."

"We have," Colin smiled.

"Now I know I'm supposed to tell Sue some of the embarrassing things that I know about her husband...And us having been friends that many years I do know most of his secrets...But I'd rather instead tell her, and all of you, some of the many wonderful things that make Colin the man he is."

"Before I begin though let me say that whatever else he is Colin is just so lucky that somehow fate and love brought he and Sue back together again. He and Sue were it seems made for each other, and its just wonderful that at last they are reunited."

"Hear Hear!" Bobbie called out.

"Anyway as I said, let me talk about the Colin I know." Tom took a breath. "As he himself will acknowledge, he isn't perfect, he has a nasty temper when its unleashed, and as i think we found out a couple of nights ago, he can't hold his drink."
Tom paused for the laughter.

"What he does have in abundance though are qualities such as compassion, humility, and modesty."

"Speaking as his sister, he has a lot to be modest about." Victoria smiled.


“That’s nice – family support,” Colin said as she shook his head.


“And I have to say that, whatever happens to his career, I know Sue will support him, and that Agnes and Donald will be there for both of them.  And really, I only want to say one more thing – you are the second luckiest guy in the world, after me of course.


“And with that in mind – Mr McAdam?”


The room watched as Rory carried in a silver quaich, and handed it to Colin and Sue as they both stood, while Tom said “ladies and gentlemen, Gu meal sibh bhur naidheachd!”


Go mbeannaí Dia duit,” Colin called out as he took a sip, then Sue followed as the others returned their toast.


“And now, we ask ye to retire to the main hall, whilst we make ready for the dancing…”




Laura looked round at the groups standing and talking, and then at Rudi and Terri as they stood talking with two other women.  Her curiosity getting the better of her, she walked over and said "Who are the two black ladies talking wit the King and Queen Agnes?"

"Two African princesses in their own right Laura," Agnes said with a smile. 

Laura whispered "You mean they are royal too?"

"They are," Agnes smiled. "the lady in the cream satin suit is the Princess Itsy Buthelezi. She's a member of the Zulu royal family. the other lady in that stunning floral dress is Karen Kumalo, and she's a member of the royal family of the Matabele people."

"They both sound so posh."

"Well they both went to public schools, then Karen went to Cambridge, and Itsy to Oxford."

"No wonder they sound like that then," Laura shook her head.

"Would you like me to introduce you?" Sue asked.

"Well if you hadn't offered darling Sue, I was about to," Agnes smiled some more as they walked over.

"Karen, Itsy, can I thank you both so much for coming to my wedding." Sue asked as they came over.

"You are more than welcome Sue." Itsy kissed the bride. "I have to say this is a wonderful reception."

"Well that is Agnes's doing not mine I'm afraid."

"You've done a marvellous job Aggie," Karen said as she kissed both women.

"That it all passed off without a hitch is in large part due I hear to you and certain of your friends ladies...Thank You." Agnes said quietly.

"Liz here played a huge role as well," Karen said as she grabbed her friend.

"I know," Sue kissed the third woman.

"Now I'm not sure if you've already met her, but this is Laura, one of Aggie's young friends.


“We met the other day,” Karen said with a smile, “I am glad your young friend returned safely.”  Looking closely at her, she said “I want to congratulate you and her, because good things only will come your way.”


“What do you mean,” Laura said, but Karen just smiled as she looked at Agnes.  “The pain is over, now you can live fully again.”






"Speaking as a model Kylie darling, then I think you outdid yourself with the outfits," Mandy drawled as they stood in the morning room.

"Well I must admit I'm quite pleased how they all turned out," Kylie said as she looked over to where Susan was talking to her party.

"You should be Kyles," Rose said with a smile as she sipped her tea, "from that first morning when we went to Joel's to look at fabrics till today you've handled everything wonderfully...At least in my opinion."

"I have to agree Rose," Lady Roberta turned to speak, "my husband might have got a shock from Kylie's prices, but when he saw me in this he agreed it was money well spent."

"I'm frankly jealous Bobbi," Mandy smiled, "wait till Will gets the bill when I have to commission Mother of the groom outfits for both Jack and David's wedding one day."

"Be ready for him to go into shock," Bobbi laughed.

"I know darling," Mandy took a sip, "and by the way Kylie, thank you for saying such wonderful things about me to that Australian magazine."

"I only said what I believe," Kylie blushed.

"It was still wonderful though."

"So are you going to be doing many more private commissions Kylie?" Lady Roberta asked. "Or are you largely committed to APCO?"

Rose looked over as she said "Her first commitment is to her school work I hope?"

"Yes," Kylie smiled, "I start at St Angela's soon, and that takes priority, but Alice wants me to send her ideas for APCO's next collection, and I have sort of promised some friends I'll design some things for them."

"You are going to be a very busy young lady." Bobbi nodded.


“Indeed – hello Mylie, have you enjoyed today?”


“Very much so – may I have a word with you please, Kylie – in private?”


“But of course – excuse us for a moment darlings,” Kylie said as she guided the young girl to a corner of the room.  “Now, young Mylie, what is it you wish to say?”



“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the band leader called out, “please welcome Colin and Susan to the dance floor.”


“Do you know, this is the scariest aspect of the whole day,” Susan whispered as Colin held her.


“Me too – let’s try and do our best,” Colin said with a smile as the band started to play a waltz, and they started dancing.


“May I have this dance,” Donald said as she took the hand of Agnes, and they went onto the dance floor, Helen leading Penny on.


“Helen,” Penny said quietly, “have you noticed anything about Shirley today?”


“I have noticed she is incredibly happy – why?”


“I think something’s happened, but I’m not sure what,” Penny said as she watched John take Shirley onto the dance floor, Juliette following with Klaus.


“Who is your Mum dancing with Kits?" Laura asked as they stood and watched.

"That is Major Charles Winmouth of the Grenadier Guards."

"I don't know much about this type of dancing,” Laura said, “but they look good."

"Mummy is a fair dancer, but he's really good."

"They look like old friends?"

"Aunt Aggie told me that he was my Mummy's first serious boyfriend way back when."

"They are old friends then."


“I guess so…”




“You haven’t lost your skill on the dance floor, Tamsin.”


"I was sorry to hear about you and Sophie getting divorced Charlie," Tamsin spoke as they waltzed.

"I think we just grew apart Tam," a wistful look crossed his face. "One day i think we both just realised that somehow we were leading separate lives."


"Yes," the Major shook his head. "I came back from Iraq, and then went straight to take the course at the Staff College, and i suddenly worked out that it had been over a year since she and i had made love."

"Ouch!" Tamsin shook her head, "that isn't good."

"Anyway we talked it out and she admitted that there was another man."

"Anyone I know?"

"Probably not Tam. he works for one of the big banks." Charlie smiled, "it's the type of job where he doesn't have to go away for months on end. Sophie needs the attention that i wasn't able to give her."

"She knew she was marrying a career soldier Charlie."


“Even so, I guess something was always missing – you?”


“I still miss him – but Kit has become an amazing young woman.”


“Tell me about it – Knight of the Red Hand, Master of Ardray, and I presume the next McAdam of McAdam?”


“So Aggie says – and she’s so in love with John Gaunt, my daughter is going to have so many titles.”


“She deserves the very best,” Charles said with a smile, “and I hear Agnes and Donald?”


“Oh yes – and that’s not the only change coming, if we read the runes aright…”




"So is everything set for next weekend Juliette?" the King asked as they danced the next dance.

"I spoke to Annie earlier, and she said that Ingrid, Sigi, Frau Strecher, and she confirmed the final arrangements earlier."

"Well, Terri and I will fly to Munich with you, and then from the christening we will fly back and go spend some time at Balmoral."

“Thank you,” Juliette said, "It's lovely that you are both coming to Furstenheim like this."

"It will be our pleasure." the King smiled, "so after the ceremony what are your plans?"

"To head for my summer home north of Boston. Cari and Annie both have to get ready for school starting again."

"And in Carina's case for her and her friends to prepare for this row-off to see who goes to the World Championships."

"That too." Juliette smiled. "Anyway before the christening whilst you and Klaus shoot I'm going to be in London for a couple of days staying with Margaret and interviewing those people she's got to help me with my book, and looking at documents."


“How is the research going?”


“I suspect this week, I am going to discover as much as I can about my great aunt, and if I am right, I am going to find out she was a true war hero…”






"Girls,” Agnes said as she looked at Laura and Miley, “would you like to go to Germany next weekend?"

"Germany?" Miley tilted her head.

"Yes Germany," Aggie smiled, "Juliette and Klaus's grandchildren are being christened and they asked if we wanted to go?"

"Us at a royal christening?" Laura asked, "this is one thing," she gestured with her hands, "but that is way above even this."

"And how could we travel? Don't we need passports and other things Aggie?" Miley asked.

"You do, but one huge thing about Donald being an ambassador is that he has influence in such matters."


“Well, if it can be done, but…  Agnes, why us?”


“We’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Agnes said with a smile, “but we’ll fly from here…”








“Mike – Agnes told me what you discussed with her.”


"When are you planning to tell Laura about her Mother Donald?"

"Agnes thought tomorrow Mike. She doesn't want to spoil today."

"I understand," the policeman smiled as he watched Richard and Miley trying to dance to the music.

"Your girls are both very light on their feet." Donald looked to where the Babbage girls were dancing with two of Colin's younger relatives.

"Well as you probably remember they don't get that from me," Mike smiled, "Sherry insisted that both Alice and Bridget took ballroom lessons."


“Very useful – excuse me a minute, I see someone in need of a dance.”  Mike smiled as Donald walked over to where the housekeeper was standing as the band leader called out “Ladies and Gentlemen, please form groups for an Eightsome Reel.”


