New Starts – Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 5th January

8 am

The Village

 

 

Dominique was sitting at the breakfast table, looking at her daughter as she slowly ate her breakfast.

 

“Nervous,” she said with a smile as the young girl sipped her orange juice.  She was taking great care not to spill any crumbs or juice on her grey jumper or the sleeves of her white blouse.

 

“Is it all right if I say yes?” Ama said quietly.

 

“It’s fine – this is a big step for you.  Would it help if I told you we are all invited to Shirley’s for dinner tonight?”

 

Ama smiled and nodded.  “It means I can tell Maisha what my school is like.  She starts in February, I believe.  It will be good to send more time with her.”

 

Glancing at her watch, Caroline stood up as she heard the knock on the door.  “Get your blazer and coat on,” she said as Ama rose as well, “it’s time.”

 

Nodding, Ama went to her room while Caroline went to the door.

 

“Hey,” Pepsi said as she stood on the frost-covered pavement, “Is the new girl ready?”

 

“I think so,” Caroline said as Ama walked down the stairs, fastening the front of her duffel coat as she did so.  “I will see you tonight,” she said as she hugged her mother, and then put her satchel over her shoulder.

 

“Go, learn new things, and have fun,” she said as Jo drew up.

 

“Right, you two, jump in,” she said as Pepsi opened the rear door of the jeep.  “Traffic isn’t too bad, but I still need to pick Nikki up.”

 

Caroline stood and waved them off, before she went back up the stairs and started up her laptop.  Going onto the secure network, she looked to see if there were any messages, and smiled as she read the weekly report.

 

“Dom?”

 

“Hey Ju,” Dom typed, “how are you?”

 

“Better for the weekend off thanks.  Do you have time to drop by the office this morning?  I need to discuss something with you?”

 

Glancing at her diary, she typed, “I’ll be there at eleven.”

 

“Thanks – see you then.”

 

Looking at her mail, Caroline smiled and got to work.

 

8.30 am

St Angela’s

 

Doc and Becca were standing at the main gate, their arms wrapped around themselves to keep out the cold as Abby helped Jeannie into her chair.

 

“No sign of her yet,” the young girl said as she wheeled herself over.

 

“Not yet – how was LA?”

 

“Warmer than here,” Jeannie said with a smile, “I brought some samples back for all of us – I’ll give you them at Jo’s place later.”

 

“Speaking of which,” Doc said as Jo drew up, Nikki getting out of the front passenger seat as Ama and Pepsi got out of the back.

 

“Hey,” Jeannie said, “welcome to purgatory.”

 

“I thought this was St Angela’s,” Ama said as she looked at her.

 

“Ignore her,” Doc said, “she just hates first period Monday – Math with Miss Kelly.”

 

“Ah – I think I understand, although I would have thought Spanish would be worse.”

 

“Says the woman who speaks three languages,” Jeannie said with a smile.  “Right – everybody ready?”

 

She looked round the group and said, “okay then – let us enter.”

 

Ama walked slowly behind Jeannie with Pepsi and Doc, Becky and Nikki behind them, as they went through the gates and into the courtyard, the other girls smiling and waving as they did so. 

 

“So what do I do,” Ama said as they walked into the building.

 

“You join the girls for assembly,” Annie said as she met them, dressed in a grey blouse and skirt with long black boots.  “You are a pupil here, Ama, so you join them.”

 

“Come on,” Doc said, “you can sit next to me and the others.”

 

The girls made their way into the main hall and took their seats, Jeannie moving her wheelchair into position, as the girls talked amongst themselves.  They fell silent, however, as the staff came in, and then stood as Miss Harkness, the head teacher for the Freshmen, walked to the dais.

 

“Good morning, ladies,” she said as she looked out over the hall.

 

“Good morning, Miss Harkness,” the girls said before they all sat down.

 

“It is my pleasure to welcome you back to the new semester at St Angela’s.  Miss Tennant and Mrs. Hardisty are at a school board meeting this morning, but will be back this afternoon.

 

“Looking out over the room, I see faces rested, and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.  I need to remind all Seniors that SAT prep classes are now available, and they can sign up on the sheet outside the school secretary’s office.”

 

Looking at the front row of girls, she smiled and said "I'd like especially to welcome Ama Jameson to our ranks, who joins our Freshman year from today.  Most of you know the story behind Ama joining us, so I hope you will all be as kind and as welcoming as possible." Miss Harkness smiled.

The assembly burst spontaneously into clapping as Ama blushed.

 

“All right, ladies – stand for the school song, and then to work.”

 

A few minutes later, the class filed out, Ama walking with Doc and Jeannie.

 

“And now for my weekly wake up call,” Jeannie groaned as they walked into Annie’s classroom, taking their seats as they looked to the front.

 

“Good morning, class,” she said as she came in.

 

“Good morning, Miss Kelly,” they said in return, Ama smiling as Annie came to the front.

 

“Everyone had a good holiday, refreshed, ready to begin.”

 

“Depends on what you have planned,” Jeannie whispered, making Ama laugh.

 

“Well, since you ask so nicely Jeannie,” Annie said with a smile, “a pop quiz on geometry!  Anna, hand out the papers, please.”

 

 

11 am

Complete Style Offices

 

“Caroline Jameson to see you, Juliette,” Janine said as she looked in the door of her office.

 

“Send her in,” Juliette said as she stood up, and hugged Caroline.

 

“What did I do to deserve that – or is this because Missy is hiding,” Caroline said as she sat down.

 

“No – I wanted to thank you for what you did last week.  Have you spoken to Penny yet?”

 

“Yeah,” Caroline said as Juliette closed the door, “I was shocked at first, but then I realized she’s like me and Susan in a lot of ways.  She’ll be fine – I think her at the UK farm is going to help her as well.”

 

Juliette nodded as Caroline took her hand.  “What about you?  Have you spoken to Klaus yet?”

 

“No – I’m meeting him for lunch today, and we will at least talk then.”

 

“And Stevens?”

 

“Will never harm a girl again,” Juliette said.  “I have no idea what Jo and Sandy did, but the barn is sanitized.”

 

“Good,” Caroline said, “because Karen told me to tell you you’re going up to Boston on Sunday to spend the day with them.  Doctor’s Orders.”

 

“All right, mother,” Ju said with a smile, “if you insist.”

 

“Oh I do, I do.  Now, why did you want to see me?”

 

“To ask if you were going over to London for Fashion Week.”

 

“Missy wants me to – why?”

 

“I may need to ask a favour of you…”

 

 

 

12.30 pm

The Refectory

 

"Eating at home after my lessons was better than this." Ama looked disgustedly at her food.

"What happened to the girl who came in the gates this morning?" Jeannie laughed.

 

“She is still here,” Ama said as she lifted a limp leaf of lettuce, “but I think – no, I know I could make a better salad than this.”

 

“The school has its up sides and the down sides,” Jeannie said as she looked at Ama, “and I should have warned you the salads are a downside.  Endure for today, and enjoy your dinner all the more tonight.  So how are the lessons so far?”

 

“Interesting,” Ama said, “although I struggle a little with sciences.  I suspect it will not be my strong subject for a while.”

 

“What won’t,” Jo said as she sat down.

 

“Ama had her first lesson with Doc Doom today,” Jeannie said with a smile.

 

“She’s not that bad, you just have to learn to cope with her slow monotonous voice,” Jo said with a smile as she looked at Ama.  “Trade you the salad for this soup?”

 

“Thank you – and I will be more careful next time,” Ama said as she took the soup and held it, then took a drink.  “Ah yes – much better.”

 

“You should have warned her,” Jo said as she stuck a forkful of salad in her mouth.

 

“Well, the good news is it is gym and music this afternoon,” Becca said as she sat next to them.

 

“Ah good – I could use the exercise,” Ama said with a smile.  “Will it be soccer?”

 

“Nope – basketball I think.”

 

“For you lot – I have some exercises in the gym to do,” Jeannie said.  “Caroline knows you are coming to Jo’s after school?”

 

“She does, yes – Pepsi’s mother will take me home with her.”

 

“Good – gives you a chance to catch up with all of us out of school.  So how does it feel being taught officially by Annie?”

 

“Strange – but nice.  She is certainly much stricter in her teacher role than in our home.”

 

Jo smiled, and said, “Well, get used to it – I suspect you will have assignments already to complete when you get home.”

 

 

1 pm

The Star Lounge

Ritz-Carlton Central Park.

 

“Madame?”

 

Juliette looked at the maitre d’ and said “I am meeting Prince Klaus von Furstenheim for lunch – Miss Juliette Huntingdown?”

 

“Of course – he is expecting you.  If you will follow me?”

 

She walked through the dining room to a table, where she saw Klaus waiting.  He stood up, smiling as Juliette approached.

 

“I was not sure you would come,” he said as he kissed Juliette on the cheek.

 

“Honestly, I was not sure if I would come either,” Juliette said as she sat down, Klaus sitting opposite her.  “I said some hurtful things last Wednesday, Klaus, and you would have every right to walk away.”

 

“As you feel I did all those years ago?”

 

“I deserved that,” Juliette said as the wine was poured.  “Klaus, you have to understand that when I saw you at Rachel’s house, it shocked me.  I didn’t know what to say – and then finding out you were Carina’s father…”

 

“I can understand that – it was no less a shock to me,” Klaus said, “but I meant what I said – she is my daughter, and I wish to be recognized for that.”

 

Juliette nodded as their orders were taken.  “I understand, Klaus, but please remember I have brought her up alone all these years.  I do not want you to take over, but I do want you to be part of her life.”

 

“I ask no more than that,” Klaus said quietly.  “Tell me, Juliette – how are you?”

 

“In what way?”

 

“Well, if you promise not to shout at me for impudence…”

 

“You mean him?”

 

Klaus nodded, not saying another word as Juliette looked at her glass.

 

“He’s disappeared – Janice Carter tells me they have received evidence he was a fraud and a charlatan, and there is a warrant out for his arrest.  As for the – other matter, if I ever see him again, I will report him.”

 

“For what he did to you, if I ever see him again, I will be less restrained.”

 

“No,” Juliette said quietly, “he is not worth you getting into trouble, even with diplomatic immunity.  Let the authorities deal with him – I gave a statement, and I will testify when they find him.”

 

“Good,” Klaus said, “the last thing I wish is to see you hurt again.”

 

“Believe me, the last thing I will allow is for me to be hurt again.”

 

The two looked at each other, before Juliette said, “I’m sorry – that was morose.  How is Ingrid?”

 

“Looking forward to the ball in a few weeks time – she will be spending a few days in Yale, with Judy and Carina, sitting in on some of their classes.”

 

“She is so much like Renate,” Juliette said.  “Was it bad at the end?”

 

“She bore it with dignity and strength – but yes, the last few days were hard.  We spoke of regrets, of things not done – and of her wishes for both myself and Ingrid for the future.”

 

The waiter brought their food, as Klaus took a sip of his wine.

 

“It was her wish I bring Ingrid here – to meet more people her age.  I did not even realise Carina was one of the girls until she told me.”

 

“Do you think she would like to join me tomorrow – some of us are attending Ladies Night at the Met, and we have a spare place.”

 

“Intriguing, who will attend?”

 

“Myself, Diana and Natasha at this stage, along with Vanessa who has the box.  Angel, Mandy’s daughter, has also indicated she would come.” 

 

“I am sure she would be delighted – she wishes to get to know you better as well.”

 

“Good – I’ll call her later,” Juliette said.  “Klaus, there is something you need to know about…”

 

“No – not unless you wish to tell me.  For now, let us eat and talk as old friends.”

 

 

 

4 pm

The Richmond Mansion

 

“Hi Mommy, I got a gold star,” Katie said as she hugged Jan.

 

“That’s wonderful dear,” Jan, said as she kissed her forehead.  “Go and finish your assignment now.”

 

“Coffee,” Heather said as she handed Janice a mug.  “How goes the hunt for Stevens?”

 

“Still no sign,” Jan said as she nodded at April, “but we arrested a few people here, in France and in the UK.  His network is being dismantled, and a lot of people are happy.”

 

“Happy?”

 

“I should say happier, Jeanne is the toast of Interpol at the moment.  The real question Tom has is where he has disappeared to.”

 

“I can imagine,” Heather said as Jo arrived with Ama, Pepsi and Doc.  “And how was your first day, Ama?”

 

“Tiring, and I need to be careful of the refectory, but I am glad I have started,” Ama said with a smile.

 

“Sounds like Murder Row at the office,” Janice said with a smile.

 

“Listen – do you and Maisha want to join us at a concert tomorrow night,” Doc said, “We have a couple of spare tickets.”

 

“A concert?  Who is singing?”

 

“Not singing as much as rapping – but you may both like it?”

 

“I will ask her when I see her tonight, but I do not think it will be a problem,” Ama said with a smile.

 

 

 

7 pm

The Huntingdown apartment

 

 

“All clear?”

 

“All clear,” Carina said as she spoke over the secure link to Abby.  “How was Ama’s first day?”

 

“Not bad – yours?”

 

“Well, I passed the first semester, so that’s a start.”

 

“Hey Cari,” Jo said as she sat down with Heather and Sandy, “Working hard or hardly working?”

 

“Oh yuk yuk – how’s the SAT preparation coming?"

 

“All right, everyone,” Juliette said as she handed the drinks round, “to order.” 

 

“So what’s the target?”

 

“We are looking at the United Citizens Bank in Providence,” Juliette said.  “Info says a full vault prior to shipping out at Logan International.”

 

“What do we know,” Diana said quietly.

 

"I got a full breakdown from Heather on the bank." Juliette looked at the file she had on the table.

"How does she rate it?"

"Challenging,” Heather said to Cari, “but the information from our ladies of the night holds up."

"How many girls do we need?"

"That's the key question, because I see a second opportunity at Logan, if we can take the armored car and hit the secure depository as well."

 

“Remember what happened last time we hit an armoured car,” Jo said.

 

“I know – but I’m not planning to rob one.  Merely hijack it.  I may consult with Shirley if need be.”

 

“Setting that to one side for the moment, the bank?”

 

Heather handed round a photo.  “Gerald Coates, the manager.  I’ll have a full profile in the morning.”

 

“We’re looking at least nine million from the bank alone,” Juliette said, “So, do we?”

 

She looked round the room and saw nods, before saying “Good – Heather, Diana, can you go up on Wednesday and look round?”

 

“No problem – but why not tomorrow?”

 

“We have evening events to attend, remember?”

 

7 pm

Park Avenue

 

“May I go, Aunt Shirley?”

 

“Of course you may,” Shirley said, both Ama and Maisha beaming.  “Nobody will be here anyway – I am accompanying Juliette to the opera, Lily is going out with Sandy and Heather, and Penny is visiting Susan and Clint.”

 

“I’ll be coming as well, as one of two pairs of adult eyes.” Annie said.

 

“Oh, and who is the other pair,” Dom asked as she sat back.

 

“Ju has persuaded Mary Thomas to go with them,” Lily said, making Dom burst out laughing.

 

“Get the girls to take some photos – I want the material,” she finally said.

 

“Coffee,” Penny said as she brought the cups in, Ama and Maisha heading to the young girl’s room.

 

“How did she cope,” Shirley asked.

 

“With the lessons very well, with the food less so.”

 

“Ah the twists and turns of school,” Shirley said with a smile.  “I vividly recall one lunch where the meal was charcoal sausages, watery mashed potato and haricot beans without the tomato sauce.”

 

“Sounds disgusting,” Lily said.

 

“I’m trying to make it sound good,” Shirley said with a raised eyebrow, before they burst out laughing.

 

 

Tuesday 6th January

2 pm

New Haven

 

“I would never have believed you were into opera,” Carina said as she sat at the table, Judy, Ingrid and Angel Fitzstuart at the other sides.

 

“And why not?  Roedean teaches classical music, and my parents are patrons of the Royal Opera House,” Angel said with a smile.  “Besides, I love Puccini.”

 

“So we three will be the youngest?”

 

“Yeah – Shirley is joining us, and we’re going into Vanessa’s box.  Mom said Tom and Claire Morse are also taking a box, with Tonia and Ray as well as your folks.”

 

“Not Mrs. Rochermann?”

 

“Nope,” Judy said, “she is going with Pussy and her sister, as well as Sandy, Heather, Lily, Tonia, Abby and a few others to a nightclub where a couple of bands are playing.”

 

“While the younger ones are going to see some rapper at another club – Jay-Z or someone like that.”

 

"So what do I wear for the opera over here?" Ingrid asked her sister.

"Full evening dress, and because it's a gala night the bling should be real."

"My mom has had gran's rubies shipped over for me." Angel smiled.

"Yeah one last big night out before you head back to school." Carina reminded her friend.

 

“Very well, so I’ll meet you at your place?”

 

 

6 pm

The Richmond Mansion

 

Nikki walked into the room, adjusting the strap of her red top as it sat over her left shoulder.  She was also wearing a pair of tight blue jeans, and red ankle boots.

 

“Am I first,” she said as she looked at Jo.

 

“Maisha arrived a few minutes ago – she went to see Ama first,” Jo said as she looked up from her book.  “And Doc is right behind you.”

 

Standing up, she left the room as Anna came in.

 

"Okay where did they come from?" Nikki asked admiringly at the pants Doc had on that look like they'd been sprayed on.

"For once legitimately." Anna winked, "My Mom treated me to them for what she called tonight bring a special night out."

"So not earned with the profits from sin?"

"No but the top was."

"Becca told me, you she and Nell were working a couple of nights ago."

 

“Yeah – she sneaked out and joined us.”

 

“Did you see her dad on the news tonight?  He’s definitely running now.”

 

“Don’t worry – the bases are covered,” Anna said as the two African girls came in.  Maisha was wearing a white top, black jeans and knee length black boots, while Ama wore a silver top and white jeans with high heels.

 

“Looking good ladies,” Doc said as they both smiled, and then Becca arrived with Pepsi.  The two girls wore leather pants with high heels, and while Pepsi had on a tight blue blouse Becca was wearing a long sleeved black silk blouse.

 

“A sop to Dad, to show I’m not being provocative,” Becca said as Doc looked at her, before she undid the top buttons and flashed her chest.

 

“Ah there you are,” Annie said as she put her head in, “Mary will be here soon.”

 

“Oh-ho, the younger generation looking good,” Sandy said as she and Heather looked in.  “Right – band in the kitchen, girls in here, and…”

 

“Sorry I’m late,” Kelly said as she arrived with Ally and Nell, all dressed in denims with leather jackets, “anyone else here yet?”

 

“Only the posh brigade,” Sandy, said as she looked over and saw Diana and Natasha walk in, wearing their evening gowns, long gloves and jewellery.

 

“Juliette and Carina are meeting us at the concert hall with Ingrid and Angel,” Diana said, “and Shirley will join us there.”

 

The loud whoop from the kitchen made Abby look in.  “Jo?”

 

“Upstairs until things die down,” Heather said as the young model went up.  “We’d better join the others.”

 

"All right ladies, are we ready to par-TAY!!!!"

Lily looked round as Heather and Sandy, Pussy and Frieda, Janice and Tonia, Liz and the Rochermann’s cheered and punched the air.

"So what's this place like," she asked Pussy as they climbed into the cabs.

"Oh just a quiet little place, Lily - you'll love it!"

 

As they drove off, Mary pulled up and waited as the younger girls left with Annie.

 

"Mary has an unfulfilled mother thing, and I think she treats Pepsi and the others a bit like the daughters she never had." Diana watched Mary load the teens into her Lincoln MKX.

"Still a rap concert is beyond the call of duty." Natasha watched as Mary drove away.

 

“Perhaps – ah, John is here.  We’ll see you later girls.”

 

“Have fun,” Jo called out as they climbed into the back and John drove off.  “Right, Abs – test me…”

 

 

 

6.30 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment

 

"Okay sister mine, we need to establish some ground rules, It's bad enough having a tall mom, tall best friends, but when I gain a sister who can look that magnificently beautiful in an evening dress and tower over me in her high heels, then I cry unfair."

