The Best Laid Plans – part 5






Friday 3rd June

8.15 pm BST



"Are you looking forward to Wimbledon Maisha?" Lady Palmer asked.

"Very much so...” Maisha said as she sat back, “I think Andy Murray is amazing."

"He's the best British player I ever saw," Esther Palmer smiled.

"What she isn't saying Esther is that she's addicted to strawberries and cream and I've promised her she can indulge herself to her hearts content." Shirley laughed.

"Oh I remember those days so well”, Esther Palmer laughed, "mooning over tennis players, and indulging myself that in the senses while I might never marry one, at least I had strawberries and cream to ease the pain."


“Indeed – it was Stefan Edberg and the ilk in my day,” Shirley said as she stood up.  “Maisha, will you pass the plates round for me?”


"So John are you a guest at the di Cambrello wedding, or are you working?" Esther asked as Shirley served the main course.

"A bit of both,” John said as he took a plate.  “With Charlotte being employed by Shirley's company we have been invited of course, but both bride and groom have asked if I will also do some photography."

"Did she really have no idea as to who her mother really was Shirley?" 

"Not at all Esther,” Shirley said as she sat down.  “I knew James Gordon slightly, it was why I offered Charlotte a job when she left university, but I had no clue as to the tragedy of the period surrounding her birth."

"Out of interest,” Reginald said as he wiped his chin, “I looked at our files on the Marchesa you know?"

"Reggie you didn't?" his wife chastised him.

"Well maybe I shouldn't have, but reading between the lines I think there was more to her leaving South Africa like that then anyone is telling."

"Oh?" John asked.

"I think she might have been expelled, but why the South Africans expelled a woman with a 6 day old baby even our files do not say."

"Well after all this time I'm sure its irrelevant."

"Quite right Shirley, my husband sees ghosts of scandals everywhere, and they all turn out not to be real."


“Oh most have them have some basis in truth, but usually it’s something far more mundane,” Reginald said as Shirley smiled.


“So Shirley – I know where John and Reggie went to school, but what about you?”


“A small private college in the Chilterns,” Shirley said, “but I did not go to University – instead, I went into business when I left.”


“So you’ve built up your business by yourself?”


“Indeed – I pride myself on been able to understand people,” Shirley said, “and to identify their strengths while helping them improve on their weaknesses.  I find the people I have hired have repaid my trust in every way they can.”


“That’s the difference between private enterprise and the civil service,” Reginald said, “much of what we do involves discussions in closed rooms, while your trading is an open book.”


“Well, there is still much that goes on behind closed doors as well,” Shirley said with a smile, “our recent fight to repel the offer to buy out part of our business by AMININCO was mainly fought in the boardroom and behind closed doors.”


“I must admit, the fact you have – until recently – had an all-female board of directors intrigues me,” Esther said as she put her knife and fork down.  “Was there a reason for this?”


“Simply put, my directors were all people I trust to do their job,” Shirley said.  “In the case of the recent appointment of John Vosloo, we needed an expert in African affairs to be on the ground as it were.  He came highly recommended.”


“By Charlotte?”


“And others,” Shirley said with a smile.




11 pm BST

Earl’s Court

Lillie Bridge Depot


The yard was quiet, as in the shadows, the group of four women could just about be seen at the box attached to the outside wall.


"Can you give me one good reason I am spending my Friday night breaking into an Underground train depot, and don't have some handsome lug doing indescribable things to my body?" Peri complained as she looked round.  Like the others, she was wearing a black leather jacket over a roll neck sweater, jeans, trainers and black leather gloves.

"I don't know for sure either," Tanera Patel said as she finished fixing the alarm," but we know the information Madame has requested, it’s our job to get it..."

"And not get caught in the process," Lady Davina Hatton smiled as she shone the pencil light.  “I have a society dinner I am hosting tomorrow night – it would not look good if I was in Marylebone Magistrate Court instead.”

"Alright ladies masks on," Jennifer Crawford spoke softly, "and just remember there are live rails, and all kinds of other hazards, be careful in here.”


“Tell me about it,” Peri said as she snipped the chains at the gate with her bolt cutters, all four pulling the balaclavas down as they made their way in.  Part of the yard had already been demolished as part of a redevelopment scheme, piles of rubble where one of the train sheds used to stand.


“So what’s it like working for the Marchesa,” Jennifer said as they made their way across the yard, stepping carefully over the rails.


“Amazing – she and Hannah are amazing minds, and it’s challenging.  How about in the Loss Adjustment section?”


“Depends on whether or not we are responsible for the loss,” Jennifer said with a smile.  She had been with Madame the longest of the four – long enough to have worked with Susan before she went to the West Coast of the US.


“Right,” Davina said as she looked round, “that’s the building we need – one of the control rooms.”


They walked quickly over to the large grey building – and then flattened themselves against the wall as they saw the two beams of light coming towards them.  None of them dared even to breathe as the two security guards walked past, talking to themselves about the cricket.


“Men and their sport,” Tanera whispered to herself as they walked around to the doors. 


“Excuse me, Miss NY Jets Season Ticket holder?”


“All right,” Tanera said as Peri looked at the digital lock on the door, and then placed a device next to her, watching as the lights blinked and started to go from red to green.  “Each to their own, agreed?”


“Agreed – by the way Davina, what happened when you paid that late night visit to the house of Mark Francis?”


“Oh I had some fun – and I have to admit, Victoria looked fabulous with that £300 Hermes scarf keeping her quiet,” the aristocrat said as the last light turned green, and Peri opened the door.


“Right,” she said as the penlight was shone round the office, “Tanera, the safe is yours.  Jennifer, you have the stick?”


“Right here,” Jennifer said as she sat at the computer terminal, and turned it on.  Davina stood by the window of the office, looking out as Peri picked the lock on the filing cabinet and opened it.


“Okay – personnel files here,” she said as she took out a folder, and started to take pictures, “got to love the old…”


“Kill it,” Davina hissed as the girls looked at her, and then they turned off the torches, listening as the lock clicked, and the door opened.  As they watched, one of the security guards came in, holding a flask and closing the door before he looked round.


“What the…”  Before he could react, Peri clamped a chloroform soaked cloth over his nose and mouth, his eyes opening wide in shock before the eyelids fluttered and closed, as Peri lowered him to the ground.


“Well, eh wanted a rest break,” she said as Jennifer smiled.


“I’m in – now to download the program she gave me,” she said as she plugged the stick in.  Tanera?”


“Safe’s open – there is a bit of spare cash in here, but this is what we are really after,” she said as she held up a small book.  Handing it to Peri, she started to put the cash into her bag as Peri took pictures of the contents of the book.


“What is it anyway?”


“Access codes for the main control office,” Peri said quietly as she handed the book back, “we done in here?”


“I think so,” Jennifer said as she turned the terminal off, “Davina?”


“Path is clear – shall we head back to my apartment?  I have a very nice bottle of Chardonnay we could split…”







Saturday 4th June

10 am BST

Xavier International


“Well, I think I can find us a private room in a few places…”


“Morning Peri,” Hannah said as she came in, wearing a dark jacket and skirt with a white blouse underneath.  She looked at the darker skinned girl talking to Peri, and said “visitor?”


"Oh yeah – you were out yesterday.  Hannah meet Tanera, she works in the New York office," Peri made the introduction.

"So what brings you to this side of the water?" Hannah asked as they shook hands.

"Is she cleared Peri?"

"You mean for...?" Hannah touched her nose.  "Then yes I am."

"No not for that," the Indian-American girl laughed. "My speciality is corporate hospitality, I'm here to set up Charlotte's hen party as they call it here."

"Oh now I get the clearance thing," Hannah smiled, "I can keep my mouth shut."

"Good," Peri grinned.  “So, where can we go?”


11 am CET

The Furstenheim Townhouse, Munich


“Is everything in readiness,” Frau Strecher said as she looked at the staff in the main hall.”


“All is in readiness, Frau Strecher,” one of the maids said as she glanced at her watch.


“Very well – to your duties everyone,” she said as she opened the doors, standing at the top of the stairs as the two limousines drove through the gates, pulling up at the bottom of the stairs.


“Welcome home, your highnesses,” she said as she descended the stairs, Klaus smiling as he got out and held the door open for Juliette.


“It is good to be back, Frau Strecher,” Klaus said as Ingrid got out, then went to the second car as Carina got out, and helped Judith to jump out.  “How are things?”


“All is at it should be, your highness,” the steward said as Janine took one of the Moses baskets, Annie taking the other as the group made their way up the stairs, through the large doors and into the drawing room.


As Annie and Janine laid the baskets down, Frau Strucher looked I and smiled.


"This is the little prince?" Frau Strecher bowed deeply as she looked at Rudi.

"It is," Annie smiled, "and he has been a bad boy most of the way here,"

"I am sure he hasn't Princess," Frau Strecher bowed to Annie, "and if you will allow me, I have two nursery maids who will look after the kinder, whilst you change and relax."

"Well if it isn't too much trouble?"

"Not at all."

"Alright then," Annie smiled as two women in their early twenties carefully lifted the children out of their carriers and took them out of the room.

"The kitchens await when you wish to eat and drink Your Highness," Frau Strecher bowed again.

"Oh just give us ten minutes to think about it and take our coats off," Klaus nodded as he looked round.


“Of course – in the meantime, I will have the servants take your bags to your rooms,” Frau Strecher said as she bowed again, and left the drawing room.

