The Mousetrap – Part 2
As the party walked into the yard by the mounting ring, Francesca recognised the grey haired man with olive skin, standing by Sir William Hyde-Andrews. Apart from the hair, he had not changed much in twenty six years.
“Ah here she comes now,” William said as he saw Angel walk over, her riding crop in her hand. “Mohammed al Salim, may I present Lady Angelica Fitzstuart, also known as Angel. Angel, the owner of your ride, Mohammed al Salim.”
to meet you sir," Angel extended her hand for him to shake, "and
thank you for letting me take the ride."
William says you've ridden work on the horse and that you are up to the
job" the Arab smiled, "and I trust his judgment."
you," Angel smiled back.
“Well, you performed especially well in the race already – so I… And these are your parents?”
“Will and Mandy – a pleasure to meet you,” Will said as they shook hands
Angel,” Sir Williams said as he put his arm round her shoulders, “as I told you
before, staying is his game, so I want you to get him settled quickly, take the
lead, and set your own pace."
they can catch me?" Angel nodded.
the trainer looked at his notes, "we aren't expecting to win, but at least
I want you to make sure whatever horse does win earn that win."
Angel glanced at the horse. "Well he looks well Uncle Bill. Are you sure
you don't want me to try hold a little in reserve?"
the owner smiled again, "Sir William and I are agreed on these
"Okay," she said as the horse was brought close for her to mount. She smiled at the young man who was holding the reins, as al Salim looked round, his face fixed as he looked at the party who had walked into the ring.
"Well Francesca?" Shirley asked as they stood beside the paddock and watched Angel being lifted into the saddle.
"The horse is certainly fit," the Marchesa said quietly as she cast a practiced eye over the animal, "but I can't see it winning."
a couple of the other horses should beat him." The Italian lady paused for
thought before she continued "I saw him race in Paris and he lacks speed
in a contested finish."
worth a bet?"
"Maybe to place or show Shirley. I'm sure Sir William has told Angel to make it a test of stamina, just maybe she can hold onto second or third."
"Understood." Sheila looked at her friend, unsure of why she was looking nervously round.
"Why is the owner staring at us?" John noticed that Mr al Salim appeared to be staring in their direction.
is someone I was at one time very interested in?" John whispered as he
watched William Hyde-Andrews chatting with Mohammed al Salim.
"You were?" Marianne looked surprised.
"Ja, back in the bad old days we suspected he was playing with both sides, us, and the ANC." John thought back, "we were never sure though if he was being even handed and Hennie was asked by another agency to put him under observation. I was one of the guys followed him round Pretoria."
“That time you had to do some business in Rome before the wedding – it was him, wasn’t it,” Marianne whispered quietly.
“Your memory does you credit – what else do you remember?”
“We had to fly back at short notice – and wasn’t Peter Hope on that plane as well?”
“Yes he was – yes he was,” John said quietly. “Marianne, I have this feeling something is coming down the line to hit all of us.”
“In what way?”
Looking at his wife, John said “find Alex and stay with her – and if the Sisters see you, tell them as well.”
“That is the bet placed,” Alex said as she walked back to join Peter, “want to go down and look in the circle?”
“No,” Peter said as he shook his head, “I think we should just head up to the hospitality suite and find a place to watch.” As he looked round, he saw a middle aged blonde woman walking towards the mounting area, her long blonde hair falling over a designer jacket with matching pants, a roll neck sweater underneath. He smiled – a smile Alex noticed – before he guided Alex in a different direction.
“So there is where you ended up,” Kay Cornwall said as she joined Francesca and Charlotte, “so that is Angelica’s ride?”
“It is indeed,” Charlotte said as Frances looked round, Francesca nodding as she watched a woman walk over and talk to the young man holding the reins of Angel’s horse.
And then looking carefully again at her.
“Mamma? Is there something wrong,” Charlotte said as she looked at her.
