The Mousetrap – Part 6
Saturday 5th November 1996
3 pm PT
Santa Anita Racecourse
“Forgive me Jack,” Agnes said as she took Katy into a corner, “something I need to tap your wife’s expertise for.”
As she took the professor over, Katy whispered "Alright Agnes what is so urgent that you dragged me away from meeting so many new and fascinating people?"
"I want you to give me a professional opinion..."
"Aggie," the American smiled broadly as she interrupted, "You were one of the all-time great Domme's, I don't think there is an awful lot I can tell you darling."
"Well thank you for the compliment Countess," the Englishwoman blushed, "but this is not to do with the craft, I want your opinions regarding how people may act and behave as a situation play out."
Katy looked surprised, but then she said "Now you have my interest. What do you want to ask me about?"
Agnes looked round, before she whispered "do you ever remember hearing that at one time Francesca di Cambrello was a NATO spy based in South Africa?"
"That rings a bell. But why are you asking me about that?"
"One of her agents was buried deep in the South African Intelligence apparatus, and when Francesca was expelled she simply went dormant."
"Okay that is fascinating,” Katy said quietly, “but surely it is ancient history?"
“No,” Agnes said as she shook her head, “I'm afraid that it’s not."
"Are you trying to tell me something is happening here? Right now?"
agent has finally been unmasked, and a group of people are trying to ensure
that the agent can be both snatched away and got to safety, but we are trying
to make it seem that she actually dies."
now I'm more then intrigued, how do you intend to do all that?"
staging a fake robbery by the Pussycat Gang, and making it appear that this
this agent who is code named Mouse, dies in a resulting explosion."
"And just who do you want me to predict the behaviour of Aggie?"
Agnes looked to the corner, and said “well for starters, how about one General Henrick Botha, or a gentleman called Mohammed al Salim.”
“Now there are two names I have definitely heard of,” Katy said quietly, “so whatever happens has to convince them – who else?”
“Peter Hope, of SA intelligence.”
Katy stared at Agnes, before she said “so it’s his wife? Which one?”
“What do you mean which one?”
“Well, I do still have the capacity to surprise… Do you mean Alex or Andrea?”
“He’s a bigamist?”
“Oh yes – among other things…” Katy looked to the door, and then said “scratch that – just looking at them, it’s Alex, right?”
“Yeah – we need them to be convinced.”
“Well, how do you get round the small problem of evidence?”
“A bang – a very big, very hot bang.”
“Okay – and the snatch?”
“You understand the psychology of terror – if certain people were in the vicinity of the raid, and the Gang took a hostage…”
“If it was them, they would be too terrified. But is it them?”
“How would I know…”
Bart Johnson looked over at the head of security as he held the cigarette in his hand, and said “might as well before the heavy betting begins. You?”
“Mandatory ten minute break,” Derek Dancombe said as he looked round the rear of the building, the sound of the crowd sheering coming over. He then felt the vibration in his pocket, as he and Bart took their phones out.
“Ramona? I was just…”
“Derek, listen to me very carefully,” he heard his wife sob, as Bart stared at his phone, “Sharon, me and the kids are being held hostage.”
Derek looked at Bart, whose face had gone pale as he showed his friend a photo of the two children and his wife, tightly bound and gagged.
“Who’s there,” Derek said quietly.
“Three women – Derek, they say they are Pussycats.”
“Let… Let me talk to one of them,” he said before a deep voice purred “Mister Dancombe.”
“Listen up, fuckmiester. You do as we say, or you become a widower – you both do. Got it…”
Bart could hear Sharon now calling out “Pllsnnhthrrjhstchdhhrhhnn” as he looked at his friend.
“All right – what do you want?”
“It is now 2.35 pm. Be at the rear entrance to the main building at 3.20 – and if you’re late, you get to take a call and watch as we shoot them all. I trust I make myself fucking clear?”
“Good – and tell no-one, we have eyes on both of you, and if we find out you do, they die.” As the call ended, Bart whispered “Oh god…”
“Final inspection ladies.”
Maddie smiled as the group checked each other, and then put on the dark sunglasses, looking identical, right down to the brooches on the lapels of their jackets.
“Right – let’s go to work…”
3 pm PT
“Francesca, may I introduce you to Katy Rucker. Katy, Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello, and this is her daughter Charlotte, her son-in-law Piet and her granddaughter Frances.”
“It is a true honour,” Katy said as she kissed Francesca on both cheeks.
“We will go and collect those winnings, Mama,” Charlotte said as she pushed the buggy off, Francesca smiling before she said “the honour is all mine. I know of the role you have played countless times for my former masters.”
“Well, I serve
my country in my way, as did you,” Katy said with a smile. “Francesca, if I was to whisper the name of a
group that I've heard includes many interesting people, just how might you
you guess I might react Countess?"
drop the title,” Katy laughed, “that was an altogether different person, but
I'm intrigued to see your reaction if I say 'The Sisters of Maisha'."
wasn't bad," the psychologist laughed, "but I caught just a flicker
of a reaction. So are you one of them?"
"Can I decline to answer, and instead ask how you have heard of the Sisters?"
“I hear whispers on the wind – but in truth, I met with a friend in New York, who told me of a one-time only return of Princess Penelope, to get information on one person. Also, I have provided some support to those on the East Coast who were brought here against their will – so I put two and two together. And you are one of those people I reckon they would have recruited – along with Eleanor Ball, if truth be told. Is she not here today?”
“You may not know her son is engaged to the mother of Katy Carter, the model – and young Katy got an emergency call for a shoot, so Eleanor offered to accompany her.”
“So she is not involved in what may happen later?”
Francesca looked at her as she said “Agnes told me. So I ask again, are you a Sister?”
“And if I am?”
