The Party Girls – part 3









2 pm

St Martha’s Rectory


“Glenda,” Alex said as he stood up and walked round to greet his visitor, “you came to visit me in my domain this time?”


“Well, I never really got the chance before,” Glenda said as she took her coat off, handing it to the housekeeper.  “Gail, could you bring coffee for two please?”


“Of course Father,” the woman said as she left, Alex sitting down and looking at his old friend.


“So are you enjoying your stay,” he eventually said.


“So far,” Glenda said with a smile, “I called partly to make sure you are still good for Friday, and partly...”




Glenda smiled as she said “to see you.  I thought the two of us needed the chance to just – talk.”


“I’d like that,” Alex said as Gail brought the coffee in.


“You still take it with cream?”


“Thank you,” Glenda said as she took the cup.  Looking round, she saw the pictures of men playing football on the wall.  “I see you still follow the game?”


“Once a player, always a player I guess.  So did none of the boys in the family play football Glen?"

The woman smiled as she said "only in prep school Alex."

"Why was that?"

"They all inherited my physique rather then Rusty's I'm afraid...Todd is fairly typical of my descendants."

"Tall and slim eh?"

"Precisely," Glenda laughed, "more likely to become models then football players."

"Well if I know Rusty, he probably thought it a blessing they didn't take after him."

"He did use that actual word."

"So,” Alex said as he sipped his coffee, “what made Todd chose to go to The Point?"

"He wants to serve in the Corps of Engineers...After the work they did following Katrina he began researching them, and he decided that he wanted to be a military engineer."

"Well good for him,” Alex said as he put his cup down, “and I know their engineering degree is VERY highly regarded."

"He likes the idea of working on public projects like flood control,” Glenda said as she sat back, “and he likes the idea that his overseas deployments are likely to be in helping build rather than destroy other countries."

"Well as a former combat marine who has seen up close their work I can admire him for that."

“Alex,” Glenda said as she sat forward, “may I ask a – difficult question?”


“Well, I am meant to be a man who can advise on difficult questions,” Alex said quietly.


"I never did ask really why you didn't take the waiver and play football rather than going to Vietnam Alex?" Glenda looked at him closely, "was it because of what I said that night?"


Alex sat back and rubbed his eyes.  “I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if you’d said yes to me then Glen,” he eventually said “but let’s be honest – I wasn’t exactly a very healthy person to know then.”


“I know – that’s why I had to say no at the time.  But you didn’t answer the question.”


“No I didn’t.”  Alex stood up and looked out of the window.  “It was partly to do with what you said Glenda – I realised if I was going to win you, I needed to be a better man.  As it was...  Well, somebody had other plans for me.”


“I think he had different plans for both of us,” Glenda said with a smile.  “But you were right about one thing – you did come back a better man.”


Alex smiled as he said “True - but at a great cost, a very great cost.  I saw things – did things – no man should have seen or done.”


“So did many of your generation,” Glenda said, “but I do sometimes wonder, sometimes wish...”


“Glen, you know I could never be the man I was then, not any more.”


“I know – but I think I prefer this Alex Richmond anyway.  I hope I can get to know him as well as the old one – in most ways.”


Alex smiled.  “I hope you do as well...”



2.30 pm

Xavier International


“Susan?  Janice Carter to see you.”


“Come in,” Susan said without looking up as Jan came in.


“Susan can we have a quick word please.”


“Yes, if we can make it VERY quick Jan.” Susan looked up from the papers she was reading.


“Tommy the Fish has asked for help?”


“From the Pussycats?” Susan whispered.


“No,” Jan said, “from the FBI.”


“Whoa a minute.”  Susan put her pen down and looked at Jan, before saying “it must be bad for someone like Tommy to ask for help from the law.”


“He wants to head off a potential gang war.”


“From what I know of Tommy that sounds like him…Where is the trouble brewing?”


“At the Fulton Fish Market.”


“Okay…so what help can I be Jan?”


“You control a certain related trade union don’t you?’


“We might…” Susan’s eyes sparkled.


“Well on the off chance that you do have some influence with the food handlers, can you make enquiries what is going on?”


“If you can wait 24 hours for an answer?” Susan indicated her pile of paperwork. “The bid from AMININCO is keeping me busy.”


“24 hours should be fine.”


“I’ll give you a call then.  Sorry, Jan, but...”


“I understand – and thanks again,” Jan said as she left the office.



3 pm

The Village


“Thank you for seeing me at such short notice, Miss Jameson.”


“Please, call me Caroline,” she said as she indicated a seat, taking one herself as Alan Kennedy sat down.  “So what can I do for you?”


“You will have heard about the bid made for Xavier Insurance by AMININCO?”


“Indeed,” Caroline said, “as one of the directors, I was informed of the offer earlier this week.”


“My employers, Penn State National Bank, have been hired by Susan Walker to act as advisors in fighting this bid.  I make it a point of talking to all the shareholders with a company like yours, to find your initial feelings on the bid.”


“I understand Mister Kennedy,” Caroline said as she handed him some water, “but I am a minority shareholder, and I can assure you my working relationship with Xavier Insurance as a security consultant also needs to be taken into account.”


“Of course,” Alan said, “”As I said, this is a courtesy call, so that I know how best to advise you.  Xavier is a major client for you, correct?”


“Correct – and on that basis, I am unwilling to see a client I have built a good working relationship with be subsumed into some conglomerate.  For that, and other reasons, I can assure you I have no intention of selling.”


“Well, I think that’s very clear,” Alan said with a smile.  “I understand this is a busy week for you, so I won’t take any more of your time.”



4 pm

W 9th Street


Elaine Colman looked at Maddie and Emma as they walked round the main room of the apartment.


“Well Maddie?” she eventually said, “it is a more than just desirable location, agreed?”


“It seems to be pretty much just what we asked for Elaine.”


“I very much like the kitchen.” Emma said as she came through.


“Well it’s a lot smaller I know then your place in LA,” Elaine said, “but purely as being a place of your own while you visit New York, I’m pretty glad I spotted it for you.”


“Can we get it a little cheaper?” Maddie looked at the literature.


“The seller’s agent indicated just maybe there is a little wiggle room…but not much. This close to the Village, Washington Square, Lower 5th Avenue, and Broadway, then you are paying a premium for those very amenities that you yourself want in a small NYC base.”


“I get that Elaine.” Maddie re-read the listing and looked round.


“Elaine can we have 15 minutes to talk this over?” Emma asked.


“Take all the time you need.” Elaine smiled as she left the room.


“Well?” Maddie asked.


“Well, you may just have talked me round,” Emma said with a smile.  “And I can’t deny that we can afford it.  But I would like to get the price down if we could.”


“Comes with all fixtures and fittings,” Maddie said, “and she’s right about the location.  Close to the places both of us would want to be.”