"Alright I'm never going to get used to having servants," Annie shook her head.


“I know,” Carina said, “but they will be a godsend for the next few weeks.”


“Why is that girl taking my bag,” Janine said as she took her coat off, and glanced out of the door.


“She’s your maid – she’ll take your bag and unpack it,” Klaus said.


"I rate my own personal maid whilst I stay here?" Janine shook her head.

"Just go with the flow Janine," Carina laughed, "they'll be offended if you try to do things. It will look as though you think they can't do their job."

"Alright,” Janine said as she sat down, “but it’s going to be weird going back to my little apartment."

"Well Frau Strecher has marked up your social status knowing that you date the Prince de Aucigny Janine." Ingrid walked in, "that helps your status in her eyes."



1.30 pm CET



“Thank you momma,” Judith said as Annie handed her a drink, “I liked my lunch.”


“I think we all did, darling,” Juliette said as the maids took the plates away.  “Right, Janine, we have a teleconference about the CS show in thirty minutes.  Is it all right is we use your office Klaus?”


“Of course my dear,” Klaus said as he looked to the doorway, “but you may wish to wait a few minutes more.”


“Oh?  Why…  Natalya, it is good to see you again.”


“And it is good to see all of you,” Natalya said as she and Willy came in.  “I trust you had a good trip over?”


“Well, Rudi was a little unsettled,” Annie said, “but he’s having a nap now.”


“And did you sleep on the plane, Judith?”


“I did Aunty Natalya – I watched lots of cartoons as well.”


“Some coffee, Aunt,” Ingrid said as the maid came in.


“Thank you – so you are here for a few weeks now?”


“For the next two weeks at first,” Juliette said, “and then we have Abby’s eighteenth birthday.  Some of us then go on to Australia, and back via London.”


“Well, you have time to rest and recuperate at least,” Willy said with a smile.  “So any plans for these few days?”




“Ah yes,” Ingrid said with a smile, “I have promised little Judith we can go to the stables on a couple of days.”


“Well, forgive me for saying this,” Annie said as she stood up, “but I need the rest.”


“And you will have it,” Natalya said, “on which point – welcome to the family.”  Annie was taken completely by surprise as she was hugged and kissed on both cheeks by the older woman.


“Thanks – I think,” Annie said as Carina shook her head, laughing all the time.  “and we mustn’t forget Naples.”


“Ah yes – I did wonder how Stern got that exclusive,” Klaus said with a smile.


“I wondered that as well,” Natalya said with a smile as the coffee was served.  “I should perhaps warn you that a certain member of the family is even now driving from Frankfurt to here.”


“Well, we have time to prepare,” Carina said as the nurses brought Rudi and Mags into the room.  “There you two are – feed time already?”


“No – but I felt it was important they joined you in the room,” Frau Strecher said as she appeared, “King Rudolf and Queen Therese of Ruritania.”


Klaus and the other men stood, bowing as the others curtseyed.


“All right, all right, enough of that,” Rudi said as Frau Strecher took their coats.  “We were in the area, and heard you had arrived, so we came to pay our respects.”


“And to look at the new arrivals,” Terri said as she walked over to where Rudi and Mags were in the arms of the nursery nurses.  “Oh they look so beautiful…”


“Thank you,” Carina said as she and Annie came over.


“And our congratulations to both of you,” Rudi said.  “I applaud your decision to go small.”


“Thank you – where is Charly today?”


“Missy has her doing a modelling shoot,” Terri said, “but she will call and visit you tomorrow.”


“Come – let’s go into the drawing room and we can talk in there,” Klaus said.


“I’ll join you as soon as I can – business first,” Juliette said as she and Janine left the room.  As they went out, Judith yawned.


“I think you need a lie down young lady – come with me,” Ingrid said as she took Judith’s hand, and led her up the stairs.







5 pm CET



“Well, it was nice of them to call round,” Juliette said as he and Klaus walked round the gardens to the rear of the townhouse, “and that was an incredibly nice gift they gave the twins as well.”


“I agree,” Klaus said, but their talk was interrupted by a shout of “THERE YOU ARE!”


“And now begins the real fun,” Klaus said with a smile, and turned round to see Sigi standing there, a stern look on her face.  “Sigrid, my dear sister, how nice to see you again.”


“Charm’s not going to work this time Klaus,” Sigi said quietly, “they got married and you didn’t tell us?”


“To be fair,” Juliette said, “they were not going to tell us either.  It was Ingy who – shall we say, persuaded them to call us.”


“And deprive me of the chance to organize another wedding?”


“Well – yes,” Klaus said as she smiled at this sister.  “As they put it, one huge wedding in the family this year was enough – and with a wedding in Naples in a few weeks…”


“Still – where are they anyway?”


“They took the twins and Judith for a walk along with Ingrid,” Klaus said.


“Okay – okay, well, I will have to wait until they come back.”


“To do what,” Juliette asked as she raised an eyebrow.


“Congratulate them on a brilliant ploy, of course – and give them our wedding present.”  Sigi smiled as she embraced both of them.   “I could not stay angry for too long.”


As they walked back into the house, and into the drawing room, Dieter stood up and said “I see she found you?”


“She did indeed,” Klaus said as they heard the doors opening and closing, and the sound of running feet.




“Well hello there little one,” Sigrid said as Judith jumped into her arms, “And how are you?”


“Good,” Judith said as Carina and Annie carried the babies in.


“Some coffee, your highness,” Frau Strecher said as a servant brought the tray in, “and some milk for you little one.”


“Thank you, Froo Stetcher.”


Klaus raised an eyebrow as Frau Strecher smiled, and said “thank you, little one.”


“So where did you go?” Sigi said as she started to pour.


"We took them to the Englischer Garten Aunt Sigi."

"It's bigger then Centwal Park." Judith spoke, "and it was good."

"Oh walking in the Garten, that brings back memories Carina darling." Sigrid smiled.

"I loved the Japanese tea house," Annie took a cup of coffee, "we watched them perform the tea ceremony."

"Yes, that was good as well." Judith spoke as she sipped her milk.

"So has she really forgiven us yet Uncle Dieter?" 

"Oh I think so Cari. You know Sigi she can never stay angry for long."


“Of course I have – but you now have to do the round of presentations – so I made it easy.  You’re entertaining on Monday night.”


“I knew there would be a price to pay…”


“Oh relax,” Sigi said with a smile, “just a few friends, you’ll be fine…”


“When can we expect to see Aunt Gloria, Aunt Sigi?"

"Tomorrow Ingy,” Sigi said as she sat down, “Gloria is driving down from Regensburg as we speak."

"Can I take the Princess von Thurn und Taxis?" Cari looked skywards. "You didn't meet her at Mom's wedding did you darling?"

"No," Annie nodded.

"Oh you are in for a rare treat then," Dieter grinned widely.

"Don't listen to him, for all her reputation for being an uber-snob..."

"And the outrageous things she says," Dieter interrupted.

Sigi stared at him, before she said "...Cousin Gloria isn't quite as bad as everyone makes out."

"Only nearly as bad." Dieter laughed.

"Oh meeting her I'm not looking forward to," Annie shook her head.

"Don't worry she's bringing Albert, Elisabeth, and Maria and her husband Hugh with little Mafalda." Sigi looked crossly at her husband, "and Judith will like meeting Mafalda, they are about the same age."


“Besides, the night before the wedding, she made sure our security was top notch,” Juliette said.  “If she accepted me, she will accept you.”



The van Roon Townhouse


“Thank you,” Paulie said as the maid poured the tea.


"You know the problem with Donald is that he has always tried far too hard," Vanessa scanned the coverage of the primary campaigns in the New York Times.

"Agreed," Paulie smiled as she sipped from her cup. "If only the man could learn that being 'one of us' is not a matter of mere cash, it’s about having a relaxed, easy going, attitude."

"And knowing the value of not looking like you just stepped straight out of a Brooks Brothers advertisement," Gus looked up from checking his post. "Which he might have learned if he went to a decent school other than the New York Military Academy...Groton might have knocked a lot of the starch out of him."

"Well he did go to Penn," Nessa smiled.

"But only after Fordham, and you know most "Real Philadelphians' long since disowned the Wharton School, as Penn's 'trade school'." Gus snorted.

"Well we are making our customary donations to both parties," Nessa sipped her Turkish coffee.

"And praying that someone other then 'him' wins the Republican nomination?" ventured Paulie.

"Exactly," Nessa smiled, "At this time John Kasich looks the only man with any real sense."

"Dear God can you imagine a Trump presidency?" Gus looked heavenwards.

"God save us if it happens."

"Oh is there really a chance of that Nessa darling?" Paulie smiled, “be serious."


“There’s something in the air though,” Vanessa said.  “I was talking to Katherine about how Thomas’ campaign is going, and she said it’s almost split between those who think he’s doing a good job, and those who think Hilary is a criminal…”


“But surely they would never prove Barnum right – would they?”


“Who can tell,” Nessa said quietly, “but I heard his wife at a recent gala was asking what it would take to be one of ‘the set’.”


“The set?  You mean…”  Gus and Paulie looked at Nessa as she slowly nodded.


“Can you seriously imagine him talking to Alex and Klaus?  Never mind how Thomas would feel been in the same room as him?”


“Oh I know,” Nessa said quietly, “remember that article in Society a year or two back, when the group first came to prominence?  It said money would not get you in.  I feel sorry for her.”