Sheilagh – may I have this dance?”


"Are you sure Your Lordship?" Sheilagh asked, "I'm nae much of a dancer."

"Oh I'm pretty certain you can dance this better than I can," Donald smiled as he looked towards where the various sets were being formed up for the reel.

"Well if Miss Agnes does nae mind?"

"I don't Sheilagh," Agnes laughed, "and while Donald partners you, I'm going to drag Rory out to dance."

"Oh Miss that means you are asking for trouble," Sheilagh giggled, "my husband doesn't have two left feet, he has three."


“Trust me, he will survive,” Agnes said as they went to the dance floor, Laura and Miley going on with Richard and Sheilagh’s son.




“You seemed to enjoy that dance, Mom,” Ama said as she and Caroline took a seat.


“Indeed,” Penny said as she and Lily sat with them, “even if it wasn’t Dimitri.”


“Okay, okay,” Caroline said with a smile, “Lily – when did you get in?”


“We just arrived – we’re apparently evening guests,” Lily said as Tracey and Louise went to the bar.  “So, what have I missed?”


“Well…  That depends on whether something else happened today,” Penny said with a smile.


“What are you on about – Maisha, is everything all right?”


“Oh yes,” Maisha said with a smile as she sat down, and looked where Shirley was sitting, “everything is fine…”




“Cat – are you enjoying the evening?”


"I am – but is there some news about you and John that you wish to share Shirley?"

"I was sort of thinking just that Catriona," Juliette asked as she and Aggie joined Cat, and Madame at the table.  Shirley looked at them, smiled and said "I haven't got a clue what you mean girls."

"Oh come on Shirley, you are a far better liar then I am, but even so most of your friends can sense that something has happened, or is happening." Agnes smiled broadly. "So it's time to fess up Miss Xavier."

"Good Goddess," Shirley looked heavenwards, "don't i get to keep any secrets?"

"From us?" Cat laughed, "Shirley you should know better."

"I should shouldn't I?" Shirley said as she shook her head.

"So has he?" Juliette asked.

"Has he what Ju?"

Shaking her head, Juliette said quietly "Has John asked you to marry him?"

"And did you say yes?" Cat added a second question.

Looking at the three of them, Shirley sighed as she said "I won't hear then end of this till I answer will I?"

"Not from me you won't. And I'm pretty sure they have a strong idea what is going on as well." Agnes nodded towards where Penny was standing talking to Lily.

"Alright," Shirley rolled her eyes, "this morning John and I took a walk along the loch at Dunmarnock..."

"And?" All three of her friends asked at once.

"We stopped by the water side, he got down on his knee..."

"I knew it," Cat smiled triumphantly.

"And asked me to marry him...and I said yes," Madame smiled and blushed.


“Congratulations,” Juliette said with a smile, “so who else knows?”


“Apart from Maisha – and I suspect now Ama,” Shirley said as she looked across “nobody.  Can we keep the news quiet please?  There are several people i would like to tell personally, and not have them hear it on the gossip grapevine."

"Let me guess, Maddie and Sandra?"

"I'd rather like to be the one to tell Uncle John as well.  So please, let me do that, and when I come back to New York in a couple of weeks, we can celebrate then…"


“Well, I’m getting a drink now,” Agnes said as she walked to the bar, and then stopped as she looked at her phone.


"So what was in that text Aggie that has you knitting your brow like that?" Paula asked. "Not something bad I hope?"

"For me personally? Then no." Agnes smiled. "It was an enquiry from a potential client."

"From the look on your face it is maybe a considerable problem darling."

"it is Paula," Aggie smiled again, "the question is a little off my usual beat, but the company making the enquiry is headed by a personal friend of Augie van Roon's, and it was he who gave the referral to me."

"Sounds intriguing," Tom Lardarn said as he sipped his champagne.

"It is, and believe it or not Tom its the sort of thing I might need your advice on."


"Yes it’s a golf course and resort complex in Galway. It’s been open several years and not made a penny. The owners want my advice on whether a large scale further investment might make it profitable, or should they divest themselves of the property."

"Interesting," Tom stroked his chin.

"Tom I refuse to let you and Aggie talk business at a lovely wedding like this," Paula stood up. "We are dancing, and if you and Aggie need discuss this it can wait till next week."


“All right then,” Agnes said as she looked across to where Kit was standing with Laura.





“Do you ride Laura?”


“Ride what?” Laura looked stumped for a few seconds. “I can ride a bicycle.”


“I meant can you ride a horse?”


“Kit,” Laura said as she shook her head, “what chance did I ever have in life to ride a damn horse?”


“Not much I guess,” the Irish girl said as she shook her head. “Alright when you come to Ballysatten I’ll have to teach both you and Miley.”


Laughing, Laura shook her head as she said “Fat chance of that ever happening.”


“If you think I’m going to tolerate having cousins who can’t ride Laura Fitzstuart, then you are sorely mistaken…”


“What did you just call me?” Laura interrupted.


“Laura Fitzstuart,” Christine smiled, “after all it’s what your name will be when Uncle Donald and Aunt Aggie adopt you.”


Laura went pale as she said “Adopt? Me?”


“Well Miley as well.”  Kit said as she smiled.


“Have you been taking something you shouldn’t Kits?” Laura looked suspiciously.


“No I’m just repeating the whispers that I’ve heard. Anyway it’s pretty obvious.”


“What is obvious?” Miley and Richard said as they sat down.


“Kits is saying that Aggie and Lord Donald are thinking of adopting you and me Miles.”


“From what I heard my Dad telling my Mum they are more than thinking about it,” Richard grinned.


Miley and Laura looked at each other before the older girl said “excuse me a moment” and stood up, Miley saying “is it true” as she walked over to where Agnes was standing.


“Is it true Agnes?” Laura asked as she came closer.


“Is what true darling?”


“Is it true that you and Lord Donald are thinking of adopting me and Miley?”


Agnes went pale for a moment, before she said “Where did you hear that Laura?”


“Christine and Richard both said they’d overheard people talking about it,” Laura paused. “So is it?”


“Kids hear far too much,” Agnes sighed. “Yes its true Laura. Donald and I were going to wait till tomorrow to discuss this with you girls, but yes we have been talking about it.”


“Oh!” Laura’s mouth hung open.


“I think you know how much I’ve come to love both of you girls, and it’s not taken Donald long to come to love you as well.”


“Well Miley and I love both of you,” Laura said, “but…”


“Look,” Agnes said quietly, “you go round up Miley and I’ll go get Donald, and we will go in the house and discuss this…Okay?”



“I think the word is out, darling,” Mandy said as she looked over.


"Has anyone talked to Donald and Aggie what they are proposing to do about living arrangements once they are married?" Olivia asked.

"What do you mean?" Charles lifted an eyebrow.

"Well he has to be in Paris, and I'm not totally sure she wants, or can, relocate from London now she's finally relaunching her own career."

"And what about the girls darling?" Mandy asked as she watched Agnes, Donald, and the two youngsters head towards the house. "What about schools for them?"

"Donnie and Aggie have a lot to think about." Will sipped his drink.

"Under normal circumstances I'm sure Aggie's daughters would be at Footscray Lodge," Paula mused, "but I'm not sure that sending Miley and Laura away to boarding school is necessarily that great an idea right now."


“No – I actually think, like Maisha, they are better where they are for the moment,” Mandy said quietly, “and Donald needs time to mourn Catherine as well.”


“Talking of couples – have you seen the glow on Shirley today,” Olivia said as she looked over.







“Sit down,” Agnes said as she sat on a couch, Laura sitting next to her as Miley stood with Donald.  “Before we start,” Agnes put her arm round Laura, “I’ve got some bad news for you Laura darling.”


“What?” Laura said as she looked at the older woman.


“Mike Babbage, seeing the way the wind was blowing, made a few discreet enquiries Laura. He found out that your Mother died a few weeks ago. I’m dreadfully sorry darling.”


Laura bowed her head before she said quietly “How did she?”


“She was high on drugs and she wandered out into the road in front of a car, the driver couldn’t avoid hitting her. As I said I’m dreadfully sorry.”


“Why do you need be sorry Aggie,” Laura said as she shook her head, “I told her a long while ago she’d do something stupid like that. Silly bitch.”


“You are taking this remarkably calmly Laura?” Donald said as he looked over.


“Uncle Donald,” Laura said as she looked up, a tear in the corner of her eye, “when she just laughed as she watched her boyfriends do that to me I stopped thinking of her as my Mum. I guess I still loved her a little, but truth is I’m not really that sad to hear she’s died.”


“Well legally it makes you an orphan,” Agnes took a deep breath. “I know that it is both illegal, and I guess unethical, but I know people who can ‘ease’ your being adopted by Donald and I.”


“If you’d like that?” Donald said quietly.


“I would,” Laura said as she finally started to cry, “I’d like that more than anything, but honestly Agnes you know what I’ve been doing, are you sure you want a daughter who is a whore?”


“When she’s as wonderful as you Laura darling? Then yes I very much would,” Agnes said as she hugged her closer.


“What about me though?” Miley spoke at last, “my Mum and Dad are unfortunately very much alive, I’m not an orphan.”


“Miley,  Mike Babbage found out that your family have moved to the Middle East,”  Agnes motioned for the younger girl to join her and Laura on the couch. “In a way they’ve abandoned you.”


“I get that, but they still exist.”


“Donald darling,” Agnes said as she looked up, “do you want to leave the room while I explain what I’m going to do please?”


“Why would I leave?” Donald looked puzzled.


“So you don’t have advance knowledge of a crime darling.” Agnes grinned.




“Donald I know someone who can falsify Miley’s records so that all evidence of her relationship to her family is obliterated,”


“You do Aggie?”