"But Carina you are so beautiful…" Ingrid for a moment took a second to recognize the sarcasm. "But yes I do seem to have got your share of the family height."

"Oh I see it's the Snow Whites, and the one dwarf." Juliette entered the drawing room pulling her bracelet over her gloves.

"Don't rub it in Mom."

"Do you both have your white gloves?" Juliette asked.

"We do." Ingrid smiled.

"And was that your Arctic Fox in the hallway Ingrid?" Juliette asked with more then a touch of envy.

"It is."

 

“Then let’s go – Angel is waiting downstairs,” Juliette said as they put on their coats and headed down.  Angela was in the entrance hall, wearing a brown mink coat as she stood up.

 

“Shall we,” Juliette said as they headed out to the waiting car.

 

 

 

 

"So how is Jeannie's relationship with House working John?" Diana asked as John waited a space at the curb to drop his passengers.

"They spend half the night talking on the phone." John smiled in the mirror.

"Oh don't tell my daughter that, it was one of her complaints against Winston that she could never get him on the phone."

 

“Do you think it is serious,” Natasha asked as they inched forward.

 

“Who can say – but they are three time zones apart, and she has suddenly developed an interest in College Football.  Ah, here we are.”

 

He stopped and walked out, opening the door to let the four ladies out and waiting as they walked into the entrance.  Carina, Ingrid, Angel and Shirley were waiting inside; their fur coats open as they greeted each other.

 

“Shall we,” Vanessa said as they walked to the auditorium, others looking as they passed.

 

“Hey,” Mandy said as she looked round when they walked in, “I thought I was going to have send out a search party.”

 

“Not a chance,” Diana said as she kissed Mandy, “we were caught in traffic”

 

"It's nice to see so many of this year’s debs following tradition and here for ladies night." Vanessa glanced at the large groups of white dresses.

"Well in my case I happen to love Aida as a show anyway, so it's not a chore….is that the right word?" Ingrid asked.

"Yes it's the right word." Angel laughed, "In my case I adore most of Verdi's work."

"She gets it from me." Mandy laughed, "That Will and I were closet opera fans was our BIG secret during our punk days."

 

"Cari Poppa wanted you to have these." Ingrid pulled a box from her handbag.

"Oh these are beautiful, but I can't…." Carina shook her head as she gazed at the ivory and pearl opera glasses.

"Well I have Great Grandmas, he wanted YOU to have Grandmas."

 

“Very nice,” Shirley said as the orchestra finished their tuning, and the lights dimmed.

 

“Quiet,” Juliette whispered, “the show is about to start…”

 

 

 

7.30 pm

E 3rd Street and Avenue B

 

 

"What do they call this area?" Lily asked.

"Alphabet City." Kelly Rochermann answered. "It's because the streets have letters not numbers."

"Ever since before we were kids," Liz added "the clubs down here have been the place to sniff out new talent."

"Our Mom saw the Talking Heads first gig down here for example." Pussy made the point.

“So CBGB’s is around here?”

 

“That was a bit further down at the Bowery,” Pussy said, “this is a more raw – ah here we are.”

 

"So we could be in for a treat?" Lily enquired.

"I hear this band is really great." Sandy nodded.

 

“Well, let’s go in,” Tonia said as they smiled at the doormen, and were shown in.  It was a large open space inside, with bars around the edge.

 

“Wow – just like in the film,” Lily said.

 

“What film?”

 

“Rent – Charlotte loaned me the DVD and said it would be worth watching.”

 

“Nothing like the real thing though,” Pussy said as she and Frieda pushed through the crowd to the bar.

 

 

 

8 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

 

“Tell me again why I agreed to this,” Mary shouted to Annie as they stood at the bar, watching the girls dancing on the main floor.

 

“Because you care about these girls and don’t want them to come to any harm,” Annie called back, a beer in her hand.  “Don’t tell me you didn’t let your hair down when you were their age, Mary.”

 

“When I was their age, there was nowhere to let your hair down – a dance once a month at the village hall, with the minister’s wife spinning approved records – more Mary Hopkins than Rolling Stones.”

 

“So what happened?”

 

“I went to the London Fashion School, in the mid 70’s – bad clothes, bad times, but I met a group who took me to a Pink Floyd concert, and I discovered psychedelia about six years too late.”

 

“Mary Thomas, the doyen of style, into Floyd?”

 

“Ah, but I met Mick just after that, and we got on like a house on fire,” Mary said with a smile.

 

“He didn’t…”

 

“No comment, Annie – no comment.”

 

She looked out over the room, glad to see some of the boys dancing with the girls.  When one leaned over and whispered something into Maisha’s ear, she wondered if she needed to go down, but then smiled as Maisha whispered something back into his ear, and he walked away, shaking his head.

 

“Bright girl,” Annie said, “and much tougher than she looks.  I think she’s looking out for Ama as well.”

 

Mary nodded as she looked at them.

 

"So did you hang out with Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren and that set?" Anna asked.

"How does a kid your age even know them?" Mary laughed.

"Reading."

"Well I was never a hard core Chelsea punk, Fiona and I though were at a few famous events while we still two perpetually broke fashion students.”

 

“I’ve never really met Fiona – what’s she like?”

 

“A real fireball, much more of the journalist than me – when we graduated, she went up to Dundee, while I went to a fashion house in London.  Then we joined CS at the same time – her in London, me in New York.  The rest is history.”

 

“Quite a history, the way Abby talks about it,” Annie said with a smile.

 

 

 

8.30 pm

The Lincoln Centre

 

“Truly sublime,” Vanessa said as the waiter handed glasses of wine around.

 

“I agree,” Diana said as she took a glass, “a masterful production so far.”

 

"Did Poppa have a word yet about the Opernball in Vienna?" Ingrid asked. "Aunt Sigi wants to bring us both out."

"The problem is it being February 12th…Not sure if Yale will give me even more days off."

"You have to try Cari, all your European relatives are going…. just to meet you."

Carina sighed, "I'll not promise, but I suppose if I fly over on the Tuesday night, I'll be back for classes the next Monday, someone can take notes for me."

"Poppa must talk to them." Ingrid decided.

"And what good will that do?"

"Sometimes our title, even if you aren't going to use it, can come in handy."

"Oh the old impress the Americans because he's a ‘Serene Highness.’"

"That's it." Ingrid smiled, "But you know by then you probably will be as well, the papers should all be signed by then."

 

“Oh no – I’m Carina Huntingdown, born and raised in New York, not a princess by any stretch of the imagination.

 

9 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

 

“There you go,” Annie said as she and Mary handed out the drinks, “Enjoying yourselves so far?”

 

“I am,” Ama said, “if it is a little loud.  These men talk very fast, and it is difficult to follow, but the music is good.”

 

“I agree – it reminds me of the storytellers at home,” Maisha said as she sipped her drink.

 

“What about you, Mary – upset by us,” Pepsi said as she danced to the music.

 

“Not at all, Child – you need to have your moments without authority over you, and you are behaving remarkably well.”

 

"So what was your youthful rebellion Mary?" Doc pushed further.

"At your age?"

Anna nodded.

"Singing semi-rude Rugby songs at the Rugby Club after our village team won."

"That sounds pretty tame." Pepsi smiled.

"In the South Wales valleys, believe it or not, aged 15 that was the height of depravity."

 

“I don’t believe it – what sort of songs?”

 

Mary looked at them, and then started singing

 

The Mayor of Bayswater,
He had a pretty daughter.
And the hair on her dicky-di-do,
Hangs down to her knees.

 

She lived on a mountain,
And pissed like a bloody fountain.
And the hair on her dicky-di-do,
Hangs down to her knees.

 

I've smelt it, I've felt it,
It's just like a piece of velvet.
And the hair on her dicky-di-do,
Hangs down to her knees.

 

She's not a great looker,
But everyone took 'er.
And the hair on her dicky-di-do,
Hangs down to her knees.

 

Ama looked shocked as the others burst out laughing.

 

“I get it, I get it,” Doc said as Pepsi shook.

 

“Please, what is…”

 

“I’ll tell you later,” Annie said, shaking her head as Mary beamed.

 

9 pm

Alphabet City

 

None of the ladies were talking – they were too busy dancing to the band.

 

Midnight

Park Avenue

 

Lily was smiling and singing to herself as she entered the apartment block, only to hear Shirley say “hold the lift, my dear” as she walked in behind her.  The doorman looked at them – the young woman in her jeans and jacket, and the older woman in her gown and jewels, and smiled as they stepped in.

 

Shirley unlocked the door and held the door handle for a few moments before turning it, hearing the ping of the alarm disengaging as they walked in.

 

"So how was ladies night at the Met?" Lily asked as Madame removed her sable coat and long black opera gloves.

"Sublime…Aida sung beautifully, and the sets and costumes were out of this world.”  Shirley hung her coat in the closet, and then said “How was your night clubbing?"

"Great, we saw this band that I'll lay odds will be famous one day." Lily laid her bag down on one of the side tables.

"I'm glad Juliette suggested we make up a party and use Vanessa's box, it's nice feeling part of a group like that."

"I know, the girls over here are fun to hang out with. I'm just surprised that youngsters like Ingrid opted for opera…"

"While older souls like the van Roon sisters opted for a night of loud music in a club?  It's a funny world." Shirley shook her head. "A nightcap?"

"Please….A Brandy if you can spare any of that cognac you bought just because John likes it."

"I think I can," Shirley smiled. "So did you hear from George?"

"I did, they agreed that the colt does have a suspect leg, but they are considering another one they spotted in an adjacent paddock. They are going back to look again tomorrow."

 

“Your uncle surprises me time and time again – I sometimes wonder if our gain is society’s loss?”

 

“Well, we shall see – he’s talking of staying over here a while – good evening Penny.”

 

“Hey,” the redhead said as she came in, “good night out for both of you?”

 

“We seemed to enjoy ourselves,” Shirley said as she offered Penny a glass.  “How are Susan and Clint?”

 

“Nervous about the trip – can’t say I blame them.  Clint will pick Maddie up tomorrow at ten tomorrow and bring her here.”

 

“Good – I look forward to seeing her.  No sign of Maisha yet?”

 

“I think that’s her now,” Lily said as the apartment door opened and closed, the three women watching as Maisha walked in, listening to something on her iPhone.

 

“How was the concert,” Lily asked.

 

“It was good – different, but good,” Maisha said.  “I had a good time with the other girls, however, even if some boys were a little forward.”

 

“Oh,” Lily said, “did Annie or Mary say anything?”

 

“There was no need – I merely asked them if they were willing to undergo the traditional rite of manhood first.”

 

“And that would be…”

 

“Their foreskin removed – good night,” Maisha said as they walked off.

 

“What is she going to do if she says that to a Jewish boy,” Penny eventually said.

 

“I’m sure she’ll think of something,” Shirley said with a smile.

 

 

 

Wednesday 7th January

10 am

Complete Style Offices

 

Juliette smiled as she walked into Mary’s domain, seeing her old friend working on some pictures.

 

"Good morning Merlin darling,” she said as she closed the door, “did you enjoy yourself last night?"

"I did, and did you enjoy your night at the opera?"

"I did." Juliette laughed, "How did all your young charges behave?"

"Impeccably,” Mary said, “though while they call it music I don't know, but other than keeping my eyes open that kissing didn't become something more, and keep unsavory types away from the likes of Ama I had a lovely night out."

"Who'd of thought we had enough girls in the group to organize rap, clubbing, and opera events all on the same night?"

"I know." Mary smiled.

"Well I know a lot of moms were happy you agreed to play chaperone."

"Well I got a chance to break out a few moves." Mary gyrated to an imaginary rhythm.

"Oh don't…" Juliette laughed "That's painful to watch.”

 

“You know, it’s good to see you smile again,” Mary said, “You were so down over Christmas and New Year.”

 

“I know – I’d just had one shock after another,” Juliette said as she looked at the pictures.  “The Dior gowns?”

 

“Hm-hm.  Any word on the girls at St Angela’s?”

 

“We were right – Kadeeja declined before we said anything, but the others may be up for it.  I’ve sent letters via the school to ask permission of the parents to allow them to take part.  Jo’s already said she will.”

 

“Well, we might just be able to get away with this then,” Mary said with a smile.  “By the way, I may have let slip about me and Mick last night…”

 

“You and Mick?  Mick Jagger?  I thought that was an urban legend?”

 

“Even urban legends have a grain of truth in them – otherwise how can they become legends,” Mary said with a smile as she walked out, Juliette shaking her head.

 

 

10.30 am

Park Avenue

 

“Hey Maddie,” Susan said as she opened the door to Shirley’s apartment, “welcome back to New York.”

 

“Thanks – I think,” Maddie said as she walked in, Clint carrying her bag behind her.  Removing her coat, she looked round and said “all right, whatever happened here has done my Shirley the power of good, if this is the result.”

 

“Funny – I think Sandy said the same thing to Lily,” Susan said as Clint left.  “Come on through – we’re having coffee in the den.”

 

“So I can smell – what is that blend,” Maddie said as she breathed in.

 

“Ask Shirley – this way,” she said as she walked Maddie down the corridor, and opened the door to the den.  She walked in to see Lily and Dominique sat in leather armchairs, while Shirley was sat opposite them.

 

The most surprising thing of all was the fact all three were in jeans and sweaters, and laughing as they talked.  “I suddenly feel overdressed,” Maddie said as she stood there in her blouse and business suit.

 

“Sorry, Maddie, we all had a late night last night,” Shirley said as she stood up and embraced her old friend.  “How was LA?”

 

“Sunny and smoggy,” Maddie said as she hugged Susan and Dom.  “Where’s Lily?”

 

“She took Maisha to the Metropolitan,” Dom said, “John suggested a little art education while she was out here.”

 

“Maisha?  So I will meet this remarkable young woman later?”

 

“That’s right,” Penny said as she poured some coffee, “sit, and let this warm you up.”

 

“So what’s the topic of discussion,” Maddie said as she sat down.

 

 

5 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment

 

"Did you enjoy yourself last night?" Heather asked as she removed her coat.

"I did,” Juliette said as she sat down, “I prefer ballet to opera, but it was a magnificent production."

"We had fun too, great new band, fun company."

"Okay I take it you didn't trudge all the way over here for small talk darling, what news about the job?"

"Well Ju,” Heather said, “I was looking at airport heists, and they can be spectacularly profitable if you can get in the right place at the right time."

"The Lufthansa heist at JFK, the Brussels Airport Diamond heist…."

"Exactly."

"Our problem is,” Heather said, “coordinating what will be basically two raids."

"So we will need a large crew?"

Heather nodded. "So do you want me to continue with the research?"

Juliette closed her eyes deep in thought.

"Ju?"

"Sorry Heather, I was trying to weigh the pros and cons of doing more than just the bank."

"I think we need a meeting of the extended gang to talk it out."

"I think you may be right darling, can we arrange a ladies only night at Sandy's?"

"I think so, George has the kids this weekend."

"Good….Well until then keep researching please.  In the meantime, I need to make a call to Diana and then send a message.”

 

“Who to?”

 

“We need to sound the ground out – which means a chat with Tommy.”  Glancing at her watch, she then said “and I need to do it quickly – I’m expecting Klaus for a light dinner and chat tonight.”

 

 

 

9 pm

 

“I had forgotten what an excellent cook you are,” Klaus said as he sat opposite Juliette, smiling as she poured the coffee, “The salmon was delicious.”

 

“Well, Carina never complained, even if she hasn’t learned all my secrets yet,” Juliette said as she handed him a cup.  “Has Ingrid learned?”

 

“She has actually – though from my cook rather than me.  She is – passable,” Klaus said.  “But she makes up for it in other ways.”

 

“Indeed – tell me, what has she considered for her career?”

 

“She is taking this year out, as I believe Angel Fitzstuart called it – but she is considering offers to attend a number of universities.  Until then, she is doing the circuit as it were.”

 

“I never thought I would hear you call it that,” Juliette said with a laugh.

 

“Well, I am a single parent now, you know how that is.”

 

Juliette smiled as she put her cup down.  “Klaus, would you be hurt if I talked about what happened in Paris?”

 

“No – I want to talk about it as well.  Would you like me to go first?”

 

“When I…  When I spoke to you at New Year, I said I had been raped.  I realized later that you did not know – and I think you need to hear the whole story.”

 

“Only if you want to tell me.”

 

“I think you need to know – I need to make sure the air is clear between us, if only for Carina’s sake.”

 

Klaus sat and listened as Juliette told him everything that happened that week – the meeting with his father, the wedding invitation, the early flight – and what had happened that night in LA.

 

“My god,” Klaus said, “I never knew all that had happened.  Small wonder you never kept in touch.  Forgive me – and Renate – that we did not try to do so.”

 

"Your family never liked me, did they?"


Klaus smiled as he put down his coffee cup.  "Not true, Sigi, did, and does, adore you to this day."

Juliette giggled, "Well I liked her, for a while she was like having a younger sister."

"But Papa – yes, Papa hated you…."

"He made that pretty clear when he came to see me."

"That must have been so awful for you dar…" Klaus paused, "Sorry I forgot."

“It’s all right,” Juliette said.  "The biggest insult was offering me money. I just wish I'd had the courage to burn it right there under his nose."

"He was an old-fashioned snob."  Klaus leaned forward.  “It is no use dwelling on what we should have done, Juliette.  He has been dead for ten years now, and – Lord forgive me – I barely miss him.  In fact, we never really lived as long as his shadow cast over us.”


"Well, I will give him the fact that you and Renate were clearly very, very, happy, and you raised an amazing child in Ingrid."

"We were happy,” Klaus said, “but as she said near the end, we were never truly in love, she knew that we had married really because our families had arranged it."

"I'm sorry for that…"


"Why?"


"Because if I'd never been, you and Renate might have had the love you deserved." Juliette wiped her eyes.

 

“Don’t get me wrong,” Klaus said as he took a paper handkerchief and passed it to her, “Renate and I had a very real and deep affection for each other, and we adore Ingrid.  But full, deep, everlasting love?”

 

Klaus stood up and looked round.  “The night she died,” he finally said, “we had our last talk.  We shared our regrets; we shared our thoughts of Ingrid’s future.  Before she asked me to bring Ingrid in, she asked me to make two promises.

 

“The first was this – that should Ingrid meet the man of her dreams, and ask for permission to marry, I would let her follow her heart.”

 

“I can see why she would do that,” Juliette said, “and the second?”

 

“That I would be happy, and not let anyone dictate my choices ever again.  In particular, she said to find you and replace the bridges that were broken – her exact words.”

 

"Klaus,” Juliette said quietly, “you know I'm no longer her?"

"Who?"

"That girl from Paris."

"Well I'm no longer him,” Klaus said as he sat down, “but I hope we have both grown in maturity and wisdom."

"Klaus, a wise man would run a million miles away from me."

"Why?" he looked tenderly into her eyes.

"Because I've done a lot of things to be ashamed of, and I'll probably do worse."

"Juliette, we have both got secrets that we probably will never share, but it still doesn't mean I want to run away from you."

 

“So, where do we go from here?”

 

“How about,” Klaus said quietly, “we stay friends, and see what comes from that?  Even the formidable Diana de Ros cannot help but approve of that.”

 

Juliette laughed and said “very well then – friends.”

 

"Oh,” Klaus said, “Sigi has arranged for Carina to come out at the Opernball."

"Cari told me.  I hope she manages to fit everything in."

"The family very much wants to meet her…"

"Well that's more than they ever wanted to do with me."

"Juliette,” Klaus said, “Sigrid wants you to come.  More importantly, I want you to come.  Remember, I am ordered not to allow others to dictate to me anymore."

"I know…I told her I'd think about it."

 

“I ask no more than that,” he said with a smile.

 

 

 

Thursday 8th January

10 am

Long Island

 

Tommy the Fish drove down the lane leading to the barn, for once not dreading the trip there or back.  The message through the special network had said they wanted a chat on a matter – and to place an order. 

