Should Auld Acquaintance… - Part 1
Sandy looked round the den with Tonia, looking at her checklist and nodding as she looked round.
“Well,” the builder said as she followed Sandy out to the drawing room, “do I get paid or don’t I?”
“Oh you get paid all right,” Sandy said with a smile. “You’ve done a fantastic job here Tonia.”
The two turned and looked as April Broadhurst came in from the terrace.
“Well, the garden seems to have settled,” she said with a smile. “If I can get some time with Shirley, we can discuss maintenance while she’s not here.”
“I’ll get her to give you a call,” Sandy said with a smile. “Well, it’s ready for her to take ownership I think. Let me have the final bill and you’ll get paid by Wednesday.”
“Prompt payer as well – I like this woman more and more,” Tonia said with a smile. “So when do I get to meet her?”
“Monday, I think – she’s due to arrive this weekend, but I’m not sure when.”
"I think this Second Empire decor is to die
for." Tonia looked round.
"I just wish I'd have been able to find more
original pieces." Sandy glanced round.
"Well the reproductions blend in
"I know Shirley would hate it, but this really
ought to be featured in one of the magazines." Caroline said with a smile
as she came in.
"Can I take that as a compliment to my skills as
well as Sandy's?" Tonia asked.
"You can." Caroline laughed lightly.
"And let's not forget April's contribution,"
Sandy embraced the florist.
"Well it's made me maybe think about doing more
of these roof gardens."
"I can find you some customers April."
"You can Tonia?"
"For work of that standard of course
"Oh my." April smiled happily.
“Well, I look forward to it,” Tonia said as she looked at her watch. “Gotta go – places to be,” she said with a smile.
“See you next week,” Sandy said as they kissed each other on the cheek, and then showed Tonia out.
“I need to get going too – see you on Monday Sandy,” April said as she went out.
Sandy looked out onto Central Park and smiled. “Yeah, she’s going to like it,” she said with a smile.
“I agree,” Caroline said as she came in. “The security system is now fully connected and operational. All it needs is for Heather to hook up the biometrics and we’re complete.”
“Well, she can’t do that until Shirley gets here, so let’s leave it at that,” Sandy said as they walked to the door. “So what are you doing with the rest of the day?”
“Juliette asked me to do something – and I need to rope in some help,” Caroline said with a smile.
8 am GMT
Somewhere in the Cotswolds
The farm lay down a quiet road, well off the beaten track, and as far as the locals knew had just been bought by a large corporation as a country retreat. Certainly for the last couple of months trucks had driven up and down the road, and now a set of heavy gates closed off the main buildings.
The night before, the gates has opened to allow a single car to drive up, and now opened to allow a Daimler to head up the road to the buildings. As it drew up, Lily came out and waited as the driver let Madame step out.
“How is the guest, Lily,” she said as they walked towards one of the barns that lined the farmyard.
“Waking up I believe – I didn’t think it would be so easy to slip him the sedative last night,” she said with a smile. Lily wore a pair of tight black trousers and a jumper, with short boots.
Madame wore a grey jacket and skirt, the material moving with her body as they entered the barn. Two associates looked round and nodded as they came in.
Through the window, they looked at the man sitting in the chair, ropes around his upper body and legs. He wore a well-tailored suit, shirt and tie, and as he slowly lifted his head and looked around they heard him say “Hey – where the hell am I?”
“Think he might like to have a little chat?”
Lily’s eyes widened as she saw Penny walk in, wearing a crisp white blouse, knee length leather pencil skirt, black gloves and five inch heeled shoes.
“Penny? Where the hell did you get that gear from?”
“Back of my closet,” Penny said, “Madame’s not the only one who has looked back into their past.”
“Penelope, is there something you need to tell us?”
“Perhaps later, but I have a job to do first,” Penny said as she walked into the room.
The man looked at Penny as she walked in, and looked at him.
“Hey, who the hell are you,” he spat at her.
“Good morning, Jimmy Finn,” Penny said quietly, “Thank you for accepting our invitation.”
“Your invitation? I was just having a drink, and then this happens!” Who the fuck are you anyway?”
“My name is unimportant, little man,” Penny said as she stroked his head in her gloved hands, and then yanked it back, “what is important is that you have been involved in something that, quite frankly, upset me.”
She looked deep into his eyes and said “Do I look to you the sort of woman who likes to be upset?”
“Lady, you look to me like someone from a bad black and white movie.”
“Well, now, I do admire a man who tries to be brave,” Penny said as she walked round him. “But you seem to have the wrong idea, Mister Finn. You are here to answer my questions, not me yours.”
“A little slip of a girl like you,” Jimmy Finn scoffed, “you can’t do anything to hurt me. I should put you over my knee and spank you.”
“Would you like to try?”
“What on earth does she think she is doing,” Lily said as Penny untied Finn, and then stood in front of him.
“Well, big man, what are you going to do?”
Madame and Lily watched as Finn stood up, and then grabbed Penny’s wrist – only to have her grab his arm and throw him across the room, Lily wincing as he landed against the wall.
“So you know some moves,” Finn said as he stood up. “Nice – I like a girl with some fight.”
“No you don’t,” Penny said as she walked forward, “you like the ones who don’t fight back when you take them. I know your type too well. Now, who ordered you to find someone to attack Heather Smith?”
“NO idea what you’re talking about, lady,” Finn said as he produced a knife, “but I want to dance with you.”
“Go ahead,” Penny said, a strange look in her eyes, “try.”
“We need to stop this,” Lily said as she moved, but Madame held her arm.
“No – we need to let her do this,” she said as Finn dived at Penny, only for her to step to her side and trip him. As he fell, however, he grabbed her blouse and pulled it off, the buttons flying as it slipped down her arms.
Penny turned round, her black bra holding her chest up, and looked at Finn as she said “What’s wrong, little man – sacred of a woman who has learned to fight back?”
She stood over him, her foot connecting with him between his legs, and smiled as she watched him wince in pain. Reaching down, she lifted him up, and said “I despise all men who think they can command women – and you are just the latest. So start talking worm – who hired you to arrange the death of Heather Smith.”
“Go to hell, bitch.”
“Too late,” Penny said as she kneed him in the groin, and then put him back in the seat, binding his back to it. “Now,” she said as she knelt in front of him, and grabbed him between his legs, “the name.”
“The name,” Penny repeated as she squeezed, Madame and Lily watching her as she knelt in front of him.
“My god,” Lily whispered, “her back…”
Madame nodded as she looked at the scar tissue that marked her number one’s back.
“AAGGHHH NONN NO MORE!!!” Finn eventually yelled.
“A name,” Penny whispered.
“Stevens – StJohn Stevens,” Finn shouted out.
“Thank you,” Penny said, “now sleep.”
The back of her hand nearly sent his head off as he slumped in the chair, and Penny picked up her blouse, putting it on as she stepped out of the room.
The brunette turned and looked at Lily and Madame. “Yes?”
“Not now,” she said as she walked off, Lily and Madame looking at each other, “I need to finish packing.”
Lily started to step forward, but Madame stopped her, shaking her head slightly as she followed Penny to the changing room.
Turning round, she looked at Shirley as she quietly said “Penny…”
“Do you know, I think that’s the first time you’ve ever called me Penny,” she said as she sat down.
“I’m not sure, but that’s not why I followed you,” Shirley said quietly. “What happened in there?”
“Well, after the hunting thing with Diana, and the raid with Dom, I decided you were both right about one thing – I did need to get back in training, so I’ve been working out and re-learning a few things.”
“So I saw, but…”
Penny looked up at her old friend.
"Those scars on your back, is that why I've never
seen you in a swimming costume, or a backless dress Penelope?"
"Yes." Penny looked downwards.
“It’s ancient history, Shirley – but it’s part of the reason I’m looking for a place of my own around here. I need to face my demons as well – and those,” she said as she looked over a shoulder, “are my constant reminder.”
“If you ever want to talk about it…”
“Thanks,” Penny said. “Maybe one day, but not yet. I really do have to get home and pack however.”
“As do I,” Shirley said as she left the room.
“Is Penny all right?”
Shirley looked back at the room. “She will be – hopefully soon,” she said quietly.
"By the way Lily did you start to look for new
office space for us?"
"I did Madame, hopefully in the New Year we will
find something that meets your requirements."
"Well if we are going to expand the legitimate
businesses we need better premises, somewhere we can have clients come and feel
"We are shedding our anonymity?"
"I think it's time dear." Shirley smiled, "I've hidden for far too long, and I enjoy this new life I've found."
“Well, I will continue looking…”
“Not for the next fortnight, you will not,” Madame said, “You need to pack as well. The office is closed – time for you to visit our American friends.”
Caroline looked round the room, the Rochermann twins sitting with the other four girls. Ama had gone to do some last minute shopping.
“Okay girls,” Caroline said, “I talked with Jo this morning, and she shared some of the things she has noticed, so I’m just going to come out and say this.” Looking straight at them, she said “Which of you are whores?”
The shock on Ally’s face when Nell held up her hand alongside Anna was something to see. “When?” she barely got the word out.
“Last night, while you ran the others home.”
Ally sat there in shocked silence as Caroline looked at them.
“Look, I’m not going to judge – not today - but I’m going to ask you to do something which is both illegal and I guess life changing. Something tells me, however, that you are all keen to experiment with it anyway.” She halted to see the reaction.
“To become hookers Caroline?” Becca looked her straight in the eyes.
“Look - I have a client, they have a convention in Greenwich this weekend… Bankers and other financial types. They want to know how loose lipped their participants might be about trade secrets.”
“You want us to work the convention and see if any of them blab?” Anna asked.
“That’s the idea, don’t worry I’ll be there with you… working so to speak… but this is a big contract and the investigation needs to be done well.” Caroline looked round the room. “I would not ask you to do this for me if there was another way to meet the assignment.”
“What’s in it for us?” Doc cut straight to the chase.
“What you make from these guys horny little desires is all yours.”
“Not good enough Caroline.” Doc shook her head.
“Damn she’s a hard assed little bitch.” Caroline thought to herself before saying “go on?”
“We want full outfits, dresses, lingerie, stockings, stilettos.” Doc smiled sweetly.
“Okay,” Caroline sighed, “If I outfit you, who is in to play working girl and investigate these guys?”
“I guess I am.” Becca put her hand up. “I got so turned on last night watching Doc work.”
“We must keep this simple – I know your dad is going to make an announcement, Becca, and this…”
“None of us will tell,” she said quietly.
“All right – who else?”
“We are.” Doc glanced at Nell who nodded.
“I guess if the others do it I will.” Nikki smiled.
“Pepsi?” Caroline asked.
“Oh in for a penny, in for a pound,” Pepsi giggled, “Count me in Caroline.”
“Ally?” Dom looked at her, still sitting as though half dazed.
“Sis we’ve been giving it away, what’s the difference charging guys?” Nell asked.
“There’s a hell of a difference between being a slut and a whore Nell.” Ally bit her lip, “As a favour to you Caroline, I’ll do it this one time, BUT I revert to amateurism afterwards.”
“I think we do as well.” Nikki glanced at Pepsi. Doc looked at Becca, who said nothing.
“Good - that was what I was hoping to hear.” Caroline smiled. “As I said, I wouldn’t have asked but this contract came to me at the last second, and I needed girls quick.”
“Are you saying you’d have got someone else?” Doc laughed.
“Let’s just say if I’d had time you’d not have been my first choices.”
“Well I hope you have lots of room on your credit cards, because I think we are going to give them a workout at Saks.” Doc smiled.
