The Best Laid Plans – Part 2







10.30 am

New York County Criminal Court

100 Centre Street


“Have they started yet,” Jan said as she slipped into the court and sat next to Adam.


“Just in time,” he said as the court usher called out “All Stand – the Honorable Walter Markovic presiding.  Court is now in session.”


The grey haired judge walked in and took his seat, as the DA and Rhoda Perez set at two desks.


“Docket number 259816 – The People vs Daniel Morgenstern.  Jury Selection.”


“Are both parties ready to proceed?”


“We are your honour,” DA Walter Sipowicz said as he stood up.


“As am I your honour,” Rhoda Perez said as she stood.


“Very well then – bring in the first group.”


As Jan watched, a group of men and women were brought in and sat down on the benches.  “Ladies and gentlemen,” the judge said, “you have been selected as potential jurors in a trial, and as part of the process the two attorneys have the right to ask you questions, and to direct that they feel some of you should be excused from this trial.  Before they do that, however, I have to ask if any of you are employed in, or have any connection with, the fashion industry in New York.”


Three of the jurors raised their hands, Judge Markovic nodding as he said “you are excused.  Usher, please show them out and bring in the next three selected.”


The two women and a man stood and made their way out, two men and a woman coming in.   “I am required to ask if any of you have connections with the fashion industry,” the judge said, all three shaking their heads as he said “take a seat please.  Mister Sipowicz?”


“Thank you your honour,” the grey haired DA said as he stood up, and stood in front of the bench. 



10 am

Complete Style


“So Jeannie flies down on Thursday lunchtime,” Janine said as she looked at her pad, “and Anna wants to see you at four with Pippa.”


“Okay,” Juliette said as Janine took some notes.  "Does Henri understand why you'll have to be in Munich a lot of the summer?"

"He knows that where you go...I follow," Janine smiled.  “But he will cope and he has Adam to help look after as well.”


“Ah yes – that will keep him busy.  I know it’s inconvenient,” Juliette said, “but as far as possible we want to have a proper family summer this year."

"Which means Munich first, then Manchester. I did explain it to him."  Janine smiled as she said “and of course Sydney in the middle of all that.”

"And while you guys are on your road trip, then I get to go to Hong Kong." Alexis brought in the morning coffee.  “Going to be a very different summer.”

"Yes you do." Juliette took a cup, “and yes it will be.” 

"And my girl Mercy gets to answer the phones here," Mary Thomas said as she came in and collapsed into a chair.

"Well I'll pay her extra," Juliette passed her friend a cup, "and you look tired Merlin?"

"I am, that damn shoot I'm styling for Septembers issue has me frazzled."


“It will be worth it,” Juliette said with a smile.


10 am

The Huntingdown Apartment


“Well, that was the State Department,” Carina said as she put the phone down, “they’re fast tracking the passport applications so that Rudi and Mags have the right paperwork.”


“Good,” Sigi said as she handed her niece a mug of coffee.  “Klaus should be talking to Annie now with the papers Francesca sent over.”


“Yeah – sound strange her talking to him over there,” Cari said, “while we’re here.”


“Well, that’s the way it has to be in New York,” Sigi said with a smile, “but we will all be in Munich soon.”  Sipping from her own cup, she said “talking of Annie, you two seems to be closer together than ever.”


“We are – which makes it such a shame you will have to live apart for most of the year.”


“I know,” Cari said with a smile, “but it’s just not possible.  Annie loves teaching at St Angela’s, and there isn’t room in New Haven for all of us.”


“Tricky, I grant you,” Sigi said with a smile.  “Listen – has Klaus said anything to you about you and Annie?”


“What about us,” Cari said as she sat back.


“Well – don’t shoot the messenger,” Sigi said as she sat forward, “but he’s set his heart on you all becoming a complete family.”


Cari looked at her aunt for a minute, and then whispered “Marry?  Look – if I tell you something, will you keep it a secret?”


“Sure,” Sigi said with a smile.


“These last few months, as I’ve watched Annie’s pregnancy, I have thought about how it would be if we married – and it was a nice thought,” Cari said, “but we’re apart physically so much…”


“But if she asked you?”


Smiling, Cari said “I’d say yes in a nanosecond – but I don’t know…”


“Last time you said that was your ball,” Sigi said, “you need to talk to her Cari…”



11 pm Local Time

Catherine Lo’s Apartment


“So what do you think,” Kylie said as she looked across the table.


"These are gorgeous Kyles," Marina looked at her young friend’s drawings.  "Charlotte will have a hard job choosing."

"Well the final dress might not be any of these darling,” Kylie said, “these are just so we can talk about ideas."

"Have you scanned them all?"

"Yes and sent them. Charlotte I hope is looking at them right now."


2 pm BST

Xavier International


"So are you up for going to see the printers about the invitations after work tonight Piet darling?"

Charlotte smiled as Piet rolled his eyes on the Skype screen, and said "I suppose so Roo..."

"Look I know it’s a chore,” she said with a smile, “but these really do need be top notch, guests will want to keep them you know?"

"You mean the ladies will," Piet laughed, "most guys don't really give a shit."

"I know,” Charlotte said as she shook her head, “most of you are so lacking in romance."

"Changing topics, when do you talk with Kylie?"

"Later...I'm so looking forward to seeing what she comes up with?"

"Do I get to see?"

"No you don't Pieter van der Byl, you know about not seeing a bride’s dress..."

"Even sketches?"

"Even sketches big guy, the first time you'll see is when I enter that chapel."


“Fair enough – I’ll meet you at the Strand at five then.”


“See you then big boy,” Charlotte said as she ended the call, and then opened her e-mail, smiling as she opened the attachment as she viewed the sketches.  Printing thm off, she stood up and walked down the corridor to Francesca’s office.


“Is she free,” she asked Peri as she came in.


“Hannah’s with her, but they should be finishing up.” As Peri spoke, the door opened and Hannah came out.


“Hello Carlotta,” Francesca said, “what have you there?”


“Sorry girls – mother-daughter chat,” Charlotte said as she came in and closed the door, “have a look at these.”


“And they are – oh.  Oh my…”


"Oh this is going to be hard to pick just one from," Charlotte said as she showed her mother the sends from Kylie.

"She is just so talented." Francesca flicked from one to another.

"Do you regret already asking Donatella Versace to dress you for the wedding Mama?'

"No, she and I go back a long way darling, she'd be offended if I went to another designer."


“But still…”


“Okay Ms Gordon,” Lily said as she and Penny appeared in the doorway, “coffee break while we look as well.”


“Go – I’ll be along in a little while,” Francesca said as she pointed at one sketch and smiled.  Charlotte nodded as she gathered the sheets up and followed Lily, Penny saying “three coffees please” as they went into the conference room.


“So what had Kylie come up with,” Lily said as Charlotte laid the sheets out, standing back as the coffee was brought in, and the two colleagues pored over them.


"So?" Charlotte eventually asked her friends.


"I love the chiffon with the cap sleeves, looks like something straight from Jane Austen." Lily looked closely at the drawing of the long gown, with a bare back and the shoulder strap covering the top of her arms.  The skirt flowed out and back on the floor.


"It would also hide any little bump." Penny added.  “Very useful…”


“True – but I like the organza one, at least for the fabric." Charlotte sipped her tea.


The two women looked at the sketch with a similar dance but a thin, lace-like over skirt.  "It does have that floaty, dreamy, quality," Penny agreed.


"Well I love her idea for the waist line for this one?" Lily pointed to the drawing of the strapless dress, with a shaped and wave-like girdle round the waist.


“Oh yeah – I do like how that looks,” Charlotte said, "but I think this is my favourite though," Charlotte pointed to a dress with capped sleeves, a thin slik band round the waist and the lace overdress, "just the right combination of elements."


"You'd look lovely in it I will agree," Penny smiled, "But maybe that might be better for we bridesmaids?"


"Oh yes done in a very pastel colour." Lily nodded agreement.


Charlotte looked at it and said “point taken.  This one then?"


Charlotte pointed at a sketch of a dress, saying "the one with the cap sleeves, and the décolletage?"


"I think so," Penny nodded.


"Agreed," Lily smiled, "and if you don't take it I'll buy it from Kylie against the day I get married."


"Without the dark belt of course." Charlotte looked again, "but subject to getting the embroidery, etc, right...I'll tell Kylie to further develop this one."


"Which one?" Francesca asked from the doorway.


"They like the one you like Mama."


"Well you have a lovely little figure that would show off wonderfully my darling."


“And this for the bridesmaids?”


“Oh yes – when do you speak to her?”


“Later tonight – but yeah, we have a go…”




11 am

St Angela’s – the Refectory


“Three more days, three more days,” Jeannie chanted as she joined Pepsi, Nikki, Ama and Becca in the classroom.


“Two more days, two more days,” Doc chanted in response as she sat down.


“Someone hit her,” Becca said with a grin, "Did you have the final bikini fittings Jeannie?"

"In LA over the weekend Becca, in between everything else I had to do."

“The glamourous life of a star model eh Jeannie?"

"Yes Mrs Brand," Jeannie winked at Grace, "and how did your jaunt to Miami turn out?"

"I'm getting far too old to do beachwear, but Canyon seemed very pleased."  Grace looked as the rest of the class filed in. "Alright girls, take your seats - one last Spanish quiz before the year ends," she held up a paper.

"Oh that is plain unfair Palomino," Jeannie whispered softly.





7 pm BST

Charlotte and Piet’s flat


“Kylie, you are a miracle worker,” Charlotte said as she looked at the screen, “but I hope you don’t mind my suggestions.”


“Of course not Darling – it is your dress after all,” Kylie said as she sat in her school uniform.  "Alright Charlotte - I can do some revised drawings building in your ideas, and hopefully let you have them within 36 hours."

"Thank you Kylie."

"Well,” she said as she adjusted her glasses, “I'm glad you liked my scribbles darling."

"I liked them immensely,” Charlotte said, “the problem was choosing from all those lovely ideas."

"Well, you chose my personal favourite, if that helps."

"Lily said if I didn't take it,” Charlotte said with a smile, “then she'd buy the design from you and have it made up for the time she should happen to get married."

"Lily said that," Kylie shook her head, "well just tell her to come see me when she does finally find the right man."

"I will." Charlotte paused a second. "I know your designs are distributed by APCO Kylie, but you really should look into getting Kylie as a trademarked brand name."

"Uhh Uh," Charlotte said as she shook her head, “I'm not getting involved in that fight."

"What fight?"

"Haven't you been following the legal battles between Kylie Minogue and Kylie Jenner over using the Kylie brand-name darling?"


"Well ask your mother about it one day,” Kylie said as she smiled.  “I have neither the financial resources, nor the willingness to involve myself in fighting them both for the Kylie trademark."

"I see your point," Charlotte laughed.