 

Either way, he had done this often enough now to know the drill, as he drove through the barn doors and came to a halt in the centre of the empty barn.

 

Turning off the engine, he got out from behind the wheel of the pickup, watching as the doors of the Daimler open and two familiar women get out.  As always, they were dressed to the nines, in fitted blue jackets and knee length skirts, dark stockings and black patent leather shoes with four-inch heels.  Their outfits were completed with dark scarves worn as cravats, black leather gloves – and the stockings pulled down over their heads, flattening their short dark hair.

 

“Good morning Tommy,” one of the women said, “Thank you for coming.”

 

“It’s always a pleasure, Miss Panther, Miss Leopard,” Tommy said, “Does dis mean youse ladies are back in business?”

 

“It may, Tommy,” Miss Leopard purred, “but we can discuss that later.”

 

"Tommy,” Miss Panther said quietly, “I asked you to meet us because we need some information."

"Okay ma'am.  Ask away."

"You once told me the Boston Irish mobs are very territorial."

"Yeah and they are damn crazy as well…" Tommy contemplated Miss Panther's remark. "Why, you thinking about working in Beantown?"

"Thinking yes, as part of a possibility.”  Tommy watched her carefully as she walked round.  “How resentful might they get about a heist at say Logan Airport?"

"They'd probably go ballistic.” Tommy said with a smile, “and pardon me ladies, but even your reputation wouldn't frighten some of dem crazies up there."

“You look as if you would almost approve of it.”

 

“Well, I must admit to a sertain pleasure at dat idea,” Tommy said, “but youse need to be real careful.  If youse thought Maroni was bad, wait till you see a Mick in a murdering mood.”

 

"Would they take a share of the profits as payment for good will?"

"They might….but who knows with dem guys."

 

“Well, we will consider your advice Tommy.  And the order?”

 

“I’ll have it ready for youse Monday.”

 

“Excellent – let us know when collection can take place, and thank you again Tommy.  Usual rules – leave first, and do not follow us.  I’d hate to end such a warm working relationship.”

 

“Understood,” Tommy said as he got in and drove off.  “Logan,” he said to himself as he headed down the lane, “sheesh – maybe deyse really have a death wish…”

 

"Well?" Diana asked as she pulled off her mask and wig.

"I think I'll ask Cathy if she can put out feelers and see what reactions in Boston might be." Juliette shook her hair free.

“What about Shirley?”

 

“Let’s see what she says on Saturday.”

 

"I'm just afraid we might be over-reaching in thinking of the airport."

"I know darling, but it's so awfully tempting to think just what we might find in there."

"You look like a child anticipating Christmas presents Cherie." Diana laughed.

 

“I need to get back,” Juliette said as she looked at her watch, “I have a shoot with Dominique.

 

1 pm

Central Park

 

"Well what do you make of our little mobile office Alex?"


Alex shook his head at the equipment crammed into Janine's car, "Why on earth does that poor girl put up with you?"

"Because despite this, she's the best boss I've ever had." Janine shouted as she zipped Juliette into the dress.  “There you go Juliette, dress on.”


"How can you POSSIBLY do both a photo shoot, and your regular business at the same time?" Alex again shook his head.

"With a patient photographer like Tom, we can just about do it." Juliette stood still while makeup ladies fussed over her face.

"Well I don't know how she does it." Caroline carefully kissed Alex on the cheek.

"Okay girls, let's check this lighting on you," the photographer called.

"Stick round please Alex, we can chat when we break.' Juliette smiled.

 

“Can I get you a coffee, Father Richmond?”

 

“I think I need one,” Alex said to Janine as she answered the phone.  “Miss Huntingdown’s assistant?  No she cannot take a call at the moment – would you like to leave a message?”

 

 

2 pm

The NY Offices

 

“I’m impressed, Susan – you have a tight operation set up here.”

 

Maddie looked along the offices, the girls working away in them as Susan stood beside her.

 

“Yup – I don’t think they’ll give you any trouble while I’m away,” she said with a smile.  “And if they do, they know the chief disciplinarian is just a phone call away.”

 

“You use Dom as a threat?”

 

“No – I use Clint,” Susan said with a smile.  “Listen – while you are here, you need to do what the rest of us have done.”

 

“I know, I know – get out into the field.  Any idea what?”

 

“I think Penny has some ideas – she and Dom will discuss them with you tonight when you join them for dinner.  Scared?”

 

“Nah – excited actually.  Been a long time since I did anything like that.”

 

 7 pm

The Carter Home

 

Anna was grappling with the joys of Tennyson when her cell phone rang – but a special one.  Looking at the number, she smiled and took the call.

 

"Hello Tricia," Doc purred into the phone she'd bought for use by Angel, "What can I do for you?"

"Angel, would you be up to working a birthday party for a 15 year old boy?"

"Tricia, what kind of…"

"Listen before you say no. this guy comes in last night, acting very awkwardly asking questions about working girls."

"Okay,” Angel whispered, “a cop?"

"No." Tricia laughed, "A father, he is giving his son a birthday party here at the hotel, very ritzy, 15 young men in dinner jackets, etc."

"Sounds nice, but what does it…"

"He's offering Twenty Grand for a group of girls to work the night."

"Now that's interesting." Anna sat up at her desk and smiled.  “Get a group together – I think we can arrange that.”

"I figure me for one…"

"You turning pro, Tricia?"

"Angel,” she heard the young girl say, “you girls can make more in an hour then I make in a week tending bar, been thinking of this for a while…"

"Alright I understand." Doc smiled.

"Anyway I figure you can get three or four more girls."

"Probably."

"We split what they guy is offering."

"Sounds wonderful Trish."

"One complication, well two really – first, he wants the girls dressed to the nines in gowns…"

"That's not hard."

"The second is though….He wants to give his son a virgin."

"Ouch, now that is hard." Doc thought quickly.  “Let me consider options, but if you have a contact for him, or see him, tell him a deal can be done.”

 

Ending the call, she looked in the mirror.  Becca she could get, as well as Nell – and she reckoned Nikki would be up for it.  The real problem was the virgin – whom could she ask?  Who could she trust?

 

And more importantly, how could she do it without Jo, Ally or Miss Kelly seeing?

 

 

7 pm

The Village

 

“Thank you Ama,” Maddie said as she handed the young girl her plate, watching as she carried them carefully into the kitchen.  Turning back to Dom, she smiled and said “When I heard what your plans were, I could not quite believe it, but given how much everyone else has changed, you’ve done well.”

 

“I hope so,” Dom said as Ama brought through some coffee.

 

“So do you have plans to follow in Dom’s footsteps, or do what Maisha does, Ama?”

 

“No – I wish to learn so I can teach others, but I have learned a lot from Dominique and Annie, and I will not betray them.  They have saved me, and I owe them everything,” Ama said as she sat down.

 

“That’s my girl,” Dom said with a smile as Annie handed the cups round and poured.

 

“So you’ve known Shirley as long as Sandy,” Annie said as she put the cup to her lips, “how do you find her?”

 

“Honestly,” Maddie said, “happier than I ever remember seeing her.  I’ve seen her at the lows and the highs – and she has never been so relaxed and open.  I think it’s a good thing – she’s carried so much inside her.  What I don’t understand is who managed to prize the shell open?”

 

“That,” Dominique said, “would be the redoubtable Juliette Huntingdown.  When they first met, they found a lot of common ground.  When I came here to help free Heather’s sister, it meant we worked together closely – and then this whole distasteful business with The Walrus meant they spent a lot of time working together.”

 

“And that’s where you got to know them, Annie?”

 

“Well, I knew Juliette as Carina’s mother before that,” Annie said, “but you might say I met Ama and Dom at the same time.”

 

“Yeah, I saw the reports,” Maddie said.  “You’ve proved invaluable since then, though.”

 

“She is very dear to both of us,” Ama said quietly.

 

“Anyway – Juliette introduced Shirley to her friends, and slowly she turned from Madame to Shirley – at least for us.  Now she hosts parties, and does much the same as the rest of the Pussycats – hiding in plain sight.”

 

Maddie nodded.  “She told me today of her plans for the head office – moving the public facing functions to a new headquarters, and the way The Farm has been developed.  We’ve always run the organization as a business, but now it becomes a forward facing group.”

 

“Well, that’s the way you ran the LA office, Maddie,” Dom said, “to blend in with the other companies.  It’s just adopting that model here and in the UK, while you take on the IT changes.”

 

“Oh I’m not complaining – I thought she should have done it years ago, and I like the new her.  It still comes as a shock mind you.”

 

“Wait until you meet the rest of the crew,” Dom said with a laugh.  “We’re meeting Saturday – apparently Ju has a target selected, but she may need some help.”

 

“Intriguing – but I understand we may go out before then?”

 

Annie nodded.  “I have a place I’d like to visit next week, and I could use some help – there may be a few people to render secure.  If you feel up to it, of course?”

 

“Intriguing – tell me more, later.”

 

 

Friday 9th January

10 am

FBI NY Field Office

 

“Good morning Jeanne,” Janice said as she walked in, “how goes it?”

 

“It goes well – we recovered some of the stolen paintings in Lyon and Berlin today,” the young French agent said.  “All we need now is for that bastard to surface.”

 

“He has.”

 

Janice and Jeanne looked over to the door of Tom Callaghan’s office.

 

"Johnson has turned up" Tom came out of his office.

"Where?" Adam looked up.

"The Morgue."

"Oh jeez," Adam looked skyward, "It wasn't by any chance natural causes?"

"With his dick cut off and stuffed up his ass?  I imagine a heart attack may be in there, but that didn’t kill him."

"THEY got to him first." Janice span on her chair.

"Looks like it, he'd been in the water a while, it was only his old prison dental records that let them make an ID." Callaghan looked grim.

"Not a pretty sight I bet."

"Probably not Janice," Tom looked at his note, "The ME says he was tortured and stabbed before he was killed, so we can guess they got the information they wanted from him."

 

Jeanne was crossing herself and offering a silent prayer.

 

“I thought you didn’t like him,” Janice said.

 

“I did not – but no man deserves that, even one with his history.  May he know peace of a sort.”

 

 

1 pm

The Refectory

 

Doc found a quiet table, away from where Jo and Ally were poring over books, and sat with Becca and Nikki.

 

“Twenty big ones?  Seriously?”

 

“That’s what Tricia said – interested?”

 

“I could be,” Nikki said, “what about you Becca?”

 

“Sure – Nell?”

 

“I’m counting on her, but we need one other thing?”

 

“What’s that,” Becca asked.

 

“A virgin for the son to take to bed.”

 

Nikki and Becca looked at each other, before Nikki said “Great – one impossible thing every day.”

 

"They want girls who look like older, experienced women." Doc whispered, "So sophistication and maturity are the buzzwords."

"Who in this school is still a virgin though?" Becca thought hard.

"Well Jo was…"

"Before she met Curt." Becca reminded her.  “And no way would she agree to this anyway.”


"Jeannie?"

"First she's disabled,” Becca said as she glanced over at her friend, sitting with Pepsi and Ama.  “Second her face is on half the billboards in the city."

"Ama?"

"Be realistic Doc, Caroline would KILL you."

"Well do we know any other virgins?"

 

Doc glanced over at a group of girls sitting at a table.  “What about Marnie or Casey?”

 

“I think they are, but they won’t do this,” Nikki said.

 

“Never say never – but onto other matters.  Girls, we wear wigs and those fancy Mardi Gras masks from New Orleans, the chances we know these boys or will meet them in the future is too great." Anna briefed her friends. "I'm taking Trish shopping so I'll buy hers then."


"What about voices?"

"Practice, deeper, slower, sexier drawls." Doc said after a moments thought. "It'll probably be a turn on for the guys anyway."

"Okay." Becca nodded.

"I'll buy a crate of condoms, remember none of the boys touches you unless he's protected."

"But basically it's going to be an orgy?" Nikki smiled.

"Yeah and we are the entertainment."

"So corsets, garter belts, stockings…"

"If you look like a teenage boys wet dream once your dresses come off, I think that will do nicely." Doc smiled.

 

1 pm

Park Avenue

 

Maddie came into the apartment as Lily closed the door behind her.

 

“We’re in the kitchen,” she said as Maddie removed her coat, revealing her long brown velvet skirt and baggy jumper.

 

“Do you know, it feels good to dress down, even if I am here on business,” Maddie said as she walked in, finding Penny making a fresh pot of coffee.

 

“Well, Susan sent through the daily report for you to have a look at,” Penny said as she handed Maddie a sheet of paper.

 

Glancing down, Maddie looked closely at one entry.  “This body they fished out of the river – mutilated, tortured and shot.  Anyone you know of?”

 

“I could not possibly comment,” Penny said as she poured the coffee.  “Cream?”

 

“No thanks,” Maddie said as she looked at Penny.  “I got a call from Sandy in the UK this morning, she asked me to pass a message on to you.”

 

“Oh,” Penny said, “what is it?”

 

“The contracts have been exchanged.”

 

“Good,” Penny said as she sat down, “I’ve bought a house near Fleet, and I’ll take possession when I get back.”

 

“I don’t know – you and Susan heading home.  You sure they’re ready for you?”

 

“I’m not sure I’m ready for it,” Penny said with a smile, as Lily and Maddie looked at each other.

 

"Anyway, there is a little bit of gossip to pass on about Shirley." Penny smiled as they sat drinking coffee.

"Oh Gossip…yummy." Maddie laughed.  “We haven’t done nearly enough of that yet.”


"Madame has a man friend…" Lily giggled.

"A MAN!" Maddie sat up straight.  “And who is this paragon that has done what no one had ever…    Has not managed in a long time?”

“Oh?  Was there one before?”

 

“Ancient history, Lily – so, who is he?”

 

"Ever hear of John Hammond?" Penny asked.

"John Hammond…" Maddie paused for a few seconds… "John Hammond - the famous photographer?"

"That's him." Lily laughed lightly.

"OH MY GOD!" Maddie shook her head…"He's not?"

"Either married, or gay." Penny sipped her coffee. "He’s a widower and they met here on New Years Eve."

"Okay,” Maddie said as she put her mug down, “I get daily work reports from both of you, and you FORGOT to tell me the most important news?"

"We wanted to see your face Maddie."

"Oh Christ Lily… oh dear lord, is it serious?"

"Well they've been out a couple of times, to an art show, to the theatre." Penny paused. "She bought his favorite cognac…"

"Oh dear God - I'm so happy." Maddie smiled broadly.  “You girls ever hear her talk of Robert?”

 

“No, can’t say I have,” Lily said.

 

“I have – when she gets in a down mood, she sometimes speaks of him.  Her first love?”

 

Maddie nodded slowly.  “He died protecting her, and ever since then she‘s had the shell round her.  Now she’s coming out, she needs that support again.”

 

"Well, he comes Dominique pre approved." Penny nodded.

"Yeah she's known him since she was a teenager." Lily added.

"So what's he like?" Maddie asked.

"Old school gentleman." Lily spoke first.

"Ex Major in the Irish Guards, an officer and a gentleman in the best meaning of those words. “Penny gave her opinion.

"Cultured, refined, but underneath a touch of steel." Lily sipped her coffee again.

"Oh Lord he sounds perfect for her."

 

“Sounds perfect for who?”

 

The three turned to see Shirley standing in the doorway.

 

“Well…”

 

“It’s all right, I know what you’re talking about,” she said as she poured a coffee, “and yes, fifteen years is a long time.  Let’s see what happens next, all right?”

 

1.30 pm

St Angela’s

 

"The problem is we have a certain standard to uphold Nell." Doc spoke to Nell on her "Hooker" phone.

"Beautiful, but expensive call girls."

"You got it in one darling."

"So our virgin…"

"Must have curves, and really look Wow!"

"So any Angel candidates?"

"A couple,” Doc said, “any Nuns?"

"I actually might know a few." Nell giggled.

"Oh?"

"Yeah, I'm thinking in particular of a girl called Kerry Hull, do you know her?"

"No – tell me more."

"Well Kerry has a secret, she's been secretly sending love notes to one of our teachers…"

"And I take it she wouldn't want that to become general knowledge."

"Got it in one Angel."

"So what does she look like? How old?"

"She's 16, a redhead, looks like hell most of the time, but we can make her look amazing."

"Sounds a definite prospect…ask her."

"It'll need to be blackmail…"

"Okay,” Doc said calmly, “blackmail her and meet me with her at Saks after school…Dress as your alter ego, I'll have Trish with me."

"Gotcha…See you then."

 

1.30 pm

Sacred Heart

 

Nell put her cell phone away and looked down the corridor as Kerry Hull walked towards her, her blouse sticking out from under her jumper, her jacket slung over her shoulder.

 

“Kerry,” Nell said as she took her by the arm, “a private word, if I may?”

 

“What do you want, Rochermann,” Kerry said as Nell opened a door, looked in and then walked Kerry inside.

 

“Why, Kerry, what on earth makes you think I want something from you?”

 

“Because when one of the New York Sluts wants a word with me, I worry.”

 

“Kerry, my girl,” Nell said as she put her arm round her shoulder, “you don’t need to worry about me.”

 

“No?”

 

“No, of course not – you need to worry about what’s going to happen when Ms. Kay finds out about the little letters you’ve been sending to Dr. Pierce.”

 

Kerry stared at Nell, before she said “you wouldn’t dare?”

 

“Me? No – but there is a little something I want you to do, in return for not saying a word.”

 

“What little something?”

 

Nell smiled as she said “Some friends and I are going to a party in a week’s time, and we’d like you to join us.  Who knows – you may just get lucky.”

 

“What sort of party?”

 

“Lots of boys, we dress up to the nines…”

 

“Shit, Rochermann, are you saying it’s an orgy?”

 

“I’m saying lots of boys, drink, we dress up to the nine – and you get a gift of three thousand dollars for the night.  What do you say?”

 

“And in return?”

 

“I keep my mouth shut.”

 

“This is bla…”

 

“Ah ah – blackmail is a dirty word Kerry.  Let’s say – an opening of the mind.”   Nell opened the door.  “I’ll see you at Saks at five – don’t worry, I’ll recognize you.  And dress casual.”

 

 

3 pm

Park Avenue

 

"So how was Florida George?" Madame asked as they sat in the drawing room.

"This is going to sound strange coming from me." George laughed, "but I think we got away with robbery."


"Oh?"


"Yeah we bought this other colt we were looking at for just twelve thousand."

"And that was stealing?"

"We think so." George smiled, "We've each put in three grand and we'll race him as a syndicate."

"But surely if that was an honest deal?"

"Grant knows the pedigree, he can see things in a horse pedigree that most people miss…plus the fact this animal moves with such a sweet action…"

"Oh now I understand." Shirley laughed, "How high were you prepared to go?"

"Thirty five thousand."

"Well, in your own terms, you did get a steal."

"Yep." George smiled, "And the guys were great to spend time with."

"Well you are all racing men."

 

“No interest in the noble sport, Madame?”

 

“I prefer other forms of relaxation,” Shirley said with a smile.

 

5 pm

Saks, 5th Avenue

 

Kerry Hull walked into the front entrance of the store, wearing a pink puffy jacket over a white jumper and blue jeans.

 

“What the hell am I doing here,” she said as she looked around.

 

“Because I asked you to come nicely.”

 

She turned to see Nell standing there, wearing a tight red leather jacket and skintight leggings, with knee length high heeled boots.

 

“Rochermann?”

 

“I’m Annabelle here,” Nell said as she took Kerry by the arm, “now come and meet my friend.”

 

They made their way up to the dress department, where Doc was waiting with Trisha.  While the bargirl was wearing a fur bomber jacket, jeans and Ugg boots, Doc was wearing a fur coat over a white dress, the skirt coming to just above her knees, and white suede boots.   Her blonde hair was pulled back, and she smiled as they approached.

 

"I take it this is our virgin." Doc smiled evilly as they came over.