“We could certainly entertain here as well,” Emma said with a smile.


“I meant to ask – how did the talk with Cassandra go?”


“Very well – I do like the new script,” Emma said.  “Have you heard from the others yet?”


“Not yet, but I’ll call Tracey later.  So – deal or no deal?”


Looking round again, Emma said “Deal.  Let’s hope they don’t buy you out now.”


“Okay then – let’s go and talk to Elaine.”


Thursday 18th February

2 am

Fulton Fish Market


Seated round the table were the heads of the traders at the market – old, close friends, who had seen many changes.  But there was only one thing on the agenda for this meeting.


"Speakin' poisonally I'd rahder deal with did de old fashioned way." Eddie Garibaldi summed up a lot of the feelings around the table.

"But do you guys remember der last time we did it ourselves?"

"Yeah, the Feds and the NYPD were in our faces for a year afterwuds." Gerry Infante remembered.

"Look you guys - we have had it good down in the market der last couple of years." Tommy spoke. "Our friends have taken a reasonable percentage that we call live with, and we've left in peace to sell our fish...Agreed?"

"Then dese Frenchies turn up." Eddie chugged his beer.

"In their damn suits, and flashy cars." Portuguese Joe popped a fresh can of Bud.

"We know dey just aint right..."

"I knowse Gerry, which is why as taxpayers I said we needed to asked der law for help. Dese guys stink as bad as we think, let the cops deal wid em."

"If we can trust cops?" Eddie looked ruefully.

"I trust Ball and Carter to be pretty straight." Tommy nodded.  “Let them do der work – and if dey fail, then we get old school.  Agreed?”


The men all nodded as there was a bang on the door.


“Trawlers coming in – and dey’re back.”


Fanks Gus,” Tommy said, “to work, gentlemen.”



10 am

Vanessa’s Apartment


“Thank you Marie,” Nessa said as the maid put the coffee tray down on the table.  “You may leave us now.”


She looked across at Paulie and Glenda, all three casually dressed, and poured the coffee into the cups as she said “so how did the chat with Alex go yesterday?”


“Different – in many ways he’s still the same man, and yet in other ways...”


“You asked him, didn’t you?”


Glenda nodded as she picked up her coffee cup and took a sip.    “I guess, ever since Rusty died, I’ve been looking back and thinking what if...”


“It’s sometimes not a very healthy thing to do,” Nessa said.  “After all, if I did that, I’d have to consider what it would be like being a teenage mother and possibly married to a hate filled misogynist.”


“Freddie Hughson?”


Nessa nodded as she put her cup down.  “You were a couple of years ahead of us, Glenda – you only saw me after the incident, the stay in the hospital, and the brow beating.  I had become Vanessa Richmond by then, not Nessa from Ness and the Monsters.”


“Was it really that bad?”


Paulie nodded as she said “I often wonder if what happened that night was when Alex began to feel so angry.  He never understood the way your parents reacted, but he felt powerless to do anything about it.”


“And yet he’s such a pillar of the community now, so assured, so self controlled...”


“True,” Nessa said, “but sometimes, just sometimes, you see the other side of him in his eyes as well.   Glenda...”


“Yes Nessa?”


“If I'm being fully honest,” Nessa said quietly, “I should tell you something I've overheard Alex tell people."

"Which is what Nessa?"

"That coming back from Vietnam he had two vocations still in his mind."

"Well becoming a priest was one obviously." Glenda paused, "what was the other?"

"Becoming an enforcer for the mob..."

Glenda put her coffee cup down and stared across the table, before saying "Oh Nessa that can't be true?"

"It is though Glenda." Paulie spoke quietly.  "He and Gus talked about it long and hard."

"Truthfully?" Glenda looked at both women in turn.

"Yes." each nodded.

"That violence which was in Alex,” Nessa said, “was still there when he came home from Nam...He was angry at the world, he was angry at how things had got bent so morally wrong..."

"And most of all he was still angry at me for rejecting him." Glenda swallowed.


“No – I do genuinely think he had reconciled that.  It was what he saw out there, on the battlefield, which had filled his heart with that rage.”


“He told me yesterday he went because he felt he needed to be a better man – and he is – but my god, to think he could have taken that path...”


“The important thing,” Nessa said with a smile, “is he didn’t.  He’s not the young man you turned down, Glenda, nor is he the angry soldier coming home from Vietnam.  He’s Alex Richmond – and he is my brother.”



11 am

Xavier International


“Hey Penny,” Susan said as her friend appeared on the screen, “how are things in Londinium today?”


“Cold, damp, but otherwise fine,” Penny said with a smile.  “Shirley will be along in a minute – she’s talking to one of Maisha’s tutors.”


“Oh?  Anything interesting?”


“Well, I think she’s going to be sitting some exams later this year, and she wanted to make sure Maisha was ready to take them.”


“Sorry I’m late,” Maddie said as she came in.  “Have you started?”


“Not yet – Shirley’s been held up as well.”


“Caroline sends her apologies, but she has a pre-meeting for her Dublin trip this afternoon.”


“Not a problem,” Susan said.


"So Madeline are you buying an apartment?" Penny asked.

"Well it ticks all our boxes." Maddie smiled at the screen. "It's now really just settling on a price."

"Good for you and Emma." Penny laughed.

"So have you and the lovely Helen talked yet about buying a place together?"

"We have, but where? Our work we rarely are in the same city at the same time.  The best we can do is if we’re here, and we come back to my place.  Mind you, her apartment in Hong Kong is nothing to sneeze at either."


“I can imagine,” Susan said as Shirley appeared on the screen.


“My apologies, ladies,” she said as she sat down, “so Susan, can you bring us up to speed on progress?”


“As you know, I engaged Alan Kennedy of Penn State National Bank to act as our advisors and agents in the takeover bid.  He’s spoken to me, and Caroline already – I understand he was speaking to you today Madeline?”


“We met over breakfast – and we’re presenting a united front to reject the bid.”


“Excellent – what does he think?”


“Initially as I did – if we reject the bid, they will come back with another.  He has identified a couple of avenues he wishes to explore as well, which we will discuss tomorrow.”


“Well, I will be back on Sunday night, so arrange for us to meet on Monday please Susan.”


“Of course Madame – Penny?”


“We’ve got a videocall booked with him and Charlotte tomorrow – my line is the same as all of you.”


“Which leaves Juliette – has she spoken to him yet?”


“I suggested he wait until next week – Fashion Week and everything.”


“Good – now, on to other matters.  You mentioned in the morning report a situation with Tommy, Susan?”


“It appears some French gangs may be to trying to muscle in on the Fulton market.  I have a meeting with Mandy this afternoon, see if she is aware of anything.  I can then report back to Jan and Adam, and pray it does not explode into a turf war.”