“Then let the ones in charge know I wish to be of service to them. I have some information they need to act on…”
“George, I see you are keeping to the background,” Caroline said as she saw her number two watching as Guy and Roy were having some make up applied.
“As always –
but I have a question. Dom, is there
something about to happen that I ought to know about?"
"Under normal circumstances probably,” Caroline said quietly, “but for once George Simpson needs to concentrate on his role simply as a racehorse owner."
"Okay," the man smiled, "but a lifetime of trusting my instincts to keep myself out of harm’s way, is getting in the way of my really enjoying this. I can sense in the air something is going down."
race is run I'm not sure any of you are really enjoying it," Caroline
smiled as she glanced at an obviously highly pensive Guy and Roy were giving an
interview to American television.
"Yeah at least the guys know that I won't do that sort of thing," George smiled as he followed the model/enforcers line of sight.
"And they know better than to put my husband in front of a camera as well," April grinned as she joined them.
"And here I was thinking he was actually a lot calmer today," the tall blonde laughed.
"My husband calmer? Caroline sometimes I wonder if you live in an alternate universe," April shook her head and sighed.
given your well known ability to place the bet that will bring you the biggest
return Sue darling, who should I be placing my bets on?" Colin asked his
"I think a
few of us are interested in the answer to that," Lady Gresham-Fox looked
through her binoculars as the runners started to be brought into the parade
thinking I might not even place a bet..."
won't?" Victoria interrupted her sister-in-law.
"Can I ask
why not?" Bobby demanded.
at these odds,” Sue said, “whatever bets I place aren't really going to make me
see the logic," Sir Charles stroked his chin.
don't have an opinion which horse will win darling?"
make up my mind, and if I've learned anything in my life is that when you
aren't sure how an action will work out, then don't do it."
management," Victoria nodded.
“It is a beautiful day, is it not?”
Alex Green turned suddenly to see Andrea di Matteo standing there. “Andrea – what are you…”
“I wished to say goodbye,” Andrea said quietly, “I know you and Peter are leaving, and I have a suspicion we will not meet again. So I wanted to thank you.”
“For freeing you?”
“For introducing me to the father of my son.”
Alex stared at her as Henrick Botha came back with Peter…
last minute thoughts on tactics Guy?" Roy asked as the owners made their
way towards the paddock after the interview.
I said earlier dear boy, that this could go several different ways."
the only sensible orders we can give are to tell Jorge to let the horse run its
own race, and not worry about what the other horses are doing."
George spoke, "we could keep driving ourselves crazy trying to gameplay
what every other horse in the race will do. We just let him run, and if he is
good enough to win then he will."
you are the voice of sanity George," Valeria smiled.
the advantage of the inside post position, while Acardaria is on the
outside," Grant glanced over at Sir William talking to his horses owners.
last minute problems?" Guy shook Toddy's hand.
"No your Grace," the trainer shook hands with all the men and kissed the ladies on the cheek. “I think we are as ready as we will ever be.”
“Very well then – Jorge, let her guide you, and enjoy the race.”
The jockey touched his cap as he was taken to the entrance to the race course, Acardaria following him out.
“Jeannie, my dear?”
Jeannie looked up as Georgio came over. “Is it time already?”
“I am afraid it is,” the Lerrabella executive said with a smile. Winston nodded as he stood in his suit, while Jeannie was in a grey jacket and skirt with a white blouse.
“All right then – let’s go and see who wins,” she said as Winston gently pushed her towards the door…
As the horses came out, Judith looked down and said “look Mama – howses!”
down from her perch in the grandstand as Jorge wearing the familiar blue silks
with the white diamond, entered the ring with the other jockeys.
the wace with 'our' horsey Mama?" Judith looked upwards.
"It is indeed darling," Cari lifted her up so that she could see over the railings.
“Which one is he?"
one," Cari pointed at one of the horses being led round.
"Well I've placed our bets," Annie waved some tickets as she wheeled the twins through the throng standing on the terrace.
“Good – see anyone?”
“A very worried Alex Green – what is going on there Cari?”
“Best you don’t know, Monster Momma…”
"How can you be so calm and concentrate on the race like this Mamma,” Charlotte said as Frances sat on Piet’s lap, “when you know what is coming later?"
"By compartmentalizing darling,” Francesca said as she watched the riders heading to the start, “if I didn't I'd be of no use to anyone right now," she continued as she smiled at Charlotte.
the race out of the way first?"
"And then I will turn my attention fully to making sure Mouse gets out of this all safely."
As Derek Dancombe opened the rear service door, he saw the seven women standing there, identically dressed, the black stocking masks pulling down their short black hair.
“One side, fuckface,” the lead woman said as they walked in, “I am Miss Panther, these are the Pussycat Gang. The access hatch for the security system?”
“Over there,” Derek said, trying not to shiver as he pointed to an access panel.
“Excellent – Miss Cheetah, Miss Tigress, ensure the security loop is set up.”
“Where are my family,” Derek whispered, and then he tried not to cry as two more masked women carried Ramona and Karen in over their shoulders, making them stand against the wall as they went out.
“Miss Lynx, guard the two guests until the others come in,” Miss Panther purred, one of the women standing guard over them with a sawn off shotgun as Sharon and Bart were brought to join them, the third woman who came in joining Miss Cheetah and Miss Tigress.
“Security loop in process, Miss Panther dahlin,” one of the women said in a Southern drawl. “Two minutes.”
“Excellent,” she said as she held the sawn off shotgun to Derek’s crotch. “When they are done, we take a little walk…”
The crowd turned and watched as the liveried musician stepped forward.
"We had better go and find a spot to watch from," Guy said, starting to usher the others towards the grandstand as the trumpeter blew the traditional notes to announce the arrival of the horses on the track.
"Sorry," April smiled as she realized she'd fallen behind her friends whilst she looked at the contents of one of the flower boxes.