“I guess so.” Caroline groaned.
“I’ll ring all your moms and say you are staying with us.” Annie spoke from the kitchen doorway.
“Thanks Miss Kelly.” Pepsi smiled.
“Give me ten minutes Girls,” Caroline said as she and Annie went into the kitchen.
“You don’t approve do you?”
“Come on Dom,” Annie whispered, “I’m in no position to judge your motives, and Ju did ask, but Doc? Nell?”
“I know, and we’ll deal with that later. Have you considered what I asked?”
“Yeah – there is one girl. Diana Hopewell. The word from Jo and Abby is she is almost Rochermann class in terms of partners, and she might fit the bill. I’ll call her and ask you to meet her at Saks. Ama?”
“Must know nothing of this – so I need you to stay with her.”
“Jo and Abby are coming round tonight anyway – Cari has the first of her Deb get togethers this evening, and hosts hers tomorrow.”
“Good – and I promise you, I’ll make sure they come to no harm.”
“You’d better Dom – this is not a good path.”
“Welcome to the club,” Doc said to the other three, “but why?”
“I can’t speak for these two, but I need to rebel tonight – one last fling before I have to be squeaky clean.”
“Caroline said your dad might be saying something,” Pepsi said.
“Yeah – he’s almost certain to get the nomination to replace that congressman who died.”
“Shit, girl – if anyone finds out about tonight then…”
“They can’t – got it?”
“What about you two?”
“Can’t deny the money will come in handy - buy some stuff for the ski weekend we all got invited on.”
“Yeah,” Pepsi said, “after all, we’re the poor relations here.”
“Nell? What the hell happened?”
“I got mad,” Nell said as she looked at Ally, “and the next thing I knew – I did it.”
Ally shook her head and said “I can understand that – but promise me, after tonight, NEVER AGAIN!”
“And the thing with mum? What happens if we get asked there?”
“Worry about that then,” Nell whispered. “But why you?”
“To keep an eye on you and them doofus,” Ally said as Caroline came back in.
“Come on then,” she said as she grabbed her coat, “let’s do this.”
Annie watched them leave, and then picked up the telephone. “I’d better keep Ama out of the way until later,” she thought as she dialed April’s number.
Caroline stood as the six girls looked round the floor.
"Remember girls we are looking for short, tight and sexy." Anna marshaled her troops. "If you can go bra-less do so…stockings are sexy so remember to get garter belts and thongs, and the highest, sharpest, stiletto heels you can find.”
"We are selling sex girls, so it's all about advertising and presentation, the johns need to want you on sight and be prepared to pay your price, so the hotter you look the better.” Nell added.
“All right,” Caroline whispered, “one hour, go to it.”
She watched the six girls walk off, and dialed a number on her mobile phone.
“Hampton Inn? I need four rooms for tonight please…”
Half an hour later, Caroline was standing outside the dressing room as Doc came out in a strapless black dress that hugged her like a second skin. The skirt covered her crotch, and little else, and she wore with it a pair of taupe shoes with a five inch stiletto heel.
“Okay – that will do if you like it.”
“I love it,” Doc said as she ducked in and Pepsi stepped out. “I’m not sure,” she said as she looked at Caroline, “what do you think?”
She was wearing a red dress – well, the skirt was red and frilled in layers, and the top had red brocade, but that covered a see through fabric that allowed anyone looking a glimpse at the body underneath.
“Turn round,” Caroline said, and as Pepsi did so she saw the backless part of the dress.
“The dress suits you, but the shoes are wrong,” she said as she looked at the white high heeled sandals. “Miss?”
“Yes,” the assistant said as she came over. “Can you find a pair of red four inch heel mules, same shade as this dress?”
“OF course,” she said as she went off and Nell walked out, in a black satin dress that had two straps attached to the body – a short one over the right shoulder, and a much longer one from the same spot over her left arm. They were there purely for decoration, though, as the fabric sat on her chest and down her body.
“This is right,” she purred as she posed with her hands on her hips, Caroline nodding as she walked back on her black heels, and the assistant brought the pumps. Pepsi tried them on, and nodded.
“You’re right Caroline, it does make it,” she said as she walked back.
“Party for your daughter and their friends?”
“Something like that,” Caroline said as Becca came out, wearing a peach short strapless dress – well, there was a strap that ran from the bare back over her right shoulder, but like Nell’s it seemed to be there for show more than anything. Her height was added to by the five inch silver sandals.
“Very nice,” Caroline said, as Ally emerged in a black strapless dress, the material cut away at her left side, and a pair of high heeled black sandals.
“Anything like my darling twin,” she said as she watched Becca walk off.
“Same colour, that’s it.”
“Good then this is mine,” she said as he left.
Nikki was the last to emerge, looking stunning in a peach halter neck dress with a layered skirt that rose and fell as she twirled round, revealing a glimpse of her panties. She wore a pair of gold high heels, which made Caroline smile as she looked at it.
“Good – think you can work with that?”
Nikki nodded as she said “Yeah – it’s funny seeing myself like that.”
“All right – tell the others the dresses are fine, as are the shoes, and they need to sort other items out fast. I have a minibus waiting to pick us up at four thirty.”
“What about you Caroline,” Nikki said.
“My dress is sorted out,” Caroline said. “You’ll find out…”
Caroline turned to see a tall, brown haired girl with a bag standing behind her.
“You must be Diana,” she said.
“That’s right – Miss Kelly said you needed some help to watch some girls tonight?”
“That’s right – do you have what you need?”
Diana held up her bag, Caroline nodding as she said “good – come with me and I’ll explain…”
The girls piled into the minibus as Caroline sat in the front.
“Right - I think you all know Diana here. She will be acting as my backup tonight – so if you cannot find me, find her.”
The girls nodded as Diana looked round.
"I've booked us rooms at a respectable
motel." Caroline told the girls, “we will work out the room pairings
later, but it will give you a place to both get ready and to crash later."
"Booze only girls," Doc warned, “NO DRUGS,
and remember they pay before you do anything."
"If a guy seems suspicious ask him if he's a cop,
he must tell you." Caroline informed the girls. “Tell them you are working for Jameson
"Let him ask what your prices are, never be the
one to mention money first." Doc smiled.
"And remember get them talking, LISTEN to what
they say about themselves and write EVERYTHING down so I can review it."
Caroline reminded them.
"We are security girls first, whores second for
tonight." Nell spoke.
"So plenty of wheedling and enquiring, just keep him off balance with your sex appeal." Doc smiled.
“Right now, sit back, enjoy the ride – we’ll eat when we get there.”
"Can you help me?" Doc asked as she had
trouble with her false eyelashes.
"Here let me." Becca smiled the two had been
assigned the same motel room, and were making the final preparations for the
"Thank you Becs." Doc smiled as she started
making her eyes up.
"That dress looks simply amazing on you."
"Thank you." Again Doc smiled, "But
will men want to take it off me?"
"I would if I was a guy." Becca started applying her makeup, a bit heavier than usual, a lot sexier looking.
“Well, we’ll have to see what happens,” Doc said as she strapped her shoes on, “but I think it could be a very interesting evening,”
There was a knock on the door, and Doc went to let Diana in. The Junior was wearing a silver halter neck dress with a skirt that came half way down her knees.
“Caroline wants us in the car in ten minutes,” she said, “and don’t forget pads and pens in your purses.”
“Coming,” Becca said as she walked to the door, both of them following Diana out.
Caroline was in the minibus, a fur shrug over her shoulders and a leather strapless dress on her body. The others climbed in as they drove to the hotel, and walked into the lobby.
“All right,” Caroline said as she turned and looked at the girls, “We drift into the bar in ones and twos. You all have ID's, get drinks and sit around, make eye contact with men, if they are interested they'll soon come running."
The girls nodded as some of them headed for the rest room, Doc and Becca going in first and looking round.
"What do you think Angel?"
Doc smiled, "Well I see a lot of middle aged men sitting round drinking, and very few women, none as good looking as we are, I think we might do very well here tonight."
Ama nodded as Jo said “Well, I think that’s as much as I told the other girls on their first day. I know this is going to be very different for you, but if you need to talk to anyone, Abby and I will be there, as will Annie, and you already know Jeannie, Pepsi and the others.”
“I understand,” Ama said with a smile, “and thank you for coming to tell me what I need to know Jo. So when in school I must call Annie Miss Kelly, correct?”
“Correct – and don’t forget that,” Annie said from the kitchen, making all three laugh.
“Essentially, all teachers are called by their titles,” Abby said, “but you’ll get used to it. Miss Tennant has put you in the same homeroom as them, so you’re amongst friends.”
“And,” Abby said as she looked at the timetable Ama had been sent, “it looks as if you have mostly the same classes as Jeannie. So, I think you have everything in place now for the fifth.”
“Indeed – and I am really looking forward to it, but…”
“These songs Pepsi has talked off, concerning the Nuns?”
“Ah,” Jo said, “don’t worry about them. There is a rivalry, but so far this year it has been very quiet.”
“So far,” Abby said quietly.
“I somehow do not think you will be in events where you need to know the songs – unless the Nunnery have a freshman soccer team.”
“I think they do, but you need to be picked for the team first,” Annie called through.
“She’s a shoe in and you know that Annie,” Jo called back.
Annie laughed as she brought the drinks in. “Yeah, she is.”
“So are you looking forward to the Christmas holiday, Ama?”
“I am – it is, after all, my first real Christmas, and at least this year I am not spending the day cooking and serving.”
“No she is not,” Annie said, “I am – and there is no arguing over that.”
“Still, the idea of presents is new to me,” Ama said, “I hope Dominique likes what I bought her.”
“Have you bought a present for Maisha as well?”
“I have, but I am keeping that a secret,” Ama said with a smile.
“Listen, we have a tradition of going skating on the 26th – the two of you should come with us as well,” Jo said.
“I would like that very much – will Carina join us?”
“Maybe to watch, but she should be there as well. Jeannie’s working unfortunately, or she would be there too.”
“A great pity, but she does seem to enjoy her work,” Ama said as she stood up. “Would you excuse me for a few minutes?”
As Ama left the room, Jo looked at Annie for a moment.
“Doc – what are we going to do about her?”
“I’m open to suggestions.” Annie said. “We need something to occupy her, and turn her back onto a different path.”
“Different path from what,” Abby said.
“She’s been getting a lot more provocative in dress and attitude the last couple of weeks,” Jo said, “Ally was going to have a word with her, but…”
“But what?” Abby looked at both of them, and then opened her eyes wide. “No – you’re not saying…”
“I am,” Jo said. “Something’s clicked in her mind, and she’s going down a very dangerous path.”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit funny, us discussing the moral state of one of our friends?”
Jo looked at Abby, and then burst out laughing. “Point,” she said, “but still, is it right at her age?”
“Abby, what were you doing when you were fourteen?”
“Well, I was a Pussycat, you?”
“A pretend one.”
Annie shook her head and said “look, we can keep an eye on her and try to stop her, but she needs something to distract her. Unless you’re thinking of making her one of you, we need something else.”
“I may have an idea,” Jo said, “but I need to talk to Heather first.”
“Let me mull it over,” Jo said, “let me mull it over…”
Ama came back in with two presents, which she gave to Jo and Abby.
“What are these for,” Abby said.
“For being true friends – happy Christmas,” Ama said with a smile.
"You got condoms from Caroline didn't you?"
Nikki asked as she and Pepsi sat on bar stools and crossed their legs.
"In my handbag." Pepsi smiled at the
"What can I get you ladies?"
"A gin and tonic." Nikki whispered huskily.