“That would be preferable,” Shirley said, “but inform Tommy if he needs it, he will have our support.”


“Of course Madame,” Susan said as she made a note.


“Madeline, I received your proposal for the next raid in Los Angeles.”


“Do you approve?”


“I do,” Shirley said with a smile, “I hope the target knows you are paying them a great honour.”


“As do I Madame,” Maddie said with a smile.


2.15 pm

The Village


“No – no no no no NO!!!”


"Are you still tearing your hair out?" Annie asked as she heard the exasperated noises coming from Caroline's office as she took her own coat off.

"Yes I bloody well am." Caroline came into the kitchen holding an empty coffee cup, and started a new pot.

"Still the same problem?"

"Yeah,” Caroline said as she leaned against the breakfast bar, “just how can I provide security for a huge building, most of which is basically a museum and open to the public, whilst maintaining the privacy and security of the owners in their own quarters."

Annie shook her head as Caroline poured coffee into two mugs, and handed one to her.  "Did you ask Klaus how it's done at Furstenheim like I suggested?"

"I did,” Caroline said as she held her mug, “and he's setting up a call for me with his steward."

"Ah the redoubtable Frau Stecher." Annie smiled.

"I take it you've met her?"

"Oh yes." Annie's smile turned into a giggle.

"And that means what?"

"She made me feel like I was back on my first day at Country Day/Mary Institute and I was already called in front of the principal."

"She sounds like a dragon?"

"Well I think even Klaus is more than a little afraid of her."

"Oh Goddess."

"Don't worry though she is ferociously polite, whilst still being so intimidating...and if anyone can give you ideas it is her.  I actually think both of you will get on very well." 


“Where’s Ama anyway?”


“She went to Pepsi’s to complete their history assignment.  But she did say she’d pick up some food on the way home.  Are you not walking tonight?”


“Yes I am – and I need to be on my way...”


3 pm

Xavier International


“Mandy,” Susan said as she welcomed her old friend, “thanks for dropping by.”


“That’s all right, I told the office I had to talk to my insurance broker,” Mandy said as she took a seat.  Susan looked at her – tailored jacket and skirt, silk top – and said “union leadership must pay well.”


“Dress to impress,” Mandy said, “so what’s the problem?”


“You know the Fulton Fish market don’t you?”


“Yeah – there’s been a bit of discussion recently about changes in suppliers in some of the businesses.  Drop in quality and so on.”


“Really?  Nobody I know, I hope.”


“If you mean the likes of Tommy Morgan, nah – we’re talking the second division here.  A new firm has moved in, bought out some of the smaller suppliers.  Go by the name of Roidemer.”


“King of the sea?”


“Might be – why?”


“We’re hearing tell of a new French group offering really cut price goods.  Mandy, see what else you can find out and let me know – we may require some help with this.”


“Anything I can do, will be done,” Mandy said with a smile.  “Now, about the coffee here...”


5 pm

The Blind Fashion Show


Backstage was a strange atmosphere – the chatter was there, but it was quieter, as the models sat talking quietly, many trusting totally to the make-up and hair artists.


“Fi,” Jeanne Beckman said, “ready for our chat.”


“In a few minutes,” Fiona said as she sat in the chair, a small onyx statuette in her hands as she moved it around.


“That looks interesting,” Jeanne said, "So what is that Fi?"

"This?”  Fiona held it up and smiled as she said “it's a small African idol, I bought it in a gallery in the village this morning Titi."

"Well I don't claim to know anything about art..."

"It's not a great expensive piece,” Fiona said as she handed it over, “but just feel how the sculptor has created different textures."

"Okay...yes I get that," the television presenter handled the piece.

"It's given me some ideas I want to try in my own work."

"Hmmm you know that is you want to maybe talk about this and sculpture when we do your interview?"

"If it’s not too boring."

"No,” Jeanne said quietly as she handed the statuette back, “given tonight’s show theme, I think you talking about your art being about more then using your eyes might just get people thinking."


“Deal,” Fi said with a smile, “so if you’re ready?”



"Do kids still do that?" Eve smiled as she had her hair done, and spotted Katy and Orion sitting to one side, their makeup on, their hair in curlers, playing cats’ cradle.

"Well they obviously do darling." Mandy turned to look whilst having her hair done as well.

"They'll be playing jacks yet." Caroline laughed as she sat in the third chair.

"Well it's just nice, I think, that while they look like beautiful young women, they can still enjoy the pleasures of traditional childhood." Eve checked her own reflection.

"Did I hear you booking both of them for this show you are hosting in Dublin later in the year Eve darling?"

"You did, and I'm not sure what excited them most, that they'll be wearing some great Irish fabrics, or that it will give them a chance to see each other again."

"Well they have become fast friends." Caroline smiled as the hairdresser finished.


“Which is more than can be said for the chaperones,” Eve said as she looked at Brenda and Katherine, looking daggers at each other across the room.





"Oh this is getting tiresome," Sigi whispered as the waiter took her passport to check if she was of legal drinking age.

"I know - it's more then a bad joke by now." Juliette looked daggers in the man’s back.

"You are telling me." Sigi took her documents back and smiled politely as the man poured her a glass of wine.

"Well on a happier note, tonight’s show is one I'm glad to be attending." Claire Morse. "With one of my own sisters being partially-sighted I think something like this is long overdue."

"Agreed." Jan nodded, "and if nothing else it will give me a chance to relax."

"You relax whilst Katy is walking Jan?" Kelly Rochermann asked.

"Yes...I guess I'm getting more used to it."

"So relaxing from work then?"

"Yes Denice...I can't go into details but let me just say that we are part of a team trying to avert trouble in gangland."

"Ah, now that does sound pretty bad." Denice nodded.

"So how are your work problems going Dee?" Claire asked.

"They aren't improving, that bitch of an office supervisor definitely doesn't like me."

"Oh why? I hadn't heard this yet." Gale spoke.

"Because she thinks that as a mere data entry clerk I 'live' above my station. Things like pictures of me in the front row at fashion shows with you all. That I usually eat lunch with either the boss or the chief engineer..."

"Tell her how she reacted to you coming into the office wearing overalls Denice." Claire smiled.

"Oh she nearly went ballistic because I hadn't changed after being down in the workshops."


“Well, I guess you are in both worlds, and master of none?”


“Tell me about it – Hey Susan?”


“Hi,” Susan said as she and Rose joined the group, “what are you talking about?”


“Bad weeks at work – how has yours been?”


“I wish I could tell you, but I can’t,” Susan said, “but it’s been a doozy.  Can I have a glass of wine and a still water please?”


“Welcome to your first show Rose – who has April?”


“Heather – she offered and Sandy is somewhere with Tonia.”  Rose looked round as she said “so who will recognise here?”


“On the catwalk or on the floor – a lot of people...”

