The Lost Weekend
Friday 6th June 1994
The early summer sun beat down on the wide boulevard as the two young women walked down the street, drawing admiring looks from the women. Diana de Grechy was a tall, thin blonde, her hair falling softly over the shoulders of her short sleeved summer dress, her long legs smooth as her feet sat in the three inch heel shoes. She smiled at the men, enjoying the attention as she put her large sunglasses over her forehead.
Her American friend, Juliette Huntingdown, was equally happy, wearing a pair of cargo shorts with a short sleeved blouse, and sandals. The day was over, her classes were finished, and with her own long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail she could feel the sun on her neck.
“This is too good a day to be cooped up inside,” Diana said with a smile, “we should go out tonight.”
“We can’t – Klaus’ sister is arriving today for a visit, and besides – haven’t you already double booked for later?”
“Oh, yes,” Diana said with a smile, “and we have that shoot tomorrow, non? With Grace, Stella and the others.”
“Indeed – and the video shoot on Sunday, so I think we have more than enough…”
“Diana my dear?”
“Papa!” Diana ran forward and embraced her father, who was impeccably dressed in a dark blazer, white shirt and grey trousers. His black hair was cut short, and the twinkle in his eye unmistakable.
“”Will you be in town for the weekend?”
“I intend to be,” Guy said as he kissed Juliette’s hand, “May I buy you dinner tomorrow?”
“I will call you – you are staying at the club?”
“Sadly not, but she sends her love,” Guy said as he looked round. “Ah – forgive me, I will contact you later.”
“Sigi and Guy? We’re really in for it this weekend, aren’t we?”
“And I would have it no other way,” Diana said with a smile as she hailed a taxi. “Come on – I need to get back before Charles arrives.”
“Honestly Diana – you’re as bad as your father,” Juliette said as they climbed in. “Rue de Grenelle,” Diana said as the taxi drove off, the tall sandy haired man watching them as they went past.
Rue de Grenelle
“I’ll get it,” Juliette said as she went to the door of the apartment.
“Thank you ma Cherie,” Diana said as she pulled the dark haired young man into her bedroom. The apartment was one the du Grechy family maintained in Paris, and Diana’s father had been more than happy for her and Juliette to share it while here. If nothing else, it saved on the rent.
Juliette’s smile broadened as she looked at the tall, broad shouldered young man standing in the doorway.
“Why Klaus,” she said quietly, “hello.”
“Hi,” he said as he smiled, Juliette standing to one side as he came in – followed by a young girl, who looked as if she was thirteen.
“Hi, I’m Sigi,” she said as Juliette closed the door. “Thanks for letting me stay Miss Huntingdown.”
“It’s Juliette – and this isn’t my place. I just room with Di.”
“It’s amazing though,” Sigi said as she looked round. “I like your friend, Klaus.”
“She’s really seventeen?”
Klaus nodded and smiled as he said “do not be fooled by her youthful looks – my sister has a very sharp mind. Perhaps while she is away from Father for a few days…”
“He still trying to dictate,” Juliette said as Sigi sat down, and they went into the kitchen.
“He is a man steeped in tradition,” Klaus whispered, before he gently put his hand on Juliette’s cheek, and felt her rub against it. “I think she will blossom in time.”
“And what do you have to say to me,” Juliette whispered as Klaus leaned down and gently kissed her.
The sound of the apartment doorbell broke the moment, as Sigi said “I’ll get it.” Walking to the door, she opened it to see a sandy haired man standing there, holding a bunch of flowers.
“Oh – I’m sorry, is Diana home,” he said.
“You mean my cousin,” Sigi said with a smile, “come in – I am sure she will be out of the shower soon.”
“Oh lord,” Juliette whispered, “Diana’s other date is early.”
“Please sit down,” Sigi said, “and I will see if…”
“Hello Henri,” Juliette said as she came out of the kitchen, “I’ll tell Diana you have arrived. Sigi, can you get Henri a drink?”
“Milk, coca cola, or water, Henri,” Sigi said with a smile as Juliette tapped on the door of Diana’s room.
“Diana, darling, Henri is here.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” Diana called out as Juliette walked back to the kitchen.
“Watch,” she said as she and Klaus looked out of the window, in time to see Charles climb out of the bedroom window, pulling his jacket on as he moved along the balcony, and then climbed down the ivy that covered the rear of the building.
“Diana is incorrigible,” Klaus said with a laugh as she appeared, wearing a silk kimono.
“Henri, darling – sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“It’s all right – your young cousin kept me company.”
“My… Why thank you, cousin,” Diana said as she smiled at Sigi, “Henri, will you help me?”
“I like her,” Sigi said as Diana took Henri into her room, “I’m going to enjoy this.”
“Sigi, do you mind if I take Juliette to buy some things for dinner?”
“Sure, Klaus,” Sigi said with a smile, “go and play kissy kissy. I’ll read a magazine here.”
“You wound me, little sister,” Klaus said as he took Juliette by the arm, and left her to read her magazine.
“Now, you are to have an early night, do you understand Sigi?”
“Yes, Klaus, or Father will be very upset with me,” the young girl said in a sing song voice.
“Don’t worry Klaus, we’ll keep an eye on her,” Juliette said as she walked him to the apartment door.
“So, my cousin? A very good move,” Diana said with a smile, now wearing a short linen skirt and vest top.
“I used to play the same line for some girls at school, if their parents called unexpectedly,” Sigi said with a giggle as Juliette closed the door.
“Right,” Sigi said as she stood up, “where are we going to go now?”
“OH come on – My first time in Paris, with two of the most beautiful models in the world, you must know somewhere we can go…”
“Sigi,” Diana said, “both Juliette and I have a shoot tomorrow morning with other models…”
“Oh please – PARIS!!!”
“Well,” Juliette said, “I know Alice and Mandy were going to the Moulin for a drink with their boyfriends – we could drop in and say hi at least?”
“Oh very well then,” Diana said, “come on – we’ll see who else is around.”
The Moulin Nightclub
“You have got to be kidding me?”
“I wish I was Darling – but I did a test this morning, and I have an appointment booked at Harley Street for when I return.”
“Have you told him yet?”
“Told him what?”
The two women turned and smiled as they saw Juliette and Diana standing there. One had spiked hair dyed red, and wore a black leather mini-skirt and string vest over a white t-shirt, her black ankle boots and fishnet stockings enclosing her legs. By total contrast, the other woman was wearing a pale blue sweater over a white blouse with a peter pan collar, a pleated knee length skirt and white stilettos.
“Hey Ju, Di – I thought you two had a shoot tomorrow,” the punk said.
“And we all have Sunday – but our young friend here wanted to see some sights. Sigi, meet Mandy Carrow and Alice McKinnon. Tufty, Bats, this is Sigi von Furstenheim.”
“Oh – related to the handsome young count?”
“My brother,” Sigi said with a smile, “but this is my first time out of home unsupervised – a treat for doing so well in the fencing competition.”
“Aren’t you a little young to be in here?”
“I’m seventeen, Miss Carrow – and I wish people would believe that,” Sigi said as the waitress came over.
“She is,” Juliette said as they sat down, “so what do you have to tell Viscount Millingham, Mandy?”
The two women looked at each other, before she said “that he may have to make an honest woman out of me.”
“Will? Make an honest woman of you?” Diana laughed as she looked at Mandy, and then looked at Alice. “Oh – oh my, you mean?”
Mandy slowly nodded as the women looked at each other.
“No bloody idea,” Mandy said, “but you may have to…”
“There you are,” a male voice said, and Sigi turned to see a man in a long leather duster standing behind them.
“Hey Will,” Alice said, “is that man of mine with you?”
“He’s just coming,” Will said as he looked at Mandy. “Hey lover – you all right?”
“I need to talk to you – over here,” Mandy said as she grabbed his arm and took him to one side.
“What’s going on,” a tall brown haired man said as he came over.
“Wait,” Alice said, “three… two… one…”
The group watched as Will looked at Mandy, and then hugged her, before he called out “HEY! A bottle of champagne over here – I’m going to be a dad!”
“Will Fitzstuart, ladies and gentlemen,” the other man said.
“Sit down and celebrate, Duncan,” Alice said as she pulled on his hand. “This is Sigi, Diana and Juliette’s friend.”
“Pleasure – oh my god did he just…”
The group watched as Will dropped to one knee, and took Mandy’s hand, saying “Mandy Carrow, will you marry me?”