“I do Donald, and don’t ask me who they are, and I won’t have to try and lie to you. But yes I can get someone to create a whole new life for Miley.”


“Isn’t that what we are both doing,” Donald said with a smile.  “You take care of Miley, I’ll take care of Laura – and when the dust settles, I hope you’ll think of calling me Dad instead of Uncle Donald.”


“What do you say – little sis,” Laura said as she looked at Miley.


“Where will we live?”


“We’ll discuss that later,” Agnes said as she hugged and kissed them both, “but not in Paddington, I guarantee that…”




“Has Agnes said anything to you regarding an appeal of her conviction Catriona?” Francesca said quietly as she sat down with the two barristers.


“We’ve had a couple of quick chats,” Clarissa said.  “I know she’d like it out of the way but she’s very much afraid of raking up old crap.”


“That’s what she told me as well,” Catriona nibbled on a sandwich. “If it could be done with the minimum fuss and publicity I think she’d approve, but after her past experiences with our delightful tabloid press she’s wary of what extra might get said.”


“Legally I’m pretty sure it’s something the Ministry of Justice would agree to readily,” Francesca said, “and I’m sure they don’t want to have to reopen all that man’s decisions and look for further bad judgments.”


“I agree Francesca.” Catriona nodded. “Look both of you leave it with me and I’ll talk some more to Agnes over the next couple of days.”


“Francesca can I beg this next dance?” John Vosloo walked over and asked.


“You can John,” Francesca said as she stood up.


“So,” Clarissa said as they walked off, “I saw you talking to Shirley earlier.  What’s happened?”


“Oh you’ll find out in due course, I’m sure,” Catriona said with a grin.





“Donald,” Sir Simon said as Donald came back into the tent, “do you have a moment?”


“Of course,” Donald said as they went into a quiet corner, “what can I do for you?”


“I wanted to give you my sympathies – and my congratulations, if that does not sound strange.”


“I guess it does when put like that,” Donald said with a smile, “what do our lords and masters say?”


“I may have forgotten to tell them the good news – I suggest it stays that way for a little while,” Simon said with a smile.


“Agreed – we trust others here not to say too much for a week or two, until she is buried, but there is something else your need to know…”


“The girls – I had heard rumours, and I think it’s a wonderful idea, but as I said – maybe for later…”






“Are you going to try for children straight away Sue?” Gabriella Baines said, trying to get comfortable as she sat next to the bride.


“We are thinking about it.” Sue said with a smile as she sipped her champagne, “but we want to get the honeymoon and the campaign out of the way first.”


“Have you stopped taking the pill yet?”


“I’m going to stop when we get back to London after the honeymoon.”


“Well I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it all goes well.”


“Do you think we will still be talking like this during the campaign?”


“Oh I hope so,” Gaby laughed, “civilized people should be able to disagree about politics yet still remain friends. Don’t you think so?”


“I’m hoping we can,” Sue smiled. “Anyway changing tack, any suggestions for what I should do during the election?”


“Can I be honest Sue?”




“Just be yourself and don’t try and pretend to be something you aren’t. People hate politicians and their wives pretending to be something they aren’t. It’s why Nick and I never try and hide our background.”


“Well thanks to what we put in the papers I don’t have many secrets left anyway.”


“I know, but I’m still saying go out there and be yourself Sue. Yes you are probably going to have a lot of shit thrown at you, but it will be a whole lot worse if you try and hide and cover up the real you.”


“Oh those days are past – this is Susan Gresham Fox – warts and all…”





“Victoria, Charlie,” Agnes said as Laura and Miley went to join Edwina and the others, “I need a moment please.  When Donald spoke earlier, I realised…”


“It’s all right Agnes,” Victoria said as she embraced the older woman, “we have to put these things past us now, and move forward from her shadow.  I couldn’t be happier for both of you.”


“Have you seen Colin and Sue?”


“I think they sneaked off for a moment…”




“We’re not getting to just sneak out, are we,” Sue said as she fastened her cream silk blouse, and slipped on the powder blue jacket.


“With my sister’s husband taking us?  Not a hope in hell,” Colin said with a smile as he fastened his tie.   As there was a knock on the door, Sue walked over and opened it to see Penny and Victoria standing outside.


“There’s a car waiting outside for you both – Rory already has your cases in the boot, and Martin has gone to the airport.  There will be a car waiting at Northolt to take you the rest of the way.”


“Helen and I are staying on up here for a few days, but I promise you won’t be disturbed,” Penny said with a smile as she whispered something into Susan’s ear, “the place is fully stocked.”


“And your private collection,” Susan whispered.


“Safely locked away.  Come on – you have a tradition to complete.”


“Best get it over with,” Colin said as Susan picked her bouquet up, and walked down to the staircase – only to see the guests standing and clapping as they walked down.


“Aggie…  Donald…  Thank you both for everything,” Sue said as she hugged them both, and then looked at the assembled group of women.  “Well, I guess it’s that time again…”


Gonna try to catch it,” Nell whispered to Ally.


“Oh lord no – want to give Mom a heart attack,” Ally laughed as Sue turned her back, looked over her shoulder and threw the bouquet, the flowers spinning through the air before they landed in Maisha’s hands.


“Oh no – not I,” she said quietly as Kylie hugged her.


“Worry not darling – it is only a tradition,” she said as the newly married couple ran down the stairs to the waiting car, the guests laughing and cheering before they started to make their own preparations to leave…



10 pm BST



“Thank you Sheilagh,” Agnes said as Donald sat next to her, and her house keeper put two steaming mugs in front of her.


“Why such a wistful look on your face darling?”  Donald smiled as he brushed her red hair back, and said “The wedding was a huge success, and I think we can make it happen that we can adopt the girls.”


“I know Donald,” Agnes snuggled up closer, “that’s all so very true.”


“Then why the long face?”


“Because I just realized that Shirley’s plan to announce her engagement to John in New York means I won’t be able to go to her engagement party.”


“Oh…  I’d forgotten that,” Donald looked reflective.


“You can go darling, you’ll be able to take the girls as well. All her other friends will be able to be there…except me.”


“You know,” Donald said quietly as Agnes picked up a mug, “Catriona told me that she’s confident she can get your conviction overturned?”


“I know,” Agnes nodded as she sipped her Ovaltine, “but even if that happens the Americans might still deny me a visa because of those things I pled guilty to, and I’m worried about publicity leaking out that Lady D’eath is seeking to have her conviction quashed. The newspapers I’m sure will still find plenty of mileage in stories about me Donald…and about you.”


“Have you thought about talking to Charles?”


“Which one?”


“Gresham-Fox. As our Ambassador in Washington he must know just who to talk to so that you can get this all sorted.”


“I’d thought of that, but what would be the fallout if somehow it leaked out that he was helping Lady D’eath?”


“Who says it would become public knowledge?”


“It probably wouldn’t,” Agnes said quietly, “I just don’t want to take the chance of hurting anyone of my friends Donald.”


“So what do you want to do Aggie?”


“What I’ve done all these years darling. Just accept that I’m excluded and just dream a dream of all the fun you’ll all have.”


“Nope, not this time,” Donald said quietly, “let’s see what can be done…”



Penny’s Country Home


“You’ve been working out,” Sue giggled as Colin carried her across the threshold, “you did that a lot better then you did the first time.”


“I guess I did,” Colin said as he put his wife back on the ground and kissed her deeply, while the driver brought their cases in.


Mmmmm and you are better at that too,” Sue giggled some more, “are you sure you haven’t been practicing with some other woman?”


“No Mrs. Gresham-Fox,” Colin smiled, “there was only, and will only ever be you Sue.”


“Thank you darling,” Sue said as she kissed him, then walked towards the kitchen, “now according to Penny there should be…”


“Should be what?”


“These,” Sue held up the bottle of champagne, and two glasses, that she pulled out of the fridge.


“We have such thoughtful friends you know,” Colin reached for a towel and started to uncork the wine.


“I know, it was wonderful of Martin to fly us down here in his plane.”


“So – what shall we do now, Mrs Gresham-Fox?”


“Oh I think we’ll figure something out…”




The New House




Miley was sitting on her bed, her knees drawn up under her chin as she heard the sound of running water, and then Laura came back in wearing her pyjamas.


“That’s been some sort of day Kiddo,” Laura smiled as she climbed into her bed.


“I know,” Miley shook her head, “last night we were saying that it would be so nice if Agnes and Uncle Donald could become our mum and dad, and now it looks like it might come true.”


“It’s like a dream.”


“There is so much needs sorting out though.”


Laura nodded as she said “Mainly for you Miles.”


Looking across the room, Miley whispered “How sad are you really about your Mum?”


“A bit I guess,” Laura said as she finished her milk, and out her glass on the bedside table, “but when I ran away from Ipswich I knew that I’d never see her again.”


“That’s how I feel about ‘them’ as well.”  Miley looked down for a moment, and then said “sod them” with a smile.


“Anyway,” Laura said as she plumped up her pillows, “that’s our past life, we have a whole new life to look forward to…Amelia,” Laura giggled.


“You dare call me anything other than Miley,” the younger girl glared.


“Well within the family, but I think it’s nice that Agnes wants to name you after her own mother.”


“And it’s convenient that Uncle Donald’s mum was named Laura.”


“Isn’t it?” Laura turned her light out. “You know Laura and Amelia Fitzstuart, those names sound pretty nice.”


“Yeah – really nice…”





Kylie smiled as she closed her suitcase, and looked out over the forest.


"So how did you spend your Saturday darling?" 

"Showing the Chinese contingent some of the sights of New York," she heard Marina say with a yawn.


"Rather you then me Marina.  I’ve had enough excitement this weekend."