6 pm


“Olivia, Fiona, are you both ready?”


“Just about,” Fiona said as she came over, putting on her designer sunglasses.


“So what happens,” Rose whispered to Susan as they sat in the front row.


“You watch, and you applaud,” Susan whispered as the announcer said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to tonight’s show- and please welcome our first models, Olivia Savage and Fiona Treharran, in designs by Mason Ewing.”


The audience applauding, Rose watching as the two women came out, wearing sunglasses and smiling as they walked the catwalk.  They wore knee length pleated skirts and fitted jackets, Rose looking at them as they passed by.


"You say she and her daughter are legally blind Susan?"

"They are Mum."

"Well how are they?"

"Prescription sunglasses Mum,” Susan said, “otherwise they'd both fall off the catwalk."

"Well I live and learn." Rose shook her head.  She then smiled as she recognised Karen, walking arm in arm with a young dark haired model with her eyes closed.


“So most of the models tonight have sight problems?”


“Or the designers – Mason Ewing is near blind as well.”

"What are you making of the clothes Rose?" Jan asked from the other side.

"As a seamstress or a potential customer?"

"Both, and I'd forgotten this was your trade." Jan smiled.

"Well not a lot I'd wear myself, but maybe I'm the wrong age."

"And their construction?"

"From what I can see is excellent. You know at one time New York had a reputation for poorly put together garments, but I can't see much wrong with this collection."


“There isn’t,” Juliette said as Rose saw two young women walk out, holding the hands of an older woman.  They wore sundresses made in an ethnic print, while the older woman wore a belted coat.


It took a few minutes for Rose to recognise the younger blonde woman.


“Oh my...  Jan, is that...”


“Oh yes,” Jan said quietly, “I told you Katy had changed.”


Rose watched as Katy turned her head, smiling at all of them before she walked on.


"Gotta say, this makes a change from any other show I've ever been to."

"Why Rose?" Kelly asked.

"Well back in my old days I'd 'ave been back there." Rose pointed backstage, "doin' all the last little bits, makin' sure nothin' fell apart, and just 'oping the things all sold so we kept our jobs."

"Yeah I can see how that would be different."


“So far, they’re...”


Susan looked at Rose as she leaned forward, looking closely at one particular model as she walked past, and her dress moved with her.




"Cor in the old days Madame Blanche would have fired the seamstress on the spot if she'd seen that." Rose pointed.

"I can't see what's wrong Mum?" Susan looked hard.

"That seam that's just been loosely stitched and not finished." Rose shook her head, "and there was I sayin' nice things about the workmanship."

"Well I suspect you are nearly the only person who spotted it Mum."

"I bet you I aint." Rose shook her head. "This might be a show to do with encouraging blind people in fashion, but that will stick out like a sore thumb."





“That wasn’t stitched properly,” Mary whispered to Juliette as the model walked past.  “Bet you Rose spotted that as well.”




"I thought the publicity was that all the models were blind?"

“True,” Kelly said.


“So why are Eve Stone and others there as well?”


"Well most are,” Jan said, “but a few big names have volunteered to walk as well to show their support."

"That was good of them."

"It really is though the blind girls who are deserving of the attention."


“Please welcome to the stage April and Savannah Lufriu.”


Rose and the others applauded as the mother and daughter walked down, both of them holding a thin fishing line as they stopped and posed.


“A guide line?”


“Literally, yes,” Susan said as they applauded.


“Listen – I’m going to go backstage with Ju and the others afterwards – why don’t you come with us, both of you?”


“Thanks Jan – that would be wonderful,” Rose said as she watched Caroline walk past with a young blind girl.




4 pm Pacific Time

San Francisco International Airport


The crowds stopped and looked, unable to help themselves as the middle aged blonde, the young blonde teenage girl and the sandy haired young man walked through from the arrivals gates.


“Not bad as flights go,” Abby said as she stood in her Angels hoodie and jeans, but I’ll be glad to get home on Sunday anyway.”


“Still, at least this is a far more relaxed affair,” Diana said as she secured a trolley. 


"Well this is as much of San Francisco as I've ever seen before." Tony smiled as he picked Abigail's case from the carousel in the crowded arrivals hall.

"Meaning what Tony?" Diana asked as she supervised him loading the bags.

"I've changed planes a couple of times here before,” Tony said, “but I've never been outside the airport."

"Well you are in for a treat then." Abby smiled. "It is a fabulous city."

"Oh so I'm led to believe,” Tony said as he carefully placed a dress bag on, “and if I'm telling the truth it will be wonderful just escaping from the snow back east."

"That is true." Diana checked all the bags were there before signalling the skycap to follow.

"So how are we getting downtown Mama?"

"I've booked a driver, he should be...ah there yes." Diana pointed towards a smartly dressed black man in his fifties holding up a sign with the words De Ros on it.


“Countess de Ros?”


“I am,” Diana said quietly, “do we have far to walk?”


“No Madame – if you will follow me?”


He signalled to the skycap to follow him, as they made their way to the exit...


7.30 pm

Backstage, the Blind Fashion Show


“Now this does take me back,” Rose said as she and Susan followed Jan into the backstage area.


“Well, that’s it over for another year,” Caroline said as she sat down, “now I can get back to earning an honest crust...  Rose – Susan said you were in town.  Can someone get a cup of tea for my friend?”


“On it,” one of the dressers said as Jan took her over to introduce her to some of the backstage people.


“So you fly back tonight?”


“Tomorrow – I get to spend one night relaxing,” Orion said as she sat with Katy.  “I’ll see you in Dublin later in the year?”


“Oh I’m looking forward to that,” Katy said as Jan walked over.


“It’s going to be over the summer though – you have a different trip for spring break.”


“Oh yeah - Florida for the race.  Mom also drives a racing car.”


“Wow – now that would be exciting,” Orion said with a smile




As the models were undressing, Rose stood with a cup of tea in her hand talking with a couple of the designers and production team.

"So you used to be a seamstress in London Rose?"

"I did,” Rose said as she sipped the hot drink, “before me problem."

"Oh - you have bad sight?"

"I did after I drunk too much."

"Oh I'm sorry."

"Don't be love,” Rose said, “at least now I can admit I'm an alcoholic."

"Did I hear Juliette say you teach sewing to fashion students at a university?"

"I do."

"So in a way you are still in the industry?"

"Oh only in a little way." Rose blushed.

"Well we over here still have trouble getting really good people who can sew in the old ways."


“Well, she is one of the best,” Karen said as she came over.  “How are you Rose?”


“Doing well, Karen,” Rose said as she turned her back, and whispered “although I could do with a meeting tomorrow.”


“I’ll call round at ten,” Karen whispered back as Juliette came over.


“I just need to talk to Mary, and then I want to talk to you,” she whispered as she went to where the Californian was sitting.