"Kerry meet…. well I guess you'd better call her Madame Angel."

"Madame?"

 

"Well I guess I've become one." Angel laughed lightly.

"Yes technically this is what someone procuring a girl to become a prostitute is called," Nell said as she smiled.

"I call it blackmail."

"Such an ugly word." Angel purred as she looked at Kerry.  “Let us see if we cannot change your mind, when you see how you look.  Trish, Kerry, go with Annabelle and see if you can find something suitable for the party.”

 

Kerry shot an angry look at Angel as they walked off, while she walked off to the lingerie section.

 

Angel smiled inwardly, it felt good shopping dressed to kill like this, and threatening a goody goody like Kerry made it even more fun. This was giving full expression to that bad girl within herself.

 

 

 

Some time later, she returned to find Annabelle waiting outside the changing room.

 

“Did you find something suitable,” Angel purred.

 

“I think so,” Annabelle said as Tricia came out, wearing a strapless electric blue dress, the skirt flowing from her knees to the floor.

 

“Oh yes,” Angel purred, “try these on.”  She handed the young woman a pair of black elbow gloves, which she pulled on.

 

“Yes, that works,” Angel said, “we’ll take that.  Go and change.”

 

As she went back into the changing room, Kerry came out, wearing a white strapless gown with a brocade pattern at the back, as well as down the back of the floor length skirt.

 

“Perfect,” Angel said, “just what we are looking for.  The pure look for the virgin.”

 

“Is that why you picked me,” Kerry said as she looked at Annabelle, “because I’m a…”

 

“That, and you were so easy to persuade,” Angel said as she held up a white corset, stockings and a garter belt.  “With this and heels, you will be the perfect present.”

 

"And what if I was to spoil things and have sex before then?" Kerry looked rebellious.

"Then not only would your little secret come out, but some friends of mine might pay you and your family a visit…It might not be a pleasant visit."

"Are you threatening me?"

"Now would I do that?" Angel purred again. "I'm just saying consider your options carefully."

 

Annabelle looked at Angel, wondering where this side of her had come from. 

 

“You…  All right, I’ll do it,” Kerry said, “but you’re paying, Madame.”

 

“I fully intend to,” she said quietly.  “Now, let’s see if we can find some suitable shoes.”

 

Saturday 10th January

11 am

Complete Style Offices

 

The group of models and girls stood around the table, looking at the pictures as Mary stood to one side.

 

“There you have it ladies,” she finally said as they looked at each other, “these classics of haute couture are what we would like you to wear for the gala.  Excited?”

 

"I hate to ask this Mary, but how the hell do we walk in those?" Holly pointed to the pics of the calf length pencil skirts.

"Carefully." Pru giggled.

"You'll need lots of practice," Mary looked round the room, "especially those of you who don't wear extreme heels regularly."

"Well that's me for one." Maggie Fife nodded.

"Mrs. Muller, Miss Kelly can you maybe ask permission we can wear them for school?' Doc asked.

"I'm thinking that Anna." Annie smiled, "I may need that practice too."

 

“Do whatever you need to do,” Mary said, “we meet again in a week, and I want to see how you walk then.”

 

“And you will practice,” Carina said, “because trust me – Mary is a hard teacher.”

 

 

7 pm

The Richmond Mansion

 

“Hey Shirley,” Heather said as she opened the door, “we’ve just been waiting for you to join us.”

 

“Well, we’re here now,” she said as Heather closed the door, “are we ordering food later?”

 

“That’s the idea – talk first, eat later,” Heather said as Maddie took off her coat.  “You must be Maddie.”

 

“I am,” she said quietly, “and I am gobsmacked.”

 

“We all are at some time – come away in,” she said as the trio made their way into the room.  Maddie smiled at Dominique, who was sitting with Annie and Penny, but she didn’t recognize any of the others.  All she saw was a room of women, some older than others, talking as if they were just there for a ladies night in.

 

"Okay Maddie, let me briefly introduce everyone." Shirley looked round the room.

"Alright." Maddie smiled.

"Okay that's Sandy Richmond our hostess."

"Hi," Sandy said as she waved from the long couch.

“You’ve already met Heather next to her – she’s Sandy’s nanny, expert and partner. Jo her sister is the one with her phone out…"

"Sorry Clint just texted me…" Jo looked up.

"With the baby is Carina, and the tall lady is her mother Juliette."

"Hello," Carina laughed as she waved Judith's hand at Maddie.

"You'll recognize Abby de Ros from her pictures, the dark lady is her Mum." Shirley looked round again "On the couch is Janice, and I think you know everyone else."

"I do – it’s an honour to finally meet you," Maddie said.

 

“So what’s the target Mom,” Cari said.

 

“The target, dearest, is the United Citizens Bank, 1 Citizens Plaza in Providence,” Juliette said.  “Heather?”

 

“Here’s a shot of the exterior,” Heather said as she showed the room her laptop, “info says a full vault prior to shipping out at Logan International next Saturday morning.”

 

“How full?”

 

“Estimated twelve to fifteen million,” Heather said.  “Standard vault, no major problems.”

 

“And who is the manager of this delightful establishment,” Diana said as she sipped her wine.

 

Heather pulled up a family picture – a large, well-built man with receding brown hair, his wife and two daughters.

 

“Meet Gerald Coates, manager of the bank.  Late forties, former college bowl player, well respected.  His wife, Angela,” she said as she pointed to the slightly shorter blonde next to him.  “Works at the local hospital, two years younger.  And then there are the twins – Cora and Dora.”

 

“You are kidding me,” Jo said as she looked at the seventeen-year-old blondes.

 

“Nope – Seniors at the local high school.  Very athletic.”

 

“Could be interesting – where do they live?”

 

“Plainfield Street – nice quiet residential area, perfect for our needs.”

 

“Should be fun, isn’t it baby,” Carina said as she kissed Judith.

 

“As far as that target goes, usual tactics apply – take the family hostage, show them who’s boss, early morning visit.”

 

“So far, so good,” Annie said, “but you could do this yourselves.  Why invite us?”

 

“Because of target 2 – the armoured car is coming to pick the contents of the vault up at eight that morning.  What if – and at this stage it is a what if – we also hijack the van, and hit the destination?”

 

“What – the depository,” Shirley said as she looked round the room.

 

“Exactly – and that is what we need to discuss, because if we did, it would need extra help.”

 

“At the very least,” Dominique said, “never mind getting out of there.”

 

“What is your thinking, Ju?”

 

Juliette closed her eyes.  “We use the van to gain access, and subdue the staff before emptying it and using the van to get out again.  We’d need to persuade the driver to cooperate – which would mean a second team securing his loved ones as a persuasion tool.”

 

“And it would have to be done quickly,” Dom said, “those trucks get the driver assigned at the last minute.”

 

“Not if I find out first,” Heather said with a smile.  “I could arrange a person gets assigned not at random, if we select from the drivers on duty that day.”

 

“Can you do that,” Maddie said as she looked at Heather.  “No, scratch that – of course you can do that.”

 

“Still, it is a dangerous undertaking,” Diana said, “and needing of further firearms and resources.  We would need the Uzi for starters.”

 

“There is another problem,” Ju said as she sat with her eyes closed, “both Tommy and Cathy confirm we would need to inform certain parties and offer tribute if we did this.”

 

“Conor Cormack, and the Gepetto family?”

 

Juliette opened her eyes and looked at Maddie.  “Correct, you know them?”

 

“I know of them – but if you want to talk to them, that’s where Shirley and I come into our own.”

 

“What would they want?”

 

“The Gepetto family, a percentage – they usually ask for ten, but I can get them down to five.  Cormack – I don’t know.  He can be rather difficult to negotiate with by reputation, but I am sure we could find something.”

 

“How much in the depository?”

 

“No idea until 24 hours before,” Heather said, “if we say no, the bank alone is worthwhile, and we get out before the van arrives.  But if we say yes…”

 

Shirley looked round the room, seeing them making calculations in their minds.

 

“Ladies, given our schedules over the next few weeks, the window of opportunity is small,” Juliette said, “and we must go next Friday.  So do we plan for one or two targets?”

 

“If we do two, then one team does the bank, the other the depository,” Shirley said, “and if we do two, Janice needs to do the bank.”

 

“Why,” Jo asked.

 

“When word comes through of the bank, I need to be here,” Jan said, “to go with Adam.  Means I would be on house watch to allow me to slip out.”

 

“Agreed,” Juliette said, her eyes closed.  “So I need a vote.  Jan?”

 

“I say two – if nothing else, if I’m at the bank when word comes through of the depository, I’m covered.”

 

Ju looked round the room, each of them indicating two.

 

“At the very least,” Heather said, “if we have to abort the second, the plan is intact.”

 

“Right – Heather, we need full workups on personnel.”

 

“Leave it with me,” Heather said.

 

“Shirley, Maddie, can you go to Boston early next week, pacify the locals?”

 

“I’ll set it up,” Sandy said.

 

“Diana, confirm the order with Tommy for collection Tuesday.”

 

Diana nodded as Ju looked at the younger girls.  “Cari, the Beast has fed well recently – can we trust her to appear?”

 

Cari nodded as she looked at Jan.

 

“Security details for the depository?”

 

“If you can?”

 

Jan nodded as Jo picked up a menu for a Chinese restaurant.  “Fine – can we eat and have some fun now?”

 

Monday 12th January

7 pm

Park Avenue

 

“Hello Heather darling.” Shirley said as she kissed the visitor on both cheeks, “what are you doing here?”

 

“Getting Maddie and Lily fixed up with our special laptops.” Heather stepped back and looked at her friend. “My, My,” she shook her head, “Don’t you look amazing tonight.”

 

“Thank you Heather.” Shirley smiled.  She was wearing a cream silk blouse, open at the neck, with a matching scarf tied as a cravat round her neck, tan trousers and ankle boots.

 

“John’s taking her out for dinner.” Lily looked up from practicing with the retina scanner and smiled.

 

“Well no wonder you look so fabulous.” Heather smiled as well, “is he taking you somewhere nice?’

 

“A place called Alder.”

 

“Oh very nice, and elegantly casual is the perfect look for it. When Sandy and I ate there we really enjoyed Chef Dufresne’s clam chowder…’

 

“Is it good?” Lily asked.

 

“Far better then merely good.”

 

“I’ll remember the tip.” Shirley nodded.

 

“Every review I’ve ever read raves about the food, and we certainly weren’t disappointed by it.”

 

“John said he’d been waiting to take someone special there to try it.” Penny walked in.

 

“Penelope,” Shirley said as she rolled her eyes, “I told you that in confidence…”

 

“Shirley relax…” Maddie looked up from her computer, “It’s all just good friendly female gossiping.’

 

“I know,” Madame looked flustered, “It’s just been so long since…”

 

“You’ll be fine.” Maddie stood up and hugged her old friend.

 

“Is he picking you up?” Heather asked.

 

“Any second.”  Shirley was fidgeting, playing with the bracelet on her wrists as she looked at the clock.

 

“Well ladies, I think we had better head to the kitchen.” Lily grinned as she stood up.

 

“Sounds like an idea.” Heather approved.

 

“Coffee?” Penny offered.

 

“Please.” Maddie said as she picked up her new computer.

 

The doorbell rang and Madame visibly jumped.

 

“Calm down.” Penny and Maddie said together.

 

“I’ll try.” Shirley laughed.

 

“We better make ourselves scarce.” Heather called out as she headed to the kitchen whilst Shirley went to open the door.

 

“John – how lovely to see you,” Shirley said as she allowed John Hammond to come in.

 

"Well how does he look?" Lily whispered as Penny tried to peek round the kitchen door.

"He looks nice…smart jacket, open necked shirt."

"She's dressed perfectly then." Maddie said as she tried to sneak a peep.

"Oh you should see the roses he brought her." Penny sighed. "Why can't the guys I meet ever do that?"

"I know." Lily laughed softly.

"You three are terrible…" Heather whispered.

"If you knew Madame well, you'd know just how big this is." Lily whispered back.

"She's been alone so long." Maddie turned the coffee pot on.  “She more than deserves a chance at happiness.”

 

“I agree,” Penny said as she sat down.  “I mean, apart from John she doesn’t have that many male friends – and John is more of an uncle to her.”

 

“Not to mention a lot older,” Lily said, “and besides, I have it on good authority John Jacobs has his eye on someone else.”

 

“Oh yes,” Penny said, “and who might that be?”

 

“Word is he is very enamored with a very well known consulting hydraulic engineer of our acquaintance.”

 

“A…  Oh my, you mean HER?”

 

“Hm-hm,” Lily said as she nodded at Penny.

 

“Someone want to fill me in,” Maddie said.

 

Penny scribbled a name down on a piece of paper and handed it to Maddie, who read it and laughed.  “Oh my, that would be a match – but a platonic one, I suspect,” she said as she slipped the paper into her pocket.

 

The sound of the apartment door opening took Penny back to the door.

 

"Well they've gone." Penny sat at the kitchen bar and supped her coffee.

"I'm surprised you didn't have her wear her camera glasses." Heather teased.

"Damn I forgot about those…."

"Pen she's entitled to a private life." Lily poured herself a cup.

"So I hear you dreamed up the security for this place Heather?" Maddie asked.

"Yeah Jo and I did, we factored in that she might like the security of feeling she can have a private life here."

"Well my congrats to all who worked on the apartment, I know it cost her a fortune, but it's more than worth it when you see how relaxed and happy she is."

"Thank you Maddie."

 

“I suspect the new IT system you and Charlotte are installing will be just as impressive?”

 

“You have the first taste now,” Heather said, “in these laptops.”

 

“So come on Maddie – what was Shirley like when you first met her?”

 

“Scared out of her wits – as would you be if you’d been kidnapped and forced into a life of servitude, as she was.  Sandy – Sandra and I were the only friends she had at first, and we supported each other through those early days.  That’s why we’re so close now.”

 

“And yet here she is, supremely confidant, and one of the main players.”

 

“Indeed – and tomorrow, she’ll need all that experience in Boston.”

 

8 pm

Bar Primi

 

“And it was Tom who suggested here,” Janice said as she and Adam stepped out from the cab.

 

“Actually, I hear it was Gale – let’s just enjoy the moment,” Adam said as they walked in.  Jan was wearing a short-sleeved green silk gown under her coat, while Adam had on a grey suit and open necked shirt.

 

“There they are,” Tom Callaghan said as they walked in.  He too was wearing a suit with an open necked shirt, while his wife Gale wore a long sleeved jersey dress and over the knee felt boots.

 

“So nice to see you again Gale,” Janice said as she kissed her on both cheeks.  “And how long did it take you to persuade Tom we should all have a night out together?”

 

“Oh that’s his idea,” she said with a smile, “I just picked the venue.”

 

“She’s right,” Tom said as he handed both of them a drink, “you’ve both done an exceptional job these last few months, and you deserve a night out – you all do.”

 

“We all – who else is coming?”  Adam’s question was answered as two more came through the door.

 

"We didn't know you'd be here Jeanne?" Janice kissed her friend.

"Well I didn't till ten minutes ago,” Jeanne said as she handed her coat in.  “May I introduce Paul Honorine from the French Consulate, he took pity on me and accepted my late invitation to join me for dinner."

"You make it sound like a chore cherie." he kissed the hands of the other two ladies.

"Don't let his middle-aged charm get to you girls he's a practicing roué when he escapes his wife."

"And I'd guess sometimes when she's there." Janice laughed.

 

“Mister Callaghan, your table is ready,” the waiter said as he stood behind the group.

 

“Forgive us if we have cocktails brought to the table for you,” Tom said as they walked across the floor, and took their places.

 

"So are you also all in the police?" Paul asked.

"Tom is Janice and mine's supervisor, we are all in the FBI." Adam answered.

"Aha, you are the officers who worked the art fraudster case with Jeanne."

"We are." Adam smiled.

"And complicated my life…"

"How so Paul?" Janice enquired.

"You should see the absurd amount of paperwork returning items to their rightful owners entails…I've barely seen Helene."

"Oh is that your wife?"

"Before he does the old joke and says no his girlfriend, I'll intervene and say yes that is his wife." Jeanne laughed.

"Darling you take all my fun away." Paul said with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“Still, they have been invaluable,” Jeanne said with a smile.

 

“So did you know Legault,” Adam said as some appetizers were brought over.

 

“Not really – but believe me when I say his actions caused a great deal of consternation for us.  Some very senior heads rolled back home.”

 

“So you know Natasha de Ros as well?”

 

“Yes – a very skilled young woman, and soon to become Countess de Grechy.  I predict high things for her.”

 

The conversation moved on to more pleasant subjects as they sat, ate and talked, until the main courses were cleared away.

 

“I’ll be back in a moment,” Gale said as she stood up and walked to the powder room.

 

“While she is away,” Tom said quietly, “I trust you have heard the news of Steve Johnson.”

 

“Indeed,” Jeanne said, “forgive me if I say I will not mourn him.  The damage he did to the art world, not to mention the hurt he caused so many young people…”

 

"At least I do not need do the work to send his body home." Paul for a moment looked serious. "My counterpart at the British Consulate gets that pleasure."

"No one in the UK is claiming the body for burial." Tom said quietly.

"Or rather what is left of it." Janice added.

"I had heard that these bad women had hurt him."

"Paul it was a bit more than hurt." Janice said aloud while remembering in her mind the description she'd heard from her friends.

 

“I saw the coroner’s report – it did not make for pleasant reading,” Jeanne said.  “How did Juliette take the news of his death?”

 

“She cried for a moment, but I think it was over between them anyway,” Janice said.  “The arrival of Prince Klaus turned her head.”

 

“Still, I mourn his passing,” Tom said.  “So many questions I’d have liked to ask him, and now we may never get the answers.”

 

 

Tuesday 13th January

11 am

Metropole Hotel, Boston

 

The three men walking into the hotel lobby looked like respectable businessmen – suits, ties neatly knotted, shoes well shined.  One was in his late fifties, graying hair, the other two young, taller.

 

They walked past the reception desk and down the corridor with meeting rooms on either side, stopping outside one particular one and looking round as one of the younger men knocked smartly on the door.

 

Maddie opened the door and looked at the trio, before saying “Signor Gepetto, you honour us with the acceptance of our invitation.  Please come in.”

 

The three men entered, as Maddie closed the door.  “I am Madeline Moore, one of the senior executives of the lady who invited you today.  May I offer you some coffee?”

 

“Thank you,” the older man said, “black, no sugar.”

 

“And your associates?”

 

“Require nothing,” Gepetto said as he sat down, the two men standing behind him.  He looked at the woman – late forties, smartly dressed in a blue coatdress with white trim and a white belt, and an air of quiet assurance.

 

“And where is your employer?” he asked as he accepted the coffee cup.

 

“My apologies for the delay, sir,” Madame said as she came in, closing the door behind her.  She was wearing a Chanel trouser suit in grey, with a white camisole underneath, and black pumps.  “An urgent piece of business arose which required my attention.”

 

“As is often the way, Madame,” Gepetto said as he stood and kissed Madame’s hand, “I accept the apology in the graceful way it was given.”

 

He waited until she had sat, and taken some coffee from Maddie, before he said “So how may I help one of the great ladies?”

 

“Well, it is a rather delicate matter – one of seeking your blessing and permission for a job we may undertake over the weekend,” Madame said before she took a sip of her coffee and set the cup down.

 

“Perhaps if you explain the nature of your proposal, I can let you have my reaction,” Gepetto said as he looked at her.  Her voice, deep and resonant, had his respect already, and her reputation was known to him.

 

“Simply put,” Madame said with a smile, “a team of my associates intend to raid the Logan Depository on Saturday morning.  At this stage, I cannot confirm the operation will go ahead, but if it does we anticipate a substantial reward.  As this is firmly within your area, however, we would not dream of progressing without your blessing, and wish to offer tribute in return for that blessing.”

