The Best Laid Plans – Part 4
Wednesday 1st June
“This all just doesn’t make any sense,” Eleanor sipped her morning coffee she looked out over the bay. “There is no way to explain logically Juliette Huntingdown, Anna Carlton…or for that matter Janice.”
“What am I missing?” she asked herself as she sat at the bar in her kitchen, “what are the missing pieces in this puzzle?”
Slowly in her mind Eleanor went over what she knew as facts, and what she had surmised. That Jan was a sister just as she was didn’t really surprise her, Madame and the others had recruited key personnel across many security and military groups, and she had been involved in the siege where Kimba was killed. Kimba – she had met him once, and knew exactly what he was…
“Alright accepting that fact,” she talked to herself, “why in a crisis turn to Juliette?”
This was the point she kept getting stuck at, what talents did Juliette bring to the sisterhood that made an experienced FBI agent go straight to her?
There was precious little in the way of clues in Juliette’s background, Eleanor had done the checks. Teen model, far more than average level student, successful adult model, writer, mother, businesswoman, those were all great achievements, but they were not the things that got one invited to become a sister. What wasn’t in the files on Juliette? Eleanor asked herself that question for the twentieth time that night.
And then there was Anna, what to make of her? She was a schoolgirl genius, a model, and the girlfriend to one of the richest young men in the country. She was likeable, erudite, and had charisma, but none of that would explain why Katy after finding out her best friend was knee deep in shit went running to her for help. And then what was Katy’s role in this whole damn mess?
Eleanor poured herself another coffee, she hated any situation where there were more questions than answers, and in this situation there were very few precious answers to anything. Maybe her visit today to FBI headquarters might yield some answers. She was going to put each of these people under the microscope as though they were suspects, and look at every piece of seemingly even unrelated information until she had a solution to this conundrum.
“I do not like not knowing,” she said to herself, even as she asked herself another question.
If I do find out, what then?
FBI Headquarters, Washington
“Alright Juliette where do you travel to?” Eleanor asked herself as she sat at the computer terminal and searched through ICE records.
“London, Paris, Milan, all regularly, but those are the fashion capitals so that’s hardly to be unexpected.” Eleanor looked further mumbling to herself, “regular trips to Hong Kong, but since her business is importing textiles from the far east that’s not a shocker. Germany? Well she’s married to a German prince of course she goes there.”
Eleanor perused the page; all the others were probably shoots she worked out. St Petersburg this past winter she for example knew for sure was. No there was nothing obvious in her pattern of foreign travel to give any clues.
“Okay, where do you fly to domestically Juliette?” Eleanor smiled as the list came up, Juliette certainly racked up the frequent flyer miles, but again these all looked innocuous and she was sure coincided with Juliette’s work.
Leaning back in the chair, she said our loud “What the hell am I missing here?”
“Sorry Agent Sculder,” Eleanor said as she looked up, “just talking to myself.”
“Alright Ma’am just call if you need any assistance.”
“I will,” she said as the young man turned to his work. “Financial records next,” Eleanor told herself in her head. “Now what does Juliette earn?” As she checked the bank statements, she whispered “Damn I should be so lucky.”
The sums of money were considerable, her salary at Complete Style, royalties on her book sales, modeling fees, income from Huntingdown, etc. All extremely kosher and well documented…AND Juliette paid her taxes on time.
“Well on that income I could easily live like she does, especially with a billionaire European prince as my husband,” Eleanor thought as she smiled to herself. She noted the spike in Huntingdown’s profits in the past year or so, and remembered what Janice had told her about her idea for manufacturing accessories, and how well that new line had done in association with APCO. Janice had got very lucky investing when she did in Huntingdown’s.
“Lucky,” the word stuck in Eleanor’s mind. Her training had taught her to be cautious of luck and coincidence. She called up Janice’s personnel file…no nothing there, Jan had asked for all the proper permissions before investing, and she declared her income from that investment.
Janice was extremely lucky in her friends, Eleanor had long since decided, they had got her a cheap apartment in a ritzy neighborhood, store discounts, invitations to society events, all not bad for someone who till two years or so ago had been a fairly average FBI agent from the Long Island suburbs.
Had she run to Juliette simply because she was a friend? No from what Eleanor knew if she was to run to a real friend it would have been Heather.
“Again that same damn question…Why Juliette?” Eleanor asked herself in her head. She then noticed a record in her file. “So young Joanne Smith was kidnapped because she was mistaken for a girl who disappeared – and Jan worked that case with Adam? Explains the friendship…”
As she looked further in, Eleanor vaguely remembered the shooting deaths in the robbery at The Country Club, but she was surprised to read that Juliette’s daughter had been one of the victims and had been at deaths door for a while. Oh and she had been in the crowd at that art gallery when that had been robbed by the Pussycat gang.
“Was that significant, that a Huntingdown had been present at two different Pussycat robberies?”
“Only if you don’t believe that those bitches are extremely well informed,” Eleanor murmured, “poor Carina getting shot like that,” she paused and thought, “of course both Jan and Adam had also been shot by them, if only in a non life threatening place.”
“No being victimized by criminals wasn’t suspicious, just plain unlucky.”
The Berryman residence
As Holly closed the door behind herself, she was surprised to hear a young girl say quietly “hello.” She turned and looked at the young teenager, her hair pulled back, wearing a denim jacket and jeans with a top under the jacket.
“Oh! …YOU are here,” Holly reacted with surprise as she found Sands standing outside her house.
“Well you won’t answer my phone calls Holly, or my text messages,” Sands said as Holly walked over, looking at the way her dress hugged her body. “I figured I had to do this if I was ever going to talk with you again.”
“What do we have to talk about Alexandra?” Holly said quietly. “I thought I made it pretty clear at Abigail’s party what I thought.”
“You did Holly dar…”
“So why stalk me at my own home then?” Holly interrupted.
“Because,” Sands said quietly, “I want to tell you that I still love you.”
“Little girl,” Holly hissed, “you have no real idea what love is.”
“You don’t think so Holly, but in the last month I’ve had to grow up pretty quick.”
“Oh how? As I remember you just had your thirteenth birthday.”
“You know very well how Holly.”
“You think that making love with me and fucking a couple of men makes you a grownup?”
“No,” Sands said quietly, “but I think that dreaming of you every second of my waking day makes me…”
“Infatuated,” Holly broke in again.
“No… a bit more than that my love.”
“Don’t say that Alexandra.”
“Why? Because you love me back?”
“No,” Holly said in a low voice as she came closer, “because any person passing might here you, and I don’t want to explain why a kid is saying such things.”
“Can you at least take back YOUR things please?”
“And be beholden to you for so many expensive gifts? No thank you Alexandra.”
“You were happy enough when you thought Fergus was giving them?”
Holly stared at the teenager, struggling to maintain control, before she said “I think I had a temporary mental condition.”
“So you just can’t face taking them knowing I have paid for them from my trust fund?”
“No…I mean yes.”
“At least take the MG Holly, what use is it to me? I can’t drive for three more years. No use it rotting in some garage.”
“No Alexandra, and I mean NO!” Holly fought with her internal emotions, “I will not take gifts paid for by a child…”
“You knew how old I was when you said that you loved me Holly Berryman.” Alexandra tried to embrace the older, but shorter girl.
“Well I was delusional,” Holly said with no emotion, “ and now please go away Sands, I need go do some shopping.”
“Have it as you like…my love…” Sands turned and walked away.
“Goodbye…My Love,” Holly started to cry.
intervene?" Sandy asked Heather as they watched from the other side of the
street in the van.
them sort this out themselves Lover."
are both crying Heather."
daughter will not appreciate us butting in Sandy."
there wasn't seven years in age between them."
are 12 years older than me,” Heather smiled at her girlfriend.
"But at our ages that makes less difference. We’d better get back – Cari and Annie will be round soon."
The Richmond Mansion
As Jo opened the door, she looked at the von Furstenheim family and said “oh – and what brings you here on this fine morning?”
“I believe we were invited for coffee,” Juliette said as she and Ingrid carried in the babies in their car seats, Klaus following as he held Judith’s hand.
“Oh yes – and the newly weds?”
“Is it actually safe to come in,” Annie said as she entered with Carina.