"Darling at a time like this only you could take the time to stop and smell the roses," Tonia laughed lightly.
looked so beautiful," the florist blushed.
as usual you won't be joining us Toddy?"
Countess," the trainer smiled slightly, "I'm going to see if I can
get down close to the rail just as always."
and do thing everything just as we always do," Tonia rubbed the tiny
horseshoe on her bracelet, "we don't need any ill omens."
"No we don't," Roy smiled at his wife, “and superstitions or what, I notice we are all wearing the same old ties again gentlemen."
"Don't mess with fate, even I know that," George laughed gently.
“We are getting ready for the start of the LerraBella Breeder’s Mile,” the announcer said as he looked out over the course, “and this is been billed as the showdown between the two horses of the year – the US based Saintz’n’Sinners, and the UK based Acardaria.”
“The bookmakers have them as joint favourites, and this may indeed be the race of the year…”
"Wish you were riding Saintz Angel" Nell asked as they watched the horses parade in front of the grandstand.
"Yes, I'd love to be out there right this minute, but I had my big day yesterday,” Angel said quietly, “and Jorge always gets the very best out of him."
maybe sweating just a tad?" Mick asked as he looked closely through his
bit," Marnie spoke, "I think even he realises this isn't quite just
or lose it's his final race," Pepsi waved to her parents as they took
their place in the stand. "Guy and the others are making the arrangements
for him to go to France and to take his place at Guy's stud."
“So this is the last race we visit as a group?”
“Oh no – Pops says the one they have just bought is with Todd, and he looks juts as exciting…”
ever think that might be a hell of life," Billy laughed, "pampered
and cared for, and all he has to do in return is have sex with several
"BILLY!" Edwina looked shocked, whilst most of the slightly older young people alternately laughed, grinned, or blushed.
"So are you enjoying yourself again today girls?" Donald asked his daughters as they all watched the horses being loaded into the starting stalls.
"We are," Laura grinned, "it's like a huge family outing."
Mum, Aunt Kay, and Aunt Sherry who don't seem to be having fun," Miley
looked round, "all three of them look very distracted."
"I had noticed darling," Donald looked to where the three women were standing and pursed his lips. Something certainly wasn't quite right. He looked round to check if the couple of security guys from the Washington embassy who Charles had insisted shadow he and Kay at the track were still discreetly doing their jobs.
"What's the biggest race that you've ever won Francesca?" Piet asked his mother-in-law as the last couple of horses were prepared for entry.
"Let me think," the Marchesa paused, "I guess it would be Filadelfiat winning the big mile race at York when she was a 4 year old, though the biggest purse I ever won was when Kismera won that race in Dubai."
had your share of success then?"
all owners she's had a lot of failures too," Willy Buchenwald joined the
conversation. "As I've learned over the years this sport is mainly about
learning to manage disappointment."
"That's very true Willy," Francesca trained her binoculars on the track as the very last horse went in.
“Loop secured, Miss Panther.”
The masked woman nodded as she said “good –we wait for the off, and then we move out…”
“Well, this looks like a good place to watch from,” Peter said as he stood at the rail with Alex. She looked round, still trying desperately to find a way to get herself free…
“I regret this has happened to you, my dear, but we must all pay the price for our actions sometimes.”
She turned her head slowly to see Mohamed al Salim standing there, a smile on his face as he whispered “I can only pray he shows you some mercy.”
“It’s not in his nature - I’ve always known that,” Alex whispered back, “but to know he has a son…”
“Ah – the cruelty,” Mohamed said sadly, “I pray you find the release you deserve – you were a true patriot, and that may be your greatest regret.”
“If I somehow survive this,” Alex said quietly, “be assured one day I will find you, and I will discuss this further with you.”
“I also regret the fact that day will never come…”
“And the horses are all in the traps, the starter raises his flag – and we have a go, we have a go, as the horses set off to the first bend…”
“Excuse me, are you Andrea di Matteo?”
As the blonde haired Italian turned, she saw an African woman standing behind her.
“I am Andrea di Matteo – have we met before?”
“No,” Karen Kumalo said as she smiled at Andrea, “but we have a mutual friend in Alex Hope-Green. I wonder if we can talk – over there…”
“And as they turn the first bend, Saintz’n’Sinners and Acardaria are leading the pack…”
Bart Johnson heard the banging on the outer door of the teller’s office, and swallowed hard as he walked over to open it, the other staff not noticing until they heard the shot, and a female voice call out “EVERYONE OF YOU COCKSUCKERS AND MOTHERFUCKERS GET ON YOUR FUCKING FACES ON THE FLOOR, AND DO AS YOU’RE TOLD!”
“GOOD AFETRNOON, FUCKERS – I AM MISS PANTHER, WE ARE THE PUSSYCAT GANG, AND IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, DO AS WE FUCKING SAY!”
“Please, they have our families,” Bart called out as the four bound and gagged hostages were brought in, Miss Jaguarini and Miss Leopard standing guard. “Put your weapons down.”
“That means you sugah,” Miss Bobcat said as she took the pistol form one guard’s holster, then hit him ni the stomach with the barrel of her gun.
“Miss Cheetah, Miss Puma, gather the guards over there and secure them. Miss Sidhe, you and Miss Lynx make sure the tellers are secured where we cam all see them. Miss Tigress, Miss Margay, Miss Bobcat – start loading the money into the bags.”
“This is exciting,” Judith called out as she watched the horses on the screen, while Juliette and Klaus looked out through their field glasses.
"And as they come out of the turn and straighten up down the back stretch, It's Saintz n Sinnerz and Acardaria four lengths ahead of the mile champion of South America Centrapaso, Dorsetman, and the filly Queen of Hope,' the race announcers voice could be heard over the PA system.
"Just as I thought it's going to be two separate races almost," Angel said to nobody in particular.