"A margarita." Pepsi placed her order.
“Coming right up,” she said as Pepsi noticed a couple of men looking at them.
“I think they’re coming over,” Nikki whispered as she sipped her drink.
“So do I,” she said as the two men walked over.
“Good evening ladies,” the first one said, “looking for some company.”
“We may be,” Nikki whispered, “are you?”
"I was wondering if you would like to join me for a private drink upstairs in my bedroom," the john asked quietly.
"Now why might I want to do that?" Nikki smiled at the man.
"Don't girls like you like to do that?" the man asked her.
"Girls like me?"
"You are a prostitute?"
"I might be," Nikki laughed, "And if I was I'd be very expensive."
"How much do you charge?" the man asked.
"That rather depends what you want me to
do?" Nikki responded evasively.
"I hear most girls charge $200."
"Darling for two hundred you can leave right now…on your own."
"Well how much do you charge?"
Nikki smiled as 'Antoinette' started to assert herself. "It's $500 darling, nothing too nasty, nothing up my ass, and no photographs, I don't need pictures of me fucking you all over the internet."
"What's your name?"
"Well Antoinette you have a deal."
Nikki smiled as Pepsi slipped her a square, and he held out his arm for her wrapping it round her waist as they walked slowly to the elevators.
"Oh and darling, it will be cash in advance, please."
“What about you,” the second man said. “Miss?”
“Sabrina,” Pepsi whispered, “and my friend I believe explained the terms.”
He held his hand out, Pepsi saying “So tell me what you do for a living,” as she walked off with him.
“May I buy you a drink?”
Nell turned and smiled as she said “You may, if you tell me your name?”
“Well, Annabelle,” Tom said as he sat down, and ordered two drinks, “are you here alone tonight?”
“I am – you?”
“Me too – at a conference the weekend before Christmas, and nobody to share my time with.”
Nell put her hand on the man’s leg and whispered "Tom are you looking to have some fun tonight?"
She laughed slightly when he replied "Fun? … oh yes very much so."
"Do you want to take me to your room then?"
"Ummm yeah its room 317… can I ask a question you
are a … I'm not wrong in thinking…?"
"That I'm a call girl? Yes darling I'm a
"Just trust me, Tom, you'll never regret this. I will show the time of your life." She brushed her hand over his crotch.
They both stood up and walked side by side towards the
"Tom darling, I hate to be pushy, but maybe we
should discuss payment now so we don't have to worry about it later?"
"Sure, how much do you charge?" as they
stood and waited for the elevator door to open.
Nell whispered, "It's $500 and I get paid upfront."
"That sounds fine."
"Good," she smiled as the doors opened.
Ally was looking nervously round when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
“Hey” the young man said as he sat down, “waiting for someone?”
Ally looked at him, then smiled and said “That depends on whether or not the right person turns up.”
She felt his hand on her bare skin on the left, as he said “it can get very lonely waiting for someone to talk to – would you like to talk?”
“The only difference is money,” Ally thought to herself as she turned and said “I love to talk, amongst other things.”
“Oh, what sort of other things?”
“That depends,” Ally purred as she ran her leg up the inside of his, “on the things you can think of, and are willing to talk about.”
He smiled and said “And if you were to ask for payment?”
“I would not be here if that was not part of the deal, darling?”
“Then let us talk,” he said as he took her hand, and they walked off.
“Hello ladies,” the older man said as he looked at Doc and Becca, “May I ask your names?”
“I’m Angel, and she’s Genevieve,” Doc said quietly, “may I ask yours?”
“Gerald,” he said, “and two such lovely ladies should not be alone on a night like this.”
Doc watched Caroline as she walked off with one of the guests, and said “But you have joined us, so we’re not alone, are we?” She stroked her finger round her glass and looked at him as he sat there.
“So tell me,” Becca said as she ran her foot up Gerald’s leg, “what do you do for fun here?”
“I think we have to make our own entertainment,” Gerald said quietly, “any ideas?”
“Oh I may have several, as would my friend,” Doc said, “The question is, who do you prefer?”
“And if I said both of you?”
Becca and Doc looked at each other, before Becca said “That would cost extra.”
“Put on a show, and you can name your price,” Doc said quietly.
“What if it was one?”
Becca lifted five fingers, watching as he nodded.
“So if I said twelve for two?”
“Then I would say let us entertain you,” Doc said as they took one arm each, and walked off.
"Have you been busy?" Caroline said as she
signaled the barman for another drink.
"This answer your question." Doc opened her
handbag to show it was stuffed with cash.
"And the real reason we are here?"
Doc sighed, "Once you get these bastards talking
about their work they don't shut up." She took another sip of her martini.
"The last one tried to impress me with all the details of how his bank
handles these huge cash transfers each month."
"Oh pray tell." Caroline tried not to sound
too eager as she listened.
"Yeah he manages some bank up in Providence, it's
all in my notes, whoever is employing you Caroline should fire him, talk about
loose lips…oh and in more ways than one, he barely got me excited when I got
him to try and eat me."
"Well at least you could fake it."
"I had to, I've only had two orgasms tonight for
"Well that beats me by one." Caroline smiled as two men started heading towards them. "Back to work Angel." she said as she hitched up her skirt a bit more.
7 pm GMT
Madame X’s Apartment
"Oh hello Mandy." Shirley smiled when she
heard the voice on the telephone.
"Just thought I'd ring and wish you bon voyage,
and to say we will see you in a few days."
"I look forward to it."
From down her phone Shirley could hear the laughter in
"Sounds like fun there?"
"It's the staff and tenants Christmas party, we
open up the Great Hall and invite everyone in."
"Not the pigs I hope." Shirley remembered Will’s
pride as he'd shown her his rare breeds.
"Only one, Jack released a piglet with a pink
ribbon round its neck, he told the kids he'd give a prize to the child who
could get the ribbon."
"Oh dear." Shirley laughed, "I bet that
"The children loved it, especially little Amber
Marshall, she caught the pig and you should have seen her face when Jack gave
her Fifty Pounds."
"Oh I wish I'd seen it."
"Well anyway, I have to dance with the oldest man
in the village." Mandy laughed. "And avoid him feeling me up again
this year…At 92 you think he'd have lost interest by now."
Have fun Mands see you soon." Shirley burst into long laughter as she terminated the call.
Sunday 21st December
Caroline came out of the bathroom, a robe around her and her makeup removed.
"Well did you have fun?" she looked at the
girls sitting in her motel room without the clothes and makeup on they looked
like children again.
"To be honest I loved it." Nell smiled.
"You know between us we took thousands of dollars
out of that room." Nikki leaned back and yawned.
"Well the money you made is my Christmas present to you all." Dom looked happy as she glanced at the girls notes, raw intelligence on banks like this would be a goldmine for Juliette and Heather to work with.
"And now I want a promise from all of you, that you are all now officially former prostitutes?" Caroline looked closely at the girl’s eyes.
“Cross our heart and hope to die,” Doc said.
“Good – off to bed, we leave at ten tomorrow.”
Sunday 21st December
Ama was sitting reading a book as Annie and Dom were talking at the kitchen table with Juliette. They had eaten brunch, and were now looking at the notes from the night.
“Dear god, so much information,” Annie said as she looked at the notebooks.
“Yeah – so many things to think about,” Juliette said. “You and your crew did a remarkable job last night, Dom.”
“Well, we did our best,” Dom said as there was a knock on the door.
“Are you expecting anyone,” Annie said as she looked at Dom.
“No,” Dom said as she collected the notebooks up. “Ama, would you see who it is please?”
“Of course,” Ama said, waiting until Dom had put the books away before she made her way to the door.
Opening it, she saw a girl, the hood of her duffel coat up and her dark hair showing at the sides as she looked along the street.
“Good afternoon,” she said quietly, “can I help you?”
She gasped as the girl turned and smiled, saying “Greetings sister – may I come in?”
“Of course you may, and your friend too,” Ama said as she stood to one side, and the two arrivals walked up to the main part of the room.
“Hey,” the older of the two said as she looked at Dom, Annie and Juliette, “Merry Christmas.”
“PENNY!” Dom came forward and hugged her old friend as Maisha removed her duffel coat, and stood in her jumper, pants and knee length boots.
“Sister, it is so good to see you – and your English is so good now,” Ama said as she embraced Maisha.
“Thank you – you have a nice home here,” Maisha said as she looked round.
“Welcome back,” Juliette said as she embraced Penny, Annie doing the same, “Is Shirley with you?”
“No – she went to see Sandy and then to the apartment, but Maisha wanted to come and see Ama as soon as possible.”
“Come,” Ama said as she took her sister’s hand, “see my room, and tell me all about living with Madame.”
“So how are you anyway Penny – I heard Lily is working under you now?”
“You can ask her yourself – she came over with us.”
“Lily’s here? Goddess, she has a culture shock coming,” Dom said with a laugh.
“Oh,” Juliette said, “Why?”
“Lily is a Northern lass,” Dom said, “a real live Eliza Doolittle in many ways. Heather and you will get on well with her, Annie.”
“Maisha seems to have come along in leaps and bounds as well.”
“She has – John found some excellent tutors, and she is a quick learner. She has some aptitude with weapons as well – she has tested the new facilities and scored highly.”
Dom nodded as she said “So when do we see Shirley?”
“Well we’re going back to her place later – somebody told me you might know the way?”
Annie smiled as she said “we might – coffee first.”
The Richmond Mansion
“I’ll get it,” Jo said as she went to the front door and opened it.
“Hey Clint,” she said as she saw Susan’s husband standing there, “what brings you…”
She stopped talking as she saw Shirley get out of the car, accompanied by a strawberry blonde young woman, who was looking round at the street.
“Oh – and who has you so excited? Curt?” Sandy said as she came to the door.
“Not quite,” Shirley said as she walked up the stairs, “It is good to see you Sandy.”
“And you, Shirley,” Sandy said as she embraced her friend, “you should have said – I would have met you at the apartment.”
“Ah, but then I would not have had the pleasure of surprising you,” Shirley said. “Lily, allow me to introduce Alexandra Richmond. Sandy, this is Lillian Harmond, Lily to her friends.”
“A pleasure,” she said as Heather came out.
“Shirley – and Lily too? I’d better get the coffee on.”
“Please – we had an early start,” Shirley said as Jo took their coats. They made their way into the kitchen as Lily looked round.
“Most people look that way when they first visit,” Jo said. “I’m Joanne, Heather’s sister.”
“Lily,” the blonde said as she walked into the kitchen. “Sorry, it’s just so…”
“Big,” Heather said. “Where are Penny and Maisha?”
“I dropped them at Dom’s place,” Clint said as he accepted a mug of coffee. “Maisha said the first thing she wanted to do on arriving was see Ama.”
“Well, you chose a great day to arrive – Carina is playing host at her apartment this afternoon, so Ju has cleared out.”
“Ah – so this is the day of her tea party?”
“I’ll explain over this,” Sandy said as she handed Lily a mug.
Shirley took a drink, and smiled. “Ah – this I have missed,” she said with a smile. She looked at Lily as she gazed round the room.
“Carina is one of this year’s debutantes,” Sandy said as she sat down, “and one part of that tradition is that the debutantes host a tea party for each of the others. Today is Carina’s turn.”
“And how is Judith?”
“Starting to pull herself round the furniture,” Heather said, “but her hair is lightening now.”
“Which will please Carina no end,” Shirley said.
Jo was watching Lily carefully as she looked round the kitchen. “Go on,” she said with a smile, “I know you want to ask it. Everyone usually does.”