“Had a good week Mary?”


“Surprisingly, yes,” Mary said with a smile, “but I can’t wait to get home.”


“I understand – I’ll see you soon, and safe flight back with Trina.”





5.30 pm Pacific Time

Hilton Union Square, San Francisco


“I hope the suites are to your satisfaction,” Mr Hardiman said as Diana removed her coat and gloves.


“Very much so, thank you,” she said with a smile, as the general manager turned and ushered the porter out – Tony managing to slip them a tip as they left.


“Well, I like my room as well,” he said before there was a knock on the door, and he let the chambermaid in.


“I’m here to turn the covers, Madame.”


“Of course,” Diana said as she went into one of the bedrooms and Abby came out.


Tony looked at the two vases, and said "So who are the flowers from Abby?"

"The hotel Tony."

"She gets given them most places Tony Cherie."

Tony smiled as he sniffed them and whispered "oh what it is to be famous."

"Can I say something Miss?" the chambermaid spoke as she came out of the bedroom.

"Please." Abby smiled.

"Well my name is Heletia, and I'm a friend Of Mary' know Mary Clarke?...Well she asked us all to give you the 'special' attention while you are our guests."

"Well THANK YOU," Abigail smiled even more broadly, "and that is awfully good of you Heletia."

"You just ring downstairs any time, and even if we haven't got it, we will try get it fer yer."


“That is very kind of you,” Diana said as Heletia smiled in reply, before heading out.


“So this is the hotel Mary Clarke worked in – the one Missy discovered her in?”


“What do you think,” Abby said as she held up the Facilities brochure, a picture of Mary in a grey jacket and blouse on the front.


“Okay – I need some food and a drink.  When do you want to meet?”


“Let’s eat early and then get an early night,” Diana said, “we have a busy day tomorrow.”


Friday 19th February

4 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“I am so glad this week is over,” Jan said as she and April made their way up to the front door of the mansion.


“Yeah, I can imagine,” April said as they knocked, and Heather opened the door.  She smiled as they came in, Jan in her dark trouser suit, and April in a short sleeved top over a dark jumper, denim skirt and boots.


“Still a bit cold out, isn’t it?”


“Oh yes – come on through,” she said as she closed the door, “Emma’s already here, and I’m sure the others are on their way.”


“Hey,” Emma said as she looked over from the table, “looking forward to some down time tonight?”


“Oh yes,” Jan said as she sat down, and Heather went back to the door.


"So has the publicity started going to Katy's head yet Jan?" Sandy asked as she poured coffee.

"Not really,” Jan said with a smile, “she's the same egotistical, prematurely grown up brat..."

"Oh come on you don't mean that," Emma Carlton laughed, "you are as proud of her as I am of Anna."

"Who by the way had a pretty outstanding fashion week in her own right." Sandy handed round cups before she sat down.

"I think all the models we know had great weeks." April smiled, "and I'm just so happy for them all."


“No, I am proud of her,” Jan said, “but she needs some normality for a while now.  So a few weeks of nice normal school work with the occasional Saturday shoot, that’s what’s needed.”


“Hey,” Denice said as she and Mercy came in, “tell me that coffee is strong and fresh.”


“Another day from hell.”


“No – I just haven’t had a drink all day,” she said as she took her coat off and sat down.  “So the fun is over for another six months in the fashion world is it?”


"Is everyone set for Munich?" Heather asked.

"As far as I can be," Denice shook her head, "you should have seen my supervisor’s face when she heard I was getting time off to go to a royal wedding in Europe."

"Well at least your boss understands."

"Ian has been a real sweetie Jan...”  Denice stopped for a second, before saying “and you know I can't believe I just put it that way, you upper-class girls are having a bad effect on my street-cred."

"Class...MY ASS!" April laughed, "I've learned one thing since we started this lovely thing, we are all the same basically."

"Here here," Heather said as she undid some more cookies.


“Now they look good, pass the plate around will you,” April said before she took one.


“Hey Pippa.  They let you away early?”


“New Friday afternoon timetable – I spend a couple of hours with Anna now, and then head for home,” Pippa said as she sat down and accepted a mug.


“What’s that you’ve got there,” Heather said as she handed Pippa a mug.


"Papers with pictures from last night.  So what are you doing with Docs model earnings Emma?" Pippa asked as she settled onto a stool.

"Putting them away for her so she has them when she goes to college."

"Does she still have her heart set on Harvard?"

"Pretty much,” Emma said, “and the twins are encouraging her."

"Well when you are one of the brightest girls in the country, you have your pick of schools." Mercy Kinman spoke.

"I hear Letty though has all but been accepted at Penn?" Heather remarked.

"Well her grades are excellent, and that scholarship is a godsend."

"Yes, college is EXPENSIVE!" April sipped her drink.

"Well thanks to a certain horse your worries are eased on that April." Denice looked over.

"And he's going to earn us hopefully a lot more." April smiled.

"I watched his warm-up race on Tuesday over the internet." Sandy spoke, "he was VERY impressive."

"Grant and the others though are still not sure though he's not an out and out miler, but we will know when he races in the Florida Derby whether we have a Kentucky horse or not."

"Well my bookie slightly trimmed her odds on him," Emma looked at Sandy and smiled.


“Can I get a coffee – and make it strong and hot!”


"You are later then usual Barbara," Heather handed the Englishwoman a mug.

"I know, that traffic today is horrendous."

"We were discussing the children." Denice smiled as she looked up from the pictures in the newspapers.

"Can we really still call them children?" Barbara looked at a picture of Jeannie.

"Oh no matter how much they look like they are grown-up they are still our children." Pippa smiled.

"So Poppy next?"

"Poppy next for what April?"

"The next one of the girls to start treading the catwalk professionally Pippa."

"Oh I'm not sure about that..."

"Well Ama thinks she might do it," Caroline took off her coat as she arrived with the first batch of girls from school.


“Poppy?  She doesn’t want to – I thought Ama would be more likely.”


“Not unless it is a show of football strips,” Caroline said with a laugh.




“So where did Doc go today,” Nikki said as she sat down with Ama, Poppy and Erica.


“She had to go to a fitting for her dress for Munich – she’s meeting Katy and Sands there,” Pepsi said as she took a seat.


“It’s only a few weeks to the wedding now, right?”


“Yup – but we have the joys of spring break first,” Nikki said with a smile.


“Praise the lord and pass the popcorn,” Jeannie said as she wheeled herself in, “I’m off the clock for the next few days.”


“So is everyone up for the Y tomorrow?”


“Sounds good to me – so what do you think Abby is up to?”


“Right now?  Trying to grab some lunch...”




"I hear you sold another expensive apartment this week Elaine?"

"That I did Heather,” Elaine said as she sat back, “and if I do say so myself I got a rather nice deal for my clients."