“Now what on earth makes you think anything is going to happen to you in here?”
Jo shook her head as she said “go on through – Sandy and Heather should be back soon, and I’ll get the coffee going.”
“Okay – sounds quiet,” Carina said as she and Annie went into the front room – to be met by a collection of Sinnerz, from Nessa and Paulie to Ally and Nell.
“Close the door,” Nell said quietly as she grinned, “and tell us everything…”
FBI Headquarters, Washington
“Alright Anna Carlton what does the system know about you?” Eleanor pursed her lips and started typing.
“The only time you’ve been outside the USA up to now was to go to Germany in…Well you were one of Juliette’s bridesmaids so that explains that. Internally,” she changed screens, “Flights to Chicago occasionally, the van Roon boy of course.” Buffalo, Philadelphia, Los Angeles just the once. They all looked like modeling gigs. So nothing suspicious there at all.
“This is getting frustrating…”
“Coffee Ma'am?” agent Wolf Sculder asked.
“Only if you are getting some for yourself young man.”
“Well then yes please.”
As she waited, she dug into the financial records. Anna’s parents’ financials yielded nothing, they were just a pretty average family, with a very gifted daughter.
“Your coffee Captain,” the agent said as he brought her a cup. Taking a sip, Eleanor grimaced and said “Yuck - I see FBI coffee hasn’t improved.”
“No Ma'am,” the agent laughed as Eleanor put the cup down.
“What about her own pre-paid credit cards. What does young Miss Carlton buy herself?” Eleanor took another sip as she kept looking. “Now that was interesting, some rather expensive purchases from Saks, APCO, and other stores over the last two years. Alright Doc, now most of this was before you started modeling, those kinds of purchases were not paid for by baby sitting I know. So how did you manage these?”
Looking at the deposits, Eleanor nodded. "You used to pay your own credit card bills, and in cash?" now Eleanor's antennae were certainly buzzing. Where had Anna been drawing undeclared cash income from to pay her bills for clothes, shoes, etc? Had the van Roon boy been sending her cash? No that seemed unlikely. So what was she doing to get it?
Eleanor guessed she had at last found something kept very secret, but probably known to Katy and other kids. “What chance my Granddaughter will tell me anything?” she asked herself.
On a whim, Eleanor pulled up the ISP records for the Carlton home – and then looked again. “They have a standard package, she’s a bright sixteen year old girl – there should be more traffic and records than this. She can’t be that good a hacker – only one…”
Suddenly Eleanor stood up. Only one person could have altered these sort of records and left no trace – was it possible? Was Anna “Doc” Carlton working for – her?
“What do these people have in common?” Eleanor asked herself as she sat at the table in the FBI dining room.
“Well let’s start with the obvious, Juliette, Anna, and Katy are all models, but I can’t see that being relevant,” Eleanor looked at her notepad. “They are all of very much above average intelligence. Even Katy has a near genius IQ, as does her mother.”
“So what do these extremely intelligent people share in common?”
For a couple of minutes, Eleanor thought hard about that.
“A degree of intellectual arrogance she thought. A low boredom threshold maybe.” she sipped her coffee.
“Alright that is a promising line of thought. If they are bored what kind of things might that see them do?”
Eleanor remembered what she had been told about Anna Carlton and how easy she found her school work, and that as a sophomore she was already doing college credit math.
She then turned to the fact that Juliette was a Phi Beta Kappa student who had done a French graduate level degree that took most people three years in two, all while working as a model.
“Life comes very easily to these women,” Eleanor told herself “success in whatever they do is something they take for granted. Even Jan - it was only lack of cash that kept her out of an ivy league law school.”
“Where am I going with this?” Eleanor whispered to herself. “Am I saying they all just for the heck of it do secret, concealed, dangerous, maybe illegal things? Confident they can keep it all private and not affecting their so-called real lives? Because if I am this could be extremely mucky shit, was she sure she wanted to know?”
Shaking herself, she said “no – one problem at a time. Take a break, then back to Miss Carlton.”
The Richmond Mansion
Heather looked at her phone, and said “excuse me a minute,” as she left the group talking to the newly-weds. Going into the kitchen, she opened her laptop and read the message, then dialled a number.
“Oh,” Heather said as she looked up to see Doc at the back door, “good.”
“What’s up Heather?” the blonde said as she sat down.
“Doc I think someone is sniffing round about you at FBI Headquarters,” Heather spoke, “is there anything on record that we should have deleted or changed and we haven’t?”
“I’m not totally sure,” Anna stood and thought hard. “We removed all evidence of Angelic Escorts, it was a cash business of course…Oh Goddess Heather, I was paying on my credit cards using money that was unaccounted for. Did you ever fix that?”
“No I didn’t, and I’m not sure you ever told me about those.”
“Can you erase things and cover up that I was handling thousands of dollars?”
“I guess I had better.” Heather thought, “sit down, and we’ll start on it right now.”
“Thanks Heather.” Anna sat down as they got to work.
“Still hard at it Captain,” the redheaded agent said as Eleanor returned to the computer.
“Oh yes – I’m only just starting,” Eleanor said with a smile. “Alright Anna Carlton - now let’s have another look at those credit card payments,” she said to herself as she called up the screens she had been looking at earlier.
Staring at the screens, she said aloud “What the fuck!”
“Is anything wrong Captain?” Agent Deanna Mulley her shadow for the afternoon asked.
“No…Sorry…I just saw something unexpected.” She stared at the screen, now showing a completely different set of records.
“Alright Ma'am,” the FBI woman returned to her desk.
“Shit!” Eleanor said inwardly, “I must have triggered an alarm set up by the Hidden Hand this morning, these records have been altered and sanitized completely, and I’ll bet the store records are, or have been changed already as well.”
She sat back and rubbed her chin. “Okay that confirms things, Anna Carlton is clearly under the watch of the Hidden Hand…But why?”
Shaking her head, she wondered what line to take next, and then looked at the ISP records for the Carlton home again. They had also been changed, and looked more respectable now.
“Dammit – this is getting me nowhere,” she said to herself, and then looked at her watch. “And I need to get going, if I’m going to get to the apartment on time…”
New York County Criminal Court
100 Centre Street
“As you can see,” Phil Majewski said as he pointed to the pictures on the board, “the same man appears in all these photos, watching Katy Carter.”
“And is that man the defendant, Daniel Morgenstern?”
“The report I prepared contains the results of image matching tests I performed, based on his passport – they were a 99% match.”
“Thank you, Agent – your witness.”
Rhoda Perez stood up and smiled. “Is it possible, Agent Majewski, that my client was at all these places purely by coincidence?”
“It is possible,” Phil said, “but it would be a very strange coincidence.”
“Thank you – no further questions.”
“Thank you Agent Majewski,” the judge said as Phil nodded and stepped down. “Mister Sipowicz?”
“Your honour,” the DA said, “I call to the stand Inspector Jeanne Marais.”
Jeanne stood up, in her dark jacket and skirt, and walked to the stand, holding the Bible and taking the oath. “Please state your name and position for the record,” the DA said.
“Inspector Jeanne Marais, Interpol liaison to the FBI Field Office in New York,” Jeanne said.
“Inspector Marais, you were present in the Field Office when Janice Carter was informed her daughter had disappeared?”
“That is correct,” Jeanne said.
“Please – take us through what happened next…”
As Jeanne walked through the events of that day, Rhoda Perez watched and took notes, while Daniel Morgenstern just smiled.
“Inspector,” Sipowicz said as Jeanne finished, “you and Agent Corben were assigned to support Janice Carter and her family, and to act as liaison on this case. How long were you involved?”
“I can only speak to the time when Katy was found and taken to hospital,” Jeanne said, “I was admitted to the same hospital after they were reunited.”
“For what purpose?”
“To give birth to my own son.”
Nodding, Sipowicz said “so you cannot speak to the events that happened after they were reunited?”
“No, I cannot,” Jeanne agreed.
“Thank you Inspector.” As he sat down, Perez said “no questions, your honour.”
“Very well – Mister Sipowicz, your next witness will be?”
“If it pleases the court, I will ask Katy Carter to be the next witness.”
As a murmur went round, Judge Markowic said “Well, I suggest we begin afresh in the morning. Court is adjourned.”
