The Philadelphia Story – Part 1
Wednesday 8th April
“Well, I think that is everything in order, Juliette, Alice. Are there any further questions?”
“Not on my part,” Alice McKinnon said with a smile, “I think we can prepare the launch for the new accessory line on schedule, if the shipping can be met?”
“Alice,” Catherine Lo said quietly, “can you think of a time when I have not met a required deadline?”
Juliette smiled as Alice shook her head. “No I can’t, so let’s put this show on the road. I think this is going to be a very exciting time for us all.”
“Then let’s go on,” Juliette said as she put her pen down. “Cathy, we’ll talk to you next week by videocall.”
“I look forward to it,” Catherine said as she stood, Marina finishing her notes before she too stood up.
“Good luck, Marina,” Annie said as she left the room, Helen coming in.
“I think that went very well,” Cathy said as she sat down. “I take it you took full notes, Marina?”
“I believe so, Catherine, but I will let you have them to review when I have typed them up,” Marina said.
“Excellent – well, now that business is concluded, I shall relax for the rest of today. Marina, how is Susan?”
“Still a little sore, but Clint is bringing her and April back tonight. Her mother and Aunt fly in on Saturday.”
“Penny will help Clint turn the apartment round after our departure Saturday morning,” Marina said. “I think there is a significant difference between two younger women and two older women.”
“Juliette, what time is the funeral tomorrow?”
“1 pm – are you planning to attend?”
“I think it only right I pay my respects. I shall see you there. Helen, there are other matters we need to discuss with the girls – we shall call tomorrow to talk then.”
Marina bowed her head slightly as Cathy smiled. “Nothing serious Marina – just a few cultural lessons. I will see you tomorrow, Juliette.”
“Of course,” Juliette said as Cathy and Helen left.
“I’d better get on with typing these notes,” Marina said as she left Juliette, Mary coming in after her.
“Only two days left – any thoughts on a new assistant for Janine?”
“I’m going to set the wheels in motion,” Juliette said as she sat down and rubbed her eyes.
“Adam and Janice came to ask some questions about the weekend.”
“Ah,” Mary said as she sat down, “they talked to me last night. That poor woman – she managed to fool all of us.”
“I know – you can’t help feeling if one of us had realized, she would have been here still.”
“I know, but we were all distracted. Have you seen Anna today?”
“She’s been with her lawyers all day – apparently they managed to recover most if not all the money somehow, but the divorce is on.”
“Well, at least we can be here for her – on which note, that ACPO shoot is in two weeks time.”
“Get Janine to put it in the calendar,” Juliette said as she grabbed her coat, “I’m going to see Susan before I head home.”
Upper West Side, Susan and Clint’s Apartment
“And stretch those legs out – that’s right, hold it… And relax.”
"Are you sure you two aren't damaging yourselves?"
Susan sat with little April in her lap as Kylie and Marina finished their
"It felt like we were the first coupla days, but
it's getting easier." Marina grinned.
"And to fink this aint even the real trainin' yet,
this is all just get us fit enuff for 'elen to train us." Kylie moaned.
"Helen not 'elen...gotta remember that
"I know Marina,” Kylie said as she stretched her
arms, “I'm trying me best."
"I think she likes the music." Susan smiled
proudly at her daughter as she sort of smiled. "I'll have to get this
exercise DVD myself so I can get my figure back."
"Just start at the easy level." Marina
smiled at her old friend. "I 'ear yer overdoin' it I'll cum back 'ere and
kick yer arse."
"Who’s dropping her aitches now?" Kylie grinned.
“All right, all right you two – you’d better go and get cleaned up before the others get here,” Susan said as she looked at April.
“Yeah, right,” Marina said as she and Kylie headed for the room, while Clint looked in from the kitchen.
“Yeah – and just in time,” Susan said as there was a knock on the door. Clint went for a moment, returning with Dominique and Annie.
“Hey there,” Dominique said as she came in with Annie, “we wanted to bring you gifts and ogle the new born.”
“Right, right – April darling, this is Aunt Dom and Aunt Annie,” Susan said as she held up the baby.
“Hello beautiful,” Annie said as she waved to her, “Welcome to a whole new world.”
“How are you feeling,” Dominique said as she sat down.
“Still a bit sore – and I missed the end of the weekend. Mind you, when I found out…”
“It came as a shock to all of us,” Annie said, “especially that it happened in front of Vanessa.”
“How is she,” Susan asked as she stood up and let Annie take April.
“Surprisingly collected. That weekend seems to have transformed her.”
“So I’m led to understand. So what are you two going to?”
“The gym of course,” Dom said with a smile, “but we’re gathering tomorrow at Juliette’s place. She has a target in mind.”
“Well, I wish you luck with that.”
“Because you are not work fit yet,” Clint said as he came in. “You ladies staying for dinner?”
“’Fraid not,” Annie said as she stood up, “Ama is going to wait for us before we eat. She’s actually cooking tonight – some sort of lamb stew.”
“Well, enjoy that,” Susan said with a smile as Kylie came in, drying her hair. “Hey Annie, Dom,” she said, “stopping?”
“No, we need to get going,” Dominique said as she stood up, “who’s coming to dinner?”
“Heather – and Shirley will call later with the girls.” Susan said as she took April back. “We’ll see you at the weekend – Shirley is hosting a small party for you.”
“Oh lovely – at least mum and Aunt Maeve will have had a chance to get some sleep.”
“Well, we had better go,” Annie said, “enjoy your evening.”
The two women followed Clint out as Marina came in.
“Did I miss Caroline?”
“Yeah – but don’t worry, she’s coming to see you off on Saturday. Right – what have you been up today Kylie?”
"Diana took me out and we brought the books on
the book list the school sent me." Kylie said as she sat on the floor
"Anything good?" asked Susan.
"More Jane Austen, a complete Shakespeare, a book
of poetry, a few textbooks."
"Anything look hard?"
"It all looks bluddy 'ard...sorry hard."
Kylie shook her head, “at least though I have an idea what I missed skippin'
school and what I need to learn to catch up."
"Maths I bet?"
"Yeah, I think that will be the hardest...I like
readin' now I have my glasses though, and I think...see I said think...that
English and History will be reasonably fun to do."
"I know when I was doing my prep work for UCLA it
was the maths that gave me the most bother."
At this point the door rang.
"I'll go." Kylie stood up and went to the
door, returning with a pile of boxes.
Marina went to help her as Heather followed them in.
"Hey Heather," Susan said as she stood up
with the baby.
"Hey, sorry I'm late, but I'm bearing gifts for everyone, from laptops for the girls, to prezzies for April, to even gifts for the lucky Mom and Dad."
“Did someone mention gifts,” Clint said as he looked in.
“Oh yes – like this bottle of whiskey from the Curragh Park find, and a bottle of the champagne,” Heather said as Marina found a box with the bottles and handed it to Clint.
“Well, when a gift is so generous, how can one refuse,” Clint said as he took the bottles into the kitchen.
“So what did you bring for me,” Susan said as she sat down.
“Pamper gifts and chocolates – there’s a parcel coming tomorrow from Carina for you as well.”
“Thank her for me when you talk to her,” Susan said for a smile.
“Right – you two. I have one of these each for you,” Heather said as she handed them each a laptop. “But this is where I induct you both into our greatest secret – are you ready?”
Both girls nodded as Heather took a small device from her bag. “Right, Kylie,” Heather said, “Look into this please.”
As Kylie looked in, Heather said, “Don’t blink” and picked up a keyfob. After a moment, she said “Right – Marina, your turn.”
As she coded the second keyfob, Kylie said, “So what’s this for?”
“This laptop,” Heather said as she opened it and typed some commands, “has two levels. The first is common, the second – look into the keyfob Kylie.”
As Kylie looked at it, the screen changed from the standard Windows desktop to a blue screen, with a cartoon of a pussycat on it.
“Welcome to our very, very secure web,” Heather said as Kylie stared at it. With this, you can communicate with anyone in Madame’s senior team, or any of the American Associates when on line – including Doc.”
“Wow,” Marina said as she opened up the second laptop, “how secure is secure.”
“Very secure,” Susan said with a smile as she put April in her chair. “This is not a toy – we use it to send messages and keep everyone briefed on what is happening.”
"This is the model I've been using in Juliette's
office." Marina smiled happily.
"Just remember not to lose the security
scanner." Heather reminded the English girl. “If you do, inform Cathy or me immediately.”
"I won't lose this," she said with a smile.
"I downloaded those Cantonese learning programs
Cathy recommended onto the computer Marina."
"That will save me a job."
"Can I use it for school?" Kylie asked.
"It's a regular computer, school, music, video
you can do it all...just remember though that you have the hidden section and you
need to check it regularly."
"In private." Susan added. “While Cathy has one, Helen does not, so only use in your own rooms.”
“Right – dinner is ready,” Clint said as he came in, “let’s eat, and then we can look at the other presents.”
Thursday 9th April
The Refectory, St Angela’s
“Hi Maggie,” Abby said as she sat at the table, “how did the shoot go last weekend?”
“It was hectic but fun – I hear you had quite a weekend as well.”
“That’s one way of looking at it, certainly,” Abby said as she opened her sandwich, ”an awful lot did indeed happen. For example, our beloved head girl and trophy winning athletics leader got a modeling assignment.”
"Jo has a modeling job?" Maggie asked Abby.
"Yep, she's doing a campaign for APCO."
“What are you two talking about,” Jo said as she walked over.
"Hi I hear congrats are in order Jo." Mags
smiled as her friend sat down.
"On what?" Jo asked.
"Oh yeah." Jo smiled, "Who'd of thunk
"So what are you modeling?"
"Hand knitted woolens imported from
"Nice...that'll be very classy. Where will you be
"Up in the Berkshires, we'll be based in
Springfield. They want lots of mountains, greenery, big houses as
"Naturally," Mags smiled, "a classy
look for a classy product.”
"Who's the photographer?" Abby asked.
"Wow a classy photographer as well."
"Don't tell Ingrid and Carina that.... they both
had a rough shoot with him." Jo nibbled her food.
"Well when he shot me he was brilliant." Maggie sipped her juice.
“Hmm – I think the word you’re looking for is mercurial,” Abby said quietly, as she looked at her watch.
“It started at twelve thirty, didn’t it?”
“What does,” Maggie asked.