“You sure you want me, darling?”
“Oh yes – never been more sure.”
“Well, it’s a double celebration then – two bottles!”
“Oh please – may I…”
“Why not – so who else knows?”
“We’re the first – so let’s par-TAY!”
“Champagne only,” Juliette said as three bottles and glasses were produced.
“So you’re all models,” Sigi said as she sipped her drink.
“We are, darling,” Mandy said as she sat down, Will putting her arm round his new fiancée, “But we’re the clean living, sober variety.”
“Usually,” Diana said with a laugh. “What Lady Amanda Barber means is we don’t do drugs.”
“Unless you count the occasional drink, Countess de Grechy,” Mandy said with a wicked grin.
“Wait – you’re a lady and a countess? Wow – I am in the right company.”
“Is that right, Your Serene Highness Princess Sigrid?”
“Oh come on,” Sigi said as she blushed, “I don’t want to hear that…”
“We’re the commoners here, aren’t we Ju,” Alice said with a smile.
Juliette nodded as she said “well, we’re all models as well, right sisters?”
“We are indeed Pelican.”
“Why does she call you Pelican?”
“Long story,” Juliette said as she shook her head, “long story.”
“Do you do drugs Sigi?”
The young girl looked at Mandy and said “You mean steroids?”
“No, I mean things like Coke.”
“A girl once got me to try a joint at school, but I threw up, same as I did the one time I tried a cigarette.”
“Good,” Diana smiled.
“I remember my nanny saying smoking would stunt my growth, but look at me and I swear I only ever had a few puffs…”
“Poor Little Sigi.” Juliette hugged her and laughed.
“But you’re wise to avoid it,” Mandy said, “some of our friends are into that sort of thing. You didn’t see them today – I’m amazed they were still standing.”
“Come with us tomorrow you may meet them,” Juliette said. “I’m worried about them though – especially Sweets.”
“They’ll be all right,” Alice said, “I hope…”
“Well if you are going to be out of commission with a baby on board, Lee is going to lose one of his favourite models for a while.” Diana spoke.
“Who is Lee?” Sigi asked.
“Alexander McQueen darling,” Mandy drawled, “Lee is his real first name, and most of his older friends and insiders call him that.”
“Mandy actually walked his graduation show when he left Central Saint Martins,” Will boasted.
“My parents won’t let me buy any of his clothes.” Sigi shook her head.
“I’ll see if I can find you a couple of bits darling.” Mandy smiled.
“Thanks – I think he’s amazing, but they are so strict…”
“Won’t last forever,” Will said as he finished his glass, and poured more champagne in.
“You know when people read the announcement in the Court Circular, most people aren’t even going to be aware that it’s you two getting married.” Alice said as she changed subjects.
“Yes, I can see that…’Lord William Fitzstuart, Viscount Millingham, eldest son of the 13th Marquess of Ordford, of Ordford Castle Yorkshire, to marry Lady Amanda Bamber, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Fairhaven, of Melford Hall, Suffolk’…I ask you, who is going to think that is you two?” Duncan asked.
“Only the initiated,” Mandy said, “on which note, you’re all coming to the wedding, no questions asked – and on another note, when are we going to tell our parents?”
“We’d better call them in the morning,” Will said, “when we can really shock them.”
Alice smiled and then frowned slightly as three stunningly beautiful women walked in, their blonde hair flowing, especially on the tallest of the three.
“Uggh I see the Unholy Trinity just arrived.” Alice shook her head.
“Those three Sigi,” Juliette pointed, “Grace Gresham, Charity Royce, and Stella Jameson.”
“Oh my God, they are all so beautiful.” Sigi breathed her admiration.
“Don’t be fooled Sigi,” Alice leaned over. “On their own…”
“Or when they are sober.” Will added.
“…they are all fine, but together they are pure trouble.”
“Especially with that bastard Johnny McCabe feeding them drugs.” Mandy shook her head. “Isn’t it bad enough he hooked Charity on smack, but I hear even Grace now is doing cocaine,” she shook her head.
“Why would they do that,” Sigi said as she looked at Juliette.
“Who knows – maybe they just need to,” Juliette said as she shook her head while the club owner came to the small stage.
“Open mike night, ladies and gentlemen – who wants to be first?”
“Come on – forget about them,” Diana said as she stood up and went to the mike. “This is for the happy couple,” she said into the mike with a smile on her face as the music started.
the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe?
And he keeps it out of sight
know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red
“I love Brecht,” Sigi said as she watched Diana, her beautiful singing voice carrying round the room. Juliette smiled, and then looked at her watch.
“I need to get back – Jack Linklater is expecting me at nine tomorrow.”
“Oh Jack the Lad – should be fun. The trinity is due with him at ten thirty.”
Saturday 7th June
Rue de Grenelle
“Oh my head,” Sigi said as she walked into the apartment, “How much of that champagne did I have?”
“Not too much,” Diana said, “here – some water and a couple of aspirin will help.”
“Gone to work – we’re meeting her for…” Diana stopped as she went to the apartment door, talking quietly and then coming back.
“Who sent those,” Sigi said as she looked at the large bouquet.
“No idea – from an admirer is all it says,” Diana said as she looked at the card. “Now – croissants, scrambled eggs and salmon – the food of royalty.”
“Are you not working today Diana?”
“Yes, but I am not needed until later.” Looking at the young girl, Diana said “can I tell you a secret?”
Sigi nodded as Diana said “I enjoy modeling, but it is not what I want to do all my life. I want to do something more…”
Champs de Mars
“Oh that is beautiful Juliette darling,” the fair haired man said as he took shot after shot of the blonde in the chiffon dress. If anything, he was more flamboyantly dressed, his pale lilac cravat flowing out of his red silk shirt.
Juliette smiled as the wind blew her own scarf out, and held onto the base of the tower in her three inch heels.
“Jack darling,” Juliette said as she shielded her eyes from the sun, “explain to me again why I am hanging off the Eiffel Tower in a gown, whilst trying to stand on these damn heels.”
“You are hanging there because I’m trying to pay homage to the greats of my business,” Jack Linklater said, “and you need the fee that Vanity Fair are paying you to maintain yourself while you live and study here in Paris. So, my dear darling Juliette, a little less complaining and a little more beauty, please?”
“Yeah I guess that’s true.” Juliette said as she shook her head. Work had been plentiful in New York while she studied at FIT, here in Europe though she was a virtual unknown, and bookings were thin. She was just glad that Missy Auerbach, her booker in NYC had remembered she still existed and tossed her this bone, when Jack Linklater needed a Paris based model.
All in all Juliette envied her friend Diana de Grechy so much. Everyone knew Diana was going to be a superstar in the modeling world. To tell the truth Ju was a bit jealous, Diana had it all, looks, brains, money from her family’s estates, and more men then you could shake a stick at.
Juliette knew her fate ultimately was to be running an office of some sort in an import/export business, with hopefully a rent-controlled apartment to come home to on the subway each night. She compared that life with the jet-setting model aristocrat and model that Diana would become…No envy was not good, nature dealt you a hand and you played it the best you could.
“Jack – how goes it?”
“Well, well, if it isn’t my two favourite women in the world,” Jack said with a smile. “Juliette, darling, you have earned a break.”
“Mary, is that you,” Juliette said as she walked over.
“Ai, it is,” Mary Thomas said, her long brown hair falling over the shoulders of her Laura Ashley dress. “How are you doing lass?”
“Working for once,” Juliette said as she kissed Mary on both cheeks. “And it’s good to see you as well, Fiona. How are things at the Paris Office?”
“Ae cannae complain,” Fiona McKenzie said as she hugged the tall model. She was wearing a black waistcoat over a white granddad shirt, and tight black britches. “Ah wanted tae talk wi ye for a minit, if Jack here dosnae mind.”
“Oh go on – I need to set up for the next set anyway.”
“Come over here Ju,” Mary said as she and Fiona took Juliette to one side. “Listen, Missy called us at the office first thing this morning.”
“What – it’s one in the morning for her. What’s going on?”
“Guillemin – he wants you for his next catalogue,” Mary said.
“And to walk his special show next week, lassie,” Fiona added.
“Guillemin – he wants me? He does not want Diana?”
“No – he was impressed with when you stepped in last month at short notice, and has asked for you personally.”