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Hello,” Juliette said as she picked up the telephone.
she heard Heather say quietly, “we have a problem."
she said, “Eleanor Ball spent a busy morning today looking at yours and Docs
files at FBI Headquarters."
did I know Eleanor wouldn't be able to resist investigating me?"
fixed some of Docs mess that we hadn't cleared up,” Heather said but I think she'd already seen it."
"That as a
top spy, she's probably asking herself all kind of questions this afternoon, as
to how Doc rates protection from The Hidden Hand."
head, Juliette said "Eleanor has a big nose..."
hope that isn't a Jewish racial slur?" Heather broke in.
course not," Juliette smiled, "just an observation about intelligence
agents in general."
don't reach her level in spying without being really good at your job."
"That I know Heather,' Juliette paused, "she's due to give testimony in the trial, so she will be coming to New York, I guess Doc and I had better expect further snooping."
“In the meantime, I think she’ll target Katy for information,” Heather said.
“Good luck to her…”
Driving from Washington to New York was giving Eleanor time to think. And she certainly had a lot to think about.
How had Anna Carlton come under the protection of The Hidden Hand? Was she the Hand? No that wasn't possible she had met the Hand, and despite the veils it was clear the Hand was an older woman then Anna. At any rate, the records showed she had been active for at least ten years, and she wasn’t that level of genius…
"Alright Anna how did you crack the magic circle?" Eleanor spoke aloud. "How does a 16 year old schoolgirl have that protective a contact in the underworld?"
Suddenly another thought hit her mind, "was Juliette similarly protected by the Hand?" That would make sense – the Hand traded in secrets, and maybe Juliette had helped her out.
That would make sense – Madame would have recruited Juliette for her contacts, perhaps as an undercover agent like her, and the Hand provided logistical support? But why Doc – and why did Katy turn to her for help?
Each answer seemed to raise more questions – as an intellectual challenge, it was fascinating, but she wanted to know…
West Central Park
"Katy,” Jan said as her daughter came into the apartment, “we need to talk.”
“I didn’t do it – whatever it was, I didn’t do it,” Katy said as she took her coat off.
“Oh? Something you need to tell me?”
“Nope,” Katy said with a smile, “what’s up?”
“Your Grandmother Ball is putting Juliette, Doc, me, and you, under the microscope. Juliette thinks she will try pumping you for information about Anna."
"Well she won't get anything Mom."
hoped, but just remember she's a very skilled interrogator, think before you
answer her on anything."
Mom...Hey when is she supposed to arrive?"
"In time for supper...Want to help me cook?"
"I suppose so,” Katy said as they went into the kitchen, “it might take my mind off of Sands and her broken heart.'
“Oh,” Jan said
as she took the chicken from the kitchen, "Are she and Holly?"
As she chopped some onion, Katy nodded and said "Holly basically told her to ‘go away little girl’ this morning."
"Not good," Jan paused, "but maybe for the best."
Katy said as she looked over, “I think they are both breaking their
Holly knows that making love to sands is a criminal offense."
Sands loves her?"
Katy said as she took a frying pan and started to heat it, “and I thought
paedophiles were just creepy men?"
"No, not always. Anyway – how are you feeling about tomorrow?"
“Nervous – but I go in and tell the truth, I can’t do anything other than that. Well, and watch out for Perez.”
“Yes – I wouldn’t put it past her to try anything,” Jan said as she added the chicken to the onion. “Can you do the tomatoes next please?”
11 pm GMT
Charlotte and Piet’s flat
“Oh it is good to be back,” Piet said as he got into their bed. “And the press do seem to be less present.”
“Tell me about it,” Charlotte said with a smile, “and Tracy got everything tidied up as well. See you in the morning lover.”
“Yeah – sleep well Roo,” Piet said as he leaned over and kissed her. “You’ve got that interview in the morning after all.”
“Oh don’t remind me…”
From their vantage point, the two dark skinned women looked at each other and nodded. They would be relieved later – quietly, discretely…
West Central Park
As Eleanor came into the lobby of the apartment block, she was surprised to see Sandy and Tonia coming out of the elevator.
“Oh hello Eleanor,” Sandy said, “dinner with the family?”
“Yeah – what brings you two here?”
“Signing off on the apartment for Miss Sowkowski and Miss Mitchell,” Tonia said. “Work all done, we just need to furnish it now.”
“Well, I’ll see you around,” Eleanor said as she got into the lift, watching as the doors closed. "How do I question Jan and Katy without arousing their suspicions," she asked herself as she rode up in the elevator. "And would it work anyway - the Hand must have alerted them that she had been snooping."
Shaking herself, she got out of the elevator and pressed the button.
“Hey Gran,” Katy said with a smile as she opened the door, “perfect timing, supper is about ready. Can I take your coat?”
“Thanks,” Eleanor said as she took her great coat off, and Katherine looked out. “Great – you’re here. Come in – we can talk over the table.”
“Hello,” Shirley said as she picked up the telephone.
she heard Juliette say, “sorry to disturb you this late."
problem Ju...” Sitting down, she said “Is
this related to the gold?"
something a bit closer to home. Eleanor Ball is investigating me, Doc, and the
Shirley said as she rubbed her eyes, “I was afraid she might."
you discourage her?"
without making her more suspicious I suspect.”
"That was what worried me," Juliette went quiet for a couple of seconds, "so any advice?"
“Make her a Pussycat? No – we need to distract her somehow. What alerted you?”
“Heather has some flags set up on our government records – they lit up bright this afternoon.”
“Hmmm – she saw something?”
“Which Heather made disappear.”
“That might be a useful avenue to explore – if she knows the Hand is at work, we direct her to think you both work with her in some way. Let’s think that over…”
West Central Park
“Thank you,” Eleanor said as she accepted the plate, and put some rice beside the chicken casserole.
“So what have you been up to today Mother,” Adam said, “or was it something you can’t talk about?”
“Something I can’t talk about,” Eleanor said with a smile, “I was in Washington all day.”
“Sounds BORING,” Katy said with a smile as she drank her juice. “Anyway, you’re here for the next few days, right?”
“Oh yes,” Eleanor said with a smile, “I’ll be there with you tomorrow, and then my turn comes after Caroline, who comes after you.”
“Well, Mom says go there, tell the truth, and don’t get upset or angry whatever happens.”
“Quite right,” Adam said, “you just have to tell your story.”
Eleanor nodded as she put some chicken in her mouth. It was a normal family dinner – and yet. And yet…
“So what are you going to wear tomorrow,” she said as she looked at Katy.
“Mom thinks a blouse and skirt,” Katy says, “I thought a trouser suit, but we can decide tomorrow.”
“The key thing is nothing showy,” Adam said, “they need to see Katy Carter the thirteen year old girl tomorrow, not Katy Carter the model.”
“I agree,” Eleanor said, “you do look adult in a fashionable dress, but tomorrow you have to be innocent, not provocative.”
“Gotcha Gran, turn on the innocence,” Katy said with a smile.
“Well, you are innocent, aren’t you?”
“Unless I’m been paid to be sexy,” Katy said with a grin as she looked at Eleanor.
“Which you are not tomorrow,” Jan said.
“So what happened today?”
“Phil gave the technical evidence – the proof Morgenstern had been following Katy around, the laptop and feed from his den. Then Jeanne described what happened – and the way she, Caroline and Mother helped narrow the field.”
“Good,” Eleanor said, “this is exceptional, Jan.”
“Thanks Eleanor,” Jan said with a smile as she took a drink.
“Well, that was wonderful,” Adam said as he stood up, “my turn for the dishes I think.”
“We’ll make some coffee,” Jan said as she and Katherine collected the dishes.
“So what do you think they’ll ask you about Gran,” Katy said as she and Eleanor went into the front room.
“How I helped build the profile,” Eleanor said.
“I’m amazed at the way you and people like Clint do that – build a picture of someone from what they write or say.”
“It’s a skill,” Eleanor said as they sat down.
“Well, it shows how bright you are,” Katy said as she tucked her legs under herself.
to some others… Actually, who is the
most intelligent person you know Katy?" Eleanor asked as they sat waiting
for Jan and Katherine to finish making the coffee.
this the conventional way...say by IQ?"