“The funeral service for someone who died over the weekend…”
St Martha’s Church
“Allison was a loving mother, and a true friend,” George said as he stood at the front of the chapel, dressed in a charcoal grey suit, white shirt and black tie, “and it will always be a question in my mind as to whether I could have done more, realized earlier what was happening, and if I had, would we be here today?”
He looked at the front row, where Jennifer was sitting on her grandmother’s lap, looking round at all the men and women dressed in black. She could see in her eyes so much of Allison, but also all the innocence as well.
“But we are here, to say goodbye to Allison, and I can only hope that as she looks down at us, whatever was tormenting her mind has finally been laid to rest, and she is at peace.”
He put his hand to his lips and placed it gently on the closed lid of the coffin.
“Goodbye my love,” he said quietly, “and sleep well until we see you again.”
In one of the pews, Sandy was sitting with Vanessa, dabbing her eyes as George went back to his seat.
“He really loved her you know,” she whispered to her mother, who nodded as she watched Alex go to the lectern.
“I know, and I feel for him,” Vanessa said quietly as Carina and Juliette sat next to them, Diana on the other side. All wore a variation of a black coatdress, hat and veil.
“No-one knows the day of our passing,” Alex said quietly, “and it is especially tragic when it comes to one so young and with so much to look forward to. Allison had borne much over the last few months, but in George and young Jennifer she had found, in some measure, happiness and peace.
“As we say our goodbyes, here in this place of worship, I join you in mourning her death. She will be missed by her family, her parents, and her colleagues at her place of work, and by her friends. And as a member of my own family, through George’s children George and Alexandra, I shall mourn the fact that I will not see her face again in this world, save in the reflection we have in Jennifer.
“But in death, we hold fast to the resurrection and the life in the world to come, and I pray that Allison is now with our lord, free from pain, free from fear, and free from the demons that plagued her as they do each and every one of us.”
Vanessa gripped Sandy’s hand as Alex said “So let us mourn for Allison, but let us also remember her with a smile, and take hope and courage that death is not the end, but merely the beginning of a greater journey.
“Allison, we shall miss you, and we will never forget you. May the peace of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever more.”
“Amen,” Juliette said as she crossed herself.
“Our second reading is read by Thomas Babbage, the senior vice president of Harkness, Dent and Harkness.”
Tom Babbage walked up, and put on a pair of wire-rimmed glasses as he looked at the bible. “From the gospel of John, chapter 11…
“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
“Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
“Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
“’Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’
“After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.
“’Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.
As Tom sat back down, Alex stood again and said the funeral rites over the coffin, as the congregation watched. He then nodded to the organist, and as she started to play George, Allison’s father, Tom and three other came forward, lifted the coffin onto their shoulders, and walked slowly down the aisle, the mourners bowing their heads as the coffin went past.
Juliette looked round at the other mourners, the black hats and veils were enough to make this look almost like a fashion event, but the women had really gone to lengths to outdo each other in their outfits, and most women tottered on their highest black pumps. "I think she'd have approved." Juliette smiled inwardly that the snob in Allison would have enjoyed being the centre of attention at such a large and fashionable event.
Slowly they filed out, sharing a few words with Allison’s mother and father as well as George as he stood holding Jennifer.
“I always hate this at funerals,” Diana whispered as they waited to pay their respects, “it seems so intrusive. Do you know where she will be buried?”
“I understand they have a family mausoleum – she will be interred there by the family after they leave here,” Juliette whispered as Diana exchanged a few words with them.
As she spoke to Allison's mother The Beast recalled with some pleasure how she'd forced her to strip naked during the robbery at their home. She remembered running the cold metal of her shotgun over the woman's body. For a few moments Carina felt herself moisten at the memories before she pulled herself together.
“I am so sorry for your loss,” Sandy said as she held Mrs. Gardiner’s hand, “I can only imagine what you are going through.”
“Thank you,” she whispered quietly, “it was kind of you to come today. Is this your mother?”
“It is,” Vanessa, said as she held her hand, “I can only imagine your grief.”
“George told us you were the last to see her – was she really that disturbed?”
“I only know she was very confused, and I tried to talk her down, but, sadly…”
“I understand,” Mrs. Gardiner, said as she squeezed Vanessa’s hand, “I wonder if it would be impolite for me to call on you next week?”
“Of course not – I shall be at the apartment,” Vanessa said as she shook her hand again, and then moved down the line.
"Thank you Alex for conducting the funeral."
George said as he shook the priest's hand.
"Thank you for allowing me the honour,” Alex said
quietly. “I heard what the coroner
"Why did she stop taking her medications
"That we will never know, but at least we are
sure that she wasn't her true self at that moment, the inner demons within her
had been allowed full control of her mind."
"I know...the coroner told me that in other cases the deceased have harmed others before themselves, in a way I guess I must be happy she hurt neither Jennifer or me."
"Indeed." Alex nodded. “As I said, remember her in her best moments. And never let little Jennifer forget her mother.”
“I won’t – and thank you again. Her family priest will oversee the internment.”
“As it should be,” Alex said quietly as he went to join Sandy and the others.
“I hope he finds peace at last,” Sandy said quietly.
“I am sure he will – if you will allow me to change into civvies, I will join you for a late lunch, if that is acceptable.”
“We’ll see you at the house Alex,” Vanessa said as they got into the limousine.
Complete Style Magazine
"HKGGS" Mary read the badge on the green
"Hong Kong Girls Grammar School." Kylie
"Thank you for letting me do the final fittings
here Mary." Cathy nodded.
"It's my pleasure,” Mary said as she fussed over
the blazer, “you know it's already almost a perfect fit."
"I know." Catherine this time smiled,
"I just don't like that word...almost"
"You are a true professional Cathy,” Mary said as
she pinned the sleeve of the blazer up very slightly, “It's why I know the
accessories line will be a huge success."
"We can but hope."
"Well I'm already carrying my new 'andbag
"Handbag, not 'andbag Kylie." Mary corrected
"Handbag, Handbag, Handbag...hopefully that will
stick in my brain." Kylie grinned.
"Girls Grammar will help teach you Kylie, the
teachers help the girls to be well-spoken."
"Just don't let them coach all of the London out of you Kylie, I'm proud that people can still tell I'm Welsh, be proud of your cockney roots."
"I'll try Mary."
“Right – what do you think Cathy?”
“Yes – that is much better. If you can take care of this one Mary, I will have the others adjusted accordingly.
Kylie looked in the mirror; the old Kylie was gone totally. In place of the streetwise little thug was this clean cut young woman, fresh faced, her glasses perched on her nose, wearing just a tiny bit of makeup, in a frankly old fashioned school uniform. Kylie smiled, this Kylie was a perfect disguise, and this Kylie could indeed hide the criminal openly.
“All right, lass,” Mary said, “go and get changed. I understand you’re meeting the others for a goodbye burger.”
“Thanks Mary, Cathy,” Kylie said as she skipped out of the room.
“She is eager to start,” Cathy said as she looked at the blazer, “I believe she will be a great success there.”
“Ie – this will be the making of her and Marina,” Mary said with a smile. “But how are they going to cope with the flight on Saturday?”
“I have suggested they stay awake all night Friday, and let Susan and Clint sleep.”
“There we go,” Kylie said as she handed the blazer to Mary.
“Give me ten minutes,” she said as she went over to a sewing machine.
“And you should be on your way Kylie – I will see you later tonight.”
“Thank you Catherine,” Kylie said as she made her way out of the Wizard’s Lair.
“Only one more day left in the Big Apple, Kylie.”
“For a while yeah,” Kylie said as they sat round the table in the McDonalds, Jeannie still in her wheelchair, the other girls in their uniforms. The young Cockney was wearing a soft grey leather jacket over her blouse and jeans.
“So what lies ahead for you come Monday,” Pepsi asked.
"I'll be doing the two-month preparatory course,
then I'll hopefully get to come to New York from the last weekend in June to
Mid-August, when I'll hopefully go back and do a whole year before I move to an
English school." Kylie explained as they drank their shakes.
"Catherine explained to me that the school is
very expert at teaching girls whose education has been disrupted and get them
quickly back up to speed." Ama said as she looked at her wrap.
"Why go back to school in England?" Becca
said as she bit into her Big Mac "Why not come to St Angela's?"
"No my future is back home." Kylie smiled at the girls crowded in the booth. "Though I must admit it would be tempting to join you all." She smiled secretly at Doc.
“Well, you have an amazing flight ahead of you, but a long one,” Jeannie said. “I hear you fly in with the dawn, but you almost lose a day.”
“Still, I get it back when I return,” Kylie said with a smile. “I’ll be on Skype as well – just twelve hours ahead of you lot.”
“So is it Chinese food from now on?”
“Apparently not, although Catherine has offered to teach us how to cook in that style. No, we will eat as normal is how I understand it.”
“So how are you spending your last night here?”
“Talking to Susan, then watching some DVDs we’re taking on the plane. We need to be at the airport first thing tomorrow.”
“Well, let’s get some more shakes – see you off on a sugar high!”
The Richmond Mansion
“How was the funeral,” Abby asked as she picked up a bottle of Coke and sat next to Jo.
“Surprisingly civilized – Alex gave a short sermon, and George spoke very movingly,” Diana said before she sipped her wine.
“You know, I am actually sad she died the way she did – and I’m happy the bitch is gone.”
“Contradiction, lover, the stuff of life,” Heather said as she hugged Sandy.
“So are Kylie and Marina all set,” Doc said as she sat with her legs crossed.
“I think so – their stuff is being shipped out tomorrow, and they fly out on Saturday morning,” Heather said.
“All right, let’s bring this meeting to order,” Juliette said, “We’re here to discuss our next target.”
“And Doc’s first full run,” Jo said as she nudged the teenager, while Heather handed round the notes.
"While the rewards will be nowhere on the scale
of the Providence and Boston jobs, they should still be quite large."
"How large Ju?" Sandy looked up from her
"Between five and Ten million."
"That's still not bad." Carina smiled
"The Penn City National Bank will not be the
easiest job we have ever pulled, but it presents some intriguing challenges to
our skills." Juliette looked round the room. "Not the least of which
is the fact the manager lives in an apartment, not a house."
"An apartment darling? Please tell me it's on the
ground floor?" Diana flipped to the relevant page of her notes.
"Nope - 12 stories up in the air."
"Mon Dieu...Please tell me you have a plan."
"I think that's why I'm here." Caroline
looked at Diana.
