The Centre Cannot Hold – Part 2







"How do I tell one of those posh kids that I sleep on Julie's floor," Tiffany smiled at her friend, "and that I work in the kitchen at the Celestial Star?"

"What do I say about how I earn a few quid?" Julie blushed.


“It’s like two different worlds – but I would like to see him again,” Dawn said with a smile, “you know who we need to ask?”


“Oh yeah,” Tiffany said as they walked over to where Agnes was standing with Kathy.


“Uh oh,” the young woman said as she saw them approaching, “I’ve seen that look before?”


“So have I,” Agnes said quietly as she said “enjoying yourselves girls?”


“Yeah,” Dawn said, “but we have a problem.


"Aggie a couple of the guys have asked whether we'd go out with them," the girls said as they crowded round their mentor, "what are we supposed to say?"

“You’re on your own,” Kathy said as she walked off, shaking her head.


"Well,” Aggie said with a smile, “What do you want to say?"

"I want to say yes to him," Dawn pointed to the guy she'd been dancing with, "but what do I tell him about my real life...No way a boy like him takes out a street kid like me."

"Never say never Dawn."

"Aggie in the real world he'll run a mile to avoid a girl like me."


“You might be surprised,” Agnes said, “but I understand why you feel a little afraid.  Look – I can make a suggestion.  Perhaps if you went as a group to the boys, said yes, but it would have to be as a group – safety in numbers?”


“But what do we wear, what do we do?”


“See if they are open to that first – what did you say Dawn?”


“He said it was if I got a pass out – what’s that?”


 “Permission to leave the school - and you know the rules girls, we don’t work that way.  Think of it – like a security blanket.  You can look out for each other?”


“Good point Aggie,” Tiffany said, “come on girls, let’s do this together.”


As they moved off, Kathy came back and said “so, what did they want motherly advice on?”


“How to accept an date form one of the boys…  Did you discuss that with them Kathy?”


“Hell no – I never thought it would happen,” Kathy said quietly, “but it does show they are normal kids despite everything.”



”Look we haven't rehearsed this," Mick chuckled as he stood at the microphone, "but if we try something soft and mellow can everyone please clear the floor to give Lord Donald a chance to dance with Laura, for Sir John to dance with Maisha..."

"What about Amelia?" a voice shouted.

"Well with her father unable to dance with two girls at once, the Marquess of Ordford, Miley's uncle will do the honours there."

"Having danced with all three of them during my lifetime darlings, girls can I say watch-out for your toes," Mandy called out.

"And on that note," Mick laughed, "guys shall we?"

Mick listened quietly before he began to sing


Oh, why you look so sad, the tears are in your eyes,
Come on and come to me now, and don't be ashamed to cry,
Let me see you through, 'cause I've seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you, you don't know what to do,
Nothing you confess could make me love you less,


Donald led Mylie on to the floor as they started dancing, while John went on with Maisha and Will with Mylie.


I'll stand by you,
I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you


So if you're mad, get mad, don't hold it all inside,
Come on and talk to me now.
Hey there, what you got to hide?
I get angry too, well, I'm alive like you.
When you're standing at the cross roads,
And don't know which path to choose,
Let me come along, 'cause even if you're wrong


“Thank you Dad,” Maisha whispered as John smiled at her.


I'll stand by you,
I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you.

Baby, even to your darkest hour, and I'll never desert you,
I'll stand by you.
And when, when the night falls on you baby,
You're feeling all alone, you're wandering on your own,

I'll stand by you.

I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you,
I'll stand by you, baby even to your darkest hour,
And I'll never desert you,

I'll stand by you,

I'll stand by you.
I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you,

I'll stand by you, baby even to your darkest hour,
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you



4 pm

Pocono Race Course


"I'm not sure who is working harder Alex,” Nessa said as they looked at the room set aside for the sponsors, “the team getting the car ready and tested, or the people organizing the hospitality."

"I'd say it's a very close contest darling, " the priest said as he smiled at his sister.  While he was in the regulation dark shirt with white collar, and dark suit, Nessa was wearing a long sleeveless grey cardigan over a silk jumper and fitted pants.  They had arrived earlier to visit Sandy and the team, and then made their way to the room where Tanera Patel was organising the waiters and catering staff.

"Did I see you chatting with Denice a few minutes ago?"  Nessa asked as she turned round.

"Yes, and she's one of those behind-the-scenes people who is definitely working hard.  She showed me just a little of the data she needs to analyze so that Henri and the crew know just what is going on with the car."

"I can look at and understand printouts regarding our business brother, but I can honestly say i would not have a clue what she's doing."

"I don't think most of us would.  She also told me she will be graduating next month – a double cause for celebration I think with young Erica’s sweet Sixteen."


“Yes – she wants to see me this weekend to discuss if I can help set something up,” Nessa said as they walked to the window, and looked out over the race course.  “What’s going on down there by the paddock?”


As Alex looked over, he smiled and said “I think it could be described as young Kylie’s purgatory.  Mary and Alice persuaded her to model some of her designs.”



"Anyway returning to the world of corporate hospitality, there are going to be a few people here who are probably going to try corner me and talk business," Nessa sighed.

"One advantage of being a priest dearest sister," Alex chuckled, "very few people at this sort of thing want to talk about my business."


“Still – there are one or two I may ask you to meet as well, so be prepared O brother of mine…”





“Well, I think we’ve done all we can to the car Henri,” Clint said from his position underneath.”


“Bon – let us take a short break then,” Henri said as he looked over.


"Any chance of lettin' two mere enthusiasts hang out down here for a few?" a voice with a strong Belfast accent asked.

"Oh I think you two know enough not to get in the way," Henri said as he shook the visitors’ hands.

"You know I've always wanted to see what goes on in the pits on the day before a big race?" Dave Clarke said with a smile as he looked round.

"Well it's all about checking, then double-checking every thing is right for tomorrow."

"I can see," Mick O' Ryan watched as Clint emerged from under the car.

"Hey you guys made it," he stood up, cleaned his hands on a rag, and shook his friends hands,

"No way I was going to turn down an opportunity to see something like this up close," Dave said.  “Mary and David are watching the kids for a while.”

"Well we might also have another guest later," Henri spoke, "Richard's uncle the cardinal might be joining us."

"So Mary told me. I've met him a couple of times now and i have to say for a churchman he also really knows his way round a car."






"Never have so many top models been found helping a non-model get ready for a photo shoot," Jack smiled as he and Luke stood to one side and watched her friends help Kylie prepare.

"I know,” Luke said quietly, “but it does just show you how many real friends she has."

"I better warn Gio that he might want them to get out the way."


"Too many cooks can spoil the broth Luke my love, the last thing he needs is all these girls interfering and trying to direst his shoot for him"

"Ah yes, that I understand," Luke smiled.

"I'll have a quick word with Merlin, if anyone has the authority to make sure this runs smoothly it’s her."