“Wow – just…”
“Just say yes, Ju,” Mary said, “this is the kick start your career needs. And Lord knows, you deserve it.”
“Well, of course I’ll do it,” Juliette said, “and tell Missy thank you.”
“Right – well, back to work before Jack has a heart attack over all the young men.”
Juliette giggled as she watched the photographer talking to his two young assistants.
“So have the Celts finished their little chat, Juliette? Good – go get changed, and we can get finished before Diana and the others get here. ADAM – not there, dear boy, there!”
“Ah there you are,” Diana said as Juliette came into the model’s area, “Sigi just could not stay away.”
“Good for you,” Juliette said as she sat down, “Mary and Fiona are here – they gave me some good news.”
“Oh – and that was?”
“Guillemin wants me to model for him.”
“They have not told you the other news have they?”
“Nae lass,” Fiona said as she came in, “we thought ye’d like tae tell her yerself.”
“Tell me what?”
“Yves wants both of us as well.”
Juliette stared at her friend for a moment, before she said “Yves? Diana, are you kidding me, because if so…”
“I am not kidding, Cherie,” Diana said with a smile, “we do the shoot next week with John Hammond, the English photographer.”
“Ye’ve made it lassie,” Fiona said, “and ye deserve it as well.”
“Well that is it – we are going to party tonight,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Right – I need to go and let Jack do his magic,” Diana said as she stood up and looked at herself, “are you hanging around?”
“Oh yes – it’s the only way I can learn more,” Ju said as she looked at Sigi. “Want to come and watch?”
“Oh yes,” Sigi said as she looked up.
“Let me change and we’ll go and look,” Juliette said as she started to remove her outfit.
“That’s great Countess – show me that sultry look!”
“I don’t understand, if Diana is the Duchess de Grechy, why does he call her Countess?”
“We all have our nicknames,” Juliette whispered to Sigi, “But there’s a song by The Stranglers called Duchess, which is a little risqué. So she asked to be The Countess instead.”
“Fair enough – and she’s certainly attracting some attention,” Sigi said, “even if it’s not very nice attention.”
Juliette looked in the direction Sigi was facing, and saw the young man, dressed in a tailored jacket and trousers as he looked at Diana while she posed. Behind him stood an older couple, the woman looking as if she was sucking lemons as she watched, the man looking supremely bored.
“Let’s go and get something to eat from the table,” Juliette said as she and Sigi walked behind them, Juliette listening as they took some food.
“She has a certain beauty, Jacques, but I honestly fail to see what you do in her.”
“Now come mother – she has poise and grace, and she is also a noblewoman.”
“She may well be,” the older man said, “but her father is notorious.”
“Indeed,” the woman said, “he represents all that people think is wrong with our country.”
“But she – she could be moulded and become a woman you could stand with, given the right leadership.”
“But she is de Grechy, Jacques.”
“And we are du Ros, mother – she is perfect.”
“Have you spoken with her yet, son?”
“No father – I wanted your approval first.”
“I do not know, Jacques – as a de Grechy, there is much that would need moulding.”
“And do you think I am incapable of doing it?”
“No son – you made the first step?”
“The flowers were delivered this morning.”
“Then good hunting, Jacques – come, we must depart. The viewing begins in thirty minutes.”
“How dare they talk of Diana as if she is an object to be purchased,” Sigi said, the fire burning in her eyes.
“Cultural differences – but if he thinks he can tame Diana, he is sorely wrong,” Juliette said as they walked back.
“So what are you all doing tomorrow?”
“A band wants a lineup of models for a video shoot. Even Mandy agreed to take part – she and Diana are going to be playing the part of some of the band members, and Will is going to help out on the drums. The rest of us will play some of the girls on the dance floor.”
“Will they be taking part as well?”
“Oh yes – if they stay sober enough,” Juliette said as she saw the three blondes walk slowly up to the models area. To the side, Mary and Fiona were also watching, a concerned look on their faces as one of them said “I’ll be back in a few minutes” and disappeared into the toilets.
As Juliette came over, the tallest of the three stood by the door, looking at both of them with glazed over eyes, her long blonde hair flowing over her shoulders.
“You wouldn’t know me Miss Gresham,” Ju said as she came over “my name is Juliette Huntingdown.”
“Don’t you also model?” the more then slightly inebriated Brit asked as she tried to focus.
“Didn’t you do a couple of covers for 19?”
“Back when I was in New York Miss Gresham.”
“So what are you doing in Paris?”
“I’m studying at the Sorbonne, doing whatever work I can get to keep body and soul together.”
“Hello Pelican,” another drunken, but fabulously beautiful woman came across and draped her arms round Grace Gresham. ”I thought I saw you with the Countess, Tufty and Bats last night.”
“Hi Miss Royce…”
“Sweetie we’ve worked together, just call me Charity,” the words came out slurred by the alcohol. “This is Palo… Palo… Palomino, and Fashe should be back in a few minutes.”
“Very pleased to meet you – this is my friend Sigi. Miss Gresham…”
“Palomino, sweetie, Palomino.”
“Palomino, I was wondering if I could talk to you at some point, get a few pointers on how I can improve…”
“You’re good already, Pelican,” Charity giggled, “you just need to relax, I can help with…”
“Oh so you finally showed up – five minutes before we need to start shooting?”
“Chill Jack,” Grace said, “we’ll be ready.”
“Two of you maybe – where is she?”
“Having a pick me up – look, here she is,” Charity said as the third blonde reappeared, sniffing as she said “Hello, Irish – ready to rock and roll?”
“Get in there and get ready, Stella Jameson, or I may forget you’re a lady,” Jack said quietly, the three new arrivals making mock scared faces as they headed in.
“Are you all right Jack?”
“I’ll be fine,” Jack said as he smiled, “it’s just a shame to see girls like that going the way they are. Bad enough I lose friends to the retrovirus, but this… Girls, do yourselves some big favours. Listen to your Uncle Jack – moderation is best.”
“Even in alcohol?”
“Aye – and I pace myself. Ju, darling, will you hang around with Di for a little while – something tells me I may need your support.”
“Will they be all right,” Sigi said as she heard the laughing from the changing area.
“Let’s go and watch – once the camera starts, Charity is amazing, and I’m sure the others are just as good.”
Twenty minutes later, the three models walked out, as Stella said “All right, people, let’s go to work!”
“Grace is drunk, Karen is drunker – but Stella’s been hitting the white powder I think,” Juliette said as the trio posed for Jack. “And yet they still pull it out of the bag.”
“For now, Juliette, for now…”
“I’m hungry – why don’t we go get some lunch,” Sigi said as she looked round after an hour had passed.
“Mary, we good?”
Mary Thomas nodded as a young dark haired man wondered onto the set.
“Hi Christian,” Diana said as she kissed him, “what brings you here?”
“Oh I was just passing – is that Grace Gresham there with Jack?”
“That’s her – why?”
“Good looking, isn’t she?”
“Aren’t all of us,” Juliette said as she walked past.
“Well of course,” Christian said as Sigi looked at him, “even the kids are looking more and more gorgeous every day.”
“All right, Sigi,” Diana said as she put her arm round her shoulders, “he means no harm. Come on – I know a little café nearby, and then we need to go and get ready to join father.”
As they made their way from the square, Sigi heard Jack call out “Stella, for the love of all that is good, stop shaking!”
The Left Bank
“This is an amazing place,” Sigi said as she sipped on her glass of wine. “I can understand why Klaus loves this city.”
“It must be very different from Munich and Vienna,” Diana said as Juliette put a forkful of salad in her mouth.
“Well, maybe my brother will take you there one day,” Sigi said as she looked at them. “So what do I have to wear for your father…?”
“Juliette, darling – may I join you?”
“Of course, Renate,” Juliette said as she looked at the tall blonde. “You know Diana, but this is Sigi…”
“Klaus’ sister – we met when I visited Furstenheim with my parents last year.” Countess Renate Waldheim was the same age as Juliette, and as the daughter of an Austrian count she was on the same social level as Diana, but she never let that dictate what she did. “So your father has let you come out for a while?”
“For the weekend – technically Klaus is looking after me, but in reality…”
“Say no more – may I have some water please,” Renate said with a smile.
“So what brings you to the city, Renate?”
“Father, I’m afraid – he wants me to accompany him and mother to a charity gala at the Louvre tonight. This is the hour I get to myself before I have to go and get ready.”
“Well, at least you get some time to yourself,” Diana said with a smile.