"Didn't I read that winters like we have just had suppress prices, but they shoot up again once the sunshine arrives?"

"PRECISELY!" Emma grinned, "so Maddy and Emma got that place at just the right time."


“And another nice commission for you of course?”


“Naturally,” Elaine said with a smile.  “Just in time for that gown I ordered at the APCO show.”

“I wonder who that is,” Sandy said as she heard the door.


“Want me to go and look?”


“No, I’ll go,” Sandy said as she walked out, listening to the girls laughing before she opened the door.


"Now you are a face we don't see here on Friday afternoons Paulie." Sandy kissed her mother’s friend as she came in.

"Well I know April comes along,” Paulie said, “and I want to talk to her about the final plans for my garden out on the island."

"Well come along in, she's in the kitchen taunting the children like us all."

"With mothers like you lot..." Paulie left the sentence unfinished as she laughed and removed her coat and scarf.


“Hey Paulie,” April said as she looked to the door, “want to talk business?”


“Once I’ve had a coffee,” Paulie said as Susan poured her a mug, “and had a look at the pictures.  I imagine there are some very proud mothers here.”


“In our own way,” Jan said with a smile.


5 pm

Complete Style


“All right girls,” Mary said as she stood with Alice, “let’s be seeing you.”


She watched as Anna walked out from the changing area, her smile broadening as she saw the fit of the dress.


“Well, the basic shape and design look good,” Alice said as Anna stood on a small pedestal, “these are the same size heels you will be wearing, correct?”


“So Mary tells me?”


“Ai,” Mary said as Pepsi and Katy came out, and stood on separate stands, the assistants coming out.


“These dresses are amazing, Mrs MacKinnon,” Katy said.


“Well, these are the basic dresses – we need to add the lace details,” Alice said as she walked round.  “Nicola, I think we need to take the skirt up a fraction.”


Mary went to work with some pins, as she looked at Katy.  “As for you young lady – I need to let the chest out just a little.  Last thing Juliette needs is you bursting out in joy.”


Katy giggled as she looked at her bust, and said “sorry.”


“So, lace details,” Mary said.  “Gloves, jackets, headdresses?”


“Latter being sourced locally – the gloves Cathy is dealing with, and the jackets – can we have the jackets out please?”


One of Mary’s assistants brought out one of the bolero jackets and helped Katy to put it on.


“You younger girls will have these on,” Alice said as Pepsi and Doc also had one put on them, “the older girls will have wraps.”


“And Judith?”


“Will look divine,” Alice said.  “Okay – let’s get you out of them and you can be on your way.”


"So how far along are Tiffany's with the tiaras for the girls to wear?" Alice whispered to Mary.

"Only Judith's to finish they told me earlier."

"I think they are amazing bridesmaids presents from Juliette to the girls."

"Well they match the bracelets that Klaus is giving them."


"What is Klaus giving his groomsmen?"


"Expensive ones?"

"Probably, they are being specially made in Switzerland is all I know."

"So just how royal is the guest list looking?"

"VERY!" Mary laughed, "at least three reigning royal families, a plethora of former kings and queens, assorted German princes and princesses..."

"Oh dear Goddess," Alice shook her head.

"And that's without all the mere nobility, and those just counted among the great and the good of this world."

"My seamstresses better not make a single mistake then."


“Unlike last night?”


Alice shook her head and smiled.


4 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“Hey – look who I picked up at the airport,” David said as he opened the door, and Mary came in.


“Hi everyone,” she said as she put her bag down, “did you miss me?”


“We sure did,” her sisters said as they came over and hugged her, “welcome back sis.  Put your feet up – we’ll make some coffee for you.”


“How long until Pops gets home,” Mary said as she sat down.


“I think his shift finishes at six.”


“Thanks, Suzie,” Mary said as her sister carried a mug of coffee over to her.  “Now, if you, Vicky and Alison can get your homework done, I have some things for you and a very big book of autographs.  Once I’ve had this, I’ll start getting supper ready.”


“Okay,” the girls said as they ran off.


“Where are the boys?”


“Tom and Bobby?  They went to the pictures – you can catch up with them later.  So how do you feel?”


“Exhausted, but glad to be home,” Mary said as she sipped her coffee.  “So, ready for tomorrow?”


“As ready as I’m going to be,” David said with a smile.


7 pm

The Village


"Well, now fashion week is over, attention switches to the BIG wedding." Harriet poured wine for all the party gathered in their apartment.

"True." Grace nodded, "and from what I hear the working out of who sits where, and who takes precedence over whom is proving a nightmare."

"It sounds like Westminster Abbey on our royals wedding days." Sarah smiled, "except at this wedding mere plebs like me get invited."

"Who is your escort likely to be darling?" Mandy asked.

"A certain French-Canadian ski instructor I heard about?" asked Eve.

"Oh my God no, he's long since history. At the moment Tony Camp is pencilled in."

"The soccer player? Now he is a dish..."

"Eve didn't you hear he's only pencilled in," Grace laughed, "with Sarah these things can change rapidly."


“Not THAT quickly,” Sarah said, “but the odds are looking favourable for him right now.”


“My big problem is what I am going to wear,” Harriet said.  “I mean, at least the question of clashing with the mother is moot, but still...”


“Well, one of the reasons for next weekend is to find these things out,” Grace said, “while at the same time showing Juliette how much we think of her.”


“Better warn Tony then,” Caroline said, “he may be out by the end of the weekend...”



5 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“It really is good to have you back,” Vicky said as she watched her older sister cooking the meat to go with the spaghetti.  “We watched some of the shows on the stream – once we had finished our work.”


“Good – getting your work done is important,” Mary said, “pass me the tomatoes will you?”


"So just how many stars did you work with Mary?" Vicky asked as she passed the open tins.

"Dozens...and you can't believe how nice so many of them are."

"Did you meet Katy Carter?"

"Yes and underneath the model she's VERY like you."

"I can't believe that...she's a model...she's famous."

"She and Orion were playing cats cradle back of the shows..."

"They were?"

"Yes," Mary laughed, "made up on the catwalk they look a lot older then they actually are. About the only difference with you is that Katy just happens to have big boobs."

"And that she dresses so well."

"She arrives at shows in jeans, a shirt, and boots...that's all...Or her school uniform."


“Well, she looks so beautiful,” Alison said as she came in to get the cutlery, “but not as beautiful as you sis.”


“You’re biased,” Mary said with a smile.



6 pm Pacific Time

Hilton Union Square


“Well, I think the segment you did with James Corden worked well,” Tony said as he came into the lobby with Abby and Diana.


“Yeah – but Carpool Karaoke?  I mean...”




"JOEY!" Abigail shouted as she saw her friend across the hotel lobby, "when did you get in?"