“I know,” Fi said as she looked over, “the question is, who is going to come third…”
was fast," Roy pronounce as the announcer called out the leaders split
time for the first quarter mile.
"This is going to be a hell of a race," George smiled as he retrained his binoculars on the leaders.
“Oh my god,” April said as she gripped Grant’s arm, “I can’t separate them.”
“I know – neither can I,” her husband said as Pepsi looked on with Jack.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tighter race,” Sue said as she and Colin watched the race.
“So you were right not to put any money on this?”
“I think so Bobby – to just watch and enjoy this is reward enough…”
a while since we have seen a head-to-head battle quite like this," the
commentator pronounced again, "the two leaders have opened up a seven
length advantage over the field as they pass the halfway mark."
"Whoever loses today won't be able to say it was because it was a falsely run race," Francesca stared intently, "neither of them is holding back anything."
“I must agree,” Mohamed al Salim said, “a true thriller for all to see…”
Alex could feel the knot tightening in her stomach – she did not have much time left, but what to do…
“Well, you were right to bet on the trifecta,” Peter said, “once we collect any winnings, we leave for the airport.”
“Allow me to say goodbye,” Alex whispered out of the corner of her mouth.
“I think my brother has a fight on his hand,” Yvonne Leventhal said as she stood with Simon.
“He has indeed…”
"As they enter the far turn it's Saintz’n’Sinners and Acardaria neck and neck and holding a ten length lead over Taryo the winner of the Imperial Mile in Japan."
"Okay safely round the bend then just let him fly," Guy whispered to himself.
“They’re coming into the home stretch now,” Guy said, “but I truly cannot see who is winning…”
“And as they enter the final furlong it’s still Saintz’n’Sinners and Acardaria together – it’s impossible to separate them as they both accelerate for the line, Taryo coming a distant third…”
The cheers from the crowd were deafening as everyone in the hospitality suite looked on, George offering up a silent prayer as the horses thundered past them…”
“And at the line – I cannot separate them, the two horses seem to have passed at the same time, so it’s to the stewards for the photo finish.”
“Oh dear lord,” Valeria said as she looked at Guy, “they would not call a dead heat, would they?”
“It is very unusual,” Guy said, “there was one at Saratoga last September, but it could be…”
The six of them watched as one of the stewards walked over to the presentation party, talking quietly to Georgio before they walked to a building.
“Well, Bill,” Toddy said as the two trainers came together, looking at their horses as Jorge shook hands with the other jockey, “could you separate them?”
“I could not – you?”
“Why is this taking so long,” Annie said as she looked at Carina.
“I have no idea…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the announcer said, “the stewards have reviewed the photo, and have come to a decision.
“And that decision is – Saintz’Sinners wins by a short nose from Acardaria,…”
The rest was lost in the screams as the celebrations began…
In the rear of the stand, however, the sound was of whimpering as the tellers lay face down on the floor, their wrists and ankles secured by zip ties, while the masked and armed women loaded the piles of notes into their bags.
Bart and Derek were with their families and the other security guards, lined up against a wall with tape over their mouths, Miss Leopard and Miss Tigress watching over them as Miss Sidhe looked out of the door.
“Ah, ah, that would be a very bad idea,” she said in her Irish lilt as she pointed her shotgun at one guard, “let me show you why.”
The shot was clear as the bullet passed through his knee, the others watching as she said “we are in a good mood today, so be grateful…”
"Congratulations Toddy," the trainer heard as someone grabbed his hand and shook it as he made his way to meet his horse being led in.
"Thank you," Toddy turned to look at his greeter then smiled, "and congratulations to you William, your horse ran a hell of a race himself."
“Oh yes – did I hear correctly that this will be the last race for Saintz?”
“That is what the owners have decided – I would love to have had another year with him, but he will be moving to France and new duties. Having said which, I have his replacement ready.”
“Oh? And this wonder is called?”
“I can’t believe it – we’re going out on a win,” Roy said as he hugged Grant and George.
“Well, if he is going to retire, best that he goes out on top,” George said with a smile as Jorge brought the horse over, dismounting and removing the saddle as the winner’s blanket was placed over him. “Well done Jorge.”
“It has been an honour to ride him,” Jorge said as he patted Saintz’ shoulder, “and I look forward one day to riding his offspring.”
“Valeria, my dear, will you do the honours?”
“Only if April does so with me,” Valeria said as the two women took the reins and led their pride to the presentation area, to the applause of everyone around.
Jeannie smiled as they came over, Winston and Barbara standing behind her as Giorgio said “on behalf of LerraBella cosmetics, I ask Jeannie Brewster to present the winner’s cheque and trophy to Guy, Duc du Grechy, on behalf of the owners of Saintz’n’Sinners.”
“And believe me, it gives me great pleasure to do so,” Jeannie said with a smile as she handed Guy the trophy, before he handed it to Roy and kissed her on bth cheeks, then accepted the cheque as the cheers continued.
"So were you on the winner?" Francesca smiled as she turned to Alex.
we should go collect our winnings together," the Marchesa linked her arm
under the South African’s, totally ignoring the scowl that appeared on Peter's
face as she did so.
"We won't have made much, but at least we haven't lost money," Francesca said as she guided her old friend towards the pay windows, Peter glancing at Mohamed before he followed.
"We'd better go collect our winnings as well," Marianne said as she stood up and gestured to her husband.
"I suppose so," John nodded as he followed, but before Henrick could do so he heard an English female voice say “General Botha – how long has it been?”
“Commander Cornwall – I thought you were Head of the Russian Desk in Control these days?”
“I am – and it is in that spirit I need to ask you a question,” Kay said with a smile as she stood in front of him, blocking his path.
"To quote an expression I've heard, I guess it's showtime?" Katy Rucker whispered in Aggie's ear as they watched Francesca shepherding Alex Green towards the pay windows.