“Did I see Grace and Charity earlier today working with Jack?”
“And Stella,” Juliette said.
“How did she look to you?”
Diana and Juliette looked at each other, and said, “Do you want an honest answer to that?”
“No – I was speaking rhetorically,” Renate said. “The word is you are both walking for Yves next week.”
“That’s right – you as well?”
Renate nodded as she sipped her drink.
“It should be fun,” Diana said as she looked round. “Now who is that man looking at us?”
“He was at the shoot earlier,” Juliette said, “de Ros, or something like that.”
Rue de Grenelle
“How do you find the time to combine your studies with everything else Juliette?” Sigi asked.
“Oh this is the easy part really,” Juliette looked up from the reams of photocopied official documents relating to trade between the EEC and the rest of the world in textiles that she was perusing.
“The easy part,” Sigrid shook her head.
“Hey,” Juliette said as she sat back, “Klaus has told me how little you need to study to still stay top of your class at school.”
“I know,” Sigi said with a smile, “but I need the extra time for my fencing.”
“Well I need the extra time for my work.” Juliette looked round, “all this needs to be paid for…and I like having a social life as well.”
“Well I like your friends as well, they are fun, and not really how the papers and magazines describe models at all.”
“Well there are still a lot of creeps around the scene,” Juliette said, “and far too many drugs.”
“That is for sure.” Diana said as she entered. “Ju you know you have your rehearsal at the Moulin Rouge?”
“I do,” Juliette looked at her watch, “Oh dear Goddess, where are my dance clothes?”
“In your bag…here.” Diana held a holdall up.
“Okay I’ll be back later.” Juliette rushed for the door.
“A rehearsal? At the Moulin Rouge?” Sigi asked quizzically.
“It’s for a charity benefit for the Sorbonne.” Diana smiled. “Sigi, we are meeting my father later, but what do you wish to do before then?”
“Well… Can we go and see the rehearsal? I’ve heard so much of the Moulin Rouge, and I would love to see it.”
“Hmm – it has been some time since I visited,” Diana said quietly. “All right, get your coat – we can watch from the sidelines.”
As they left the apartment, two men were sitting in a car watching.
“Is that her, boss?”
“That’s her,” a female voice said, “but not now.”
Moulin Rouge, Boulevard de Cliché
“This is an amazing place,” Sigi said as she stood in the bar area with Diana. “Who are all the pictures of?”
“Famous people who have, at one time or another, graced this palace,” Diana said as she looked down the rows. “In the old days, Toulouse and his friends would sketch them, but now, it is the photo.”
“Who is that picture of Diana?” She pointed at a thin dark haired woman.
“Juliette Greco, this was one of the places she used to sing in early in her career.”
“Wow, even I’ve heard of her.”
“My father was a huge fan of her songs, it was he who brought me here the first time.”
“Well that’s genuinely interesting.” Sigi looked round. “Don’t you have that picture in your apartment?”
“I do, that’s my mother.”
“Yes before she became a famous actress she used to work behind the bar here.”
“And so when she became famous they put up a picture of her?”
“So you have a couple of connections to this café?”
“I do…and they also let me sing occasionally.”
Diana smiled and nodded. “Poorly, but by the time I sing the wine has usually been flowing, people don’t notice.”
“I sing a bit as well…”
“I adore Brecht, so in a couple of school concerts I’ve sung the Ballad of Jenny Diver.”
“Well good for you.”
“Can you bring me here to listen to you sing one night?”
“If I don’t get a complaining phone call from your father for corrupting his daughter.”
“Oh he won’t hear from me that’s for sure.”
“Who is the Englishman taking pictures?” Juliette asked Elia Scaraponi, a fellow student dancer.
“His name is John Hammond.”
Juliette looked at the tall dark haired man, with his military bearing and style. “Oh I’ve heard of him, he’s becoming famous for his portrait work. I have a photo shoot lined up with him in two weeks.”
“Well the university has asked him to record this event.”
As Juliette watched, the photographer walked to where a women with short brown hair was sitting, kissing her as he changed the film in his camera.
“I wonder if he’d let me have a print for my portfolio?”
“You can but ask,” Elia smiled.
“I know that sounds crass, but the better range of photographers I have pictures from, the more chance I have of getting work.”
“You and your modeling.”
“Hey,” Juliette said as she punched Elie in the arm, “some of us don’t have Industrialist fathers back in Milano to bankroll our studies.”
“That is true.” Elie smiled, “Oh and by the way thank you for your suggestions for my long essay, they really helped.”
“I’m glad to be of assistance.”
“How much longer will this rehearsal last?” Elia looked at her watch.
“Demoiselles bien, il est temps de revenir sur scène, et cette fois je veux la perfection. Est-ce que tu comprends? Je tiens donc à voir beaucoup de ce que les sous-vêtements à froufrous. Compris? "
“Our masters voice calls Juliette.”
“Showtime.” Juliette whispered to herself.
Diana and Sigi watched as the female students got on the stage, and then the classic music started, Juliette and Elia leading the whoops as they launched themselves into a can-can.
“I never knew she was that mobile,” Sigi said as she stared at the girls’ raising their legs.
“We all have our little secrets,” Diana said with a smile.
“It is very kind of you to allow me to accompany you, Monsieur le Duc,” Sigi said as she sat at the round table. She had changed into a tasteful blue dress, while Diana and Juliette were wearing white dresses. By contrast, Guy was a wearing a tailored suits, white shirt and dark tie.
“It is my pleasure,” Guy said with a smile, “to have dinner with three attractive women – including my daughter.”
“Father,” Diana said, “I thought you only had eyes for mother?”
“I have eyes for everything of beauty, as you know my dear.”
Juliette shook her head and chuckled as she sipped his drink. “I told you this would be interesting and instructive, Sigi.”
The two men watched from the bar area, noting the men and women, and talking quietly together.
At a nearby table, three women were sitting and talking quietly. One of the women, with long dark hair, kept her back to the men, but the other two, one a red head, the other a brunette, were looking round and watching…
are you still a virgin?" Sigi asked straight out.
you and my brother?"
yet...maybe one day."
"I can't believe
it," Sigi shook her head.
"Not for a
while now," Sigi paused, "Are you honestly telling me you've
back home were intimidated by me, and in New York I had a few guys try, but I
guess I'm keeping myself for the man I marry."
that's old fashioned, and it's not what people think models are like Sigrid,
but it's what I'm like." Juliette paused, "Does your father know you
aren't a virgin Sigi?"
"Oh my God no...Can you imagine his reaction if he knew? No Klaus knows, but I trust him not to tell Papa."
“And what are you two talking about?”
“None of your business, Guy.” Juliette smiled as she sipped her wine, and winked at Diana’s father.
“Father,” Diana said quietly, “what do you know of the de Ros family?”
“Valeria and Hugo? Not the sort of people I usually mix with. Why do you ask my dear?”
“Curiosity, Father – nothing more,” Diana said with a smile, bit Juliette noticed a different look in her friend’s eye.
“So what are we doing tomorrow?”
“Apart from the video? Jack’s popping round tomorrow to get a portfolio shot for me.”
“I got a shot from Jack Hammond today as well – a nice one,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Major Hammond? I would appreciate the chance to meet him,” Guy said with a smile.
“So why isn’t Klaus coming to see you tonight?”
“Your damn brother is pleading family commitments and that he must be Renate’s escort tonight,” Juliette replied with more then a little bit of edge in her voice.
“Papa’s orders probably…I think he and Renate’s father would rather like to see them make a match of it.”
Sigi suddenly put her glass down and looked at Juliette. “He hasn’t told you has he?”
“It’s why they came to Furstenheim last year, so they could be introduced.”
“Sigi, be honest with me please,” Juliette looked in the younger woman’s face, “does your father know about me?”
“Do I have to answer?” Sigi said as she squirmed a little.
“He doesn’t know who you are, but he’s heard rumours that Klaus has fallen for an American model…”
“And that doesn’t please him?”
“Then no it doesn’t.” Sigi paused. “Look Juliette my father is the world’s ultimate snob, he thinks even Barons are below our status.”
“So girls from small towns in Massachusetts?”
“He’d kill Klaus rather than let him marry you, and my Aunt would hold Klaus down while he did it.”
“Klaus gets no say in the matter?”
“Oh he gets a say, but he will have to fight Papa and Aunt Natalya with every weapon he has if he really does want to marry you.”