“AI, I can see that.”


“How do you do that,” Luke said as he saw Mary standing next to them and smiling.


“A gift from Missy – right you lot, give Kylie some air, please…”


“Scatter girls – Merlin is coming,” Maggie Fife giggled as she came over, Kylie smiling as she said “thank you darling.”


“Ai – let’s get you fully ready…”



“Can I cum in?”


“Of course you can,” Mary said as she saw Sami standing at the door of the room.


“Hello Mum,” Kylie said as she adjusted the cream jacket she was wearing.  “Where is Aunt Kerry?”


Wif Giofanks Merlin,” Sami said as she came in and looked at her daughter.


"So Mum darling do I look alright?"

"Kyles my luv you look bewtiful," Sami stood and just stared at her daughter.

"I wouldn't go that far..."

"Well I bluddy would," Sami dabbed a couple of little tears in the corner of her eye. "I'm just so proud of you."

"Thank you Mum."

"After all I did to ruin your life,” Sami said quietly, “and then you go and turn out like this."

"Mum,” Kylie said with a smile, “you didn't do anything deliberately bad."

"Well I didn't do much to 'elp either."

"Didn't we agree to put the past behind us?"

"I know," Sami tried to smile, "but 'onestly my daughter aint not only goin' to be in a magazine, but you are wearing things you designed yerself."


“True, luv.”


Gio darling – are you ready for me?”


“Oh yes – cum on luv,” the photographer said, “let’s be taking yer picture.”




“Forgive me – may I join the conversation?”


“Of course, your eminence,” Henri said as Cardinal Reinhard Brecht came in with Richard.  Although he was wearing the purple shirt and white collar, he was also wearing a set of coveralls, and smiled as Henri knelt and kissed his hand.  “We are honoured to have you visit us today.  I believe you know Mary Clarke’s father David, but may I present Michael O’Ryan – his daughter is Orion O’Ryan, the model.”


“I am equally honoured, Your Eminence,” Mick said as he kissed the ring, before Reinhard shook David’s hand.


“We are all motoring men – and women,” he said as he nodded to Denice and Heather “here – let us not stand on ceremony.  So this is the home of RCM racing – I have followed your season with great interest.”


“And what do you think?”


“You have earned your place here,” Reinhard said as he examined the engine of the car.


“Allow me to introduce Curt Walker, our chief engineer, and Heather Smith and Denice Burton, our technical crew.”


“It is a true pleasure to meet you all – and where are the drivers?”


“At a final briefing for tomorrow with our spotter,” Denice said with a smile.


“Well, I am sure I will have the chance to meet them tomorrow,” Reinhard said with a smile as he looked round.  “I think tomorrow will be an excellent day’s racing.”


“We think so as well.”


“Ah – Princess Juliette, Prince Klaus,” Reinhard said as he saw them come into the garage, “it is truly an honour to see you again.”


“And you, Your Eminence,” Klaus said as he kissed the preferred ring, Juliette following suit.


“Actually, I am glad we had a chance to meet – Princess Juliette, may I have a quiet word before I come back to my true purpose for been here?”


“The Winnebago is not occupied at the moment,” Henri said as Juliette followed Reinhard inside, the cardinal closing the door as Juliette sat down.


“I have been asked to convey greetings from Cardinal Bruckner,” Reinhard said as he sat down.  “He said that with the help of Doctor McAdam, you were able to obtain some answers to your questions.”


“I was – and I ask you to thank him for his help and discretion on my part as well,” Juliette said quietly.  “Be assured the final text of my book will be forwarded to him for review when it is ready.”


“I am curious, though – just how much contact did YY have in those years?”


“Enough, without going into detail, to show they were preeminent in assuring the short post-war truce,” Juliette said quietly, “and there was at least one occasion on which my aunt actually took part in an operation in Naples.”


“Indeed?  So she may have met an ancestor of the Marchesa as well?”


“I cannot answer that question without betraying a confidence, Your Eminence.”


Reinhard smiled and said “of course not.  Well, shall we return to the garage?”



11 pm

Times Square


“Dancer,” Ludmilla Parashova said as Andre walked over and sat down, “how are you?”


“Nervous – I cannot shake that feeling someone is watching us.”


“You are been paranoid, Dancer,” she said with a smile, “I suggest you enjoy your invitation tomorrow.”


“How did you know about that?”  Andre looked at his minder, who merely raised an eyebrow as she looked back over the table.  “Well, it will provide an opportunity to explore new avenues…”


“Indeed – and in the meantime, you may forget about Jameson Security for the day.”


“How can I?  Have you seen who has been reported going in – Admiral di Cambrello, Captain Ball, Commander Joyce – all senior or retired high level intelligence operatives…”


“Who are advising on known projects.  What would you have me do – take one for interrogation?”


“Yes – and I know the weak link…”


Pocono Racetrack


"Mom it's just a thought,” Sandy said as she sat with Nessa at the table, “but if he thinks he has compromising evidence on my daughter and Holly, really isn't our best defence getting worse compromising material on him?"

"I'd thought of that Sandy my darling,” Nessa said quietly, “but what would be sufficiently bad that it would shut him up and force him to leave us alone?"

"Compromising pictures with a young boy?"

"Again I'd thought of that, but in the world of ballet isn't that almost expected?"

"I don't know...Is it? It's still a crime if the boy is under age Mother."

"I know," Nessa smiled, "but given who he is it would almost be far more shocking if it was a young girl."


Sandy laughed and shook her head as she did so.  “Perhaps – so tomorrow is about observation and thinking?”


“Unless he crosses a line – we’ll keep him away from the garage and Sands for the day…  On which note – should you not be in bed?”


“Going there now,” Sandy said as she walked off…


Sunday 16th October

5 am

Newark Airport


"How did I ever travel before I met you Shirley my love," John smiled as the private jet taxied towards the small terminal building.

"I know,” Shirley said with a smile, “owning my own plane is an extravagance, but it does make this sort of thing practical."

"That's rather what I was saying darling."

"I just love that it means I could be at my party in London last night, and here with my American friends today," Maisha stood up as the pilot turned off the seatbelt sign. "I truly am so blessed."

"Has Francesca said anything more about buying herself a plane yet?"

"She keeps saying she wants to fit in the flying hours to get her skills back in order,” Shirley said as she stood up and stretched, “but I heard that a trip this week to look at a plane ended with her buying a small sailing yacht instead."

"Can I say that in a way that sounds just like her," John laughed.

"I guess one day she will get herself a small jet like this."

"Well it's not like she can't afford it," Maisha remarked as she retrieved her hand luggage.


“Very true,” Shirley said as they walked down the stairs, the chauffer touching his cap as he opened the door.


“So, back to the penthouse, a shower and some coffee, and then off to the races?”


“Sounds like a perfect day,” Maisha said as she sat in the back, the driver getting in as they moved smoothly off…


8 am

The Astoria Waldorf


"Darling,” Francesca said as her daughter came into the room, “I think that something is about to happen."