Katy weighed the question in her mind against the warning her mom had given her
and for the life of her couldn't see a problem with answering it truthfully.
Erica is a big brain, but so is Abigail," Katy thought a second,
"they say Carina is another genius, and of course Miss van Roon and Frieda
are, and so is Aunt Ju, but I guess it would be Heather, I once heard a story
she bust the system when they tried to test her IQ."
mean your Mom's friend Heather Smith?"
Eleanor said, “she’s the nanny?"
she is really clever, I heard Sands once say the only reason she majored in Art
History at Yale was to challenge herself, both Math and Computer Science would
be too easy."
Goddess, I warned her," Jan heard the end of the conversation as she came
back in. Setting the tray down, she said
"Katy darling, as I've told you before those stories about Heather are
just a legend."
they aren't true?" Eleanor asked quietly.
they are I've never seen any evidence, and I'm Heather's best friend."
"Interesting," Eleanor sipped from the coffee cup that Katherine handed her. “So she knows her art?”
“That she does know – but she’s happy being the nanny most of the time,” Katherine said with a smile.
Eleanor smiled as she thought. She had never met Heather – that had to change.
The Richmond Mansion
“Janice,” Heather said as she sat down, “what can I do for you?”
"I think Katy might inadvertently have sicced Eleanor on your trail Heather."
"Eleanor got her talking about intelligent people, and she dropped the story about you and the IQ tests."
thought that might please you."
"So I can
expect her to both want to meet and to investigate me Jan?"
"DOUBLE SHIT!" Heather interrupted.
Thursday 2nd June
Holiday Inn Express, New York
her coffee, and looked at her watch. She
had not been able to sleep, trying to figure out what she had learned.
Thirty,” she thought, “that would make it Seven Thirty in London. Let's see if
she is up?"
a preset number on her telephone, and after three rings heard a soft Italian
voice say "Francesca di Cambrello."
Francesca it's Eleanor."
you doing up this late darling?"
"I'm working on a problem Francesca, what can you tell me about The Saints and Sinners please?"
“I only know what I read really – one of the tightest knit social groups in New York. I have met any of them, and Piet and Carlotta are members.”
“Not formally,” Francesca said, “but I think I am considered one. But it is just a social group, Eleanor.”
“Have you met Heather Smith?”
“Carlotta’s friend? I have – a very bright young woman, and a devoted partner, nanny and friend. Why do you ask?”
“Francesca – what do you know of the Hidden Hand?”
There was silence for a moment, before she heard Francesca say “someone – I hear a woman – who has caused some embarrassment to my superiors and their contacts. I admire them in a way, whoever they are.”
“I see – thanks Francesca, you’ve given me something to think about…”
Putting the phone down, Eleanor lay on her bed, but sleep would not come.
the one who protects you." Eleanor lay awake musing. "If Heather
Smith is the Hidden Hand, then she keeps her friends out of trouble, and they
protect her identity."
Were all Saints
and Sinners aware of this core secret, if it was true...No, that large a group
would be impossible to keep a secret like this within. No this was probably
just an inner core group with links to the Sisters...including Carlotta,
"So alright Ball what are you saying?" Eleanor asked herself, "that the world’s most-wanted cyber-criminal hides out as a nanny?"
"Oh that sounds too ridiculous for words," Eleanor rolled over. "You need sleep girl, your brain isn't working straight."
The Huntingdown Apartment
“So Eleanor Ball is sniffing around? Had to happen at some point,” Carina said as she sat with her mother, Annie in the main room with the children.
“Yeah – and she strikes me as the sort of person who would not give up,” Annie said.
“I could discourage her…permanently,” Carina looked happy at the thought. “She’d be tough to crack but I’d get her to beg for mercy.”
“Cari, for all that’s she’s being a pain in the butt,’ her Mother gave her a stern look, “she’s still family, and as you very well know we have rules about that.”
“Well don’t say I didn’t offer.”
“I know darling, but we need a less violent solution.”
“Well we have to keep her from really putting two and two together about Heather, or we will all be in the crap.”
“I know Cari, I do know.”
“Accepting that you won’t let me have some fun,” Carina said, “isn’t the next best option that we somehow bring her in to the inner group? She is a sister?”
“Madame said something along those lines, but I still can’t quite grasp how straight or crooked Eleanor is?”
“So how do we find out?”
“That is the question…”
New York County Criminal Court
100 Centre Street
As Eleanor and Katherine took their seats in the court, they looked nervously round, hearing the low murmur. “I hope they go easy on her,” Katherine whispered as she saw Morgenstern come in and sit at the table.
“I’m sure the DA will – her I’m not sure about,” Eleanor said as she looked at Perez, then stood with the others as Judge Markovic came in – not wearing his robes, but a smart suit.
“Be seated,” he said as he looked round. “Mister Sipowicz?”
“Your honour, I call to the stand Katy Carter.”
The bailiff nodded as he went to the court door, and waved Jan and Katy in. Katy was wearing a long sleeved blue blouse and a pleated grey knee length skirt, while Jan sat next to her mother and Eleanor, adjusting her jacket.
“Welcome, Katy,” the judge said, “please, come and sit here next to me. The bailiff will ask you to put your hand on the bible, and promise to tell the truth by reading some words on the card.”
Katy nodded as she read “I swear the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
“Thank you,” the judge said, “Mister Sipowicz will ask some questions, speak clearly for all of us, please.”
“Thank you,” the DA said as she stood up. “Katy, what is your full name?”
“Katherine Janice Carter.”
“And you live in West Central Park?”
“With my mother and grandmother yes.”
Nodding, Sipowicz said “Katy, I want you to tell these ladies and gentlemen what happened on the afternoon of 6th April.”
“Well,” Katy said quietly, “I was getting ready to leave school with my friends Sands…”
“Alexandra Richmond junior – anyway, we were at the school entrance when she went back to get a book she had forgotten. I was waiting, not doing anything, when someone grabbed me and I felt a pinprick.”
“Where was this?”
“In my arm – I must have fallen asleep, because I cannot remember anything after that until I woke up.”
Nodding, Sipowicz said “when you woke up, where were you?”
“I was in – well, I thought it was a bedroom, and I was lying on a bed, but it was somewhere I had never been. There were no windows.”
“And were you still in your school uniform?”
“No – I was in a white dress, and there was a ring on my finger.”
Katy held up her left hand and pointed to her third finger.
“Thank you Katy – what did you do then?”
“I tried to work out what had happened – and then a short time later a man came into the room.”
“Do you see that man in the room today?”
Katy pointed to the other table and said “it was him.”
“Had you seen him before he walked into that room?”
“If I had,” Katy said carefully, “it was in passing, and I did not know who he was.”
Nodding, Sipowicz said “All right Katy, can you remember what he said?”
“Not exactly – I must have been a bit groggy still – but he did say he had taken me to keep me safe, and that he had… Well, I was going to be his wife.”
“How did you react to that?”
“I just wanted him to let me go home,” Katy said quietly.
“Okay – did he leave the room after that?”
“He did – but he locked the door. I tried to find a way out, but that was the only way.”
“Thank you, Katy – now did he give you food and drink?”
“He brought me some, yes.”
“Did he let you call your mother?”
“No,” Katy said quietly, “he said he wanted to keep me safe from her, that she was making me do things I did not want to do.”
“And was that true?”
Katy shook her head and said “no, sir.”
“We’ll come back to that later, if you don’t mind. Did you have any idea of what time it was, or how much time had passed?”
“No – he had taken my watch, and there were no clocks.”
“Okay Katy – did he hurt you in any way?”
“At one point, he got upset when he thought I was trying to do something I was not.”
“Did he hurt you?”
“No – but I was afraid he might.”
“Okay – tell us what happened in the time that led up to your escape.”
“He said we were going to have dinner, and I should dress up. So I put on a dress, and some shoes, and then he brought in a table, two chairs and some food. We sat, we ate, but I had noticed when he brought the things in there was a corridor outside and some stairs.
“I asked if he would like to stay and watch a film – there was a portable DVD player and some movies in the room. I remember he went to the toilet, and I put on Dirty Dancing.” Katy blushed as there was some laughter, and Sipowicz said “so you started the film, and then…”
“I asked if he wanted to dance – I noticed he had not locked the door, and I saw an opportunity. We danced for a moment, and then…”
“Yes,” Sipowicz said quietly.