“And what is your view Sigi?”
“I already love you like a sister,” the teenager threw her arms round the American. “But I’ll tell you it would be a whole lot easier for you if you were the Duchesse and not Diana.”
“I see the Duc is his usual charming self,” Valeria de Ros said as she looked over from the table she shared with her son and husband.
“I don’t see the problem with him,” Jacques said as he looked at Diana dancing with William.
“Then you have not had your eyes open enough,” Valeria said coldly.
“Excuse me one moment,” Guy said as he walked Sigi back over to another table, before inviting Alice to dance.
“Your father is a dirty old man.” Sigi giggled, “He tried to feel my bottom.”
“He is incorrigible.” Diana shook her head. “Just don’t take it personally Sigi, he tries it on with every woman he’s sure he’s not related to.”
“Oh I’m not angry, rather pleased in fact…most people treat me still like I’m a baby.” Sigi giggled, “Papa would be shocked though, he still thinks I’m some little virgin who has no idea about sex.”
“You are incorrigible too.” Diana laughed as Alice looked at Guy, before walking over to their table.
“Honestly I am going to have a bruise on my ass,” Alice shook her head as she sat down.
“My Papa?” asked Diana.
“Who else would pinch me?”
“I apologise Alice.”
“Just be glad Duncan didn’t see him do it.”
“One day he and I will have to have a very serious chat about him chasing younger women, it’s bad enough when they are strangers, but I draw the line when he tries it with my friends.”
“Hey – Garcon. Another bottle over here.”
“Mon dieu,” Diana said quietly as she looked over, “I wonder if they have sobered up at all…”
“There are times I despair.” Juliette sat down hard in her chair.
“Oh, now who has brought that out?” Diana asked quietly.
“Charity,” Juliette said as she looked over. “I’d do most anything to be in her class as a model, but yet again she’s over there totally strung out, and both Grace and Stella are flying high on cocaine. Don’t they know the damage they are doing to themselves and to their careers?”
“Probably not. I would be amazed if they knew what time of day it was.”
“Well at least when you are a true superstar Diana you’ll know better than to abuse yourself like that.”
Diana looked at her friend, saying “and who says I will be a superstar?”
“Oh come on?” Juliette rolled her eyes, “everyone knows you will be, it’s me who’s going to end up working long hours in an office.”
“Who knows - you might become a princess?”
“Not according to Sigi, her father it seems will do anything to prevent Klaus marrying some American nobody.”
“There you go again, putting yourself down.”
“No there I go again being a realist Diana.”
“Who is that divine man just walked in?” Diana decided that it would be wise to change the subject.
“Henri Marais the racing car driver…and that’s his wife with him.”
“First he is so handsome, and secondly how do you know that?”
“There’s a big article on them in Paris Match,” Juliette giggled, “If I hadn’t read it this afternoon, then I’d have not had a clue.”
“That’s cheating.” Diana laughed in response.
“They’re still sitting at the bar watching.”
The redhead looked at the other two ladies, and said “I’m amazed they haven’t recognized us?”
“Why should they,” the brunette said quietly, “as far as they know, we’re in the UK. Probably forgotten about us already.”
“So who do you think the target is?”
“Who knows – Madame Marais, assorted duchesses and countesses, and famous models. Could be any one of them. What I don’t understand is why we are here to stop them?”
“Because,” the dark haired lady said in a deep, mellow voice, “it is a matter of honour. Be alert.”
“I see the de Ros boy has eyes only for you Mon Cherie.” Guy whispered in his daughters’ ear.
“He seems to be following me about.”
“Well a word of caution darling, his mother is a dragon, and I hear he’s something of a ladies’ man.”
“Papa you have the cheek to say that of someone else?” Diana shook her head.
“I wasn’t condemning him Diana, just warning you in advance.”
“Would he be a good catch Papa?”
“Oh socially it would be an excellent match, they are a very old family. Economically as well, their vineyards are very profitable…”
“Now what would you say if I wanted to marry a penniless American photographer Papa?”
“Well I think I’d be a little disappointed.” Guy shook his head.
“Honestly you are as big a snob as Klaus’s father.”
“Oh so this isn’t about you, this conversation is about Juliette?”
“Yes, Sigi let slip that the Prince is trying to make a match for Klaus with Renate Waldheim.”
“Diana,” Guy said quietly, “you know I adore Juliette, but can you honestly see that sweet young thing as a princess?”
“If I’m honest then yes.”
“No,” Guy said as he shook his head, “it would never work, just look at young William, and Amanda, they are of the same class, they know the same people…”
“Papa they are both born-again punks,” Diana interrupted.
“But Aristocratic punks my darling. I predict they will have a long happy marriage.”
“And Juliette and Klaus wouldn’t?”
“Not unless she toughened up considerably - and can you ever see Juliette of all people developing a tough ruthless side like she'd have to have to deal with Klaus's relatives?"
“You may have a point, father,” Diana said as she saw Juliette sitting with Alice and Mandy. “If you will excuse me father?”
“Go – I am sure Sigi will dance with me.”
Diana smiled as Sigi mouthed “I hate you” before she was taken on the dance floor.
“Figures,” Juliette said as she fingered her glass, “something wonderful comes into my life, and it gets snatched away again.
“You are quite well known back home Ju?” Alice put her arms round her friend.
“Yes but as a teen model Alice, not doing high fashion. To do that I’d have to make it here, and honestly can you see that happening?”
“Yes! I refuse to believe that with looks like yours that you won’t make it huge one day.”
“Well I’m just glad you feel that way Alice, but I’m just happy that modeling has just about paid my way through my diploma.”
“It sounds like self pity to me darling.” Mandy commented.
“No its realizing my limitations Mandy, I’m a marginal model, but at least I’m blessed with brains, so I’ll find a job back in New York I hope.”
“With your passion for fashion I refuse to believe that you will quit,” Diana laughed, “now me I do not really care…”
“Oh so says the woman with the closet full of clothes.” Alice laughed.
“Oh I’m not talking about as a buyer of lovely things,” Diana laughed as a well, but really I don’t give a?...oh what is that expression?...a rats bottom?”
“You mean a rats arse darling.” Mandy drawled.
“Well you’ll all be top girls even if you do care or not?”
“There’s that self pity again Ju.” Alice shook her head.
“Don’t forget you are walking the YSL show Ju Darling?”
“Along with 55 other girls Mandy.”
“Fiona, Mary, can you cheer her up? Juliette has a downer on herself tonight?” Alice asked.
“When you are just hitting the big time?” asked Mary.
“When I realize I’m not really going to make it as a model.”
“See what we mean darlings?”
“I’m going to book a flight home for after my thesis is read, and see if I can find someone to hire me to work for them.” Juliette gave herself a shake. “Do what my Mom says, and for once in my life be practical.”
“Och you do have the blues tanite.” Fiona shook her head.
“I should never have opened my big mouth.” Sigrid moaned.
“How so lass?” Mary asked.
“I told her my father is trying to arrange for Klaus to marry Renate.”
“Well as everyone has said, she’s his class, his type of person, while I patently am not.”
“I shouldae guessed a man was behind all this.” Fiona smiled.
“What is your father doing,” Juliette said as she saw Guy walk to another table.
“Good evening Count…Countess.” Guy said as he bowed slightly.
“Good evening.” Valeria held her hand out for Guy to kiss. “Would you prefer to talk in English or French?”
“Well since I am with so many of my daughters’ English speaking friends shall we continue in this?”
“Very well.” Valeria said with a distinct edge to her voice. “My son has indicated an interest in your daughter.”
“And this is my concern why?” Guy said as he signaled a waiter to top up his champagne.
“It is OUR concern,” Valeria said coldly, “since at least in my family still such matters are important still to the whole family, and are not left to the whims of chance.”
“When one considers,” Guy said as he sat down, ignoring Hugo and Jacque as they stared at him, “that your former surname was not Romanov due to a mésalliance of monumental proportions Madame la Comtesse, I might have thought such an attitude might have long since left your family.”
“That does not alter the fact,” Valeria almost growled, “that I am of the imperial blood Monsieur le Duc, and I do have certain expectations as to the qualities of the girl my son attaches herself to.”
“Well I have the blood of the Bourbons flowing in my veins Madame, and without a stigma.” Guy drawled as he enjoyed tormenting the Countess de Ros. “And frankly I don’t give a damn who my daughter marries as long as she is happy.”