"Oh?" Charlotte looked round the room to see what was going on.

"I don't mean this very second,” Francesca said quietly, “but every instinct in my body is screaming that this weekend will see huge developments."

"And your evidence is for that Mama?"

"I don't have evidence Carlotta my love, just years of practical experience and almost a sixth sense for trouble and danger."

"Should I alert people? Should I especially alert Madame?"

"Wait till after Shirley arrives please, I'll chat to her first before we go issuing an alert."


“As you wish – so the car is waiting downstairs, if you are ready?”





"So explain to me again why I do this?" Anouska asked as she pulled her long coat round herself in the rear of the long black car.

"Because it’s the sort of event Madame Anouska Kalinikov should be seen at," Selena smiled as the limousine pulled away from their hotel. "people will notice you are there and it will reinforce the idea that you are a serious player."

"I understand.  What am i expected to do?"

"Well, for starters, read this file on some of the people you are likely to meet while we drive to Pennsylvania," Selena pulled it from her bag.

"Well reading I can do," the Ukrainian laughed as she opened the file.


Pocono Racetrack


"This is going to be a far stiffer test then last year’s final was," Clint said as he stood talking to people, while Katherine started to serve the first breakfasts down in the pits.

"Meaning what Clint?" the Cardinal asked as he sipped one of Katherine's strong coffees.

"That we start at midday,” Clint said as he took a Breakfast Sandwich from George, “and finish under the lights at ten tonight, means we are going to need master a lot of changing conditions."

"Weather, track temperatures, all on top of the stresses and strains of a 10 hour race."

"You sound like you speak from experience Your Eminence."

"A little," the churchman smiled, "we at the Vatican have our own motor sport club and I've done the odd race."

"Well can I do something unethical and ask you to pray that it stays dry," Henri looked at the weather forecast that Heather passed him.

"As long as you aren't asking for divine help to win," the cardinal smiled broadly.


"Why are you on the back but one row of the grid?" Mick asked as he looked at the program.

"Because we finished qualification in third place," Sandy ate her breakfast, "in a ten hour race it’s not a huge handicap, but it does give some of the lesser teams some exposure early on."

"That's not a bad idea," the Ulsterman nodded.

"Tell us when you need us to get out of here," Dave said as he sat down, "we don't want to get in the way."

"I think you are fine for now boys," Sandy smiled, "I can see from the looks on your faces though you'd both be happier if you were working on the team."

"Is it that obvious?" Mick smiled.


In the hospitality suite, groups of people were starting to get together and help themselves to the breakfast buffet.


“So how are Diana and Missy doing Ju?” Cassandra Stone asked as they sat at one table, while Klaus took Judith to get some breakfast.


“They are both recovering slowly Cass.”  Juliette took a drink of juice, and continued “Diana can now get up for short periods, and Missy is starting to get some energy back.”


“That’s good,” Cassandra let a worried look cross her face. “I hear stories about them being so poorly and it makes me think about Dad.”


“I guessed that was what you were getting at darling. How is Stephen anyway?”


Cassie sighed as she held her coffee mug.  “Mum says he has good days and bad, the trouble though with Parkinson’s is that you know there is no cure and that it’s really just a matter of time.”


“Well that ‘time’ can extend many years you know?”


“I know Ju,” Cassandra said as she looked up, “but I’m going to try spending more time with him and Mum.”


“Is that why you are doing Game of Thrones?”


“Yes, filming in Belfast means I can nip to Dublin when I have spare time.”


“Eve rang me to say she’s looking forward to it, and to having you walk those two shows with her.”


“I know they are important to her, so I’m more than happy.”


“And in the meantime you can come here today…”


“And my husband can finish formulating his ideas for the motor racing movie that he’s thinking of writing.”


“Is that still on his mind?”


“Oh yes – now that Ladydown is filming, he’s about ready to start serious work on this.”


“Hello Auntie Cassie – do you like my hair?”


“Oh yes – you have it in a ponytail again Judith?”


The little girl nodded as she sat down and started to eat some fruit.




"So how are things looking down there darling?" Tracey van Roon asked her husband  as he arrived in the hospitality suite.

"As they always are on race day - what seems to my eyes at least to be organized chaos."

"Well,” Tracey said as she looked round, “at least Tanera and her team are doing their usual superlative job here."

"I can see."

"When are Shirley and John arriving?" Tracey asked as she readjusted Augie's tie.

"Mid morning, but Susan is already on site, and so are the team from Lerrabella."

"Just try hard to enjoy yourself please darling, this is all supposed to be enjoyable, as well as a time for networking and talking business."

"I know...and Hello Jerry, Hello Pru," he kissed the model on the cheek, "you guys are here nice and early."


“Well, I was working with the girls nearby yesterday, so we decided to get here early today,” Pru said as she looked round.  “Ju – do you have a moment…”





"Did the stuff arrive from us Susan?" Caroline asked as they both waited to be served breakfast.

"Yes,” Susan said quietly, “and it’s been put in the folders with the others sponsors material."

"Thanks, I thought it was time Jameson's started to establish a distinct 'footprint' of its own from Xavier's."

"Are you starting to get a lot of work that isn't from us?"

"A bit,” Caroline said as she took her plate, “and I talked it out with Madame and she agrees that now we have our own premises maybe Jameson's needs to be a bit more independent."

"It will be interesting how things look once this Russian business is over."


“Oh yes…”





"Well I'm certain of one thing Jeans, I'll never be competition for you as a mode," Kylie said as she sat with her friends round another table, sipping her orange juice.

"Maybe,” Jeannie said as she sat back, “but I've seen some of what Gio shot yesterday and you look pretty great to me."

"Most of that is down to him darling. It's still going to be nerve wracking having to do more today."

"At least you can't blame looking badly on the designer of the clothes they have you posing in," Nikki laughed.

"No - that I can't," Kylie laughed, "and to be honest I'm not feeling quite as nervous today as I was yesterday."

“You've convinced yourself a little that you aren't going to ruin things," Doc nodded.

"I guess so,” Kylie said with a sigh, “I really do always worry that I'm going to disappoint and let people down."

"We know,” Jeans smiled, "but can you name one occasion yet when you have failed?"

"That is what Marina said to me last night."

"And as usual Marina is right," Doc said as she finished her eggs.

"Changing subjects slightly," Kylie looked at her friend, "is it true that the school is going to give you a couple of extra days off to go visit Cambridge after you've walked those Irish shows Anna?"


“Yeah – they actually petitioned the Tennant to allow me to visit when I was over there…”





“Hey guys.”


“Well, this is a nice surprise,” Jo said as she looked up to see her friend standing there.


"We thought you weren't coming?" Carina kissed Abigail as she bent over.

"I wasn't going to,” Abby said as she sat down, “but Mama insisted that she'd be fine for one day with just Edith to look after her."