"You might say so darling. All we can do is watch, observe – and pray…"
is this?" Aggie suddenly heard a voice.
Tippytoes you startled me," Aggie laughed slightly, "This is Professor
Katy Rucker an old friend."
"Enchanted," Tamsin said as they shook hands.
"And this is my sister Tamsin, and her daughter Christine."
"It's lovely to finally meet you after all these years. Aggie used to talk about you a lot."
“That’s funny,” Francesca said as they approached the windows, “why are all the shutters down?”
“And why can I hear shouting,” Marianne said as two security guards came towards Peter and Alex.
“Mister Hope? I am afraid we have been made aware of a security issue – would you and your wife accompany us please?”
“What security issue,” Peter said as he looked at them, “I demand you tell…”
He snapped his head round to see Andrea standing next to an African woman, clearly in some distress as he looked at Alex – and then they all heard the gunshots as the Pussycats walked out into the open area.
“GET ON THE FLOOR IF YOU WANT TO FUCKING LIVE,” one of them shouted out as she shot one of the security guards in the leg.
“Miss Sidhe, Miss Leopard, we need two hostages,” one of them said, “those two.”
“What the hell…”
As the two masked women grabbed Peter and Alex, Francesca stared at them, seeing the smile under the stocking as one of them said “do you feel fucking lucky, lady?”
“Pussycats – move out, shoot anyone who gets in our way.”
“Copy that, Miss Panther,” another one said as Peter and Alex were dragged away, the rest of them watching.
“JOHN! What the hell just happened?”
John Vosloo turned to see Henrik running over, as Jan and Adam came over.
“We heard the shots, who was it?”
“It… IT was the Pussycat Gang,” Marianne stammered out, “they took two hostages, and headed that way.”
“Holy shit,” Adam said quietly, “Jan find Tom. You – show me to the security room, and alert the local PD, get an all points alert out. They finally got too cocky!”
“We heard shots…. Shit,” Kay said as she ran out with Agnes and Katy. “What happened?”
“The Pussycat Gang happened – they robbed the fucking racecourse,” Adam said as Tom came running back with Jan, two police officers coming as well.
“AD Tom Callaghan, Agents Adam Ball and Jan Carter,” he said as he flashed a badge to them, “Pussycat Gang task force – and for once, we’re actually on the scene just after they left. Do you have them on security?”
“The cameras down that corridor are out,” one of them said, “but we got two vehicles driving away at speed, and we’ll get eyes in the sky on them.”
“What about back there?”
“People shook up, bound and some gagged – I think they took the families of two staff hostage, but our team is in there now.”
“Tell them to touch nothing, but release the hostages – I’ll get a call in to the LA office to send some staff down.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the winning owners and trainer!”
As the room applauded Guy and the others, Jeannie and the presentation party came in – as did armed guards, as one of them said “Ladies and Gentlemen, we must ask you to remain here for the time been – there has been an incident which police are dealing with. Please remain calm, and we thank you for your cooperation.”
“But some of our party are outside,” Juliette said as she stood up.
“They will be allowed to return in due course, but please, remain here.”
“What happened George,” Caroline said as her number two came over.
“Good question – I saw some of us at the betting windows, which are closed, and armed police swarming over the place.” George looked directly at his boss, and whispered “and why do I think you know exactly what is going on?”
“I hope I do, but trust me – we will deal with this later,” she whispered back as she nodded to Juliette and Diana.
“Well, is we must remain in situ, then we celebrate together,” Klaus called out as the first champagne cork was popped.
“Get in and keep your mouths shut – or we add new mouths and they stay shut, got it cunts,” Miss Leopard said as Miss Sidhe sat in the back of the car, her sawn off shotgun pointed at Peter and Alex as they sat in the seats. They watched as the others left in an SUV, before Miss Leopard drove off into the streets.
“You don’t scare me,” Peter said quietly, “I could kill you and you would not even know it.”
“Well, to be sure, you could try,” Miss Sidhe smiled as she caressed the gun, and then ran the barrel up the inside of his leg, “but I assure you, ye would not live too much longer after that.”
“A problem, Miss Leopard?”
“We got eyes in the sky over us – they must have got the cameras back on line faster than we anticipated.”
“Well, let’s hope they follow us and not the others – need to convince them?”
Miss Leopard nodded as she let the window of her door drop, and then stuck her shot gun out, firing at a police car parked there before she sped off…
“What happened,” Kay said as she knelt next to the wounded security guard.
“We were executing the plan,” he grunted as the paramedic looked at his wound, “and then these masked bitches just march out, shooting into the air and ordering everyone to get out of the way.
“Could you describe them?”
“Ten of them, identically dressed – blue trouser suits, heels, scarves, all had black hair and all with stocking masks.”
“Shit,” Kay said quietly, “one question – did they all have a brooch?”
“Yeah – a cat… Crap.”
“Go with him,” Kay said as she stood up and looked at the guard, “We’ll debrief later. Right now…”
“Hennie,” John Vosloo said as he stood with his boss, “did we just see Peter and Alex Hope taken by those women?”
“It looks like it,” Hennie growled, “and it also looks as if there was an extraction attempt by at least one agency. If I thought for one second you knew about this…”
“If anyone was planning anything, I’m the last person they would have told,” John said quietly, “because they know I would have told you.”
“Ja – you would have. Let’s hope they are all right…”
“Fascinating,” Katy said as she stood and watched the police moving through those in the area. “I have rarely seen such an efficient use of terror for crowd control – or a person or group of people who could instil such fear with just a name.”
“I saw the film, but to see them in action…”
Katy nodded as she said “but I will say this – I think there were at least two other things going on, which took your friends by surprise.”
“Two other things? Such as?”