"Well if you let me go darling I can start working on things like the embroidery details, and the slight shape revisions as well."


“And your day at school – thank you Kylie, I look forward to seeing your proposals.”


“Stay safe darling – your life is about to get very interesting.”


“Tell me about it…”



7.15 pm

The Savoy


Francesca smiled as she sat in the chair, looking at the screen.


“I am afraid it is true, Elia,” she said as she looked at the blonde haired woman, “I have retired, and begun to rediscover my life, as well as my family.”


“And through your daughter you met Juliette did you Francesca?" Elia Scaraponi smiled, "I bet you don't know that she and I were at the Sorbonne together?"

"You were?"

"Yes," Elia shook her head, "we danced together in student productions, she even conned me into joining her...well that's a story best forgotten."

"A dark secret Elia darling?"

"No,” she said with a smile, “just something I think we both prefer to keep buried in the depths of time."

"Well anyway returning to Carlotta's wedding, can I ask you to handle the arrangements with the press, television, and all the rest?"

"It's what I do," Elia laughed again.  “I’ll consult with the basilica and the right people.”

"And you are the best in Italy at it darling."

"Thank you Francesca," Elia smiled again. "And here I was thinking it was just because my Papa was a friend of your Papa, and that our families business holdings are so intermixed."

"You know better old friend," Francesca laughed lightly.  


“So, Francesca di Cambrello is back?”


“Oh yes – London and Naples as well as Rome.  Life is good…”





4 pm

The Richmond Mansion


"So are you ready for Baltimore?" Abby asked as Katy changed in Sands bedroom.

"Yeah, it’s going to be tiring, but how often does a cover spread in Eighteen just fall into a model’s lap?" Katy came out in just jeans and a sweatshirt. "Mom doesn't understand I think how big a deal this is for me."

"And it takes your mind off the trial?"

"Yeah," Katy brushed her hair out and tied it into a ponytail.  “they started jury selection today.”

"Katy we need to hustle if we are going to get out to Newark," a voice called up from below.

"I'm on the way Gran, just packing my bag."


“Have fun,” Abby said as Katy grabbed her bag and ran down, walking after her as Jo waved them off.


“Well now – a quiet night tonight?”


“Yup – once we do that shopping.  Grab your coat and we’ll get going…”




4 pm

FBI Field Office, New York


“So the jury selection continues?” Tom said as she sat with Jan and Adam.


“Yeah – Perez is playing hardball, but the judge excluding anyone involved in the fashion world was a smart move,” Adam said as she saw Eleanor talking to Erin.  “Excuse me a minute…”


As she walked out, Eleanor looked up and said “Hello Jan – how did it go today?”


"Eleanor what are you doing here?" Jan smiled.

"Helping spread confusion with a leak in certain FBI ears," Eleanor whispered.

"Yeah I had already heard that they have this as a hit by the Russians."


“And we want to keep it that way – don’t we?”



5.30 pm

The Village


“Hey – how are things going,” Carina said as she opened the apartment door, and walked up the stairs.


"Momma," Judith said as she ran across the apartment, "Rudi was naughty, he pooped himself."

"Oh dear," Carrie put her bag down, “and what did you do?”

"Momma Annie let me help with his diaper..."

"Well she hindered more than she helped," Annie stood and kissed her lover. "You look tired darling."

"Yeah…  It’s amazing that shooting me in glasses can tire me out this much," Cari yawned. "But my contract with Luxx is my bread and butter."

"Well you have amazing eyes my love.  Coffee?"

“Oh yes,” Cari said as she sat down.  "So Sigi dropped little one off...did she say anything?"

"No...”  Annie looked out and said “but I need to ask… has your Pops talked to you?"


"Well,” she said as she handed Carina a mug, “he and I had an interesting chat this morning."

"Funny,” Carina said, “I had a rather curious chat with Sigi."


The two women looked at each other, before Annie said “are they matchmaking a bit more?”


“You as well?”  Carina took a sip and said “So Monster Momma – what did you say?”


Looking into Carina’s eyes, she said “I have a horrible feeling I said the same as you.  But I don’t want anything flashy…”


“Let’s talk more about it later – alone…”


8 pm

Oriole Park, Baltimore


“Welcome Katy, the make-up artist said as Katy came in, “have a seat, we’ll get started.”


"Hi I'm Sailor," the other model shook hands as Katy sat down in the makeup chair.

"I'm Katy.  So, a flying visit for me?"

"I'm glad it was you they got to do this with me at the last minute, I'm such an admirer."

"Well compared to you,” Katy said, “I'm not that..."

"Come on girls, no false modesty please." Troy Leashman the shoot director smiled, “you are both absolutely top girls."

"He's right about that..."

"Hey Fractures," Katy waved at the reflection in the mirror. "I hear it was you recommended me?"

"Yes, but I forgot you still had school this week," the Californian tossed her famous blonde hair, "your Mom was not happy."

"Hey I am though...this is a big thing for me."

"Hello again," Katherine brought coffees in..."Oh dear Lord, Sailor you look so much like your mother."

"I wish," Sailor blushed.

"There's that false modesty again," Troy looked at his watch. "Okay once you are done in hair and makeup we will start shooting this."

"They'll be ready," the makeup girl working on Katy spoke.

"And just remember it is fall fashion, it will be out at World Series time, and that's why we are filming here at Camden Yards, and we have some of the Orioles players to work with you."

"I read the brief Troy," Katy smiled.

"Talking of which, when are the floodlights getting turned on?"


“In a half hour,” one of his assistants said.


“Good – let’s get ready people, time is money!”



8.30 pm



"Oh that looks great Katy," Celia Holtz the photographer smiled as Katy posed leaning against the wall in the orange Orioles team jacket, the designer jeans, and the white running shoes.


"This okay?" Katy crossed her ankles and looked to the side.


"Yes...VERY nice pose Katy."


Katy smiled as she relaxed and let the photographer do her work, as Sailor came out, wearing a red baseball jacket with black sleeves, a white crop top underneath, blue jeans with a rip on one knee and red basketball style boots.  She put her Orioles cap on and said “okay – where do you want me?”


"Sailor, how good is your pitching arm?" Celia asked.


"I throw like a girl..."


"Well Andy can you give her a quick lesson?"


"Here Sailor."  The pitcher took her to the mound and started to show her how to throw the ball as Celia finished.  “Right Katy – next outfit,” she said as she made her way to the mound…




“Okay Sailor – throw one for me.”


“Here goes nothing,” the young model said as she threw the ball, Andy nodding as Celia took some pictures.


“Great – and again,” Celia called out as Katy watched with Sailor’s mother and her grandmother.


“I hear the trial has started,” Fractures said quietly.


“Yeah – Mom said it was Jury selection today, and they reckon it will start Thursday.”


“When are they likely to call you?”


“Not this week – but we’ll see,” Katherine said as she sipped her coffee.


“Right Katy – on the bleachers please.”


“Gotcha,” Katy said as she walked up the seats, the slight wind blowing her black jacket open to show the patterned red top, her matching jeans rising as she stepped up to reveal her bare ankles under the tops of the black sneakers.


“We need you to look on while Sailor gets ready,” Celia said, “and then we’ll get a reaction shot to her hitting a home run.”


“Gotcha,” Katy said as she sat down,  her elbows on her knees and her chin resting on the palms of her hands as she looked on.





10 pm


“And – swing!”


Sailor nodded as she swung the bat, her white denim crop jacket blowing open to reveal her striped top, her legs turning in the blue denim shorts and sneakers.  She then cheered as she let the bat go, her hat falling as she did so.


“Great,” Celia said, “go and change, get make-up fixed, and we’ll do some shots with both of you next.”


As she went back to the changing room and sat down, Sailor said “so you still have school tomorrow?”


“Yup don’t finish until Friday,” Katy said as she put on the white jumper over her upper body, then strapped on the black sandal boots.  “But then I’ve got a few weeks off, a trip to the Medoc, and I found out Orion and I have been invited to the CS show.”


“Nice one – we’ve got a previous booking, but remember – Sydney’s cold at that time of year.”



Katy smiled and said “not exactly warm here either.”


“Hence the jumpers,” Sailor said as she stood up and donned a brown jumper, then the black jacket to match her jeans, followed by the brown ankle boots and wool scarf.


“Okay girls – time to enjoy the beers and hot dogs – well, the cold ones and hot dogs,” Celia said as Katy raised an eyebrow.


“I could murder a brewski…”


“No – no you could not,” Katherine said, the two girls laughing as they walked towards the hot dog stand…






Katy and Sailor laughed as Celia walked round them, Katy wearing a pair of thick grey mittens, a dark grey bomber jacket over a grey hoodie, baggy grey pants and suede ankle boots, ad Sailor in a black mid-sleeve leather jacket over a khaki top and camouflage pants, black suede heels and a grey wool hat.


“That’s good,” the photographer said as she clicked away, “keep laughing and pointing…  Good, good…  And we are done!”


“Thank the goddess,” Katy said as she relaxed, “I am pooped!”


“Okay then,” Katherine said, “go and get changed Katy.  We need to be at the airport by one.”


“We’ll get a box for you to take in the car,” Sailor’s mother said as they made their way back to the dressing area.  “Can’t have you traveling on an empty stomach.”


“You were both great tonight,” Troy said with a smile, “thanks for stepping in Katy.”


“No problem – but I need my bed.  Eventually,” Katy said as she yawned.


Wednesday 25th May

4 am

West Central Park


“Okay,” Katherine said as she quietly opened the apartment door, and allowed Katy to go in first, again quietly closing the door behind herself, “coat off, and into bed for a few hours…”


“Well, you finally got back.”


“We’re busted Gran,” Katy said quietly as they saw Jan standing in the door to the main room, wearing her dressing gown.


"Four O'Clock Mom?" Jan tapped her feet.

"Hey blame the airline,” Katherine said, “our flight was delayed."

"It was Mom," Katy yawned.  “I got an hour’s sleep on the plane, but…”


“All right – bed, and I’ll wake you at 7.15.”


“Thanks,” Katy said as she went off.


“No way I can go back to sleep now,” Jan said as she rubbed her eyes, “want some coffee?”


“Please – I have a meeting at eight, so no way I can go to sleep.  I’ll have a nap this afternoon,” Katherine said as she followed her daughter to the kitchen, “I can’t pull these all-nighters anymore.”


“So how did it go anyway,” Jan asked as she started the coffee maker.


“It went well – and she and Sailor got on like a house on fire,” Katherine said, “but she’ll need an early night tomorrow night.”


“She was getting one anyway – I got word they’ll be doing opening statements on Monday morning…”



2 pm GMT

Xavier International


“Good morning Juliette,” Shirley said as she looked at her screen, “and how are the new arrivals?”