"She's right in that," Jo smiled as Abby kissed her cheek.

"I keep worrying that despite what the surgeons did something will go wrong."

"Abs there is always a small danger, but if you let worrying about every little thing control your life you are soon going to be a physical wreck," Cari took a coffee.

"And Memories don't pay you those huge bucks to look other than super..."

"I know Jo," Abigail started to laugh as she interrupted her friend.

"Anyway before we spotted this tall creature you were telling me how your race went yesterday," Carina changed topics.

"Not at all badly, I was the third girl on our team home, and we finished third out of 12 teams. Coach was actually happy for once."

"And so she should be," Annie pushed the double buggy with the twins in over and joined the conversation, "against all those Division One school you guys did amazingly."

"Thank you," Jo blushed, "and where is Curt?  I thought I left him safely in your care!"

"My eldest daughter talked him into taking for a ride on the carousel outside," Annie smiled. "You need watch him Jo, there might be another woman he can't say no to."

"You think I need warn Judith off?" Jo smiled back.


“Not really – she just knows how to wrap him round her little finger…”




"So what the hell do we do to amuse ourselves on a day like this?" Suzie Clarke asked a group of the younger girls who were sitting eating breakfast together.

"Anything that isn't as boring as watching cars go round and round a track," Orion laughed, "what my Dad sees in it I'll never know."

"So many guys who are similarly bored?" Allison Clarke asked.

"We can look in a bit," Shawnee giggled.


“I saw there was a fairground outside,” Vicky Clarke said, “maybe we can get some of the boys to take us out there?”


“Like who?”


“Well, the Lodge boys for two…”





As Kathleen stood by the Winnebago stove, she was surprised to hear a young voice outside say "Hello Aunt Katherine."

"Oh Hello Erica,” she said as she came out and smiled, “have you come to see your Mom?"

"Well,” Erica said as the tall blonde haired girl looked round, “I actually brought Mel to see what Katy, Sands, and George do."

"At the moment they are all a bit busy I think, so can I offer you girls anything while you wait?"

"Coffee?" Erica asked Mel.


"Alright two coffees coming up," Katherine went back inside.

"Where's Gran?" Katy asked as she came out of the garage space.

"Getting Mel and me some coffee."

"Okay when she's done that I'll pass on the message that most of the guys want coffee as well."

"Is that your job Katy?"

"It's part of it Mel, Sands and I help out fetching and carrying food, drinks, etc. the guys work hard so they need plenty."

"Uncle Henri wants to know if we can serve food all morning because it’s going to be impossible to have everyone stop for an early lunch," Sands said as she emerged from trackside.

"You better ask Gran."

"Ask me what," Katherine came outside with the girls’ coffees.


“Food orders,” Sands said.


“And coffee – the thing being, keep it coming.”


Ooookay – let me see what I can do,” Katherine said as Mel looked at the two younger girls, their coveralls open at the top and with heeled boots on.



10 am


"My wife has leaned some new words," Roy Razinski said quietly, shaking his head as he walked into the hospitality suite.

"Tonia has?" Tracy asked as he kissed her on the cheek.

"I was listening into the RCM frequency during that free practice session and she wasn't always happy with the other cars and teams."

"That's part of her job description isn't it?" Augie shook hands, "letting both her own drivers, and the other teams people know precisely what her view is of what's going on."

"It is," Roy said as he took a coffee from one of the waiters, "but it still always shocks me when I hear all that coming out of her mouth."

"Did you check out the times?   Our car was the fastest in that session."

"I did, it looks as though they should give a good account of themselves today."

"Fingers crossed," Augie smiled.

"Anyway putting my sponsor’s hat on, how are things going up here?"

"So far very well," Tracy looked round, "we have a steady little stream of guests arriving."




Rhenia,” Susan said as the Californian blonde came in, wearing a blue pants suit, “welcome.  How was the journey up?”


“Not too bad,” she said as she looked round, “I see Juliette is here already.”


“True – but let me introduce you to the first new person.  Abby – got a minute?”


“Sure Susan,” Abby said as she came over, “what can I do for you?”


“I wanted to introduce you to Rhenia Tripp – she had agreed to join NorStar as their new comptroller.  Rhenia, this is…”


“Abigail de Ros – I am truly honoured,” Rhenia said as they shook hands.


“So you’re the one who is going to take half Missy’s work off her plate?  Welcome to a while new world.  Where are you currently?”


“LA – I work for Xavier International there, but I’m looking for a place now.”


“Well, this is the place to meet some of us – come and get some coffee, I’ll introduce you to some of the models…”





"I think we may have to keep our eyes open today," Barbara said as she stood outside chatting with Cassandra, "we have a lot of bored young girls who might start looking for trouble to get themselves into."

"Including my eldest daughter," Cassandra watched Capricorn standing with her friends eating an ice cream.

"At least with Jeannie I have little to worry about, even without Winston being here I know I can trust her to behave herself."

"I wish I could share that confidence," Cass sighed as she watched Capricorn eye one of the boys working the fun fair up and down.




“Okay girls,” Suzie said as she looked round, “HOTS gathering at the soda stand.”


The girls all nodded as they walked as one to buy some cold drinks, gathering round a table as Suzie said “given the absence of certain key members, I call this sub group meeting to order.”


“We know Katy and Sands are otherwise occupied,” Liz said, “but where are Erica and the other older girls?”


“Erica took Mel down to the pits,” Poppy said as she sipped on her soda, “so she may emerge eventually.”  Looking round, she then said “oh god – does that make me the senior member?”


“Looks that way,” Orion said with a grin.  “So I have one order of business – the men here.”


“You mean the ones who are not obsessed with the race?  Are there any,” Capricorn said as she looked round.  All the girls were wearing jumpers, either jeans or leggings, and short leather boots.


“There are a few,” Allison said.  “Before I forget, by the way – we’ve got a present for you for Thursday Poppy.”


“You guys shouldn’t have…”


“Well, we couldn’t make the party,” Vicky said, “but we think you’ll like it.  But getting back to today – any thoughts guys?”




"I think we may have to keep our eyes open today," Barbara said quietly as she stood outside chatting with Cassandra, "we have a lot of bored young girls who might start looking for trouble to get themselves into."

"Including my eldest daughter," Cassandra said as she watched Capricorn standing with her friends eating an ice cream.

"At least with Jeannie I have little to worry about, even without Winston being here I know I can trust her to behave herself."

"I wish I could share that confidence," Cass sighed as she watched Capricorn eye one of the boys working the fun fair up and down.


“Have you had…”


“Oh yes,” Cassandra said quietly, “and I have taken her to see my doctor just in case, but even so – I thought this day may be some time off yet.”


“You never know when it will come,” Barbara said quietly as Annie came out with Judith.


“Look Mamma – horses.”


“Would you like to go on the merry-go-round?”  As Judith nodded, they walked over, passing Allison and Capricorn as a sandy haired boy walked off.