“Did you see the blonde haired woman over there? That was Andrea di Matteo – the mother of Peter Hope’s son, and she looks as if she was worried about something.”
Aggie nodded as she looked in the same direction as Katy. “So she may have seen what happened?”
“Indeed – she may have seen something.”
“What have you got son,” Tom said as he looked at the officer.
“Control just radioed in – we’re following oen of the cars, it just went onto Huntington Drive, turned south on San Gabriel Boulevard.”
“Tell your man to follow, but maintain distance – these women are armed and extremely dangerous,” Tom said as he looked at Adam and Jan. “Check the scene, see if by some miracle they left anything…”
Tom turned and looked at the group of men and women who were walking into the area.
“AD Walker, LA office – we can take it from here.”
“Agents Ball and Carter are in there – make use of them, they are the experts in this area,” Tom said, “in the meantime, I’ll take the people I am part of the party of back into our reception room. You can come and interview them there.”
Walker nodded as Tom went over to Francesca. “We’re been moved out of the way – gather everyone together and we’ll head back.”
“I need to stay,” Kay said as she stood up, and showed her card to Walker.
“Oh lovely,” he groaned, “was this a spook show?”
“Yes and no – Agnes, give my apologies to the others. I will talk to them later.”
“Come on,” Tom said as Francesca put her arm round Marianne, “we need to get out of the way now…”
“They still up there,” Miss Sidhe said from the rear seat.
“Yeah – I see them, what are we going to do?”
“Right here,” the Irish woman said as they turned onto Pearl Street, Peter and Alex looking at each other as the car sped down, and then right onto South Del Marr Avenue.
“So what are you going to do,” Peter sneered.
“So glad you asked,” Miss Sidhe said as she shot Peter in the side, Alex watching as she then opened the door and pushed him out onto the sidewalk outside the San Gabriel police department, the car speeding off into the distance as two patrol cars followed.
“Are you going to kill me as well,” Alex said as she looked at the woman.
She saw the smile under the mask, before she took it off and said “that depends on your definition, Mrs Hope-Green. I need you to put this on…”
“Tom, what’s going on,” Caroline asked as the rest of the party were admitted into the room.
“The ten second version? The Santa Anita racecourse has just been robbed.”
“Robbed? Who by?” Eleanor Rochermann asked as the twins looked on.
“Well – it looks like the Pussycat Gang. They just came out of the rear rooms, firing guns – wounded a guard, and they took two hostages on the way out.”
“The Pussycats? HERE?” Nell hugged Mick Harran as her mother turned red with anger.
“So it would appear,” Francesca said as she sat down with Charlotte and her family, “we have to leave the authorities to do their work, and pray the hostages are not harmed.”
“Puts a dark spin on the day,” Grant said quietly.
“True,” Guy said, “we must pray for them…”
“I’m not sure what else I can tell you,” Sharon Johnson said as she sat with Bart and Bobby, “they brought the four of us here, forced my husband and Rowena’s to get them in, and then we could only watch.”
“I know you may not want to talk about this,” Jan said as she looked at Karen and Bobby, “but when they held you hostage in your home, did they do anything else?”
“One of them did something to me,” Bobby whispered, “she…”
Adam nodded as he closed his notebook, and said “it’s all right Bobby – another officer will come and talk to you after you have been to the ER. You can go now.”
As the paramedics walked off, Adam rubbed the back of his head. “So let’s review – three of the botches take the wives and children hostage in their homes.”
“Miss Leopard, Miss Bobcat, Miss Jaguarini,” Jan said as she looked at her notes, Adam nodding as he said “they bind them all, gag the kids – and I guess Bobby was made to do something he has never done before.”
“But that’s all – they almost seem to have been restrained,” Jan said. “Anyway – they contact their husbands, one of them is held while they deal with the security cameras, and then they hit this room.”
“Two wounded, no deaths – a very quiet day?”
“And then they leave, and take hostages…”
Adam looked at the officer as he said “they shot one of the hostages and dumped him outside a precinct office.”
“The other one?”
“Still been tracked…”
“Roy – what’s happening,” Sandy asked as she, Nessa and some of the others joined him and Janice.
– but the course have decided that they are going to finish the program,"
Roy told a group of his friends as they gathered round. "The police and
the FBI are trying to damp down the news whilst they pursue the criminals.
Luckily the majority of people aren't aware anything has happened."
"We want you to all carryon as though this was a normal afternoon at the races," Janice spoke, "the last thing we need is panic and rumor spreading."
"We understand," Augie van Roon nodded in agreement, "so the TV networks and the other media?"
"Have all agreed to a blackout while we conduct this hunt."
“Well, that seems sensible – and we all need to celebrate anyway. Our horse goes to a well-earned retirement, and we have some weddings to plan for.”
“On which note, my dear,” Nessa said as she looked at Jan.
“Honestly, Nessa, we haven’t even began to discuss that…”
“Control, the car just turned off onto Huntington Drive, West bound… Now onto Virginia Road, into Lacy Park…”
“Copy that – do you still have eyes?”
“Negative – they went into the trees – hang on, it’s coming back out, weaving and…”
“The car – it just exploded and I mean exploded. We still had three heat signatures inside…”
“It’s just white – what the hell happened?”
“Everything bagged and ready for collection,” Madeline said as she looked across the floor.
“Yeah – ones for the accountants, and ones for the incinerator,” Rose said as Jd came out.
“Any word yet?”
“Radio traffic is intense,” Daisy said as she looked over from the set, “focusing on the very large explosion. Now we just need ot hope that…”
“Attention, base – three incoming.”
Maddie nodded to Darlene and Tracey as they opened the doors, watching as two motorbikes came in and stopped. Maddie watched as the solo rider removed her helmet, letting her dark hair appear as she smiled.
“Consumpta – well done,” Maddie said as the second rider removed her helmet, and got off the bike as she said “you’re safe now, you can take the helmet off.”