"If I'm not being rude Sandy how wealthy are you
to afford this house." Lily asked.
"I inherited it." Sandy laughed.
"Exclusive of her 'other' accounts she's worth
about $200 million." Heather laughed, “so don't listen when she tells you
she has to work."
"Yes but your friend Puss makes me look poor in comparison Lover, what did Forbes say she was worth $920 million?"
“What the heck am I doing here,” Lily said as she shook her head. “I’m from the North of England, a council estate, and now…”
“Like the projects,” Jo said.
“Lily, you have earned your place at the table,” Shirley said, “and these good people do not judge by money alone. As I am sure Heather and Jo will tell you.”
“Hello, Nanny and sister here,” Heather said with a smile.
Lily shook her head and laughed. “Well, if the rest of this trip is as good as this coffee, I will be happy.”
“I think you will find it illuminating,” Shirley said with a smile. “So the apartment is ready?”
“Oh yes- we have one last security issue to take care of, but it will be done when you go there.”
“And that would be?”
“We need a baseline for the biometric sensors on the door and alarms,” Heather said.
“I should have expected no less,” Shirley said with a smile.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Heather said, “but we made a little extra preparation for your arrival.”
“Oh? In what way?”
“You’ll see,” Jo said with a smile, “you’ll see…”
The Huntingdown Apartment.
Carina walked round the drawing room and examined very carefully the floral arrangements, the tiers of plates holding cakes, sandwiches, blintzes, and other small savories and sweet items. Edith stood to one side, beaming with quiet satisfaction as the young hostess nodded.
“Edith, I could not have done this without you,” she said as she looked over, “thank you for everything.”
“Well, with Miss Juliette busy until later, I was more than happy to help set up and serve, Miss Carina,” Edith said. She was dressed in a black coat dress with a white apron, and smiled again as she said “If you will excuse me, I must go and see if the pastries have cooled sufficiently.”
“Of course,” Cari said as she sat down, smoothing the pleats of the skirt down as she did so. The cream dress she had chosen was knee length, with a round collar, and over it she was wearing a cream blazer.
Judith was sat in her chair, playing with the rattles that sat over it. Carina had dressed her in a short sleeved dress with a tiered skirt, and a headband holding back her lightening hair that had a little bow in it.
“If momma is dressing up, so is baby,” Carina said as she tickled her daughter’s chin, as there was a knock on the front door.
She stood up as Edith went to answer it, returning to say “Miss Roberta Morse and Miss Judith McNally.”
“I see we’re first,” Bobbi said as she came in wearing a light purple knee length dress with a halter neck, while Jude was wearing a red pleated skirt and blouse with a grey jacket and shoes.
“Thank you both for coming,” Cari said, “May I offer you some tea?”
“You’re hating this, aren’t you,” Bobbi said as she tickled Judith’s chin.
“Just get me through this until Mom gets back, all right,” Cari said as she hugged both of them.
“Miss Miranda Jones and Miss Elizabeth Fitzgerald.”
“Thank you Edith,” Carina said as the other two former head girls came in. Miranda wore a short purple dress with matching heels, and Beth a Dior black trouser suit with a gold camisole. “May I offer you ladies some tea?”
“Thank you,” Beth said as she sat down, Carina pouring and handing her a cup. “So how many are we expecting today?”
“Most of the class,” Carina said.
“Yes, Miranda, including Holly,” Carina said as Edith went to the door again.
“Miss Sue Ann Platt,” she said, as a red haired girl came in wearing a strapless white dress that slowed out from the waist to above her knees.
“Welcome, Sue,” Carina said as she took her hands, “May I offer you some refreshment?”
“Ah’ll take some coffee if I may,” she said in her thick Texan accent, “Ahnd thank you for inviting me. It means a lot.”
“Who is she,” Bobbi whispered to Miranda.
“Daddy owns half of the oil fields in Texas – a real mountaineer,” Miranda whispered back before she smiled and greeted Sue.
“Trust me, the pleasure is mine,” Carina said as Edith announced “Miss Blair van Roon.”
A brown haired, tall, thin girl came in, but as Carina looked at her there was a definite resemblance to Pussy.
“Welcome,” Cari said, “may I offer you some refreshment?”
“Jasmine tea, please,” she said as she knelt, her pleated skirt falling round her knees, and looked at Judith. “Such a lovely child, are you her mother?”
“I am,” Carina beamed, ”this is her party as much as mine.”
Blair smiled as she tickled Judith’s chin.
“Princess Ingrid von Furstenheim and Contessa Giovanna Frascolli.”
“Ladies, welcome to New York and to my home,” Carina said as she took their hands, “Allow me to introduce my friends Judith McNally and Roberta Morse.”
“Charmed,” Ingrid said in a soft Germanic accent.
“A lovely home,” Giovanna said, “and I recognize you from the photographs with your mother from Complete Style. Will she be joining us today?”
“No, this is a Bids free zone today,” Carina said quietly. “This is a chance for we White Dresses to get to know each other more informally.”
“An excellent idea,” Ingrid said as she looked at Judith. “Your daughter?”
“Yes – five months old.”
“She has your eyes,” Ingrid said, Carina saying a silent prayer of thanks as she did so.
“Miss Ellery Masterson.”
“Elly? My goodness, how many years has it been,” Bobbi said as the young brunette came in, wearing a floral silk print dress.
“Far too many, Bobbi Morse,” she said as they embraced and kissed each other on the cheek. “And how are you Carina?”
“The better for seeing an old friend,” Carina said as she handed Ellery some tea. “Come, sit with the others.”
“Miss Holly Berryman.”
Carina looked at Jude and Bobbi, then turned and smiled as Holly came in, wearing a dark blue short sleeved dress with a thin gold belt, and black shoes.
“Welcome, Holly,” she said as she kissed her ‘friend’ on the cheek, “I am glad you could make it.”
“It’s a real pleasure to be here,” Holly said. “I hope you do not mind, but I brought a present for Judith.”
Cari was taken by surprise, as Holly opened her bag and took out a small teething ring. Judith took it in her hand and looked at it as Cari smiled.
“Thank you Holly, that was most thoughtful.”
“Of course,” Holly said with a smile, “she is after all the real star of today, isn’t she?”
“She is the star of everything – may I offer you some tea?”
As Carina handed Holly a cup, Edith announced “Miss Kaitlin Murray.”
“Welcome Kaitlin,” Carina said as she took her hand, “let me introduce you to the others.”
"Did you go to The Game?" Sue asked as she
sat with Cari and Jude.
"Yeah we hauled our tushes up to Cambridge."
Carina sighed. "I doubled with a guy David and Jude were trying to hook me
"A wasted effort." Judy sighed, "We
have been trying to fix her up all semester and she hasn't really liked
"Did you actually watch?" Sue asked.
"Was it worth it?" Cari shook her head,
"I don't mind football, but honestly the parties were better than the game
“Let’s see you say that when Stanford come over,” Jude said, “I bet Abby will be cheering alongside you.”
“Possibly – possibly,” Carina said as she sipped her tea, while Edith passed round plates of sandwiches.
"She was embarrassed there was a full page
advertisement in the program featuring her." Judy smiled.
"I hate being recognized and being asked to do
autographs, it's not like I'm a big name model, I mainly do adverts for
"Well next time tell them not to run an ad when you are going to be at the event." Sue giggled.
“Did you see the way some of the Bluenoses looked at us,” Jude said as she played with Judith.
“Stuck up bitches,” Holly said, “they believe anyone from the Pip is beneath them.”
“Then they need to meet baby – Boston born, but a New Yorker through and through.”
Bobbi and Jude laughed out loud as Judith gurgled.
“So what was the International like,” Holly said as she sat with Ingrid and Giovanna.
“It was an event,” Ingrid said, “but I did not feel comfortable there. Did you not attend?”
“Sadly no – I had college exams, as did many of us,” Holly said with a smile.
“So who will accompany you to the market in the new year?”
“Hopefully Tommy, my boyfriend will. What about you, Carina? Who is going to replace your Check Book?”
“Judith’s godfather has very kindly agreed to accompany me.”
“Father Richmond? A worthy choice, and a great dancer,” Jude said.
“Indeed,” Holly said. “An inspired choice Carina.”
As the afternoon wore on Carina played the perfect hostess, dispensing tea, talking with her guests, and taking care of Judith as well. But one thing was on her mind the whole time.
“I must say you have a lovely apartment,” Kaitlin said as she joined her talking to Beth. “I understand you are studying history at Yale?”
“That’s right – the first set of exams over and done with, and I get a few days grace.”
“And that you know the Countess de Ros as well?”
“Indeed – Abigail is my closest friend. We attended St Angela’s together. I believe you went to Masters?”
“That’s right – I wasn’t a boarder but I enjoyed my time there.”
“Boarding was hell,” Ellery said as she joined them, “Don’t get me wrong, St Paul’s was a great school, but I missed my friends here.”
She looked over at Miranda, who smiled back at her.
"This is pure agony." Carina groaned
inwardly, if she'd asked The Beast to torture her then even her alter ego could
not have come up with something worse then hostessing a deb tea.
"It will be over soon." Judy smiled as she
"Well Carina I have to say it's been lovely to
meet you," Ingrid smiled.
Carina smiled back - she did actually like the German princess, she at least had a sense of how ridiculous all this was in the modern world.
“The pleasure has been mine, I hope to see you at Judith’s house tomorrow?”
“I look forward immensely to it,” Ingrid said.
Slowly, one by one, the others thanked Carina and left, until finally she was left with Bobbi and Jude.
“Can I collapse now,” Carina said as she sat down.
“Hey, my turn tomorrow,” Jude said, “and moms are going to be there.”
“Safe to come in?”
“Yeah we’re done mom,” Carina said as Judith came in, and Edith started to clear away the plates.
“Have you got everything you want now?” Abby said as she glanced over her shoulder at the various girls.
“Let me check.” Pepsi hauled out her list. “Yeah I think I have everyone covered.”
“What about you BS?” Abby looked at Jeannie sitting next to her.
“Everything…and just in time I’m shopped out.” Jeannie stretched her arms out.
“Well it’s one way of spending a Sunday afternoon.” Anna smiled.
“How about coffees at my place and then I’ll drop you all home?” Abby offered.
“I thought you’d never ask.” Jeannie smiled.
“Just think - we now have the joys of wrapping all this up.” Nikki groaned.
“Well it will be worth it to see how everyone reacts, you girls got some lovely things.” Abby remarked.
“I think my Mom will love what I got her.” Anna looked content.
“You certainly know how to drive a hard bargain.” Abby shook her head at the discount Anna had negotiated in the jewelry store.
“Well Peps and I don’t have trust funds or fat modeling contracts, every bit off helps.”
“That’s right.” Pepsi giggled as she remembered how she’d ‘earned’ most of the money she had spent today.
Abby glanced in her mirror speculating to herself what exactly Doc and the others would say if they knew that she knew precisely what had been going on in Greenwich the previous night.
“Miss Xavier,” the doorman said as Shirley walked in with Sandy, “Welcome.”
“Thank you,” Shirley said, “This is my friend Lillian, who will be staying with me on this visit. My ward and my personal assistant will be coming later with more friends.”
“A pleasure – the additional item you asked for was delivered and prepared this morning, Miss Richmond.”
“Excellent,” Sandy said as Clint came in.
“A small gift from me to you for the help you have given Sandy and the others,” Shirley said as she handed the doorman a bottle of eighteen year old Islay malt.
“Most generous, Miss Xavier,” the doorman said, “I will help your driver with the bags.”