"So where did you meet Steve?" Allison whispered to Capricorn.

"Steve Clayton?  Oh he was at Sebring in the spring – his dad is a rival to RCM."

"He's kinda cute you know?"

"Is he?" Capricorn took an appraising look. "He's kinda nice I guess, but he's a goofball...not the type of guy who..."

"Oh you'd be surprised - I could help him grow up a lot in a short time," Allison said as she pulled out her mirror and looked at her face.

"ALLISON!" Capricorn laughed, "we are both younger then he is."

"Only in years, not in experience," Allison started to touch up her makeup.

"Are you suggesting that we?"

"You got a better idea for what to do today?" Allison giggled.


Capricorn looked round and shook her head as they walked towards him…




“Well done Sandy – Princess, final practice.”


Sandy high fived Jeanne as she climbed out of the car, removing her helmet and taking a bottle of water from George as she walked to join the observers.


"Who was the guy in the Jaguar you looked like you were racing with for a couple of laps there Sandy?" Mick asked.

"That's Stev Clayton,” Sandy said as she finished her drink, “one of our biggest rivals. We fought him hard to the finish at Sebring earlier in the year and a sort of rivalry has developed."

"Clayton? Now where did I hear that name recently?" Dave took a minute to think, "oh yeah there was a kid called Steve Clayton outside with the girls earlier."

"That's Stev's son, and yeah he's a nice boy, even though he has the nuttiest sense of humor according to my daughter."

"He's a joker?" Mick asked.

"I quote my daughter, 'he will do anything to get a laugh'."

"I know the type," the Ulsterman laughed, "I had a friend when I was that sort of age was pretty much the same."

"Well anyway if we can beat his father today then we will go pretty close to winning."


“So one race to watch?”





“Shirley – you made it?”


“We did indeed,” Shirley said as she and John came into the sponsors’ suite, hugging Juliette and Susan as they looked round.  “I see we have a good turnout so far.”


“Indeed – how was the party yesterday?”


“The girls enjoyed it, and that’s the main thing.  Are we starting soon?”


“In about an hour,” Helen said as she saw Andre come in.  “Excuse me a moment…”



“Greetings sister,” Ama said as she hugged Maisha, “I heard you completed the long walk.”


“Just,” Maisha said quietly, “but I bring greetings from all at the camp.”


“Are you recovered though?”


“I am - and thank you for the message you sent.  It meant a lot to all three of us.”


"Well I would have loved to be there,” Ama said quietly, “but with all the additional work Mom is doing, and all this, there was no way I was going to be able."

"Is she still doing that film in Iceland?"

"She is," Ama smiled, "and I have my first squad camp with the Scottish team in November."


"Thank you sister,” Ama smiled, “I will admit to having got excited when they contacted us."

"It's an achievement."

"So what is this I hear by the way - about you wanting to go to the London School of Economics?"

"It is true, I would like to do their degree in politics and economics in developing economies to give me a recognised background in the field i wish to work in."

"That sounds perfect for you..."

"It's a long way from where I thought my life would lead me that day Mum bought me at the slave auction."


“We have both come a long way since those dark days,” Ama whispered as they hugged each other.”




4 pm BST

Chez Georgette



As the band started to play, the statuesque blonde came out onto the stage, wearing a large pink cloak with a fur trimmed hood over a black sparkled evening dress, dark tights, long opera gloves and heels.  She walked to and fro on the stage, singing


First you say you will, and then you say you won’t.


She spun round, the cloak lifting to reveal the pink fur trim at the back of her skirt.


And when you say stay, that is when you go


She continued to sing, twirling round as she loosened the fastening on the cloak and then let it drop down, revealing the bustier top of her dress.  The music then changed to The Stripper, as she removed the diamante bracelets.


She started to slow roll one glove down, gyrating in time to the music, before removing it and waving it above her head and throwing it to the side.  She then started to remove the other glove, rolling it up and down and using her teeth to slowly peel it away from her arm.


As that was thrown to the side, she did a bump and grind as she removed her necklace, and then turned, slowly pulling down the zip of her dress – and then pulling it back up again as she turned her head, smiled, and waved her finger.


She then turned round and again slowly lowered the zip, as her dress parted to reveal her underwear from behind – but a sshe turned round, still doing the bump and grind, she held her dress up with her arms across her chest as the music stopped.




She smiled as she slowly lowered the dress, revealing a gold bra and panties, and a sheer black wrap skirt over her stocking covered legs.  As the dress was passed to the side, the music started again, a drum solo as she started to dance and spin round, slowly unfastening the slip skirt and moving it across her before that went the same way as the dress, leaving her in a gold bra and panties.


The pink robe was handed back to her ans she covered herself with it, before she started to gyrate again, and suddenly her bra appeared from under the robe.  She turned and smiled again as she moved, and then threw her panties out, moving the robe as she stood with her back to the audience, and then turning as she allowed a little peek, before the musiv finished and the few in the audience clapped.


“So, darlings,” she said as she fastened the robe, “what do you think?”


"Your glove peal is improving George darling," Mandy watched as the club’s owner came off the little stage.

"Thank you,” George said with a smile, “but it still needs work between now and the show."

"It's one of those little parts of a burlesque routine that gets better with time and practice, just remember that when you tug at it with your lips, and move the glove up and down..."

"That to a lot of men that is highly suggestive," George giggled, "Mandy dear I wasn't born yesterday."

"I know darling."

"This is all about playing naughty games with people’s minds," George said as he sat down for a minute.

"Exactly, it's all in the brain."

"Does Will think that though when he watches to do your act though?"

"Darling he's seen it so many times I'm not sure he even takes notice now."


“Oh I don’t know – it might be fun.”


Dita,” George said as he greeted the dark haired woman, kissing her on both cheeks, “were you watching?”


“I was – want to make it a regular part of your routine?”


“This is for charity, Dita – and who is this young lady?”


“Ah – George, meet Sarah.  She dance with me and Mandy at the CS show in Sydney, and we invited her to take part as well.”


“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Sarah said as George kissed her on both cheeks.  She was wearing grey jeans a V-necked sweater, with short boots.  “When does Tracet get here?”


“Tomorrow lunchtime – she’s taking a red eye after the race today.  So, are you ready to rehearse?”


“How’s the music coming?”


"We are getting there,” George said as he looked over to the band.  “Jeffrey dear boy, the music if you haven't noticed is a key part of these ladies acts, please co-operate with them will you?"

"We are trying boss," the leader of the little house band at the club said as he came over and sat at the table. "We just need the time to rehearse this so we get it right."

"Just watch as everyone makes their moves," Dita said as she sat down with them, "the movements should give you the clue as to tempo, and emphasis."

"I promise we will get this right," the bandleader took a sip of coffee, "even if it means we are here to well gone midnight."


“Well, we all may be – Sarah, can you do yours without music, let him follow on the sheet?”