"Exactly." Juliette said as she smiled and
looked at Caroline.
"You want Jo, Annie, and me to abseil down the
side of the building if I guess right, Enter from the terrace and take the
apartment over before letting the team in...Right?"
"You are right about the abseiling Dom, but Jo
will be needed elsewhere."
"I will?" Jo asked.
"The Security Room, I need you controlling the
security system Jo."
"Okay Juliette. So who abseils in with the other
I don't know how to abseil." Doc looked panicked.
"Well you have 10 days to learn." Juliette
smiled at the young woman.
"Juliette that's cutting things fine to teach her
that skill." Annie looked concerned.
"Well if anyone can,” Juliette said, “I'm sure it's you darling."
“Just as well I have a head for heights,” Doc said as
she looked through the photos.
"I see the manager has two young children."
Abby spoke for the first time.
"Heather will play nanny and keep them safe. Susan set a good precedent in this, so let’s
keep that up."
"So do I get to play with the teenaged daughter
and the mother?" asked Carina.
"If you get decent grades on your end of year
exams my darling," her mother smiled at her.
“Done and done,” Carina said as she sat back and smiled.
"I presume the reason you want me in the security
room is so I take control of the elevators Juliette?" Jo asked.
"Exactly, the rest of us get in from the parking
garage below the building, you make sure we go straight to the right floor, no
one tries to get on with us."
"Who's going to be my bodyguard while I'm doing
"Suits me." Jo nodded to Jan.
"Suits me too." Jan nodded back.
“The idea is we take over the apartment at about ten pm on Sunday 19th April, and rob the bank first thing Monday morning. We’re fortunate Monday is a day off for the school – fits in with our plans well.”
“Although it’s central, Philly is still fairly quiet in that area at that time, so we should be able to get in and out easily enough.”
“What about a base of operations?”
“We’ll do what we did for the Grahams – Heather, we need to locate a remote property outside the city over the weekend.”
“I’ll do a search and see what we can do,” Heather said as she made a note.
"I can see a problem that maybe you haven't
thought of Juliette...The buildings front door and reception desk. For the
length of time we are proposing to be there we really need one of our own not
only manning the door, but also at the desk." Dominique looked thoughtful.
"I agree." Janice looked straight at
Juliette. "We do need to take those positions."
"Alright, I'll think that out. We'll need extra
"Well not Susan, I think we have to say she's
still out of action." Sandy spoke. "So with her Mom and aunt staying
with them is Clint."
"Well Penny is running the office for her, I'm
sure she will step in with us as well."
"Still leaves us one short darling." Diana
"I'm pretty sure Maddie will fly in from the
coast." Dominique answered her.
"Maddie would do." Juliette nodded. "So
let's tot the numbers up. Two in the apartment. Two in the lobby. Two in
security. Seven for the bank."
"Sounds right to me." Heather nodded.
"One thought occurs to me though. While we have total control of that
building, I'm curious to know if any of the other tenants might be worth a
"That's an intriguing thought." a smile
passed Juliette's lips. "Do you want to research that Heather?"
"I can do." Heather grinned slightly.
"I just added up...that’s thirteen girls and you
know how much I hate that number." Juliette looked slightly alarmed.
"Madame, Cathy, Charlotte, all are
elsewhere." Dominique thought aloud.
"I will not do a job with thirteen."
Juliette was suddenly adamant. "I'd rather cancel."
"She's in London, but I think she'd be able to
get here, I think she doesn't have the commitments the others have."
Dominique answered Carina.
"So eight at the bank then." Juliette looked happier.
“I’ll call Lily and get her on a plane next week,” Dom said as she too made a note.
“Any thoughts on a code name, Dom?”
“I’ll think of something by next week.”
"Okay the Carlton Building, built in 1915, one of
Philadelphia's few early luxury apartment buildings. 15 stories, remodeled in
1935, 1980, and again 10 years ago. Residence of choice for many of the city's
newer financial elite, including our man, who is both manager of the branch and
a corporate vice-president of the bank group." Heather read from her
"He has three children from his first wife, ten
year old son, two daughters aged eleven and seventeen. His wife died two years ago, wife number two
is very much a trophy wife, twenty-five, fake blonde, fake boobs, and from what
I get from her e-mails to her boyfriends, fake emotion for her husband."
"Oh she I'm looking forward to encountering." Carina giggled.
“Full profiles coming soon,” Heather said.
“All right, so how and when do I learn to
abseil?" Doc asked.
"You can come to the gym with us every day and
Annie and I will teach you." Caroline answered.
"And don't worry it's easier then falling down
stairs." Annie laughed.
"I wish you hadn't mentioned falling down."
Doc shook slightly.
"No honest, you'll be fine." Annie put her arm round her student.
“All right folks, we have the weekend ahead of us – let’s relax a bit now.”
Friday 10th April
Inn on the Park
“Janine and Mary are taking Marina and Kylie out to lunch today, before they finish their packing,” Juliette said to Diana as they sat at their table.
“I think Susan is going to miss them, you know?”
“So do I, but with April there now, and her mother and aunt coming…”
“I hear she is a totally different person now.”
“Well, I have never met the woman, but she has been getting treatment at the same clinic Karen went to, so I hope the miracle has taken place,” Juliette said as she looked to the doorway.
“Welcome back Mandy,” Diana said as she stood up.
"How was Chicago Tufty?" Juliette asked as
the Marchioness of Ordford was seated.
"Windy." the Englishwoman replied in her
"It always is."
"What were you doing in Chicago Mandy?” Liz van
Roon-Lodge asked as she returned to the table.
"Me? Absolutely nothing darling, but my dear,
darling daughter was having her picture taken."
"What did they have her doing?" Pussy asked.
"Riding horses...it was for a jeans campaign, and
believe it or not my English Rose daughter got to play cowgirl in the
stockyards. Naturally, she was in
seventh heaven." Mandy accepted the
glass of wine and sat back.
"So much for her dislike of modeling."
"I know." Mandy rolled her eyes, "And I
just got to sit and chaperone."
"Oh poor you." Diana laughed, "I've
done that more times than I can count with Abigail."
“Then you must tell me the secret to coping,” Mandy
said as she sipped her wine.
"Anyway changing the subject, my husband tells me I missed a first
"It was very crowded Mandy." Liz looked at her menu. “For whatever reason, everyone wanted to be seen in black there.”
"Well from what I know of the deceased she would have liked that." Mandy said as she picked hers up.
"I'm sorry to say she would." Sandy spoke as
she and Nessa took a seat each.
"This is a rare honor Vanessa," Tonia
smiled, "We don't often have the pleasure of your company for our little
"Well you may well from now on, mine and
“Mum? I suppose that’s inevitable when she’s in town,” Pussy said as she looked at the older woman.
"Nessa I have to say that suit is to die
for." Janice cast an approving glance.
"Karl Lagerfeld made it for me years ago...I
always thought it maybe too short a skirt, but well I do have decent legs
"Extremely decent." Kelly Rochermann
"So what was everyone talking about?" Nessa
"The funeral." Liz didn't look up.
"Mandy was asking what she missed."
"A lot of tears, and an awful lot of genuine
sympathy for poor George and little Jennifer." Juliette replied.
"We need to find him a good wife?" Tonia
signaled for a waiter.
"Well first let's find him a good nanny."
"You are sleeping with the best in town."
Rachel McNally smiled a little wickedly.
"That's true." Sandy shrugged the remark off
as her friends laughed.
"Seriously though we must do something for
George." Kelly said as she looked round the table.
"Be honest none of us really approved of
Jennifer." Rachel looked at others faces.
"No, she was a trifle difficult to get on
with." Nessa acknowledged.
“A trifle difficult? Last weekend, did any of us actually think we could talk to her? She seemed to hold herself completely aloof to all of us.”
Juliette nodded at Diana’s comment. “She certainly had a high opinion of herself, but it ill becomes us to speak ill of the departed.”
“I’m pleading the fifth,” Sandy said quietly, “but she was a troubled woman.”
“Is it true you were the last person to see her, Vanessa,” Kelly asked.
“I am afraid so – in those last moments, as I told the police, I was trying to talk her down, but she was waving this gun around, and then…”
"Well,” Rachel said, “we find him a nanny, then
we all invite him round a lot, keep him busy, keep him from brooding."
"I agree." nodded Janice. "He needs a
good Irish girl, I'll set my Mother looking."
"Oh is that as a nanny or as a wife?" asked
"Take your pick." Janice laughed.
"My name is James and I'll be your server today...What may I get you ladies?" The waiter finally arrived.
As he went round the group Rachel asked “So when does Shirley return to the UK again?”
“Two weeks time, I understand – I hear Maddie is coming out from the West Coast to see her first.”
“And to see little April as well I suspect.”
“Have you seen her yet?”
“I have – a lovely little baby girl with a wisp of blonde hair,” Juliette said. “I think they’re trying to fix a date with Alex to have a small christening.”
“Quite right too – and how is the mother?”
“Recovering well – she’s started exercising again, and apparently the baby is a little angel. Mind you, Clint’s employers have a problem – he’s told them he can’t do double shifts for the foreseeable future.”
“They should promote him you know,” Clare said, “after all, he has saved their butts a few times now.”
“Well, we’ll see what happens – how’s Tom enjoying his first week down there?”
“I talked to him this morning – if truth be told, he’s been run ragged learning the whys and wherefores of Washington life, and getting settled in his apartment there.”
“Oh, so he has found somewhere?”
“Oh yes – I’ve already booked my first weekend visit for when Bobbi comes back to watch over her sister.”
“Oh yes – and how much are you looking forward to August now, Kelly?”
“Honestly? Not much at all Rachel,” Kelly said with a smile. “I mean, Harvard’s not that far, but still to have the apartment empty of their cheery voices…”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll find a way to cope,” Rachel said. “I mean, Ju has that big place all to herself now.”
“When her German hunk isn’t visiting, that is.”
The table burst out laughing as the waiter went off with their orders.
"It's a pity the boys put Saintz and Sinnerz's
debut on hold." Liz sipped her coffee.
"Well it was a mark of respect for Allison."
"I guess so.
Still, I would have enjoyed going."
"So any plans for the weekend girls?" Tonia
"Nothing other then what I think you are all
doing?" Juliette put her coffee cup down. "Klaus and I are hoping
"I think we can all guess what you and Klaus are
hoping to do darling." Mandy laughed.