“Given my son’s bloodlines…”
“From what I remember reading about the first Count de Ros, surely that blood is 90% proof Madame?”
“Given…” Valeria fought to control her temper…”the importance of both our families, I considered it to be both necessary, and good manners, to inform you of my sons intentions.”
“Well he and you would be both better off talking to Diana then to me.” Guy laughed as a more then slightly tipsy Sigi sat in his lap.
“Young lady!” Valeria nearly shouted as she started to lose her temper.
“It’s Your Serene Highness if you are addressing me Madame,” Sigi giggled.
“Oh Madame la Comtesse may I present the Princess Sigrid von Furstenheim,” Guy laughed, as he was enjoying Valeria’s discomfort more with each second.”
“You are the daughter of Karl von Furstenheim, the niece of the Baron Buchenwald?”
“The very same,” Sigi said with a grin
“Perhaps it is time to take you home, young lady,” Diana said as she came over. “Please, forgive her youthfulness.”
Valeria nodded as Juliette and Diana took Sigi to the toilet.
“Count, Countess,” Guy said as he bowed and walked off as well.
“What a woman,” Jacques said quietly.
Sunday 8th June
Rue de Grenelle
“It’s just a second, seven seconds away, and how much more will I say…”
“Oh my head,” Sigi said as she walked in, wearing a black mohair jumper and grey jeans, “what happened last night?”
“You had a fun time,” Juliette said as she poured some coffee.
“Did I really do something rude to a Countess?”
“Possibly,” Diana said as she handed Sigi a mug of coffee. “Juliette and I need to go to this video shoot – will you be all right?”
“I’ll be fine,” Sigi said as she drank her coffee, her eyes focusing on the pair of sabres crossed on the wall, “I could always use those if necessary.”
“I would drink more coffee and eat first,” Diana said as she put her bag on her shoulder. “We’ll call at lunch time.”
“Go, go,” Sigi said as she drank the coffee, and picked up a croissant, nibbling on it as Youssou N’Dour sang on the radio. After a few minutes they started to play Vanessa Paradis as Sigi stood up and wondered into Diana’s room.
“Wow,” she said as she opened the large doors of the walk in wardrobe, “what a collection…” Taking out a pink fur lined jacket, she put it on and looked at herself in the wardrobe mirror, smiling as she turned and posed.
“And walking the catwalk, Sigi von Furstenheim,” she said to herself as she walked up and down the room, before turning in shock as the apartment doorbell rang. Walking cautiously across the room, she opened the door and said quietly “Hello?”
“Oh-ho, did those nasty big models leave you all alone, little one,” Jack Linklater said as he looked at Sigi.
“That’s right – it’s Jack isn’t it?”
“It is indeed,” Jack replied with a smile, “may I come in? I have something to leave for the girls.”
“Well, it should be all right,” Sigi said as she opened the door, and let Jack come in.
“Ah the dulcet tones of Petula Clark,” he said as another song played on the radio, “such a refined lady.”
“You know the Baroness?”
“In passing, in passing,” Jack said as he put his camera bag down, and then laid a portfolio on the coffee table. “You’ll make sure they look at these when they get home?”
“Of course,” Sigi said with a smile, “but while you’re here, can you do a little favour for me, Mr. Linklater?”
“Oh – polite and petite. What can I do for you, my dear?”
Sigi smiled as she said “would you take a few photographs of me? Purely for my own amusement.”
“Well,” Jack said as he looked her up and down, “you have a certain je n’sais quoi. And I have some free time, so why not?”
“Thank you,” Sigi said as she put her arms round Jack’s neck, standing on tip toe as she kissed his cheek. I hope Diana does not mind if I try a few of her furs.”
“Go and see how they look,” Jack said as he took out a light meter, checking the readings and adjusting his camera lens accordingly, before Sigi reappeared.
“Well, how do I look,” she said as she stood and posed.
“Almost professional,” Jack said as he took a few photos while she stood there, and then said “take a seat, my dear.”
“If you insist,” Sigi said as she sat across a wide blue seat, the fur opening to reveal her bare legs.
“Sigi,” Jack said as he looked at her, “you are above the age of consent aren’t you?”
Sigi shook her head in mild anger before she sighed and said “Jack I’m 17 - you can look at my passport, this will not be child pornography.”
“Right, I guess you need to see how old I am,” Sigi said as the fire started to burn in her eyes.
“Well here we go…SIGI!” Jack immediately stopped as Sigi pouted and exposed more flesh.
“I do not need your father chasing me for shooting suggestive pictures of his darling daughter.”
“He need never see them,” Sigi said as she leaned forward, “so snap away please my fine young man?”
“She called me young,” Jack said with a smile as he took more photos and then looked at her.
“You certainly have a photogenic face – why don’t you go and try another fur on?”
“Why not,” Sigi said as she jumped up and went back into the bedroom, Jack shaking his head as he changed his film roll.
head Sigi call out, “do you think I'll ever be a model?"
you grow an alarming amount in a short time dear."
"I know, it's a curse, in a family of giants like Klaus I'm a little runt."
“Well, I would not be so cruel darling,” Jack said with a smile as Sigi came out, wearing a knee length brown fur and silk coat that came to her knees, and the black heels.
“Very stylish,” Jack said as he started to take more photos, Sigi holding the collar and smiling as he did so.
“Well now, I think I have some very interesting photos of you,” Jack finally said as he looked up.
“Ju says you always walk into their dressing room when they’re naked. Is that true?”
“Dear,” Jack said with a smile, “I’m the one person they can guarantee is not looking at them with any form of lust.”
“Well, you stay out here – and this is a princess saying that,” Sigi said as she made her way to the bedroom, Jack going to the kitchen and pouring some water.
“Diana, my dear, this is exquisite,” he said as he looked round, and then head the knock on the door.
“Are you expecting someone,” Jack called out, but there was no answer. Smiling, he went to the door and opened it, saying “Can I…”
“I can’t thank you enough for doing this for me, Jack,” Sigi said with a smile as she came back in. “I’ll show that father of mine that…”
She stopped and looked at Jack as he sat in the chair, his eyes darting between the two men who were standing either side of him. He wanted to say something about their fashion sense, but the strip of brown sticking plaster over his mouth made it impossible for him to say more than “sreesgeee,”
“Good morning, you highness,” one of the men said, “you are going to come quietly with us, and stay with us a while until your father makes a donation to our charity.”
Sigi looked at Jack, his hands pinned behind his back and his ankles secured with a zip tie, before she very quietly said “Am I? And if I refuse your generous invitation to stay a while?”
“I do not believe you would like to do that,” the other man said as he opened his blazer, showing Sigi the gun in his waistband.
“Hmm,” Sigi said as she walked to the wall, “Gentlemen, you do know who I am, correct?”
“Her Serene Highness Princess Sigrid von Furstenheim,” the first man said quietly as Jack raised an eyebrow.
“Hmm quite correct,” Sigi said as she smiled. “Jack , wenn ich jetzt sagen , rollen nach vorn und unten bleiben.”
Jack glanced quickly in each direction as the second man said “Your highness, we do not wish to cause a fuss, but if you do not come with us now…”
“Ah, but I wish to make a fuss. Jack – NOW!”
As Jack pushed himself forward and rolled onto the floor, Sigi grabbed the hilt of one of the sabers and flashed it in front of herself, walking forward as she said “the epee is more my usual weapon of choice, but I am a Bavarian princess – and the weight on this is good. Now, gentlemen, what were you saying?”
“You crazy bitch,” the second man said as he reached for his gun, and then backed up as Sigi brought the blade down in a swoop, nicking the sleeve of his jacket as she did so.
“For the love of god, grab her,” the man said as his companion tried to grab Sigi, and then backed off as she swung the saber round in her hand, the blade flashing round as Jack watched from the floor.
“Now Gentlemen,” Sigi said as she walked forward, the two men backing up, “you were saying about making me come with you?”
“Now I did think we said that,” the man said as he pointed his gun at Jack, “and unless you want your fried here to suffer…”
“Lrdsfmm,” Jack mumbled as he closed his eyes, and then heard two soft thuds.
Sigi was staring at the door as well, as she saw the two women standing in the doorway, one of them putting what looked like a dart gun away as the second one checked the pulse of the two men. Both were dressed in black sweaters and pants, with balaclavas over their heads.