"About an hour ago...”  She gasped as Abby embraced her, and then said “Mom and Dad are still unpacking."

"Well we are well settled in, my friend Mary has ensured we are getting first class service."

"Oh like Abigail de Ros doesn't anyway."

“No comment,” Abby said with a smile, "So did the Vancouver boyfriend make it this time?"

"No,” Joey said with a smile, “I booted him when I got home from Vienna."

"So who is your escort?"

"Trina has found me someone."

"Another one of her movie stars?"

"I haven't got a clue. She's bringing him over for me to meet later."


“Have you seen any of the others?”


“Not yet – Trina would have come home, so it’s the likes of Charly, Angel and some of the others.”


“Sounds like we have been called.”


Abby smiled as she saw Angel and Fi come out of the lifts.


 “You made it as well,” she said with a smile.  “I need to go and do something tonight, but let’s all meet up in the restaurant for brunch tomorrow.”



7.30 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“Wow – thanks Mary,” Suzie said as the three girls took the autograph book into a corner, talking quietly to each other as they looked at the names.


“So what did you get me,” David said as he sat with his sister and father, drinking coffee.


“You?  This,” Mary said as she handed him a signed CD by Meredith O’Connor.  “She put a little something in there for you.”


“Careful, Mary, you’ll have him singing next.”


"And this is for you Pops," Mary beamed happily, "I saw this in a vintage magazine shop and I got Fractures to sign the cover for you."

"Oh my GOD!" Dave looked at the vintage Sports Illustrated, "this is her real signature?"

"Yes,” Mary said, “and you are lucky she signed it. She usually doesn't, but Juliette asked nicely for me."

"WOW!" Dave shook his head.

"Dad you look like you are about 14." David laughed at his father.

"Well when I was 14, she was like a GODDESS!"

"So you've always said," Mary joined the laughter.  “Now you have something from her as well.”


David looked at his watch, and said “I need to pick the boys up.  I’ll get some drive thru for them on the way back.”


“Don’t take too long,” Mary said as she watched him grab his coat and head out.


"So Poppet, what was it really like?"

"Hard Work Pops,” Mary said with a sigh.  “An awful lot of standing round being fitted, hours of rehearsals, and when I did get some free time Missy had me going do look-sees with some of the photographers."

"It sounds like you'll be glad to see your own bed?"

"I will,” Mary said as she put her cup down, and stretched her arms up, “the thought of sleeping under my own sheets is so nice."

"Well remember you have a late night at a ball coming up tomorrow."

"Yeah, but I think that's just going to be fun. We can all relax and just enjoy ourselves."


Dave shook his head before he said “well, it’s good to have you back anyway.”


"Oh and Pop,” Mary said as she looked for her handbag, ”can you book some time off for your summer vacation if I give you some dates?"

"For what Poppet?"

"You and the whole gang have been invited to a France..."

"FRANCE...AS IN EUROPE?" Dave shouted.

"No France as In Illinois...Of course in Europe."

"But Who? Why?"

"Abby's gran is throwing this huge party for Abby's 18th on their estate, and I was specifically told to tell you that you and the kids are going."

"But what about the costs?"

"Ab’s grandfather is chartering a plane to take everyone over."

"A whole Airplane?"

"YEP.  Everyone is staying at her house, so all we need is spending money – and I think i can help with that.  So some time next week, we all go and get photos taken..."


“Lord above – I thought New York was enough, but this?”


“Drink your coffee Pops – you look like you need it.”



Saturday 20th February

10 am

Vanderbilt YMCA



“Now this,” Jeannie said as she was helped into the water, “is better.  I finally get to relax for the day, and be myself.”


“Indeed,” Ama said as she swam over with Doc, “I have missed us getting together over the last few weeks.”


“Well, we have a clear run now until Spring Break,” Nikki said as she sat on the edge of the pool with Pepsi and Becky, “which is nothing to be sneezed at.”



At the far side of the pool, Erica and Poppy were sitting with Dawn, Louise and Jess.


“So how is your mom’s move going Poppy,” Dawn asked.


“Well, they sorted out the problems with contracts – when I left, she was working on her farewell message for New Mode.”


“Hey – isn’t it the election for your aunt on Thursday?”


“It is,” Poppy said as she kicked the water with her feet, “mom and I are going to watch the coverage of the count on line.”


“Do you think she will win?”


“I think so – I saw a video of an interview she did for one of the main political commentators over there, Andrew Neil.  She gave as good as she got – and he’s a tough interviewer.”


“So what are you doing next weekend while your mom’s away Erica?”


“Mary’s offered to look after me for the weekend – as you will know Poppy Ashley, because you’re coming too.”


“True, very true,” Poppy said with a smile.



“I still think it’s strange not having Jo and Abby here,” Doc said as she swam alongside Ama.


“Well, they are here in spirit at least,” Ama said quietly as she stopped in the shallow end, and pushed herself up onto the side.  “And we will see them soon – well, i will eventually.  Mom and I are meeting up with her in Dublin for a shoot before we come back.”


“Which means you miss someone’s sweet sixteen.”


“Yeah, she does,” Jeannie said, “but I’ll forgive her.  This once.”


“But Annie will be there, so she will bring our love and our present,” Ama said with a smile.


“So are we going to hit the market after this?”


“Why not – then we can see who beats Jeannie to something this week.”


“Oh you are so dead...”






“Come in,” David McIlroy said as he sat at his desk, looking up as Deborah Winters came in.  Both were casually dressed – David in an open necked shirt, slacks and a jacket draped over the back of his chair, while Deborah wore a brown Fitzstuart jumper and dark trousers, a fleur de lis scarf over her shoulders.


“So,” David said as Deborah sat down, “where are we on the Xavier International file?”


“We have been contacted by Penn State to inform us they will act as advisors for Xavier International – Alan Kennedy is the contact person.”


“Good choice – this is going to be very interesting.  Did you ask him to drop by?”


“I did – he’s in San Francisco this weekend while his daughter attends a ball, but he indicated this is a business thing, so he wants to keep it to formal meetings.”


“I wouldn’t expect anything else,” David said with a smile, “so, from their company records?”


“Miss Xavier is the majority shareholder,” Deborah said as she consulted her notes.  “Other major shareholders are the board of directors of Xavier International – Penelope Harker, Susan Walker, Madeline Moore and Caroline Jameson.”


“Jameson – the owner of Jameson Security?”


“Indeed – Her company have very strong ties with Xavier International.”


“Interesting she has an all female board of directors..”


“There are three other minority shareholders – Charlotte Gordon, the head of their IT department, Catherine Lo based in Hong Kong, and Juliette Huntingdown.”


“Well, knowing Alan, he will have spoken to them over the week,” David said.  “Very well – I anticipate a notice of refusal some time in the next week.  Start preparing for offer letters and discussions with the minority shareholders.  We just need a foothold to make things move to the next level.”