“Settling in very nicely,” Juliette said as she looked out from the screen, “anyway, we need to do some more preparation for the plan, and I have a proposal for you.”


“Oh,” Shirley said in her deep voice as she sat back, “and that is?”


"Shirley I need you to knock over an armoured car for me." Juliette spoke on the secure network.

"Okay Ju,” Shirley said, “but why?"

"Well it will make you a very tidy profit..."

"We can do that any day of the week," Shirley jumped in, "but why this car?"

"I'm wanting you to check out police response times for me in a particular area of central London,” Julliette said with a smile.   “I figure your girls jump an armoured car at a particular location, and we have people watching to check out how quick the bobbies arrive on the scene."

"Is this to do with the gold?"

"Yeah,” Juliette responded, “I'm thinking if things go south, how long would we have to evacuate before the law was in our faces."

"What's the armoured car carrying?"

"Bank notes mainly, probably around 3 million pounds.  I’ve sent you the plan Heather and I worked out for your approval."

"Well it would pay for the girls trips to the wedding," Shirley smiled.


“Oh?  So Charlotte has set a date?”


“Indeed – 21st July in Naples.  I believe the invites will be sent out at the weekend.”


“I’ll spread the word here,” Juliette said with a smile.

"Is it a hostage take?"

"No, just get it to a halt, blow the doors, grab the cash."

"Will it get messy Ju darling?"

"It might,” Juliette said, “ but I can assure you that in the longer term we do need to know this info."

"Alright, I'll lead a team personally."


“Thank you – let me know the results.”


"Talking of the plan…  Juliette I forgot to say the drone is here, and Barb Brookmayer is doing the tests you ordered and installing those software upgrades from Heather."

"Good, I had meant to ask you about that, been so much going on that I forgot."

"Well," Madame spoke seriously, "when are you going to give me an exact location so I can send a reconnaissance team down into the Underground one night?"

"Soon Shirley, let’s just get these little bits tried out first and then I'll tell you just where I think it is."


“Okay then,” Shirley said as she ended the call, and then opened her mail, before forwarding it to Penny.



9.15 am

Complete Style


Juliette opened her office door and called out “meeting in 15 minutes girls.”


“Ju – Elle McPherson on line 2 for you,” Alexis called over.


“Thanks,” Juliette said as she closed her door again, and pressed the speaker button on her phone.


"Hey Elle,” she said with a smile, “how are things wherever you are?"

"I'm in London Ju,” the Australian voice replied, “and it’s raining."

"Poor you." Juliette chuckled.

"Look… you know I'm hosting the CS awards show in Sydney?"

"I did Bod."

"Well I ran an idea past Fiona, and she said talk to you."

"What idea?"

"How about we devote a segment to those models like yourself who have made successful comebacks in their 40's?"

"And also about top girls like yourself who never retired and are still going strong in their 50's?"

"I wasn't going to say it," Elle laughed.

"Let me run it past Mary and Anna,” Juliette said, “but yes I agree in principle...just as long as I get out of walking."

"Oh that defeats the purpose Pel."

"Bitch!" Juliette giggled, "I've had some unusual experiences working in Australia, and I don't want another."

"Well if upstairs agrees, then maybe I'll let you know JUST WHAT I have in mind."

"Why do I know I'm not going to like this?" Juliette moaned.


“Trust me – see you Ju,” the voice said as the line went dead.



4 pm BST

Xavier International


“So,” Shirley said as she looked at her number two, “thoughts?”


"Well Madame as usual when Juliette and Heather plan a job it is superlative." Penny smiled as she put down the document. "I certainly couldn't have done better myself."

"That was my thought as well. So who do you think for a team?"

"Us and four other girls, three in the blocker vehicle, three in the chaser."

"And just who?"

"Well not Charlotte, with the wedding planning going on she has more than enough on her plate."

"She might welcome the distraction though Penelope?"

"Well ultimately it’s your decision Madame."

"So recommendations?"

"Lily for sure, Illyana knows how to set small charges, Natalya is always useful if things get other to be decided by you."

"That sounds like a formidable team."

"If we are going to have to shoot our way out, at least all of those have used guns before."


“I did wonder,” Shirley said, “if this would give us an opportunity to assess JD.”


“If she is free, she would be useful – I’ll find out from her.  When?”


“Friday at seven am – let’s do it when there is little traffic on the road.  Thank you Penelope…”


12.45 pm

The Refectory, St Angela’s


"Who was that Abs?" Jeannie asked as her friend laughed.

"Kooks Pollard, she was just telling me who you get to be photographed by this weekend..."

"Oh no...not HIM!"

"Yep...Rick Dean himself."

"And I thought I was going to enjoy myself in Rio."

"Well Kooks says Essie has warned him that with disabled models there, and her, he is not to try any of his shit."

"Well good for Essie, and remind me to thank Beth when I see her for the heads up."

"Well she's walking the CS show in sydney with us."

"That figures," Jeannie looked up as Grace walked by, "Did you hear that I've got that bastard Rick Dean shooting my SI photos this weekend Miss?"

"Ouch! He did my one and only appearance in SI over 20 years ago..."

"Did he fry you in the sun Miss?" Abigail asked.

"No he got me under this waterfall in Costa Rica in a white suit that turned transparent when wet."

"Oh my Goddess," Jeans laughed.

"They kept having to dry the damn suit in the sun before we could shoot of my least favourite shoots of all time."

"I bet," Jeans grinned. "Well Essie Lowenstein has made him promise to behave in Rio."


“Essie?  Say hello to her from me BS – we go back a long way…  Annie?”


The room turned and cheered as Annie and Carina came in, each of them carrying a car seat as Judith held Carina’s hand.


“Hey everyone – don’t let me interrupt your lunch.  I just came to see your fellow teachers…”


“Of course,” Grace said with a smile, “come on, I’ll take you to the lounge.”


“Only if she comes to the Seniors room afterwards,” Letty said as she and Abby came over.


“Deal – come on, let’s see what we can find for you,” Grace said as she led the young family to the faculty room.


As she opened the door, Ingrid looked up from her chair and then stood up.  “Annie – and these are the new arrivals,” she said as she hugged her friend.  “Come in both of you – look who’s here everyone!”


“So you’re allowed to venture out now,” Harriet said as Annie and Cari put the car seats in the centre of the room.  “Look at them – totally at peace and not a care in the world.”


“Yeah – beauties, aren’t they,” Sarah said as she looked own at them, while Annie and Cari sat in the armchairs.


“Never thought I would see the day I was sitting in here as an honoured guest,” Carina said as she looked round.


“Stranger things have happened,” Wilhelmina Tennant said as she and Kate Hardisty came in.  “It is good to see you both – and it is especially good to meet both of you little ones.  I hope to see you here one day, Margaret.”


“Not Rudi then?”


“No Ingrid – the endowment for the school requires it to be an all-female school,” Kate said.  “So how are you anyway?”


“The scar is healing nicely, Cari is over as often as she can be, and Judith adores them both,” Annie said as Sarah sat and played with the toddler.  “Ama and Caroline have also been a great help.  So – apart from Cari here paying for me to watch my own children, what else have I missed?”


“Well, the Seniors Prom was excellent,” Kate said, “even if Wilhelmina had to man the bar.”


“I heard about that,” Carina said with a grin, “and that you were impressed with Ally as a chaperone.”


“I freely admit, she did surprise me,” Miss Tennant said with a smile, “Harvard has been a calming influence on her.”


“And Abigail was not the Prom Queen?”


“No – they got her a special award instead – and she has agreed to continue as one of the patrons of the Jamie Kirkham fund while she attends Cooper Union.”


“Good – I think it’s important that continues,” Carina said with a smile.


1 pm

Bishop Walden School


“Earth to Katy, Earth to Katy – come in Katy.”


“Wha…”  Katy shook her head and looked along the line


"You've been yawning all morning bestie," Sands poked her friend while they all sat on the wall.

"I know, I know, but so would you if you'd got to bed at four this morning." Katy yawned again.

"Will you be on the cover of Eighteen?"

“That's the plan Laura,” Katy said as she took a drink, “the magazine people seemed very happy with what they got last night, so it should be both me and Sailor."

"I'd kill to have hair like hers." Shawnee ran her fingers through her own hair.

"Hey you have great hair," Liz shook her head, "now mine..."

"Is beautiful too," Sands interrupted.

"Mine needs cutting," Cassie spoke, "certainly before we go to the Hampton's next week."


“It’s not that bad.”


“Yes it is – I’ll see if Mom can get me in at her salon…”


6 pm

Xavier International


“Madame,” Angela said as Shirley picked up the phone, “I have JD here, but I also have Niki Abata on the phone from Tokyo."

"Alright put her through."

Shirley waited a moment before she heard the American voice say “good evening, Madame.”


"Hello Niki, and how are things there?"

"Quiet,” Niki said, “but I think things may be hotting up where you are Madame?"


"Like you asked I had a tail on Tamiko Tanaka...'


"She's just boarded a plane for London with at least four of her goons for protection."

"Damn," Shirley murmured.

"What are your orders Madame?"

"Keep your eyes and ears open Niki, especially if any more senior Tanaka people suddenly leave town, and let me know immediately."

"Understood," the Hawaiian replied. "Why do I get the idea that despite past co-operation with Miss Tanaka we are now on opposite sides?"


“On this occasion, I fear we may be Niki.  Stay safe.”


“Understood,” she said as the call ended, and Shirley looked up. 


"You wanted to see me Madame?" JD said as she came in, wearing a denim jacket and jeans with a grey jumper.

"Come in please JD,” Shirley said as the young woman took a seat.


“My apologies I was unable to come earlier – I was doing a shoot for a magazine.  How can I help you today?”


“I was going to ask you if you are willing to take part in a job on Friday?"

"Acting? or my more usual line?"

"The latter,” Shirley said, “we are going to hit an armoured car, and I need another woman."

"I'm here to serve you Madame," JD smiled.

"Good I was hoping you would say that.  Can you call in tomorrow at ten?"


“I am clear, so yeah.  Anything else?”


“Come with me,” Shirley said as she stood up and put her coat on.  “You are having dinner tonight with me and John…”


As they headed out of the office, Shirley noticed Francesca walking past.  “Another late night?” she said with a smile.


“No – I just have a phone call with Sigi and then I am done for the night.  I think a quiet night in is what I need,” Francesca said with a smile.


“Well, don’t stay too late,” Shirley said as she and JD headed for the lift, and Francesca went into her office.


“The Baroness von Mannschen on line 2 for you, Francesca,” Peri said as she closed the door.


“Thank you Peri,” Francesca said as she went into her office.  Pressing the speaker button as she sat down, she said “Good evening Sigi.  I hope the brief I wrote is up to your standards?"

"Oh more than Francesca,” Sigi laughed. “I'm just amazed you were able to write such a thorough evaluation with all the wedding planning going on."