 

Gepetto looked at Madame, and then quietly chuckled.  “I was aware you planned only major crimes, my dear Madame,” he said, “and that is certainly a worthy target.  What, if you proceed, is the anticipated yield?”

 

“Madeline?”

 

Maddie looked at a printout Heather had sent, and said “based on current contents, an estimated thirty million.”

 

“Impressive – and what tribute would you offer?”

 

“Five per cent of the total takings, in exchange for your blessing.  In addition, should there be any particular items within the depository of interest to you, if we proceed we would attempt to obtain them for you.”

 

“You see, boys,” Gepetto said as he turned to the other two men, “this lady has the right attitude.  She has a plan, she asks for permission and offers tribute.  For this, she deserves blessing and respect.”  Turning to Madame, he said “there is a particular case in secure storage there – obtain that and the tribute, and you have my blessing.”

 

“If you will provide details to Madeline, we will attempt to oblige.  As a further token of respect, if we decide to abort, I will offer a consolation fee of half a million directly to your account.”

 

“The offer is appreciated, but it will not be necessary,” Gepetto said as he stood, Madame standing as well.  “Your reputation is deserved Madame – I wish you good fortune.”

 

“And you, sir,” she said as he kissed her hand again.  “We will send word if we decide to proceed by secure channels.”

 

“I look forward to hearing from you,” he said as he turned, Maddie opening the door as he went out.

 

“That went well,” she said as she closed the door again.

 

“Yes – now for the real fun,” Madame said as she sat down.  “How long?”

 

Maddie looked at her watch.  “Twenty minutes – how do you want to play this one?”

 

“By ear – and be ready for anything.”

 

 

 

Twenty minutes later, a young man with a thin build walked into the lobby and approached the meeting room.  He had reddish brown hair slicked back, and wore an open necked shirt under his sharp suit.

 

Knocking on the door, he looked round as the door opened, Maddie looking him up and down.  “Mister Cormack,” she said quietly, “you are expected.  Please, come in.”

 

“So you would be Madame X,” he said in a Bostonian accent.  “Conor Cormack, a pleasure to meet you.”

 

“And you, Mister Cormack,” Madame said as she shook his hand.  “My associate, Madeline Moore.  May I offer you some refreshment?”

 

Cormack looked at the coffee pot, before saying “If you have something a little stronger that would not go amiss.”

 

Madame nodded to Maddie, who opened a small leather case and brought out a bottle of Jameson.

 

“I am given to understand this is your preferred drink,” Madame said as Maddie poured a glass and handed it to him.

 

“You are well informed,” he said as he took the glass, “will you join me?”

 

“Thank you, but no – a little early for me.”

 

“So,” Conor said as he sat down, “why did you ask to see me?”

 

“May I be blunt?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“There is a very real possibility some of my associates will raid the Logan Depository on Saturday, and I wished to inform you in advance of this.”

 

Conor stopped, the glass in front of his mouth, and then said “Well, I grant you your courage, and of course I know of your skills, and your diplomacy.  But this is my turf, and if you wish to do this, then I need some form of involvement.”

 

“Naturally – tell me, Mister Cormac, do you still have controlling interest in the firm that supplies armoured car drivers?”

 

Conor looked at her, and smiled as he said “Ah – should you proceed, a suitable driver would be – beneficial?”

 

“Indeed – we have other methods of persuasion, but you would have your own man, or woman, on the scene.”

 

“And where would this van be met?”

 

“Details two hours before, so they would need to be ready.  Security – I’m sure you understand.”

 

“Now why do you think I would agree?”

 

“Because, and I quote him, Big Mike said if you did not, he would personally come over from Dublin and shove a shillelagh up his asshole.”

 

Conor set his glass down and burst out laughing.  “What does my driver get?”

 

“Half a million, tax free, and the assurance his family and relatives will be unharmed.”

 

Conor stood up and smiled.  “You said it was probable – how probable?”

 

“Ninety percent at this point – shall we shake?”

 

“We shall,” Madame said as they shook hands.  “I will send word if it is on Friday, and then where and when at the appropriate time.  Be ready please.”

 

As Maddie let him out, Madame sat down and smiled.

 

“Big Mike?  How does he know Conor?”

 

“From the old days,” Madame said as she finished her coffee.  “Now, a spot of lunch, and then there is an item I have had delivered from London that I need to collect from the Repository.”

 

“Surveillance?”

 

Shirley took out a pair of glasses and put them on.  “What do you think?”

 

 

5 pm

Park Avenue

 

"Juliette we have agreement from both the North End and from South Boston." Maddie typed into her laptop.

"That's a relief then."

"Madame asks what our next move is?"

"Let me do my thing." Heather typed in, "I'll select a victim to be our tame driver."

“Cormack says he will supply a co-driver as well, so choose carefully.”

 

"Sounds good,” Heather typed.  “I’ll avoid known contacts."

 

"I have an event tonight out of town." Juliette typed, "But I'm sure you can handle matters between you."

"We can try." Heather wrote.

"I think we may be one girl light." Maddie typed her thought in.

"Charlotte is always reliable…" Juliette added.

"That's true, can you ask Madame please?"

"I'll try her Juliette."

 

"Is everyone set with babysitters?" Heather asked.

"I am…Mom." Janice wrote in.

"George and the bitch have ours…"

"Carina said Judy will take Judith." Juliette added.

"LOL…If people only knew the Pussycat gang needs to factor in getting babysitters they'd be amazed." Maddie typed.

 

“They’d never believe it – and that’s the idea.  We meet at my place tomorrow night to finalise plan and assign roles.”

 

“We’ll be there,” Maddie said as she watched Shirley walk in.

 

“Oh – and thank Madame for the film.  Very useful.”

 

“I will – Maddie out,” she said as she ended the connection, and closed the laptop.

 

“So they’re happy?”

 

“I think so, yes,” Maddie said as she sat, looking at Shirley.

 

She turned round and said “What?”

 

“You haven’t said anything about last night.”

 

Shirley poured two mugs of coffee, handed one to Maddie and sat down.  “Do I ask you about your evenings with your partner?”

 

“Not until now, but times change,” Maddie said.  “Just answer this – is it like with Robert?”

 

“No – it’s different,” Shirley said, “we have a lot – a LOT in common, but he’s not Robert, and I don’t want him to be.  I want him to be John.  Fine by you?”

 

“Oh yes – so long as he makes you happy,” Maddie said with a smile.

 

7.30 pm

On the road out of Manhattan

 

“Tell me again oh parents why I agreed to become a debutante?” Carina complained from the backseat as she adjusted the straps on her dress.

 

“Because you were asked.” Juliette looked over her shoulder.

 

“Well it’s a reason, not a great reason, but a reason.” Carina agreed.

 

“You look fine, and this dance sounds like fun.” Ingrid spoke.

 

“I have an essay to write.” Carina looked at her watch.

 

“This dance at the Country Club is supposed to introduce you to girls not doing the full season.” Klaus glanced back proudly at his two beautiful daughters.

 

“Pops, have you been reading the info the damn organizers hand out again?”

 

“I have…” Klaus said, and then it struck him.  ”Pops?” He turned again and said “That’s what you are going to call me?”

 

“Well daddy, father, which do you prefer?”

 

“It’s just the first time you’ve called me anything that acknowledges that I’m your parent.”

 

“I know.” Carina laughed, “and you should see your face.”

 

“She got you fair and square Papa.” Ingrid laughed.

 

“This snow is getting worse.” Juliette noted, “And you two stop teasing your father.”

 

“Yes Mom.” Carina looked angelic as she replied.

 

“I know that expression Miss, what other trouble have you two got planned?”

 

“Us?” Ingrid laughed.

 

“Yes you two.” Klaus looked in the mirror.

 

“Oh nothing…”

 

“Klaus buckle up this could be a rough night.” Juliette smiled.

 

The Country Club was already busy as they pulled up, the valet holding the door for Ingrid and Carina as they got out and then taking the keys from Klaus.  Walking in, they saw a few of the other girls with partners on the floor, as they left their coats in the cloakroom.

 

“Well,” Klaus said as he handed a glass of champagne to Juliette, watching the girls as they went to greet the others, “we get to enjoy an evening as chaperones or adults or parents or – what?”

 

“Don’t ask me Klaus,” Juliette said as she sipped her champagne, “let’s just see what happens?”

 

They watched and smiled as the girls were asked onto the dance floor, the party slowly warming up.

 

 

 

“How are your feet?” Cari asked Ingrid a short while later as they walked back towards Juliette.

 

“You could have warned me.”

 

“I should have…sorry.  I’d forgotten that not all the boys from there are as good as The House at dancing.”

 

“Warned? What?” Juliette looked bemused.

 

“That guy Ingy just danced with he’s pretty terrible…’

 

“Four times he trod on my toes.”

 

“Ouch!” Juliette looked pained. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yes, but every white dress in the place should refuse to dance with him till he takes more lessons.”

 

“That’s the problem when you don’t know a guy, he may look cute, but then he treads all over your toes.” Carina sipped her drink.

 

“I prefer touchers to bad dancers, at least you can deal with them with a quick dig of a stiletto heel in their foot, but it feels rude telling someone he’s a lousy dancer.”

 

“Touchers?” Juliette asked.

 

“Juliette you know…. boys who try to…”

 

“Oh THEM?” Juliette giggled.

 

“I see Holly and Tommy enjoying themselves out there,” Carina said.

 

“Still mad at him?”

 

“Nah – they seem happy enough,” Carina said, “and I’m not that vindictive.”

 

“My dear child, have you been hurt,” Klaus said as he returned.

 

“Nothing I cannot cope with, papa,” Ingrid said as two boys walked over.  “Shall we, Carina?”

 

“I’ll be back in a minute – I need to powder my nose,” Carina said as she left the dance floor, Juliette following.

 

"I forgot to ask earlier, but how did Shirley's visit to Boston go today?" Carina whispered to her Mother as they both fixed their faces in the ladies room.

"I'll tell you later."

 

 

 

As they walked out, they saw Rachel and George McNally walk in.

 

"Hello Rachel." Juliette kissed her friend welcome. "You made it I see."

"Finally, that snow is pretty bad out there."

"Hello." Klaus smiled as her arrived with a tray of champagne glasses.

"Oh, thank you." Judy and her mother both gratefully took drinks.

"Hello David." Juliette smiled as he kissed her on the cheek, "So it's three of you on the lam from Yale tonight?"

"It is… I've got a paper to write…"

"Don't worry Carina hasn't written hers yet either." Klaus passed David and George drinks.

"So where are Cari and Ingrid?" Judy asked.

"Out there somewhere," Juliette waved at the couples dancing by.

"It's pretty crowded." Judy smiled as Ingrid waved as she waltzed by.

"So how is the family David?" Juliette asked.

"Well Mum is in Monaco doing a show, Dad is back in his personal pig heaven. Billy's back at Harrow, Jack at Cambridge, and Angel at Roedean."

"So back to normal eh?"

"Well to what passes for normal in our family."

 

"Your Mum and Angel are coming over to do the Dior show?"

"Yes, Angel hates the idea, but Mum told her she'll have fun."

"Well that's the idea at least."

"I didn't even get an invite to model." Judy spoke.

"Well you'll just have to be out front clapping with the rest of us." Rachel put her arm round her daughter.

"It wasn't an insult Judy," Juliette explained, "Just a matter of selection."

"I know,' Judy smiled, "I'm not really hurt."

"Judy you are just as beautiful as the girls modeling…" David looked lovingly at her.

"You said I was more beautiful earlier."

 

“David, my boy, this is where you take Judy to the dance floor and prove she is the most beautiful girl out there.”

 

David nodded as he took Judy’s arm and led her out to the dance floor.

 

“And now the games begin,” Rachel said as the older generation took a seat at a table.

 

 

“They do seem to be enjoying themselves,” George said as he looked on the dance floor.

 

"Is it acceptable for parents to dance?" Klaus smiled at Rachel.

"Why not?" she smiled back.

"Juliette?" George stood up.

"I'd love to."  As George took Juliette’s hand, Klaus offered his to Rachel, the two couples joining the others on the floor.

 

“Seems they’re having fun as well,” Carina said to Ingrid as they watched them dance.

 

“I’m slowly turning Mom round to the Vienna ball,” she then said as she sat at their table, “but it needs the final push.”

 

“Well, that push is coming,” Ingrid said.  “Don’t tell her, but Aunt Sigi is going to pay a surprise visit next week.”

 

“Does your father know?”

 

“No – and we want it kept that way.  Our other idea?”

 

“The room is booked – if we need it.”

 

“Carina, Ingrid?”

 

“Holly,” Ingrid said, “join us for a moment.”

 

“Thank you,” Tommy said as they sat down.  “Enjoying the party?”

 

“Very much so.  How’s the practice going, Holly?”

 

“Painfully, but I’m getting there.  How bad can it be with Mary Thomas?”

 

“You have no idea,” Cari said as the adults returned.

 

“Hello Tommy – I’m glad you could both make it,” Juliette said as he stood and kissed her on the cheek.

 

"Tommy, Holly, this is my father…and you don't know how strange that sounds me saying it." Carina giggled.

"Tommy and I met New Years, but while I saw this lovely young lady we weren't introduced." Klaus kissed Holly's gloved fingers.

 

“It is an honor to meet you, your highness,” Holly said as she gave a low curtsey.

 

“Please, we are not on full formal standing here,” Klaus said.  “Join us.”

 

“Thank you,” Tommy said as they sat down.

 

"Tradition says there should be a father/daughter dance Klaus." Juliette sipped her drink. "Any ideas?"

"I suppose I dance half with Ingrid and half with Carina."

"Or all with Carina…she's never danced with you, I have." Ingrid offered.

"No that's not fair." Carina looked troubled.

 

“May I suggest you dance twice, sir,” Tommy said, “once with each of them?  I understand from Mister Rochermann that is his plan for next year.”

 

“A sensible approach, young man – I agree,” Klaus said with a smile, “which leaves one question.”

 

“Oh?  And that is?”

 

“Who to dance with first.”

 

 

 

Wednesday 14th January

7.30 am

The Richmond Mansion

 

"Damn, Damn, and more Damn." Jo looked bad tempered as she came down to breakfast.

"Problems Sis?"  Heather put a plate of pancakes in front of Jo as she sat down.


"The university won't give Curt time off to fly to France for the wedding."

"That's a pity." Sandy looked up from the book she was reading.

"I know, I was looking forward to…"

"I think we know what you were looking forward to sister mine." Heather laughed as she poured Joanne a mug of coffee.

"I'll have you know sex is just a tiny part of our relationship…"

"But it's a fun part." Sandy interrupted.

"I guess so." Jo smiled.

"So you have final bridesmaid dress fittings Saturday afternoon?" Heather asked.

"Yeah,” Jo said as she ate some pancake, “after we get back from our little overnight trip."

"I'm making final checks for that this morning," Heather said as she sat down.

"Still looking okay?"

"Yeah, we will talk it out for sure tonight."

"Talk what out?" Little George brought his and his sisters cereal dish in from the den.

"What we are going to do while you are at Daddy's." Sandy smiled.

 

“We’re going to the zoo, and a show – even if it is one Sandy wants to watch,” George said as his sister came in.

 

“Hey – I went with you to the wrestling with Jo.  My turn Saturday.”

 

“All right, all right,” George said as he started to eat his cereal.  “Mom, you remembering its open night tomorrow night?”

 

“How could I forget?  Your teacher sent a very detailed letter about it,” Sandy said as she put her book down.

 

“All right you two, eat your breakfast – Katy will be here soon, and then it’s in the car for all of you.”

 

“Who are you picking up today?” Sandy said as she looked at Jo.

 

“Day off – I have a revision class after school, so it’s Ally and Abby on duty today.”

 

“And Ally does not have such a class?”

 

“Not for this one – it’s a private class with Annie.”

 

 

12.30 pm

51st Street Diner

 

"So how was the Country Club last night?" Sandy asked Rachel over lunch.

"Great, but the snow was pretty bad, especially driving back in to the city.  The kids got back to Yale before we got home."

"Did Juliette enjoy herself?" Tonia enquired as the waiter took their order.

"She seemed to…"   Rachel grinned as she looked at the other women.

"One day my Prince will come." Tonia sung then laughed.

"He is a hunk of man." Liz de Roon spoke as she sat down. "If I wasn't happily married…"

"I think married or not any of us would grab him if he didn't have eyes just for Juliette.  It’s that old world charm that does it."

"Well I got to dance with him twice last night." Rachel looked happy, "He danced with Judy, also a couple of the other debs, and so he did have time for others."


"But I bet he kept glancing at HER." Tonia laughed again.

 

“What do you think,” Rachel said as Janice joined them.

 

“So what are you ladies talking about, as if I could not guess?”

 

“Why, Juliette and Klaus of course – don’t you think it’s so romantic,” Rachel said as she fluttered her eyelids.

 

“Romantic yes – but give them a break.  Cari still has to figure out whether or not to call him papa or whatever.”

 

“Oh, give the girl time – she’ll find something.”

 

“Where is Juliette today anyway?”

 

“She’s helping Natasha with the final fitting of her gown?”

 

“Oh yes – the society wedding of the year,” Tonia said with a smile.  “I hear you got an invite?”

 

“At Natasha’s insistence – I could really do without a weekend trip to France, but Katy’s staying with her gran, so a short break for Adam and me…”

 

“Ah l’amour, toujours l’amour,” Sandy said, earning a swift kick under the table from Janice.

 

“You protest, Sandy, but have you seen Page Six today?”

 

“Not my usual morning reading, Toni – why?”

 

Tonia opened up the New York Post and said “Listen to this…”

 

TRUE LOVE IN THE AIR AMONGST THE WHITE LADYS?

 

The Debutante season is in full swing, but for once the big news is not of the girls, but of the parents – and two in particular.

 

The big chatter is about leading NY Sinner Juliette Huntingdown, the Senior Fashion Editor at Complete Style, and the dashing Prince Klaus von Furstenheim, the Bavarian noble.  They have been spotted together having lunch and dinner, as well as at the theatre.

 

Both have daughters amongst this year’s debutantes – Carina Huntingdown and Ingrid von Furstenheim – but the shock revelation that His Highness is the father of both girls has people wondering – how long before Juliette becomes Her Highness Princess Juliette?

 

We watch with bated breath…

 

“See,” Tonia said, “everyone is talking about them!”

 

“No,” Sandy said, “they’re friends, nothing more.  Give them some space, all right?”

 

“And while we’re talking gossip,” Rachel said, “what’s this I hear about Shirley and John Hammond?”

 

“Oh yeah – I hear they’ve seen quite a bit of each other since the New Year,” Liz said.  “She’s a looker as well!”

 

“Yeah –and she deserves it,” Sandy said quietly.

 

 

3 pm

Complete Style

 

Natasha was standing on a small dais, looking at Juliette as she stood, her head to one side and her hand resting on her chin.

 

"So has he told you where the honeymoon is going to be yet Natasha?" Juliette watched expertly as Marc Jacobs' and his assistants worked on the perfect fit of the wedding dress.

"10 days in Mauritius."  Natasha looked down as the designer made a tiny adjustment to the bodice.

"Very nice…"

"Marc darling this dress will look amazing." Natasha smiled.

"It's an honor doing it,” Marc said as he stepped back, “but I think my French colleagues may have their noses put out of joint by a French bride going to an American designer for her dress."

"Well I live in New York, and they wouldn't travel, so I saw what you did for Ambrosina and decided you make perfect wedding dresses."

"I wouldn't say perfect…"

"Accept the compliment darling," Juliette intervened, "Natasha doesn't do meaningless flattery."

"Alright…I'll accept."

"Oh dear lord that looks beautiful…" Janine couldn't help herself as she came in with some messages for her boss.

"We have all been saying that." Juliette smiled.

"And I bet Marc is thinking all the time, I can do this better." Mary wandered in as well.

"Well…?" the designer stood up and stared at his creation.

"Marc it’s perfection." Natasha smiled, "I knew doing my fitting at a fashion magazine was asking for trouble, these are professional critics."