As he went to help Clint, Sandy and Heather took Shirley and Lily to the lifts, and then opened the door of the apartment for her.
“Welcome to your new home,” Shirley said as she turned on the lights, and Shirley walked down the corridor, entering the drawing room. The first thing she saw was the large Christmas tree, fully decorated and standing in the corner.
“I thought you would appreciate it,” Sandy said as Lily looked at the lights on the branches.
“I do – thank you Sandy,” Shirley said quietly. “May I see the rest of the apartment?”
“Lily, who don’t I show you the kitchen,” Heather said as the other two headed for the kitchen, Sandy taking Shirley to the den.
“Good lord, you could fit my last flat into this kitchen,” Lily said as she looked round.
“I understand you’ve taken Dom’s house for now?”
“Yeah – a bit more room, but I barely got settled when I was asked to come over here.”
“Well I hope it’s still in the state I left it.”
The two turned to see Dominique standing in the doorway, with Maisha and Penny behind her.
“Of course it is, Dom,” Lily said as she hugged her old friend. “Right – let’s see how you make coffee here…”
“Sandy, I am overwhelmed – it is truly magnificent,” Shirley said as they returned to the drawing room.
“Wait until the see the garden on the terrace,” Sandy said.
They could hear the talking in the kitchen as Sandy said “I take it that is Sandy and Maisha here?”
“I do believe it is,” Shirley said with a smile as Heather opened up her laptop and took out a palm sized scanner.
“Shirley, can I get you to relax and place your palm on here please,” she said. Shirley sat down, took several deep breaths, and then laid her palm flat on the reader, leaving it there for several seconds.
“Okay – and the security system is programmed for you to use,” Heather said as Maisha came in, stopping short as she looked at the large pine tree.
“Madame, why is a tree growing in this room?”
“It is a tradition for the time of year, Maisha – a decoration for the holidays.”
“A very strange thing – will we use it for fuel later?”
“Actually, you will – the wood can go in the fire when the time comes.”
“Sandy, you must introduce me to the people responsible.”
“You can meet Tonia and April tomorrow,” Sandy said as Clint came in.
“Your bags have been placed in the requested rooms Madame – if there is nothing else?”
“Thank you Clint – and I hope you and Susan enjoy the holidays in California. I will see you at my party.”
“Enjoy Christmas, Madame,” Clint said as he left, and Maisha stretched and yawned.
“Forgive me, Madame, but may I retire to the room I will sleep in and rest for a while?”
“Of course child,” Shirley said as Maisha left the room.
“My apologies, Madame, but I also have to return home. I will call tomorrow?”
”I look forward to it Dominique,” she said as her enforcer left the apartment. “She looked tired, long night?”
“Well,” Sandy said quietly, “she took a group of the younger girls last night to a hotel full of bankers to obtain Intel.”
Shirley raised an eyebrow and said “How?”
So Sandy explained as Heather, Penny and Lily listened. Eventually, Shirley closed her eyes and nodded.
"Well I can't say that at one level underage
teenage prostitutes as a concept does not revolt me, but I guess given there
was no coercion, and having met the young ladies involved, I can maybe
understand how Dominique came to ask them."
"They are a group of promiscuous kids
Shirley." Sandy looked serious, "For some reason very bright but over
sexed girls are all the thing nowadays."
"They don't do drugs, but they do sex, it gives them their kicks I guess, we have the same type in the best London schools as well." Lillian nodded.
“She also extracted a stern promise they would not do such a thing again,” Heather said.
“Still, having seen temptation, I advise a cautious watch, just in case,” Penny said, Sandy and Heather nodding in agreement.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Thanks Edith,” Juliette said as the housekeeper left, and she went back to the kitchen, looking at Carina who was feeding Judith with some baby food.
"Well how did our gang of little whores do?"
Carina asked as she stood up and helped Juliette tidy away the last of the
"Amazingly well, they must have had those men
eating out of their hands for them to give so much away.'
"United Citizens Bank branch in Providence Rhode Island.
The manager sang like a little bird to Doc all about how his branch once a
month takes delivery of a consignment of currency before it’s flown overseas
from Boston. He claimed it's about nine million in various currencies."
"Ummm that sounds nice, but where? Do we take the
bank? Or the armored car?"
"The Bank…we aren't the best armored car bandits
round, but we do know how to take a bank."
"Well it sounds great to me." Carina lifted
up Judith and started rocking her in her arms.
"I'll get Heather working on it on Monday." Juliette closed the door and said “Go on through, I’ll make a drink – there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
“That sounds worrying,” Carina said as she sat down and held Judith on her lap, the baby laughing away as Carina made faces at her.
“So what’s up?”
“Shirley’s arrived – she brought Penny and Maisha with her, as well as the mysterious Lily.”
“Have you seen her yet?”
“Penny and Maisha yes – they surprised Ama and made her day. I’ll call round and see Shirley tomorrow.”
Carina looked at her mom, hoping their friend could talk some sense into her.
“Cari – about the Dior show?”
"Mary and I need to start discussing the models
for the show." Juliette paused. "Don't bite my head off for this
darling, but I want to ask Holly to model as well."
"WHAT…!" Carina screamed.
"I said don't bite my head off darling."
"Anyone but her mom."
"She has the perfect figure for vintage Dior just
as you do…"
"But we can't stand each other."
"Well for a couple of days you can put it all
aside and work together for charity."
"Shit." Carina looked in Judith's eyes, "Okay for charity I'll do it, but I don't need to like it."
“Good – I hope you were polite to her today?”
“Actually she surprised me – she brought a teether for Judith.”
“Well, maybe there is hope,” Juliette said with a smile. "Oh by the way were there any of the new girls you liked?"
"Well I did like the Princess Ingrid von Furstenheim, despite the title."
"I used to know her father way back when…" a look passed over Juliette's face.
"Is there anyone in this world you don't know mom?" Carina laughed.
"A few." Juliette conceded, "I was a bridesmaid at his wedding though, he married an Austrian Model called Renate…I wonder how she is nowadays, we haven't spoken in years."
"She's dead mom, Ingrid told me her father is a widower. Her Mom died last year."
“Oh,” Juliette said quietly. “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I must offer my condolences tomorrow if I see him.”
Carina nodded and then wrinkled her nose. “Bath time I think young lady,” she said as she picked Judith up, Juliette going to answer the telephone.
“StJohn! How lovely to hear your voice…”
“Come on Baby – Granny is going to make soppy talk,” Carina whispered as she carried Judith upstairs…
Ama waved sleepily to Dom and Annie as she headed to her bed, the two watching until her door was closed.
“So, you must be about ready for your bed as well,” Annie said as she looked at Dom.
“At least – Juliette is happy however, so it worked from the aspect.”
"Don't tell the girls what their spying was
really for." Annie smiled.
"Yeah, you should have seen them last night, talk
about a bunch of happy hookers."
"Did they look right Dom?"
"Frighteningly so." Dom sat up and put her mug on the coffee
table. “It was strange to see them later
stripped of the makeup and clothes."
"Do you think any of them will…"
"I got them to promise they'd retire from the
Annie looked hard at her friend. "Believe 'em?"
"Probably not, I guess even I got a kick from picking up men purely and simply for sex, and getting paid really ramps up the thrill level."
“It’s Doc I’m most worried about.”
“Anna? Yes, I can see why – she can be tough as nails.”
“And she has the brains to go with it.” Annie then laughed and said “Maybe you and
"Annie,” Dom said as she shook her head, “if
there is one thing I can’t see you doing its prostitution."
"I look too goody goody."
"It's your talent - nobody can see what’s inside you." Dom collected up the mugs before saying “I’m going to bed – you?”
“Got some presents to wrap first,” Annie said. “Remember we’re picking the tree tomorrow.”
“Oh yeah – Pepsi and her parents are joining us, right?”
“Right – be here for five.”
Monday 22nd December
“She’s not angry about something, is she Sandy,” Tonia said as she and April got out of the car.
“No – far from it,” Sandy said with a smile, “she wanted to meet both of you in person. It’s the sort of woman she is – if she has something to say, she prefers to say it face to face.”
“So we’re not in trouble,” April said as the doorman nodded to Sandy.
“Anything but – come on up,” she said as she pressed the button for the top floor.
“I feel distinctly under dressed for this,” April said as she tugged on her denim dress, with a brown roll necked sweater underneath. “Compared to you two, I’m a scruff.”
“Nonsense,” Sandy said as she looked at April’s old scuffed leather boots, “you’re fine.” The elevator door opened and they walked to the apartment door, Sandy pressing on the bell.
“Hey Sandy,” Penny said as she opened the door, “She’s waiting for you in the den.”
As she closed the door, they heard the sound of young girls laughing.
“Ama came round to see Maisha – they’re going shopping in a little while,” Penny said as they walked down the corridor.
“Another of the African girls – Shirley is her guardian,” Penny said as she knocked on the door.
She opened the door and showed the three women in, Shirley looking up from the leather chair. She was wearing a blue denim blouse and jeans, but her smile as she stood up was warm and welcoming.
“Sandy – thank you for bringing them today,” she said, April finding her voice warming.
“Tonia Razinski, April Broadhurst, may I introduce you to Shirley Xavier,” Sandy said as Shirley stepped forward.
“The pleasure is mine,” Shirley said as she shook their hands, “I wanted to thank you personally for the magnificent job that you have both done on my home.”
“Well, it was my pleasure,” April said quietly.
“And mine – it was a challenge, and I’m glad you like it,” Tonia said.
“Indeed,” Madame said as she picked up an envelope and handed it to Sandy. “Payment in full, Sandy, and I hope you will pay them just as promptly.”
“I intend to,” Sandy said with a smile.
“But I would like to give you both a small token of my appreciations as well,” Shirley said as she walked to the door to the drawing room. “If you would come this way please?”
They followed her through to find two large bottles of champagne sitting on the table, each with a gold ribbon tied round it.
“With my thanks,” she said as Penny brought in some coffee.
“I… I don’t know what to say,” April said as she looked at the label, “thank you.”
“That’s sufficient,” Shirley said as she sat down. “Now please, join me and tell me something of yourselves.”
“Where’s Lily,” Sandy whispered to Penny.
“Gone to have morning coffee with Dom – there were a couple of things she wanted to talk to her about.”
Lily stood for a moment, watching the skaters on the rink, before she walked down the path, the heels of her brown leather boots clicking on the frost covered ground as she held her camel great coat tightly round herself.
She walked towards the café, wondering how it could be so much colder here than in London at this time of year, before she walked in and sat in a window booth.
“What cahn I getcha,” the waitress said as she came over.
“Coffee and a toasted muffin,” Lily said.
“Cappuccino, Mocha, latte, Americano…”
“Black coffee please, and a toasted muffin,” Lily said as the waitress looked at her and walked off. She opened her coat up to reveal her brown jumper and skirt, and sat looking out of the window.
“You know, it never ceases to amaze me either.”
Lily turned at the sound of the voice to see a tall blonde sitting opposite her, wearing a black leather jacket over a roll necked sweater, jeans and over the knee boots.
“For god’s sake Do…”
“Sorry – for God’s sake Caroline you nearly gave me a bloody heart attack there.”
“I know, but I couldn’t resist,” she said as the waitress brought Lily her coffee and muffin.
“And fer you?”
“Same again please,” she said as the waitress went off.
“I’ll never get used to the idea of you as a blonde, you know?”
“It’s useful actually – helps distance Caroline Jameson, security consultant and part time model, from Dominique. You just have to remember to use the right name at the right time.”
“So who else knows apart from us?”