"Other then that," Juliette smiled, "We
were going to take Ingrid car shopping, so she has a car for Princeton."
"We are also having a couple of days of car
fun." Sandy looked towards Jan. "We have our race car and we are
going out to the track to get to know her."
"Jeanne is coming along, she's trying to get a transfer
to New York so she can live over here and race with us." Jan added.
"So when are we likely to see you race?"
"There's a six hour race at Pocono in a few weeks
that we've agreed should be an ideal test for a start." Sandy smiled,
"so hopefully a lot of you will come down and watch us."
"Probably not me darling, but over the summer hols I'd love to watch." Mandy adjusted her jacket. "In the meantime though I've promised my children I'll take them shopping." Mandy stood up. "Ciao girls." she waved as she left.
“I need to get going as well,” Juliette said as she stood up, “I’m taking Cathy and Helen out to dinner. Any messages for them?”
“Tell them I’m going to send some orders their way,” Nessa said, “once I’ve had a few chats with Paulie.”
“My mom the late bloomer,” Sandy said with a smile. “Same time next week?”
The Richmond Mansion
"So how was lunch with the girls?" Heather
asked Sandy as she came into the kitchen to find most of the Friday Afternoon
Coffee Club drinking their coffees.
"It was fun,” she said as she took a seat, “I
told them about Pocono."
"If she doesn't worry me enough how she drives on
the freeway, now I've got to watch her race." Heather smiled at the moms.
"Heather,” Sandy said as she took a mug, “you
know the instructors at racing school graded me A on my driving skills."
"I know but I'm still going to worry lover." Heather cradled her cup in her hands and took
"Shirley is going to need the race dates Sandy,
she wants to try to watch most of them." Caroline emptied her mug.
"Can I beg another Heather?"
"Well I can understand that Caroline. With the
generous sponsorship she and Roy are putting up I suppose she wants to see how
her money is being spent." Heather poured Caroline's fresh coffee.
"How did it go out at Curragh Park and Eaglemount
April?" Elaine Colman asked.
"Pretty good, I took lots of pictures, Paulie is right, her Italian Garden definitely needs a lot of work," April paused, "that is fairly easy, but I'm still stumped for ideas what to offer Nessa for her garden."
"Maybe you can get some ideas from that book on
the Vatican's gardens I bought home for you Mrs. Broadhurst?" Jeannie said
as she wheeled herself in, followed by her mother.
"Certainly for the Italian Garden I'm going to
use that as my textbook Jeans...But I really need a different idea for Curragh
"Coffee girls?" Heather offered.
"Please Heather." Barbara yawned as she took
off her coat.
"So what made you late?" asked Caroline.
"I'm doing the voice over for the wheelchair
documentary this weekend, we had a meeting to arrange things." Jeans
"Which is why I had to go fetch her
especially." Barb sipped her coffee eagerly.
"So how is the film looking?" asked Elaine.
"Very good, I think it's both fun and informative." Jeannie grinned.
“I wonder if what you need is a similar inspiration,” Sandy said. “I have some photos of Belvedere House and Powerscourt House that might help,”
“I’ll take anything you’ve got,” April said happily.
“There you are,” Pepsi said as she came in. “Can you come in a minute? We’re all signing a good luck card for Caroline to give to Kylie tomorrow.”
“No rest for the wicked,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself out.
“Oh – one thing from lunch. We need to help George out,” Sandy said, “so if you know any live-in nannies looking for work, send their resumes my way.”
“Good idea – we’ll spread the word around,” Elaine said.
Saturday 11th April
The Richmond Mansion
"Lover it's gone midnight, are you ever coming to
bed?" Sandy wandered into the sitting room in her nightgown.
"Sorry lover, I was just researching all the
other tenants in the Carlton Building." Heather looked up from her
computer and smiled.
"Find anything interesting?"
"Oh I know that look in your eye Heather Smith....
that means lots of goodies."
"It does?" Heather giggled.
"You know damn well it does...so spill it lover, what is worth the attention of the Pussycat Gang?”
“Well, we could talk about the penthouse apartment on the top floor. That’s owned by the vice-president of a major advertising company, known for her collection of early twentieth century American art.”
“Well, that certainly falls within your area of expertise, but would we have time to do the right job?”
“Like I said, we could start there, but you’re right – and we already have three heading down from the roof. If anything, we need to go down three floors max. So, the apartment below on the 11th floor – middle aged couple who happen to have had a recent magazine article, showing their own art collection. I’m sure that can be easily liberated, never mind the jewels she’s wearing in this photo?”
Sandy looked at the page of the on-line magazine and smiled. “Fair point – anyone else on that floor?”
“There’s a young actress – just appeared in that new Tom Cruise movie. The one you really hated. Fancy some critical appraisal?”
Sandy nodded as Heather looked down her list. “The other likely candidate is on the ninth floor – works for a gem brokerage firm, her husband is actually the manager of a smaller bank in the city.”
“Hmmm – throw confusion their way, make them think we’re hitting a different bank?”
“That’s what I’m thinking – bring him as well, and dump him in the car park instead?”
“Run it past Ju, see what she says.”
“There are others, but…”
“We’ll talk about it tomorrow – right now, you’re coming with me,” Sandy said as she pushed the lid of the laptop down, and took Heather’s hand, leading her out of the room…
“Well, its time for you to go through,” Caroline said as she looked at the board.
“We will wait for you at the other side,” Helen said as she and Catherine went through the priority security lane.
“Stay safe, Sooz,” Marina said as she hugged her, “and send me plenty of photos of her.”
“Hey, she’s going to want to keep her godmother informed, isn’t she?”
“Beg your pardon?”
“You heard me – Cathy will sort your schedule to let you come once we fix a date. Not you, kiddo – you need to concentrate on school for the next two months, but you’ll get plenty of time with her come June.”
“’Sallright Sooz – I understand.” Kylie hugged Susan and said “thanks – for everything.”
“All right – go, and remember. Sleep once you’ve had some breakfast.”
“Gotcha – talk to you soon,” Kylie said. “Keep her safe Uncle Clint.”
“I will,” Clint said as he hugged both of them. They stood, Clint with his arm round Susan’s shoulders, as they made their way through the security gate.
“You’re gonna miss them, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Susan said as she wiped a tear away, “but we have other fish to fry now.”
“Don’t worry – Penny has the team cleaning the apartment now and making the room suitable for your mom and aunt. Come on – you need to get some sleep.”
“Yes, you do,” Caroline said as she walked with them, “and don’t worry – they’ll be fine.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Good morning,” Klaus said as he came in, fastening the cuffs on his shirt “is that fresh coffee I smell?”
“It is,” Juliette, said as she looked up, “Help yourself.” Both she and Ingrid were wearing pullovers and jeans, watching as Klaus poured himself a mug.
“Well, we can start as soon as you tell me where we may be going,” Klaus said as he sat down.
"So do you have a car in mind Ingrid?" Juliette
"Well,” Ingrid said as she sat back, “with a
sister who drives a Maserati, I was sorta hoping Papa you might spring for
something REALLY super?"
"Like what?" Klaus looked up from his
Turkish coffee and the New York Times.
"An Alfa Romeo 4C?"
Klaus leaned back and smiled. "Darling that's a lot of car for you to
"Your father's right Ingrid...but..."
"Yes?" Ingrid asked hopefully.
"It is about the same price as Carina's
"Juliette, I thought we'd agreed something
sensible for Ingrid."
"Klaus she's a princess, even at Princeton they
are going to expect a certain style."
"Please Papa." Ingrid made a puppy dog face
at her father.
"Oh no, NO....your mother used that face..."
"And it always worked Papa." Ingrid smiled.
"I'll help with the cost if needs be..."
"No need my darling." Klaus rolled his eyes.
"Okay you two, where is the nearest Alfa dealership?"
"There is a first rate dealership in
Larchmont." Ingrid showed her father an advert.
"And where prey tell is Larchmont?"
"Just beyond White Plains darling." Juliette
spoke, "about a 35 minute drive or so."
"Alright let me go dressed and changed."
"See I told you we could talk him into it."
Juliette giggled as Klaus left the room. "Now when you rang them they did
say they had it in red?"
"Yep." Ingrid smiled back.
The Richmond Mansion
"Kids, we have to go." Heather yelled
"We're coming." Little Sandy yelled back.
"Well quick please."
"I wish we had Clint with us." Jan said as
she gathered up her bag. "If he's going to be our chief mechanic he needs
be involved from the start."
"Well baby and mother-in-law do come first."
Sandy looked at her watch. "At least Jeanne's father will be there."
"Yeah, I think he'll be a big help."
"KIDS!" Heather screamed this time.
"We're here." little Sandy smiled as she and
Katy walked in followed by George.
"Alright all of you out in the car, we are thirty
minutes late leaving." Sandy looked again at her watch.
"Do you have everything Katy?" her mother asked.
"Yep," Katy smiled as well.
"It worries me when our daughters smile."
Sandy whispered in Jan's ear. "The little misses have something
"Alright, drivers, children, me. I think that's everyone." Heather activated the alarm system, and closed the back door behind her.
East Side Gym
“A charity abseil? Well, I can imagine why you might want a little training – that school is an old fashioned three story brownstone.”
“Tell me about it,” Doc said as she adjusted the fingerless gloves she had been given. “So how are we going to do this?”
“Well, here’s the thing Anna,” Caroline said, “before you can go down, you’ve got to go up, so we start by getting you to climb the beginner’s wall here. Caroline will hold your support rope, and you follow my lead.”
“Oh boy,” Anna said as she looked up the wall. “Ah well, what’s life without a little challenge? How do you get down from the wall when you reach the top anyway?”
“I’ll tell you that after the first time,” Annie said with a smile. “Right, follow me up.”
Doc watched as Annie started up the wall, and then followed her lead, hoping the way down was easier.
As she pulled herself over the top, she looked down the ten-foot wall.
“Wow – nice drop,” she said with a smile.
“Well,” Annie whispered, “by next Sunday, we need you confidently abseiling over twenty feet, from a starting height of over 160 feet. What do you say?”
“Is the first step the worst?”
“Yup – now, let me show you how we do this.”
Monticello Motor Club
The three women watched as the older man walked round the vehicle, some of the other drivers watching and talking amongst themselves. His scarred face was recognizable to every one of them, and they wondered what he was doing here.