As Alex removed the helmet and got off, she looked at the other two in their biker leathers as she said “does someone want to tell me just what the hell we did there?”
“We got you out,” Eleanor said as she looked at Alex, “although we did have to get creative as to how we did it.”
“Who are you?”
“We are Sisters,” Maddie said quietly, “and we were asked to extract you by another Sister, who will speak to you in a few days. For now, however, we need to get you out of the country. We have a private jet standing by to take you to a secure location, give you a chance to recover – and decide what you want to do from there.”
“Hopefully,” Eleanor said quietly, “the explosion and the false information we put in should convince those who need to be convinced you died in the explosion. But it is now imperative you disappear into the shadows – for good.”
“I understand – and I thank you. Please, thank Francesca as well – because she is the Sister who asked, isn’t she?”
Maddie nodded as she said “we can provide some fresh clothing for you – this way please.”
Shirley took out her cell phone, and said to John “I just need to take this call” as she walked into a corner.
“Maddie – it seemed to go well at this end. How are things there?”
“The package has been safely delivered – I will personally ensure it is sent on the next step of the trip. Our takings are been processed, and the evidence destroyed. Two of the three guests are heading back to you now. Will they get in?”
“Given who they are, I think they will,” Shirley said as she looked round, “I will inform Francesca presently. So how did you accomplish the disappearance.”
“Well, the fact they shot her fucker of a husband and pushed him out of the car at the San Gabriel PD helped,” Maddie giggled. “Cassie ahd planted to motorbikes in a park – and rigged the car they were using so that it had remote steering and a thermite charge, courtesy of one of Helen’s contacts, safely aboard. She and the package changed into leathers in the car, they drove into tress and out of sight of the copter jumped out. As Cassie drove the car out by remote, Eleanor changed into leathers as well, and then – boom.”
“An inspired idea – let us hope it is enough. Pass my thanks on to everyone, and inform them they will receive the appropriate shares of the takings. I’ll see you tomorrow before I head home – thank you Maddie.”
“No – thank you, Shirley…”
"So is she
safe?" Francesca whispered to her daughter as they sat watching the races
"Buffeted and shocked a bit Mamma, but yes our friends got her away safely."
"Good, so tell me – just what did Karen say to Andrea?”
“I have no idea – I suspect, however, that she did it on the instructions of Liz and others to distract the others further.” Looking at Francesca, she said “Mamma, what are you going to do about her?”
“I have no idea – she may have hurt Alex greatly, but to do anything risks exposing our plans.
“No - now we just need hope that we made enough noise that even professional sceptics like Peter Hope and Hennie Botha believe that Alex died as the innocent victim in a robbery."
"Well thanks to Cassie's expertise in mounting a Hollywood special effect, and Maddie's augmented team acting the part of The Pussycats with such aplomb, just hopefully we have fooled everybody."
“Well, she will arrive within thirty six hours at the camp, and she can rest there while she decides what she wants to do next…”
"I can see you watching and listening Katy," Agnes quietly spoke in her old friend’s ear as she handed her a drink, "do you believe that people have fallen for our little deception?"
"A lot of people are in various forms of shock," Professor Rucker whispered back, "but I can't see anyone showing obvious signs that they weren't totally fooled by that amazing stunt. I truly need to know how the hell they managed to get all that done darling?"
“With a lot of
co-operation between certain people in Hollywood, as well as some real life
“They were the real Pussycats?”
“Maybe, maybe not – you don’t expect me to answer that, do you Katy?”
laughed softly as she shook her head. "Of
course I don’t. If I hadn't known it was
fake I'd certainly have been fooled..."
"Are you both okay?" John Rucker came over and interrupted his wife and Agnes chatting.
“Of course we are,” Katy said as she kissed his cheek, “after all, we only saw the aftermath.”
“Well, whoever did this, they certainly seemed to be the real thing – we should be thankful nobody was killed.”
“Indeed – Laura, where is Miley?”
“Talking to the Clarke girls – apparently they want to show her some of their autograph books…”
“So you’re not upset you lost, Uncle Bill?”
“Of course not – it was a magnificent race,” the trainer said to Angel as she stood by the windows, “and besides, that was his last race. Leaves the field wide open for me for the next year. So what of you, Angel – Guy persuaded you to ride again?”
“I think so – but it’s not me he really needs to convince.”
“Nope – it’s her,” Angle said with a smile as she saw Missy heading for Guy.
“Well,” Katherine said as she looked to the doors of the hospitality suite, “I was beginning to wonder when you and Katy were going to get here.”
“So were we,” Eleanor said as she joined the group, a grey leather jacket over her jumper and pants. Katy was wearing a blue trouser suit with a white top underneath. "What the hell has happened? They nearly refused us admittance, it was only the fact that they recognized Katy, and her saying I'm her grandmother got us past security."
“Yeah – you would not know,” Katherine said as Adam and Jan came in. “There you are – how was the shoot,” Jan said with a smile as she came over.
“The shoot was fine,” Eleanor said quietly, “but I’ll ask again – what the hell happened here?”
"There has been an...incident...Mother," Adam spoke slowly. "The Pussycat Gang robbed the betting section."
God?" Eleanor putt her hand to her mouth, "Is everyone alright?"
"We aren't totally sure yet. They took two hostages with them – one of them was shot and thrown out of the car, and we haven’t heard about the other yet."
said as he came over, “a word please.”
As they walked to the side, Janice whispered into Katy’s ear "So how did it go from your point of view?"
“Very well – we went to the family homes, secured them, brought them to the track, left them here.”
“I interviewed them – what happened to the son?”
“Ah – that was me. Nothing major – he just got his first hand job.
“In front of the two mothers and the girl next door, who he has a crush on.”
“So you didn’t shoot the security guards?”