“For whom?”


“Melania – I’ve met Ivanka,” Nessa said, “and although she said nothing in particular, you got the feeling she really does not like talking about him.”


“Have you ever met him?”


“No – I believe Alex has, so he may have a better insight than I do.  But be honest – even if we felt he did fit, how we react to our daughters?”


Gus and Paulie looked at each other, and then at Nessa.  “I wonder what Ray has to say about this,” Gus eventually said.


“Ask him at the party…”



12.30 pm



As Holly walked in the front door, she took off her dark glasses and looked round, then walked over to the side booth and sat down.




“Hello Holly,” Buffy McGeorge said with a smile, “I just ordered – what do you want?”


“To be out of here as fast as possible,” Holly said as she sat down.  “I’m meeting Tommy in a little while, so can we get to the point?”


“How are things between you and the boyfriend,” Buffy said as she sat back.  She was casually dressed, but there was something in her manner that made Holly uneasy.


“They’re fine – why?”


"Look Holly let me say this out straight,” Buffy said as the waitress came over, and took Holly’s order.”


“Go on…”


“I have two clients willing to pay five grand each for a Friday to Sunday night gig."

"That's big money Buffy."

"Problem is,” Buffy said with a smile, “one, I need another whore, and second I need an appropriate place to entertain them."

Holly looked at the younger girl as their food was borught over, and took a drink.  "So?  Why are you talking to me about this?"

"Because,” Buffy said with a smile, “I figure you for the second girl, at that lovely apartment I know you have access to, for the place."

Holly stared at her, before she said quietly "Buff, I'm not really that type of girl."

"Yes, but I did some investigating, you took that African guy for a and a certain underage girl." Buffy smiled evilly, "now how would it look if her little secret somehow became public?"

"You wouldn't?"

"Holly darling you know better than that...”  Buffy took a sip from her glass, before she said “of course I can I safely assume that to protect your 'girlfriend' you are in?"


Holly stared at Buffy, before she whispered “you conniving little…”


“Ah ah ah – what would Tommy say?  So, what say we eat up, and then we can go round and see what you have, hmm?”


12.30 pm

West Central Park


“Hey there,” Pepsi said as she went into Katy’s room, to find Sands there as well, “and what are you girls up to?”


“Just had lunch – why?”


“I wondered if you both fancied doing something?”


“I got an idea,” Katy said.  "Sands can we go visit 'your' apartment, so I can at least look at the great clothes you scammed out of Fergus?"

"Which I've paid him back for Katy," Sands said quietly.

"Okay that you paid for." Katy smiled, "I figure given Holly's tits she might have left some things that fit me."

"Those are HOLLY'S Katy, you can't have them." Sands warned her best friend.

"You are going to leave them there till they rot?"

"No, just until she reclaims them."

"I'll run you both down there," Pepsi joined in, “I'm sort of intrigued what a 'kept woman's' apartment looks like."


“Gets us out of the apartment at least – okay, come on,” Sands said as she stood up, “nobody will be there anyway…”




2 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Sigi’s set up a parlour evening?  Oh poor Annie,” Sandy said as she and Heather looked at Juliette on the screen.


“She’s dreading tomorrow more – Gloria is bringing the family to visit.”


“The Princess von Thurn und Taxis?  Well, best to get that out of the way before the King pays his respects.”


“At any rate,” Juliette said, “have you had a report?”


“We have indeed,” Heather said, “Madame sent a team in yesterday…”


"So Heather?" Juliette asked.

"From what the girls got in London last night,” Heather said, “it shouldn't be too hard to at least acquire a works train and to shuttle it backwards and forwards to the depot.  We also now have my Trojan Horse downloaded onto their system, so I can get remote access to their control room."

"Where we can unload all that lovely gold," Sandy grinned.

"I think we will all need to take a quick fitness course though if we are going to lift and load that huge weight in metal."

"Agreed Heather, put it round to all the girls they need to hit the gym please." Ju nodded.

"You included Ju?"


"Me included Sandy.  Before I flew out, Anna and Pippa double teamed me with Elle’s idea for me, Mandy and some of the others."


“And that is?”


“Beauty on Bondi.”


Heather and Sandy looked at each other, and then burst out laughing.

"So,” Heather finally said as she wiped her eyes, “any final idea as to the number of women on the job?"

"Not quite Heather, but everyone should get a large cut of the take."

"That's nice to hear." Jo plonked herself down next to her sister. "Money in my account is never unwelcome."


“Talking of Bondi – pack your running gear Jo for when you come to the party.  You’ll see why then.”




2.30 pm

The Apartment of Sands and Holly


“Nice place,” Pepsi said as Sands closed the door behind them.  They were all wearing padded jerkins over long sleeved tops and jeans – looking strangely out of place in the well furnished front room.


“Well, it is mine now I suppose – I paid him back every penny,” Sands said as she looked round, running her hand over the back of the leather chaise longue.  “Anyway, Katy, if…”


“Gotta admit, she has exquisite taste – must have got it from her…”


The three younger girls stared at Buffy as she appeared in the doorway – and then at Holly as she looked in, and said quietly “Alexandra – what are you doing here?”




Katy and Pepsi looked at each other, before Buffy smiled and said “well, this is interesting.”


“Holly, what are you doing here,” Sands said as she looked at the older woman, “I thought you wanted nothing more to do with this place…”


“I don’t,” Holly said as she turned white, “but…”


“So why are you here,” Sands said quietly, “and more to the point, what is SHE doing here?”


“Me?  I asked Holly to show me the place.  She may not have mentioned it,” Buffy said with a smile, “but I saw you at the club that night with ‘Uncle Fergus’.


“You as well Katy - looking particularly sharp as well, even if I say so.  So I asked her to show me round.  Your turn.”


“Katy asked if she could visit, and Pepsi offered to drive me down.”


“And they know?”


“They know – They’ve been a great help to me these last few days.”  Sands looked at Holly, who was trembling as she said “I understand why you don’t want to speak to me, or know me, Holly…”


“Should you be saying anything Sands,” Pepsi whispered urgently.


“I trust you and Katy, Pepsi – and its damn obvious Buffy knows.  I can’t hide on this one – I have to…  Holly, darling, are you all right?”  Sands walked quickly over and sat next to Holly, who was sobbing, her head in her hands.


“Sands, I’m sorry,” she said as she looked at the younger girl, her mascara running, “I’m sorry I hurt you so much.  I had to stop, I had to protect you and myself…”


“By lying to yourself?”


Holly nodded as she said “I had to – I knew if we continued to see each other, it would come out, and we would be both be in trouble…”


“Bit late for that,” Buffy said with a smile.


“What does she mean,” Sands said as she put her hand on Holly’s knee.


“She…  She’s forcing me to let her use this place to serve some of her clients next week, and…   And…”


Katy and Pepsi stared at Buffy as she smiled and leaned against the wall, her arms folded.




“And…  If I do not join her, she’ll tell everyone about you and about us.  Sands, I had to protect you, and the only way I thought I could do that was to cut you out, but…”


She looked at Sands, and held her hands before saying quietly, “I can’t let her hurt you, love…”


“Well,” Katy whispered as they kissed, “I guess that answers that question.”


“But it raises others,” Pepsi said as she looked at Buffy.  “You are blackmailing her?”


“Yes – yes I am.”


Sands looked at Holly and smiled, before she stood up, anger in her eyes.  “Buffy,” she said quietly, “you are a blackmailing bitch.”


Buffy smiled sweetly.  “Takes one to know one Alexandra dear.”


“Using the threat of exposing me to force Holly to become a prostitute, is low even for you.”


“Alexandra it’s all right,” Holly said as she stood up, “I will do it, you mean too much to me for me to see you get hurt.”


“No Holly it’s not right, this was my mess, I should clear it up.”


“How my love?”


“Buffy,” Sands said quietly, “I take it your clients wouldn’t mind if your partner looked young?”


“Probably not,” Buffy smiled,


“Well then I’ll join you in entertaining them,”


“NO WAY!”  Pepsi and Katy shouted in unison as Holly stepped forward.  “Alexandra I’m not letting you become a prostitute.”


“Well I’m not letting you Holly.”


“Looks like you have a problem ladies,” Buffy smiled her evil smile. “One of you though is going to join me next weekend, just decide which of you.”


“Buffy,” Pepsi said as she stood in front of the older girl, “they are right, you are low.”


“Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi,” Buffy said as she shook her head, “you say that, knowing full well that you have been a whore yourself…”


“She’s what?” Katy interrupted.


“Oh didn’t big sister ever tell you she sold her body a few times.”


Katy stared at Pepsi as she spat out “BITCH!”


“Names Pepsi,” Buffy said, “I wonder what your English lord might say if he knew?”


“If you ever say anything about my sister, I swear I will kill you,” Katy said in a low voice.


“So she is definitely your sister then?  I wasn't quite sure the rumors were true – thank you for that,” Buffy said, “now I wonder what would happen if that became public…?”


“Look girls I’m the adult,” Holly said as she stood up, “I’ll join Buffy next weekend if she swears to forget all this.”


“And if I don’t?”


“Then I’ll set the Rochermann twins on you.”


“Ouch!” Buffy laughed, “yes they are dear friends, but they both have secrets as well.”


“Just stop it Buffy,” Sands said “I’ll be your partner, and that’s an end to it.”


“No Alexandra my love,” Holly put her arm round the youngster. 