“Our apologies,” she said as she stood up, “these gentlemen will not bother you again. Be assured you are safe, your highness.”
“Thanks – I think,” she said as the other woman brought in a laundry trolley, and then they lifted the men between them and dropped them in the basket. Formally bowing, they walked backwards out, pulling the trolley with them as they closed the door.
“Now who were those masked women,” Sigi said as she raised the saber in salute.
“Oh – forgive me Jack,” Sigi said as she used the tip of the blade to slice through the plastic bands, and then replaced the sword on the wall mountings.
“Sigi, angel,” Jack said as he pulled the plaster from his mouth, “would Diana have any lip balm and moisturizer?”
“I would imagine so, but what happened?”
“Now come on – two good looking men knock on the door, I’m going to answer it – although usually I don’t get tied and gagged. But those women – who were they?”
“No idea – Jack, can we keep this between ourselves please? No fuss, no bother?”
“Of course – now, about that cream?”
“Well, well, they’re waking up.”
The two men slowly opened their eyes as they saw two women standing over them – a redhead and a brunette.
“Oh god,” one of them said as he looked at them, “you? We thought you were dead.”
“Incorrect – we’ve been in the UK for a while, but we were asked to come over and find who had been acting as high class kidnappers. They took money from an old friend, and we don’t like that.”
“Madeline? Sandra? Then…”
“Hello boys,” a voice like hot treacle on cold ice cream said, “I would say it is good to see you again, but that would be lying.”
“No – I am Madame X, and you have been very, very naughty boys…”
“Well, I think we’ve got this about ready,” Diana said as she sat with the others, sipping water while the camera crew did the final set-up. “You’re the musician Mandy, what do you think?”
“You’ll pass, darling,” Mandy said with a smile as she looked over.
“Hi – mind if I sit with you for a few minutes?”
“Pull up a chair, Palomino,” Alice said as Grace Gresham sat down, and swallowed a bottle of water. “How are you feeling this morning?”
“Sore headed – I woke up late, and both Stella and Karen had already gone. How bad was I yesterday?”
“You were not the worst,” Diana said quietly. Grace nodded as she looked at the, and said “well, I’m sorry if I upset anyone. I need to watch what I’m doing with some things.”
“Would you be hurt if I was honest, Grace?”
“No – and I can guess what you’re going to say. I was a wreck – too easily led, if the truth be told.”
She looked up as Christian, the photographer, came over and sat with them.
“Hi – I’m Christian. You’re Grace aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Grace said with a smile, “and you are Christian, aren’t you? I’ve seen you with some of my friends at parties.”
“I’ve seen you too – want to take a walk?”
“Thirty minutes, people.”
“Why not,” Grace said as she went off with Christian, the other girls watching.
“I thought he was stepping out with Pippa Ashley?”
“Who knows Diana – maybe she dumped him,” Alice said as she sipped on her bottle. “And talking of not knowing…”
“What do you mean you’re throwing me off the set,” Stella Jameson said as she and Charity looked at the director.
“Just what I said – neither of you are in any fit state to do what I want you to do today, and fi you want the honest truth, unless you both clean up your acts, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
“Says who,” Charity answered back with a giggle.
“Ask John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, Rob Jones and River Phoenix,” the director said quietly. “Go on – go home and sober up at least.”
The two models walked out of the studio, Grace watching as she talked to Christian, and the director rubbed his forehead.
“Someone get me their agent on the phone – anyone else need to go because of illness?”
The others shook their heads as Alice said “there but for the grace of God, darling…”
Rue de Grenelle
“Well hello big brother,” Sigi said as she opened the door, “and what time do you call this to come and visit your darling sister?”
“The perfect time to take you to lunch,” Klaus said as he hugged his sister. “And I hear you had great fun yesterday.”
“It was an experience – Diana’s father is a roguish old devil, isn’t he? Maybe you’ll be like him as you grow up?”
“Not if our father has anything to do with it,” Klaus said as Sigi grabbed her coat. “Once we have eaten, I have instructions to take you to the video shoot, and from there we will progress to see what happens.”
He then noticed something on the floor, bending down and picking up the cut cable tie. Showing it to Sigi, he raised an eyebrow as his sister said “just rubbish – come on, I’m starving.”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re not telling me something?”
“Now have I ever hidden anything from you, Klaus?”
“All right, let’s go for another take,” the director said as Diana stood with the backing singers, and Mandy strapped on the bass guitar.
Will tapped the drumsticks as he said “one, two, one two three four…”
The Sprint started playing their song, with Will on drums and Mandy playing guitar, both dressed in very uncharacteristic for them tops and shorts, while Diana and the other backing singers were wearing tight jeans and crop tops.
On the dance floor, Alice, Juliette and Grace were wearing summer dresses as they danced alongside other models, Renate dancing on the other side of the dance floor in a white blouse and leather skirt. From the sidelines, Christian was watching, smiling as Grace laughed, her long blonde hair flowing as she danced around.
The director smiled as he viewed the screens, showing the shots from his cameras as they filmed the band and the dancers. “Yes… Yes, this is really good,” he said as he directed one camera to focus in on Mandy playing the guitar, smiling as she played the middle eight while the lead singer sang along.
As the song finished, Will threw the drumsticks in the air, catching them as everyone clapped and cheered.
“Well done everyone,” the director said, “I have what we need now.”
“Now that was fun,” Grace said, “been too long since I did that.”
“Do a job sober,” she said as she looked at Juliette. “Hey – why don’t we go for a longer walk Christian.”
“Sounds good to me,” Christian said as he took Grace by the arm, and they walked out of the studio.
“Right – we need to go and meet our parents,” Mandy said as she put the guitar to the side, and pulled her husband to be away. “Later, darlings.”
“Sorry – time to meet the in-laws,” Will said as he was dragged off, Juliette laughing as they went off.
“Come on,” Duncan said as he looked at the others, “let’s go and get a late lunch somewhere.”
“Give me a minute,” Diana said as she walked to the bar, “I need to call the apartment, see if Sigi is there.”
Picking up the telephone, Diana pressed some buttons and waited until she said “Hello?
“Papa – I was not expecting you to call today. Is Sigi there?
“Oh – well I am sure she is with Klaus in that case. We’ll see her when we get back to the apartment.
“Indeed – au revoir.”
“No – Papa was at the apartment, and Sigi has gone out, I presume with Klaus.”
“Well, she’s fine I’m sure – come on, I need to eat something.”
“... and that was when Naomi walloped him with her fist.”
Diana burst out laughing, the others joining in as they sat back and relaxed.
“Oh I wish I could have seen that,” Alice said as she shook her head, “but I am happily married, after all.”
At a nearby table, a stern looking blonde was sitting with a dark haired man, both of them looking at the group as they ordered another bottle of wine.
“I wonder who they are,” Alice said as she glanced over.
“Ah, THERE you are,” Klaus said as he came in with Sigi. “we went to the studio, but they said you had disappeared for lunch.”
“Join us,” Juliette said as she stood up and kissed Klaus, Sigi smiling until she looked round and saw the couple looking at them.
“Klaus,” she said quietly as she tugged on her brother’s sleeve,” you had better look over there.”
“Oh – why?” Klaus looked over to the other table, his smile a little fixed as he said “Aunt Natalya, Uncle Wilhelm – what are you doing here?”
“We were going to call to see you after lunch,” the woman said in a quiet, but determined voice, “but it would appear we have met earlier than I expected. Sigrid.”
“It is good to see you both,” Sigi said as she gave a little curtsey, Diana and Juliette looking at each other.
“Will you not introduce us,” the woman said as she looked at them.
“Of course,” Klaus said as she motioned Juliette over. “Juliette, Diana, may I present Count Wilhelm and Countess Natalya Buchenwald. Aunt, Uncle, Diana, Duchess de Grechy and Miss Juliette Huntingdown.”
“It is an honour to meet you,” Juliette said as Count Buchenwald kissed the hand of both ladies, but the Countess merely stared at both of them.
“I am pleased to have made the acquaintance of both of you,” she finally said in a cold voice. “Klaus, you and Sigi should know that your father will be arriving tomorrow for a short stay, and he will arrive at your accommodations at eleven am in the morning precisely.”
“Father is coming here? Why?”
“I am sure he will communicate his intentions in due course. Come Wilhelm, we have some business to attend to.”