“I drove my knee into his groin, and when he fell to the ground I ran out of the door, and up the stairs.”
“And what happened when you got to the top of the stairs.”
“I ran into a policeman – Lieutenant Moletti. He and another policeman were searching the house, looking for me. They took me to hospital, and that’s where Mom came to get me.”
“Thank you Katy,” Sipowicz said with a smile. “Now, I want to ask you about the time before you were taken. Were you aware of anyone following you?”
“I had a feeling someone was following me,” Katy said, “at first, I thought I was just being silly, but I could not shake the feeling.”
“What did you do?”
“I asked Caroline Jameson, of Jameson Security, for some advice. She assigned someone to look after me for a few weeks, before I went to Ireland for a shoot, and then to the wedding in Munich.”
“Did you ever see clearly who it was?”
“At the time no – but I was aware more and more someone was watching me.”
“And after you were found, and released from the hospital?”
“I was reunited with my family, and went to spend the weekend in Annapolis.”
“Katy, why do you think Morgenstern did this?”
“He believed my mother was forcing me to be a model, to fulfil her own dreams.” Katy looked at the jury and said “that was wrong – in fact, I was the one who wanted to be a model, and it took a lot to persuade my mother to allow me to do this.”
“Thank you Katy,” the DA said, “now I want you to remain there – my friend Ms Perez may have some questions for you.”
“Of course,” Kate said with a smile as he sat down, and Rhoda Perez stood up. “Katy,” she said as she walked over, “Will you tell the court how you were discovered as a model.”
“Jack Linklater is a family friend – he was taking a photograph of me as a present, and he asked me to try some outfits on for fun. Those photos were seen by others, including Juliette Huntingdown and Mary Thomas, and the next thing I knew, I was offered a contract.”
“I see – and what role did your family play in this decision?”
“They have been supportive, but it took some time to persuade them to allow me to do this. My mother in particular was very reluctant.”
“But she supports you now?”
“Objection your honour – what does this line of questioning have to do with the case in hand?”
“Goes to relevance of the defence your honour.”
“I’ll allow it, but you are on a tightrope, Miss Perez. Katy, you may answer the question.”
Shifting in her chair, Katy said “I would like to ask for clarification, if I may your honour?”
Perez looked at Judge Markovic as he said “what is unclear Katy?”
“Is Miss Perez talking of being supportive in a familial sense or supportive in a financial sense?”
“A fair question – Miss Perez?”
For a moment, Perez looked flustered, but after a moment she said “in a familial sense.”
“Then yes – she and my grandmother have been very supportive, as has Uncle Adam.”
“Katy,” Perez said quietly, “can you with one hundred per cent certainty say you had never seen my client before you woke up in his basement?”
“I’m sorry, that was a very definite answer Katy,” Perez said, “are you sure?”
“Of my answer, yes. As I said, I knew someone was following me, and I may have seen him in passing, so I cannot say with certainty I never saw him. What I can say with certainty is that I never deliberately spoke to him or had direct eye to eye contact with him.”
Jan had to supress a laugh as Rhoda Perez went back to her desk and looked at a paper. “Tell me, Katy, are you aware of how you are seen by the public?”
“I am,” Katy said with a smile, “but I do believe Margaret Wolfe Hungerford was right?”
“She was the originator of the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’,” Katy said with a smile. “In other words, I cannot stop what people think of me. I can only be myself.”
Nodding, Perez said “and all your family support you?”
“Including your sister?”
“I withdraw that last question,” Perez said as Adam and Eleanor saw how pale Janice was.
“I’ll take care of it,” Katherine said as she slipped out of the courtroom, and took her cell phone out. “Caroline? Katherine Carter – Perez did it. Time to let them know.”
“Have you seen the itinerary for the visit,” Pepsi said as she sat with Ama at the table. “We’re going to be kept busy.”
“Indeed,” Ama said with a smile as the telephone rang, and Caroline came out.
“Katherine? I see – she’s here, I’ll go and see April once I’ve talked to her. Do you think they will be much longer asking her questions?”
Pepsi and Ama looked over as Caroline said “right – talk to you all later.” Putting the telephone down, Caroline sat at the table as she said “Pepsi, I’m afraid Miss Perez has just let the cat out of the bag.”
“Okay… Okay,” Pepsi said quietly, “you’re going to talk to Mom?”
“Yup,” Caroline said as she pulled her coat on, “you need to make a phone call.”
The Tavern on the Green
“Nobody else here yet,” Kelly Rochermann said as she joined Juliette at the booth.
“No – I know Diana is at a meeting, so I was not expecting her until later,” Juliette said. “Whew have you been this morning?”
Metropolitan - Andre Kanennikov arrived yesterday Ju," Kelly spoke as she
has? I thought he wasn't due to the
wasn't,” Kelly said as she took the drink the waiter brought over, “but a
project of his fell through, so we were able to get him to come early and for
an extra four months."
Juliette said with a smile, “it should make the Civic Ballet this year’s hot
"We know...” Kelly smiled as she took a sip, “It's going to be so great both for the corps, and the students, to work with him."
“So what will
he do with his extra time?”
"He has an
idea for a new production of Swan Lake Ju."
all male dancers I hope, that's been done."
promising us that he has a very original idea."
"Well I look forward to seeing it." Juliette looked up as people arrived, "Girls you are late."
“Sorry,” Sandy said as she sat down, “I had to oversee a furniture delivery to the apartment today.”
“Oh yes – almost ready for the girls to arrive,” Kelly said with a smile.
“I hope it is,” Tonia said as she looked at the menu, “where is Diana?”
“Charity board meeting,” Juliette said as Claire and Rachel came in.
“Have you heard anything from the trial today,” Rachel said as she sat down.
“Not yet – which I am taking as good news…”
6 pm BST
Francesca stood to the side as the television crew set up the lights and camera, ans then smiled at the tall bespectacled man that walked over.
“Marco how are you darling?” Francesca asked as the Italian television journalist kissed her on both cheeks.
“I am very well Marchesa,” Marco Varvello said with a smile, “and can I say you look far happier than I’ve seen you in a long while?”
“Thank you Marco…I am a lot happier now I have my daughter in my life.”
“Well I’m happy for you both. And thank you for allowing me to do this for you.”
“Marco,” Francesca said, “you know the interview will need to be in English, Carlotta speaks virtually no Italian.”
“Just out of interest,” the veteran journalist said, “how many languages does she speak?”
“That many and she doesn’t speak Italian?”
“I know,” Francesca said with a laugh, “awful isn’t it, but most of those are African tribal languages that she learned traveling with my late husband.”
“Well, I am sure she will pick it up soon. Will you be wearing that for the interview?”
“I felt it was appropriate,” Francesca said as she gave a twirl in her blue coat dress, “ah – and here she is now.”
“Hello Mother,” Charlotte said as she came in with Piet, wearing a grey trouser suit with a white top while Piet was in a rugby shirt and jeans, “is this the lucky man?”
“Carlotta my love,” Francesca said, “can I present Marco Varvello, he heads RAI’s bureau here in London.”
“Hello Mr. Varvello,” Charlotte said with a smile as she extended her hand. “I trust I find you well?”
“I’m very well,” he smiled as he shook hands.
“Good…Look Mr. Varvello I’m a bit nervous about this.”
“I can understand Carlotta, but just follow your mother’s lead. She’s an old hand at being interviewed.”
“Well it was part of my job being in public relations in the Navy,” Francesca smiled.
“You’ll be fine Roo,” Piet said, “just relax and be yourself.”
“Easy for you to say,” Charlotte said as the make-up artist came over. “Come ladies – we start soon, yes?”
“And Three… Two… One…”
“Good evening,” Marco said into the camera, “this is Marco Varvello, and tonight I had the privilege of talking to one of the leading lights of Italian society, Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello. On Sunday, the news broke that the Marchesa di Cambrello had a daughter, and it is my great privilege to also welcome Miss Charlotte Gordon, her daughter.”
“Thank you for talking to us tonight Marco,” Francesca said with a smile.
start our actual interview can I congratulate you on your upcoming wedding Miss
Marco, I'm looking forward to it immensely." Charlotte smiled at the
"Now Marchesa," Marco turned in his chair, "why did no one know that all this time you had such a beautiful daughter?"