“No – that was Cassie and JD. What are they saying here?”
“One hostage shot and recovered, the other…”
“Adam, what is it?”
“The car exploded – and I mean really exploded – with three people still inside. On the one hand, two of the bitches have died. On the other hand…”
“Are they sure?”
“No way of proving definitively, but from what Tom said, nothing and nobody could have survived…”
“Well, so far so good,” Agnes said as she joined Francesca in the hallway outside.
“Indeed – but…”
“A word ladies – now.”
Both of them looked at Kay Cornwall as she motioned them towards the disabled restroom, checking on both sides before she opened the door and said “inside.”
“And if Jeannie Brewster needs to relieve herself?”
“She waits,” Kay growled as she closed the door, locked it and then turend to face her old friends.
"Alright, I don't need any bullshit from either of you," she said quietly, “I just came back from checking one of my local field agents was not seriously hurt, and Tom Callaghan briefed me on the salient details. So just answer me one question.
“And that question is,” Francesca said quietly.
“The fucking Pussycat Gang?”
“They have worked with the Sisters before Kay,” Francesca said with a smile. "I did tell you, darling, that when circumstances changed dramatically this morning Agnes had come up with an alternate plan to get the Mouse to safety, and to make it appear she is dead."
"I'm just sorry I couldn't tell you precise details Kay," Agnes said quietly, "but if it was to work then everyone needed to act as though it was a total shock. I did give you and Sherry as much as I could ahead of time."
“You know what those ladies are supposed to have done in London this summer? About the near pitched battle?”
“What near pitched battle…”
strength… Where the hell did you come up
with the craziness of that robbery as a cover Aggie?"
seemed logical..." Agnes regretted her choice of words instantly.
"LOGICAL!" Kay exploded.
“Bad choice of words – I meant we had to do something drastic enough to convince everyone she had been killed.”
“Okay – well, much as I enjoyed hearing that Peter Hope had been shot and pushed out of a car at speed, the car was then reported to have exploded with white heat – no survivors. Where is she?”
“On her way to a safe place – come with me next week to visit her, as a Sister.”
Kay looked at Francesca, and then said “Well, at least I don’t have to explain how we botched this one to my bosses, or the Italians. The US – I’ll talk to Sir Charles…”
“So are you still mad at us,” Agnes asked as she tilted her head to one side.
“I’m calming down,” she said as she unlocked the door.
"So is everyone in our party safe Donald?" the Duke of Lardarn asked his old friend.
"According to what my 'minder' here is telling me," the diplomat gestured towards the big security guard from the British Embassy, “we are all safe – save for the couple they took.”
"I suppose he's being kept in the loop in case of any threat to you and Charles?" Tom looked at the man’s earpiece.
"Why is Aunt Kay upset with Mummy?" Mylie asked as she walked over.
“I’m not sure – but whatever it is I am sure will pass,” Donald said as the three women came in.
“Francesca, can I have a word please?”
“Of course, Tom,” she said as Marianne and John came over.
“Listen – you know the couple that were taken hostage, correct?”
“We both did – she was an old friend from South Africa,” Marianne said, “why?”
“Well, I just talked to the local PD who were tracking the car. Peter Hope was pushed out of the car, after he was shot – he’s at the hospital now, but…”
“Tom, what has happened?”
He looked at the two women, before he said “the car exploded a short time later, with three people still inside. I’m sorry – there was no way she could have survived.”
Marianne looked at Francesca as they both started crying.
“Tom, I want to talk to Peter, see if he can say anything about what happened – where is he?”
“It’s against the rules, John…”
“I know, but he… They were colleagues?”
“John – with me.”
Marianne nodded as Francesca put her arm round her, John leaving with Henrick Botha.
6 pm PT
San Gabriel Valley Medical Centre
As Peter Hope looked to the door of the private room, he saw Hennie and John Vosloo standing there.
“My god, Peter,” Hennie said as they came in, “are you all right?”
“Well, I’ll be limping for a while,” he grunted as he sat himself up, “but I’ll survive. What about…”
John and Hennie looked at each other, before John said “the police followed the car you were pushed out of, but a short while later it exploded. According to the police, nobody else got out – and there were three warm bodies inside before the explosion.”
Peter looked at both of them and said “exploded? Is there anything to examine?”
“I’ve seen the aerial footage, and pictures of the scene,” Hennie said quietly, “nothing left. And I mean nothing – just a twisted hunk of metal. She must have died in the explosion.”
“I’ve seen it as well,” John said, “and I concur. We may never know the full truth, Peter, but if she was Mouse the secrets have died with her.”
“What about the Marchesa?”
“She knows, and she and my wife are mourning the death of their friend. Peter, it’s time to close the book on this one. She’s gone.”
The three men turned to see Andrea di Matello standing there, her son with her. “You’re right – time to let it rest,” Peter said as they came in…
9 pm PT
Beverley Hills Forume
“How did Peter take the news,” Marianne said as she sat down, John closing the door of their suite.
“Strangely calmly – it means the question of whether or not she was Mouse will always remain one of those mysteries that cannot…” He sat down at the desk and started to rub his chin with his hand.
"I can't believe Alex is dead," Marianne shook her head and let a few tears drop.
"If she is dead," her husband half smiled as he looked over at his wife.
Vosloo is something going on?" Marianne hissed.
"Not that I know of, nor that I can prove,” John said as he stood up, with his hands in his pocket, “but dear God this all worked out so very, very, conveniently."
"You mean this was all staged?"
"I think your 'sisters' may have been very busy, and rather naughty."
“Are you seriously suggesting the whole thing was staged to get her out? A bloody armed robbery?”
“It sounds too fantastic to be true,” John said as he took his jacket off, “but let me say two things. One, she will be mourned at the office.”
“And the second?”
“Don’t be surprised if she showed up at Myerskop…”