“What? No, it is just that woman, she looks so much like someone I knew – but it cannot be…”
Kay suddenly looked in the same direction, before she said “excuse me a moment. Someone I need to talk to.” She walked over to where Angel was mounted on the horse, smiling as she said “good luck Angel. This is an unexpected surprise Mr al Salim."
"It is indeed Mrs Cornwall,” Mohamed said as he kissed Kay on both cheeks, “I was unaware that you knew Miss Fitzstuart."
really, but Lord Donald Fitzstuart, her uncle, is a very old and close
understand," the Arab replied with a smile as he adjusted his dark
glasses. "So are you part of this Saints and Sinners group?"
a newish member, but yes I think I've been accepted."
"So is it
a purely social thing,” he said quietly, “or does the SIS see all these people
as possible assets?"
"Oh it’s purely social," Kay laughed as she mentally crossed her fingers. “In fact, why don’t you join us after the race for a few minutes?”
As he glanced over to where Francesca and the group were standing, he nodded and said “why not – thank you for the kind invitation. I will come up with William later.”
Francesca said as she turned to face her friend, “you remember, when I came to
see you earlier in the week, that I told you I was worried about something
from out of my past."
would you believe that almost by pure coincidence a second player in the game
that was going on back then has just popped up?"
“I wold think so, except I suspect another person may also be here. I truthfully do not know for certain, but I pray this is nothing more than pure chance."
"Do you need help?"
"As of this very second? Then no, but if things take a turn for the worse then I may definitely need all the aid I can get to ensure the people I care for don't get hurt."
Nodding, Shirley said “so be it – let’s head back to the suite…”
As Juliette and Klaus walked in, Judith called out “Hello JenJen” and walked over to where Jennifer Graham was sitting with some of the other babies, Carina joining Annie with the twins.
“They will be fine there,” Klaus said as Juliette saw a small red haired woman in a dress walk over to them.
Juliette, or should I nowadays say Your Highness," the petite woman asked.
think we can do without the formalities Beth," Juliette smiled. "How
thank you, and yourself?"
and I'm happy, and I'd like you to meet the main reason for that. Here
darling," she tugged on her husband’s sleeve. "Please meet Beth Holden
- she's Janine's Mom."
"Oh it’s a
pleasure to meet you," Klaus said with a smile before he kissed her on the
"Thank you," The California woman blushed, before she turned and signalled to a tall man, "and this is Mike," she smiled as she looked upwards at the tall fair haired man, "my husband."
"It's an honor," Klaus noted the firm handshake.
wondered if we'd run into you," Juliette looked round, "are Henri and
"Over there somewhere," Beth pointed "they are talking with a couple of old friends of Henri's"
“So, how does it feel to know he will be your son in law?”
“It’s still sinking in,” Mike said with a smile, “but we bonded over cars.”
“And I have to admit, little Alain is a real cutie – even if mentioning being a grandmother to Janine makes her uncomfortable,” Beth laughed. “How is she enjoying her new job anyway?”
“Well, it’s challenging her – but like me, I’m sure she’ll be taking notes today…”
is your opinion Grant?" Valeria asked as they watched the horses file out
on the track from the balcony.
will be a little outclassed."
you think that?" Tonia turned and asked.
performances were winning those two Grade 3 races earlier this year. A Grade 1
race like this is a big step up."
to agree," Guy put down his binoculars. "I saw him win the race at
San Siro in Milan and he won reasonably well, but he didn't beat anything of
"The odds say he doesn't stand a chance," George looked at the boards, "but I've still risked a few bucks."
“To place – I am sure Angel will do her best, but she is not I feel going to be a double first rider today…”
enjoyed the day girls?" Kay Cornwall asked as she found a seat next to
no," Miley grinned as she looked over.
all her brains Mum is useless at picking winners," Laura laughed.
not that much better."
dear," the MI6 woman smiled.
"But it’s still been huge fun, and according to the American girls tomorrow will be even better."
"So several people have told me." Kay looked round, "where are Agnes and Donald?"