"Look ladies,” Buffy said “with the possible exception of Katy, who is over-sexed anyway, we have all sold our bodies in some fashion or another, so what is the problem in turning this place into a rather nice little 'house of ill repute'?"

"Buffy, Nell said you'd cleaned up your act, what happened?"

"Simple Pepsi darling, I have expensive tastes, I like sex, and this seems a great way to build a nest egg for the future."

Katy shook her head as she said "It's not like your family is poor."

"True Katy, but my Mom read me a lesson a few weeks ago when she saw my credit card bills. They have me on a tight allowance, and honestly girls...Me on an allowance?" Buffy shook her head.

"So you are hooking, and now branching off into blackmail." Sands looked stern.

"Hey you all enjoy sex just as much as I do, why not make it pay?"

"Buffy that might be the case, but blackmailing us is not cool." Holly looked daggers.

"Hey I need a second whore...badly, and you know that old saying about needs must."


"Look… before this conversation goes further, I'm going to ring Doc and get her over here." Pepsi stood hands on hips.

"Bringing in your 'madame' eh?"

"Ex 'madame' Buffy, you know very well Anna flies straight now."

"Sorry no offense, but yes by all means get her over here, and let’s see what she says."


“Oh she’s going to love this,” Pepsi said as she dialled a number.




3.30 pm

The Carlton Home




Anna looked at her phone, and then said “Pepsi, are you telling the truth?”


“Yeah – Doc, we need you down here, try to talk some sense into her?”


“From what I know of her, I doubt it, but I’m on my way,” Doc said as she ended the call.   “Mom – I’m going to meet Pepsi.”



“Now where is little Miss Carlton running to in such a hurry?" Eleanor watched Doc run out of her parent’s house from a car on the opposite side of the street.  "Maybe I'll catch a break at last?" Eleanor talked to herself as Doc started her little car, "and she will lead me to something concrete?"



1 pm PT



“Thank you Bertrand,” Emma said as the maitre d’ bowed, and left them to their meal.


“So,” Maddie said, “I thought this was a good way to celebrate you completing the recording of the new tracks for the CD.”


“Yeah – it was fun getting back into the studio with the girls,” Emma said with a smile.  “So what else has happened?”


"Cassie called – she wants to see us in a couple of weeks or so to approve last minute script changes darling." Maddie smiled as she sipped her wine.

"That shouldn't be a problem."

"It might be...because of work commitments we will have to see her in London."

"Ah, I see the problem," Emma nodded. "Well if you are free to go darling, then I certainly am, and its certainly been a while since I went shopping there."

"Is this going to turn expensive?"

"Who knows?" Emma kissed her wife.


“Okay then – we can schedule this for before the birthday party.”




4 pm

The Apartment


“She’s on her way,” Pepsi said as she sat down and looked round.  "So this is what an illicit love nest looks like?" she asked as she tried to change the topic of conversation.

"I suppose so," Holly sat with her arm round Sands’ waist, "we had a lot of fun in here in a very short time."

"I can imagine," Buffy said mockingly.


Sands stared at her, real hate in her eyes as Katy said “listen – why don’t you show me those clothes we talked about.  I was asking about some of your dresses Holly, but…”


“No, it’s a good idea,” Holly said quietly, “why don’t we all go and have a look?  I’m sure there will be something there you will like, Katy.”


“Got anything to drink, Holly DARLING?”


“Look in the kitchen area, Buffy SWEETHEART,” Holly said as they stood up, “we’ll be in the bedroom.”


Buffy smirked as she went one way, and the quartet the other.


“Holly crap,” Katy said as she looked at the wardrobe in the bedroom, and then at Pepsi.  “Sis?”


“You’re sisters?”  Holly said as she looked at them.


“Half-sisters, and no time for that,” Katy whispered, “you?”


“Once – once,” Pepsi said quietly, “Caroline got a group of us together to test the self-discipline of a group of bankers at a convention.  But it was only the once - I was never part of the other group.”


“Yeah – I can believe that,” Katy said as she picked out a short gold dress.  “Can I try this on Holly?”


“Knock yourself out,” Holly said, “it’s the least I can do for getting you three dragged into this mess.  Sands, darling, what are we going to do?”


“Not panic for one thing,” Sands said quietly as she looked at the others.  “If she thinks she’s in control here, she’s got another thing coming.”


“Well, she’s certainly got the upper hand at the moment,” Holly said as Katy stripped off, and she put on the dress.


“The key phrase been, at the moment,” Sands said quietly.  “Holly, are you sure you want to do this?”


“Do I want to do it?  No I don’t,” Holly said as she shook her head.  “Do I need to do it, to keep you safe?  Yes – I don’t think I’ve got a choice.”


“I wish it hadn’t come to this though,” Sands said as they gently kissed each other.


“Wow – I do make this look good!”


All three turned to see Katy posing in the dress, looking at herself in the mirror.


“Actually,” Holly said with a smile, “you do…”


The bell of the apartment door ringing made all four look at each other, as Holly said “I’ll go.”  She left the bedroom, the others watching as she went and opened the apartment door.


“Holly – Pepsi said I needed to come round.”


“She did,” Holly said as she stood to the side and Doc came in, Buffy appearing from the kitchen area.  “But why you?”


“Madame Angel,” Buffy said with a smile.


“That was a lifetime ago,” Doc said as she looked at the others, “and I never want to hear that name again.   So let me make this short and sweet – what the fuck do you think you are doing Buffy?”


“Seizing the moment, Miss Carlton.”


“And causing my friends a lot of pain,” Doc said quietly.  “All right – Pepsi told me what you had done.  Who exactly is it you are planning to – entertain?”


"These guys are out-of-towners looking for a really good time with two local whores...I'm sure you remember the type Anna?" Buffy looked hard at the ex call-girl.

"Yes,” Doc nodded as she sat with Pepsi and Katy, “a lot of money to spend, and usually not very pleasant."

"Well,” Buffy said with a smile, “these guys come with a recommendation from one of my regulars, so they should be okay."

"What is it Friday night dinner? Then back here?"

"And the same Saturday night Doc, in between we make our own fun,” Buffy said as she took a sip from her wine glass, “but as I said I'm sure you remember exactly with that amazing memory of yours."

“You are on very thin ice, Buffy McGeorge,” Doc said quietly.  "Where are they coming in from?"

"Washington...I believe they might be foreign, shall we say diplomatic, gentlemen?"

"I know the type," Doc nodded before she looked over at Sands.  “Alexandra, trust me please – you do NOT want to be a part of this.  At the same time, Holly…”


“I already said – I’ll do it to protect her.”


Doc took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.  “Okay,” she eventually said, “next Friday?”


“That’s right,” Buffy said.


“Pepsi, you and I are flying out next Friday.  Holly, whatever my personal view is of this, if Buffy promises to keep Sands out of this…”


“I’ll do anything,” Holly said as she hugged the younger girl.


Doc looked straight at Buffy, and said quietly “two nights, and that is it.  Trust me, you do not want to cross me on this.”


“Oh I’m scared,” Buffy said as she put her glass down, “I’ll call with the details during the week Holly darling.  Ciao.”


The five of them watched Buffy as she picked up her coat and left.  “We don’t have a choice, do we,” Holly said quietly.


“Oh we have a choice – but not this time,” Doc said quietly, “and a week is a long time.”




Eleanor watched as the young brunette left the apartment block and looked round.  “Now who are you,” she said as she took a few pictures, “and do you have anything to do with this?”



“I need to get back to Tommy,” Holly said as she stood up.


"Before you leave darling, does this mean you are taking back the MG and your presents?"

"I guess I am Alexandra my love...I love you too much not to, but only the Goddess knows we are going to keep this secret so I don't end up in prison."

"Don't worry Holly, anyone rats you girls out then they answer to me," Doc gritted her teeth.


“I will talk to you soon, my love,” Sands said, Holly nodding as she left the apartment.


“Right,” Doc said, “Pepsi can you take Sands home?  Give Holly five minutes to get going, then leave.  I’ll take Katy back to her place once she’s changed.”


“Sure – Doc…”


“Don’t worry – Angel isn’t coming back,” Doc said quietly.  “Take Pepsi home – I’ll call you later.”


Pepsi nodded as she said “come on Sands” and the two girls left.


“Okay – how do we stop this bloodsucking vampire?” Katy said from the bedroom.


“By being smarter than her,” Doc called back.  “I need to talk to Heather.”


Sunday 5th June

10 am BST

The Savoy


“So how are things progressing Elia,” Francesca said as she sipped her coffee.


"Well, the revelations regarding your mental health seem to have had a beneficial side effect Francesca."

"Oh? How Elia?"

"There have been a couple of very serious pieces in the newspapers about postpartum depression, and a really informative panel discussion on one of the RAI channels last night about it."

"And this was all linked to me?"

"Indeed,” Elia said, “you coming clean about your problems has inspired a lot of other women to talk."

"Well I'm glad in a way that my trauma at least has helped them open up about their own problems." Francesca paused, "Elia darling do you think you can organise an anonymous donation from me to groups doing research in postpartum?"

"Give me a day or two, but yes I can do that."

"Remember no publicity please."

"I know darling."

"Thank you Elia."

"Anyway,” Elia said with a laugh, “what are you doing this day Francesca - other than dodging the media?"

"Actually, I’m looking at the possible financial consequences of an Olafsson divorce."

"Hmmm…  I had heard Agnetha finally has grown sick of his affairs."