All three were wearing racing coveralls, with three helmets set on a table at the side of the pit. Heather was sitting with the kids, watching as he stood up and smiled.
"Ladies I think you bought yourselves a nice little
car." Jeanne's father ran an appreciative hand down its side. "You'll
get a lot of fun driving this."
"We think so papa." Jeanne smiled proudly at
her father's approval.
"Are we all set to go?" Sandy asked the two
mechanics that Roy had recommended they hired.
"That you are miss."
"Well does someone want to strap me in?" Sandy sat in the driver’s seat and put her helmet on as they strapped her in and attached the safety equipment.
"You'll need personalized seats." Henri spoke to Jeanne and Jan.
"They are on order, we should get them..."
The rest of Jan's reply was drowned out by the noise of Sandy starting the engine. The kids looked up, their ears covered by the muffs, and then went back to watching the DVD.
"Put your mikes on." Heather shouted as she
sat in front of the computer looking at the onboard data from the car.
"That's better." Jeanne put her earmuffs on
and her microphone.
"She sounds good." Sandy spoke over the air.
"Yes," Henri replied, "Okay take her
out and take 10 laps just getting to know her."
"Will do." Sandy replied as she drove away.
“Telemetry coming over loud and clear,” Heather said as Henri looked over her shoulder.
“Hmmm – seems to be handling well, my dear. Any signs of issues?”
“Not so far – but early days yet,” they heard Sandy say as the car passed at the end of the first lap.
The scene was like any typical model shoot – the only difference been the young girl in the seat, been looked after by the backroom crew, was not a model.
"Thanks for coming with me Missy." Jo smiled as the girl did her makeup. "Heather was committed to doing the car thing."
Missy Auerbach smiled as she opened a bottle of
water. "I know, and even though you
aren't a client you are a friend so I'm happy to chaperone. Gives me a chance to kick back and relax
without overthinking things for once."
For a woman who was normally a power dresser, Missy looked totally
different in her jeans, jacket and suede boots.
"Hey Missy darling." Alice kissed her agent,
"I heard you were playing responsible adult for Jo."
"Is that one of the sweaters?" Jo asked as
she saw the garment in Alice's hands.
"It is, isn't it wonderful?"
"I have one I brought in Scotland twen...well
more years ago then I care to remember and I still wear it." Missy stroked
the fabric. "These literally do last forever."
"Here let me help you put it on Jo." Alice
lifted it over her head.
"Oh my Goddess, this is lovely." Jo smiled as she adjusted her hair and checked her makeup in the mirror.
“All right then,” Alice said, “the mercurial Mister Cabot awaits your pleasure.”
"Why do I get the feeling they are expecting us?" Klaus asked as they pulled up outside the dealership, and three smartly dressed men came out to greet them.
"Well Ingy and I may just have been planning..."
"I got suckered in other words." Klaus
"Now would Juliette and I conspire?" Ingrid
tried looking innocent.
"Yes." Klaus laughed more, "Yes you would. My one saving grace is that your Aunt Sigi is safely in Europe, or I would never have stood a chance."
"Can I say welcome your highnesses." the dealership manager bowed.
"I'm not a highness." Juliette smiled,
"but thank you."
"Is the car here?" Ingrid asked enthusiastically.
“Of course – if you will follow me,” he said as Ingy grinned, following them as Klaus and Juliette walked behind them.
“I believe this is the model you called about,” the manager said as he led Ingy to a red 4C on the showroom floor.
“Oh yes, this is the one I was looking at,” she purred as she walked round, and then sat in the driver’s seat. “Papa, may I?”
“As if I could say no – I presume one of you fine gentlemen will accompany her?”
“It will be my honour,” a second man said as he climbed into the passenger seat, and the doors were opened, Ingy starting the engine and driving slowly out.
“Just promise me,” Klaus whispered to Juliette, “that our daughters are never tempted to race each over back to New York.”
“We’ll need to drive that into them, I suspect,” Juliette said, “we’ll double team for that.”
Monticello Motor Club
"Well ladies, how did you feel?" Henri asked
as the girls sat on the pit wall drinking some Gatorade.
"She's got more power under the hood then
anything I ever drove before." Jan looked up.
"That acceleration is incredible." Jeanne
"And you Sandy?"
"I think I'm still a bit in shock, I knew she was
fast, but oh my goddess that was just incredible."
"Well Heather has the telemetry we can sit down
in a bit and analyze it." Henri twisted his scarred face into a smile.
"Henri can I just say thank you for giving us
your time and help." Jan smiled, "The girls and I talked it over a
moment ago, would you honour us by becoming our crew chief."
"I thought you were never going to ask." Henri laughed, I'll be delighted too, and especially as it looks my daughter will get her transfer."
“Still to be confirmed, father,” Jeanne said with a smile, “but yes, the position of FBI liaison with Interpol in New York may soon be filled by Jeanne Marais.”
“That’s wonderful news,” Sandy said, “welcome to Team Richmond-Carter.”
East Side Gym
“I think I prefer a morning swimming at the Y to that any day,” Doc said as she consumed her sandwich.
“Well, an hour every night from now on the wall, and I think you’ll be all right come the event,” Annie said with a smile.
“Every night, after school,” Caroline said with a smile. “Just imagine the experience you’re gaining.”
“I am, that I am thinking about,” Doc said quietly.
“When we’re all finished, we go back to our place,” Annie said, “we need to examine the photos of the roof and side of the building, see what the safest ways down might be.”
“Agreed – the one thing we do not want to do is plant our feet on windows which might break or raise the alarm.”
Doc nodded. “Just out of interest, what is the long range forecast for next weekend?”
“Not relevant – but the question is,” Caroline said. “We’ll consider it nearer the time.”
Jo was sitting on a white rail fence with the hills
behind her posing as Adam directed her.
"Well she might not be a professional model, but
your instincts were right Alice, she does look the epitome of the healthy young
woman used to country life." Missy spoke.
"Very much so." Alice smiled. "She’s so
healthy and sporty looking."
"Turn your head slightly Jo so the breeze catches
your hair." Adam directed. "Now that is really beautiful."
"I think one of those we will definitely use in our advertising." Alice nodded her approval.
“I know she does not want to be a model,” Missy whispered, “but come on, will nothing persuade her?”
“Want my honest opinion,” Alice replied.
“You have more chance of getting The Countess back on the catwalk.”
Missy nodded slowly. “That’s what I figured, but I can dream, can’t I?”
JFK Airport, Arrivals Lounge
“You know, it only seems like this morning we were here,” Susan said as she sat in the chair, looking at the arrivals board.
“Har har – those extra hours sleep seem to have done you the world of good,” Clint said as he put his hands behind his head.
“Oh come on,” Susan said as she looked to the side, “You’d be nervous if you were me as well. After all…”
She stopped as she suddenly looked up and saw two women come through the doors. Both were casually dressed, in slacks, jumpers and jackets, and were wheeling a case each as they looked round. One was about the same height as Susan, with greying hair, and a face that told of the life she had lived for far too long. The other woman looked younger, with dark brown hair, and tapped her friend on the shoulder as Susan and Clint walked over.
“Susan? My goodness it is you,” she said, as they got closer.
“Hi Aunt Maeve – welcome to New York,” Susan said with a smile. “Did you both have a good flight?”
“It was amazing,” Maeve said quietly as the other woman stood by them.
“Hello Mum, how are you,” Susan said as she held her arms out.
“Awake – and scared as hell,” she said quietly, “but sober, for two months now.”
“You take it one day at a time, mum – we have friends here who are on the program, and are a phone call away if you need them. Can I give you a hug?”
Rose nodded as her daughter embraced her, and Clint said, “welcome to New York. Let me take your bags – I have the car waiting outside.”
“So where is my granddaughter?”
“At the apartment – a friend is watching her for us until we get back.”
“This way ladies – your carriage awaits,” Clint said as they made their way to the car, Rose looking round.
Monticello Motor Club
"Well Henri?" Sandy asked as they relaxed in
Henri glanced down at the telemetry reports and
nodded. "There are a couple of
little things the readouts suggest that mean we can tune her up to get maybe
five more miles per hour down the straight, but I can't see anything obviously
wrong for Clint and the wrench boys to change."
"Well that sounds hopeful." Jan said as she sat
down with her sandwiches.
"We still need to work a bit on driver coaching,
but only experience and learning the tracks can teach that."
"Was I still breaking too early going into turn
three papa?" Jeanne asked.
"Yes my darling,” Henri said as he looked over, “you
need to break later and smoother, get more speed coming out of that bend which
will give you more speed out of turn four."
"I'll try working on it."
"Sandy you need to be smoother in a couple of
turns, you have been getting too deep into the corners before turning, and Jan
you can't be afraid of the speed on the straights, I know your background is in
racing on dirt ovals, but you have time before the next turn to really open up
out there, whereas at this moment you drive like you're expecting to have to
turn in the next few seconds."
"Gotcha." Jan listened intently as Henri gently explained little points of technique to all of them gesturing with his hands to reinforce his points.
"Hey unfair Bruno." Jo laughed as the Old
English Sheepdog gave her a lick. "How can I pose when you do that?"
"Just keep playing with him Jo." Adam called
out, "these look fine.'
"Thanks for letting us borrow your garden and
Bruno Mindy." Alice laughed as Bruno put a paw up for Jo to shake.
"What are old friends for?" Mindy smiled,
"and Bruno's modeling fee will keep him in kibble for a few weeks."
"Try walking him Jo." Adam suggested.
"Here let me put his leash on." Mindy walked
"Can you repair Jo's face and hair quickly?"
Alice gestured to the hair girl and the makeup artist.
"For an amateur she's not bad at all." Adam
spoke to Missy as he changed lenses.
"Well I have a standing offer to her for any time
she wants to turn pro."
"And she doesn't want to?"
"Modeling comes a long way down Jo's priority
list after her school work and running track, she's going to William Smith
upstate to major in psychology, and run on their track team."
"Well she sounds like a well adjusted young lady,
but I still think she could model as well." Adam nodded to his assistants.
"We all set?"
"Okay now walking towards me Jo, with the house in the background."
Upper West Side
“Well, here we are,” Susan said as she opened the apartment door, “Home sweet home.”
“Oh my,” Maeve said as she walked in, “this is a lovely place. How can you afford it?”
“I get a good wage, Aunt Maeve,” Susan said as she took them into the front room, “and I invested some money for the deposit, plus Clint’s wage helps. Hey Penny, how was she?”