"Putting their bets on for this last race," Miley stood up and looked round. "Here they come."
“Joining us Kay,” Agnes said as they sat down.
“For now – listen, I invited the owner of Kinger to come with Sir William after the race. Is that likely to be a problem?”
Gentlemen, please welcome to the track the runners for the last race on today’s
card - the Breeders Cup Stayers Classic," the track announcer announced as
the horses paraded in front of the grandstand, "to be run over the
distance of one mile and seven furlongs, with a purse to the winner of one
rand is that John?" Marianne smiled as she and the other South African's
found a seat.
"More than I could even dream of earning, even now" her husband laughed.
"More than any of us ever could on a government salary," Peter Hope smiled as eh stood next to them with his wife.
not be super rich," Alexandra looked round at the faces of the Sinnerz,
"but thanks to the generosity of your friends Marianne, at least for a
couple of days we can pretend we are."
Marianne said as she looked at her old friend, “but having seen the outfits
some of them are wearing I think I might need to go shopping in the morning
what you mean," Alex looked at what Kelly Rochermann was wearing,
"some of these women dress with such incredible style."
hope the dress I bought for going out to dinner tonight with Shirley,” Marianne
said as she looked through her binoculars, “and some of the other people from
Xavier's won't look too shabby."
worrying?" Alex shook her head, "nobody warned me I might need to pack
an evening dress."
we don't need worry, eh John?" Peter Hope smiled slightly.
can get away with just a jacket." John nodded.
you," Marianne looked round and spotted Francesca, Piet, and Charlotte as
they came in, "just please don't spend half the night talk business with Shirley
and the other Xavier's directors please."
"I'll try not to," John said as the horses lined up in the starting boxes. “Right now, though, we have a race to watch…”
“And it looks as if all the horses are in the starting gates… And they are off!”
Angel smiled as she left the gate on Kinger, enjoying the feel of the power of the horse under her as they galloped down the main straight, keeping in the bunch as she had been instructed.
“Well, she got a clean start,” Will said as he looked through his binoculars.
“It looks that way,” Grant said quietly, “riding safely in the bunch while the early runners do their thing…”
“Kinger is running well alongside Dark Shot and Shine a Light, as they approach the one mile mark…”
“Come on baby, come on,” Will whispered as the commentator continued.
“And Kinger is trying to make a move, Angel Fitzstuart pushing him on – but Dark Shot and Shine a Light have responded, and it’s those three clear of the field…”
“She’s doing well,” Piet whispered as he looked through the binoculars.
“And as hey approach the line, it’s close, but Kinger seems to be getting tired – and yes he’s dropping off – it’s Dark Shot from Shine a Light, and Kinger a very commendable third…”
“Looks as if you were right, my dear Francesca,” Guy said as he lowered his glasses.
“Much as it pains me to be,” Francesca said lightly, “but on to watch in future years.” She watched as the stable boys went out to fetch the horses, focusing especially on the one that went to join Angel, before she said “excuse me” and walked off.
“Well done,” Angel whispered in the horse’s ear as she was taken into the paddock, dismounting and removing the saddle as a blanket was put over him. “Sorry, Uncle Bill,” she said as the owner and trainer came over, “I tried my best, but it just wasn’t there.”
“Never mind, you did your best,” Sir William said as he put his arm round her, “I know you did.”
“Indeed,” Mohammed al Salim said, “a truly excellent ride. Go, weigh in and change, I will talk with you later.”
The stable boy looked over and smiled at the middle aged woman standing by the rail. “I’ll get him back to the stables and then join you, Mom,” he said, the woman nodding before she turned round – and saw the other tall blonde woman standing behind her.
“Andrea? It is you, isn’t it?”
“Francesca – it has been a long time. You look well, all things considered.”
“As do you – you look well, and that is your son?”