"Well credit Hannah's research for a lot of that."

"She says differently."

"Oh,” Francesca said as she raised an eyebrow, “you are talking to her behind my back?"

"No, but my assistant Helmut was talking to her earlier, and he told me that it was you who remembered those Luxembourg resolutions."

"Well, I think they establish a legal framework for what I argue."

"Agreed," Sigi said.  “I think we can be confident in the meeting tomorrow.”

"So, changing subjects,” Francesca said as she sat back, “are you coming to Napoli for the wedding."

"Oh of course - I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"We are sort of related you know?"

"Oh how Francesca?" Sigrid sounded genuinely interested.

"The mother of Prince Josef Malverino..."

"Grandma Lexa's husband?"

"Yes, and is that what you call her?"


"Yes.  So what of him?"

"Well anyway his mother was a Di Cambrello." Francesca laughed, "I don't know exactly what degree of cousin that makes us, but we are related."

"How did you find this out?"

"Natty looked it up with help from Valeria de Ros."

"Well that I never knew. it really is an interlocked world isn't it?"


“There was a time when most of the crowned heads of Europe were one family – I guess it was bound to happen,” Francesca said as she looked at her watch.  “Right – I am heading home.”


“And I have a bedtime story to read – enjoy your evening Francesca.”


“And you Sigi,” Francesca said as she ended the call.  Collecting her coat, she went out and said “home time ladies – we are done for the day!”



9 pm BST



“That was a wonderful meal,” JD said as she sat in an armchair, drinking her coffee, “and just what the doctor ordered – a night to myself with friends.”


“I take it Missy is keeping you busy,” John said with a smile.


“Someone could have warned me – the woman has me booked solid for three weeks,” JD said with a sigh.  “But Maddie was right – given the reaction to the film, I needed to be out of town for a few weeks.”


“Did you see the reviews in the Sunday papers,” Shirley asked.


“Cass went through them with me before she flew back – the ones to take notice of, the ones to ignore.  But I have to admit, I was not expecting the reaction we have been getting to the picture – or to my work in it.”


“I have to say,” Maisha said quietly, “you gave a most convincing performance of a woman seeking to avenge the wrongs done to her.”


“Well, it was the part of a lifetime,” JD said quietly.  “I am glad so many people like it though.”


“Well, I promised Ama I would call her tonight – we have something to discuss for when she visits next month,” Maisha said as she stood up.  “I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay, JD.”


“Thanks,” the young American said as Maisha left the room, John standing up and saying “I need to call Jack Linklater to let him know Charlotte has employed me.  I’ll do that in the study.”


“I need to be on my way soon anyway,” JD said as she put her cup down.


“I will be speaking to Maddie in the morning,” Shirley said, “any message?”


“Tell them I miss them all, but I’ll be keeping in practice,” JD said with a smile.


9 pm

Piet and Charlotte’s flat


“So, what do you think,” Piet said as Charlotte looked at the card.  It was heavy white card, and on the front two doves were flying to the top corners, the gold embossed design with a banner between them that read “WEDDING INVITATION.”  On the other side of the card, the following was engraved in red with flourishes round the side.



Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello


Requests the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of her daughter


Charlotte di Cambrello Gordon




Pietre van der Byl


Thursday 21st July, 2.30 pm

Basilica Santa Chiara



And afterwards at the Palazzo Sentova






“Well, that will set the cat among the pigeons,” Charlotte said as she looked at the inset card which was engraved in the same way.


You are further invited to attend

the private wedding ceremony at 1.30 pm

Chapel di Cambrello

Basilica Santa Chiara



“We are sending personal invites for the civil ceremony?”


“Yes,” Charlotte said as she looked at Piet, “although many will attend the small wedding as well.  The logistics will all be sorted in due course, when we know who’s coming – which reminds me.


“Who’s the lucky guy?”


“My best man?  Well, Anders will be one, and as for the other,” Piet said as he looked at his watch, “I need to make a call…”



Thursday 26th May

8.30 am

St Angela’s


“And what has got you in such a good mood,” Pepsi said as Jeannie locked the door of her van.


“Oh, the last day of the year for me…  Mum and Granddad VERY happy with my report card…  Flying to Rio later…  What else…


“Oh yeah – Piet asked House to be one of his best men at the wedding, so Naples in July – after England, France and Australia…”



10 am

Xavier International


“And how is the weather in London,” Juliette asked as she sat in the conference room, Shirley sitting in the corresponding office at the Aldwych.


“A sunny day for once,” Shirley said with a smile.  “Thanks for coming in a few minutes early, Ju – I wanted to update you on events here.”


“You have news?”


“Those extra players you were worried about?  They arrived this morning in London.”


“The Japanese contingent?  So where are Miss Tanaka and her friends staying Shirley?"

"They are booked in at Claridges Ju."

"Can you make sure surveillance is set up on their rooms?"

"I have ordered it done."

"Good.  This was the aspect I was most worried about."

"She knows our methods from working with us in Tokyo, she will probably take countermeasures though." Shirley paused, "so I'm worried even with Heather's anti bug detection devices that we might not get much from all this."

"I know, but we have to try."

"You think she's here to definitely try for the gold?"

"Yes, I'm certain,” Juliette said, “or why else fly to London at this moment in time?"

"True...  I suspect she may call as a courtesy in the next day or two.  I’ll arrange for Natalya to meet with her as well."


“Good idea, Shirley.  And the fact that her Great Great Grandfather was one of the Japanese killed way back then means in her culture that this is a matter of honor."


“Oops – sorry, am I in early?”


“No you’re just in time,” Shirley said as the screen split, and Maddie appeared from LA.  “The others should be joining us in a moment – I needed to speak to Juliette first.”


“Fair enough – and congratulations Ju.  Grandmother three times over now!”


“Yeah – I’m slowly getting used to it,” Juliette said with a smile.


“Maddie, JD had dinner with us last night – she said to say hello to everyone over there.”


“How’s she enjoying her vacation?”


“Wondering when it will start,” Shirley said with a laugh.  “She’s going to help us tomorrow with a job that has a bearing on today as well.”


“Ah – so this is to tell us what this mysterious job is?”


“Oh yes,” Ju said as the door opened, and Susan came in with Heather and Caroline.  “Good morning Shirley,” Susan said as she and the others sat down, “Who’s joining us from that side?”


“Morning everyone,” Penny said as she and Lily joined Shirley, “Charlotte is meeting with her mother to agree who gets which invite for the wedding.”


“Which invite?  Is this wedding like yours Ju,” Maddie asked.


“Slightly worse actually,” Juliette said with a smile.  “Okay – is everyone ready?”


As the women on the other two screens nodded, Juliette said “with the exception of Heather and Shirley, how many of you are familiar with the legend of the Manchurian Gold?”


“The story of a gold haul destined for the Chinese side of the Sino-Japanese war, that disappeared?  Seen the Christopher Lee film,” Maddie said, “but…  Oh Goddess – are you telling me it’s true?”


“That is what I’m telling you,” Juliette said, “and Shirley was the one to set me on the track.  Her gift to me of the Rhymaes memoirs had a story in it, about how he and Jayes stole from the daughter of a Japanese diplomat – but it was the name that rang a bell, and got me thinking…”


The three rooms sat and listened as Juliette explained the story of Barty and Jayes, the confirmation that a load of Gold bullion was smuggled out of the US, and the official reports.


“On that night,” she concluded, “the true location of the bullion was lost – until now.  I’ve traced back the records, and I have a good idea of where the gold is.”


“Won’t the Chinese and Japanese have something to say about this?”


“I’ve spoken with the Honoured Father – actually, grovelled in apology is closer to the truth,” Juliette said.  “If we do this, the gold is returned to him – but trust me, the finder’s fee for the recovery is massive, and more than compensates all involved.”


“As for the Japanese angle,” Shirley said, “that became a reality today.  We will update later.”


“So what do we need to establish before we move forward,” Maddie said.


“First, just how responsive will the Metropolitan Police be if an emergency erupts.  We have that in hand for tomorrow,” Shirley said.


“And we need the exact location – Heather?”


“We obtained an Underground map for London – a complete one,” Juliette said, “with all the hidden tunnels and stations.  Heather – over to you.”


"Juliette thinks there is a room that formed part of the original palace of Whitehall that was buried and forgotten." Heather briefed the meeting.

"Like the one they found under the Ministry of Defence a few years ago?" Lily ventured over the net.

"Just so, and fancy you knowing that," Madame turned and smiled.


“Girl needs a hobby, as Helen said – mine is Secret History,” Lily said with a smile.

"Well Juliette thinks that some Chinese workers digging side shafts for the Tube, stumbled upon this room when they accidentally knocked down a wall."

"And they told someone who thought what better place to store the gold?" Maddy spoke from LA. "Ingenious."

"I think so," Juliette smiled.  “They were working on the Bakerloo line – specifically, the Whitehall station that was between Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross as was – Charing Cross and Embankment as is now.”


“Damn close to Downing Street and the MoD,” Penny said.


“Which is why it was closed down during the war – it was used for storage and so on, and never reopened.  The most anyone ever saw of it after that was when they built the spur of the Jubilee line to Charing Cross – they used the spur tunnel for it.  But that was closed in 1999.”


“So the line is still there?”


“And the station,” Heather said.  "Ju thinks she knows where the bricked up entrance is, and that they lay off a side shaft that was on old maps, but now appears to be completely forgotten."

"Intriguing." Penny pursed her lips.


"The problem is there are three lost shafts down there," Juliette spoke quietly. "and access is difficult. it's why we need Barb Brookmayer's drone."


“She’s coming in later today,” Lily said, “and we’ll brief her then.”


“Ju – if this works,” Maddie said, “what exactly are we looking at?”


“Honestly Maddie?  Nine figures.”


The room sat in silence, before Shirley said “all right ladies – let’s get the additional information we need – and no info leaves these rooms.”



5 pm Local Time

Emiliano Rio

Av. Atlantica, Rio de Janeiro


“Wow – what a place,” Jeannie said as the limousine pulled up at the front of the metal-fronted building.


“It’s an unusual design,” Barbara said as she got out of the car, John giving the driver a hand with the wheelchair as hotel staff came out to collect the luggage.  Jeannie and Barbara were wearing short sleeved dresses and linen jackets, while John had on a pale tan suit and a blue shirt underneath.  He lifted Jeannie into the chair and then wheeled her into the reception area, a tall, well dressed man walking over as they came in.


"Welcome to the Emiliano Miss Brewster," the manager shook her hand and then kissed it.  “We are so glad you are staying with us for the next few days.”

"Thank you...and this looks to be an amazing hotel," Jeannie responded. "This is my Mother, and My Grandfather."