"Well Marco,” Francesca said, “when James, Carlotta’s father, and I married we were delighted when I fell pregnant. When she was born, I thought we would be complete.”
“If it is not too painful to ask,” Marco said quietly, “what happened?”
“It is a matter of public record that I have had – problems with my mental health. Sadly, tragically, that started a few days after Carlotta was born. I now know it was a form of pare-natal depression, but then… Her father, James, and I parted under acrimonious circumstances, when I returned suddenly to Italy and left them there.”
“And this was as a result of your illness?”
Francesca said “I realise now it was. I
hoped James and my daughter would follow me – instead, Carlotta lived with her
father in South Africa and he denied me any contact with her."
have been hard?"
"Yes it was," Francesca said quietly. “I received a letter from him making it clear I was never to see her again – and, well, I took a long time to recover.”
“Did you ever try to make contact?”
"No – I wrote to her, but it was as if she was lost to me.”
“Charlotte, were you aware of what had happened between your parents while growing up?”
“I knew my mother had left when I was newly born, and my father had been greatly hurt,” Charlotte said quietly. “But I never asked what had happened – he was a wonderful father, who did his best to bring me up to be the woman I am now.”
Nodding, Marco said “so you returned to Italy, Francesca, and then you were admitted to hospital?”
“Indeed – my depression worsened suddenly, and I spent some time in hospital. It was during that time I had a breakdown, and – well, that was when the me most people know of took over.”
“But why was her existence such a well kept secret.”
“I would not say it was kept a secret as such,” Francesca said carefully. “Rather, I never said anything publically.”
“And why was that?”
“I wanted to
respect his wishes that she not know me,” Francesca said quietly, “so I neither
publicised that I had had a daughter, nor did I seek to make contact even after
her father died..."
"Mama thought I wanted nothing to do with her." Charlotte's hand reached out to her mother’s as she interrupted. “In truth, it was more that I had no idea she had sent me cards and letters.”
“Your father kept them from you?”
“I only discovered them recently, in my father’s old office,” Charlotte said.
“Your father was famous for his work in trying to expose illegal mining activities,” Marco said.
“He was – he died pursuing those who sought to exploit innocents in the mines,” Charlotte said.
“And you carry on his work today?”
“In my own way – when the Mazengwean scandal broke two years ago, I helped to set up the charity that repatriated as many of those girls as possible, and now works to aid those who have been taken against their wills to be workers in other places.”
“A fact I am
incredibly proud of, and I am sure James would be as well,” Francesca said as
she squeezed Charlotte’s hand.
were you reunited then?"
chance,” Charlotte said as she looked at Francesca. “I was in Monaco clearing out an office that
had once belonged to my father, and we literally just ran into each other in
the hotel lobby."
“I was there with friends,” Francesca said, “when I turned round – and there she was.”
you feel at that moment Marchesa, seeing the daughter you'd not seen in
"I recognised her from photos a family friend had sent me while she was growing up, but I think my jaw literally dropped."
“I know mine did,” Charlotte said, “and I also know I said a few things that I have regretted ever since.”
“Words were said on both sides,” Francesca laughed, “but we sat, we talked, and we worked through the shock.”
“Over several drinks,” Charlotte laughed.
“You have a, shall we say, colourful image Marchesa.”
“A slight understatement Marco – La Bionda Idiota is what you refer to, and yes – over the last couple of decades, I have done things to promote that idea. My only excuse was it was as a result partly of my own mental problems, and also a bit of grief and loss as well.”
“So what has changed?”
“Some months ago I found a therapist who helped me to deal with much of my problems,” Francesca said, “including my feelings about the family I left behind. In many ways, it was the best possible preparation for our reunion, given the way it happened.”
“How does it feel to you, to have your mother back Carlotta.”
“It’s difficult to explain,” Charlotte said, “but there was always a gap there – and now that gap is filled. After the anger, as Mamma said, there were tears and then the desire to make up for lost time.”
“So what is the future for you now, Marchesa?”
“Well,” Francesca said as she leaned forward, “now that I am more myself again, and that I have retired from the Navy, I have returned to my first career, and have joined forces with the Baroness Mannschen in her legal consultancy. Right now, I am establishing my offices here in London, and I am also one of the new directors of Xavier International.”
“So your mother is now your boss, Carlotta?”
“No,” Charlotte said as she shook her head, “Mamma’s position on the board as an ex officio legal advisor. She is, however, advising me on other matters relating to my heritage.”
“Indeed – and forgive me if this question sounds vulgar – but you are now one of the richest women in Europe. Have you any plans?”
“To do what my grandmamma did, and hopefully to make her proud as she watches down with what I do,” Charlotte said with a smile.
“The media interest in you must have been a strain to you and your fiancé?”
“It has been difficult,” Charlotte said, “but all we have asked is for time to be with my newly found mother in privacy.”
“And what does the future hold for you?”
“A wedding, a new arrival, and my job – I ask for no more than that.”
“You will be married in the Basilica, as were your parents and generations of the di Cambrello family – but you are a protestant. How is that possible?”
“My mother,” Francesca said, “was an amazing woman and very far sighted. Let us just say she found a way.”
“Of course – our time is nearly up, Marchesa, Charlotte. May I ask one last question – if you could say one thing to your husband, your father, what would it be?”
“To say sorry,” Francesca said, “and to ask his forgiveness.”
“And to tell him I am glad we are together now,” Charlotte said, “and ask his blessing on my own wedding.”
Nodding Marco said, “thank you for your time, Marchesa, Charlotte.”
“Thank you Marco,” Francesca said as the camera light went red, and Piet started clapping from the side.
“Right – will you join us at dinner, Marco?”
“It will be my pleasure – I will join you in a short while…”
8 pm BST
The Savoy Grill
"If I can
ask a private question Charlotte," Marco said as he sipped his wine,
"how does someone with two such tall parents end up being so tiny?"
"It's what I'd like to know," Charlotte laughed, "I know my looks favour my Scottish heritage, but damn genetics denied me at least six inches in height."
“On the other hand,” Piet said, “A friend is running a book on how tall the baby will grow to be.”
"She might be physically small Marco,” Francesca said, “but she's an immensely strong young woman in reality."
deduced that after meeting her Marchesa."
proud of her."
I'm very proud of Mama." Piet
rolled his eyes as they held each other’s hands again.
true,” Marco said, “that you can tell where uncut diamonds come from just by
looking at them?"
"Yes," Charlotte grinned, "and why is everyone hung up on that?"
"Her father could do it,” Piet said, “and James taught her how Marco."
"I grew up
round mines Marco, Dad told me just what to look for."
are marrying an heir to a diamond mining family?"
"Well gold as well,” Piet said, “but yes, we do have that amongst our family businesses."
"Piet isn't really a businessman, he prefers journalism Marco."
"Well he's very good at it Marchesa, his stories on Mazengwe and Mogola justifiably won him all those awards."
Piet blushed as he said “someday I’ll live that down.”
“Is that you Pepsi,” April said as she heard the apartment door open and close.
“Yeah – where are you Mom?”
“In the kitchen – coffee?”
“Please,” she heard as she poured two mugs, and then went into the main room where Pepsi was sitting on the couch.
“So – Caroline came to see me,” April said as she sat down.
“Yeah – I was at her place when she got the call,” Pepsi said.
“What do you want to do about what was said in court?”
even going to bother talking about those hints Mother." Pepsi spoke.
for the best," April replied quietly.
journalists have nothing better to do,” Pepsi said, “let them work it out
themselves. Meanwhile Katy and I are going to try and put Holly and Alexandra
back together again."
sure you should meddle?"
had them both crying on my shoulder Mom...What do you think?"
love,” April said as she put her hand on her daughter’s, “meddling in others
love lives doesn't always work out well."
"I know Mom, but it will give me something to do before England, and keep my mind off whatever else is said at the trial."
“Well, just tread carefully – you do not want to make things worse.”
“We’ll try not to Mom – where’s Dad?”
“He got held up at work – want to help me cook supper?”
“Sounds good,” Pepsi said as they made their way into the kitchen…
New York Times
“Someone asked to see me,” Jane Molloy said as she came down to the reception.