Andrea looked over and nodded as she said “it is – I read your story. To think you went through that for so long…”
“But what about you? After your parents died…”
“It was hard,” Andrea said quietly, “but I moved to the US – I’m a naturalised citizen now, and my son works here. Listen – it is good to see you, Francesca…”
“I understand,” Francesca said quietly, “but if you are free tomorrow…”
“Thank you – how can I contact you?”
“My card,” Francesca said as she handed the white slip over, Andrea nodding as she walked to greet her son. He was a tall boy, handsome, dark haired – but he reminded her of someone…
“That was a magnificent ride darling,” Mandy said as Angel came in, wearing a pale blue dress and smiling as she hugged her family.
“Thanks Mummy – I really enjoyed it – and now I start paying,” Angle said quietly as Missy walked over.
“I said well done,” Missy said with a smile, “come with me, someone I want you to meet…”
“Are you all right, Mamma,” Charlotte said as Francesca came back in.
“Carlotta, I genuinely do not know,” her mother said as she sat down. “Another face from my past just appeared before me, and now I am genuinely concerned.”
“Forgive me, Carlotta – I need to speak to someone else before I tell you.”
As Liz turned round, she saw Peter Hope standing there, smiling as she said “That was when I was in the ring, Mister Hope – it’s just Liz now.”
“Very well, Liz,” he said as he saw Karen and Itsy looking on, “I wondered if I could ask you a question from your previous position.”
“You know I cannot…”
“No, not to betray a confidence – to ask your knowledge of our history, especially as it concerns the Marchesa di Cambrello.”
Liz looked at him, before she pulled him to one side and said “you are aware I work with Francesca now. Like John Vosloo, the past is the past, Mister Hope.”
“Indeed – but this is not about her. What do you remember of the case?”
“Her main contact was executed, others disappeared into the wind.”
“I have heard the name,” Liz said carefully, “but as I said, Mister Hope, the past is the past. I can understand the curiosity, but the Marchesa’s work was stopped – what good could it do now to look into it?”
Peter looked at her, and then nodded as he said “possibly none, save as an intellectual exercise. Thank you, Liz.”
As he walked off, Itsy and Karen came over. “What was that about,” Itsy asked quietly.
“Trouble – for someone. Karen?”
“We are approaching a crisis point – what would you have me do?”
“For now, just watch…”
“Are we all here?”
“New York contingent present,” Erica said as she stood with Poppy, Sands and Katy.
“Ireland represented,” Aileen said as she stood with Orion.
“As are we,” Allyson said as she stood with Capricorn and Vicky, “What’s up?”
“Look – after what happened at the Halloween party,” Vicky said, “and some of the things that came out there, we talked – and we think we need to re-focus HOTS.”
“I think you’re right,” Aileen said, “especially with what happened with Sands and Allyson.”
“Don’t remind me,” Allyson said as she rubbed her arm. “We went too far, girls – Hot Over-Sexed Tween Sinners has to stop, especially if we are going to invite the likes of Miley and Laura into the ranks.”
“Allyson’s right,” Katy said, “and me and Poppy have been thinking. How does Helping Out Tween Sisters sound instead?”
“I meant to ask,” Juliette said as she stood with Shirley “has Penny arrived in Hong Kong yet?”
“She should be in the air now – I know she was preparing when we talked yesterday,” Shirley said with a smile. “Helen is apparently recovering, and she has plans to ensure the recovery goes quickly when they meet.”
“I can imagine,” Juliette said with a smile as she looked to the door. “So this si the owner?”
“Indeed,” Shirley said as she and others looked over, Holly blanching as she recognised the man who had come in with Sir William.
“Lover, what’s wrong,” Sands whispered as she walked to her.
darling” the petite blonde said quietly, “do you remember that thing Buffy
McGeorge blackmailed me into doing?"
"How can I
forget," the younger woman paused for a few seconds, "that bitch
truly deserves to rot in hell for what she did that day."
"Well,” Holly said as she looked at her lover, “I'll never forget you volunteering to do it instead of me."