“I can try,” Sarah said as she got onto the stage and started to dance.


“Yeah – I see the beat now…”


“Hey everyone - I thought I'd drop in and see what was going on while Donald took the girls to Moor Park to have a golf lesson with one of the pro's he knows."

"Lady you know you are always welcome here," George said as he walked over and gave her a hug.

"So how is it going?" Aggie watched the woman on stage.

"Not too badly, but we certainly needed this extra rehearsal time."

Smiling, Aggie said "How is your own routine coming darling?"

"Would you believe I'm actually having fun, I'm thinking perhaps after what Dita said, I should have incorporated a striptease into my act years ago."

"I know several of your competitors have done it."

"It's a double illusion, first the drag, then the tease...and yes I'd seen a couple of queens who do it."


“Listen, Tracey called to confirm she is coming with Kelly Rochermann – and she’s bringing a couple of friends.”


“Oh – who?”


“RuPaul and Michelle Visage…”


11.30 am




"So are you going to allow yourself to unwind and just watch the race Francesca?" Shirley asked as she sat in a chair next to the Marchesa, both of them looking out over the racetrack as John talked to some of the others.

"I'm going to try Shirley,” Francesca said as she looked over to where Andre was sitting with Kelly Rochermann.

"And given that there are certain people here,” Shirley said as she glanced over, before sipping her drink, “do you think you will succeed?"

"That we will only know as the day goes on darling."

"True," Madame nodded. "Anyway on another topic Agnes texted me to say Laura has become a hooker."

"But I thought she quit all that when Agnes adopted her?" a worried look crossed the Marchesa's face.

"Not that kind of hooker," Shirley smiled broadly, "most of the time she hits a golf ball it takes a dive to the left."

"Ah I understand," Francesca smiled as well, "one of the reasons I rarely if ever play golf is that I have a persistent slice, and i don't enjoy the game enough to spend the time learning how not to do it."

"That I understand,” Shirley laughed, “but talking of sports that I know you do enjoy, what is this I hear you bought yourself a boat?"

"Oh I saw it when we went to look at a plane and I couldn't resist. I can sail it on my own, or I can take a couple of friends out as crew."

"Are you going to keep it in the US?"

"No,” Francesca laughed as she shook her head, “I'm going to have it shipped to London, I was thinking of teaching Carlotta how to sail, it was one aspect of her education James neglected."

"Well it sounds like a wonderful idea the two of you doing that together."




“Ah – someone else you really need to meet,” Susan said as she saw the twowomen walk over.  “Marina, Anna, I’d like you to meet Rhenia Tripp, the new comptroller for NorStar.   Rhenia, this is Anna Mitchell, Global Editor of Complete Style, and Marina Sowkowski, one of her assistants.”


“Ah, the saviour of Missy,” Anna said as the Rhenia’s surprise she hugged and kissed her on the cheeks, “welcome to our world.”


“Thanks – I think – so you are Pippa Ashley’s boss?”


“As well as Fiona MacKenzie and the other local editors – Marina is my key contact for China and Russia.”


“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Marina said as she noticed Kylie coming in from the corner of her eye, heading for the buffet with a slightly haggard look.  “Will you excuse me for one moment?”


“Is that Kylie Mitchell?”


“It is,” Anna said with a smile, “but if I was you, I’d wait a little while.  She had to do something she really did not want to do this morning.”




“Hey kiddo,” Marina said as she put her arm round Kylie, “all done?”


“We’re having a break, but…”


“She looked ruddy wonderful.”


“Hello Sami, Kerry,” Marina said as she embraced Kylie’s mother and aunt, both of them wearing jeans and sweatshirts.  “So just how bad was it?”


“Honestly?  Well…”


“She was very nervous, but that added to her beauty.”  Gio smiled as he kissed Kylie on the cheek.   “Only a couple of more shots, lass.”


“It cannot end too soon, darling,” Kylie whispered as she sipped her orange juice.





"Why are they swerving from side to side like that?" Anouska asked as she sat with Andre, Selena watching from a short distance away.

"It's to warm the tires up, Madame Kalenikov."

"And how do you know that Mr Kannenikov?" Anouska asked, "I would hardly have thought this was one of your interests."

"It's really not," the dancer looked amused, "but I've been invited to a couple of these things in the past, and I was told myself that is what all that is."


He smiled as he looked at her, watching the race through her sunglasses.  He was sure she would be contributing to his work in so many ways…




"You are joining us at last," Maddie smiled as Dave kissed her on the cheek.

"Well this close to race-time they don't need non-essential people cluttering up the pits."

"Did you enjoy yourself though?" 

"Totally," Dave said as he took a coffee from a waiter, "made me sort of wish I was one of those guys," he continued as he pointed at the mechanics wheeling the car out to its place on the grid.

"I know the team would probably love to have you join them..."

"Yeah, Henri sort of invited," Dave interrupted, "but as I pointed out it's not exactly practical with them racing here and me living in California."

"I get that."




“All right everyone – stop while we pray?”


Henri led the team in the Lord’s Prayer as Jeanne sat in the driver’s seat, caressing the wheel with her gloved hands.


“All right ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the cars are ready, the drivers are ready, and in three…  Two…  One…”



"This is the worst part," Clint whispered to himself as they waited for the go.

"That it is my friend," Henri stood alongside the crew chief, "I have always hated starts, once we have done a few laps i can start to relax a little."

"Here guys," Janine passed them both coffees, "hopefully this will help."

"And there they go," Henri smiled as he watched Jeanne start to get up to speed.




“And the cars are underway now,” Susan said into the microphone s they passed the sponsor’s suite, “so sit back, enjoy our hospitality, and thank you all for coming to support RCM racing today.”



“So tell me, Maestro,” Anouska said as she sipped her drink, “are you open to my suggestions as to funding ballet programs?”


“Oh I most certainly am,” Andre said with a smile, “but tell me, what do you think of the current political situation here?”


“I tend not to deal with politics,” Anouska said quietly, “save where it is in the interests of my homeland.”


“Very good to know,” Andre said quietly as she saw Nessa walk towards him with Rachel McNally.


“Andre, Nessa here wanted to eb introduced to you.  Vanessa Richmond, Andre Kannenikov.”


“Ah, yes,” Nessa said with a smile as he kissed her hand, “I hoped we would have the chance to talk today.  I do so wish to discuss how the Richmond Trust could support your work.”


“Indeed – do you know Madame Anouska Kalenikov?”


“I have heard of her, but not had the pleasure yet,” Nessa said as they shook hands.  Anouska spoke in Russian, Selena saying “she is pleased to make your acquaintance as well.  The good works of the Richmond Trust have even reached my ears.”


“Then we really must talk later – do you mind if I borrow your friend for a few minutes?”

Anouska nodded as Nessa took Andre by the arm, and walked him to the side of the room.  “So are you enjoying your time in our company, Maestro,” she said as she took two glasses of champagne from a passing waitress, and handed him one.