"Well at least I get to put my feet up tonight, Anna and Pippa are taking them out to dinner."

"What are you having?"

"I,” Marina said with a sigh, “just placed an order for a large pizza."

"Sounds yummy."

"So what was the food like at the wedding? and what was the reaction to your designs?"

"The food was wonderful, and people have been very kind about my designs," Kylie said as she sat on her bed.

"Even Sir Charles?"

"Yes," Kylie giggled, "even after getting my bill, he still thought Lady Bobbi's outfit was wonderful."

"So back tomorrow?"

"Yes,” Kylie said, “and I am just so looking forward to getting back home..."

"You do realise you just called New York home?" Marina broke in.

"I know, being on this trip though has made me realise it really is my home. It's where most of the people I love and care for are, and that makes it where I want to be."


“Well, we’ll celebrate tomorrow.  Safe travels Swan.”


“And blessings onto you, Mongoose…”




11 pm BST



"You know you might just kill me BEFORE we get married Shirley," John laughed as he pulled the sheet up over their nude bodies.

"Well,” Shirley said as she leaned on her elbow, and stroked his cheek, “you deserved something special after such a special day my love."

"I think I need to put a request for an industrial sized pack of Viagra on our gift list."

"It might be an idea," Shirley giggled.

"So why have you asked people to not spread the news?"

"Because,” Shirley said with a smile, “certain people who are very special to me, I want  them to hear in person."

“A job for next week?”


“Indeed - I just hope those who know can keep the secret."

"Oh I think we can trust Ju, Cat, Aggie, etc to keep secrets," Shirley smiled inwardly.





"Well I saw your Mother dancing with several men Roo," Piet said as he sipped his cocoa.

"Oh yes she was dancing,” Charlotte said quietly, “but that was all."

"For a woman who had the reputation that she had..."

"You mean for sleeping around?" Charlotte interrupted.

"I guess so," Pet said with a wry grin as he looked over.

"What I think you are trying to say you big lump, is why is she suddenly celibate? Right?"

"It was sort of what I was thinking."

"Just remember a lot of that was part of her cover," Charlotte paused, "the rest though was her punishing herself in a way."


"Yes herself,  and indirectly Dad." Charlotte finished her drink. 

"Do you think she will ever..."

"Have sex again? I'm guessing only if there is some my father can be resurrected from the dead."


“Pity – surely someone…”


“I’m not going to answer that Piet – and you should not ask…”


Sunday 14th August

9 am BST

The New House



“Good morning everyone!”


"Well Mummy is there anything you want to tell me?" Christine smiled as Tamsin and Charlie came into the breakfast room together.  Tamsin was wearing a white jumper and jeans, and Charlie an open necked shirt and pants.

"I choose not to answer that question, darling, on the same grounds that you'll probably use if I ask you what John is doing here." Tamsin smiled.

Shaking her head, Christine said "Was he any good?"

"KITS!" Tamsin hissed, "there are certain questions that are beyond the pale."

"I know," Christine laughed, "but I wanted to see your face if I asked."


“Are all teenagers like this,” Charlie said as he sat down.


“Most of the time,” Tamsin said as John and Kit shook their heads.


“Good morning, Miss Agnes,” Sheilagh said as Agnes came into the breakfast room with Miley and Laura, the two girls going to join the main party.


"How did the early breakfasts go Sheilagh?"

"They went fine Miss Agnes, the girls and me got the ladies and gentlemen shooting this morning on their way nicely."

"Good, and for those people with more sense than to want to get up early after a wonderful party like last night?"

"I'll be serving a buffet breakfast most of the morning Miss."

"Sheilagh,” Agnes said with a smile, “what would I do without you?"

"Och getaway with yer Miss Aggie," the housekeeper smiled, "I'm only doing my job."

"But you are doing it magnificently...Thank you.”  In the background, she heard John say “girls, fill up – we’re going into the village later."


“Good morning,” Karen said as she came in, “is that fresh bacon I smell?”


“It is indeed, help yourself,” Aggie said as they loaded their plates, and then sat next to each other at the table.


As Karen poured tea into two cups, she said "Is Donald shooting this morning Aggie?"

"No," Agnes shook her head, "he's gone to talk to Archie and Victoria, and from there he was going to see the police and the other official people. Anyway it wouldn't quite look right if he went shooting this close after her death."

"I understand," Karen nodded. "You know if there was one thing bad about being educated in England, it's that I have a fatal addiction to full breakfasts."

"There are worse addictions," Agnes smiled.  “A lot of my friends share the same problem.”

"I know, but too much of this will play havoc with my figure."

"You know, I need thank you and all the other Sisters for what you've done," Aggie whispered."

"Agnes you are a sister, we protect our own."


“Even so, you went above and beyond for me and Miley.”


Smiling, Karen said “I told you to endure a little longer, but now that time has ended, and it is time for your reward.


“In all things.”


“What do you mean by - no, don’t tell me.  Let me find out myself…”




10 am BST



“Ah that’s better,” Rose said as she took a long drink from a mug of tea.


"Did Kylie get away on time Rose?"

"She did Shirley," Rose glanced at her watch, "she should almost be at the airport by now."

"Good - I didn't get a proper chance to thank her, I'll have to do it when I see her in New York."

"She was worried that you might not be talking to her after you got her bill for all the outfits."

"No," Shirley laughed, "it's fine. I knew Kylie Mitchell originals wouldn't come cheap."

"As my old Mam used to say,” Rose said quietly, “you have to pay for quality."

"Agreed Rose, and Kylie's work is of the highest quality."

"It is."

"Oh and by the way I need congratulate you and your helpers as well, when I send Kylie a cheque I'll include a bonus for you all."


“No need – but a donation to the Design department of the school…”




"Did you ring your flatmates Grace?"

"I did Vicky,” Grace said as she sat down, “I told them to tell Wilhelmina and others that I got caught in a Missy ambush and that I'm shooting this tweed collection."

"Are half the stories I've heard or read about Missy Auerbach true?"

"Oh you better believe it Vicky," Grace shook her famous blonde hair, "she's a living legend."

"Who are you talking about Grace?" Juliette asked as she sat down and stirred a mug of coffee.

"Missy. Victoria was asking if the stories are true."


“Which ones – the ones about how she appears just when you least expect her, or…  She’s just come into the room hasn’t she?”



"So what news from New York Ju?" Shirley asked her friend as Missy walked off.

"Saintz won easily, RCM had engine problems but still managed to finish third..."

"That I knew, I got a text from Sandy earlier. she wasn't happy, but at least its more qualification points in the bag."

"It's just what Jan said. "So what else? Everyone is looking forward to the Christening"

"That's a given Juliette darling."

"Vanessa and her friends have been invited to sing at a doowop festival in Los Angeles..."

"You didn't tell anyone about John and I?"

"No, I promised," Juliette smiled, "and according to Heather planning for those projects I mentioned is going ahead."

"That's excellent, I might even join you for a couple of them."


“You’ll always be welcome…”




The New House


"So when does school restart for you all in New York Pepsi?" the young Irish girl asked as she put her coat on.

"The first full week in September Aileen."

"So you fly home next Sunday after the Christening, then fly back the next weekend, you have a week of football games, and then you fly back yet again to start school?"


"God and I thought Paula and I were going to be busy."


“Welcome to our world – anyway come on – we promised Kit we’d be crowd control as well…”


The Moor


"So Piet you ended up loading for Caroline this morning?" Catriona asked as she started to help unpack the hampers from the SUVs.

"I did,” the big man said as he stretched his arms up, "Ama and Francesca went to Mass in Oban this morning."

"Maybe a lot of us should have gone to church and given thanks," Catriona spoke quietly, "we all have a lot to be thankful for."

"She won't be overly missed, Cat dearest."

"On that I think most of us agree." Catriona paused for a moment and looked at the big man. "Pieter I know you are a journalist, but if I tell you something can I have your word it won't end up in your newspaper?"

"That sounds intriguing?"

"Do I have your promise?"

"As long as it’s not something that breaks my personal ethical code, then yes you do."

"Alright," Cat took a deep breath, "you've no doubt heard that years ago Agnes was convicted of some prostitution offenses?"

"I had."

"Well it turns out that Catherine had used blackmail to ensure that the judge gave Aggie the maximum penalties."

"She hated her that much? Even back then?"

"Yes," Cat shook her head. "Anyway Clarissa Latimer, Francesca, and I believe the evidence is clear enough that the Ministry will readily agree to the overturning of Agnes's conviction on the grounds of judicial impropriety."

"Sounds very likely to me as well."

"The problem is that Agnes is afraid that if she does ask for her conviction to be quashed, all her dirty linen will get washed in public opinion again." Clarissa paused again, "as a top journalist Piet is that likely? Is there some way we can ensure it doesn't?"



"So where are the girls and some of the other children Agnes?" Fiona asked as she sat with her hostess.

"Elizabeth's man Thomas has driven them all into the village. Kit and John were going to take them to Mrs McDonalds to shop for sweets Aunt Fiona, and Pepsi agreed to go as an extra pair of eyes."

"Does she still have all those jars full of old fashioned goodies?"

"She does."

"We all probably paid the price in fillings, but even so shopping there remains one of my fondest memories of childhood," Lady Fiona smiled, "and that was back in the days when OLD Mrs McDonald owned the shop."

"I remember dad telling me all about it." Agnes laughed lightly. "Children nowadays grow up so fast but it’s still nice that a few old pleasures remain to them."

"Listen,” Fiona said quietly, “Simon told me what you and Donald are planning with the two girls."

"I hope you both approve?"

"Well I'm not sure that I like the recourse to extra-legal methods,” Fiona said quietly, “but Simon and I will both turn a blind eye."