"Holly darling you know that for you I will do anything." Sands smiled. "What has brought this up anyway?"
of the horse that Angel rode, he was one of the men..."
crap," Sands interrupted. "Has he seen and recognized you?"
think so, but I'm going to try keep out of his way just in case."
"Keep out of whose way?"
Both girls jumped as they heard Heather's voice behind them. “Him,” Sands said as she nodded to the group round Mandy, “he was one of the two men Holly had to – play along with Buffy for.”
As Heather looked over, she nodded and said “good idea, keep out of his way.
“Gale! We were wondering if you and Tom were going to make it.”
Jan and Adam smiled as Gale and Tom Callaghan came into the hospitality suite, casually dressed as Katy walked towards George. “We were wondering if we were going to make it as well – it took longer than we expected to finish business off in Omaha,” Tom said as they collected a drink. “So, what have we missed?”
“Oh not much – Angel rode in two races and won one… We have some new friends… Adam and I are engaged…”
Gale and Tom were nodding along before Gale slowly turned her head, looking at Jan as her smile grew wider. “Run that past me again?”
“Adam and I are engaged – we need to set a date, but that’s not the only thing you need to catch up on. But right now, I have a question – what happened in Omaha?”
“Ah,” Tom said as he looked at Gale, “We’ll need to tell you somewhere privately.”
“Oh – a mystery?”
“In a way…”
As John walked to look out of the window, he smiled as he heard his former adjutant say “it can never compete with the plains, can it?”
“No it can’t Liz – but it was time for me to retire and try new things.” Turning to look at Liz Egwegwe, he said “so, what’s on your mind?”
“I need to ask a serious question John,” Liz said as she sipped her drink, “because we have a feeling something serious is about to go down?”
“Some of us – particularly Karen.” Turning her back to the others, she whispered “after all these years, is it really a priority to identify Mouse?”
John looked in his glass, and then said quietly “for me, no, but others…”
“Such as General Botha?”
“Especially Hennie. When Francesca was granted her retirement, it was the real thorn in his side.” Taking a sip, he then said “has Peter York been talking to you?”
Liz nodded as she said “I had to say I had no idea, but you’ve already figured it out, haven’t you?”
“I think so – a few things have clicked in my mind over the last few days. But, and it is a major but, if I’m right others will have as well, and there will be one sure sign that is the case.”
“If someone or some people suddenly disappear.”
“No,” John whispered, “if we’re right, someone is going to turn…” He then went quiet as Liz looked over his shoulder, and turned to see the casually dressed Hennie Botha behind him.
“Hello, John, Liz – surprised to see me?”
“You could say that, Hennie – what brings you to the races in here of all places?”
“Oh I had some leave time due – and I was invited by an old friend to drop in when he heard I was coming here.”
“An old friend?”
“Indeed – I just need to talk to him. We can catch up later,” the broad shouldered intelligence officer said as he walked off.
“Mamma,” Charlotte said as she looked at Francesca. “What’s wrong?”
“Look who just had arrived,” she whispered as Charlotte followed her line of sight, and saw Peter and Alex talking to the latest arrival.
“Francesca, is that who I think that is?”
“It is Kay,” Francesca whispered, “and this is no longer a coincidence, or the illusion of one.”
“Francesca, what the hell is General Henrick Botha doing here?”
“I have no idea, Eleanor – but it is not a good thing, whatever it is…”
“All right Missy,” Mandy said as she joined her agent and her daughter, “who was that you were talking with?”
“Oh that? That was Jessica Rae – she wanted to meet Angel, given they have a common passion for horses.”
“And she has offered to introduce you to her father, Mummy,” Angel said with a smile.
“Oh – and who is that Darling?”
“Bruce – he’ll be here tomorrow…” Angel giggled as Mandy raised a sculpted eyebrow, and said “will he indeed…”
“I have to say that the publicity is not doing your personal brand any harm Angel,” Missy said quietly as she sipped her drink, “that you are both a jockey, and a top girl, is getting you coverage on both the sports and news pages.”