Jane turned and
looked at Grant Broadhurst, still wearing his NYTA uniform. "Hello Grant,” she said as she came
over, “I never expected to see you here."
talk Jane?" Grant looked nervous, "in private?"
Jane ushered him into a private office and closed the door behind them. "I
take it that this is about the hints regarding Nicola?"
"It is...Jane what should we do?"
“Not panic for one thing,” Jane said as she sat down. “So far, from the court transcript, she made a statement and it was withdrawn. But that is the hint – the real problem is tomorrow.”
“When Jan gives evidence?”
“Yeah – unless she does something Brooke and I suggested.”
“And that is?”
“Find out tomorrow morning – but failing that, here’s my advice…”
10 pm BST
As Francesca came through the lobby, the receptionist called out “Marchesa di Cambrello?”
"We have a
couple of very large boxes for you Marchesa," the girl on the desk spoke.
clue where they are from?"
Looking at the
paperwork, the girl said "The delivery notes say Amalgamated Kaap Kelders,
the wine Piet's sister promised me," Francesca smiled. "Can you have
it held in your own wine cellar till I move out please?"
"I'm looking forward to trying those,” she said as she headed to the lift.
Friday 3rd June
10 am BST
“So the drone tests have proved successful?”
“They have Madame,” Charlotte said as she looked at her papers, “and ready for the next tests.”
“Excellent. Now, next on the agenda… What meetings has Miss Tanaka had this week
Penelope?" Madame took her glasses off.
Penelope said, “but she has done a lot of sightseeing."
has our bugging revealed?"
Looking at the
transcripts, Penny shook her head. "Absolutely
nothing I'm afraid."
well we know what she is here for, somehow she is gathering intelligence."
Abata phoned a few minutes ago to say more Tanaka troops boarded a flight to
bringing in her goons Penelope?"
what we had surmised Madame."
you are being quiet?"
just thinking Madame,” Lily said, “how much simpler this would be if we just
had her killed."
Shirley said as she shook her head. “As
tempting as that is in the short term, in the long term we'd be in a never
ending gang war with the Tanaka's."
"Understood," Lily nodded.
“We must, however, delay her slightly,” Shirley said as she stood up. “Very well – thank you everyone, to your work.”
As she returned to her office, Shirley smiled as she picked up the telephone and dialled.
Reginald Palmer please, tell him it’s his godmother please," Shirley
waited till the Home Office switchboard put her through.
Afternoon Reginald," the voice simulator made her words into a sexy purr.
told you NOT to contact me directly," the voice on the other end hissed.
i have a task for you," Shirley ignored his complaint.
arranging for Special Branch to get interested in Miss Tamiko Tanaka..."
Yakuza?" Sir Reginald interrupted.
darling, i want her to think that our security services are watching her, maybe
throw her off her game a little."
can't just order that Madame?"
"You know very well Reginald that I know you can."
“Do I want to know why?”
“Think of it this way Reginald – you may be avoiding a serious problem later.”
There was silence for a few minutes, before he said “Very well Madame.”
“Thank you Reginald,” Shirley said as she replaced the telephone.
“Francesca – call from Milan on line 2.”
“Thank you Peri,” Francesca said as she picked up the phone. “Elia, what news for me today?”
"Francesca darling,” her press secretary said, “Gente has somehow unearthed pictures of Carlotta growing up and has published them."
"Cazzo, come diavolo hanno fatto questo?"
"I know, I
know," Elia interrupted, "it was probably someone who knew her
growing up that sold them to them."
the accompanying text say darling?" Francesca said as she sat down and tried
regaining her calm.
really bad, they describe her as being an outdoorsy, adventurous young woman,
there a few quotes from old school and university friends. Nothing
could be worse I suppose."
one amazing picture of her hanging off a cliff suspended on a rope."
"Well she does climb mountains." Francesca smiled. “Well, that is not as bad as it could have been – how have the invitations been received?”
“A good number of replies so far – I meet with the Dean today.”
“Excellent – we will talk over the weekend Elia.”
1 pm BST
“What plans do you have for the weekend Lily,” Shirley said as they rode the lift back to the executive floor.
“Going to visit my mother – Uncle George has sent me some things to pass on to her.”
“Sounds a good way to spend the weekend – John has just sent a text to say he has invited an old friend and his wife to dinner tonight,” Shirley said as they walked back to their offices.
Sitting at her desk, Shirley looked at another text message, before she opened her laptop and went on the secure network.
“Juliette,” she said as her friend appeared on the screen, “ready for your trip later today?”
“We will be – Carina is packed, and is helping Annie sort out a bag for the babies while Ingrid watches then and Judith. Before that, however, I need to ask something from you.”
“And that is?”
“Shirley,” Juliette said as she looked at a paper, “can you begin a surveillance please on one Richard Norman of Ashburton Road Tooting?”
“I can Ju…but why?” Shirley quickly scribbled down the name and address.
“If he checks out. Mr Norman will be driving our works train on the Underground.”
“Oh,” Shirley said, “and why will he be doing that?”
“Because I hope that he wants to protect his wife and twin daughters from certain violent criminals who will have taken them hostage.”
“Aha now I see.”
“We will need to know when we can best lift them, and of course a place to hold them.”
“Leave the details to me Ju.”
“Excellent – right, to the packing. I will call you tomorrow from Munich.”
“Safe travels,” Shirley said as she ended the call, and then left the office…
Complete Style Magazine
“Morning Boss,” Janine said as Juliette walked into her office, “messages are on your desk, and Anna and Pippa want to see you for ten minutes if you are free.”
“Thank you Janine – ready for the trip?”
“Indeed – I’m finishing early today and will meet you at the airport at four.”
“Good – the flight is due to depart at just before six, and Klaus has effectively taken over first class. Alexis?”
“In with Merlin at the moment – they’ll be back at lunch.”
“Okay – tell Anna and Pippa I can see them any time this morning,” Juliette said as she sat down.”
“Gotcha Boss,” Janine said as she headed out of the office, and Juliette looked at the messages.
“Hey,” Ju said as she looked up to see Anna and Pippa standing in the doorway, “Janine said you wanted a word.”
“Oh yes,” Pippa said as they came in, and Anan closed the door, “did the Body talk to you?”
“Not since she said she had an idea she was going to run past both of you – why?”
“Well, she felt her idea might be better coming from us,” Anna said as they sat down, looking at Juliette.
“Hey,” Alexis said as she came back to her desk, “who’s in with the boss?”
“Big boss and big boss to be,” Janine said, “your tickets have arrived for your HK flight, by the way, and Cathy has found a short term apartment for you.”
“Good – I need to head over in a fortnight to do the handover with Marina before she…”
The two young women looked at each other, and went back to work.
New York County Criminal Court
100 Centre Street
“So your purpose in taking part in Tom Julian’s show was to reciprocate for his work in helping identify your daughter’s stalker?”
“Indeed,” Jan said as she looked at the jury, “the fact the accused called in while I was there was a fortunate coincidence, which helped my colleagues to try and find his location.”
“And after the interview?”
“I returned home, and Eleanor Ball offered to take us to her home in Annapolis for the weekend, to give Katy a chance to recover.”
“Very well – thank you Miss Carter,” Sipowicz said as he sat down, Rhoda Perez nodding as she stood up.
“Miss Carter – Janice – how much do you earn in a year?”
“I have my FBI income, some income from an inheritance that is invested in a trust fund, and my additional income as a director of Huntingdown Silks,” Jan replied. “My finances are a matter of public record, and nothing is hidden.”
“So you take nothing from the earnings of your daughter?”
Nodding, Perez said “those earnings are all held in trust?”
“Correct – Katy can draw a small allowance, but that is all – her school fees are paid in part from those earnings.”
“I wonder,” Perez said, “how you felt about the team that was assembled to help to find your daughter?”
“I wish to thank everyone of them,” Jan said quietly, “they were a tower of strength throughout the experience.”
“Indeed,” Perez said with a smile. “Can you tell me why a Nicola Broadhurst was there for part of that period?”
“Nicola is the daughter of a family friend, and a close friend of Katy,” Janice said, “she is also a friend of Ama Jameson, Caroline Jameson’s daughter, and when Caroline asked her to go to our apartment in case something had been delivered there, she agreed to. After that, she stayed until she could be taken home.”