“The girls, Annie and Ama. I met her as Dominique, so to her I always really will be Dominique – that’s a long story, and I can’t tell you all of it.”
“Fair enough,” Lily said as she passed over a folder. “Your mail from home, and I did what you asked me to do for your grandfather.”
“Thanks – saves a hell of a lot on shipping costs if I do it locally,” Caroline said with a smile.
“You certainly seem to have settled over here,” Lily said as she sipped her coffee, and the waitress brought Caroline a cup.
“Hey - yer friend talks funny.”
“She can’t help it – she’s from the North, eh?”
“Oohhhhh,” the waitress said as she walked off, leaving Lily glaring at her friend.
“Joke, joke,” she said holding her hands up. “So how are you finding the Big Apple?”
“Freezing, but intriguing. When do I get to meet these famous ladies anyway?”
“Who says you haven’t already met some of them,” Caroline said as she drank her coffee.
Lily looked across the table, and then shook her head. “Nah – no way, you’re having me on,” she said, with no reply from Caroline.
“So got all your shopping done?”
“Finished last week, you know me, ready early, I’m going with the others to pick a tree for the apartment later, and then we’ll decorate it.”
She caught Lily looking at her and smiling, and said “What?”
“Penny’s right – being a mother does suit you. If anyone had told me a year ago this would be how you were spending Christmas, I’d never have believed them.”
“And if I told you your Uncle George was sitting behind you, and wanted to wish you a happy Christmas, you wouldn’t believe me either?”
“Not a chance – George would never get into the US.”
“Never say never, Lily my dear.”
Lily put her cup down and turned to see a grey haired gentleman grinning at her.
“Merry Christmas Lily – I’ll see you later,” Caroline said as she left some money on the table and the man walked round.
The McNally apartment
“Welcome, Carina,” Jude said as she greeted her old friend, “we are having tea in here. Juliette, the parents are gathering on the dining room.”
“Carina,” Ingrid said as she walked over, “How nice to see you again – and this must be your mother?”
“It is – mom, this is Ingrid von Furstenheim. Ingrid, my mother Juliette.”
“A pleasure,” she said as they kissed each other on the cheek.
“Is it all right if I bring Judith in with me,” Juliette said as she held her granddaughter in her chair.
“Sure – mom’s in there,” Jude said as she took Carina into one room, and Juliette went into the other.
“There you are,” Rachel McNally said, “and you brought little Judith with you as well.”
“Bit difficult to leave her at home,” Juliette said as she looked at her granddaughter.
“Let me take care of her for you,” Rachel said as she took the chair, “give you a chance to mingle.”
“Actually, allow me.”
“Hello Tony,” Juliette said, “Over for the holidays?”
“Along with my parents,” he said as he nodded to a middle aged couple talking to George. “Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him.”
“Thank you Tony,” Juliette said as she gave him the seat, and then accepted a drink from the waitress, standing and looking round the room.
“How is Carina enjoying the experience,” Clare Morse said as she came over.
“Glad her turn is done,” Juliette said with a smile. “Bobbi?”
“Next week – they stop for the holidays, thank goodness.”
“In with the party powers that be – he hopes to announce his candidature in the New Year. Excuse me, Ju – I need to talk to Deborah Masterson.”
Juliette nodded and smiled as she looked round.
“Hello Juliette,” she heard the half forgotten voice with the tiny German accent from behind her.
Slowly she turned and looked into the handsome face of Prince Klaus von Furstenheim. He was as tall and graceful as she remembered him, in his hand made suit, cream shirt and silk tie.
“Hello Klaus,” she eventually said, “it’s been a long time.”
As old acquaintances do they quickly appraised how the other looked.
“How is it possible you are a grandmother, you look amazing,” he kissed her hand.
“And you have just added that little touch of grey that adds distinction to a gentleman.”
“You always were a terrible liar.’ Klaus smiled gently, “It’s more than a touch I’m afraid.”
“Nonsense.” Juliette looked into the warm blue eyes and her mind went back nearly twenty years…
“So how are you nowadays?”
“I’m good,” Juliette nodded, “and you?”
“I was sorry to hear about Renate…”
“She found a lump in her breast…” Klaus looked pained for a moment as he said “they thought the operation, but well it had spread…”
“Oh dear goddess, it must have been terrible.”
“Yes,” Klaus closed his eyes a moment, “She suffered a lot I think, but she was awfully brave right to the end.”
“I’m so sorry, just so sorry.”
“So I hear you’ve returned to modeling?” Klaus tried to lighten the conversation.
“I’m doing a little.” Juliette smiled, “But I’m still chiefly a fashion editor, with some writing and I have a little business as well.”
“Also a beautiful daughter and granddaughter I see.”
“I met Ingrid a few minutes ago, she’s very like your sister Klaus.”
“She has Renate’s eyes though.”
“That I’ll grant you, but the combination makes her beautiful.”
“Does Carina take after her father?”
“In some ways.” Juliette tried to sound convincing as she thought of what she had inherited from him.
Klaus looked at her, before saying quietly “Did you ever forgive me Juliette?”
“For what?” Juliette looked at him, and then whispered “Oh… Klaus that was years ago now, I’m not sure I even want to think about it.”
“I know…he came to see me.”
“He did?” There was a genuine look of surprise on his face as he looked at Juliette. “He never told me…”
“Look Klaus,” Juliette said quietly, “it’s been lovely to see you, but I really need to powder my nose.”
“You don’t want to talk?”
“Not about that…” Juliette turned and tried to smile. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He looked at her and shook his head as she walked away barely able to conceal the tears.
As he stood there, he thought about that time all those years ago. They had met in Paris, and it had been for him love at first sight – but as a Bavarian Prince, he knew there was family honour and status to consider. Still, he had continued to see her, and hoped one day his father would allow him to fulfill his dream.
Sadly, when he told his parents of his desires, he discovered that for a von Furstenheim, family honour was the most important thing of all. He still remembered that night in the castle, his mother and father pleading with him not to plight his troth to a commoner. Renate was a countess in her own right, a suitable and proper match – surely he could see that?
And in the end, he had done what countless men in his position had done in the past – bowed to his family’s wishes and married Renate. Juliette cried when he told her, but accepted it – but when Renate asked her to be a bridesmaid, she politely accepted. Their wedding day was the last he had seen of her until now.
But it was not the last time he had talked of her. That conversation made a tear come to his eye for a moment, before he composed himself and joined a group of the other parents.
Juliette stood alone and looked at herself in the
mirror. She heard the door handle being tried and turned to say "Sorry somebody
"Okay." a voice replied from outside.
Juliette returned to her reflection. Was that girl
still there? Was she still the young woman who had broken her own heart
allowing the one true love of her life to go?
Juliette thought back to that awful wedding in the cathedral at Munich. Renate had asked her to be one of her bridesmaids, Juliette knew that she'd no idea of the cruelty she was inflicting by doing so. She and Klaus had been so very discrete - only a handful of people had known about them. Unfortunately one of those who did had been Klaus' father. The memory of the awful scene where he had first ordered her to give up his son, then offered her money, holding a thick wad of notes in front of her nose, was etched on her mind for ever.
So she had followed Renate to the altar, and had stood there while she exchanged her vows with the man Juliette loved. It had been hell, and it wasn't helped by the glance she took at the smug look on his father’s face.
The reception was held in the family’s Town Palace,
but Juliette had at least been able to leave early, begging off because she
truthfully had to be in Los Angeles the next day.
The wedding was on the Saturday, she worked on Sunday
though heavily jet lagged, that night Carina was conceived.
She heard the door handle rattling again.
"Coming." she called out as she dabbed her
tears away. "There you go." she smiled that polished professional
models smile as she went out.
"Showtime." she told herself.
The Richmond Mansion
Jan looked over at Heather as she was working on her laptop.
"Oh hey Jan." Heather closed her computer
and took her glasses off as Janice kissed her on the cheek. "Shopping all
"Yes." Janice smiled, "Katy's out with
her Grandma shopping for me today I think."
"Oh I love that, I bet she's full of ideas what
to give her mom."
Jan nodded and stood silently for a moment before she
Heather could see the indecision in her eyes. "All right - Spit it out Jan."
"Okay…" Janice took a long deep breath. "The Hidden Hand told me once she had traced someone…"
"Heather I'd like to…ummmmm."
"Like to what?"
"Heather,” Jan said quietly, “I'd like to send
her a present."
"Are you sure Janice?"
"No, but well I have money now that I'll never need
spend or use, I'd like her to…well you know."
"I'm sure she'd appreciate a present, even an
Jan nodded, and then said "you never even told me
"You never asked till now." Heather smiled.
"Where…where is she?"
"Here in the city."
"Oh Goddess!" Janice almost half collapsed
into an armchair.
"I can ensure she gets your present Janice."
"Yes…please…" Janice was fighting with her
thoughts and emotions. "Heather, does
"I'm led to believe she knows she was
"Hey hi Janice,” Sandy came in taking off her coat. "How are you today?"
“In… In shock I think.”
“No – not unless it’s coffee.”
“I was about to make a fresh pot,” Heather said as she walked to the kitchen.
“Jan are you sure you’re all right? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost?”
“No – no I’m fine. It’s just been a long day, that’s all.”
Ama opened the door and stood back as Annie and Dom carried between them a spruce, the leaves covered in netting and a wooden X-shaped cross hammered to the base.
As she closed it, she followed them to the front room, where a space had been cleared near the window. Setting the tree on the base, Dom went to the kitchen and brought through a pair of cooking scissors, cutting the string net and allowing the branches to take their natural shape.
“It looks wonderful,” Ama said as she looked at it.
“It’ll look even better in a few minutes,” Annie said as she went to the loft, returning with an old cardboard box, as she opened it, she took tree decorations, tinsel and baubles.
“Come on,” she said to Ama and Dom, “help me sort this out, and then we’ll order in.”
The McNally Residence
The girls had now joined their parents for cocktails, as Judy held court and Tony spoke with some of the other girls.
"Hey Mom did you know Ingrid and I were born on
the same day?" Carina imparted the news, "Makes us jointly the babies
of this debutante class."
"That's a coincidence." Juliette smiled.
"More champagne Ju?" Rachel passed her a
"Please." Juliette said as she sipped her
drink, if she couldn't make this evening pass quicker, she could at least dull the
“Juliette – how many years has it been?”
“Far too many Deborah,” Juliette said as she hugged Ellery’s mum.
“Carina has turned into a real beauty – and such a caring mother as well.”
“Ellery is a beauty as well,” she said as she looked over at Ingrid and Klaus.
"I understand you know the Prince?" Rachel
"I knew his wife, I was a bridesmaid at their
wedding, and I only knew him slightly."
"He's a handsome man, even better than
StJohn." Rachel smiled.
"Is he? To be honest I never noticed."
Juliette drained her glass and took another from a tray.
Inside Carina alarm bells were ringing, her mom was drinking too much, too quickly, and she recognized that false smile. There was a story somewhere and Carina couldn't tell what it was, her thoughts were of that bastard Stevens…if he had hurt her Mom…well Carina looked forward hopefully to his possible meeting with The Beast.
“Jude, can I have a word please,” she said as she walked over.
“What’s up,” she said as Bobbi came over.
“Bobbi, can you get your mom to keep an eye on mine for a few minutes?”
“Sure – what’s wrong?”
“I need to call Diana – something’s really upset mom.”
Bobbi nodded as she went to find her mother, while Carina found her cell phone.
“Aunt Diana? Can you come over to the McNally place please – I need your help.”