"She has,” Francesca said, “but don't expect a divorce yet, the results if they did would be bad for their own finances, but might be catastrophic for the Norwegian national economy."

"Their companies are that big and important?"

"Afraid so, and Norway has a far smaller population than Italy.  So the fallout would be far harder than trouble either at my companies, or at your fathers or the Agnelli's."  Francesca smiled. "I'm telling Agnetha's lawyers to warn her that maybe a separation might just be better for a lot of people then a divorce."

"It sounds that way to me." Elia shook her head.  “Where are Charlotte and Piet today?”


“Gone to visit Penelope, Shirley’s assistant, at her country home.  They needed the break…”




8 am

The Richmond Mansion


“Lover?  Incoming call for you from Catherine – something about Charlotte’s present?”


“Oh yeah,” Heather said as Jo looked up, “can you fix breakfast for the kids when they come down?”


“Sure – anything I need to worry about?”


“Not this time, no,” Heather said as she went into the office, and closed the door.  “Good morning Catherine,” she said as she looked at the screen, “I take it you are satisfied that the apartment for the girls is ready?”


“Indeed – only a few weeks before they come over as well,” Catherine said with a smile, “but I wished to consult with you on another matter?”


“Okay – go ahead…”


"What can you tell me of one Evgeniy Bogachev Heather?" Catherine asked.

"Who are you asking on behalf of? Yourself? or your honored master?"

"In a way what do you know?"

Heather grimaced as she said "apart from being a major league pain in my butt..."


"Yeah he's the world’s biggest cyber thief...only trouble is that a lot of his shit has been blamed on the Hidden Hand."

"So it is personal?"

"Oh very much so, I hate his guts, and if he knew who I was I'm sure he'd hate me," Heather paused, "now why the interest?"

"He may have hacked certain financial institutions my secret society has interests in."

"Sounds his style."

"How does he stay free if he's publicly known Heather?"

"He does huge favors I hear for the Russian government,” Heather said quietly, “they keep him safe."

"So Bogachev is both a criminal and an intelligence asset?"

"He is Catherine...bastard gets away with things I'd never even attempt." Heather paused, "I have heard he has apartments near the Black Sea and in Moscow, and has a passion for cars."

"Okay and can you tell me anything else?'

"He supposedly can control one million computers round the world."


"Actually Catherine that's not many, but I won't explain."


“Intriguing – very well then, I think I may have to send Helen on a short trip home.  My thanks Heather, you have been most educational.”


“You are most welcome Catherine – I’ll see you in France,” Heather said as she ended the call – only to take her cell phone out and look at it.


“Doc – what’s up?


“Well, Sandy is taking the kids to see Jennifer this afternoon – why, what’s happened?


“Okay – Jo and I will expect you at about one.”




1 pm BST

Lancaster Gate


Peri and Hannah smiled as they looked at the bare, undecorated rooms, Francesca pointing out the proposed layout.


“The offices have access to the kitchen so you girls can use that," Francesca indicated to a doorway, “and the library will double both as my personal, and our law library."

"Seems logical," Hannah smiled.

"We will have a little less space than we have at Aldwych," Peri looked round, "but I think we will be more comfortable."

"Yes I think it will quickly become a real home for us." Francesca smiled.  “Ah – Mrs Harris, what do you think?”


“The kitchen looks good,” Betty Harris said as she came through, “with your permission, I’ll go and inspect my rooms now.”


“Of course,” Francesca said as she left.  “Mrs Harris will live on the third floor, while my suite is on the second floor.”

“Still,” Peri said, “It will make a nice change from the offices.”


"And it has the advantage that the press doesn't currently know about it."

"True Hannah." Francesca smiled again.

"So when do we start the move?" 

"Well the builders say that the carpets, etc should be in over the next three or four days, and the painting completed, so maybe end of the week?'

"That suits me Boss," Peri grinned.

"And don't give Gerald too much room to complain about what you bring over from Xavier's Peri?"

"Moi?" Peri laughed.


“You,” Hannah said.  “Now, where shall we head for lunch?”


“How about a small place I know around the corner,” Francesca said, “I hear the music is very good indeed.”



5 pm CET


The Furstenheim Townhouse


“Your highness,” Frau Strecher said with a slow bow as the party came into the hallway, “welcome.  If the maids may take your coats, they await your pleasure in the drawing room.”


“Thank you, Frau Strecher,” Princess Gloria said as she handed her coat over, and then followed her into the drawing room.  As she opened the door, she said clearly “The Princesses and Prince von Tuhrn und Taxis.”


“Aunt Gloria,” Klaus said as he stood up, “welcome, welcome.  Come in and join us.”


“Thank you Klaus,” Gloria said as she came in, the others standing.  “Juliette, it is good to see you again.”


“And you Gloria,” Juliette said as she kissed the older woman on both cheeks.  “Carina and Annie should be here in a few minutes, they were just…”


“Changing diapers,” Carina said as she and Annie came in, holding Rudi and Mags.  “Aunt Gloria, may I present Rudolf and Margaret.”


“Welcome, little ones,” Gloria said with a smile as Rudi grabbed her finger.  “And welcome to the family, Annie – a surprise, but a most welcome one none the less.”


“Hello – I’m Mafelda.”


“I’m Judith – do you want to come and see my poopie?”


“Yes please,” the other blonde girl said as they walked to where a collection of soft toys was waiting.


“Annie,” Gloria said, “may I present my son Albert, my daughter Elisabeth, and my other daughter Maria with her husband Hugh.”


“It’s a pleasure to finally make your proper acquaintance,” Albert said as he hugged Annie, the others following suit.  “Welcome to the family.”


“Thanks – it’s all still a bit surreal to me,” Annie said with a smile as coffee was brought in.


“I understand – it can be difficult to adjust,” Hugh said as he handed her a coffee.


“Thanks – how long did it take you to adjust?”


“Who says I have adjusted?  Well, our daughters at least seem to be getting on like a house on fire," Hugh watched as Mafalda and Judith played.

"Mafalda is teaching Judith some German while they do it," Annie smiled, "I really must start to learn."

"Well as long as she doesn't teach her some of the choice words she has picked up recently."

"Oh you have that problem as well? Judith thinks shocking us is the height of fun."

"I think all kids go through that phase," the artist shook his head.




“So what plans do you have for the baptism,” Gloria asked Carina.


“We hope to arrange it while we are here,” Carina said.  “But the issue is finding a time everyone can make.”


“I understand, but I do hope you can let us know soon,” Albert said.  "I'm looking forward to meeting your friends again.”

"Well like you they are racing enthusiasts," Carina replied.

"Henri Marais was one of my idols growing up, talking with him at your mothers wedding was such a kick."

“Well, he and Janine are bringing Adam to Rosville for the eighteenth birthday of Abigail.  Our friends Pussy and Frieda are also having their daughter baptized that weekend.  Perhaps we can get you invited?”


"You must come to visit me in Regensburg later this summer Juliette."

"We'd be delighted Gloria,” Juliette said, “I'll have to fit it round other commitments though."


"Yes, I have to knuckle down to finish a book on my ancestor the famous criminologist, my agent has me booked to do a lot of modeling, including a visit to Sydney, all on top of my regular work."

"Well I understand hard work, my late husband was very much of the opinion that you do your work first, and then you get time to play."

"I'm just glad I was able to bring Janine along to assist me, and that Frau Strecher of course can look after so much as well."

"That is true, Frau Strecher is remarkably efficient in her duties."


"Hugh was saying that you are accompanying him to London to hear Heather Smith lecture at LIFA," Klaus brought over drinks.

"I was thinking so, I hear she is a considerable expert." Gloria took her glass.

"Oh that she is indeed."

"How did she come to be employed as a nanny then Klaus?"

"Actually the same old story,” Klaus said, “getting jobs in the art world to start is more about who you know, rather then what you know. She needed to earn a crust."

"But she got very fortunate in being employed by Sandy Richmond."

"And then them falling in love Aunt Gloria." Ingrid sat down.

"Is Adam going to use you for the Vogue layout I've commissioned from him Ingy?" Elisabeth asked.

"Yes, subject to Missy's approval of course."

"Of course," the editor/writer smiled.  “When does Pippa start Juliette?”


“Officially the beginning of August,” Juliette said, “but she and Anna are effectively working together now.”


1 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Hey kiddo,” Jo said as Heather showed Doc into the room, “what’s up?”


“An extremely good question,” Doc said as she sat down.  Jo was wearing a white polo shirt and a pair of grey jeans, while Heather was still in her floral print dress from Chapel.  “Can I get a drink?”




“I probably need something stronger – and my head examined – but coffee is fine,” Doc said as she sat down.  Jo looked at her for a moment, then took off her glasses as she said “are you sure you’re all right?”


“There you go,” Heather said as she closed the door, handed the mug to Doc and sat down.  “Right – is this anything to do with what Eleanor Ball has been up to?”


“Yes – and possibly no – but only on the periphery,” Doc said quietly.


“You speak in riddles young one,” Jo said as she put her book down.


“Okay – first up, I know about Sands and Holly, Heather.”  Doc looked at Jo, who nodded and said “she told me.  I should have seen it at the time, but what’s done is done.”


“Yeah, well…  It’s not quite done yet.”


Heather looked at Jo, before she said “what’s happened?”


“I got a call yesterday from Pepsi – she and Katy had gone with Sands to the apartment to look at a few things, when she found Holly was there – and someone else.”