“It is proving – invigorating,” Andre said with a smile, “I am certainly learning of many fine opportunities in my line of work.”


“Well, perhaps we should discuss such opportunities – don’t you think so?”




“Well, I have others to see,” Nessa said as she walked to where Paulie and Augie were sitting.  “What was that about,” Paulie asked as she sat down.


“Nothing for you to worry about, Paulie…”



"Ladies and gentlemen luncheon is about to be served," Tanera made the announcement as the room buzzed.

"Are you ready to eat yet Pops?" 

"I'll wait till the lines ease off a bit," Dave kept his eyes firmly fixed on the track, "but if you and the kids want to eat now please go ahead."

"You really are enjoying this aren't you Dave?"

"Is it that obvious Richard?" Dave said without looking round.

"Oh just a little bit."

"I've been to the odd local race over the years and always enjoyed myself,” Dave said quietly, “but knowing so many people connected with one of the cars, and having been down in the pits while they got everything prepped, this somehow means more...Does that make sense?"

"To me Dave it makes more than sense," Francesca slid into the seat next to him, "I get similar feelings watching horses run that I have a connection with somehow. That personal connection makes it mean just that little more."

"Do you go to a lot of motor races Marchesa...I mean Francesca?" Dave caught the look of rebuke in the Italian woman's eye.

"Oh a few, but it was my Mother who had the love affair in our family with fast cars."

"I remember you telling me she drove sports cars."

"She would have like to have raced them, but Papa wouldn't allow it. Did I ever tell you by the way that she knew Enzo Ferrari?"

"No that you didn't mention.”


“Indeed – she once sneaked onto the test track at Monza for a session – as she told it to me, she did very well indeed…”





"Who is the Russian woman 'he' seems to be spending a lot of time talking to darling?" Nessa asked as they stood in the buffet line.

"She's a rich widow with an interest in the ballet, and as far as I can tell he's trying to get her to endow some scholarships for dancers," Juliette replied.

"So she has nothing to do with this noxious attempt to blackmail our family?"

"Not as far as I know Nessa."


“Okay then – catch her another time…”




"While Colin is in Brussels for this meeting of Conservative MEP's, Sue has decided to go 'out' with the girls tonight Shirley."

"Well let's they have fun then Penelope," Shirley then lowered her voice to a whisper, "has she really thought this out?"

"I think so Madame," Penny whispered back, "it sounds like a rather low risk job and she always said she might continue, if only to keep her skills fresh."

"Well as long as they don't get themselves in trouble..."

"Who get themselves in trouble?" John interrupted.

"Sue, Kay, and the others. Penelope was telling me they have a girls night out planned for tonight."

"Ah," John smiled, "while the cat, or in this case Colin, is away, then the mice are going to play eh?"

"So it seems."




“All right, princess,” Henri said as he looked out, “bring her in for the first change.  Jan, you are next.”


“Copy that,” Jan said as she put her helmet on, Katy shouting “good luck Mom” as the car came in, Jeanne jumping out as the seats were swapped and Jan was strapped in.


“Let us pray,” Henri called out, and he spoke the Lord’s Prayer before Jan was sent on her way.






"Hello Eleanor darling, you did make it then," Shirley said as she greeted the newcomer.

"Only after Ed had to just 'quickly' look in on his office," Eleanor said as Admiral Ed Preminger accepted one of the packs.

"Oh I often have those little things happen."

"Well eventually we all made it, have we missed a lot?" Eleanor looked over to where Veronica, Ed, and Leroy were getting coffees.

"Not too much, Jan just went out for her first turn."


“Excellent – and I see Dancer is having fun.”


“Not for long, if what my sources tell me is correct…”




“Okay Jan, road looks good ahead for now,” Tonia said into the headset.


“Good – hold steady Jan,” Henri said into his microphone, “remember the game plan – hold position for the first run for each of you, and then progress from there.”


“Pressure and wear looks good,” Denice said as she sat with Heather, “fuel at half way mark.”


“We make good time, and we do well,” Henri said as George stood with Clint and the crew.


“No food run at the moment?”


“No, Uncle Clint – Mom wanted me to ask you a favour?”


“Oh – what?”


“Driving lessons?”


Clint looked at George as he said “don’t want to pick up bad habits eh?  Okay – I’ll talk to your mother.”




"Hello Admiral I wasn't sure if we'd see you today," Francesca smiled as she kissed Ed on the cheek.

"A small crisis in the Middle East..."

"Oh?" the Marchesa lifted an eyebrow

"Nothing that relates to what we are doing, or that as a retiree you need fret about, but my bosses wanted my opinions on some options."

"Understood Sir."


“So he is here?”


“Apparently Nessa Richmond wanted him to come – I am not sure why, but we have our agent with him as well?”


“The Russian woman?”


“Indeed – she is proving most useful…”




"So how are things going for the younger set Carina?" Natalya asked as they stood at the bar.

"Pretty well, our hosts have kindly provided child care space again, and the organizers hiring the attractions outside give parents and kids some options...all in all it's not going badly Aunt."

"Good," Natalya smiled in her enigmatic fashion, "and just how are you doing dear niece?"

"Oh I've had a few things to keep me busy, and yourself?"

"Just one or two little things."


“Useful to know – Sharon!  I did not know you were coming with your father?”


“Reading week,” Sharon Kennedy said with a smile as she greeted both of them.  “So, have I missed much in my few weeks away?”



Charlotte could see her mother looking round, and walked over, whispering "Is your sixth sense still telling you that trouble is nearby Mama?" as she came closer.

"It is my darling,” Francesca whispered, “something is going to happen I'm sure, I'm just not sure what."

"If you need the teams help to isolate any problems you are going to have to be a bit more specific Admiral," Caroline joined the conversation.

"I know, but it’s that instinct we all develop…  Please just have all 'our' people keeping their eyes and ears open."

"Do we need to alert the Sisters here..."

"And Madame's people?" Caroline finished the sentence Charlotte started.

"Maybe you should have a quiet word with them."


“I’ll get on to it,” Charlotte said, Caroline nodding as she walked towards Penny.




“Forgive me,” Andre said as his cell phone buzzed, and he looked at it, “a call I must take.”


“Of course,” Anouska said as he walked off, and Selena came over.


“I understand you wished to meet Miss Xavier while you were here, Madame – May I present Madame Anouska Kalinikov, Miss Shirley Xavier.”


“It is indeed a pleasure to meet you,” Shirley said as they shook hands.   “Please, ask her if she is enjoying her stay?”


“Madame Kalinikov is very much enjoying her stay – the reputation of Xavier International has reached her ears, and she wonders if she can discuss some potential transfers of materials with one of your representatives in due course?”


“Of course – may I present my fiancé, Major Sir John Hammond, and my adopted daughter Maisha.”


“A pleasure,” John said as he kissed Anouska’s hand, and as Maisha hugged her she whispered “Welcome Sister – we will talk later, when we can be in private.”