“Meaning what darling?” Mandy asked, “I know you too well to think this isn’t leading somewhere.”
“What its leading to, as you so eloquently put it,” Missy said quietly, “is that I’m getting enquiries about your daughter Amanda from several magazines that don’t usually feature traditional fashion model’s, as well as enquiries from at least two film companies regarding making a documentary about Angel.”
“What?” Angel’s eyebrow shot up this time.
“Riding a winner today has simply made them even keener to do something.”
“They do know I also have my university studies to keep up with?”
“And her education is more important then everything else,” Mandy added.
“I know,” Missy said with a smile, “but if we play this right we can use these opportunities to lift Angel’s career into the stratosphere.”
“I get that darling, I’m not quite that dim,” Mandy said as she shook her head, “but are you sure it will not cause harm in the long term?”
“I’ll admit that’s what worries me Mummy.”
“Not if we do this right,” the agent looked inside her brief case, “let me put everything together and we can talk it over after the funeral.”
“I suppose so.”
“Good – excuse me, another piece of business I have to deal with,” Missy said as she went to where Maddie was standing with Emma, talking to some of the other guests.
“Maddie,” she said as she took the other woman by the arm, “can I beg a moment of your time to talk a little business please?”
“I suppose you can Missy, given you’ve already taken me to the side. What’s up?”
“I want to ask if you will take the two younger Clarke sisters under your management at Rising Stars if I sign them?”
Maddie looked over to where Dave was sitting with Allison and Vicky, before she whispered “You aren’t going to sign them straight to Norstar?”
“No,” Missy said as she shook her head, “I think both Vicky and Allison should be doing age appropriate things for now…”
“But of course eventually you see them both doing high fashion like Mary and Suzie,” Madeline smiled as she interrupted.
“I think that’s pretty obvious. They are both already just about tall enough.”
“But you think they need a little training first,” Maddie smiled as she glanced at her wife chatting with William Hyde-Andrews and Toddy.
“I think it’s obvious they will be top girls one day, I just want them safely under contract so no other agency tries to poach them.”
“Have you talked to Dave and Mary yet?”
“I was hoping we could do it together.”
“Alright Missy, we will see if we get them alone sometime. Get Rhenia in on the meeting as well – I need to get her to talk to Kathy about something anyway…”
“I just don’t believe it…”
“What don’t you believe,” Abbie said as she handed her friend a drink.
believe they seriously think I'd be a suitable subject for a documentary,"
Angel shook her head as she took a sip from her glass.
"And why not?" Mick Harran asked as he put his hand on her shoulder, "the combination of you being a supermodel and a jockey isn't exactly a common thing."
"I'm not a supermodel."
isn't a super anything," Billy laughed.
yourself short Angel," Fiona Treharran sipped her drink as she
interrupted, 'you really have a lot going on.
And films of sports stars seem to eb the thing at the moment."
your opinion Cassandra?" Mick asked as Cassandra Stone walked past.
opinion on what Mick?"
of film companies are interested in doing fly-on-the-wall things about
"Are they now?" the actress smiled, "well I can see the attraction."
“As a producer, sure. As someone on the fringes of the modelling world, I have two words to say to you.”
“And they are?”
“She just swore,” Abbie laughed…
“Ladies and Gentlemen!”
The room went quiet as Guy stood at the microphone.
“It has been a most impressive day, but tomorrow promises to be even greater. Thank you for coming today, and enjoy your evening. Those joining us for dinner, it is at Spago’s at eight.”
7.45 pm PT
“May I help you sir,” Bertrand said as Mohammed al Salim entered the restaurant, casually dressed but looking carefully around.
“I am meeting the Marquis of Ordford and his guests here?”
“Of course, sir,” Bertrand said with a bow, “if you will follow me, they have a private area over here.” He led the Arab gentlemen to a roped off area, Will looking over and seeing him approaching.