“Who,” Heather asked quietly.


“Buffy McGeorge.”


“Buffy McGeorge?  What was she doing there,” Jo asked.


Doc put her mug down and sat back, resting her head on the back of the couch.  “She knows – she knows about Holly and Sands, she knows about Pepsi and Katy, and she knows about Madame Angel – and she’s using that knowledge to blackmail Holly into joining her in entertaining a couple of visiting politicos next weekend.”


She sat forward, putting her head into her hands as she said “I have a horrible feeling, had it been just me and Katy, Buffy would not have walked out of that place.”


“Are you telling me,” Jo said quietly, “that she’s blackmailing Holly into…”


“Yeah – and I get the feeling she won’t stop there.  She knows Pepsi joined us that time with Caroline, and wondered aloud how Jack would take that news.  And when she realised that Katy and Pepsi were sisters…”


“Friend of a friend or not, I’d be tempted to kill her,” Jo said, “and as for what this might be doing to Holly and Sands…”


“Who, for the record, has figured out me, her mother, Jan and Katy are Pussycats, but has not asked about the others,” Heather said quietly.


“She is?”  Doc shook her head and smiled as she said “well, she constantly surprises me.  But our immediate problem is how we protect Holly and end the blackmailing bitch’s attempts.”


“This apartment,” Jo said, “can we get access to it?”


“I could ask Sands to loan me the keys – why?”


“You and Pepsi are out of the country from Friday – will you leave this with me and Heather to provide support if need be?”


“What have you got in mind?”


“I don’t think we can do anything to stop what she has forced Holly to do – not without tipping our hand,” Heather said, “but we can set up some equipment to make sure we keep an eye on things – and to show Buffy she’s not the only one who can put a blackmail case together…”


“And in the meantime?”


“We can look after Sands,” Jo said, “and I’ll talk to Katy.  But we do need to nip this in the bud while we can…”





Eleanor took a drink from her mug of coffee and looked at the screen of her laptop.


“Alright,” she said as she looked at the file, “Mystery girl… Her name is Buffy McGeorge...student at family...reputation as a bad girl...Hmmm, now why would Anna Carlton go see her in the hurry that she did?  What about the apartment block she went into?”


Typing on the screen, she said “well she doesn’t live there – neither do any of her family, but…  Now that’s interesting.  An apartment was bought there some weeks ago by Fergus MacLean, and bought two weeks ago by the Richmond Trust.  So that must be where the girls had their little love nest.”


Sitting back, Heather rubbed her chin.  “I know Anna Carlton was aware of what happened – and now Buffy McGeorge, who was not part of the set-up, comes out of the same apartment block.  She must know something of what happened…  Is she using that knowledge to her own means?


“And if she is, and she knows, that means she’s threatening Sands and Katy – not a wise move…”


Finishing her coffee, she stood up and grabbed her coat.  She needed to make sure Sands wasn’t going to get into any more trouble…



8 pm CET



“Thank you,” Annie said as she sat at the dinner table, still feeling as if she was in a dream.  At the head of the table, Klaus sat with Juliette, Gloria and Natalya on either side of them, and then round the table the other members of the family, Judith and Mafalda at the far end with her, Carina and Mafalda’s parents.


“Mafalda, try to use your fork,” Maria said quietly, the young girl nodding and saying “yes Mamma” as Judith giggled.


“You as well, young lady,” Carina said with a smile.


“Yes, Mamma Cari,” Judith said as she started to eat as well.




9 pm BST

Chutney Mary, St James Street


"How can you eat curries that hot?" Peri asked as the girls exited the restaurant.

"Those aren't hot...that was pretty mild," Hannah said as she looked for a cab.

"I'd like to know then what your definition is then of hot?" Lily shook her head.  “Just the scent alone brought tears to my eyes.”

"Me too," Tanera smiled, "I was born in the Punjab, and Punjabi's like hot spices...but?"

"What can I say? my Cape Malay ancestors made the world’s spiciest dishes."

"How does a woman of Malay descent end up a natural blonde?" Lily enquired.

"Don't ask," Hannah laughed as she signalled a taxi, "we Cape Coloureds are a genetic stew, there is a little bit of everything in there."

"Shows how ridiculous it is to characterise people by the tone of their skin," Peri laughed as they piled into the back of the cab.

"Where to girls?" the cabbie asked.

"Covent Garden." Lily replied.  “Let’s try that club you suggested for the hen party Peri…”



4 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Hey there Princess,” Sandy said as her daughter came into the kitchen, “want a drink?”


“Not for the moment thanks,” Sands said as she sat herself on the chair, and looked at both of them.


Looking at the young teenager, Heather sat opposite her and said “Come on Sands – what’s on your mind?”


"Heather, Mom,” Sands said quietly, “is it all right if Holly and I go out tonight?"

"As friends? or as girlfriends? Sands darling."

She looked at her mother and nanny, and said quietly, "That was what I wanted your opinion on."


Sandy sat next to her daughter and put her arm round her.  “Sands, Princess…  Can you get Holly to come round a little earlier to pick you up – and tonight, let it be as friends, all right?  I want to talk to her.”


“I could see if she can come round in half an hour?”


“Please,” Heather said, “that would be good.”




Thirty minutes later, Holly looked into the kitchen and said “hello Heather, Sandy – did Sands ask you about tonight?”


“She did – but we need to talk first,” Sandy said as she took Heather by the arm, and led her into the drawing room.  “Holly, what are your intentions?  Are you going to keep seeing Sands as more than a friend?”


"I don't know what to do Sandy,” Holly said as she sat down, “it seems like every option that I have is a bad one."

“Can I ask a direct question?”  As Holly nodded, Sandy sat next to her and said "Are you in love with my daughter Holly?"

"Yes...but I know it's against both accepted custom and the law for me to be so."

"Can I ask you honestly why you are in love with her?"

Looking up, Holly smiled.  "Because she's loving, caring, devoted, she would literally give someone the shirt off her back..."

"She's also beautiful, and can make herself into a very attractive young woman?"

"Sandy I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also physically attracted to her...But is that so bad?"

"If she was 5 years older, no, no one would think twice about it, but Holly she is barely thirteen, you are going to both have to be so careful to protect each other."

"I know Sandy, it was why I tried to chase her away."


“And nearly broke both of your hearts,” Sandy said quietly, “so I’m glad you have worked through that.  What about Tommy?”


“I love him as well,” Holly said, “which is what makes this even more difficult…”


“So, getting the third degree,” Sands said as she came in.


“Not quite,” Sandy said.  "Look can I suggest that you both dress down, go take in a movie, then maybe grab a burger, No one is going to see anything odd in that girls, and it will give you a chance to chat and consider options."

"That sounds like a plan Mom...Agreed Holly?"

"I agree." Holly smiled, "but is there anything worth going to see?"

"Oh I'm sure you can find something." Heather laughed, "and just do what we suggest girls, go talk, go have fun, and just let things develop at a pace you both know you can handle."

"It's what Heather did at first if you don't remember Princess?"

"I remember Mom."


“Okay – get your coat kiddo, let’s see what the local picture show is showing today…”




9 pm

McDonalds, Times Square


"Well that wasn't too bad a movie," Holly laughed as she sipped her diet coke.

"I've seen worse," Alexandra shook her head. "I just can't believe how recently though it was that I'd have been appalled at the thought of watching a weepy, love story, like that."

Shaking her head, Holly reached over and put her hand on the young girl’s.  "You've grown up a lot in the past few months Sands."

"I suppose I have," Sandy mused as she ate a fry, "but I also think that I was resisting growing up for a while because Katy was doing it, and I didn't want to change.'

"That sounds plausible to me."

"So maybe,” Sands said quietly, “underneath I was growing up and not showing it?"

"I knew something though was changing when it became obvious you were attracted to me."

"I was in the worst way," Sands sighed, "but I thought there was no way you'd ever see me as more than a little sister.  Even after Munich…"

"Well,” Holly said with a smile, “I think our kissing like that in Munich taught me that you weren't my sister..."

"I guess not," Sands giggled.

"Darling,” the older woman said quietly after she looked round, “we need make some decisions you know?"

"I know Holly," Sands looked down at her burger.

"How are we going to make this work? I'm twenty years old, a movie and a burger is fine when you are younger, but I want more on a date..."

"And so do I," Sands jumped in, "but unless we creep around and hide in the corners of dark rooms, can we have your kind of date?"

"Makeup and wigs?"

"We tried that,” Sands said, “and that bitch Buffy still spotted us both."

"I know, I know," Holly took another sip of coke.

"What are we going to do Holly?" Alexandra sighed.




"Alright that is a little more than two friends even now." Eleanor smiled as she sat on the other side of the burger joint, looking at Holly and Sands. This at least was nothing more than a love story, albeit by the law a criminal one, but it was clear to her at least that the older girl wasn't using or exploiting the younger one.


They were in love, and trying hard to sort out what they should do. Eleanor decided she would keep well out of this, it was one secret that she didn't really want to probe further.


“Which leaves the question of Anna Carlton,” she thought to herself.  Why did she go there?  What role would she play in this?


Katy had called her in to help with keeping an eye on Sands.  So Katy knew to turn to her for help.  Maybe Doc Carlton got called in to say something to Buffy McGeorge… to make a point.