"Thank you Aunt Fiona.  Given their background, I want them to have so much more…"

"Simon's happy that you are going to rename Miley for Amelia."

"Well we will still call her Miley most of the time, but I think Mummy would like it."

"Amelia would love the idea, and its convenient that Miley can be taken as a shortened form of Amelia." Fiona sipped her tea. "So are you going to move them into Bayswater Road with you?"

"I'm proposing to."

"And what about schools?"

Agnes sat on the tailgate, and said "I'm open to advice, but I know Laura dreams of being back in a proper traditional school."


“It might be best, once they are settled, but it would mean getting them assessed.  Have you spoken to Shirley?  She had tutors for Maisha as well as you?”


“It’s a possibility, at first anyway, but I think we get Catherine buried before we start to think seriously about that.”


“On the other matter – your passport and your right to travel…”


“Oh lord – please, don’t involve HIM!”


“Oh Boris is off limits – let’s just say Simon and Sir Charles are double teaming on this…”


1 pm BST

Ardray Village


Mrs McDonald hung her coat on the hook by the store room door, and looked round as the door opened, smiling as she saw Kit and John come in.


“Miss Christine, Master John – what brings you to my store today?”


“Not us so much as these young ladies and gentlemen,” Kit said as Aileen, Clodagh, Edwina, Charles, Laura, Miley and Robert came in, Pepsi closing the door behind them as they looked round. 


“Oh my – and who do we have here,” Mrs McDonald said with a smile.


“Well, that’s Edwina, Clodagh and Miley over there,” John said as the three younger girls looks through the glass front at the liquorice laces and swirls, “the other two girls are Laura and Aileen, and the boys Charles and Robert.”


“And hae they all been here for the wedding?”


“Among other things – anyway, we wanted them to get some sweets, and Agnes said to ask for a quarter of the usual.”


“Aye, that we can do,” Mrs McDonald said as Miley looked round.  “I’ve seen the shops in Leicester Square and Covent Garden,” she whispered, “but this is so different.  What are in all the jars?”


“Toffees, mints, gobstoppers and boiled sweets – what do you really like Miley?”


The young girl looked at Mrs McDonald, before she whispered “I really like mint creams.”


“Well, I think we can help wi that,” Mrs McDonald said as she took a jar down, Miley watching wide eyed as she poured some chocolate discs into a scale, and then into a paper bag, twisting it round and handing it to Miley.


“Thank you,” she said quietly as Laura said “do you have any red liquorice?”


“With or without sugar strands?”


“Without,” Laura said as Mrs McDonald took half a dozen sticks and put them in a separate bag.


“This must all be new to them,” Pepsi said to Kit as the younger kids each asked for their sweets.


“True – best to let them be kids.”


“If I may ask, Miss Kit – who are they really?”


“Well,” Kit said quietly, “we have Lady Edwina and Lord Charles Treharran, Lady Aileen Gaunt, Lady Clodagh Gaunt, and Master Robert Babbage.”


“And the other two girls?”


“Well – they will soon be adopted by Agnes, so you may be seeing more of them Mrs McDonald, but not a word please.  For now, Laura and Miley are just two ordinary kids.”


Mrs McDonald smiled as she said “ah good – more young voices…”




The New House


Donald walked in as Sheilagh closed the door, and said “Miss Agnes is in the drawing room, Lord Donald.  If you go through, I will bring some tea.”


“Thank you,” he said as he walked into the room, Agnes looking up as she said “rough morning?”


“I’ve had better days,” Donald said as he sat down and Sheilagh brought the tea tray in, setting it on the low table before she left and closed the door behind herself.


"Well darling?" Agnes asked as Donald poured himself a cup of tea.

"Well - Archie and Victoria agreed that my idea for her funeral sounds about right."

"So we will have her cremated and then her ashes put in the Fitzstuart family vault in Ordford Cathedral?"

"We will Aggie," Donald sighed, "she will be buried as my wife with all due ceremony."

"Did you talk to Clive?"

"I did,” Donald said as he took a drink, and put his cup down.  “He asked that, when we can, Victoria and I should make an appointment to see him to discuss the exact arrangements."

"Do you think many people will actually want to come to her funeral Donald?"

"To be honest,” Donald said with a sigh, “I don't know, but I think at least for appearances sake several people will force themselves to."

"Am I being wicked in thinking that given how much appearances mattered to her, that somehow seems what she'd love?"

"Who knows?" Donald finished his tea. "It was one of the things that Victoria and I talked about, whether either of us really did know the true Catherine."

"Did you talk to Will about all this?"

"Yes, and he said that he will put up guests attending the funeral at Ordford. Mandy says she will organise a small thing for after the internment as well."

"I guessed she might," Agnes held her fiancés hand. "So any idea when her body will be released and what legal hurdles that need to be jumped?"


“Essentially, although she was a wanted woman, it is still an unexplained death, so we need the permission of the local Sheriff to release the body.  Normally, an inquiry is needed, but I know Simon and Mike Babbage are arguing in this case there is no need for that.”


“And once that permission is given?”


“We take her south and make the arrangements, and in many ways, the sooner the better.”




“So what is America like Maisha?” Kit asked as most of the younger people sat round Sheilagh’s kitchen table having their lunch.


“I find it interesting.  The contrast between New York and London is amazing.”


“I can’t believe that Miley and I will be going there soon,” Laura shook her head. “I pinched myself to make sure I was awake when Uncle Donald told us.”


“Well for me it’s my home,” Ama smiled, “I’m the opposite, I get excited coming to Europe.”


“You come back in a fortnight?”


“To play some football games, yes.  I will see my sister again as well.”


“Your sister,” Mylie said.


“Uma – she was adopted by a woman near Harlow, and we will meet when I go there."



3 pm EST



"In the end it wasn't even really a race Mom," Carina said as she looked at her computer screen, "and Tuesday and Wednesday in Rumania will be as bad the girls think."

"Did they even break a sweat?"

"Not really," Carina smiled, "it just seems pointless on the part of US Rowing ordering us to do these two regatta's."

"Sometimes what the authorities ask in so many aspects of life seems like that darling."

"I know Mom. At least with so little really needing doing I finished a couple more of the books I wanted, and needed, to read."

"That's what I like to hear. Student/Model/Athlete always remember the Student bit comes first..."

"You missed out my being a Mom as well," Cari giggled.


“True – well, Klaus will be flying back on Tuesday with Rudi and Terri, while I head to London and complete my research, and then we have the Christening before we all fly home.”


“I’ll be back Thursday morning – and I cannot wait to see the family again.”


“I know the feeling…”




2 pm

West Central Park


“Right – I’ll let them know and get back to you – we’ll talk soon Emerald,” Katy Carter said as she ended the Skype call, and left her bedroom.


"Was that Orion I heard you talking to Katy?" Katherine said as Katy came into the kitchen.

"It was Gran – she sends her love to everyone here."

"Did she have anything interesting to say?"

"Basically just the dates for the Irish Fashion Fair in Dublin, and then the Linen Show in Belfast."

"When are they?"

"At the end of September," Katy poured herself some orange juice. "I'll need a week off school."

"You'll what young lady?" Janice said as she walked into the kitchen.

"Mom,” Katy said with a sigh, “you know I promised both Eve Stone, and Orion that I'd walk those shows."

"I know you did," Jan poured herself a coffee, "but I'm still not overly happy with you having to ask for time off school to do so."

"Jeannie will be in the same position."

"I know."

"If neither you or Barbara want to travel I can find some good excuses to go home," Katherine offered.


“We’ll talk about it later,” Jan said as she looked out of the window, “and talking of travellers, looks like one has come home at last.”




Marina looked up as the telephone rang, putting the Times supplement down as she stood and picked up the receiver.




“Oh thanks Charles – I’ll open the door,” she said, replacing the receiver and opening the apartment door before she hugged the young blonde standing outside.


“Welcome home,” she said as Kylie came in, Clint following with her bags.


“Thank you darling,”  Kylie drawled as she took her jacket off and hung it up, “and thank you Clint for meeting me.”


“No problem Kyles – Susan says she’ll see you both tomorrow,” Clint said as he left the apartment, Kylie collapsing into an armchair as Marina looked at her.




“Oh yes – I just want to do nothing for the rest of the day…”



2 pm

Washington DC


"Well Jeff - do you see the problem?"

"I do Charles," Jefferson Davis Hunter said as he looked at his computer screen.  He was sat in an opulent oak-panelled room, the sun shining through the window.   "She does seem to be a case where yeah technically we shouldn't let her have a visa, but when you consider every detail then just maybe we need to review the case and maybe grant an exemption."

"I know you are with Homeland Security now Jeff,” Charles Gresham-Fox said from Scotland, “but you used to be at the embassy in London, you know Donald, and I've no doubt you've heard of Agnes."

"I have," the American smiled, "and no, I’m not going to tell you how.  Okay - just let me look at the paperwork in the office tomorrow Charles, and I'll get back to you."

"Thanks Jeff, that's all I ask."


As he ended the call, Jefferson sat back and thought for a moment.  She knew who Agnes McAdam was, of the legendary discretion, and of the role she had unwittingly played some years ago.  Perhaps it was time she was repaid…



7 pm BST

The New House



“Agnes, thank you again for a wonderful weekend on behalf of all of us,” Penny said as she stood with the other girls in the hallway. 


“It was a pleasure – the cars will get you to the airport for the plane down to London, and I’ll see you all some time in the next fortnight.”


“Stay safe,” Helen said as she kissed Agnes on both cheeks, “and look after those two.”


“Oh don’t worry, I feel a lot safer now,” Agnes said with a smile s she walked them down to the cars, waiting as they set off before she walked back in.