 

“Only because we care,” Mary said as she walked round, Marc watching.

 

“Well?”

 

“Don’t change a thing – when do the other bridesmaids get here?”

 

“Friday afternoon – we have our shower on Saturday night.”

 

“Well, I expect them all here Saturday afternoon – we only have this window of opportunity.”

 

"Did you see the Post today?" Mary asked Juliette.


"No I was running late this morning why?"

"Look at Page Six."

"Oh Crap," Juliette said as she read the item. "I better ring him and explain."

"We do have gossip columns in Europe." Natasha spoke up.

"I know, but poor man."

 

“Relax, Juliette – the gossip papers in Germany won’t carry this.  They’re more likely to be there for the Opera Ball.”

 

"I've been screening out calls from journalists who I don't know." Janine spoke.

"Because of this story?"

"Yes." Janine nodded.

 

As she spoke, Janine took a cell phone out of her pocket and looked at it.  “His Highness for you,” she said as she handed Juliette the phone.

 

“Klaus,” Juliette said, “I am so sorry…”

 

“Do not worry, Juliette, they are amateurs compared to the vultures in Italy and Britain.  I can weather the storm if you will.”

 

“Good,” Juliette said with a smile.  “I can get them to stop if you want…”

 

“I have a better idea – do you still know Jeanne Beckman?”

 

“Yeah I do, but why would… Oh.  I get it now.”

 

“Do you think she will?”

 

“I’ll ask her – and thanks Klaus.  I’ll see you on Saturday.”

 

7.30 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment

 

“Yes, I got the paper done mom,” Carina said as Sandy, Jo and Heather sat down.  “So did David, so we’re in the clear.”

 

“Good – I don’t like the idea of you falling behind this month,” Juliette said as she nodded at Diana and Abigail.

 

“Don’t worry mom – I got Friday next week covered, and the week after for the ball.  Whom are we waiting for?”

 

“Sorry we’re late,” Dominique said as she came in, “we had to collect someone from the airport.”

 

“Hey everyone,” Charlotte said as she came in, “I hear you need the professional touch, but Susan’s unavailable, so you get me instead.”

 

“And very welcome you are as well,” Juliette said as she hugged the young South African.

 

“Charlotte – you made it.”

 

“I did Ma… Shirley,” she said as she hugged her and Maddie.  “So what’s the deal?”

 

“A large one hopefully,” Juliette said as she sat down, “depending on what we decide today.  Let’s discuss stage one first – Heather?”

 

Heather put up on her laptop a photograph of a suburban home.

 

“The Coates residence – no particular additional security measures, and certainly no sign of anything like what we dealt with in Atlantic City.  1330 Plainfield Street, quiet, peaceful – and plenty of space all around.”

 

“Excellent,” Diana said as she looked at it.  “We took delivery from Tommy of new handguns so that we have all we need.  The plan?”

 

“We take possession of the house at 2200 hours Friday night.  Core team, with Janice added as well.  We follow our usual pattern – Cari, Jo, Abby, you take the rear entrance, and we take the front.”

 

“Gotcha – all expected to be home?”

 

“That would appear to be the case.  Remember, we need Coates fully compliant, so do what is necessary.”

 

“Transport?” Abby asked.

 

“Sandy and I will go with Janice Friday morning – they’ll be waiting at the farm,” Heather said with a smile.

 

“Weapons are already in place.”

 

Juliette looked round the others.  “We take Coates to the bank for 0700 Saturday morning.  Other staff are due to arrive by 0800, and I want them all secured and silenced.  Jan, you and Jo stay at the Coates house until 0800, and then get back to the city.  We expect the balloon to go up by 1100 based on past experience.”

 

“Time from home to bank?”

 

“About fifteen minutes,” Sandy said.

 

“Internal layout,” Heather said as she brought up the plans.  “The vault is full at the moment with the money to ship out, but we get everything we can ready to ship.”

 

“The bags come in the cars with us – and that’s phase one.  What we need to do is make a decision about phase two.”

 

“The depository?”

 

Juliette nodded.  “The armored car arrives at the bank at 0830.  If we do not proceed, we get out before it arrives.  If we precede – Maddie?”

 

“If we do this, one of the conditions is one of the drivers is provided by Cormac.  The other will be selected by us – Heather?”

 

“Joey Baker – twenty eight, married with a seven year old kid.  We take them hostage after he goes to work – but the first he knows is when we take over the armored car.”

 

“Similar to what we did in Bristol then?”

 

“Precisely,” Maddie said.  “We force him, with the other driver to enter the depository, but when the staff open the doors, they find us, armed and ready to kick ass.”

 

“First objective – security room,” Heather said, “Secure and disrupt.  Then grab what can be grabbed easily – open all vaults, and empty as quickly as possible.”

 

“The car is due to arrive at 1045 hours – we have one hour to do what we do, and get out, before the car is noticed.”

 

“How violent will we need to get?”

 

“As much as is necessary,” Juliette said.  “If we hit the bank alone, we get at least nine million.  Take the depository, and much more – a lot more.  The question is, do we do that or not?”

 

“We all have appointments in the city Saturday,” Abby said, “so how would it go down.”

 

“The Boston groups think this is my work, so my team would take on the depository, with two exceptions.  I would like Heather to be with me, and you would take Charlotte.”

 

“But we use Pussycat codenames – the right people have been alerted.”

 

“We need to make a decision people – what’s it going to be?”

 

Juliette looked round the room, as one by one the ladies said “Both.”

 

“Very well then,” Shirley said, “teams.  For the Coates Residence, Juliette, Jo, Abby, Janice, Sandy, Diana, Carina and Charlotte.”

 

“Jan and Jo,” Juliette said quietly, “you keep the ladies of the house fully restrained – assuming they need to be restrained – until 0800 hours and then head back to the farm.  Change and get back to New York pronto.

 

“0630 hours Baker is due at work.  Annie, you get the mom and kid.  Be gentle, but be firm.”

 

“Got it,” Annie said.  “And if mummy gets upset?”

 

“Do what you need to do.”

 

“0800 The rest of you will be allowed into the bank by the rear entrance, to await the armoured car and assist in emptying the vault.  When the car comes, Shirley, Charlotte, Maddie, Dom, Heather and Penny get in the back and are driven to the depository.  The rest of us take the bank contents back to the farm and change.”

 

“With all going well,” Juliette finished, “we’re all back at the farm by noon.  Those of us ready head to the fittings – the rest change and dispose of everything else.”

 

“What about the car drivers?”

 

“Arrange for them to be found somewhere – hopefully in one piece.”

 

Dominique nodded as Maddie said “Question – what will my Pussycat name be?”

 

“You Maddie will be Miss Margay.”

 

“Very suitable,” Maddie said with a smile.

 

“All right people – study the plans, and let’s get the questions out of the way…”

 

"How long since you did a job like this Maddie?" Annie asked.

"A while.  I’m looking forward to it, though.  Why?"

"Maybe a refresher weapons course then with Diana?"

"Do I need one?"

"Have you ever shot a rifle or gun while wearing high heels?" Diana asked.

"No…do I need to?" Maddie asked.

"Well Catherine has made up these amazing outfits with high heeled boots." Juliette smiled slightly.  “And we do pride ourselves on our appearance.”


"Oh can we see?" Maddie asked.

"Later darling, can we get sorted who wants a day with Diana first?"

"I guess I had better volunteer then.  Who else is with me?"

 

“Penny, we need an extra set of arms on the Uzi.  Want to come and help?”

 

“Sure,” Penny said with a smile, “could be fun.”

 

"Any obvious problem areas from the film Madame took Heather?"

"A control room that will need to be taken over Charlotte, a couple of blind spots we need to check for anyone hiding…It's a big area relatively."

"So can you blind the control room till we take it?"

"With your help I think so."

"Where do we hold the people?" Shirley asked.

"I was thinking on the floor in the open, no alarms to be reached, two people can easily guard them there."

"Leaving the rest of us to get the goodies." Maddie nodded.

 

“We’ll need zip ties – speed is of the essence?”

 

“Already in supply at the farm,” Diana said quietly.

 

"What other ins and outs are scheduled?" Penny asked.

"No deliveries in our time frame as far as I can currently see…But if problems arise we make sure one of the hostages lures them inside and we take them and tie them with the others." Heather looked up from checking her computer.

 

 

Friday 16th January,

2 pm

White City Shopping Centre, Providence RI

 

“Small place,” Janice said as they looked round, “not where you would normally look?”

 

“No, but given the target is at the mall, not a good idea to go looking for cars there,” Sandy said as she looked along the parking lot.  “Here’s our first candidate – the lovely little SUV over there.”

 

They watched as the grey car pulled up and an elderly woman got out, closing the door as she ran towards the rare bookstore.

 

“Like taking candy from a baby,” Sandy said as she let herself out, and walked across the mall, driving away a few minutes later as Heather set off and followed her.

 

“Not going for two cars in the same place?”

 

“Nah – cops will be there soon,” Heather said, “besides, I want to look further afield.”

 

She drove round the streets for a few minutes before she saw a minibus outside a house.

 

“Perfect – you okay to go back to the farm?”

 

“Sure,” Janice said as Heather got out, and she took the wheel.

 

“Good – see you there.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 pm

The Farm

 

“Welcome to the base of operations,” Sheila said as Jenny drove them to the main yard.

 

“Welcome,” Diana said as she stepped out, “we’re just starting to cook dinner.  Lily is setting up the communications post.”

 

“So that’s how she got out of this,” Charlotte said as they walked into the farmhouse.

 

“Well, with Penny going with you lot, someone has to coordinate,” Lily said as she sat at a table, a laptop open in front of her.  “Each of you will have an earpiece and throat mike.”

 

“Where are Sandy and Heather,” Penny said as she took her coat off.

 

“Taking care of the cars – the others will be here shortly,” Diana said as a jeep pulled up outside, and Jo and Abby came into the farmhouse.

 

“Well, this weekend’s going to be packed,” Jo said as she took her blazer off, “fittings tomorrow, and the bridal lunch on Sunday.”

 

“This time next week it’s the wedding – imagine how Carina must be starting to feel.”

 

“Nervous – I need to work some of the energy out,” Carina said as she came in and put her bag down.  Janice and Heather then came in, wiping their hands on rags.

 

“Sandy will be along in a minute,” Janice said, “we just got done tuning the car engines.”

 

“Can someone come and give me a hand,” Juliette called from outside, “I have fourteen clothes bags and boxes out here?”

 

“Coming,” Jo and Abby said as they walked out, returning with the bags as Diana helped Juliette with the boxes.

 

“Dom and Annie are on their way,” Juliette said as she closed the door, “they had to talk to Ama about something first.  So what’s for dinner?”

 

“Roast lamb – if I keep an eye on it,” Diana said as she returned to the kitchen, Maddie opening up the suit bag with her name on it.

 

“Oh my, that looks wonderful,” she said as she looked at Juliette, “and my size as well.  How did you manage it?”

 

“My gift,” Juliette said with a smile.  “Okay – cars ready?”

 

“Ready and raring to go,” Sandy said as she came in.

 

 

 

7.30 pm

 

Maddie sat at the table, watching the group as they ate their meal and chatted about anything except the upcoming night.  Juliette and Carina were discussing an upcoming fashion show, while Abigail and Diana were discussing the wedding with Sandy and Janice.  Heather and Jo were talking about her college applications, while Annie and Dominique were discussing the relative merits of Kevin Spacey and Josh Brolin with Penny.

 

“I don’t believe this,” Lily said as she and Charlotte looked on.  “Are they always like this?”

 

Charlotte glanced at her watch.  “Give it an hour, and then it’s all business for the first wave,” she said quietly. 

 

“Less than that,” Shirley said as she stood up and started to collect plates.  “They need to go and get ready soon, and then you will see the difference.”

 

“I just can’t believe they are so calm,” Maddie said as she sat back.

 

“Practice,” Shirley said as she took the plates to the kitchen, and Juliette looked at her watch. 

 

“We’ll have coffee, and then the first team need to prepare,” she said quietly.

 

“Lily, is the communication network up and running,” Penny said as she walked over.

 

“Yup – I’ll be able to send messages between the various groups once the operation starts.”

 

They sat around the low coffee tables, Shirley and Diana handing round the coffee mugs as they talked about this that and everything – until Juliette looked at her watch.

 

“Time – first team need to be prepared and ready to go by 2120 hours.”

 

Abby and Jo nodded as they stood up, climbing the stairs first followed by Diana, Sandy and Carina.  “We’re sharing a room for this,” Janice said as she and Charlotte walked up, and finally Juliette.

 

“So this is it,” Maddie said to Sheila as she put her coffee mug down.

 

“Yup this is it,” Shirley said quietly.

 

 

 

“This feels wonderful,” Joanne said as she slipped the black woolen jersey dress over her head, the material forming to the shape of her body, before she helped Abby to pick up The Thing.

 

“Has you mom had this adjusted,” she said as she strapped the padding into place.

 

“Yeah – it needed lengthening anyway, but it’s been reshaped to my new body size,” Abigail said as she looked at herself in the mirror, and then sat down, putting one of the long black leather boots over her foot and then zipping it up so that the leather caressed her leg up to the knee.  Putting on the other one, she stood up and admired herself again, the four-inch heels adding extra height.

 

“Cathy outdid herself this time,” Jo said as she put on her own boots, and then helped Abigail with her dress, before the two women sat at the dressing table and started to apply their makeup.

 

“Hey,” Carina said as she came in, the black wig already in place over her hair, “how’s it going?”

 

“Soon be ready,” Jo said as she applied the lipstick, and then adjusted her wig on her head.  “What do you think?”

 

“Not bad – and you’re looking hot Abigail m’dear.”

 

“Careful or Miss Kelly will hear you,” Abby said as she adjusted the wig, and then pulled on a pair of soft black leather gloves, and then donned the coat.  It was made from black wool, and came over her knees, the cut meaning it was only fastened by two buttons at the front.  The cuffs and collars were lined with black fur.

 

“Exquisite,” Carina said as Jo and Abby fastened the brooches onto their coats, before they checked each other.  “Shall we go down and join the others?”

 

 

 

Maddie watched as they came down in ones and twos, adjusting their gloves or their coats, and seeing them as the Pussycats for the first time, identically dressed, all with the black wigs and gloves.

 

“All right,” Lily said as she stepped forward, “one earpiece and one microphone each.  Put them in place, and we’ll do a sound check.”

 

Walking back to the laptop, she put her headset on and said “Nod if you can hear me.”

 

All eight nodded as Lily looked over, and then she said “Miss Leopard, sound check please.”

 

“Sit your dipshit ass down and shut the fuck up,” Juliette said in her Pussycat voice, Lily nodding and putting her thumbs up before she took the headset off.

 

“All right then,” she said as she turned to the others.  “Final checks – all personal items removed, no papers, no identifying marks?”

 

“I thought Carina needed glasses,” Maddie whispered to Sheila.

 

“Contact lenses – changes the eye colour as well,” Shelia replied as she looked at Carina, the extra height on her heels bringing her to the same height as the others.

 

“Diana?”

 

“Bags are already in the SUV.  Jan, Jo, you come in the smaller car.”

 

“All right then ladies,” Juliette said, “glasses on, and masks in place.”  Looking up and down the line with a critical eye, she said “Right – let’s go to work.”

 

“Good luck,” Sheila whispered as the eight of them headed out, Heather watching as well.

 

“Right,” she said quietly, “Annie, you’ll be next.  Others, get some sleep if you can – I’ll awake you in time.”

 

9.50 pm

1330 Plainfield Street

Providence RI

 

“Thank you darling,” Angela Coates said as Gerald handed her a glass of wine.  She leaned back on the couch, and crossed her legs, the cuffs of her tan trousers rising to reveal her brown shoes.  A tan blouse with a bow tie neck and a light grey waistcoat completed her outfit.

 

“Hard day at the hospital?”  Gerald Coates was wearing a light blue polo shirt and grey trousers, smiling as he sipped his drink.

 

“Yeah – for some reason, everyone wanted the forms processed there and then,” Angela said as she ran her hair through her blonde hair.

 

“Hey,” Cora said as she came down, wearing a red V-necked jumper and jeans, “any of the key lime pie left?”

 

“In the fridge,” Angela said.  “What’s Dora up to?”

 

“Finishing her History assignment,” Cora said as she went into the kitchen.

 

Through the open window, a large vehicle could be seen pulling up on the curb outside.  Three women got out and walked to the side of the building, followed a few minutes later by five more who walked towards the front door.

 

“Where did you say it was, mom,” Cora called out from the kitchen,

 

“In the fridge – middle shelf,” Angela said as she stood up, placing her glass on the coffee table as she started to make her way to the kitchen.   “Hang on, I’ll….”

 

The front door was thrown open as she was passing, Angela staring as five women walked in wearing long black coats with fur collars and cuffs, as well as black leather boots and gloves.  What really took her attention, however, where the sawnoff shotguns in their hands, and the stockings that were pulled down their hair, making their black hair lie flat on their heads.

 

“Don’t say a fucking word,” the tall woman at the front of the group said as she pushed Angela against the wall, and pressed the end of the shotgun under her chin.

 

“CORA!!!!  RUN!!!!!”

 

Cora turned sharply at the sound of her mother’s scream, and ran to the back door, only to see three more women standing outside as she opened it.

 

“Hello dahlin,” one of them said in a Louisiana accent, “now be a good little gahl, and walk back in, nice and slowly.  Oh – and do keep that pretty little mouth shut, unless you want it shut permanently.”

 

Gerald had jumped up at the sound of Angela’s scream, and picked up the telephone, but before he could dial a number a tall masked woman walked in and growled “Touch that dial, and your hand will disappear along with the fucking handset.   Clear, arselicker?”

 

He watched as Cora and Angela were pushed back into the front room, the eight women looking at them.

 

“Miss Lynx, Miss Tigress, invite Dora to join us,” the tall woman said, two of the others nodding as they went upstairs.  “Miss Serval, Miss Ocelot, disable all communications and alarms.”

 

“Roger that,” two more said as one of them pulled the telephone from the wall, another heading for the back room.

 

“Oh fuck,” Gerald said quietly, “oh fuck, you’re the Pussycat gang.”

 

“That’s right,” the tall woman said, “and I am Miss Panther, so if you want to survive the next twenty seconds, get on your fucking knees with your hands behind your head.

 

“NOW!!!”

 

The three of them dropped to their knees as Miss Lynx was heard to say, “get your ass down those stairs before I shove this up there and end your digestive problems permanently.”

 

Dora Coates almost ran down the stairs, wearing a t-shirt and panties, before Miss Tigress pushed her towards the rest of her family.

 

“Good,” Miss Panther purred, “Miss Puma, close the curtains.  Miss Leopard, kindly show the good Coates family what we have for them tonight.”

 

“Tonight, Miss Panther,” Miss Leopard said as she produced rope, cloth and tape, “we have a family who will do whatever we fucking say, if they want to see tomorrow.  Are we absolutely clear about that, mother fuckers?”

 

“Please, for the love of god, don’t hurt us…”

 

“Mister Coates,” Miss Panther said as she reached down and raised his chin, “Let me one thing absolutely clear.”  She pushed the barrel of her gun into his mouth, his eyes wide as she said “God is nowhere near here tonight, there is only we Pussycats – so pray we are in a good mood.  Secure them.”

 

“With pleasure,” Miss Lynx said as she took some rope and yanked Angela’s arms behind her back, making her scream as she yanked the rope tightly round her wrists and forced them together.

 

“That hurts,” she cried out, only to feel the cloth pushing her tongue down as Miss Bobcat forced a scarf into her mouth.

 

“Sugah, do yahself a real big favour, and keep that in there,” she cooed as Miss Lynx pulled more rope tightly round her arms and chest.  “Mah friend there gets a mite upset when people question her – and the last thing ah think you want is Miss Lynx upset.