Alright if Doc under her exterior was a lot tougher then she looked, that would also explain why Katy had gone straight to her for help.  "Yes those pieces click into place," Eleanor told herself, Anna might be a genius, but is she also perchance an 'enforcer' able to 'discipline' those who offend or hurt her friends?

Now that was an interesting question…


She watched as Holly and Sands got up and walked out.  Finishing her drink, she stood up and walked out, watching as the two women walked away just holding hands, and then heading in the opposite direction.



Monday 6th June

8 am CET



“Good morning,” Juliette said as Carina and Annie came into the dining room.


“Hello Mommas,” Judith said as she waved from her seat, and then took a drink from her cup.


Klaus smiled at Annie as they started breakfast.  “Relax Annie - we got Cousin Gloria out of the way, now it’s just the rest of local society that my sister has decided to invite tonight."


“And what is that going to involve,” Carina said with a smile.


“Oh just an intimate little dinner for a few close friends,” Sigi said with a smile, “you’ll be fine.”


“If I was you, I’d start running now,” Dieter said with a grin.  “Sigi’s idea of a little intimate dinner can be fun…”


“Aunty Ingy and Grappy are showing me a pony today Momma.”


"Do you have your riding hat Judith?" Carina asked her daughter as she ate her breakfast.


"Yes Momma," the youngster pointed to the floor beside her.


"Well just make sure you listen to exactly what Grappy tells you to do."


"I will...Pwomise."


"How big exactly is this pony?" Annie asked as she buttered some toast.


"It's a part-Shetland that a friend of Ingrid's daughter has outgrown," Klaus sipped his coffee. "It's used to having a small child on it, and being led on a rein."


"So you'll have hold of the rein all the time Pops?"


"Yes Carina my darling." Klaus put his cup down, "and when their time comes Rudi and Mags can learn on Spirit, just like Judith will."


“Good – well, have fun Judith.”


“I will Momma,” Judith said with a grin.


10 am BST

Xavier International, London



“The morning report Madame,” Lily said as she handed Shirley the papers.


“When is Penelope due in, Lily?”


“In the next hour – I understand Caroline wishes to talk to me this afternoon?”


“Yes – you heard about the Ealing incident?”


“I was told by Penny – I have no idea what it’s about, but Uncle George will be there as well,” Lily said.  “I will see you later.”


“Thank you Lilian,” Shirley said as she scanned down the report, and then looked at one particular entry.


"Alright… Tamiko Tanaka had the Japanese Ambassador take her to dinner at the National Liberal Club...Why?" Shirley asked herself. That was getting too damn close to the target.


Pressing a button, she said “Charlotte – progress report on the drone please.”


“Doing the first real run to Juliette’s instructions tonight Madame.”


“Okay – let me know as soon as the run is completed.”




As Charlotte put the telephone down, she heard the knock on the door, looking up to see Francesca standing there.


“Peri told me you might be ready to start moving in this weekend, Mamma.”


“Well, we can start moving things over, but I’m booked in the Savoy for a week after that, just in case,” Francesca said with a smile.


“Well, at least you’ll get some privacy.  We had unwanted company yesterday.”


"They found Penny's hideaway Carlotta?"

"Yes Mama,” Charlotte said as Francesca sat down, “and Penny was not happy. Two photographers sitting in the tree outside photographing us in her cottage."

"Having got to know Penelope I can understand, she really values her privacy."

"Piet tried to chase them off, and I'm afraid they got pictures of him looking VERY angry."

"Alright darling, they will probably be all over the press today, we will have to deal with them."  Pressing a button on her phone, she dialled a few numbers and waited.




“Reia?  Francesca – we have a small problem…”



2 pm BST

Xavier International



“Looks like you’ve ironed out the kinks now Barb,” Charlotte said as she stood at the work table, looking through the flight reports, “congratulations.  This will be invaluable for our work in deep mining and other areas.”


“Oh, I’m sure it will be – eventually.”


Charlotte looked at the former Australian army officer and said “eventually?”


"Charlotte do I finally get to know what this is all about?" Barb asked as she completed some adjustments on the drone, "what am I really searching for?"

Charlotte considered her options for a second and decided on the truth.

"Would you believe,” she said as she smiled and folded her arms, “two billion dollars in lost gold?"

"Nah come serious," Barb said as she looked at Charlotte's face, and then put her hand to her mouth. "Oh Holy Mother, you are being serious!"

"Well you asked Major..."

"Bleedin' hell," the Australian scientist said as she shook her head, "I had thought out some possible answers, but that never even occurred to me."

"Have you heard of the so-called Manchurian gold?"

"Just about..."

"Well,” Charlotte said with a smile, “a friend thinks she may have worked out its possible hiding place."

"And you want me and 'birdie' to take a discreet look...Gotcha." Barb thought for a second then spoke softly, "is this fully legal Charlotte?"

"No...does that worry you?"

"I guess not," the Australian woman thought hard again, "so is this fundraising for the sisters?"

"In part, but there will also be personal shares for the recovery team."

"Oh?" Barb raised an eyebrow.

"The recoverers will split up 22.5% of the gold, the rest is going back to China."


"Well I might have used different language Barb, but yes your cut should keep your research well-funded for many years." Charlotte smiled.


“To say the least,” Barb said quietly.  “Well, when do we start looking?”


“Tonight – join me for some dinner first?”



1.30 pm BST

The Gallery, Fortnum and Masons, Piccadilly


As JD walked into the restaurant, she felt strangely uncomfortable, wearing the cream jacket over the dark blue knee length dress and heels.


“May I help you Madame,” a young man said as he walked over.


“I’m meeting Cassandra Stone here?”


“Ah yes – Miss Carlucci.  This way please,” he said as he indicated JD should follow him.  She looked round, feeling a little self-conscious as one or two people looked at her, and then smiled as she saw Cassie sitting at a table.


“Come and sit down,” Cassie said as JD sat opposite her.  "So how did the shoot for Elle go JD?" 

"Tiring, boring, stimulating, funny..."

"Yeah I've been there done that," Cassie laughed, "we aren't real models, I guess most actresses prefer a set, a script, and movie cameras."

"Yeah...It had its high spots like I was trying to say, but most of it I sort of hated."

"Well it's all great publicity for you...and for the picture."


“How did the other premieres go,” JD asked as a waitress brought over a selection of sandwiches and cakes, and then a pot of tea and two cups.


“Strong, positive feedback – we go to Cannes next week, to show out of competition.”



2.30 pm

Xavier International


As Shirley walked back to her office from the conference room, she saw Tanera heading to Peri’s office, mumbling darkly to herself.  Shaking her head, she talked to Angela and then went into her office.


“Come,” she said as she heard the knock on the door, smiling as Penny came in.  “What is wrong with Tanera this afternoon Penelope?”


Smiling, her number one said “the fact that three Queens beat three Tens Madame.”


“Meaning what?”


“She lost a nice amount of cash to Bev at lunchtime.”


“Oh dear,” Shirley said as they sat down, “did no one warn her about playing poker with Beverley?”


“And spoil the surprise?” Penny shook her head and continued “Besides, if we stop Bev fleecing innocents at poker we’d have to give her a pay rise to compensate.”


“I suppose we would,” Shirley laughed.


“Anyway Charlotte told me to tell you that she and Major Brookmayer are doing their first reconnaissance with the drone tonight.’


“Good I’ll be interested to see what they discover down there.”


“I think we all will.”


“So how is that photographer who was staking out your cottage doing?”


“Nursing a wonderful black eye that Piet gave him.”


“What about the cameras?”


“Piet sent a formal apology to both men, and a cheque to cover the replacement of the ones he destroyed.”


“And you?”


“Oh I’ll cope,” Penny said, “Piet got to them before I did, after all…”



1 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


“Hey,” Nikki said as she took her jacket off, and came in while Barbara held the door open, “are the others here yet?”


“they are indeed – go on through,” Barbara said as Nikki walked in to see Pepsi, Ama, Becca, Doc and Jeannie sitting in the front room.


“Hey – did you bring it with you,” Jeannie said as she sat on the couch.


“Here it is – the guide to what’s on in London while we’re there,” she said as she handed round copies of the brochure.  “So – any places in particular you want to go to?”


“I was wondering about the open air theatre – Mom was wondering what they were showing,” Ama said as she flipped through the brochure.


“I think they’re doing a musical – Nope, sorry, Pride and Prejudice or Henry V.”


“Well, perhaps not,” Ama said with a smile.


“How about sport?”


“Too early for Wimbledon,” Doc said, “but there is a tournament in London we could go and see.”


“You checked your schedule Jeannie?  Are we going to have time to go as a group and do that?”


“I spoke to Fiona yesterday – she said she’s setting a couple of special things up for us…”


“NON-work related?”


“She promised,” Jeannie said with a smile, “honestly…”


“So – got your clothes sorted out?”


“Most of them – just remember it’s normally cooler in London, so pack some warmer things…”


"And remember, you all have to pack your school uniforms as well girls." Barbara said as she brought out drinks.

"Rotten thing, I thought I'd got rid of it for the summer," Nikki shook her head.

"Didn't we all," Becca sighed.

"What are the kids like at your old school Jeans?"

"Well you've met some of them Niks, and most of them are similar." Jeannie handed round snacks.  “One or two are more – difficult, but the thing is, most of them are sitting exams now, so they’ll be in and out.”


“Trouble,” Doc said as she sipped her drink.