“Thank you for joining us tonight Mr. al Salim,” Will said as he stood and shook the Arab’s hand.
“I never refuse an invitation to eat in as great a restaurant as Spago’s,” Mohammed smiled, “and thanks largely to your daughter I have something I didn’t expect to celebrate.”
“Well I’m glad you could make it then,” Will smiled back. “Now I don’t know who you do and don’t know, so I’ll leave it to you and them to make introductions.”
“I have met some of these people, and of course I know the faces of several others from the magazines and newspapers.” Al Salim smiled again, “now where should I sit?”
“Well you know Bill of course, so how about taking the empty chair next to him?”
“That sounds like a good idea.” As he took a seat, Bill said “allow me to introduce my sister, Yvonne, and her husband Clive Leventhal.”
“A pleasure – so you are visiting for the meeting?”
“Well, that and the fact my son has just got engaged to Rebecca Morse – they’ve gone for dinner with some of the younger Sinners tonight.”
“Ah yes – so are the owners of Saints’N’Sonnerz here tonight?”
“Well, you know Guy of course, and that is Grant Broadhurst over there with his wife and daughter – she is engaged to Will’s son Jack. Roy isn’t here yet, and – where is George Caroline?”
“George Simpson is my COO at Jameson Security,” Caroline said from across the table, “he had some business to take care of tonight for tomorrow. Caroline Jameson, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Peter,” John said as he and Marianne stood up, “where is Alex?”
“She just slipped off to powder her nose – have I missed much?”
“No, we only just arrived,” Marianne said as they sat down, “with Francesca. They’re probably chatting in there now.”
“Did I see Henrick Botha when I left the racecourse?”
John looked serious for a moment, and said “yes – he’s taking some leave, but if you believe that…”
“How did you ever keep the cover up Francesca?” Alex asked as they stood alone in the powder room, “you know you actually had our people thinking that you had somehow morphed into this idiotic blonde.”
“It wasn’t always easy,” the Italian shook her head as she dried her hands, “I can’t count the number of times that had to bite my tongue and not correct some of the crap that people say at parties.”
“No,” Alex said quietly as she turned and looked at the blonde, “that I understand. Who would ever believe you were La Citadella’s number one dark worker?”
“Most people – but I’m willing to bet that Hennie for one was not fooled by my little act.”
“No. He was always more than just a little suspicious that it was all a cover, but as long as you didn’t venture into South Africa he was told it was really none of his business.”
Putting her lipstick back into her clutch bag, Francesca looked at herself in the mirror. “You know John spotted that the CIA had smuggled me in and out to see Carlotta’s graduations?”
Alex smiled and shook her head. “No - that I never knew. He never put that in an official report. How the hell did you pull it off?”
“Eleanor asked her contacts at the Agency if they could help. She considered that the US owed me at least a couple of favours.”
“In that I’m guessing she was probably right,” Alex smiled, “the Devil Fish did a lot of the dirty work for many people.”
“I could not possibly comment,” Francesca laughed as she looked at Alex. “However,” she continued as her voice changed, “I received a message from my former masters in Rome earlier authorizing me to take whatever measures I feel necessary to protect you Mouse, and to get you safely to Italy if the need arises.”
“La Citadella looks after its own darling,” Francesca said as she put her hands on the smaller woman’s shoulders, “and you are one of us.”
“Well hopefully it won’t come to that.”
“Alex – you can read the signs as well as I can. Be serious for a moment – does Peter suspect anything?”
“I don’t know – but I’m suddenly glad we don’t have any children. If it comes to it, it will be a wrench, but I can do it. There is one thing, though.”
“And that is?”
She whispered to Francesca “what do you know of the Sisters of Maisha?”
“Enough to know that they would have recruited you in a heartbeat. If you know of them, give them a message. I wish to work with them – whatever happens.”
Francesca looked at Alex, and then nodded as she said “well, I hear this is an exceptional restaurant – shall we?”