“She’s slept all the time,” Penny said as she stood up. “You must be Rose and Maeve – I’m Penny. I run the London office of the firm Susan runs in New York.”
“Nice to meet you,” Rose said as they shook hands, “so are you covering Susan’s maternity leave.”
“I am indeed – can I offer you a drink?
“Of coffee or tea,” she hastily added as Susan looked at her.
“It’s all right, Susan,” Rose said, “Coffee will be fine, thank you.”
“I’ll put the machine on,” Clint called through as Susan gently lifted April out of her bassinette.
“Hey there little one,” she said as the baby opened her eyes, “we have some special visitors. This is your grandmother and your great aunt Maeve. This is April Walker.”
Rose looked at the little girl’s face and allowed her to grab her finger. “Hey,” she said as she looked at her, “it’s very nice to meet you.”
“Sit down, mum, and you can hold her.”
“Are you sure Susan? I still shake a bit…”
“I’m sure,” Susan said as Rose sat down, and allowed her daughter to place her granddaughter in her arms. As she gently rocked her, Rose started to cry.
“Hey,” Maeve said as she sat with her sister, “come on Rose. This is a wonderful moment.”
“I know – I just can’t believe I got to see her,” Rose said as she smiled weakly.
“Well, you made it mum, and I am so proud of you,” Susan said quietly.
"You know of all the things you've done in your
life Susan, I think these two make me the proudest." Rose cradled April in
her arms, "This little thing, and the thing on the wall behind me."
She pointed at Susan's bachelor's degree diploma. "I never in my wildest
dreams thought you'd graduate from a university."
"It took a lot of work Mum, but it is paying off,
I'm thinking of doing an MBA to help make me even better at my job."
"An MBA?" asked Maeve.
"A masters degree in Business Administration. NYU
offer a great part-time course that Shirley says the company will pay for me to
"They clearly appreciate you Susan." Maeve went and looked out the window. "This flat is amazing, the view is just so like I always thought New York would be."
“It is something, isn’t it,” Susan said as she looked over.
Monticello Motor Club
“So this is the new home of the team,” Klaus said as they parked at the rear entrance to the pit.
“Well, for training and practice anyway,” Juliette said as they got out and walked over to the rear entrance, going through to the vehicle workshop itself.
"Hi Heather." Juliette called out as she greeted
the younger woman.
"Hi Guys." Heather stood up from the table
she had a computer on and kissed everyone. "So did you get it?"
"You knew about the car?" Klaus asked.
"I think everyone except you did." Heather
smiled. "So when are you taking delivery Ingy?"
"Wednesday afternoon, they are bringing it into
"Verrrry." Ingrid laughed.
"So how is it going out there?" Juliette
looked as the car flashed by.
"I don't think Jan’s doing too badly."
"Hello Juliette, hello Klaus, what was that lap time Heather?" Henri called out as he ran over from the pit wall.
"She was .76 of a second better."
"Did you hear that Jan?" Henri shouted into
"I did, and you were right, I could get more
speed on into that turn and take a slightly different line."
"Are we disturbing?" asked Klaus.
"No, no...Jan is coming in next time round." Henri smiled. "And this I presume is Ingrid...delighted to meet you." Henri kissed her hand.
“It is an honour, Monsieur Marais. I understand you and your daughter may be moving over as well?”
“That is our intention in the next few months – I think there are new challenges here for me,” Henri said as the kids came over.
"Did you bring them Aunt Juliette?" Little
"I did, they are in the back of my car, and you
can go get them."
As the kids ran out the back, Sandy said "Are you
in on their little secret Ju?"
"They didn't tell you?"
"Well wait a second or two.... now look."
Suddenly Sandy laughed as the three children came back
"See Mom." George turned his back displaying
the words Richmond-Carter Racing across the garment.
"Now we are proper crew." Katy laughed as
she fixed hers and little Sandy's hair into ponytails.
"Heather rang me with the idea and I got them
made up for them." Juliette laughed.
"Well you all look amazing." Heather
grinned, "Just wait till your mom sees them Katy."
"There's a set of overalls for you as well
Heather, and for Henri and the boys...George can you go back to the car and
"Yes Aunt Juliette."
As he went out, Jan brought the car in, stopping the engine and removing her helmet. “Oh my,” she said as she looked at Katy, “I see the pit crew have shrunk as I drove past.”
“Like it mom?” Katy did a twirl and stood with the biggest grin on her face.
“Oh I love it – but you’re not doing overnight duty. Not until later anyway.”
“Aw nothing,” Sandy said, “they won’t allow you here for late races anyway.”
“Thank you,” Henri said with a low bow as he accepted the overalls from George. “Gentlemen, accept your colours please.”
The two mechanics accepted the gifts from the girls as Henri said “I think we have done enough practice for today girls – shower and change, and then we can discuss the next session over coffee.”
"Well your opinions Henri please?" Sandy
asked a short while later as they sat round the coffee table.
"All three of you are good, in fact very good,
fast drivers, and you listen and learn quickly...I think as you said earlier we
will have a lot of fun this summer."
"Did I buy a dud car?"
"Oh no, there's plenty of life left in her and if
Clint is as good as you say we can maybe get a little more out of her
"Thanks for the tech support Heather." Jan
hugged the nanny.
"Well it's fun for me as well, just never expect
me to drive that beast."
"Okay." The three drivers laughed together.
“Well, Susan is expecting us for dinner,” Sandy said, “and you know Clint – they won’t mind if we all call round.”
“How are you feeling love,” Maeve said as she and Rose sat in the main room, holding their mugs of coffee.
“A lot less nervous now – I’m just glad the people on the plane didn’t offer me any drinks. I was shaking so much then…”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“When Susan booked the tickets, she told them you had an allergy to alcohol, like that actor bloke. They had strict instructions not to serve you any drinks or food with alcohol in them.”
Susan’s mother looked at her sister, and then laughed. “She always was a lot cleverer than I gave her credit for, wasn’t she?”
“I told you, Rose – but I guess you had your own demons to fight as well.”
Rose jumped slightly as the doorbell rang. “Are you expecting company Susan love?”
“Some friends said they might drop in.” Susan called from the kitchen. “Can you let them in Aunt Maeve?”
Maeve opened the door and saw the crowd standing there, the three children at the front.
“Susan, you did say just a few friends?” Maeve laughed a trifle nervously as they came in.
“I know, we apologise.” Sandy led the gang in.
“Hey Clint it’s a good thing you cooked extra,” Susan said as she came out, drying her hands, “they brought more people.”
“I must apologise for the unannounced intrusion, Mrs. Walker, but I really need to meet and talk to Clint.” Henri said as he kissed her on the cheek.
“And I know he’s been looking forward to meeting you.”
“Well Susan I think you had better do the introductions.” Sandy took her coat off.
“Alright, let’s do this by family…I’m Susan, he’s Clint,“ she gestured towards the kitchen, “This is my aunt Maeve, and looking so proud, that’s Rose my mum with my precious little April.”
“She’s even tinier then Jennifer was.” Little Sandy said as she looked at the baby.
“Right now for you guys. That’s Jeanne and her father Henri…Klaus and his daughter Ingrid, Juliette is Klaus’ partner…next is Jan and her daughter Katy, Sandy and her daughter little Sandy, her son George, and last but not least her girlfriend Heather…Phew I got it all out.” Susan laughed.
“I apologise for us all looking such a mess, but we’ve been out trying our new car.” Sandy smiled.
“A new car…all of you?” asked Rose.
“No, just me Jan, and Jeanne…we just bought a racing car we are going to race as a team.”
“Now I place you Monsieur Marais.” Maeve smiled, “You were the driver who got so badly burned in an accident some years ago.”
“Maeve.” Her sister gave her a look.
“Do not worry Rose,” Henri said with a smile, “I long since came to peace with my injuries.”
“It’s not a problem.” Henri smiled even more.
“Clint’s going to look after the car mechanically, and Henri is going to be crew chief,” explained Sandy.
“How did she run?” Clint called out from the kitchen.
“Very well.” Sandy called back, then added “Henri needs talk to you Clint.”
“Okay, can you come in the kitchen Henri?”
“If I’m welcome?”
“Of course you are.”
“May I go too Mom?” George asked.
“Yes, I know you don’t want to be stuck in a room full of women.” Sandy smiled as George followed Henri.
“May I go too?” asked Klaus.
“Hmmm alright, but only if you eat all your dinner.” Juliette laughed as Klaus left as well.
“So ladies what do you make of New York so far?” asked Janice.
“It’s BIG!” Maeve smiled.
“That it is.” Janice giggled.
“Do you all live in the city?” asked Rose.
“Katy and I share an apartment with my Mother a few blocks that way.” Jan pointed.
“My apartment is over the other side of the park.” Juliette nodded the direction. “Klaus and Ingrid are staying with me.”
“Papa and I are staying with a friend while I hunt for somewhere to live.” Jeanne nodded.
“And my tribe and I have a house on the other side of the park as well.” Sandy spoke as she stretched. “You know Henri is right I do need to work on my overall fitness. Driving can take it out of you.”
“And without being rude what do you all do?” Rose asked as she made faces at the baby.
“Jeanne and I are both police in a way.” Jan smiled, “I’m with the FBI, she’s with Interpol.”
“I’m starting university in the autumn.” Ingrid nodded.
“I’m an interior decorator, and Heather is my assistant cum nanny, cum housekeeper.” Sandy answered.
“My favourite writer.” Maeve interrupted. “Rose she’s Juliette Huntingdown the writer whose books I have.”
“Maeve you are an ANGEL.” Juliette laughed.
“You are the first person ever to describe me as a writer, not as a model.” Juliette smiled broadly.
“Well I love your writing, both the books…and in Complete Style.”
“Thank you, that means a lot.”
“Here – let me sort some drinks out for all of you while the menfolk talk…”
“So the car is in good condition, Henri?”
“Excellent condition – a small adjustment here and there, but the previous owner took exceptional care of it.”
“Glad to hear it,” Clint said as he stirred the pot of pasta sauce.
“That smells delightful – what is in there?”
“This? Minced pork, some sage, red onion, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms – nothing fancy.”
“I prefer burgers,” George said as he sat at the table, holding a glass of soft drink.
“I am sure you do,” Clint said as he checked the pasta water, “but believe me young man, the surest way to impress a date is to offer to cook her dinner.”