The Count stood and bowed as he followed his wife out, Sigi holding on to her brother’s arm as they left.
“Bother – and I was getting used to freedom as well.”
“Do not fret, dear sister,” Klaus said as he leaned over and kissed her head, “we have until tomorrow…”
Monday 9th June
“Well, it’s eleven o’clock,” Klaus said as he consulted his watch and nervously ran his finger under the collar of his shirt. The shirt was under a classic suit, while Sigi was wearing a blue jacket and skirt with a grey blouse underneath.
“Are you sure you want us here,” Juliette said as she sat with Diana. Juliette was dressed in a white blouse and a floral print wrap round skirt, while Diana wore a blue sleeveless tunic over a white dress, dark tights and ankle boots.
“And that will be him,” Sigrid said as she stood up and walked to the apartment door, opening it and saying “Hello papa” as a tall grey haired man walked in. He looked enough like Klaus to obviously be his father, and was accompanied by Natalya and Wilhelm.
“Hello Father,” Klaus said as he formally bowed, “may I introduce my friends, Miss Juliette Huntingdown and Diana, Countess de Grechy.”
“Your highness,” Diana said as she curtseyed, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Countess – I believe I have met your father on occasion. Is he well?”
“He is – he is currently in Paris should you wish to meet with him.”
“Perhaps,” Karl said as his cold blue eyes looked Juliette up and down, “and you are Miss Juliette Huntingdown.”
“Your highness,” Juliette said as she curtseyed.
“Well,” Klaus said as he looked round the room, “I thought we might all go and have an early lunch. You must be hungry, father.”
“Indeed – and perhaps afterwards, you can show me where Sigrid spent the weekend?”
“It would be my honour,” Diana said as Sigi raised her eyes. “Where shall we eat?”
Rue de Grenelle
“A most comfortable apartment,” Karl von Furstenheim said as he looked round their main living area. “Now, I wish to discuss a particular matter in private with Miss Huntingdown.”
“Sigrid, you should collect your clothes from the spare room,” Diana said as she took Sigrid to the guest bedroom, while Klaus coughed and said “Perhaps you and Uncle Wilhelm would join me in the kitchen while I prepare some coffee, Aunt Natalya?”
“I think that would be prudent,” the Countess Buchenwald said as they went into the kitchen, closing the door behind themselves.
“So,” Karl said as he sat down, “please, be seated Fraulein Huntingdown.”
“Thank you,” Juliette said as she sat down, watching Karl as he stood by the fireplace.
“Miss Huntingdown,” he finally said as he turned round and looked at Juliette, “my sister has told me that you and my son have become very close.”
“We are very good friends,” Juliette said as she took deep breaths.
“And what are you intentions towards him?”
“To remain his friend at this time. Anything more than that must be by mutual choice, Your Highness, but he has always been the perfect gentleman towards me.”
“He is of royal blood, Miss Huntingdown, of course he is a gentleman. And as a man of royal blood, there are certain obligations that he is expected to fulfill.”
“Of course,” Juliette said quietly.
“Then you will understand that when I hear he has become intimate with an American model with no family history of note, I am concerned as to what may have occurred.”
Juliette remained calm, despite the anger starting to build, as she said “I will have you know Your Highness, that Klaus and I have never done anything to be ashamed of.”
“Oh come now Miss Huntingdown.”
“Sir,” Juliette said quietly, “Klaus is always a perfect gentleman, and strange as it may seem I am actually still a virgin.”
Karl snorted as he said “And you expect me to believe that?”
“I don’t care if you believe it or not Your Highness, but it happens to be the truth.”
Walking round, Karl looked at the apartment décor before saying “May I ask then who pays for this apartment Fraulein?”
“Diana mainly, but I pay her rent and contribute to the food bills and utilities. I’m not rich, but I just about keep my head above water Sir.”
“So you have no intentions towards my son?”
“I did not say that Sir, and you did not ask, but as I said earlier we are friends at this moment, very good friends.”
“Be aware, Fraulein, I will not allow dishonor to be brought to my family name.”
“And be aware, SIR,” Juliette said as she stood up, “that I would never bring dishonor to Klaus or Sigrid – in any way.”
“Then you will end this friendship?”
“No – Klaus is his own man, your highness, and he is able to make his own decisions. I will respect whatever he decides – as I believe you should as well.”
Karl glared at Juliette as Diana came in with Sigrid.
“Erm – perhaps we should…”
“It is all right, Diana, Sigi – I think Prince Karl and I have finished our conversation.”
“For now,” Karl said as Klaus brought a tray with a pot of coffee in.
“Thank you, Klaus,” Karl said as he looked round the room. “May I ask who actually owns the apartment, Countess?”
“It is owned by my father, but we pay a full rent,” Diana said as she poured the coffee. “As well as all bills. My father believes in independence.”
“Indeed,” Natalya said as they sat and drank in silence.
Eventually, Karl said “Natalya, may I speak with you in the kitchen for a moment?”
“Of course,” Natalya said as they walked into the room, Karl closing the door on the others.
“What did you say to Papa Juliette? I’ve never seen him so angry.” Sigi shook her head as she looked to the door.
“I informed him that I’m a good girl,” Juliette said quietly, “that your brother and I have nothing to be ashamed of, and not in as many words told him where he can put that ramrod he carries strapped to his back.”
“Oh God, I wished I could have seen it.” Sigi giggled.
“Why is he like that?”
“Oh I think a lot has to do with a relative of ours who was some frightful Nazi war criminal. Papa and Aunt Natalya grew up at a time when the von Furstenheim’s were something like pariahs in German aristocratic circles. It’s made them both determined never to be anything less then perfect.”
“Well it’s made them both pains just from where I sit.” Juliette sighed.
“Do not judge too harshly,” Wilhelm said, “they are of their time and lineage.”
“Still, he is not mannered, unlike you Klaus,” Diana said quietly.
Natalya came back in and sat down. “Your father will be in in a moment,” she said as she sat down.
“Any more news on that horrid killer back home in Munich?” Sigrid asked her relatives.
“Not in the few days since you left my dear.” Count Buchenwald actually smiled. “The police think there is a serial killer out there, but according to what I read in the Suddeutsche Zeitung they are no closer to catching him…”
“Or her,” his wife interrupted him.
“My love do you really think a woman is capable of such extreme barbarity and cruelty?”
“Just remember The Blood Princess.” Klaus reminded his reltives.
“Am I missing something,” Juliette said as she looked at the family.
“Some rather gruesome murders – and as for the Blood Princess, a story for another day,” Klaus said quietly as his father came in.
“I have decided,” he said quietly, “that Sigrid may remain here with you for the summer Klaus.”
“I may? Oh thank you Papa…”
“I have not finished,” Karl said. “You will stay with Klaus, and I will arrange for a suitable chaperone to stay as well.”
“That is my decision,” Karl said. “Klaus, you and Sigrid will join me for dinner tonight. Ladies.”
Natalya stood and smiled as the apartment door opened, and Guy came in.
“Diana my dear, I… Your highness,” he said as he formally bowed, “an honour.”
“Indeed,” Karl said. “Sigrid, you will return now with Klaus.”
“Thank you for allowing me to stay.” Sigi hugged Juliette and whispered “See you soon” before Klaus picked her bag up.
“Juliette, I apologise, but…”
Klaus shook his head and walked out, Guy closing the door behind him.
“Did I arrive at an inopportune moment?”
“No father – your timing was impeccable,” Diana said as she sat down. “Perhaps I should open a window, clear the air.”
“It is not that warm, Diana – in fact, the atmosphere was positively frosty.”
“The Furstenheim’s do not need air-conditioning Juliette,” Guy said as he sat down, “Natalya Buchenwald can chill any room just by entering it.”
“Oh Papa that is awful!” Diana laughed.
“It’s true though Diana, did you ever look in her eyes?” asked Juliette. “Her brother is a bastard, but there is a coldness in that woman’s eyes that is frightening.”
“I am glad it is Juliette young Klaus is interested in and not you Mon Cherie, the thought of you having that woman as a relative is not a welcome one.” Guy spoke seriously.
“But you’d wish her on me?” Juliette asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Seriously I would not wish that woman on the devil. Compared to her the Countess de Ros is sweetness and light.”
“Is this our fate, to be caught between a Harridan and a Devil in disguise?”
“Which one is which,” Diana asked, the room filling with laughter as the afternoon sun shone through the windows…