"You are welcome," the man kissed Barbara's hand and shook John's.  “We have suites ready for all of you – one of them adapted to your needs Miss Brewster, with a connecting door to the rooms your grandfather and mother will use on either side.  Allow me to show you to the rooms – and if there is anything we can do, just ask.”


“Of course,” Jeannie said as they made their way to the lifts, emerging on the floor as the manager opened a door and they entered a large open area.


“The bed has been lowered for your comfort,” the manager said, “and we have re-fitted the bathroom to accommodate a wet room as opposed to the bath and shower.  If you will allow me to show you to your rooms?”


As he left with John and Barbara, Jeannie wheeled herself to the balcony and looked out onto the Copacabana beach.  She could see where the preparations for the Olympics were underway, smiling as her mother came back in and said “well, we should do this more often.”


“I know – it’s amazing,” Jeannie said as John tipped the porters, and then walked over.


“Come on – we need to unpack, and apparently we are meeting the official escort for drinks at seven thirty?”


7.30 pm Local Time


As John pushed Jeannie into the bar area, and Barbara walked beside her, Jeannie smiled at the tall blonde haired woman who stood up at a group of seas round a low table.


Yuh made it BS,” she said as they came over, “welcome tuh Rio.”


“Good to be here Esther,” Jeannie said as Essie Lowenstein kissed her on the cheek.


"You must be Jeannie's Mom?" Essie kissed her.  “A pleasure to meet you.”

"Please call me Barbara...and this is my father, John."

"Delighted to meet you," the Brooklyn woman shook his hand.  “Right – we got some wine chilling, and I think the hotel turn a blind eye to your age while you’re here.  School done for another year?”

“Oh yes – but I’m unfortunately missing Abby’s commencement for this.”


Oh she'll unnerstand - she knows how much dis means tuh you.  ‘Ere” she said as she handed them each a glass, “here's tuh de holidays - even de wawhkin' ones.”


"So Essie, where are we going to shoot this?" Jeannie asked after she had taken a sip.”

"Out there on Copacabana," she waved her hand, "and at the Olympic facilities."

"I hear they are still unfinished?" John remarked.


“Some are good enuff – or so dey tell me…”


"The Palomino asked to be remembered to you Essie."

"Oh Gawd, been years since I saw Grace,” Essie said, “I hear she's der dean at yer school?"

"That she is," Jeannie paused. "Look I've heard so many horror stories about Rick as a photographer. Grace was telling me about her in a white suit in Costa Rica. Abs was telling me about frying her in Fiji."

"He can get pretty bad, but dats why I'm here to watch," the Brooklyn woman smiled. "However why the magazine uses him year after year is he gets da most amazin' images. You'll love der photos even if you curse him while he takes dem."


“Fair enough,” Barbara said, “but if he tries anything tomorrow…”


Fair enough.” Essie said with a smile. “Right - let's go and eat. De othuh models arrive tomawhrow, so dat yuh get de day tuh do some sightseein'...



Friday 27th May

6.30 am BST

The Victoria Embankment, London


“It’s quiet,” Lily said as she sat in the front of the transit van, “how long before the armoured car is due to make an appearance?”


“Two minutes,” Penny said as she sat in the back of the van with Illyana, checking their weapons and the small charges the Russian woman had prepared.  “Car two, what’s your status?”


“Holding position,” Shirley said as she sat behind the wheel of the second van, JD and Natalya sitting behind her.  All six women were wearing black roll neck sweaters, leggings and Dr Marten boots, their eyes black and staring, their lips red and full.


Shirley caressed the wheel of the van in her leather gloved hands, and said “have we got eyes on the situation?”


“Patched into the local travel cams,” a voice came over, “we have eyes on the whole street, and…  Two minute warning.”


“Suit up,” Shirley said as the six women pulled down the edges of the hats they were wearing, pulling them down as the balaclavas covered their heads, so that only their eyes and lips were seen.


From the side view mirror, Lily could see the white armoured car coming along.  “Okay – prepare to move out on my mark,” she said as she started the engine. 


“Ready when you are,” Shirley said as she started the engine, the girls behind her pumping the Hecklers they were carrying.


“Done this before, haven’t you,” Natalya said to JD.


“Oh yes,” the Californian said as Shirley said “we are a go.”



The driver of the armoured car was moving slowly, not wishing to attract attention, keeping to the speed limit as it passed the two transit vans.


“Must have been getting breakfast,” he said, his colleague nodding as he saw them move off.


“Must be late them” he said as one accelerated past – and then swerved in front and came to a sudden halt, the back doors of the van opening as two armed and masked women jumped out.


“Shit,” he said as he realised the second van had stopped behind him – and then there was the sound of glass shattering, cutting both fo them as one fo the women fired a blast into the front window.  It was the last sound the driver ever heard, as his head exploded from the bullet passing through it.


His colleague stared at him as the door was wrenched open – and then the red splatter was added to as he was shot in the head, Natalya walking round to join JD as they fired over the heads of the pedestrians on either side.


At the same time, Illyana jumped out of the van at the rear, Penny covering her as she attached a small device to the back of the van and stood back.  The explosion blew the door away, as Penny fired into the van, and pulled the guard out, blood pouring from his leg wounds.


“Shut the fuck up and sit down,” she said as she and Illyana grabbed the money bags, coming round and throwing them quickly into the back of the rear van as JD ran round to help.  As she threw her bags in, a police car drew up – and she shot at the tyres, blowing them out as it swerved into the entrance of the nearby park.


“GO GO GO!!” Penny shouted as she threw the last of the bags in, jumping in with Illyana and JD as Natalya fired over the heads of the crowds again, and jumped in behind Shirley, both groups slamming the doors shut as the vans drove off at high speed.


“Timing,” Shirley said as they drove towards Tower Hill.


“Alarms were raised as soon as you started firing,” the voice said, “three minutes for the first car to arrive, which you took care of.  You are now on the police alert.”


“Split – rendezvous at base,” Shirley said as she saw Lily drive up towards Blackfriars Bridge, and then dove at speed to Tower Bridge.  As she went under, a set of double doors was opened out, and she drove in, the doors closing as she killed the engine.


“Good work,” she said to the two women who came alongside, and removed her balaclava.  “Natalya?”


“Apart from the two in the van, and some possible injuries from diving for cover, no major casualties.”


“Lose the van and the weapons – inform me when Lily checks in,” Shirley said as they walked to a side room, and started to change.





8 am BST

Xavier International


“Good morning Amanda,” Shirley said as he walked in, her grey leather skirt moving like butter with each step.


“Good morning Madame – Natalya and Tracy are waiting for you in your room.”


“Thank you,” she said as she went in, Tracy and Natalya standing as she closed the door.


“Lily arrived at the garage at 0700 as planned,” Natalya said, “no problems.  The weapons and vehicle are being disposed of, and the others are making their way in by separate routes.”


“The take?”


Tracy looked at her pad and said “slightly more than figured – 3.5 million.”


“Good – let me know when it is processed.  So – why are you looking so glum?”


“We had a call just before you came in – Tamiko Tanaka wishes to visit and pay her respects.  I said we were checking your diary, and would return the call within the hour.”


“Well,” Shirley said, “we must show due respect.  When is convenient today?”


“As you will wish to consult with Juliette, may I suggest eleven?  I can be free then as well.”


“Very well then – inform George we will have visitors, and make sure her assistants are given all due respect.”



11 am BST

Xavier International


George looked up from the reception desk as the three people came in.  The two men were tall, short black hair, fitted suits, but to the old experienced eyes of George he knew they were armed, and the way they looked round spoke volumes.


And then there was the women who came in with them – a black jacket and skirt, obviously tailored, the white silk blouse open at the neck, and the three inch Italian leather shoes.  He smiled as he said “welcome to Xavier International – how can I help you?”


“Miss Tamiko Tanaka to see Miss Shirley Xavier?”


He glanced at the monitor and said “of course – I will call Miss Kosolov, and ask her to come to take you up.  May we offer your assistants some coffee?”


“Most acceptable,” she said as she talked quietly to them in Japanese, and they nodded, before they went and sat in a set of chairs.  As they waited, George watched her looking round in an appraising manner.


“Tamiko – you pay us a great honour by visiting us today.”


Tamiko stood and smiled as she saw Natalya come from the lifts, her hands extended in greeting.  “It is good of you to come and greet me,” she said with a smile, “in your own place of business.”


“Had we known you were in London, we would have extended an invitation,” Natalya said as she looked at the two men.  “As it is, I am glad we could find time for you to call.  Will your attendants by accompanying you to the meeting?”


“No – your security chief offered some coffee, but I am sure they will not be needed for this meeting.”


“Excellent,” she said as she nodded to the two men, one of the reception staff bringing coffee over as Natalya indicated the lifts.


“So this is the centre of Xavier International,” Tamiko said as the lift went up.


“Indeed – it provides a hub for our activities,” Natalya said.


“I heard on the news of an armoured car robbery by the river, near your Houses of Parliament.  A most audacious action.”


Natalya stayed quiet as the lifts opened, and she indicated Tamiko should walk in front of her.  As they walked to the office, Penny watched from the door of her office, her face unreadable.


“Come in,” the deep rich voice said as Natalya knocked, and she opened the door as Shirley stood and walked to the centre of the room.


“Miss Tanaka,” she said with a deep bow, “I am pleased to be able to finally make your acquaintance.”


“The honour is mine, Madame,” Tamiko said as she bowed in response.  “I bring greeting and prayers for your good health from my father.”


“Please thank him when you next speak to him, and assure him of my continued good wishes,” Shirley said as she indicated a low table.  “May I offer you some refreshment?  Some Saki perhaps?”


“A little early for me, thank you, but if you have some tea?”


“Will Lapsang Souchong be acceptable?”


“Most acceptable,” Tamiko said as she sat down, Natalya heading to the door as Shirley sat with her.


“I am sorry I was not informed of your visit, or I would have made a formal invitation to visit,” Shirley said as Natalya sat with them.


“So Natalya told me, but this visit was arranged at short notice, and so there was not time to formally inform you.  I wanted to visit today to offer my apologies for any slight that may have been felt.”


“None was felt, but you were most considerate,” Shirley said as the door opened, and Amanda brought in a tray with a large teapot, three china cups, milk and lemon.  Laying it down, she bowed and then walked out.  “How do you take your tea?”


“Black, thank you,” Tamiko said as Natalya poured.


“So,” Shirley said as she sat back, “what brings you to my home city?”


Tamika smiled as she sipped her tea, and put the cup down.  “A matter of family history that I need to attend to, nothing more.  I assure you, Madame, we have no intentions of interfering with your normal operations.”


“I am pleased to hear that,” Shirley said with a smile, “so this is simply a family matter you are attending to?”


“Indeed,” Tamiko said, “and a chance to spend some time in this wonderful city.  I have only visited once before, and I was unable to visit many places then.”