“This is Dancer,” Andre said quietly as he stood on the balcony.


“I have news, Dancer – bad news.  Somehow, the British security services were able to determine our funding route to you through Germany – there have been arrests this morning.”


“Damn,” Andre said quietly, “I said someone was watching us.”


“You did – but we still do not believe it was anyone associated with Jameson Security, so take no action.”


“Your advice is noted,” Andre said curtly as he ended the call, and then dialled a number.


“I need you at Pocono racecourse as soon as possible – I need someone extracted to talk to.”




“So Rhenia,” Shirley said as she stood with the young blonde, “are you looking forward to your move here?”


“Yes – and no, Madame,” Rhenia said quietly, “I know it is a fantastic opportunity, and I relish the challenge, but it does mean leaving the rest of my family behind.”


“True,” Shirley said, “but we grow through change – and you will be closer to Louise as well.”


“There is that yes,” Rhenia said, “and, of course, I will be available should you require my services Madame.”


“and the offer is accepted,” Shirley said with a smile, “so who is going to replace you in the LA office?”


“I understand Maddie is talking to Darlene…”





“Hey,” Erica said as she joined Mel in the fairground, “have you seen any of the others around?”


“Well, I saw Ama and Maisha heading back to the suite,” Mel said, “and Judith and some of the other youngsters are on the rides.”


“What about the others?”


“You mean the group you call the HOTS?”


“Oh,” Erica said quietly, “you’ve heard of us then?”


“It may have been mentioned,” Mel said with a smile.  “Anyway, they are around somewhere – save for Sands and Katy in the pits.”


“Yeah – we need to keep an eye out for them,” Erica said with a grin, “just in case...”



“I’ll be back in a minute,” Steve said as he walked off, Allison and Capricorn standing and tapping their feet.


"Well, he is either very slow coming forward...or he's gay," Allison whispered to Capricorn, "Between us we've tried every trick in the book to get him to notice us..."

"And he hasn't even attempted to kiss us."  Allison looked at her friend and said “I did shower this morning.”


“So did I,” Capricorn said as she watched him at the hoop la stand.

"Now he's got my dander up as Mom says," Capricorn looked angry for a second, "I know how good I look - and I will have him today if it’s the last thing I ever do."

"He's going to have us both." Allison smiled, "hell it's not like either of us is a virgin."

"I bet he is though."


“There you both go,” Steve said as he handed them both a cuddly bear.


“Come with us Steve,” Capricorn said as she and Allison took him by the arms, and led him off…




"So Juan are you enjoying yourself?" Alex said as they stood watching the race.

"I am Alex,” the Spanish financier said, “it's nice spending a day with so many good friends."

"And to be so well looked after," the priest tasted the sherry and looked at the glass with a deep appreciation, "it was good of you to donate such fine things as this."

"Well after I heard that both the Marchesa, and Mr van der Byl were joining Valeria in donating wine, I thought it appropriate to give some of our sherry."


“Indeed – which is why we also brought several bottles of the Curragh Park whiskey.”


“For which I am eternally grateful, Alex my boy,” Jack Linklater said as he sipped some amber liquid from his glass.


“Where’s Luke, Jack?”


“Talking business with Pippa…”





“Damn, it just happened again,” Denice said as she looked at her screen.


“You sure?”  Heather looked at her friend, and then at the screen.


“What’s up,” Clint said as he came over with Henri.


"Either we have a glitch in the computer Henri, or we might just have a problem."

"What kind of problem Heather?" Henri shouted as cars shot by down the straightaway.

"The oil temperature has spiked a couple of times on Denice's screen, but then cooled again."

"Spiked how badly?"

"Up into the zone that made Denice go pale."

"Could it just be the computer?" Clint came over the com.

"I'm running diagnostics."

"Do that Heather, and if it happens again call me quick."

"Will do Henri."


“Sandy,” Henri said into his mouthpiece, “any issues on your display?”


“None I could see, but I can take it easy for a couple of laps if need be, hold position.”


“Do so – just in case…”




"From what Eve showed me, and what I've seen of the stuff we are showing in Belfast, these will be two amazing shows," Orion said as she sipped a Seven-Up.  She was sat at a table with Katy, who had taken a break from the pits, Doc and Jeannie.

"Well I'm more then looking forward to it," Jeannie smiled, "I've never yet been to Ireland."

"I had great fun when I shot that Fitzstuart thing," Katy spoke.

"Even though the crew was complaining about her constant bellyaching," Orion laughed.

"I know Poppy is looking forward to it," Doc sipped her drink.

"I'm just amazed we can get time off school to do it."


“Well, it is a feather in the cap of the school I suppose,” Doc said, “and with Ama in Scotland at the same time, we won’t be the only ones missing things.  Besides, I had an invite – Trinity College Cambridge wants me to pay a visit…”




"Is it me darling or is there an awful lot of whispering going on here?" Paulie asked as she sat with Nessa.


"And don't pretend you haven't noticed Nessa Richmond,” Paulie whispered as she turned her back to the others, “you have been one of the biggest offenders."

Nessa put her hand to her heart and said "Who, me?"

"Yes,” Pauli said quietly, “and don't tell me that i haven't seen the looks that you've given Andre Kannenikov, nor that I didn't overhear at least a few words from what you were saying to Sandy this morning."

"Paulie darling,” Nessa whispered, “it may be safer that you don't ask more questions."

"Why?" Paulie paused, "and that look on your face darling tells me that there is definitely trouble brewing."

"As I said..."

"You can say what you like, when someone I'm told is the type of official Admiral Preminger is drags my husband and nephew into a huddled conversation, then I'm already involved Nessa...So spill, as we used to say all those years ago at school."


Nessa sighed, and said “I can’t tell you everything – but let me ask you Paulie, if someone was to use who Pussy was to try and hurt your family, or to hurt your country, what would you do?”


Paulie looked at her old friend, and said “anything – but everyone knows about Sandy and Heather.”


Paulie  Paulie, did I say I was talking about Sandy?”


“No, but…  Oh…”


“OH!”  Paulie looked at her friend as she said “and Andre?”


“Is part of whoever is threatening my family – forgive me, Paulie, I can say no more.  Not yet anyway.”




"Can I ask a question that you'll need answer as the Marchesa di Cambrello please?" Ed asked as he stood with Francesca.

"You can Admiral,” Francesca said, “and can I say that approach has me intrigued?"

"How good,” Ed said as he looked over the railing, “are your connections business wise in both Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States?"

"Is this to do with what you said you were looking at this morning?"


"Well we have some hotel and other property interests, but you'd be better off asking the van Roon's, they have extensive interests and connections in that part of the world."

"Hmmmm that is a thought," Ed Preminger took a sip of sherry, "who do I need ask to introduce me?"

"Ask Shirley, she knows them better then I do certainly."


“I will do so then – thank you Francesca…”







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