 

“Not yet anyway.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Miss Lynx whispered into Angela’s ear as she pulled the rope even more tightly, “we have plenty of time to have fun together.”

 

“Dad, who are these people,” Cora said as she looked at her father.

 

“Allow me,” Miss Ocelot said as she walked in.  “We are the Pussycat Gang, little girl, and we’re here because tomorrow morning, your dear daddy is going to make a large withdrawal on our behalf.”

 

“And in the meantime,” Miss Leopard said as she stroked Angela with her gun, “you will do every little thing we tell you to do, or you die.  And right now we’re telling you to put your hands behind your back and shut the FUCK UP!!!!  CAPICHE?”

 

Cora nodded as she did as she was told, Miss Tigress binding her as Miss Bobcat took care of Dora.  As they did so, the woman they had called Miss Serval started to search through their bags, removing cell phones and taking the batteries out.

 

“Now,” Miss Panther said as she sat down, “shall we have a little chat?”

 

 

 

 

10.10 pm

The Farm

 

“Lily?”

 

“Hearing you Penny?”

 

“Target one taken and secured.”

 

“Understood – good luck.”

 

Lily looked over to where Maddie and Shirley were sitting.

 

“The ladies have secured the Coates residence.”

 

Maddie glanced at her watch.  “Ten minutes – very professional.  So what will they do to pass the time between now and tomorrow?”

 

“I think they will find ways to amuse themselves,” Shirley said quietly.  

 

“What’s the word,” Heather said as they came in.

 

“They’re in.  Now, we wait.”

 

“Just how bad can it be,” Maddie asked as she looked at Heather.

 

“That depends,” Heather said quietly, “on how much Cari lets the Beast go.”

 

 

 

11 pm

Plainfield Street

 

“Please, they’re just children,” Gerald said as he watched Miss Bobcat and Miss Tigress making Cora and Dora face each other, then using more rope to bind their upper bodies tightly together.  Their ankles were already secured as they looked at their parents, sat on the couch to the side.

 

“Now, Mister and Mrs. Coates,” Miss Panther said in her deep sensuous voice, “we’re going to play a game of truth and consequences.  We’re going to ask a series of questions, and if we believe or know you are telling the truth, your daughters will be rewarded.  If you lie, or we don’t like your answer…”

 

Miss Tigress picked up a cane and brought it down hard on Cora’s bottom, making her squeal with pain before Dora joined in, helped by Miss Bobcat applying a leather belt to her bottom.

 

“For fuck’s sake, leave them alone,” Gerald, said as he looked at Angela, her eyes wide with fear as she said “Plslsdnnntt”

 

“Then answer the questions, Mister Coates,” Miss Panther said quietly.  “First question – are you alone in the house, apart from those of us here?”

 

“Yes,” Gerald said.

 

“Good,” Miss Tigress said as she caressed Cora’s bottom, making her moan as she rubbed over the area she had hit a minute ago.  As she moved, she rubbed her chest against Dora’s, who moaned as well at that.

 

“Oh look dahlins,” Miss Bobcat said, “they’re helping each other feel the pleasure.”

 

“Right then,” Miss Panther said as she smiled under the stocking, “Do you have a safe in the house?”

 

“Yes,” Gerald said as Angela looked at him.  “Our bedroom, in the walk in wardrobe.”

 

“Check,” Miss Panther said to Miss Serval, as Miss Puma reached down from behind and began to massage Angela’s chest, the girls looking at their mother as she closed her eyes and let out a soft moan.

 

“Fascinating, isn’t it,” Miss Ocelot said as she stood with Miss Leopard, “how fear heightens the senses?”

 

“In all cases,” Miss Leopard said as she looked at Gerald, noticing the bump between his legs.

 

“What’s this,” Miss Lynx said as she reached between his legs, and grabbed his cock, “getting excited, mother fucker?”

 

“Please…”

 

Miss Serval came down the stairs and nodded to Miss Panther.

 

“Well, that’s two right answers – Miss Bobcat, MissTigress?”

 

Dora’s eyes flashed open as she felt Miss Bobcat’s gloved hands on her chest, gently groping and probing as her breasts started to harden. 

 

“Plslsffhrrlln” Angela moaned, only for her eyes to widen further as Miss Puma unfastened the bow at her neck, and then ripped her blouse open, the buttons popping in several directions.

 

“Oh she’s going commando,” Miss Puma said as she groped Angela’s chest.  “Now, Mister Coates, the combination to the safe.”

 

“Please…”

 

The three women screamed, Angela’s screams muted as they all had their chests squeezed hard by their tormentors.

 

“The combination, Mister Coates.”

 

“All right, all right,” he said as he gave a series of numbers, Miss Puma groping and making Angela’s nipples hard as he gave the sequence.

 

“Much better,” Miss Panther said as she nodded at Miss Lynx, who produced a pair of silver clamps linked by a gold chain from her coat pocket.

 

“HMFLNGNGGDDDD” Angela screamed as the clamps were applied to the firm nipples, and then the chain pulled by Miss Lynx.

 

“I think you should take the two girls upstairs,” Miss Panther said to Miss Tigress, Miss Bobcat and Miss Lynx, “make them really comfortable.”

 

“No, please…” Gerald started to say, before he gasped as he was hit in the abdomen by Miss Leopard with the barrel of the gun.

 

“Shut the fuck up, mother fucker,” she growled, “we are in charge here.”

 

“Up you get,” Miss Lynx, said as the two girls had their ankles untied, their bodies released from each other, and then were made to walk to the stairs, walking up with the three masked woman.

 

 

 

 

“All right,” Miss Lynx said as they walked into the bedroom shared by both of them, “You girls ever kissed anyone else?”

 

Cora shook her head as Dora stared at the three masked woman.

 

“Figures,” Miss Lynx said, “the more adventurous one would have done so.  Then you know how to kiss someone – kiss your sister?”

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“My friend said,” Miss Tigress said as she pushed the barrel of a gun against your back, “kiss her – or die now.”

 

Dora swallowed hard and said “I’m so sorry” as she kissed her sister on the lips.

 

“Awww, isn’t that sweet,” Miss Bobcat said as she yanked Dora’s panties down, and folded them into a wad, smiling as she held them in her gloved hand in front of Cora’s mouth.  “Now, open your mouth, so that you can taste your sister for a while to come…”

 

“Oh my god, you can’t be…”

 

“Girl,” Miss Lynx said as she yanked Cora’s hair, making her open her mouth to scream before Miss Bobcat shoved her sister’s panties into her mouth, “we can do whatever the fuck we like.  Now, I had planned to treat you two young ladies nicely, but you got me – upset.  Tape her.”

 

Miss Bobcat tore loose the end of a roll of duct tape and wound it tightly round Cora’s head, trapping her hair underneath as Miss Tigress began to grope Dora, her naked breasts sitting between the two bands of tight rope.

 

“Ah think a gift given should be returned,” Miss Bobcat drawled as she unfastened Cora’s pants and pulled them down, making her step out of her jeans and panties before she picked up her red panties and folded them.

 

“No, please don’t make me…” Dora said as she stood up and smelled the silk pad.  “Oh my – that kiss made her flow a little,” Miss Bobcat said, “You’re gonna love this dahlin…”

 

“Open wide and say ah,” Miss Tigress said as she pulled Dora’s head back, and the wad was pushed into her open mouth, before the tall, statuesque home invader wound the tape tightly round her head.

 

“I have something you two girls are going to love,” Miss Lynx said, “downstairs.  In the meantime, do enjoy their bodies.”

 

“I fully intend to,” Miss Bobcat said as she reached her hand between Cora’s legs, the young girl closing her eyes and moaning as she felt the gloved fingers on her clit, and her sister responding in kind to Miss Tigress’ touch.

 

As she walked down the corridor, she met Miss Serval coming from the master bedroom.

 

“Well?”

 

“Safe opened like a charm – what about the girls?”

 

“They’re virgins, I’d swear my life on it – so let’s give them something else to remember tonight by,” she said as the two of them walked downstairs, Miss Lynx retrieving a small leather sachet from the bag and walking back upstairs.

 

“When we knew we would be coming for a visit,” Miss Lynx said with a wide smile as she came back in, “I decided to get something very special for both of you.”

 

The eyes of the tow girls widened as they saw the white object she took from the satchel, both ends bulging slightly as the other two masked women smiled.

 

“Now,” Miss Lynx said, “do you think the sluts are ready?”

 

“Possibly, dahlin,” Miss Bobcat said as she looked at Cora, her head shaking as the gloved hand prized open the petals of her clit and probing inside.  She felt the dampness between her legs, and then the pain as Miss Lynx rammed one end of the dildo in, moving it back and forth until she felt her hymen tear and she screamed into her gag.

 

“Bet that feels good now, doesn’t it,” Miss Bobcat purred as she opened her coat and played with herself, groaning in unison with Cora as she was forced to her first climax.  As she started to shake, Miss Lynx motioned to Miss Tigress, who grinned as she forced Dora to push herself onto the other end, her screams joining her sister’s as her virginity tore away, and she started to sum as well.

 

Both girls barely noticed as they were made to push against each other, their upper bodies roped together, their legs at their knees, and then their ankles as they were pushed onto one of the beds.

 

“Oh that makes me feel so hot,” Miss Tigress said as she felt herself the two girls writhing in pain, fear and ecstasy in equal measure.

 

“And now – this,” Miss Lynx said as she pressed a button on the dildo, both women screaming as the inbuilt vibrators started and no way for them to get off.

 

“Oh yes,” the three women groaned as they watched the teenagers, and started to feel the pleasure building in them as well.

 

 

 

 

“HSWTTJSSSSTP!” Angela closed her eyes and screamed as the clamps bit into her flesh, the feel of Miss Ocelot’s hands between her legs driving her wild.  Her pants had been pulled down, as had her knickers, while George had his arms now tied tightly to his side.

 

His own erection was hard to ignore now, especially as Miss Puma opened his pants and drew out his cock.

 

“Oh my, you really are a man,” she said as she began to stroke it, “but the question is, how much you love your wife?”

 

“I’ll do anything, just don’t hurt her,”

 

“Good – get on your knees you little shit.  You’re going to service your wife.”

 

“What do you…”  George was unable to stop himself as Miss Puma pushed him forward, making him fall face down onto the floor as Miss Leopard released Angela’s legs and spread then apart.

 

“I said,” Miss Puma growled as he made George kneel between Angela’s legs, “make her cum with your mouth – it’s just about good enough for that.”

 

“But…”

 

“Do it,” Miss Panther said quietly as she pulled back on the shotgun.  George swallowed hard and then started to kiss his wife between her legs, using his tongue as she closed her eyes, unable to stop the waves of passion that were washing over her now.

 

“Oh dear god,” Miss Ocelot said as she turned, unable to stop her own small orgasm from coming as she heard her groan out loud.

 

“Is that good, bitch,” Miss Serval said as she pulled the chain between Angela’s breasts sharply up, and the orgasm came, the juices squirting onto George as Miss Puma held his head down between her legs.

 

“Drink it all up, cocksucker,” she whispered until Angela collapsed, then she made George stand and pulled his pants down, his engorged cock hanging proud.

 

“Oh that looks ready,” Miss Puma said as she pulled the scarf from Angela’s mouth, “suck him off, cocksucker, or get an extra hole in your head.”

 

“Oh fuck,” George said as he felt the lips of his wife around his cock, and she lowly sucked, pulling him in and pushing him out as he started to throb.

 

“Plssdntmkmedths,” Angela moaned, but that just made Miss Puma hold George in place, she felt the throbbing and pulsing against her tongue, the cock filling her mouth as her lips formed a seal, and she kept going, waiting for the inevitable to happen.

 

And when it did, she swallowed greedily, taking all that her husband had to give before she let him go.

 

“Was that good, bitch,” Miss Leopard said as she finally let him go.

 

“Yes,” she gasped.

 

“And did he satisfy you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good – the whores he’s been picking up at bars when he’s away on business must think the same thing.  I believe he has a set of regular contacts.”

 

"Yes,” Miss Panther purred, “it was his indiscrete tongue while he tried to impress a working girl with what a big man he is that has led us here tonight."

"Yeah,” Miss Ocelot said, “she told a friend, who told a friend, who told one of us about the juicy big currency transfer from his bank."

 

Angela looked at her husband, her head to one side as she said “You…”

 

“Darling, you don’t…”

 

The connection of Angela’s foot to his groin took him completely by surprise, as he slowly crumpled to the floor.  Miss Leopard looked at the others, before she said “So you will not object if he spends the rest of the night trussed like the pig he is?”

 

Angela slowly shook her head as Miss Puma and Miss Ocelot started to bind her legs, while Miss Serval said “I think this lady deserves a reward.”

 

“I agree,” Miss Leopard said as she went to the bag, “stand her up.”

 

As she was forced to her feet, Angela watched as the masked woman returned with a blood red lozenge, and then felt the waves rush through her as the vibe was pushed into her passage, and a crotch rope tied tightly into place to keep it in there.  She fell onto the couch, unable to stop her legs from been bound and then her ankles secured to her chest before tape was wound round her head.

 

“Perhaps one for him as well,” Miss Leopard said, Angela nodding as one was thrust into George’s rear passage and then taped into place.

 

 

 

Saturday 17th January

2 am

The Farm

 

“What’s happening,” Annie said as she came from upstairs, rubbing her eyes.

 

“Things are quiet for now,” Lily said from the laptop.  “The family I understand have had some – interesting experiences.”

 

“No deaths then?  Cari not gone overboard.”

 

“Not in the way you are thinking no,” Lily said with a smile. 

 

“Coffee,” Heather said as she handed Annie a mug.

 

“Thanks – get any sleep?”

 

“I never do on nights like this – speaking of which, you need to get that in you, and then get changed.  The Mazda is fuelled and waiting outside for you to use.”

 

Annie nodded as she sipped the hot liquid.  “When are you lot going to get ready?”

 

“Just after you leave,” Maddie said as she looked over from the chairs.  “Penny and Shirley are getting a little rest upstairs as well.”

 

“Right,” Annie said, “then it’s time for Miss Snow Leopard to get ready.”

 

 

 

4 am

 

Maddie looked as Annie came down, dressed the same way as the other ladies and the black wig covering her blonde hair.

 

“Dom,” she whispered, “I just realized you get the easy end of this deal.”

 

“Yeah, I just need to put my hair up,” she said as Lily fitted Annie out with an earpiece and microphone.

 

“Right,” she said as she pulled her gloves on, and picked up a small leather bag, “I’ll see you all later.  Good luck.”

 

“You too,” Shirley said as Annie left the room, and they heard the car drive off.

 

“Right,” Shirley then said, “wake Penny – we need to get ready.”

 

 

 

5.30 am

Corner of Millet Street and Wheatland Ave

Boston

 

Annie watched from behind the wheel of her car as the young man got out of the white house, running down the stairs and getting into his car before reversing onto the road and driving down the street in the darkness.  She smiled as she pulled the gloves down over her hands, and then the stocking down over her head, tucking it under the collar of her dress before she got out.

 

Walking to the house, she saw the light on upstairs, and made her way round to the rear of the house, using her lock picks to unlock the door and make her way in.  The light was on, and she could hear the sound of someone coming down the stairs as she produced a .45 from the bag and held it in her hand.

 

 The girl who walked into the kitchen was a little older than Annie, with a long t-shirt and a pair of bed socks on.   She looked over at the woman standing in her kitchen, the gun settled in her gloved hand as she pointed it at her, and said “Oh my god…”

 

“Don’t do anything stupid, Mrs. Baker,” she said quietly as she looked at the young woman, “My name is Miss Snow Leopard.  Do what I say, and you’ll be just fine.”

 

“Whhhhhhh….”

 

“Hush,” she said as she pulled a chair out, “sit down, hands over your head, and don’t move,”  As she sat down, Miss Snow Leopard took some rope from the bag, and tied her waist to the chair, before she poured some coffee into a cup and handed it to her.

 

“Now, you and your little girl will be fine, so long as you do as I say.  Remain calm – you’ll be just fine.”

 

“Please, my baby…”

 

“Hush – drink your coffee.  When she wakes up, I’ll make you both nice and comfortable.  Now, if the phone rings, ignore it – you won’t be in a position to answer it later anyway…”

 

 

5.30 am

Plainfield Street

 

Miss Leopard smiled as she removed the crotch rope and vibrator from Angela.

 

“Pleasant night,” she purred, Angela nodding as she looked down at her soaked crotch.

 

“Right – your husband is going to have to get ready for work, and we’ll bring your daughters down here so that we can keep an eye on all of you.  Right now, we’re going to blindfold you.”

 

She nodded as she looked at George, been hauled to his feet by two more of the masked women, shaking as he walked upstairs.

 

“Bstrddsrffsst,” she said as she looked at Miss Leopard.

 

“Indeed – which is why you and your daughters will survive tonight,” the masked leader replied as she produced another roll of white tape.  “Now, close your eyes.”

 

6.30 am

The Farm

 

Maddie stood up and looked at herself in the mirror.  The wool dress fitted her like a glove, from the rolled neck down to the skirt that sat just above her knees.  As she turned and moved, it moved with her, like a sheet over her body at night as she lay with her partner.

 

“Whoever made this is a remarkably skilled woman,” she said to herself as she practiced walking in the high heeled boots.  The day she has spent here with Diana had been a revelation – learning how to hold the shotgun so she would not fly backwards with every shot, and then watching Charlotte as she practiced with the sub-machine gun.

 

She turned and looked at herself, before sitting down and applying the red lipstick and the blue eye shadow, then pulling on the black leather gloves and the fur lined coat.

 

“How does it feel?”

 

She turned to see Heather standing in the doorway, smiling with the black wig covering her hair, the brooch gleaming on the front of her coat.

 

“If I said empowering, would that make sense?”

 

“It would,” Heather said as she walked in, “part of the joy of being a Pussycat is it frees you to let out those feelings you just – have to give voice to.”  She looked at Maddie, and then picked up the black wig, placing it on her head and ensuring there were no stray hairs.

 

“There – the picture of a pussycat, but there’s something missing.”

 

She produced a small jewellery box, and opened it, Maddie taking out a brooch in the shape of a cat studded in diamonds and rubies.

 

“It’s beautiful,” she said as Heather pinned it to the front of her coat and smiled.

 

“Welcome, Miss Margay,” she said, “now we’d better get downstairs and join the others.” 

 

Maddie nodded as she walked down with the others, Lily standing in awe at the six identically clad women.

 

“Time to wire you up,” she said as they took a microphone and receiver.  “Annie just informed me that the second target is secured, and Penny says they’re preparing to move out in Providence.”

 

“Then it’s time we hit the road,” Heather said as she looked down the line.  “Final check – nothing intimidating on any of you?”

 

She walked up and down, inspecting them before she put on a pair of dark glasses.  “All right then – let’s go and rob a bank.”

 

 

6.45 am

Plainfield Street

 

George came down the stairs, very carefully, in his suit, shirt and tie to see Angela, Cora and Dora lying on the rug in the front room.  All three were tightly bound and hogtied, and their eyes covered in a band of tape.  Their moans and gasps as Miss Ocelot and Miss Bobcat gently squeezed their bottoms told him they were at least still alive.

 

“Guard them until we give the word,” Miss Panther said to the two masked women, both of them nodding as they watched Miss Lynx pull George’s hands behind his back, and then tie them tightly together, before she wrapped tape around his eyes.

 

“All right ladies – do it,” Miss Panther said as Miss Tigress opened the front door, and then nodded, the six women taking George to the waiting SUV as Miss Bobcat threw the keys to George’s car up in the air and caught them.

 

“So, Miss Ocelot, how shall we pass the time, sugah,” she said as she looked at the other woman.

 

“Let’s give them one last thrill,” she said as she knelt down and started to massage Angela’s chest, Miss Bobcat nodding in agreement as she started to grope the two girls.