“Well, in the spirit of cooperation,” Shirley said, “if there is any way in which we can be of assistance, inform Natalya, and we will see what can be offered.”


“Most kind, and I speak for my father as well as myself,” Tamiko said as she put her cup down.  “Perhaps we can meet for dinner one night this week Natalya?”


“Let us go to my office when we are finished, and see what we can arrange,” Natalya said with a smile…



1 pm BST

Xavier International


Shirley looked over as her desk phone rang, and said as she pressed the speaker button “yes Amanda?”


"Our man at the Home Office for you Madame on your secure line."

"Thank you Amanda," Shirley flipped the voice scrambler on to disguise her voice. "Good afternoon Reginald," she purred.

"It might be for you Madame,” the clipped male voice said in the approved Civil Service voice, “but the events of this morning have created a storm here in the Home Office."

"Events?  What events Reginald?" Shirley's voice came out as a silky purr.

"You know very well what I mean Madame, the armoured car raid on the Embankment...'

"Oh don't worry about that...there will be a little extra bonus for you..."

"I don't give a shit about a bonus Madame if you pardon my French. The Home Secretary has gone ballistic, the Minister of State has been haunting my office. we have had people in from the Justice Ministry, the security services, not to mention the Metropolitan Police."

"Oh? You sound a little upset?"

"Of course I'm bloody well upset Madame.”  The voice remained calm, but the passion was clear as he continued “A raid like that at the start of the rush hour, yards from Whitehall and with the security situation as it is?"

"I needed some extra cash Reginald...I wanted to go shopping later,” Shirley purred, “and it’s just so inconvenient waiting for the banks to open."

"INCONVENIENT!" Sir Reginald's voice thundered down the line.

"Anyway Reginald,” Shirley said, “it really is nothing for all of you to get in a panic about."

"You do not understand Madame, there will be questions in the house. The Home Secretary will need to explain how this happened."

"Well I'm sure you will find some nice excuse for him to give Reginald. Just think how creative you were in explaining that large hole in the Home Office books when you embezzled all those funds from the prison construction funds."

There was silence for a moment.  "Will I never cease to regret that?"

"Probably not...Now be a good boy and go see to this, and let me go on with my shopping...Ciao Reginald."


As she ended the call, Shirley shook her head, and then put the fob on her keyring to her eye, the screen on her laptop moving to the secure network.


“Good afternoon Shirley,” Juliette said as she appeared on the screen.


“Good morning Juliette – you have seen the report on this morning?”


“The raid?  Indeed – but the more important information?”


“The first police unit arrived as we were clearing up – we had to disable the car.  I am informed the full police presence arrived two minutes after we left – so within five minutes of the initial shots been fired.”


"Ouch," Juliette spoke as Shirley finished with the response times. "That's a little quicker by your bobbies then I was hoping for."

"London's like that nowadays Ju, what with the security cameras everywhere..."

"Which I hope none of your faces appeared on?"

"No we took precautions,” Shirley said, “and as I was saying they are getting good at responding to alarms."

"We definitely need to try keep everything as quiet as we can."

"Which will be difficult if we are shooting it out with the Japanese."

"I know," Juliette closed her eyes.  “Did you meet her?”


“She invited herself for a meeting this morning.  Cool and calculating.  I have a grudging admiration for her.”

"Could we buy Tamiko off?"

"No,” Shirley said as she shook her head, “not in her to do that.  she said she is here on a matter of family business.”


“I concur,” Juliette said, “I rang Hong Kong, the answer came back only if we gave them our share."

"Which I'm not entirely sure Tamiko would accept anyway."

"Changing the subject,” Juliette said, “how did JD look?"

"Very good, she has nerves of steel."

"Like her character in the movie eh?"

"For sure Juliette."

"So how many dead and who did the killing?"


“The two drivers – JD and Natalya did that.  The internal guard was shot in the legs by Penny when Illyana blew the doors.  JD also took out the first police car – I’m told they survived.  Apart from that, one onlooker died from a heart attack.”


“Hmm – and Barb?”


“Talking to her this afternoon…”



10 am Local Time

Copacabana Beach


As people walked back, they saw the grey haired man, wearing a short sleeved shirt and flannels with a straw hat on, smiling as he took pictures of the blonde haired woman and the girl in her wheelchair, wearing sunglasses with her blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail.


“And smile,” he said as he took the pictures, the blue sky and sea in the background, and then smiled.


“Let’s have a look then Dad,” Barbara said as the breeze blew her scarf on her neck and shoulders.


"Well they may not be up to Rick Dean's standards,” John laughed, "but they will more than do for the family album."


"Agreed Granddad," Jeannie said as she looked at the digital images. "This is a pretty amazing city, all this sunshine, those fabulous beaches."


"I know," John smiled again as he started to hum.


As he did so, Barbara started to sing along…


Tall and tan and young and lovely

The girl from Ipanema goes walking and

When she passes, each one she passes goes "ah"


When she walks, she's like a samba

That swings so cool and sways so gentle that

When she passes, each one she passes goes


"Would you believe those lyrics were written by Frank Sinatra darling?"


"No, that I didn't know Granddad,” Jeannie said, “but having been to Ipanema now I know what he was saying about the girls."


"It's no wonder that so many of the world’s top girls are Brazilian " Barbara shook her head, "I've never seen so many beautiful women in one place."


"You said that once about Moscow Mum."


"Well this city beats even Moscow."


“So will the next place,” John said, “but I haven’t felt so relaxed in years.”


“True – so where is the first shoot tomorrow?”


“Over there, at the Beach Volleyball Arena,” Jeannie said, “early start tomorrow as well…”


“Well, let’s go and find somewhere to have some lunch,” Barbara said, “I’m told they have a car to take us to the cable car to the statue this afternoon…”




12.45 pm

The Refectory, St Angela’s


“So, for the last time ever,” Letty said as she and Abby sat at a table looking round the room as others sat and talked.  “Ready?”


“Kind of sad, in a way, isn’t it,” Abby said.  “So Tennant happy with the choice of the new head girls?”


“I think so – Ashley Adams was the obvious choice, as was Melody Hardy and Suzie Rolfe.  I think it’s only just beginning to sink in however.”


“Look at them,” Letty said with a smile, “I never thought I’d say it, but I am going to miss this place.”


“It has been a big part of my life,” Abby said as she swallowed some of her wrap, “so yeah, I will miss the place – a little.”  Taking a drink, she then said “but I won’t miss it that much.”


“No – because you’re still going to be involved in the place, Miss Jamie Kirkham Fund patron and model.”


“Oh yeah, Miss Track Star?”


Letty smiled as she took a drink.  “Yeah, yeah – did I hear Poppy and the Freshmen say they were going out as a group tonight?”


“Yup – Poppy scored tickets for School of Rock, and they’re going to Dawn’s parents’ restaurant for a meal afterwards.  Nice move.”


“And while we have our day today, tomorrow afternoon is the big fight.”


“The big fight?”


“Oh yes,” Abby said as she looked at Ama and Jess talking, “the big fight.  Atletico against Real…”





1 pm

The de Ros Mansion


“Okay – now I get it, but how the hell do we shift 10,000 gold bricks, weighing 100 tons Juliette." Diana sipped her coffee, "my darling daughter did the mathematics for me this morning."

"Hopefully by rail,” Juliette said with a smile, “to a place we can get it onto the trucks for Madame and the Honoured Master's people to take away."

"In one night?" Diana shook her head.

"No my plan calls for us to be down there on three consecutive nights."

"Okay… Accepting that, how did it get there in the first place, all that gold?"

"I'm guessing a couple of hundred volunteers doing it by hand over a period of time. Just remember how motivated the Chinese ex-pat community was."

"But by rail? Isn't the London Underground shut down at night for maintenance etc?"

"Yes, and that is to our advantage. Heather thinks she can control the work trains, and that the couple we will be using will just go by unnoticed."


“And we go midweek because it is quieter?”


“Precisely – especially given the results of the test run today,” Juliette said.  “So – the big day tomorrow?”


“Indeed,” Diana said, “and I know who is presenting the scrolls this year.  I think the girls are going to be very pleased.”


“And then the party here afterwards for Abby and Letty?”


“Which Edith is preparing for as we speak.  I still find it hard to believe it has been four years…”


“Anyway,” Juliette said, “once we have the rooms sorted out, we need to prepare a couple of, shall we say, distractions?”


“Side robberies to draw the police away?”


Juliette nodded as she said “as much confusion as possible.”




3.30 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Thank ew Aunty Sandy,” Judith said as she took the drink, and walked over to where Carina was sitting with Jo and Annie.  Rudi and Mags were sleeping in their chairs as Sandy looked at them.


“Well,” Jo said as she looked at the clock, “that should be it.  The year is over.”


“Summer vacation, here they come,” Annie said with a smile.  “Guess what turned up today by the way?”  She looked into her handbag and drew out a brown envelope, removing from inside two passports.


“Good,” Jo said, “so when are you planning to head over?”


“Next week some time,” Cari said with a smile, “we want to be there for my friends arriving next weekend.”


“It should be nice and cool over there,” Jo said with a smile as Judith sat between her mothers.  “so the coffee clutch is gathering?”


“In the kitchen as we speak…”





“Hey Pippa,” Heather said as Pippa Ashley came in, “here you go.”


“Thanks,” Pippa said as she took a sip from the mug, “so that is the school year over again.”


“Any plans for the summer then?”


“Apart from changing jobs,” Pippa said as she raised an eyebrow.  “We’re going over for Abby’s eighteenth, and I’ll take Poppy to London for a few days after that.  Apart from that, it depends on what happens in the UK when they have that vote in a month’s time.”


“The referendum,” Heather said, Pippa nodding as the back door opened, and Elaine came in with April.


“So, the calm before the storm?”


“Indeed,” Pippa said as they sat down.  “Heard from Barbara?”


“What – has she texted me from the very warm, sunny Copacabana Beach?  Nope – and I can’t say I blame her,” Heather laughed.


“So when are you going to give your talks in London Heather?”


“Mid-July – I’m writing my notes now,” Heather said as Denice came in.  “Talking of which – is that you done for the year Denice?”


“Well, I am going to take a break for a few weeks,” Denice said as she sat down, “after the last year, me and Erica need a few weeks just to ourselves.”


“And I can totally understand that,” Heather said as Sands and Katy came in.  “Hey Heather, guess what?”


“You can go and get changed out of your uniform for three months?”


“OH YEAH!”  Katy and Sands high-fived each other as they went out fo the kitchen, and George came in.


“Is it safe to come in,” he said as he looked round.


“They went upstairs – I advise you to move quickly.  If they’re back…”


“The others are coming,” George said as he moved quickly on, while Claire Morse came in.


“Claire?  An end of term treat?”


“In a way,” she said as she sat down, “I need to ask Sandy about some redecorating work I want done while we are away.”