“Nah – I hope not anyway…”



7 pm CET

Munich – the Furstenheim townhouse


“Thank you for coming,” Carina said as she shook hands with the latest arrivals, and then looked at Annie.  Both were wearing evening dresses, while the nursery nurses looked after Judith and the babies, and were acting as the hostesses for the evening event.


“Just a few friends,” Annie whispered to Carina, “how can you cope?”


“Following Great Aunt Natalya’s example,” Carina said as she looked at Willy and Natalya talking to some of the guests.


“The Marquise and Marchioness of Ordford,” Frau Strecher announced, Carina smiling as she greeted the latest arrivals.


“Can we gatecrash darlings?" Mandy smiled, "we were going to ring, but we decided to fly over instead."

"Well I for one am glad to see you and Will," Annie hugged the Marchioness, "it means there will be a couple of people at least here tonight who I know."


“I can imagine, but congratulations, both of you,” Mandy said as she kissed them both, “and the latest arrivals?”


“Come with me, I’ll introduce you,” Annie said as she and Mandy went off, Klaus coming over and shaking Will’s hand.  “Frau Strecher said you had called – I’m glad you could make it tonight.”


“Well, once we got over the shock, we had to pay our respects.  So how are you feeling, to be a grandfather again.”


“It’s a very strange feeling,” Klaus said, “but to have a male heir, as feudal as it sounds, is a good feeling.”


“Well, don’t let things get too loud,” Will said.


“Enough of us however – how are your family?”


“All well – although events in New York have caused us some concern.”


“Ah - the trial.  How goes it?”


“I understand the prosecution finished today – the defence starts tomorrow.”


“Their royal highnesses, King Rudolf and Queen Therese of Ruritania.”


The room turned, bowing and curtseying as Rudi and Teri came in.  “Thank you – now can we relax please.  Carina, many congratulations.  Where is your new wife?”


“She took Mandy to see the babies – Frau Strecher would you take her Highness to the nursery to join them please.”


“Of course,” Frau Strecher said as she went off with Teri.





8.30 pm CET

The Furstenheim Townhouse


"Are you enjoying your visit to Germany Princess?" the man to Annie's right at the dinner table asked as the starter plates were removed.

"Sorry,” Annie said as she turned and looked at him, “are you talking to me?"

"Yes," he smiled.

"Sorry, I'm still not used to being addressed as Princess," she shook her head, "please it's just Annie."

"And I'm Reinhard...that's far easier to say them the Markgraf von Elstenburg und zu Schesselt."

"Just a bit," Annie laughed. "is your wife here?"

"No but my boyfriend is."
"Ah,” Annie said, “well I'm glad that Carina and I am not alone so to speak."

"No there are a couple of other gay couples here."


Annie smiled at Carina further up the table, and then looked at Klaus and Juliette, seated with the senior ranked royalty.


"So how did your granddaughter enjoy her first riding lesson Klaus?"

"Very well Terri," the prince smiled at the queen, "she listened and she learned quickly that the quieter she sat on him, the more relaxed would both feel. Ingrid led them round the paddock several times."

"Good, it's important i think to start them riding as young as possible."

"I agree with you Terri darling," the Archduchess Maria-Elena sitting on Klaus's other side at the dinner table agreed. "We started our children off at two years old...and well at least Elly has never lost her passion for riding."

"I caught her in the jump-off at Aachen on TV yesterday," Klaus nodded, "she got unlucky just having that one pole down."

"True, but it was a good warm-up for the Olympics."

"Are you going to Rio Klaus," Terri asked as the main course was served.

"Unfortunately not, Juliette has too many other commitments,” Klaus said.  “We talked about it though, but she has to be in Sydney for one thing, and spend some time in London for another."



"So you are going to be in London?" the Archduke Wilhelm asked Juliette at the other end of the table.

"Indeed - I need to consult with the archivists at Scotland Yard about my new book, so yes. I'm also trying to find out about her wartime experiences with the OSS."

"That sounds like the bit that would interest me," King Rudolf spoke. "What chance they will let you see the records?"

"Well at this moment none at all, but I'm hoping Margaret Harker can maybe twist a couple of arms for me.   Even though all her papers were burnt, the question of what Jane Huntingdown did during the war years has never really been answered."

"Why do things that happened over 70 years ago still need be secret anyway?" the Grand Duke asked.

"Just my point Wilhelm." Juliette nodded.






“So why am I down here,” Annie asked.


"The dinner seating is worked out by precedence Princess," the Margrave explained, "hence why the King and Queen, and the Archduke and Duchess get to sit next to your in-laws."

"Whilst I get you and Will as my neighbors?"

"Exactly” Will smiled, “we are deemed to be of the same rank."

"Well it makes no sense to me," Annie shook her head.

"It's why Manfred my boyfriend sits between your wives?" Reinhard explained.

"He seems to be entertaining them." Annie smiled as she saw Carina and Mandy laugh.


“Ah, but he is a good man for that purpose,” Reinhard said quietly.





"So what do you do to earn an honest crust Janine?"

Janine paused to wipe her mouth, and then said "I'm Juliette's...sorry I mean the Princess's...personal assistant." She smiled as she looked round and said, 'to be honest in this company I feel like a servant brought out to even the numbers up."

"Ah but you are a servant who is the girlfriend in her own right of a prince."

"And how would you know that Adam?" Janine turned to the man sitting on her left.

"The fact that there is a little story on you and he in Paris Soir this week?"

"There is...”  Janine blushed as she whispered “Nobody told me."

"I've seen it as well," her other dinner partner smiled.

"Someone needs to tell me where I can get hold of this magazine?"

"Any newsstand," Adam said with a smile.

"But that is how both Adam and I recognised you, and by the way I'm Johannes von Mannschen, Dieter's younger brother."

"And as I said earlier I'm Adam, Adam Bruckner, I work for the Bavarian state government."

"You don't have a title?" Janine smiled.

"I do,” Adam said with a smile, “but it's so long and it’s hell to pronounce."

"Well say it just once."

"Alright you asked for it," the German grinned, "I'm the Freiherr Adam Bruckner von Unsterheim und Kallonwitz- Oberschlerben."

"My Goddess it is a mouthful," Janine laughed out loud.




“Ladies,” Juliette said as she and the Grand Duchess stood, “I think we should leave the gentlemen to their discussions.”


The men stood as the ladies made their way to the drawing room, Frau Strecher nodding as they gathered inside and drinks were handed round.


“Well that was an interesting experience,” Annie said as she joined Carina.


“I agree -  but fun in its own way.”


"You seemed to be entertained by Manfred my love?" Annie smiled as she took a glass of wine from the maid.

"He was rather camp,” Carina said, “but highly amusing, a sort of German Graham Norton."

"Reinhard said he has his own show on regional television."

"I should have guessed so," Cari sipped her wine.

"So,” Annie said, “why do we get ushered out to drink Madeira with your mother, while the men get to stay in the dining room and drink brandy..."

"And smoke cigars don't forget darling," Mandy joined them with Sigi.

"It's an annoying custom," Sigi nodded, "but it does give a chance for both sexes to gossip about the other."




“Gentlemen,” Klaus said as the brandy and port was passed round, “you may smoke if you so desire.”


“Thank you,” Rudi said as he accepted the port, “so Carina and Annie surprised both of you?”


“Completely – but given they told nobody except Annie’s flatmates about the twins, I should have seen it coming.  Just how long did it take Sigi to calm down, Dieter?”


“About two days,” Dieter said as he looked over.


“Annie is a nice girl,” Johannes said as he sipped his brandy.


“Yes she is – and she will be a wonderful mother,” Klaus said as he sat back.




"Frau Strecher can I congratulate you on your inspired seating arrangement for dinner?"

"Thank you Your Highness."  Frau Strecher bowed as she stood by the table.

"I didn't notice anyone who didn't seem not to enjoy themselves," Juliette continued.

"Well working within the rules of precedence, and from what I know of people, I tried to match people who would enjoy talking to each other."

"Well you did magnificently," Juliette smiled as she saw the Steward for once blush.

"One tries ones best."

"Now you remember that Carina's friends arrive from Yale tomorrow?"

"I have made arrangements for them to be met at the train station, Your Highness."

"Good," Juliette smiled again, "and..."

"Yes I did inform the kitchen staff they are both athletes in training and have specific diet needs."

"Thank you Frau Strecher." Juliette shook her head at the woman's efficiency.


11 pm BST



Nobody from the street noticed the lights dancing across the inside of the disused office building, as Charlotte and Barb set up the monitoring equipment.


“So, what do you have there,” Barb said as Charlotte carefully unfolded a large sheet of paper.


"Okay Barb,” Charlotte said, “this is a copy of an early nineteen thirties map of the area of what was once Whitehall tube station."

"Okay Charlotte," the Australian studied the chart.

"That ventilation shaft," Charlotte pointed to the map, "comes to the surface just over there," Charlotte pointed towards a small hole in the side of a building. “Can you get 'Birdie' down that and into the tunnels? or will we need an alternate route?"

"That'll be a bit bloody tight," Barb looked through the binoculars at the shaft entrance, "but I guess we can try."

"Once she's down there..."

"Charlotte I won't possibly know till we see, there could be blockages, tunnel collapses..." Barb paused and thought, "but you knew that of course, it's why you had me design her to those specs."

"Yes," Charlotte took another look through the binoculars, "so when do you want to try her?"


“Give it a few minutes – let the street get a bit quieter.  Got anything to drink there?”


“Turkish Coffee?”


“You read my mind…”







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