 

“Strap him in,” Miss Leopard said as George was placed in a seat and the belt fastened round him.  Removing her stocking mask, she put on a pair of dark glasses, the other women doing the same before she started the engine.

 

 

7 am

Millet Street and Westland Avenue

Boston

 

Jane woke up and rubbed her eyes, before she got out of bed and put on the pink bunny slippers by her bed.  She walked down the stairs to get a drink of water, pouring herself one in the kitchen and then going to the front room to watch some cartoons.

 

As she walked in, she saw her mom sitting in a chair, her arms pulled behind her back and something white covering her mouth.

 

“Mom?  What’s happening,” she said as she came in, and felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Hello Jane,” a soft voice said, “My name is Miss Snow Leopard, and I’m afraid I need to make sure you and your mom stay in one place, nice and quiet, while your daddy does something for some friends of mine.  Now, I haven’t hurt your mom, and I’m not going to hurt you, so long as you do what I say.  Isn’t that right, Mrs. Baker?”

 

Her mom nodded as she looked over.

 

“Now,” Miss Snow Leopard said, “sit down and have your drink, and then I suggest you go to the toilet – you won’t be able to go again for a little while.”

 

The young girl sat on the couch next to her mother, and slowly drank her water as the lady put the television on.

 

“You look very pretty,” Jane said as she looked at her, “but why is there something over your head?”

 

“This,” she said as she pointed to the stocking.  “I wear it to stop people seeing what I look like – a bit like a mask at Halloween.”  She sat down and watched as she finished her drink, Jane looking at her mother.  She could see now the bands of rope around her arms and chest, her ankles and her legs, and the white tape covering her mouth.

 

“Are you going to do that to me,” she said as she put the glass down.

 

“Yes – but first I’m going to take you to the toilet,” she said as she offered Jane her gloved hand, the young girl taking it as her mother watched her being led out of the room.

 

7 am

Providence

 

Miss Leopard drove down Plainfield Street, past the darkened houses and stores and over the Poccaset River.  The streets to the right led into small residential areas, while on the left were the more expensive houses, sitting in woods and private grounds.

 

“Nice park,” Miss Serval said before they turned right and along another residential area, crossing Ralph Street and then after a while longer under the interstate as they entered an industrial area.

 

“I hope you realize, you put a finger wrong at the bank, and we kill your family,” Miss Leopard whispered into George’s ear, the man nodding – he knew exactly how much danger they were all in.

 

Eventually, they turned right onto Westminster Street, passing under the main road again and making their way through a mixture of residential and small business offices, until they passed Lafayette Street on the left, and pulled into a parking lot opposite a café.

 

“Here we are,” Miss Panther said as the women removed their glasses and put their stocking masks back on.  It was still dark, which helped as they parked at the rear entrance to the bank, and untied George, removing the tape from his eyes as well.

 

“Now then George,” Miss Leopard said as they got out, “Open the bank up – and no fucking stupid moves, or that’s the end for your wife and daughters.”

 

He nodded as he fumbled with his keys, and opened the back door, Miss Tigress and Miss Lynx entering first with their guns raised as the others followed them in.

 

“Alarm – now,” Miss Panther purred with a hint of menace, watching as George disabled the alarm and they entered the building.

 

Miss Serval looked round, and then turned, whispering “Control, Bank has been entered.”

 

“Roger that,” Lily said as she switched to a different channel.  “Miss Ocelot, acknowledge.”

 

Miss Ocelot looked up as Miss Bobcat was stroking the inside of Dora’s legs.  “Go ahead.”

 

“Bank has been entered – proceed.”

 

 

 

At the bank, George was pushed into the main bank.

 

“Miss Tigress, cover the main doors.  Miss Puma, the rear entrance.”  She dropped a canvas bag on the counter, and said “Miss Lynx, Miss Leopard, anyone who enters, secure or kill, depending on what they do.  Miss Serval, with me,” she said as she took George by the arm and led him to the vault.

 

“Open it,” she said as Miss Serval pressed the business end of her sawn off shotgun into his back, “now.”

 

Nodding, George unlocked the vault doors, Miss Leopard opening it to reveal the neatly packaged piles of bank notes.

 

“Very nice,” she said as she heard Miss Tigress say “get on your stomach, bitch, or die.”

 

The first of the tellers had started to arrive, a red haired woman wearing a white jumper under a black leather jacket, grey trousers and knee length red boots.  Miss Serval looked in to see Miss Lynx crossing and securing her wrists and ankles, before she rolled her over and stuck a strip of white tape over her mouth.

 

“Make anything like a squeak,” she hissed as she stroked the barrel of the gun between the woman’s legs, “and I shoot you there.  Understand, bitch?”

 

The woman nodded as Miss Tigress dragged her over to the wall, while the rear door opened and a middle aged man came in.

 

“You here yet George,” he said before he saw Miss Leopard standing in front of him, and then heard the door closing behind him.  “Go on,” Miss Puma said, “try to run – I’m itching to shoot someone.”

 

“Shit,” he said as he looked round the room and then sank to his knees, an acrid aroma filling the air.

 

“Oh great – a pisser,” Miss Leopard said as she dragged him over to the other wall, “I should shoot you just for that.  Actually…”

 

The woman screamed into her gag as Miss Puma shot the man in the head, the blood splattering over the floor.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Miss Lynx said as she stuck the gun between the bound woman’s legs. “or you’re next.”

 

 

7.45 am

Plainfield Street

 

Jo pulled off the stocking mask and wig, shaking her hair out as Janice did the same.

 

“Time,” she said as she opened the bag, and produced a bottle of clear liquid as well as a cloth.  Soaking the cloth, she clamped it over Angela’s nose, the woman struggling for a moment before the chloroform did its work and she went to sleep.

 

The two girls also were sent to sleep, before Janice opened the door.  “We’re good,” she said as Jo picked up the bag, and they slipped into the garage, starting the car as Jo opened the door and then driving out, the garage door closing behind them.

 

“Lily?  We’re on our way back – have some coffee ready will you?”

 

“Will do – bank going well, but one death so far.”

 

“Miss Lynx?”

 

“Miss Leopard – someone soiled themselves.”

 

Jo smiled as she said “Well, back in a little while.”

 

 

 

7.55 am

Citizen’s Bank, Providence.

 

Heather watched from behind the wheel of the car as another two women walked in, one wearing a fake fur coat over a pair of black boots, the other a puffed jacket and Ugg boots.

 

“Both of them deserve what’s coming for those,” she said as she reversed the car up to the rear doors, and then said “Masks on ladies – time to go to work.”

 

Maddie looked at the others as they pulled the stockings down, and followed their example.   Shirley nodded as she led the others out of the car, all with their stocking masks down as she knocked three times on the rear door.  Miss Puma opened the door and let them in.

 

The first thing Maddie saw was the body on the floor, the bloody pulp where his head had been.  As she looked up, she saw Miss Lynx and Miss Tigress standing guard over a dozen staff, all with their hands behind their backs, their ankles secured and their mouths taped over.

 

“I told you already,” Miss Lynx called out, “if any of you make a noise, you are dead mother fuckers, so shut the fuck up or I will get frisky.”  She stood in front of one dark haired girl, and pushed her ankles apart, pushing the barrel of her gun between her legs and up her skirt as she whispered “or perhaps that’s what you want, you little cocktease?”

 

“Miss Margay?”

 

Maddie turned to see Miss Lioness and Miss Panther looking at her.

 

“Good, you’re here,” Miss Panther said to the others.  “Assist Miss Serval in transferring the contents of the vault to our vehicles.  Time is short ladies – let’s move.”

 

The women worked in pairs, carrying canvas bags of money out of the bank and into the two vehicles outside as Miss Puma stood guard.  George was made to watch as with an astonishing efficiency his vault was emptied of cash and safety deposit boxes.

 

Maddie could only watch in awe at the practiced way they all moved.  It was Miss Lynx that fascinated her – the barely controlled rage she could see in her.

 

“You see it too,” Miss Civet whispered as they carried a bag between them.  “That is the Beast – and pray it is…”

 

“I thought I told you to be quiet,” they heard Miss Lynx say, and as they walked back in they saw her rub the barrel of her gun between the young woman’s legs.

 

“Do you like this?  Do you?  DO YOU???”

 

The woman nodded and then arched her back as she let out a scream – a scream of pure pleasure, echoed by Miss Lynx.

 

“Well, they say you should die happy,” she said with a smile as the gun went off, the woman falling to the floor as a red stain spread across her skirt.

 

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

 

Miss Leopard turned as George ran from the vault to the front, and stared at Miss Lynx.

 

“You fucking little cunt,” he screamed, “I’ll see you die on the chair for this, I’ll see you…”

 

The blast caught him square in the back, as they looked at Miss Panther.

 

“The stupid little fucker deserved it,” she said as she looked at the clock.  “Five minutes people – I want those doors closed and those cars moved before phase 3 begins.”

 

 

8.30 am

 

The armoured car pulled into the parking lot and reversed back to the rear doors.

 

“Wonder what they’re doing there,” Joey Baker said as he looked at the two vehicles parked a short distance away.

 

“Ach, don’t let them bother you,” Mike McEntegart said as he looked over.  He was ten years older than Joey, a last minute replacement for his usual partner.

 

The two men got out, wearing their usual brown uniforms, and walked over to the rear doors, knocking three times.  “This’ll be a cinch son,” Mike said, “we load the money, we take  it to the depository, and then we…”

 

“Get your fucking hands in the air where we can see them!”

 

Both men turned to see the masked woman holding the shotgun in front of them, the look of malevolence in her stocking covered eyes unmistakable.  Joey reached for his gun, but when she said “You want your kid to see you tonight,” he stopped and raised his hands as well.

 

“Inside,” the woman said, and as they walked in they saw the three dead bodies on the floor.

 

“Oh shit,” Mike said as she looked at the group of armed and masked women, “who the fuck are you?”

 

“We are the Pussycat Gang, I am Miss Leopard, and this is Miss Lioness,” one of the women said.  “Listen very carefully – your delivery instructions have changed.”

 

“What the hell happened here?”

 

“We did, asshole,” Miss Puma said.  “Now, you’re going to take some of the ladies in the back of the van with you to the depository, and you will do exactly what they say.”

 

“And if we refuse,” Joey said.

 

“I’m so glad you asked,” Miss Lioness said as she took out a cell phone, and dialed a number.  “Miss Snow Leopard, put Mrs. Baker on the phone, will you?”

 

In Boston, Miss Snow Leopard pulled the tape free from the woman’s mouth, and said “Just tell him what has happened.”

 

Miss Lioness walked over to Joey and put the phone to his ear.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Joey?  Joey, there’s a masked and armed woman in the house, and she’s holding me and Jane hostage.  I don’t know what they’re asking you to do, but for the love of God, do it!”

 

Joey looked at Miss Lioness, who said “I think he got the message.  Remain there until I call.” 

 

Miss Snow Leopard ended the call at her end, and then stroked the hair away from Jane’s face.  The young girl was bound like her mother, with a strip of white tape over her mouth, and lying with her head on her mother’s lap.

 

“It’s going to be all right, Jane,” she said as she pressed a fresh strip of tape over Mrs. Baker’s Mouth, “it’s going to be all right…”

 

 

“They got my wife and kid, Mike – I’m sorry…”

 

“Look, kid, SOP in this situation is to cooperate fully,” the older man said.  “What do you want us to do?”

 

“Miss Serval, Miss Cheetah, Miss Civet, Miss Margay and Miss Wildcat – with me,” Miss Lioness said as five of the masked woman walked forward, two of them carrying sub-machine guns.

 

Maddie looked at the two guards, and then back at the scene of carnage behind her.

 

“You,” she heard Miss Lioness say, “will take us to the Logan depository.  Remember – I get a whiff of you trying to raise the alarm, and his family dies.  Now, open the back of your car.”

 

Mike looked at the young man and said “Just do it kid,” as he walked with him to the van and opened the rear door.  They watched as the six women climbed in, and then closed the door on them.

 

“If we hear of anything – and we will – his family are dead,” Miss Panther said as Joey looked at her.

 

“We’ll do what they say,” Mike said as he took the younger man by the arm, and they climbed in, the armoured car setting off.

 

“Lily,” Miss Panther whispered, “tracker on?”

 

 

 

“Tracker on,” Lily said as she looked at the map on her screen, the red blip heading for the I-95.  She turned and looked as Jan and Jo came in, and headed up stairs.

 

 

 

“All right, ladies,” Miss Panther called out, “move out.  You little fuckers, stay exactly where you are – we know where you all live, and if you don’t Miss Lynx will visit one night.”

 

“And I would love the prospect,” Miss Lynx said as the masked women walked out, closing the rear door behind themselves and climbing into the vans as they removed their stocking masks.

 

The people walking down the street saw two vehicles leave the parking lot, and thought no more about it for the moment.

 

 

 

 

8.45 am

The Farm

 

“They’re on their way,” Lily said as Jan and Jo came down, Jan in a pair of designer jeans and a jumper, Jo in a tracksuit.

 

“Good,” Jan said as she gulped some coffee, and grabbed her car keys, “I am out of here.  I’ll see you ladies later.”

 

“Safe drive,” Jo said as she sat with Lily, while Jan got behind the wheel of her car and drove off.

 

“Right,” Lily said as she watched the blip head steadily north, “so far so good.”

 

“How many?”

 

“Three – including the manager.”

 

“Hmm – I suspect his wife will miss him a little, but not as much as she would have done before last night,” Jo said as she sipped her coffee.

 

“So this was a quiet night by your standards?”

 

“By mine, yes – although deflowering two virgins was fun.”

 

“How did – no, something tells me I don’t want to know,” Lily said with a sigh.

 

“Right – I’d better start preparing some breakfast for when they got here – they’re going to be starving,” Jo said as she headed for the kitchen, Lily shaking her head as she watched her walk off.

 

 

 

 

10 am

 

Jo walked to the window and looked out as she heard the vehicles approaching.

 

“They’re here,” she said as she went to the door, opening it to let Juliette and Diana walk in.

 

“How did it go,” she said as she looked at the others.

 

“You heard three down?”

 

“Yeah – including old George.”

 

“Well, he insulted us,” Juliette said, “and he was a fucking dick as well.  The other two were good examples – reminders of what we are capable of.”

 

“And the Beast?”

 

“Is quiet again,” Carina said as she came in.

 

“All right – everyone, shower and change.  Breakfast?”

 

“Ready to start cooking while the rest of you are upstairs,” Jo said as she went back into the kitchen.

 

“I’m taking the shower first,” Abigail said as she stripped her coat off, removing the pin first, and laid it on the couch.

 

 

“What’s the word on Annie,” Carina said as she walked over to Lily.

 

“All peace and quiet.”  Lily looked at her and said “I wonder how I’d look in that?”

 

“Maybe one day,” Cari said with a smile as she headed up the stairs.

 

 

 

 

11.30 am

 

“Right,” Juliette said as she sipped her coffee, “Jo, Cari, Abby, we need to get going.  Diana?”

 

“The cars have been emptied and disposed of.  All clothes in the black bags?”

 

“Sadly yes – that coat was divine,” Jo said with a smile.

 

“Well, maybe we can get it in a different colour,” Juliette said.

 

“We’ll get rid of the cars, and then wait for Shirley and the others to get back,” Sandy said as she started to collect the plates.  “Go.”

 

“Gone,” Cari said with a smile as the four of them left, their cars heading off as Lily listened to the headset.

 

“They’re there,” she said quietly, “here goes nothing.”

 

 

 

11.30 am

Logan Secure Depository

 

“Just remember, kid, keep your head and think of your family,” Mike said as they drove up to the doors, turning and reversing up as a uniformed worker waited for them.

 

“Morning you two,” he said as Mike and Joey got out, “no problems at the bank.”

 

“No,” Mike said quietly, “we got what they had for us.”

 

“All right then, let’s have it,” he said as the doors opened, and then he fell backwards, the shot from Miss Cheetah’s shotgun making him fly through the air.

 

“All right you lousy mother fuckers,” she called out as she walked into the open area, firing into the air, “stay exactly where you bucking are until you are told where to go.  We are the Pussycat Gang, and this is your lucky fucking day.”

 

The workers stopped and looked at the masked and armed women, then at their colleague lying on the floor, before one by one they were forced into the open area, the tallest of the woman using zip ties to secure their hands and feet before their mouths was taped over.

 

There was no hiding place, as two of the women headed for the control room, and kicked the door open.

 

“Hands off the cameras,” Miss Cheetah said, before she typed some commands in and disabled the recording equipment.

 

The man who had been in there tried to creep slowly towards a button on the wall, only to collapse as Miss Margay hit him in the stomach.

 

“Stupid boy, thinking you could raise the alarm,” she said as she grabbed his collar and dragged him out, bringing him to the others and throwing him down while Miss Civet secured him.

 

“All right, ladies, we are on the clock here,” Miss Lioness called out.  “Spread out and load up.”

 

“I’ll watch them,” Miss Wildcat said as she held her Uzi high in the air.  “If any of you get the urge to play the hero,” she said as she fired off a burst, “don’t – I won’t like it.”

 

As Miss Cheetah, Miss Civet and Miss Serval went in one direction, Miss Lioness and Miss Margay headed to the other side, Miss Lioness holding the sack she had brought as Miss Margay loaded trays of gems and other items in.

 

“So how are you feeling now,” she whispered.

 

“Elated and excited,” Miss Margay whispered back, “I had forgotten what this feels like.”

 

“Indeed – how I felt that night,” Miss Lioness whispered as they moved on to the next cage.  “Those boxes look interesting.”

 

“Dubloons – we’ll take them,” Miss Margay said as she looked in the corner.  “And I believe that is what we were asked to collect for Gepetto.”

 

She picked up a case and opened it, closing it again as she said “yup – that comes too.”

 

“Control?”

 

“Reading you Miss Lioness.”

 

“Inform Miss Snow Leopard she may leave now.”

 

 

Noon

Millet Street and Westland Avenue

 

Miss Snow Leopard nodded and then looked at Mrs. Baker and Jane.

 

“I’m going now,” she said as she checked the ropes, and patted Jane’s head.  “You have been a very brave girl, and never let anyone tell you differently.”

 

She stood up and walked out of the dark room, removing her stocking mask before she left by the front door, and returned to her car, driving off and then south.

 

In the house, Jane looked at her mother as she started to struggle, desperate to free herself and her daughter.

 

 

12.30 pm

Logan Secure Depository

 

“Are we finished?” Miss Lioness said as she looked round the room.

 

“All loaded and secured,” Miss Civet said, “we’re ready to move out.”

 

“Good – one last thing to do.  Miss Wildcat?”

 

The woman nodded as she hit Joey Baker in the stomach and then the head, sending him sprawling.

 

“Our thanks, Gentlemen,” Miss Cheetah said, “enjoy the rest of your fucking day.”

 

The six masked woman walked off, Miss Lioness saying “you drive” to Mike McEntegart as he was pushed to the cab, the others getting in the back.

 

“OH god, this feeling,” Miss Margay said as she sat back, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything like it.”

 

“I know – it’s exhilarating,” Miss Serval said, Miss Civet nodding in agreement.

 

They felt the car move off and smiled as they looked at the other contents of the van.

 

Fifteen minutes later, the van stopped and there were three raps on the door.

 

“Masks on until I say so,” Miss Lioness said as she knocked three times in response, picking up the case with her.  As the door opened, she stepped out to see Mike standing there.

 

“Mister Cormac sends his regards,” he said as he doffed his cap, “and my thanks for not killing me.”

 

“Please convey my thanks as well,” Miss Lioness said as Miss Civet got out, “and forgive me for what we must now do.”

 

“I understand,” he said as he felt the blow on the back of his neck, and Miss Civet dragged him to a nearby tree.

 

“I’ll drive,” Dom said as she removed her stocking and coat, “you’d better get in the back with the others.”

 

Shirley nodded as she climbed in, and watched Dom close the door.

 

“Masks off,” she said as they moved off, “and job well done ladies.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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