“Well, now Toni has finished refurbishing the apartment for Kylie and Marina…”


“Talking of which,” Claire said, “I hear we are getting some wedding invites soon for Charlotte and Piet?”


“So I understand – and I need to take a mid-trip trip with Sandy to attend,” Heather said.  “July 21st in Naples.”


“Naples?  Oy vey, to use an old Welsh phrase,” Denise said.


“Tell me about it,” Pippa said quietly.  “It’s going to be an event almost on the level of Ju and Klaus’ wedding.”


“What are you talking about,” Caroline said as she came in with Sharon.




“Oh yeah – Sharon, can you take this through to Carina for me?  She’s in the front room.”


“Got it,” Sharon said as she walked through. 


“One thing to bear in mind,” Caroline said as she sat down, “once the invites go out, it’s only a matter of time before the papers find out who Charlotte’s mother is – and then I will predict the media clamour will be worse than for Juliette.”


“How long?”


“Let’s see – the invite states it is the wedding of Charlotte di Cambrello Gordon?  If it was purely the US, I’d say hours, but this is Italy, so…  within an hour of the first invite been opened.”


“What are you doing about it?”


“George and Sharon are on it here, Tracy and Beverley handling it in the UK.  But in the meantime, be alert.”


“Delivered boss,” Sharon said as she came back in, and took a mug of coffee.  There was then the sound of laughing and cheering in the main hallway as the girls came in.


“And that is the last time this will happen for a while,” Abby said as she and Letty came in from the hallway.  “We’re going to baby ogle.”


“As is only right, plus Jo and Cari are in there,” Heather said as they collected some drinks and went out.


“Heather, is there a room we can change in,” Poppy said as she came in.


“Use the spare bedroom upstairs,” Heather said, “and make sure you leave your bags down here.  Denice and Pippa are going to make sure they get to your homes.”


“Thanks – and it is…”


“The one that isn’t mine and Sandy’s, and you don’t get shouted at by either Sands or George.”


“Fair enough,” Poppy said as she said “Follow me girls – if we get shouted at, we’re in the wrong room” and the clatter of feet on the stairs could be heard.





“Welcome to the world of the no longer Angels,” Cari said as Letty and Abby sat down.


“Not yet – not until tomorrow lunchtime,” Abby said.  “Traditions and all that.”




9 pm BST

Chelsea – John and Shirley’s home


“Thank you, Shirley,” Piet said as they sat at the dining table, “that was an amazing meal.”


“Well, I enjoyed making it,” Shirley said as she cleared the dessert plates away, and brought in a platter of cheese as Maisha carried in some biscuits.


“By the way,” Francesca said as she picked up her handbag, “I wanted you to receive this from us personally.”  She took out a red envelope and handed it to Shirley, who opened it and took out the engraved card.


“Of course we accept – and not just because John is the photographer and Maisha as bridesmaid,” Shirley said, “and thank you for the invitation to the wedding itself.”


“Both parts,” Piet said, “we want you to come to the civil ceremony as well.” 


“Thank you,” John said as he took a bottle of port from the drinks cupboard, and Charlotte poured herself some water.


"So how did the readouts from the tests on Barb's drone look Charlotte?" Shirley asked as John passed round the port.

"Well from a computer techs point of view they were excellent. A good strong signal, clear visuals, the digital readings gave us temperature, air quality, etc. Basically all we asked for."

"Then why wasn't Barb totally happy?"

"Because,” Charlotte said, “the controls weren't as clean and crisp as she hoped for, and navigating it in the extremely tight spaces wasn't easy."

"It's a prototype Roo, what do you expect?" Piet smiled as he sipped his port.

"Even as it is, though, it sounds like a first rate machine for helping in search and rescue situations," John smiled, "I say well done to Xavier's for funding her research."

"Well we only took over where the Australian Military stopped because of budget cuts." Shirley smiled back.

"Barb is going to consult with colleagues about the problems this weekend, and she hopes to have it for re-testing on Tuesday."

"I'm proud of you for your work on this project Charlotte." Francesca patted her daughters hand. 

"Mama,” Charlotte said as she smiled, “all I've basically done is handle some of the monitoring, Barb is the engineer, and most of the software was done by someone else."

"Still I'm proud of you darling."

Charlotte blushed, "thank you Mama."

"You haven't said a lot Maisha?" Piet spoke.

"Sorry,” the young African girl said, “I was thinking of that mine collapse back home in Mazengwe last year, those poor people they couldn't get to in time, and how this would have helped locate them quicker."

"You are right of course," Piet nodded, "I can be a bit of a technophobe, but even I'll say we do need things like this."


“By the way, Diana confirmed our present for Abby has arrived,” John said.


“Oh – is it Commencement for Abby tomorrow?”


“It is – we sent a set of books of classic fashion photography over…”



9.30 pm



As the DJ played the music, the group of girls were happily dancing, without a care in the world – the perfect antidote to a hard week at work.


"So where are Charlotte and Piet tonight?" Lily yelled above the music at Peri.

"A dinner party at Madame's.  Francesca is going with them as well."

“Oh yeah – they were discussing the results of the drone tests?”


“And discussing wedding arrangements, I think,” Lily said as the music ended, and they made their way to their booth.


"Why do some of you call Shirley Madame?" Hannah asked as she walked with them.

"Oh its sort of a nickname," Lily smiled.  “A mark of respect, at how hard she works and the encouragement she gives us.”

"Alright, and by the way thanks for inviting me, this club is fantastic."

"Yeah it is aint it?" Bev plonked herself down.  “And fanks for inviting us too.”


“There we go,” Tracy said as she put the tray of drinks down.  “Drink up girls.”


“So when do you head East Bev,” Peri asked.


“Middle of July – but I’m meeting ‘Elen next week to discuss some pre-work,” Bev said as she took her drink.


10 pm BST



“Charlotte, with the invitations now on their way, we need to discuss how we are going to deal with the press.”


“Okay,” Charlotte said as they sat round the coffee table, "Who must I definitely talk to Mama?"

Francesca put her coffee cup down.  "RAI are the Italian equivalent of the BBC darling, so them for sure. Mediaset are the Berlusconi commercial network. There are several major newspapers, some radio stations, but Elia will handle all the formal requests for interviews and will advise us which we should do."

"But then there are the others, the freelances, the paparazzi. They'll be the particularly pesky ones Roo."

"So I'd guessed Piet."  Sipping her coffee, she said “I guess it’s time for Bev to step up to the plate.”


“She’s been fully briefed,” Shirley said quietly, “and I can alert my office to divert any enquiries to your secretary in Naples.”


"Will they mind talking in English? I'm going to learn Italian..."

"But,” Piet said, “she'd find it easier currently doing the interview in Zulu, or Sotho..."

"Or Zenga." Maisha laughed as she interrupted Piet.


“So – what are they going to say?  Are we talking Hello or Times headlines here?”


"Oh I can imagine the headlines darling," Francesca sighed. "’La Bionda Idiota Has A Secret Daughter' or 'La Bionda Idiota's Long Lost Daughter Revealed', Oh I'm sure you can think of plenty my darling?"

"Unfortunately I can."


"Francesca you really should stop using that name about yourself." John spoke quietly. "Whatever problems you had in the past, and for whatever reason you played to that image, Francesca darling you are not an idiot."

"Thank you John, but once you acquire a nickname, they can be very hard to lose."


“So in the UK Press?”


Piet sat back and closed his eyes.  “Time, Telegraph, Guardian – nothing, but expect the Sunday Magazines to want a word.  Express and Mail will want an exclusive interview, but turn them both down – neither will do a good job.  Your problem here is going to come from the Redtops and the weekly gossip magazines.”


“Especially the Sunday rags,” John said quietly.  “And for television, it’s the satellite and cable channels you need to worry about – and This Morning.”


“I’m going to suggest we get those enquiries, if and when they arrive, to come through our office,” Shirley said, “and we can work out how to deal with this.”




Saturday 28th May

8.30 am

The Richmond Mansion


"It's going to seem strange sitting in the Old Girls section," Jo said as she slipped her low-heeled sandals on.

"I know, it was last year to watch you graduate...Going to be even stranger seeing Abby." Carina looked down and checked her high heeled pumps.

"Well at least I'm nowhere near as nervous, I was sure the school would find some error and say I couldn't graduate." Jo checked her appearance in Cari's mirror.

"So which car are we going in?"

"Your Maserati I hope, I'm not really dressed for the jeep."

"No you aren't," Juliette came in brushing herself down. "Klaus and I will go in my Lincoln."

"Heather and Sandy are going in the limo Diana has hired, and Sands is coming with them." Jo stood back satisfied with her reflection.

"Well the babies are all at April's, and are being spoiled rotten."

"I know Mom, I dropped off the twins and Judith earlier, and it was like a creche."

"So are Judy, the Sluts, and other friends of Abigail's coming to Commencement or just the party?" Jo asked.

"Not sure." Carina started to check herself.


“We need to make a move, ladies,” Klaus said as a limousine pulled up.  Sandy and Heather came out with Sands, the young teenager wearing a blue dress with black heels, Heather and Sandy wearing grey coat dresses.


“George, will you be all right,” Heather called out.


“Yes – go and have fun,” he called back from upstairs.


“We’ll see you there,” Sandy said as they got into the limousine, the others following to their cars.


10 am Local Time

The Beach Volleyball Area, Copacabana Beach.


“You have got to be kidding me.”


Jessica Long and Jeannie looked at Essie as they sat in the preparation area.


“Nope,” Rick’s assistant said, “he wants to do the first shoot on the court, with the two of you playing Beach Volleyball.”


“Small problem,” Barbara said with a grin, “the chair?”


“No need – this will be sitting Beach Volleyball,” Rick said as he came into the tent.  “If you ladies are ready?”


John wheeled Jeannie out onto the side of the court, as they saw the low net and the two players on the court already.


“So Jessica, you join Maria on that side, and if Jeannie can be lifted to sit next to Consuela?”


“Well hello there,” Jeannie said as the two male assistants lifted her from her chair and sat her on the warm sand, the fitted gold bikini gleaming in the sun.  “so how do we do this?”


“Just pass the ball to each other,” Rick said as he set up his camera, Jessica in a silver bikini and the two girls in bikini tops and shorts, “and then we’ll make a start.”


“Well, it’s certainly different,” Jeannie said as they started to pass the ball around, Essie, Barbara and John watching as Rick started to take pictures…


9.30 am

New York Botanical Gardens


As always the people at the New York Botanical Garden had done the school proud in creating both a presentation area, and putting up the marquees for the reception, and for the girls to change in

This year the deity was also smiling on New York with a sunny day, temperatures in the mid 70's, and just enough of a breeze to cool people down a tad.