“Girls? Yuck,” George said as he made a face.
“Ah, the innocence of youth,” Klaus said with a laugh.
“Having said which – just for you three youngsters, I have some home made hamburgers in the fridge, ready to cook when this is nearly ready. Sound good?”
George nodded as the other adults laughed…
Janice smiled as she caught Rose yawning.
“Jet lag – gets everyone the same way,” she said as Clint looked in.
“All right you two,” he said as he looked at Katy and little Sandy, “burgers and fries in here. Everyone else, I hope you don’t mind helping yourself from the pot and then sitting round here."
“That’s fine Clint,” Sandy said as she slowly stood up, “we’ll try not to damage the furniture…”
Fifteen minutes later, the group were sitting down in the room, the kids laughing in the kitchen as Henri and Clint sat at the table.
"We weren't quite getting the compression ratios that BMW claim for the car." Henri said to Clint as they looked at Heather's computer.
"There are a couple of things we can try to fix that." Clint nodded. "And I'm thinking I'll look at the cylinder heads, maybe change them out."
"I think we also need to experiment with
different suspension settings."
"Well Papa and Clint are off in their own
world." Jeanne smiled at the two men looking so intently at the mass of
"Do you understand any of that Sandy?" asked
"Most of it, but they lose even me at
"So Rose what do you do?" Klaus asked.
"I used to be a seamstress for one of the big
West End fashion houses, well that was before..."
"I understand." Klaus nodded, "and you
"I'm trained as a cutter in men’s
"So you were both in the rag trade as you call it in London?" Juliette asked with a professional interest.
“Yeah – but it was more like a sweatshop when I started. Once the labour laws changed, it got better, but – well, it’s a bit difficult to operate a sewing machine when you cannot focus or hold the material properly.”
“Would you go back again?”
“It doesn’t really exist these days, Juliette,” Rose said. “If you’re not Saville Row or the like, a lot of the stores use India or other overseas places. I guess it’s cheaper, but the quality…”
“I can understand that,” Klaus said, “the drive to meet everyone’s demands, mean corners do get cut, if you will forgive the expression.”
“So I take it you don’t do that any more, Maeve?”
“No – I work as a teaching assistant in the Home Economics department at a local school. It helps bring in the money and pays the bills.”
“I hope to get some sort of job when I get back,” Rose said, “to keep me occupied.”
“Hmm – I may be able to help with that. Let me make a couple of calls and we’ll see what can be done.”
“You would, Juliette? Why?”
“Because Susan is a very good friend, and I want to help.”
Rose blushed and said “Thank you” as she ate her meal.
"That was a long day." Jo collapsed onto her
bed in the hotel room she was sharing with Missy.
"Three more set-ups tomorrow Alice says, and at
least tomorrow night you can sleep in your own bed."
"I know." Jo smiled, "You know I had
real fun today, I can't see why Cari and Ingy found Adam hard to work
"You caught him on one of his good days, he can
be a bit temperamental our Mister Cabot."
"I didn't realise he's related to the
"Yeah he's a real Brahmin as well, he is related
to most of the famous old Boston families."
"Cool." Jo smiled.
"You know I shouldn't eat with active girls like
you." Missy looked at herself in the mirror, "I eat dinner I swear I
can see the pounds I've gained in my reflection.... you eat twice as much and
"You should join the girls at the gym."
"Who me?" Missy laughed, "No, pounds or not, I think I'll stick to my own regimen."
"They are all so nice." Maeve smiled as
Klaus closed the door behind himself.
“Oh yes they are.
Now I can tell you a secret."
"And what's that Susan?"
"You just had dinner with two princes and two
"WE WOT?" Rose looked shocked.
"Klaus and Henri are both princes, and their
daughters are princesses."
"They try not to use their titles though."
"Plus Sandy is one of the richest women in the
city, and Juliette is not short of a bob or two either."
"Oh my giddy aunt!" Rose looked pained,
"And I was just chattin' away like they woz like me."
"They are just like you Mum, it's why I didn't
mention it as I introduced them"
"God save us." Maeve shook her head.
“When I think of what I said to you before, Susan,” Rose said quietly, “I… I don’t know if it was the booze or what talking. But you’ve given me a second chance – even if I had to go through hell to get this far…”
"Mum it's hard I know,” Susan said as she sat
next to her. “One day soon though, I
want you to meet the doctor who delivered April, her name is Karen Boyd and as
she will tell you she's both an alcoholic and a heroin addict still, but it's
been many years since she had a fix or a drink. She recommended the treatment
centre to me."
"All that time and heroin as well as booze luv?"
"I would like to meet her." Rose stuck her chin out.
"She used to be the model Charity Royce..."
"I've heard of her." Maeve smiled.
"She saw her best friend Stella Jameson
eventually overdose on heroin."
"That's not nice." Rose said quietly.
"Well at an advanced age Karen is finally having
a baby herself, and she looks out for Stella's daughter Caroline who is one of
my best friends, She has a lot of reasons to stay on the straight and
"So do I now." Rose reached out and stroked her daughter’s cheek. "So do I."
“I’m glad,” Susan said as she held her mother’s hand. “But you need to get your rest now. Tomorrow I’ll give you the tour of the park.”
Sunday 12th April
“So if you’re like me, and need wheels rather than legs, don’t be afraid to ask. And if you see us, remember – we’re human too, and we want to fend for ourselves. But a little help from you goes a long way for us. I’m Jeannie Brewster – thanks for listening.”
“And cut,” the girls behind the screen said as Jeannie looked at the end credits roll on the screen in front of her, a pair of large earphones over her head.
“Let’s take a break there – ten minutes people.”
"I can't believe the school has its own
professional dubbing studio." Barbara shook her head as Jeannie was handed
a bottle of water.
"It can double as a recording studio, Mrs.
Brewster.” Lana Brightman-Jones, the engineer, turned from the desk and smiled
at her. "Elly Mental gave it to the school."
"Yes, when she was an Angel though she was just
plain Ginny Keneally."
“I keep been amazed as to who has graduated from this school,” Barbara said, “Who’s next, Hilary Clinton.”
“Nope – wrong part of the country.”
"Do you want to try that again Jeans?" Leah
Parnell the producer asked.
"Yeah, I think I can do it better."
"Okay counting down to playback...five...four...three...two...one...go." Lana signaled with her hand.
“Hi, my name’s Jeannie Brewster,” the young girl said as she watched the film of her wheeling herself down the street. “You may have seen me in fashion shoots and magazines, but that’s only part of what I am. The rest of the time, I’m an ordinary teenager in a wheelchair, and I want you to see the world from my viewpoint – that of countless teenagers who aren’t as lucky as I am…”
The Loeb Boathouse, Central Park
“Susan, I cannot believe this place,” Maeve said as the three women came in, all wearing slacks and jumpers. “And it was incredibly nice of that Penny to agree to look after April while you showed us some of this park.”
“Well, if it’s your first time in this city, you need to see Central Park,” Susan said as she looked round.
“Can I show you ladies to a table?”
Susan nodded and then said, “actually, I see a friend. Would you mind if we joined them?”
“Of course,” he said as they walked over to where a woman in her late thirties and a brown haired girl were sitting at a round table.
"Hello you two I didn't expect to see you in
"Hi Susan, we dropped in for a quick eat,
Jeannie's voice over session lasted longer then we thought and I didn't feel
like cooking." Barbara said as she greeted the newcomers.
"Barbara, Jeannie, this is my Mum and Aunt Maeve.
We thought we'd grab a bite cos Clint won't be back from the track till
"And I aint eatin' 'er bluddy cookin'" Rose
"I swear I have improved Mum."
"Hi." Jeannie shook her hand. “And yeah she
can cook…a little.”
"You sound like you're from our part of the world?"
"We're from Harlow originally." Barbara
shook hands. "So have you been seeing the sites?"
"God yes, everyfinks so bloody big." Rose
shook her head.
"Do I know you?" Maeve asked, "You look
"I don't know, where do you live?" Barbara
said with a glint in her eye.
"Probably not then." Barbara shook her head.
"Can we join you?" Susan asked, amused by
the whole scene.
"Here let me move my chair and let you in."
Jeannie put her napkin on the table and pushed herself back, her wheelchair
became visible for the first time.
"OH MY BLEEDIN" GAWD!"
"Now I think Aunt Maeve has placed you." Susan laughed.
“You… You’re Jeannie Brewster, the girl from the Graham Norton show!”
“The girl in the wheelchair?” Rose looked at her and said, “I’m very pleased to meet you.”
“Likewise – please, join us.”
“Oh it will be a pleasure,” Rose said as she and Maeve went on the other side of the table, and Susan sat next to Jeannie.
Adam stood back as Jo sat on the bench, her arms folded in front of her as she looked to the side, and took another photo.
"I think we've done all we can people." Adam
signaled his crew.
"That was hard work." Joanne stretched and
gave herself a shake.
"Well I think it was worth it, catching the
sunset like that over the mountains really added something." Alice looked
"When will these appear Alice?" Jo asked as
she took the jumper off and pulled her own hoodie on.
"The agency does what it says it can do, then in
the press for next month’s editions, and the in store advertising about the
"Well I hope my face doesn't put people
"Jo have confidence...you looked fabulous, didn't
"My offer of a contract with Norstar is still
"After this weekend I might just be tempted....
but then I think of the training I missed, my homework, that Heather's had to
do my chores, a million reasons why modeling isn't right for me."
"Jo you ought to try...I'd certainly like to book
you again to model for me." Adam looked up from downloading his camera.
"You would?" Jo looked shocked.
“Yeah,” Adam said with a smile, “but it has to be your choice. If you ever feel ready, call Missy and get her to call me.”
The Richmond Mansion
Heather looked up as Jo came into the room.
“How was it?”
“Different – challenging – but I still don’t think it’s for me that often,” Jo said before she went into the kitchen, and came back with a drink. “Still, got other things to think about tomorrow.”
“Another week at the coalface,” Heather said quietly. “By the way, a letter arrived for you yesterday – it’s from William Smith.”
Jo picked the large envelope up from the side table and opened it. “Pre-reading for the course – and a training plan from Coach. She wasn’t kidding…”
“Bed – worry about it tomorrow,” Heather said quietly, Jo nodding as she headed up the stairs.
Monday 13th April
“That is all ladies – you may go to your classes now.”