“Ju? Come and meet Susan’s father,” Claire Morse said as she took Juliette by the arm, while Klaus came over with Ingrid.
“Forgive us, Frau McNally, but Ingrid and I must depart.” He took her hand and kissed it as Ingrid whispered “see you next time” to Carina.
A few minutes later, Diana appeared, as Rachel said “Diana? What brings you here?”
“My apologies for the intrusion, Rachel, but I need to collect Juliette and take her to another meeting. Will you be all right with Judith, Carina?”
“I will,” she said before she whispered “and thanks - tell Abby Tony has arrived.”
Diana nodded as she walked to where Juliette was talking and drinking with Claire.
“Juliette, there you are – come, we are late already.”
“Di – Di, Di, Diana. You look radiant tonight?”
Claire raised an eyebrow as Diana said “come” and helped Juliette out, sitting her in her car and saying nothing as she set off.
“My place I think,” she said, Ju remaining silent until she got her inside and sat in her drawing room.
“Come,” she said, “tell me…”
"Diana we need to speak." Juliette suddenly
shouted, almost pleaded.
"HE'S here in New York…"
"Who, StJohn?" Diana could barely conceal her distaste.
"No,” Juliette giggled nervously, “he gets back in a couple of days…"
"Well then who dearest?" Diana asked again.
"HIM!" Juliette screamed.
"Juliette calm down I haven't got a clue who
you…" suddenly the coin dropped…"Klaus?"
"Yes." Juliette started to sob. "His
daughter is doing the winter season."
"Is Renate with him?"
Juliette shook her head, "She died last year from
For a minute Diana held her best friend and let her sob. She honestly wasn't sure who she hated most, that lying bastard StJohn, or Klaus, the man who'd broken her best friends heart.
“Come, let it out,” she sighed, “let it all out…”
Wednesday 24th December
The Richmond Mansion
The snow was starting to gently fall as the cars travelled down the road.
“Can we avoid a scene like last year?” Juliette asked as she pulled up at the Richmond’s door.
“Which part?” Carina looked over at Judith, who was sucking on her glove, and said “Me going to have sex with Guy? Or what followed?”
“Both please.” Juliette smiled as they got out and carried Judith into the house, where a maid took her and Cari’s furs.
“You know these dresses are to die for.” Cari said as she checked her own reflection in the hall mirror. She and her Mom were wearing matching navy blue satin gowns, the only difference being Juliette’s halter top and plunging neckline, whilst Carina’s was strapless and held tight over her considerable breasts.
Cari and Juliette turned as they saw a young woman in a blue dress standing beside them. “I’m Babs – Miss Richmond has asked me to look after the children tonight. May I take young Judith with me?”
“Of course – everything is in the bag,” Carina said as she handed it and the car seat to the nanny, watching and waving as they went off.
“You made it” Sandy said as she kissed both women.
“Well this is an annual tradition now.” Juliette said as she glanced round to see who was already there.
“Welcome.” Heather smiled, happy that for the first time she was the joint hostess, not just the hired help. Her gown in ivory silk, contrasted beautifully with Sandy’s which was in a deep purple.
“Thank you for having us.” Carina said as she kissed Heather.
“So where is your little sister?”
“On the phone with Curt…where else?” Heather laughed.
“Perhaps I should go and interrupt her,” Carina said with a grin as they went into the drawing room.
“Vanessa darling you look stunning.” Juliette greeted the older woman.
“Well one tries,” she smiled. She was wearing a dark green velvet dress with puffed sleeves.
“I hear Valeria accompanied Guy over.” Juliette asked as she accepted a drink.
“So I’m led to believe.” Vanessa nodded. “I hear she’s a changed woman.”
“Well if one can rely on Diana’s opinion.” Sandy interjected.
“Oh Alex darling.” Vanessa stretched out to greet her brother as he was ushered in
by the maid.
“Hello old thing,” Alex said as he kissed his sister, and adjusted his dinner jacket. “Takes me back to think of the old days knowing how many people are coming tonight.”
“Goddess is that Valeria?” Vanessa whispered under her breath as a stunningly chic middle-aged lady came in on Guy’s arm, her pale pink gown hugging her still very acceptable curves.
“Dear Lord, I think it is.” Alex whispered.
“Well now I do know indeed your God works miracles brother.”
“Alexandra darling,” Guy said as Sandy took his hands, “How kind of you to invite me again. You know Valeria of course?”
“Of course – it has been far too many years since we met last,” Sandy said as they kissed each other on the cheek. “May I introduce you to my partner, Heather?”
“A pleasure to finally meet you, my dear,” Valeria said as she kissed Heather on both cheeks, and Joanne came in, wearing a silver party dress held up by a single shoulder strap.
“Looking good, Jo,” Cari said as she handed her friend a drink. “And how is the legendary Curt?”
“Looking forward to seeing me at the weekend,” Jo said with a smile as Sandy greeted Diana and Abigail. Both women were wearing silver grey dresses, Diana’s with a high collar and long skirt, while Abby’s had a halter neck and a skirt slit from waist to floor.
“Have you seen grandmamma,” she said as she joined Jo and Cari.
“I know – Guy has really transformed her,” Abby said as Valeria walked over.
“I hope you are looking forward to the wedding,” she said as she looked round.
“We are,” Joanne said as she smiled, “we all are.”
“And here come the happy couple,” Abby said as Guillemme and Natasha came in, Natasha wearing a black strapless party dress with a knee length skirt. They were accompanied by Jeanne, looking nervous in a red cocktail dress that just came to her knees.
“Welcome,” Heather said as she kissed Jeanne, “let me introduce you to the others.”
In the hallway, Janice was helping Katy to take her coat off, revealing her new blue party dress with a satin belt round her waist and satin slippers.
“Hey there,” Little Sandy said as she came out of the room in a dress the same color as her mother’s. “Come on through – we’re having a sing song.”
“See you later,” Jan said as she smoothed down her gold sleeveless dress, while Katherine was wearing a simple black evening dress.
“Welcome,” Sandy said as she came out, “come in.”
As they entered, Guy smiled and nodded to Katherine, who returned the nod.
“Adam my man,” Alex said as he shook his hand, “May I wish you a blessed Zot Chanukah.”
“Thank you Alex,” Adam said as he shook his hand, “and a Merry Christmas to you as well. I take it your assistant gets Midnight Mass?”
“I consider a learning experience for my assistants,” Alex said with a smile as the maid opened the door, and John wheeled Jeannie in, Barbara following behind in a long red silk dress. Jeannie wore a black sleeveless dress, the skirt falling over her legs.
“Hey Stick,” Jeannie said as she came over, “Merry Christmas.”
“And to you,” Abby said, “I have a present outside for you.”
“So do I,” Abby said as the door opened once more, and Caroline came in, wearing a floor length white gown, and Annie in a black floor length dress. Ama followed behind, looking round shyly as she adjusted her black halter neck dress.
“Hey Ama – come and join us,” Cari said as the young African girl came over, and Caroline was welcomed by Sandy.
“The house looks so festive,” Ama said as she looked round.
“That’s the kids for you – they like things bright,” Jo said as two more women walked in. One was a reddish brown haired woman, wearing a sleeveless blue dress with a roll neck collar, while the other was a tall, beautiful brunette in a gold evening gown.
“Shirley, Penny, welcome,” Sandy said, “I think you know everyone here, but let me deal with the exceptions. May I introduce Valeria, Countess de Ros? Valeria, this is our friend Shirley Xavier.”
“A pleasure, Countess,” Shirley said in her deep voice, as she gave a small bow.
“The pleasure is mine,” Valeria said as Natasha came over with Jeanne, “my daughter Natasha, and her friend Jeanne Marais.”
“I am honoured,” Shirley said, “my personal assistant and friend, Penelope Harker.”
Valeria and Natasha greeted Penny as Jeanne shook Shirley’s hand.
“Why is Maisha not here,” Jo said as she looked at Ama.
“She does not feel comfortable enough yet in such gatherings, so she stayed behind with Lily and her uncle.”
Maisha sat curled up in one of the leather chairs in the drawing room, fascinated by the discussion between Lily and George.
“You are obviously a very talented man, Mister Simpson,” Maisha finally said as George poured some more wine.
“No, I was just very lucky,” George said with a smile, “but my niece, now she has real talent.” He raised his glass and said “To Lily, number three in Madame’s organization.”
“You were my inspiration, Uncle George,” she said as she raised her glass in return.
“So I want to be sure I have this clear,” Maisha said as she sat forward. “You travelled for a while with your uncle, helped him, and then he asked Madame to take you on as one of her staff?”
“That’s right,” Lily said, “and I have learned nearly as much from her as I did from him.”
“And what of you Maisha, how did you end up with the redoubtable Madame?”
“I was... I was rescued by her from a slavery ring.”
“Oh my poor girl – I am sorry to hear that,” George said.
“It is all right – I have come through and am the better for it. Will you excuse me for a moment?”
“Of course,” Lily said as Maisha left them.
“This is exceptional wine – are you sure Madame does not mind?”
“No – she said she did not mind if we had one or two bottles. She likes this particular vintage.”
“So do you still get out into the field?”
“Sometimes – after her last visit here, Madame started insisting her senior staff spend time on ops. In this new role, however, I’m setting up a new training centre.”
Lily looked at her uncle, and saw a familiar glint in his eye. “Oh no, Uncle, no…”
"I've found a bank lily." George spoke
"Uncle this is the US the cops out here don't fuck
"It will be damn easy." George looked at his
"We'd need another gun plus a getaway driver. A small branch, very simple."
"And what makes you think I'd be
"Because you'd want to help your old uncle
"Uncle George I don't actually do jobs
"I've got it all planned and timed, here
Lily looked pained but she knew he'd never shut up till she did look at his plan. As she did so, she could see it could work, but this was a new territory to her, and she felt she needed advice.
“Look,” she eventually said, “let me think it over, all right?”
“That’s all I ask, love,” he said as Maisha came back in.
The Richmond Mansion
The party was in full swing as Sandy and Heather acted as hostess.
"So looking forward to Christmas Adam?" Alex
asked as he walked over.
"Yes." Adam smiled at Jan.
"Neither of you is on duty?"
"No, this year neither of us has that dubious
pleasure, so we can enjoy ourselves tonight and have a great day tomorrow. So
how did you get out of midnight Mass?"
"I swapped services with an old friend…I work
tomorrow I'm afraid."
"Well at least you get to have fun tonight."
"Father," Valeria said as she came over.
"Valeria you look beautiful." Alex kissed
her. "I don't know if you know Adam Ball at all?"
"We haven't met, but I've heard about him from my
"Well Countess I hope half of what she told you
is true." Adam smiled.
"She told me you are a policeman."
"I'm with the FBI, but I guess that does make me
"And that you are the lovely Janice's
Adam looked a little embarrassed and coughed.
"Valeria darling,” Alex said, “unlike the French we aren't quite as blunt on that subject over here."
“Oh forgive me, but you are?”
“I am,” Adam said with a warm smile, “and I cannot tell her that enough.”
“Then you must come to Natasha’s wedding,” Valeria said, “especially as Alex will be officiating over the church ceremony.”
“It is my pleasure,” Alex said as Carina and Annie walked upstairs.
"So how is planning going for the Dior Juliette,
I saw the exhibition in Paris last time I was home." Natasha looked
radiantly happy as she looked at her fiancé talking to John.
"Alright so far, our biggest problem is finding
models for the show."
"And may I ask why that is?"
"We can't alter the dresses,” Juliette said, “and
models in the fifties tended to be smaller and curvier."