Grace had been there since early morning supervising preparations for her first Commencement since she became dean, and all was going well. The string quartet was rehearsing, the caterers were busy, the programs had arrived. Yes, all was going as she had planned.


The girls had started arriving and were talking in small groups as they stood in their white dresses.  Parents were also having a drink as Kate and Wilhelmina came over.


“This looks fantastic Grace,” Kate said.  “And the girls look so happy.”


“They do indeed,” Grace said with a smile, “and our guest.”


“Has just arrived,” Wilhelmina said as Ingrid waved from the side.  “If you will excuse me?”





“Hello Diana,” Mercy Kinman said as they stood in the marquee, “how are you feeling today?”


“If I said proud and a little sad at the same time, would that be strange?”


“Not really,” Mercy said with a smile.  She was wearing a cornflower blue sun dress with a thin white belt round her waist, and white shoes, while Diana was wearing a dark blue coat dress and black shoes.  “I feel the same way.” She looked over to where Abby and Letty were talking to some of the other girls.  Letty was wearing a simple white dress, held up by thin shoulder straps, the skirt coming to just above her knees, while Abby wore a white topless dress, her long legs below the mid-length skirt and in a pair of three inch white stilettos.


“So will you be having a holiday before her birthday?”


“We will be making a few trips,” Diana said with a smile, “you?”


“Heading to Florida for two weeks.”


“It’s time,” Grace said as she hung the dividing curtain across, while Ally and Letty smiled.


“So – it’s finally time,” Abby said as Celia walked over, wearing a white blouse and long skirt.  “We made it,” she said with a smile.


“Yeah we did – did we look that nervous last year,” Letty said as she looked at the Junior class, in their uniforms.


“I think we did,” Celia said as Grace looked round.


"In effect our first class reunion will be your birthday party Abs." Letty grinned. "So many of us have been invited, does your Grandmother have that many spare rooms?" 

"No, but she's commandeered a nearby hotel, and that will provide beds for the overflow."

"Who needs a bed?" Brooke Paget laughed, "I'm determined to see and do everything on my first visit to France. Sleep can wait till I get home."


“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Miss Tennant said, “can you please take your seats for the ceremony?”


Diana and Mercy walked out and took seats next to each other in the neatly arranged rows, as Kate Hardisty put the box of scrolls on the table next to the lectern that sat in the middle of the stage.  As they talked quietly, the faculty came out and took their seats, Annie joining them as she looked out.


“Annabelle, Rachel, Letty?”




As Grace nodded, they each placed the daisy chain on their heads as Grace called out “line up in alphabetical order girls.”


"So other than your modeling, what other plans before college Abs?" Lindsay Devonshire who stood behind Abigail whispered.

"I have to do a summer photographic project for Cooper Union. Carina knows a couple of girls who row, and they will be in Munich training, so I'm doing a portfolio of pictures of them."

"Sounds Dolls, I'm just heading out to misbehave myself at my folks place on the island..."

"And then off to Yale." Abby smiled.

"As you say, then Yale."

"I'm more nervous than I was at our deb presentations Linds, what about you?"

"Can't you hear my teeth chattering?” Lindsay laughed as she said “Still at least for my parents this is their last Commencement, after 5 girls I'm the last."

"Yeah it seems like a lot of us are cutting the strings that have tied us to St Angela's."


In the open air outside, Diana watched as the Junior class were led out by Ashley Adams, Melody Hardy and Suzie Rolfe.


“No more trips to Saks for school uniform,” Mercy whispered, Diana nodding as Grace, Kate and Wilhelmina came to the stage.


“Ladies and gentlemen,” Miss Tennant said from the lectern, “please be upstanding for the class of 2016.”


The group stood up as Annabelle, Rachel and Letty led the class out, taking their seats as their parents and family watched.  When they were all in place, Miss Tennant said, “Welcome, everyone, to the 2016 Commencement ceremony.  As is tradition, we start with the school song.”


As the Seniors started to sing the first verse, Abby was taken by surprise at the way her throat was catching.  As she looked round, she saw others felt the same – especially when the Juniors joined in for the second verse, and then they fell silent, the song ending with the younger girls.


In the section behind the Juniors, Jo and Carina were wiping their eyes as well.




“Ally – you’re late.”


“Yeah, sorry,” she said as she and her mother sat down, “had to take care of something first.”


As they finished the song, the girls and guests sat down as Annabelle came to the lectern.


“Class of 2016,” she said as she looked out onto the rows of seats, “we come to the end today of a journey that started in August four years ago, when we all walked through the gates of our school, and began our time as Angels.  It gives me great pleasure to see you all here today, and also to see our parents, and so many of those who went through this before us, here today to help us celebrate the end of that journey.


“In those four years, we have been through good times, and bad times, but in all those times one thing remained the same – the fact we were a group together, Angels once and Angels all.”


There was a round of applause from the Old Girls section as Annabelle paused.  “But, here we are – and we are here thanks to our parents’ support, our friends’ support, and those who have taught us over the years.  To all of them, on behalf of all of us, I say thank you for all you have done.”


There was a louder round of applause as Annabelle said “and now, it is our turn to move on and become the next group of Angels to go into the wider world.  We go forth confident, and proud, that we are friends forever, and share that bond which is common to so many here – that we are now, forever and always Angels.”


As the group applauded, Rachel and Letty came to the stage.


“And so, we begin to pass the baton, and I invite Ashley, Melody and Suzie to come and join us.”


The three girls walked up and stood in front of Annabelle, Rachel and Letty as they removed the daisy chains from their heads, placing them on theirs. 


“Today we hand the role of Head Girls to you.  Make us proud and lead wisely.”


“We will,” they said, as Letty hugged Ashley and whispered “Good luck.”


Mercy wiped away a tear from her eye as they walked off together.


“Please welcome, to hand out the scrolls this year, a most special guest - Carmen Dell’Orefice.”


“Oh my goddess,” Abby whispered as the veteran model came onto the stage and hugged Grace, Kate and Wilhelmina to applause.


“Will this be me in five years Mom,” Sands whispered as Grace came down while the Seniors formed a line by Kate.


“I pray so,” Sandy said with a smile as Grace said “as is the tradition, we will call the girls up by name, and we ask you to hold any applause until all girls have come up.”


Wilhelmina and Carmen stood by the lectern as Annie brushed away a couple of tears of pride where she sat on the stage with the other members of staff.  So many of the girls had been on the track teams or helped…


"We start with Serena Appleton, Cornell.”


“Carey Ashburton, University of Vermont."


Annie watched as the young brunette walked up, lifting the skirt of her Edwardian style dress, and accepted the scroll from Carmen before shaking her and Wilhelmina by the hand.

"Philippa Connery, Mount St Mary's."

"Phil may never have been a star,” Annie thought as she watched, “but whether she was running or just watching she never complained, I'm going to miss her."

"Jennifer Craig, Harvard."

"Harvard are getting a great prospect in the sprint hurdles," she thought as she looked on.


“She looks nervous,” Ally whispered to Jo and Cari as Abby got close to the front of the line.


“And you weren’t?”


“Showtime,” Abby whispered to herself as she got to the front of the line, and Grace read out "Abigail de Ros, Cooper Union."  She walked forward, Diana smiling as she walked up the stairs.


“Very well done, Stick,” Carmen said as she handed Abby the scroll, and then shook her hand, Annie beaming as Wilhelmina shook Abby’s hand, and whispered “thank you, for all you have done.”


“Thank you,” Abby whispered as she walked back down and took her seat again, Diana nodding as she did so.

"Letitia Kinman, University of Pennsylvania."

"Oh I'm just so happy for Letty," Annie thought as the Athletics captain came up and received her scroll, other following in order.

“Bryn Mawr, Oxford.”


"Rachel Merriman, Yale."

"Paula Miller, University of Southern California." 

"Paula may have been here only one year," Annie thought as the blonde Californian came up, "but she helped make this a real championship year.”

"Kim Mi-sun, Ewha Womans University."

"Brooke Paget, University of Michigan."

"I hope she gets the chance to run in the Big 10, she really is good enough,” Annie thought, “and I’d love to see her race Jo again, but Michigan are so loaded with talent."

"Annabelle Petrie, Brown."

“Another for your alma mater,” Heather whispered to Sandy.


“And one or two for yours as well,” Sandy whispered back.


"Sherry Piper, Syracuse."

"Elizabeth Stafford, Columbia."

"Weng Ni, Case Western Reserve."

"And finally, but by no means last, Celia Zyborg, Columbia."


As Celia took her scroll and shook their hands, the others watching started to clap those who had now completed their education, Celia taking her seat as Carmen came to the lectern.


“I was asked if I would say a few words,” she said as she looked at the class.  "From the advantage spot of my many years on this earth I look out on all your bright, smiling, hopeful, faces, then I know that the future is in good hands." Carmen smiled.


"I will freely confess, I was surprised when Dean Brand and Principal Tennant invited me to give this address. I'm sure it’s not normal for anyone who didn't even get close to graduating from high school to do so, but I'm just so happy that they did, and that I have the pleasure of being with you today.

"In the course of my life it has been my pleasure to meet, and befriend I hope many wonderful, and some very famous people. They have all shared many similar characteristics, but above all from the lowliest to the highest I've learned that they are all unique, and special in their own ways.

"Each of you,” she said as she looked out, “has so much to look forward to, and I want you to all for a second dream.  Dream that special secret dream that is your greatest ambition.”  She paused for a moment, before she said “now remember that dream because that should be your goal in life, to reach for your dreams.

"Salvador Dali, who I had the pleasure of both modeling for, and knowing as a friend, said ‘Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.’  Don't let the so-called real world limit your ability to dream and to stop you from attaining your vision. as Dali also said, 'One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion then the world of dreams'."


There was a round of applause as Carmen looked on.  "Just think on that a second girls, and chose what you think he meant. I've always taken it that growing up poor in Manhattan, I should never let drabness drag me down. You may have other ideas what he meant, but at the heart of it I believe is one simple, clear message.  You are now going out into the world, and it is there for you to shape so that you find your place to succeed and make your parents, your friends, and this fine school proud of you.


“So today, you are allowed to feel sad, but also feel proud, and take your place in the world knowing you walk with your classmates, your friends, your families.  Principal Tennant, Dean Brand, honoured guests, girls – thank you for letting me be a part of today.”


As she stepped back, the audience stood and clapped as Miss Tennant came to the front.  “There remains but one thing to do.  I invite the class of 2017 please stand in front of the stage, and present the class of 2016 with their pins.”


As the Juniors lined up, the faculty stood and the Seniors came out, standing in front of them as each was handed a gold Angel Pin.


“And with that, I say congratulations to the class of 2016, and good luck.  Please, join us for refreshments in the tent.”


“And breathe,” Letty shouted out as the Seniors clapped and cheered, hugging each other as they made their way to the marquee.








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