“Aggie,” Tamsin called out, “you’d better get in here, there’s something on the neas you need to hear.”


“What is it,” Agnes said as she came in, and saw Sally Magnusson on the television from the BBC news studio.


"Police have confirmed tonight that the body of a woman, which was discovered near Oban on Friday night, was that of Lady Catherine Fitzstuart, the wife of the British Ambassador to France, Lord Donald Fitzstuart.  While no details have been released of the circumstances of the discovery, a police statement says that she is believed to have died as a result of an embolism. 


“Lady Fitzstuart had recently absconded from a psychiatric hospital where she was receiving treatment following a recent breakdown.  A report has been presented to the Sheriff of Oban for consideration,  Lord Donald has issued a statement on behalf of himself and Lady Victoria Gordon, stating that they wish time to mourn their loss, and ask for privacy at this time.


“In other news,,,"


“Well,” Kit said, “it’s out in the public now.”


“It surely is – where are the girls?”


“Helping Sheilagh with supper - why?”


“I need to take care of something – let me know when dinner’s ready,” Agnes said as she went up to her room, and opened a laptop up.  “Well, here goes nothing,” she said quietly as she opened a Skype window, and placed a call.


“Well this is a surprise – what cane I do for you Agnes,” Heather said as she appeared in the Manchester kitchen.


“Sorry to disturb your Sunday Heather…”


“Ah dinner’s done and the kids are out with Jo. What do you want to talk about?”


“Actually,” Agnes said quietly, “I need your – specialist help.”


Okkayyy – that sounds serious.  How can I really help you?”


“Heather – I don’t know how much of what has happened this weekend has reached your ears…”


“Apart from the wedding?  We have heard about certain other events.  On which note – congratulations I hear are due.”


“Thank you – but that’s the reason I called.  Donald and I are planning to formally adopt the two girls I brought from my school.  Laura, the older one, is an orphan, but Miley’s parents have left the country and abandoned her.  Heather…”


“I get the problem, Agnes.  Let me have her date of birth – or a reasonable guess at it – and I’ll see what can be done in terms of what you need.”


“Heather, thank you.  If I let you have that info later today?”


“I’ll see what I can bring to Furstenheim.  Be at peace Agnes – we’ll talk at the weekend.”


Monday 15th August

10 am

US Department of Homeland Security


The young woman looked up as the woman walked in, wearing her Dress uniform, her hat in place as she approached the desk.


“May I help you, Ma’am,” she asked as she looked over.


"My name is Eleanor Ball,” the officer replied, “I have an appointment to see Undersecretary Hunter."

The receptionist looked at her screen and smiled.  "Ah yes Captain Ball, if I might see some identification please?"

"Certainly," Eleanor reached into her handbag and pulled out her ID card.


“Excellent – of you will take a seat, I will inform the Undersecretary you are here,” she said, Eleanor nodding as she sat in the leather chair.


The office was cold, clinical, but she knew that was the effect that had to be projected, as she heard a young man say “Captain Ball?”  She looked at the intern, as he said “would you follow me please” and they made their way through the security gates, and along the corridors.

Eventually he opened a door with “Jefferson D Hunter” on the glass panel, Eleanor following through as he knocked on an inner door.




“Captain Ball to see you sir,” he said as he held the door open, Jefferson Hunter standing as he said “thank you Tony – Eleanor, please, come in.”

As Tony closed the door, Jeff walked round and kissed Eleanor on both cheeks, saying “you look good – retirement must be suiting you.”


"It's been a while Jeff,” Eleanor said as she sat down, “how are Jacqueline and the family?"

"They are fine Eleanor, Deb just made me a grandfather...for the fifth time."

"Oh that makes me feel old Jeff, I remember her as a little girl herself." Eleanor shook her head.

“What about you?  I’ve seen your picture in society pages with your son and his partner.”


“Oh I’m good – Adam and Jan are good, as are their family.”


"Anyway,” Jeff said as he sat down, “the reason I asked you to drop in..."

"You were a little vague Jeff."

"Well it's nothing really official Eleanor.”  Sitting forward, he said “You remember Agnes McAdam from London don't you?"

"Indeed I do, and I recently had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with her at a wedding in Naples."

"Ah.  Whose wedding?"


“Charlotte Gordon di Cambrello and Pietre van der Byl.”


“Ah the Marchesa’s daughter?  That was a shock announcement in many ways…”

"Getting back to Dr McAdam though…  Why do you ask Jeff?"

"Charles Gresham-Fox has asked me to look into her case."

"Now I get you,” Eleanor said as she sat back, “he wants us to review the bar on her getting a visa because of her criminal convictions?"

"Precisely," the government official leaned back in his chair, "what is your opinion Eleanor?"

"Well, for a start Aggie presents no risk to security, and we might even owe her a little for her aid in that affair I worked in London.”


“True – did you come clean with her?”


“I did – it was a weekend for admitting truths.  Also, the Vatican has cleared her to see some of its most sensitive documents of the 20th century to help another friend, so that means something.  Finally, just to add some icing if you like, if what I've heard over the weekend is true, she'll soon be the wife of Britain's ambassador in Paris."

“Lord Fitzstuart is married.”


“Widowed – you need to check your UK briefings.”


"I see…  So you think we can and should grant her a visa waiver?"

"I do Jeff." Eleanor smiled, "and given that she's advising one of our country’s biggest companies in Torware, I think there are many justifications for doing so."


“Very well then – I’ll arrange for her to be invited to the London Embassy for a formal interview and visa grant.  So, what else are you doing today?”


“Checking some facts for the same friend – her great aunt was Dr Jane Huntingdown.”


“The criminologist – in what context?”




Jefferson nodded as he said “she was at the OSS for a while – and it was rumoured she was connected to YY, but nothing ever proven.  Good luck.”


10 am

Complete Style Magazine


Kylie smiled as she stepped out onto the editorial floor, wearing a sleeveless blue blouse and shorts, with white heels, and looked round.  She then walked towards the Lair, opening the large doors as Casey walked past.


“Hey Kylie – back home for a while?”


“Indeed darling,” Kylie said with a smile, “is Merlin in residence?”


“She’s in the back – but I better warn you, Alice is there as well.”


“Not a problem, darling,” Kylie said as she walked slowly along to the viewing table, hearing Mary Thomas say “Ai – that one, that one and that one?”


“Agreed” Alice said as Kylie joined them, “now to ask the question that has not been asked yet.”


“Very philosophical of you, Mary darling?”


“Kylie,” Mary said as she and Alice turned round, “just the young lady we wish to see.  Got a little job for you?”


“Nothing heavy or strenuous,” Alice said with a smile, “and we’ll be by your side all the way?”


“And the task is?”


Mary and Alice looked at you, before Alice said “to do a photo shoot for some of your designs?”


“I am flattered darling – and who do you have in mind to wear them?”


“Well…”  Mary leaned back on the table, smiled and said “you.”


The staff walking past heard the clear North London shout of “Ye’re freaking jokin!”…



3 pm BST

The Savoy


“Good afternoon Dame Margaret,” Jack Doherty said as he opened the door, “Princess Juliette is waiting in the tea rooms.”


“Thanks Jack,” Margaret Harker said as she walked through, smiling as she saw Juliette sitting at a table.


“Maggie – thanks for joining me,” Juliette said as she stood to greet her friend, “sit down, I’ll get some coffee brought over.”


“Thanks – it’s been one of those days,” Maggie said with a smile, “so how did it go at the Records Office?”


“Intriguing – a lot of the stuff is redacted, but it is clear Jane Huntingdown worked as some sort of liaison between intelligence groups in the Allies, as well as for this YY group.”


“Did the records say anything about who was involved?”


“No names are visible, but the dates and locations of some of the dispatches do confirm she spent a lot of time in Italy after Mussolini fell.  I’m hoping Agnes can corroborate that when we talk tomorrow.  One thing is certain – she and Sandy’s great aunt were more than mere secretaries.”


“You know the full story may never come out?”


“True – but I think I have enough…”



11 am

Complete Style Magazine


Anna Mitchell laughed as she entered her office, Marina looking up as she said “what’s funny?”


“Did you hear the explosion in Merlin's cave Marina?"

"No,” Marina said as she sat back, “but several people have told me about it Anna.  I did warn them…"

"I know you warned them how Kylie might react if we asked her to model some of her own creations."

"I did," Marina said as she picked her mug up and sipped her coffee, "modelling doesn't exactly fit Kylie's self image."

"Agreed, but I think she has enough going on that she won't look totally out of place doing so."

"Did you talk to Susan about it as her legal guardian boss?"

"Yes I did, and I rang her mother in London, both of them think that as long as she wants to do it then its fine with them."

"And did you ask Gio?"

"I did, and yes  he says he'd love to photograph her."


“Well, we’ll get her mother and aunt over as well – make it a real family affair…”


4pm BST



"Oh that's one shoot I'd pay to see," Pepsi giggled as she looked at her phone.

"What is darling?" Mandy drawled as she looked over.

"CS have asked Kylie to pose for a shoot wearing some of her own designs Mandy."

"They have darling?" Mandy looked amused. "As you say I think I might even pay to see that myself."

"See what?" Will asked.

"CS have asked Kylie to model some of her own creations," Mandy stood up and kissed her husband. "Enjoy the day?"

"Very much so, and as you say that might be a sight to see." Will grinned as he said, "and talking of modelling, are you, Grace, and the others set for tomorrow?"


“Well, it must be done, and then we need to think of preparing for the Christening darling.”  Mandy then looked serious as she said “did Donald talk to you?”


“He did, and he’s talked to Victoria and Archie – they’ve agreed the cremation and internment plan.”