Nodding, Perez said “she must be a very good friend – almost a surrogate sister for Katy.”
“Objection,” Sipowicz said.
“Sustained – is there a point to this questioning Miss Perez?”
“If you will allow me one further question, your honour?”
Judge Markovic nodded as Rosie Perez said “are you aware Nicola Broadhurst was adopted…”
“OBJECTION! Your Honour, may I request a private word in your chambers?”
Judge Markovic nodded as he stood up, saying “please wait there, Agent Carter,” as he retreated into his chambers, Sipowicz and Perez following.
“All right,” Markovic said as the door was closed, “what’s going on?”
“I wished to establish…”
“Your Honour,” Sipowicz said, “Miss Perez was about to commit a crime.”
Taking a deep breath, Sipowicz said “I suspect that Miss Perez has not only discovered the publically known fact Miss Broadhurst was adopted, but has obtained the name of her biological mother. To do so, she would have had to obtain access to sealed adoption papers held by the Church, as well as certain records sealed by the State of New York. Does Miss Perez have the necessary paperwork to prove she had legal access?”
“Well, Miss Perez?”
Rhoda Perez looked nervously round, and then shook her head.
“Without giving away any privileged information, Mister Sipowicz, would the release of this information in open court be a serious issue for any and all persons concerned?”
“Yes, your honour.”
“It goes to cause for determining the state of mind of my client,” Perez said.
“Are you seriously telling me, Miss Perez, that one of the major planks of your defence involves the use of illegally obtained knowledge?” Markovic stared at the attorney, before he said “outside, both of you.”
Jan watched as they walked out, standing as Judge Markovic returned to his chair and banged on the gavel.
“Objection sustained, Mr Sipowicz – and I am instructing the jury to ignore the previous questions posed by Miss Perez. Miss Perez, you are getting one and only one warning – you may continue.”
“No further questions Your Honour,” she said as she sat down.
“Thank you for your patience, Agent Carter – you may leave now,” the judge said, Jan breathing a sigh of relief as she walked off.
“Your honour, I call Caroline Jameson.”
4 pm BST
“Madame – Tamiko Tanaka on line two for you?”
Nodding, Shirley picked up the phone and said “Good afternoon Tamiko – do what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I had some visitors this afternoon,” Tamiko said, “and I was curious as to whether or not you know why they may have called on me?”
“Visitors? May I ask who?”
British Special Branch came to Claridges to interview me as to what I was doing
"Did they now...How inconvenient for you."
“It was regrettable – I had arranged a private showing at a gallery, but that can eb rescheduled. So you were not responsible?”
“I am afraid not, Tamiko – that is one of the few branches of our police force I have no influence over. It must have just been a routine visit.”
“Of course – would you do me the honour of joining me for dinner next Monday, Madame?”
“Of course – shall we say at eight?”
“At eight – I look forward to it,” Tamiko said as the line went dead. Shirley looked at the phone, then shook her head as she stood up and collected her coat.
“I may be contacted at home if I am needed,” she said to Angela as she left the office…
“Come right through,” John said into the speaker as he pressed a button, and then joined Maisha and Shirley in the main room. “They’re here – I was taking a portrait of them today, and invited them to join us for dinner.”
“And your subject was?”
“At the door,” John said as he heard the bell, and went to answer it. “Reggie! Come in, come in, let me take your coats.”
Shirley stood up and smiled as a tall, dark haired women came in – and then she saw the fair haired man, wearing a respectable suit, shirt and tie. “Reggie, Esther, this is my partner Shirley Xavier and her ward, Maisha. Ladies, this is Sir Reginald Palmer and his wife Esther.”
“Charmed,” Shirley said as she kissed Esther on both cheeks, and shook Reginald’s hand. “Welcome to our home.”
“Have a seat,” John said as they sat down, and he poured drinks for all of them.
“Quite a place you have here John – and I have heard of you of course Miss Xavier,” Esther said.
“Please – it’s Shirley,” she said with a smile. “We like it – private, but homely. So where did you two meet?”
"How do I
know Reggie?" John smiled, "well we were in the same house at
a very senior boy when I was new," Sir Reginald chuckled, "he made my
life a living hell."
"And yet you became friends?" Shirley asked.
“That’s Eton – the old boy network starts at a young age,” John said with a smile, “even if he is a Saracens fan.”
“All right, all right,” Esther laughed lightly, “you can discuss that rivalry later. So Shirley is your guardian, Maisha?”
“That is correct,” Maisha said with a smile, “she was kind enough to take me in after I was freed from slavery.”
“Freed from… Oh my, forgive me – I did not recognise you at first,” Esther said quietly, “you are one of those girls whose stories broke that slavery scandal in America?”
“She is,” Shirley said quietly, “I offered her a home after those unfortunate events, and have helped her to educate herself and become an ambassador for those girls everywhere.”
“That was a true tragedy,” Reginald said, “I knew Stonemark and Twining, but had no idea what they were involved in.”
“As Aunt Shirley has said to me many times, that is the past, and to dwell on it can be dangerous,” Maisha said quietly. “I prefer to look forwards.”
“Quite right too,” Reginald said as he sipped his sherry.
“So what do you do for a living, Sir Reginald?”
“I, Maisha, am a faceless civil servant at the Home Office – and more than that, I cannot say,” Reginald replied with a smile. “I certainly do not live the sort of life my old friend John does.”
“Ah – I know Dame Margaret Harker, and she was most descriptive of the civil servants she has dealt with. I would imagine at the moment the upcoming referendum is your main priority?”
“Officially, no – we’re not allowed under the terms of the Referendum Act to do anything to support either side,” Reginald said quietly. “Unofficially – we’re considering the options.”
“You don’t want to be caught unawares, I take it,” Shirley said as she held her glass.
“No – the mood in the country as it is now, a lot of us think this government is about to get a very nasty surprise.”
“You mean the Leave campaign may win?”
“It is a distinct possibility,” Reginald said, “but you did not hear me say that.”
“Of course not,” Shirley said as she stood up. “If you will excuse me and Maisha a moment, we will see if the meal is ready.”
“Is everything all right Aunt Shirley,” Maisha said as they went into the kitchen, and she saw Shirley smile.
“Oh yes – check the vegetables will you,” Shirley said as she turned to the oven.
“Of course,” Maisha said as she lifted the lid on the steamer.
dear Goddess I'm not sure how long I can keep a straight face," Shirley
whispered to herself as she checked the casserole. "He has no idea that I'm his tormentor
and exploiter...the dreaded Madame X."
“I think we are nearly ready,” Maisha said as she took some serving bowls from the plate warmer.
"I wonder what his wife would say if she knew some of the secrets about him that I do?" For a moment Shirley giggled, "I bet for example she knows nothing about him loving to be abused by a certain high-class dominatrix? I just can't see her in leather and thigh high boots."
“Sorry, Maisha – let’s serve dinner, shall we?”
“Thank you Your Highness,” the Lufthansa steward said as he returned the tickets and boarding passes to Klaus, “if you and your party would follow my colleague here?”
“Of course – shall we,” he said as Juliette and Ingrid held a baby chair each, Judith holding Carina’s hand as they made their way to the side of the Security Check area, and were ushered through the priority gates.
“Fastest I have ever been through here,” Juliette said as she emerged at the other side, smiling as she saw Janine standing there.
“Is this my bonus this year boss,” she said quietly, “this trip?”
“This will cost
a fortune Poppa Klaus," Annie looked anxiously as they were ushered into
the first-class lounge.
"I know, but it means we get there in comfort."
"This way your highnesses," the ground hostess beckoned as they made their way into the lounge. “We will come and inform you when the plane is ready. Perhaps the young princess would like to have one of our travel packs?”
“Yes please,” Judith said as they sat round, a waiter coming over to take their drink orders.
“No this isn’t your bonus,” Juliette said to Janine, “just enjoy the trip…”
“Here we are,” the hostess said as she gave Judith a backpack, the little girl saying “fank you” before she opened it, and showed it to Carina and Annie.
“Well, if this is a treat as you say, I will enjoy every second of it,” Janine said, “but I will skip the champagne…”