As the girls filed out, Jeannie led her friends out.
“Did everyone have as busy a weekend as me?” Jeannie asked as she went to her locker.
“Depends on what you call busy?” Pepsi giggled.
“Hey,” Jeannie said with a smile, “we all know what you and Jack did all weekend.”
“He flies back tomorrow – I wanted to make sure I enjoyed every second, and can you blame me?”
“No I can’t,” Jeannie, said, “no I can’t.”
“Well Billy and I went and visited some of my relatives.” Becca spoke.
“Showing off your boyfriend to everyone?” asked Doc.
“Making my Bronstein cousins intensely jealous.” Becca grinned.
“What about you Doc?” Nikki asked.
“I went with Caroline to the gym, and damn do I ache.”
“I heard you got suckered into doing that charity abseil thing.” Pepsi replied.
“Well I have a sponsorship fund going if you want to donate?”
“See me at lunch and I’ll sign up.” Jo joined the group. “And I expect all of you to do so as well…right?”
“We will.” Jeans spoke as she closed her locker. “Okay Miss Kelly awaits girls…Wagons Roll!”
The girls entered the room to find Miss Kelly waiting at the front, wearing a pair of over the knee leather boots with her tight cream pants and jumper.
“Right, take a seat,” she said as the girls came in, “We have an end of year project to commence. I want you girls to do a poster that explains how to work out total angles in a shape – get to work.”
Complete Style Magazine
Juliette looked up as the door opened.
“How are things going Janine?” Juliette asked as her PA came into her office.
“Hectic.” Janine sat down and said “apologies for been slightly late, but I had to finalise the booking for this weekend in Philly.”
“I know, I had not fully realized just how much you do until I saw how much help Marina was.”
“I won’t deny that she took a lot off my plate.”
“Look,” Juliette said as she sat back, “I’ve discussed it with Anna, it’s time we got you an assistant.”
“Me? An assistant?”
“Janine with what I ask of you I can see it’s essential…and oh by the way Anna also okayed a salary increase for you.”
“Wow! Well I don’t know what to say Juliette…”
“Just keep on doing what you are doing please.”
“I’ll try.” Janine smiled. “But thanks, for both.”
“You’ve earned it,” Juliette said as she sat forward. “Now your assistant, is there any one in house you think might be up to it, or do we need to advertise?”
For a moment Janine paused in thought. “Do you know Alexis Bronheimer who works in the archives?”
“I can’t say I do.”
“Well she might be perfect, she has a journalism degree from Michigan, she’s been with us about four months and I think she and I could work together.”
“That’s a good recommendation, can you arrange for me to see her this afternoon?”
“I’ll clear you some time to do so.” Janine stood up and said, “By the way, Anna wants you to drop by. I think it’s something to do with her husband.”
“All right, I’ll call by later,” Juliette said as Janine closed the door.
The Richmond Mansion.
“Welcome back,” Sandy said as she embraced the tall woman with slightly greying hair.
“Well, Shirley said you had need of me, so I came,” Maddie said as she embraced Sandy. “Besides, it gives me a chance to do a few other things.”
“Visit Susan for one thing,” Maddie said as she took her coat off, “and also to distribute invitations to our wedding this June.”
“So you and Emma have named the date?”
“We have indeed – and all are invited. So,” she said as she sat down, “For what have I been summoned?”
“We’ll explain everything,” Sandy said as she showed Maddie into the kitchen where Diana and Heather were sitting at the table.
“You made it,” Heather said as Maddie sat down, “Good flight?”
“I came in last night, if truth be told, but late. So what is this all about?”
“The Penn City National Bank, Philadelphia.”
Maddie raised an eyebrow. “Not the biggest target you have ever hit, why the extra people.”
“Two reasons – first, the manager lives in an apartment, and there are additional opportunities and challenges in his location.”
“And secondly,” Diana said, “We need the extra cover – Monday morning in Philadelphia.”
“I can imagine,” Maddie said with a smile. “Well, if I can be of assistance…”
“Well, our first task is to find a base of operations in the local area – can you help me with that tomorrow?”
“Of course – so this is the full team?”
“It is indeed – and we all need to be prepared,” Sandy said as she handed out coffee.
"Maddie are you going to be okay with a gun in
your hands?" Diana asked.
“I was in Boston, remember?”
“That was the first time for a while, wasn’t it?”
“Has Penny been talking?” Maddie sat back and said “For the record, unlike Penny I never fully retired from active duty when I moved over here. But, having said that, it has been less often over the last few years. So, it's been a while, but yes I do remember what I'm doing.”
"Well before you go to Philly to find ourselves a hideout do you need a refresher?"
“If time can be found, then yes. What are we looking for precisely?" Maddie asked.
"Something like my farm, reasonably close to the target, but isolated, and certainly no nosey neighbors." Diana replied.
"Also parking space for all the cars." Sandy
"And preferably a sleepy little police department
that will not notice a large group of women coming and going." Heather
looked up from her computer.
"Okay I think I got all that."
"Just remember this weekend, all goes well it will be another big deposit in your retirement account Maddie."
“Well, there is that to consider, but I’m not that old – I’m the same age as Shirley you know.”
“I always wondered,” Heather said as she looked up, “you said once that when you first met Shirley, she was a scared eighteen year old. How did she survive?”
“You could ask the same of me and Sandra,” Maddie said with a small smile. “We were three scared young women, and I think that was the secret. We were together in the same situation, and somehow we drew that strength from each other. Then – well, then came the trip to Paris.”
Diana nodded as she heard Maddie say that. “I never had the opportunity to say thank you for what you did then – it saved my family and the other families much pain.”
“Well, we did what we had to do to get out – and we set off down the path that kept us and Robert together.”
“Ah,” Maddie said quietly, “Robert was Shirley’s first love. He worked for the man we called Master, but he quit at the same time we did, and returned to England with us. He worked alongside Sandy, Shirley and me, and I think one day they would have married – but he died at the hands of that man.”
“Defending Shirley,” Maddie said, “I think part of the reason she retreated into her shell as Madame X was that pain, as well as wanting to put some wrongs right. Anyway, she has re-emerged, and I’m seeing the strong confident woman she has become.”
“So you came out here at what point?”
“When we finally took Master down, we absorbed his organization into ours,” Maddie said. “Sandra had already left to take up her position with the BA, and was in the process of bringing Penny in as her replacement. So Shirley asked if I would come out and oversee the US side. Never regretted it – Emma been one of the reasons.”
“So you’ve kept your hand in?”
“From time to time, but as I said, I may be a little rusty…”
Complete Style Magazine
Juliette looked up at the knock on her door, and saw Janine standing there.
“Alexis is here to see you,” she said as she opened the door.
“Hello Alexis will you come in please.” Juliette invited the slim brunette into her office. She looked her up and down as she walked nervously forward – a peach dress with a white top underneath, dark tights, knee length black boots.
“Thank you Miss Huntingdown.”
“My name is Juliette,” she smiled at the nervous young woman and gestured for her to sit down. “Now did Janine fill you in on what we are doing?”
“Yes, you are looking for someone to assist her Miss…sorry Juliette.” She sat down and played nervously with her hands as she looked straight ahead.
“Could you see yourself working with her for me?”
“I think so,” Alexis said. “I like Janine and I admire your work tremendously.”
“I spoke with Sam,” Juliette said as she consulted her pad, “and he says you’ve been doing a first rate job in the archive.”
“That’s kind of him.” Alexis nervously played with a ring on her finger.
“I also rang your old professor at Michigan, he says you will be a first rate writer one day.”
“Yes he did,” Juliette smiled. “I can’t offer you much of a chance to write yourself, but no doubt as Janine has told you I take on a lot of different tasks and you will at least get an opportunity to make some great contacts for your later career if you work for me.”
“She has told me.” The young Midwesterner allowed herself a smile. “It will be a tremendous break if I do get to come work for you, the archives have been enjoyable, and I like doing research, but…”
“You do tend to get buried down there away from everyone’s eyes.”
“Yes.” Alexis looked down.
“Look how about we give it a month’s trial? If all three of us are happy, then we will see about making it permanent, if you want out, we will find you another desk up here on the editorial floor instead…Is that okay?”
“It sounds wonderful Miss Huntingdown…sorry.”
“Just PLEASE don’t let it take you as long to break that habit as it took Janine.” Juliette smiled as she stood up. “Welcome to my office Alexis,” she shook her hand. “You start tomorrow – go and finish what you need to do downstairs.”
“Hello,” Maddie said as the door opened, “you must be Rose, Susan’s mother. My name is Maddie Moore.”
“Susan’s boss in Los Angeles – please, come in,” Rose said as she held the door open, and Susan came out of the bedroom.
“Maddie – thanks for calling round,” Susan said as they embraced.
“So where is she?”
“In here,” Susan said as they went into the front room, where Maeve was sitting with April. “Aunt Maeve, this is Maddie, my boss when I worked in LA. Maddie, my aunt Maeve – and this is April.”
“Hello little one,” Maddie said as she shook April’s finger, “it’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re a very lucky young woman Susan.”
“Thanks – won’t you have a seat?”
“So Susan worked for you in LA – you encouraged her to take her degree?”
“Oh yes Rose,” Maddie said, “your daughter is a very talented woman, and I wanted to make sure that talent was not wasted. She applied herself brilliantly – and what is this I hear about an MBA now?”
“Yeah – Penny and Shirley have authorized it for next year,” Susan said quietly.
“I’m so proud of her,” Rose said as she sat down.
“Almost as proud as she is of you,” Maddie said as the door opened and Clint came in.
“You’re late – what happened?”
“Well, Natasha caught me – the committee had heard my suggestion.”
“Apparently I am now one of the senior drivers, with responsibility for overhauling the training program. I guess you really should be careful what you wish for…”
"Practicing the shills you learned working for me
I see Clint." Maddie laughed.
"Very much so." Clint replied as he hugged
"So does a promotion mean you get a raise?"
"It does...it also means I'm off shifts while I
get this all sorted out. I'm 9 to 5 Monday to Friday for a few weeks."
"Well at least I'll see more of you." Susan smiled gently.
“And I get to see more of you, little one,” Clint said as he stroked April’s cheek. “Right – I am in the mood for celebrating. Stay for dinner Maddie?”
“I’d love to – what are you cooking?”
“I have absolutely no idea – let’s see what I can rustle up.”