“Good – with luck, we can do that in a few weeks…”



The New House



"Have you seen the papers and the television news Aggie?" Donald said as Agnes came back into the drawing room.

"I have Donald," Agnes said as she sat down, "to be honest I rather expected it to be a lot bigger story."

"It doesn't exactly profit anyone to look too closely darling," Donald replied quietly as he sat down and kissed her. "Given the political situation the government would rather it all went away quietly, and none of her family and friends has much interest in having the media rake over the coals."

"No, most people just want to forget."

"So how was your day?"

"Most of it was rather routine, I spent most of it going over estate matters with Rory and Sheilagh, but I just got a surprise telephone call."

"Oh,” Donald said with a smile, “and what was that?"

"An invite from the American Embassy to come in for an interview with regards to my status vis-a-vis getting a visa."


“Really?  Well, if they are inviting you, it is a step forward.  When?”


“I’ll fly down Tuesday – I have to meet with Juliette anyway, so I’ll kill two birds with one stone as it were.  Can you take care of Laura and Miley that day?”


“I’ll get Mandy to invite them to Kilcraig for the day,” Donald said with a smile.



"He did what?" John Gaunt asked as he sat in the parlour with the other girls.

"While you and so many others went shooting perfectly innocent birds darling, Jimmy gave us all some dance lessons." Kits smiled.

"And it was actually huge fun," Eve added.

"Tiring, but fun," Miley added her opinion.

"In a way I'm sad I missed it," John gave Kits a kiss.

"He even knows a lot of Scottish dances," Aileen said as she finished her lemonade.

"So hopefully come Friday night we won't look too bad for the thing Agnes is giving for the tenants and the other local people," Laura said as she sat down.


“Oh you wouldn’t do that anyway -  promise you,” Kit said with a smile.



8 pm BST



“It is good to be back again,” Maisha said as she walked into her home, “shall I make some coffee?”


“Please,” John said as he put the bags down, and paid the taxi driver.  “Shirley?”


“I need to make a call, start to let some people know,” Shirley said with a smile as she hung her coat up, and went into the main room, smiling as she sat down and took her phone out.




“Yes, it was a wonderful wedding.  Listen – can you call round to the office tomorrow, say at about 3?  I need to discuss a matter with you…”


6 pm

West Central Park


“Calmed down a bit now,” Marina said as she and Kylie came into the apartment.


“A little darling – it just came as a complete shock to me.”


“I guessed - by all reports Tottenham Kyles made a dramatic reappearance.”


“She did – but I was soon back to normal.  Did Anna say anything?”


Gio will do the shoot – so it might be time for your mum and aunt to visit us.”


“Just in time to see me in my new uniform, darling?  That should be an entertaining week…”


“Anyway, I think we’ve got some chicken and vegetables – how does Chow Mein sound?”


“Divine, darling…”




The Richmond Home

Manchester, CT


Heather stopped outside Sand’s door and knocked lightly, saying “can I come in?”


“Sure,” Sands called out as Heather opened the door, seeing the young teenager in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.


“I wanted to see how you were feeling,” Heather said as she closed the door, “now that Holly has gone back to the city.”


Sands smiled quietly as she said “I still miss her, but I know she needs to spend time with Tommy now, and I’m not going to stand in her way with that.  We’ll catch up again in a few weeks, I’m sure.”


“You’ve come a long way this summer, young Padwan,” Heather said as she kissed her young charge’s head. 


“Have I?  I suppose so,” Sands said quietly, “but I do miss her.”


“I know – so what are you going to do this weekend in Germany?”


“Well, Tommy and Holly are not coming, so it won’t be so bad – and then I have school again.”


“Well, just remember your mom and I are here if you need to talk.”


“Thanks,” Sands said as Heather stood up.  “Heather – should I tell the other girls?”


“Well, Katy already knows – and we can trust her to keep a secret.  What about the other four?”


Sands sat for a moment, and then shook her head.  “No – I may just keep quiet about that for now.  If they ask, I’ll think about what to do then.”


Tuesday 16th August

11 am BST



“Those are just SO stylish and classic,” Pepsi watched as Mandy and Angel posed in the vintage inspired tweeds, “they are just what I always imagined ladies did wear in places like this.”


“You watch too many historical shows my love,” Jack said with a smile as he put his arm round her.


“I love English Literature and History as well…things like that inspire me. And unlike you Jack Fitzstuart I wasn’t born to all this, so I don’t take it for granted.”


“I take your point,” Jack paused, “are you going to be okay for Germany?”


“Do you mean have I got my head round the fact that I’m  going to be a prince’s godmother yet?”




“Sort of.”


“Meaning what?”


Pepsi siled as she said “that I just keep telling myself that Rudi is the son of Cari and Annie and that they are both simply friends. I’m trying to ignore the titles.”


“I guess that makes sense.”  Jack laughed as Grace and Olivia joined the group with Fiona.


“Darling, will the budget stretch to you buying this for me?” Mandy shouted to Will as she nodded down at the outfit she had on.


“I guess so.  We just need to sell more jumpers with Alice.”




10 am

Xavier International, New York


“Alright what is there that I MUST do before I fly to Europe on Friday?” Susan asked as she looked round the room.


“I need a decision on hiring new staff for my department.”


“I need approval on those equipment purchases.”


“We need you to sign off…”


“Alright I get the picture,” Susan laughed as she interrupted, “there is a lot on my plate.”


“We also need to finalise some agreements for the special training course,” Sandra said as she looked at her pad.


“True – we can discuss that later.  Tamera, come and see me at eleven to discuss the staffing requests…”



3 pm BST

The Savoy


“I looked at the notes you sent me of what you discovered yesterday Eleanor. Thank you for doing that research for me it confirms so much that I’d suspected.” Juliette looked at her computer screen and smiled at the sight of her friend sitting on the deck of her house with Chesapeake Bay in the background.


“Well it’s clear that she and her friend Annabel Rockland both spent the war undercover, and were very involved in the activities of the YY group.”


“As you say, it is pretty obvious,” Juliette paused, “I know that both the British and US authorities will want to keep some of this secret, but I’m hoping that I’ll be allowed to reveal at least a few of the operations they were involved in.”


“I can’t see why they really should. This was over 70 years ago after all.”


“Well I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”


“With my being Jewish, does crossing mine count?”


“I’m not sure Eleanor,” Juliette laughed. “Anyway while I head back into the archives this afternoon what plans do you have for your day?”


“Beyond meeting Veronica for lunch? then not much. We will probably go do some shopping so neither of us looks too out of place at a certain royal christening.”


“I can’t imagine which one,” Juliette said with a smile.  “I meet Aggie tomorrow to see what I can learn from the Vatican papers, but it already looks amazing…”


Xavier International


“Did you enjoy your shooting Madame?” Penny asked on the secure computer link.


“Very much so,” Shirley smiled, “though I discovered the difference between merely being a good shot and being a great one like Tom Lardarn. I was next to him in the line and I swear he didn’t miss a bird all day.”


“A couple of people told me over the weekend how excellent he is.”


“Anyway before Sandra arrives, and we meet John for dinner, what news do you have?”


“All quiet here – Lily is debriefing her team, and a full report will be on your desk tomorrow.”


“Good,” Shirley said as Amanda buzzed the intercom.


“Miss Kirk is here, Shirley.”


“Okay – bring her in and bring some coffee.  Penny, we will talk tomorrow.”


“Until then Madame,” Penny said as she ended the call, and Amanda showed Sandra in.  Shirley was wearing a light blue dress, her jacket on the rack, while Sandra was wearing a red jumper and dark skirt.


“Sandy – thanks for meeting me today.  I trust you have your evening clear today?”


“As you requested – but why?”


“We’re having dinner with John Jacobs at the Dorchester – but before then, I want to discuss the training schedules for some new recruits…”





11 am

Saks, 5th Avenue


“Well, here we go again,” Erica said as she, Denice, Eva and Melinda walked into the Schools department.


“No supermodels lurking are there,” Denice said with a smile.


“Good morning Miss Burton,” the dark haired department manager said, “it’s a pleasure to see you again.”


“And to see you Louise,” Denice smiled, “you know it seems impossible to think that it’s a year since we were last here doing this.”


“I know, time flies.”  Denice and Eva were wearing jumpers and slacks, while Melinda and Erica wore shorts and blouses.


“That’s true,” Denice said with a shake of her head. “Anyway - I have a couple of people for you to meet. This is Eva Eckholm and her daughter Melinda. Melinda is this year’s winner of the Kirkham.”


“Hello,” Louise smiled, “it’s nice to meet both of you.”


“And you,” Eva said as she looked round, “St Angela’s said we needed to come in and see about Mel’s uniforms.”


“Of course,” Louise looked Melinda up and down. “It looks like I’m going to continue needing to order in long blazers at least for a few years.”


“Yep,” Erica laughed, “Mel is yet another girl that I’m going to get a crick in my neck looking upwards at.”


“Just face it, you are short Bones,” another voice was heard behind them.


“Well compared to you and Mel I am Poppy,” Erica turned and smiled at her friend.


“Hello Eva, hi Denice,” Pippa said as she kissed her friends, “while Louise and the girls do their thing, can I tempt you both to coffee?”


“That sounds an idea to me.”


“First rule of Angel’s moms,” Denice said, “all is solved over coffee…”





“So what’s up?” Pippa asked as the three women sat down.


“Well, Eva and Mel are staying with us for a few days whilst Sarah has the soccer squad doing intensive training.”


“I think I heard Poppy mention that.”


“It means that while my daughter and her teammates practice, I’ve been buying bits for her new room, and getting a lot of her school supplies sorted.” Eva said as she took a sip.