"So I take it you asked Carina." Natasha
"I did." Juliette looked round who seemed to
have vanished. "Abby can you go see if Carina is okay please?" she
called out to the tall model.
“I’ll look for her,” Abby said as she walked off.
"So how will you find dresses for Abigail?"
"There are a few that are right, but I'm definitely having to think outside the box in lining up girls."
“Well, I am sure you will find a solution, my dear Juliette,” Natasha said.
"Well my love, how are you?" Annie kissed
Carina as she dragged her into an empty room.
"The better for seeing you." Carina felt
herself relaxing in the arms of her girlfriend.
"Sorry I didn't make it to New Haven, but I got
"You owe me then." Carina smiled as she
released one of Annie's breasts from the confines of the gown.
"Oh Goddess." Annie moaned as Carina started
to tease her nipple with her teeth, biting it lightly as it hardened.
"I've learned a lot about breasts from my
daughter," Carina giggled as she pretended to feed like a baby from
"Yes." Annie threw her head back as a moan
of pleasure escaped her lips.
"Oh no not again!" Abby laughed as she
opened the door.
"Shut that damn door Abby." Carina hissed.
"Well this year I'm not going to over react," Abby laughed, "Though if Miss Kelly doesn't object I might make this a threesome."
The two women looked on as Abby closed the door, and then walked behind Annie, reaching round and caressing her waist as she kissed her former teacher’s neck, while Carina continued to work on her nipples…
"So how does business look Juliette?"
Shirley smiled as she looked at the buffet.
"Excellent,” Juliette said, “we are working with
Alice to manufacture accessories."
"And the other business?" Shirley whispered.
"We may have spotted a few opportunities."
Juliette replied. "I heard you were busy yourself?"
"Oh you heard about our little visit to Bristol
then?" Shirley laughed.
"I heard over five million pounds,
"Well as you showed I sit in an office far too
much. It was a refreshing experience to
do that – even if the family were far more docile and co-operative than those
“Well, guns have a greater effect over there than here,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Indeed - and forgive me, but our plaster makes a far more effective gag than yours.”
"It's nice to get out in the field."
Juliette smiled. "You know I know a lovely convenience store that's open
all night tonight…."
"Don't tempt me." Shirley laughed her deep rich laugh.
“A wonderful party, Heather,” Jeanne said as she stood next to the blonde.
“Sandy knows how to do that,” Heather said with a smile.
“I would appreciate the chance to meet with you and Janice over the weekend, if that is possible?”
“Oh – something we need to discuss?”
“Indeed – shall we say Saturday at ten?”
“If Janice is free,” Heather said quietly as she looked at her talking to Adam.
“I was sorry to hear someone tried to hurt you in London – believe me when I say I will find out who was responsible.”
“I believe you,” Heather said, looking at Sandy as she did so.
“So you will all spend tomorrow with your families, as I do,” Ama said as she sat with Jeannie and Jo.
“Oh yeah – Christmas is most definitely a time for families. What did you do last year, Jeannie?”
“What we did every year before that – got up late, Christmas lunch, watched the Queen, then sat and watched old movies for the rest of the day.
“And tomorrow,” Ama asked.
“Up early, the Queen at ten, then going for a walk in Central Park before Mum cooks dinner. What about you Ama?”
“I have no idea – this is my first real Christmas after all. I have presents prepared, and under our tree, but I think tomorrow we will just - what is that expression – wing it?”
“Often the best way,” Jo said, “the three of us have a book on when the kids will wake up tomorrow.”
“What’s the record?”
“Heather said it was 4 am a couple of years ago, before I came down to join her.”
“Ouch,” Jeannie said in sympathy.
"You don't look happy Jeanne?" Janice said
as she sat down on the couch.
"Oh I'm not unhappy,” Jeanne said as she took another glass of wine, “but I feel a bit of an outsider."
"You shouldn't, you know Natasha and her
"True." the Inspector smiled.
"And I suspect the de Grechy's?"
"Again true,” Jeanne said with a nod, “and Diana
is a friend of my mother."
"A little birdie whispered to me that you have a
title as well."
"Tasha has a big mouth." Jeanne laughed,
"Yes just as she's a Countess technically I'm a Princess."
"Now she didn't drop the P word,” Jan said, “just
you had a title."
"My ancestor was one of Napoleon's marshals,
People like Diana like to think they are the real thing because their titles
were given by royalty, not a little upstart from Corsica."
"Oh come on in two hundred years." Janice
"You don't know we French. Ancestry is VERY important.”
“Hey, I’m of Irish descent – ask my mom about her views on ancestry some time.”
Jeanne laughed and placed her hand on Jan’s knee. “I shall remember to do that,” she said as she stood up, and walked to join Natasha.
“There you are,” Juliette said as Carina came down the stairs. “Are you feeling all right?”
“I’m fine Mom – just got talking to Abby,” she said as Abby came down.
As they went back into the party, Juliette hung back and saw Annie coming down, a smile on her lips as she nodded to Cari’s mother and walked back in.
“Oh boy,” she said to herself as she followed them in.
“I trust you are enjoying the evening, Valeria,” Guy said as she handed his partner a drink.
“I am actually – it has been a long time since I have felt this happy,” she said as she gave Guy a peck on the cheek.
“Now now Father – you will have them talking,” Guillemme said as he glanced over at Diana and Natasha.
“Oh they understand,” Valeria said with a smile, “and all of them look so beautiful tonight.”
“Indeed,” Guy said as he looked over. “I heard from Lord Ordford that his daughter would be coming over for the International Ball next year, and he was looking forward to presenting Angelica there.”
“Is he now,” Valeria said, “and Abigail will be seventeen then as well. Will Diana present her there?”
“I believe she has considered it, but has made no moves in that way yet, out of respect for Carina and Joanne,” Guy said. “I believe that shows admirable consideration and restraint.”
“It does,” Valeria said with a smile, “but come the wedding, I think I know who the most beautiful bridesmaid will be.”
"Doc is the toughest little bitch I've ever
met." Jo said as she stood in the corner chatting with Carina and Abby.
"I just worry she's going to end up like you
"Like me Abs?" Carina looked at her and said “in what way?”
"A dual personality, the doctor and goddess knows
what the final 'Angel' will turn out to be."
"Heather thinks we will maybe have to take her in
one day Abby?" Jo looked concerned.
"As a pussycat." Abby whispered.
"She's a way away yet, but I can see that as well." Carina nodded. “Unless something happens to take her down a different path.”
“Do you think Dom has warned her off?”
“I honestly don’t know – but I’m keeping a close eye on her next semester,” Jo said quietly.”
The redhead turned to see Caroline standing beside her.
“You seemed lost in thought for a moment there.”
“Oh – sorry, I was just thinking of my Christmas holidays as a child.”
“You and I are a lot alike in one respect, you know,” Caroline said as she sipped her champagne.
“Oh? In what way?”
“Neither of us really like talking about our childhood,” Caroline said quietly. “Penny, all I can say is this – I’m glad I can talk about things like that with friends now. Maybe you should take advantage of that.”
“I seriously doubt if anyone here could understand what happened,” Penny said as a dark cloud seemed to pass over her face.
“Oh I don’t know,” Caroline said quietly as she looked round, “if you do need someone to talk to while you’re here, you know where I am, all right?”
Penny nodded as Caroline gently guided her over to where Ama was sitting with Jeannie and her family.
“Barbara has invited us to come to dinner on Sunday Caroline – will that be a problem?”
“Of course not,” Caroline said with a smile. “I would be delighted to come. Annie is invited as well I hope?”
“Of course she is,” Barbara said, “it’ll be my way of thanking her for making this term so easy for Jeannie.”
“Even if I have to suffer Monday morning math,” Jeannie said with a grin.
“I am looking forward to that, to learning new things,” Ama said with a smile.
“Well, you can be thankful for both of us,” Jeannie said as she punched Ama in the arm.
"Thank you by the way for my Christmas
present." Alexander looked genuinely pleased as he talked to Guy and
"Well it was Valeria's idea." Guy looked like
he was enjoying himself as he surveyed the room.
"Well I'll enjoy drinking them on special
"I thought a mixed case from different vintages
would interest you Father." Valeria remarked. "One never quite knows
what to give such a well educated palate as yours."
“Oh trust me, my dear Countess, you have filled my cup to overflowing,” Alex said with a smile.
"Well to use an Americanism, I think we hit a
home run with Alex." Guy laughed.
"Indeed you did."
"Well I'm happy you are happy." Valeria said
as she sipped from her glass.
"While I have you both here,” Alex said as he
took them to one side, “I'd like to report at least from the church end
everything looks set for the wedding. Father Assance was, I think, a trifle put
out that I'd be conducting a wedding in his church, but he has agreed to assist
me. I was also in contact with the mayor and the civil service will also go as
"How are the French lessons going?" Guy
"Not too bad, it was basically a refresher I needed, Natasha has kindly given me a couple of nights a week to practice my conversational skills."
“I had not realized you spoke French, Alexander?”
“A skill I picked up in my younger days, Valeria – it proves very useful at times.”
“How did Anna’s birthday afternoon go,” Jo said as she and Abigail joined Ama and Jeannie.
“It was great,” Jeannie said, “and Anna was genuinely taken back with your present in particular Abby.”
“Good,” Abby said with a smile, “I thought she would appreciate the earrings.”
“Her parents bought a string of pearls, and they do seem to go well together. She got a lot of CDs and gift cards from the other girls.”
“What did you get her, Ama?”
“I bought her a set of films on the silver discs,” Ama said, “something about Oceans and then numbers.”
Jo allowed herself a little smile as she realized what Ama had bought. “Did Caroline help with that?”
“Yes she did,” Ama said as she smiled, and Shirley came over.
“What are you fine upstanding young ladies talking about,” she said with a smile.
“It was Anna’s fifteenth birthday today,” Jeannie said.
“Ah yes – I have invited her family to my party, and will offer my congratulations then.” She looked over as Carina was beckoned by Sandy.
“Hey Sandy – what’s up?”
“Carina, one of your friends is outside with her father. She says you said they could drop in if they had time?”
“OH yes – sorry Sandy, I should have said,” she said as she and Sandy went into the lobby.
“Alexandra Richmond, May I present Prince Klaus von Fursteinheim and his daughter Ingrid, who is one of the class this year.”
“Forgive our ill manners,” Klaus said as he kissed Sandy’s hand, “but Ingrid and Carina have become close friends, and she mentioned she was coming here tonight. We were at a reception at the German Consulate, but wished to call and wish her the compliments of the season.”
Klaus was wearing full formal dress, while Ingrid wore a cream gown with a tiara on her hair.
“Sandy, I know it is an imposition, but may they stay a while and allow me to introduce Ingrid to the others.”
“Of course – please, come in,” Sandy said as she showed them both into the room, as Juliette looked at her cell phone and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Prince Klaus von Fursteinheim and his daughter Ingrid. Please, come and meet some of the others.”
“Mon dieu,” Diana said as she saw Klaus for the first time in nearly twenty years. “Will you forgive me a moment, Natasha?”
“Of course,” her sister in law said as Diana went to the kitchen.
“No, I’m delighted,” she heard Juliette say as she came in, “you must come over and then join us tomorrow for Christmas dinner.”
“Oh well, at least come tonight – I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
She ended the call and hugged Diana. “StJohn has returned early – he’s on his way over now.”
“Then you will need another drink – Klaus is here with his daughter.”
Juliette gripped the edge of the bar, and then smiled. “It does not matter – I will be polite,” she said as they walked in.