“Well that sounds a good idea to me Eva.” Pippa nodded. “So do you think it’s going to work out her staying with Denice and Erica?”


“I think so. It’s going to help that she and Erica have so much in common in their intellectual interests.”


“Even if my daughter hates soccer,” Denice laughed.


“Well mostly the same interests,” Eva laughed.


“I know you won’t make the Friday Coffee Clutch,” Erica said, “but I hope you do get to come to some of the events and parties.”


“Oh yeah – the parties,” Pippa said, “who has the honour of hosting the Halloween party this year?”


“Still to be decided…”



8 pm BST

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester


“That Foie Gras was amazing,” John Jacobs said as the plates were cleared, and the waiters brought out the caviar and crackers.


“This must be important for you to bring us here,” Sandra said as Shirley smiled.


"Well I'm not going to complain about an invitation to eat at such a wonderful restaurant Shirley,” John said as he adjusted his tie, “but I have to ask myself why you've done so."

Shirley wiped her lips and put her napkin back before she looked at the other two.  "I have some important news I want to tell you Uncle John, and I thought that this made a great place for me to tell you and Sandra."

"Now you have me very intrigued Shirley," Sandra spread a little caviar and put it in her mouth.

“So what is this vital news,” John said as he sipped his wine.


"Last Saturday morning," Shirley took a deep breath, "John asked me to marry him...and I accepted."


John and Sandra looked at each other as John slowly put his glass down.  “Did I hear you correctly,” he said, “John and you are engaged?”


“Yes, yes we are,” Shirley said as she drank from her own glass.

"Oh that is amazingly good news," John grinned from ear to ear, as he first stood, and then leaned over and kissed her.

"It is WONDERFUL news," Sandra hugged her old friend, "and if I might say so, long since overdue."


“Thank you – both of you,” Shirley said as she blushed.


"So have you set a date yet?"

"No, we've vaguely talked about having a wedding just before Christmas, but nothing firm yet."

"Alright,” John said, “just let me know when you have decided and I'll put it on my calendar."

“Hell, I’ll clear the week,” Sandy said with a smile, “and so will quite a few people I suspect.


"Thank you Uncle John, Sandy," Shirley said before she paused, "I do have one date for you though, we are proposing to have a party in New York in a couple of weeks where we will tell everyone."

"So keep this a secret till then Shirley?

"Please Sandra, can I beg you not even to tell Maddie, I want to tell her in person first."


“And when do you plan to do that?”


“Before I go to bed tonight…”

"I understand.  So, will this be here or in the US?"


“As I said, no idea – yet…”



4 pm PT

Los Angeles


“Maddie – Skype call from London,” Emma called out as Maddie came into their apartment.


“Who is it,” she said as she came in to see her wife seated in front of the coffee table.


“Hey Maddie – I tried the office, but they said you had already left.”


“Shirley – is everything all right?  It’s midnight where you are?”


“I know but there was something I had to ask both you and Emma.”


“Okay,” Maddie said as she sat down, “and that is?”


“Can you come to New York in a couple of weeks – John and I are going to host a party, and we want all our friends to be there.”


“Well, I suppose we could,” Emma said, “but what’s the occasion?  John going to make an honest woman of you?”


As both women looked at the screen, Shirley just smiled and nodded.


“Oh my GOD!  He asked you?”


“And I said yes Maddie – only a few other people know for certain.   Ju, Catriona, Agnes, John, Sandy – and now you two, so please, don’t tell anyone else.”


“Well, I presume Maisha knows as well,” Emma said with a smile, “and she gets to be a bridesmaid.”


“Yes, and yes, but we need to decide where and when first.  Hopefully, by the time we announce it publicly, we’ll know, but Emma – we want you and the girls to play at the wedding once we have date and venue sorted.”


“Let me know when you know,” Emma said with a smile, “and congratulations.”


“Right – I’ll let you sleep now.  See you in a few weeks,” Shirley said as she ended the call.


“I wonder if Vanessa had a book?”


“Find out in two weeks,” Emma said as she stood up.


“Where are you going?”


“Champagne of course…”


Wednesday 17th August

10 am BST

The Savoy


"Did Shirley fly you down Agnes?" Juliette asked as they sat in her suite.

"She did,” Agnes said as she sat down, adjusting her tweed skirt, “I have to say I envy having her own plane like that."

"So do I...  That's a luxury though that I'm not sure even Klaus's and my joint budget can stretch to."

"She was going to see both John Jacobs and Sandra last night to tell them in person about her and John getting engaged."

"I know how close she is to both of them, I think its lovely that she wants to tell them in person like this."


"Anyway if I can change topics,” Juliette said with a smile, “what can you tell me that was in all those lovely Vatican documents that I’m barred from seeing?"

"Some pretty amazing things,” Agnes said as she shook her head, “even I wasn't quite prepared for a lot of what I read, but your Aunt certainly had a distinguished wartime career Juliette."

"The more I research her, the more obvious that's becoming."

"My big question is how do you want the answers to your questions. I can give you a handwritten report, or I can put it all on a computer file."

"Well, which is easier for you Agnes?"

"Handwritten, but given the complaints over the years from people that my handwriting is unintelligible, I suspect I had better put it all on the computer," Aggie giggled.

"That might be easier," Juliette joined in the laughter.  “So, can you give me the highlights?”


“Essentially – yes, she was the unofficial liaison between the Holy See and US intelligence, and had a hand in the conference that determined how the peace would be maintained after the fall of Il Duce.  She also seems to have spent time in France and the Lowlands before D-Day.”


“One of the women parachuted in?”


“Indeed – but I’ll see what I can tell you.  Ah, thank you,” Agnes said as the coffee was poured.


“So what else have you planned before you fly back tonight?”


“I need to go into the school, and do a few things -  and then I have an appointment at Grosvenor Square.”


“The US embassy?”




1 pm BST

Hopkins Street


“Agnes,” Kathy said as she saw the older woman coming into the office standing up and hugging her as she said “I heard the news.  What was she doing where you were?”


“Trying to hurt me – and failing,” Agnes said as she looked round.  “How have things been in my absence?”


“No problem – are Laura and Miley having fun up there?”


“Oh yes – and there’s something I need to tell you about both of them.  You know their place in Paddington?”


“Yeah – Laura gave me a spare set of keys for safety.”


“Good – I want you to go and make sure everything is all right, and they have some food and things in.  They’re going to be moving soon.”


“Oh – where to?”


“To live with me – I’m adopting them Kathy.  They’ll still come to the school for the time being, but I want to make sure they have what they deserve.”


“The kids will be so jealous – but they deserve it,” Kathy said with a smile.  “While you’re here, want to check the latest deliveries?”






3 pm BST

US Embassy

Grosvenor Square


Agnes thanked the security guard as he showed her into the compound, and she walked to the entrance he indicated, looking round as he did so.  Entering the building, she walked up to the reception desk.


“Good afternoon, Madame,” the girl sitting there said in a California accent, “how may I help you today?”


“Hello I'm Agnes McAdam, I'm supposed to be seeing someone called Richard McAdam from your consular section, am I in the right part of the building?"

"You are," the receptionist said as she looked at her computer screen. "Hmmmm he's running a few minutes late, can you wait?"


“Of course,” Agnes said as she sat in the leather chairs, flipping through the copy of Time Magazine.

“Dr McAdam?”


Agnes looked up to see a tall, well built man with a blonde buzzcut.  “Richard McAdam,” he said as he held his hand out, Agnes standing and shaking it.  “If you will come with me?”


Agnes nodded as they walked down some corridors, and then entered an office, Richard indicating a chair for Agnes as he sat at the other side of the desk.


“May I first say, it is an honour to finally meet the McAdam of McAdam,” Richard said as he looked over the desk.


“An honour?”

"I'm a member of the McAdam Clan Association back home Dr McAdam,” Richard said with a smile, “and it is a genuine honour to meet you in person."

"Thank you,” Agnes said with a smile, “and it's always a pleasure meeting members of our clan."

"Well I'm hoping that if we can get this all cleared up today, one of the things you'll be able to do is come over and address our clan gathering next spring."

"It's something I'd very much like to do Richard."

"And maybe bring the black flag for people to see?"

"Of course." Agnes smiled.

"So,” Richard said, “can I ask beyond giving your clansmen the honour of your presence why you will be wanting to visit the US?"

"Can I say that my first trip would be to attend a party?"

"Oh?" Mr McAdam lifted an eyebrow.

"Yes, a friend got engaged last weekend, she makes her home partly in New York city and she'll be having her engagement party there."

"Ah I understand," the man smiled.

"But I'm also anticipating having to travel on business at times."

"You are an economist?"

"I am, and I'm doing some consultancy work for Torware, and I'm hoping that in the future other companies might want to make use of my expertise."


“And your – shall we say, past employment?”


“Is in the past – I can provide the legal papers if need be.”


“I also understand congratulations may be in order?”


“Well,” Agnes said with a blush, “we have a funeral to attend to first, but hopefully after that…”


“Do you have your passport with you?”


Agnes nodded as she handed it over, Richard nodding as he looked at it and then took out a stamp.


“It gives me great pleasure, Dr McAdam, to confirm that you have been granted a Visa to allow you to visit the United States, with immediate effect,” he said as he stamped her passport, and signed the form that was imprinted on the page.  “And I do look forward to finally seeing you at the gathering next year.”


“Thank you,” Agnes said as a tear started to form, “I need to ask – I am in the process of adopting two young girls.  If they wish to come?”


“Complete the ESTA form on line, with their passport numbers, and give your visa number.  There will be no problem.”


Handing over her passport, Richard stood and offered his hand again.  “Good luck,” he said as Agnes took his hand, “let me show you out.”







Return to the Pussycat Gang index


Return to the main index