Standing up, David said “You’ll have to forgive me Deborah – I have a lunch appointment.”


“Do give Miss Richmond my regards,” Deborah said as he put his jacket on and headed out...

1 pm

The Huntingdown Apartment


“So,” Juliette said as she sat with Klaus and Sigi, “what is the agreement with Breitz?”


“We have agreed he can come and do some filming at Furstenheim,” Sigi said, “and interview the members of the family.”


“Even Natalya?”


“Well, she is still considering,” Klaus said, “but the wedding is off limits – and you are as well.  He is interested in our family history and how, in his words ‘one of the great families manages to survive and thrive’.”


“Yes, I raised an eyebrow as well,” Sigi said as she looked at Juliette.


“Well, so long as we are off limits...”


The sound of the knock on the door took Juliette by surprise, as she walked over and looked through the spyhole.


Pippa?  What brings you to my humble abode?”


“Well,” Pippa said as she came in, “we have a lunch appointment – remember?”


“Oh of course we do – Sigi, Klaus, forgive me.  Complete Style business.”


“Go – I am sure we can find something to amuse ourselves,” Klaus said as Juliette grabbed her coat and followed Pippa out.


“Now,” Klaus said quietly, “about my present?”


“All ordered and will arrive in time.”  Sigi finished her coffee and said “so, next weekend?”


“John and I will spend some time with old friends.  I trust everything is in place?”


“Oh yes,” Sigi said with a smile, “oh yes...”


3 pm

Susan and Clint’s Apartment


“Well now,” Rose said as she looked out of the kitchen, “you look as if you have had a fun week.”


“Tell me about it,” Clint said as he put his bag down, and hung his coat up.


“Hey look,” Susan said as she came out of the front room, holding April, “daddy’s back!”




“Who’s a very clever girl then,” Clint said as he smiled and kissed both of them. 




“I would kill for something hot,” Clint said as he sat down and took April on his knee, “that was a tough week.”


“Yeah – you and me both,” Susan said with a smile.


“So how’s the fightback going?”


“We employed Alan Kennedy from Penn State National to act for us, but all of us – and I mean ALL of us – have indicated we are not willing to sell.”


“Not a lot they can do except increase the offer then.”


“True – I’m chasing up a couple of other things – such as our honoured rival.  She has an interest in insurance as well.  We’re running background on the other interested parties.”


“Funny – this is something I never ever thought I would see you fighting.”


“The two sides of Susan Walker,” Rose said as she brought the tea in.


“So,” Clint said as he took a cup, “what else did I miss – apart from your unexpected visit Rose?”



12.30 pm Pacific Time

Boulevard Restaurant, 1 Mission St, San Francisco


“Well, this appears to be a most accommodating place,” Diana said as she and Olivia went through and into the restaurant.


“Good afternoon, ladies,” the waiter said, “how may I help you?”


“The Culver party,” Diana said quietly.


“Of course – if you will follow me?”


He led them through to a set of screen doors, and then opened them as Mandy said “darlings – I was beginning to wonder what had happened.”


“Slight detour – my fault,” Olivia said as they took their seats.


“Victoria – it is good to see you again,” Diana said.


“And you,” Victoria Gordon said with a smile.


"Well ladies welcome to San Francisco," Rebecca Culver smiled as she spoke. "I'm so glad to see you all here, even if it's in a restaurant and not in my home."

"Well we all know it's best to get out of the caterers way darling." Mandy smiled back.

"Yes...  I'm assured it will be perfect for tonight, but at the moment it looks just like a war zone."

"We've all had that experience at least once this season." Kelly Rochermann said as she slipped into a chair, "and I apologise for being late, but the girls had exams yesterday and this morning’s first flight was the first one we could take."

"I understand Kelly."

"So what are the girls doing this afternoon?" Diana asked.

"What do you think darling...Their hair, their makeup, and generally fretting."

"I meant other than that Mandy," Diana said as she sipped her wine.

"Well,” Rebecca said as she looked at her watch, “I think they should just about be finishing their brunch, and then Trina is getting them to do a few photos for the local society pages."


“In return for them not bothering you later?” Victoria said.


“Precisely, Victoria.”


“And so this phase of the season comes to an end for most of us,” Diana said.


“Can I just thank you again for inviting Johanna,” Emma von Kiiebersdorf-Obersacken said from her seat, “and how good it is to see most of you again.  I do not believe I have had the pleasure however?”


“Of course you haven’t,” Rebecca said, “Emma, this is Kelly Rochermann, whose daughters were part of the New York season.  Kelly, Emma’s daughter was one of the debs at the Opernball, and we felt she had to come as well.”


“Pleasure,” Kelly said.


“Your daughters were not in Vienna?”


“We had other commitments, I’m afraid,” Kelly said as the waiter poured her wine.


"So Olivia, Mandy, Victoria - the London Season beckons for your girls?"

"Oh don't remind me," Olivia reached for her diary, "the Chelsea Flower Show, Queen Charlotte's, Royal Ascot...all the way to Goodwood and finally Abby's birthday party."

"Well at least in mainland Europe things have wound down," Terry said with a look of thanks in her eyes.

"Well we have a round of private parties, but nothing as formal as Royal Ascot to look forward to." Diana nodded.

"Abby's party though will be the ideal end for each of the girls deb year though," Kelly smiled at a waiter.


“It’s a brilliant idea – where is her grandmother’s estate?”


“In the Medoc – and in June, it will be at its finest.  The plan is for everyone in America to gather in New York and fly from there – my father is making the arrangements for that.”




“Excuse me?”


Alan Kennedy turned to see a tall, well built man standing next to him, wearing a black jacket, blue shirt and dark trousers.


“Is this Boulevard?  I’m meant to be meeting some people here for a lunch...”


“This is the place – and I think we’re going to the same lunch,” Alan said as the stranger looked at him.  His short dark hair was greying, and he could see the lines in his face, as well as a look he knew too well.  “I’m Alan Kennedy – and you are?”


“Dave Clarke – so is your daughter going to this party tonight as well?”


Dave looked at the man – trying to be casual, but he could see and tell he was East Coast money.


“Yeah – I haven’t seen you at any of the other balls.”


“Oh my Mary ain’t a deb – she’s a model, and that’s how she knows some of the other girls.


“A model...  Your daughter is Mary Clarke?  I’ve seen some of her photos in my daughter’s magazines.”  Alan looked round and said “is your wife joining us?”


“No – I’m a widower,” Dave said quietly.  “Yours?”


“Widower – twice over,” Alan said quietly.  “Well – shall we go in?”



As they went into the dining area, both men stopped and looked round.


"Alan, Dave,” Rebecca said as she walked round, “please come and join us."

"I thought the invitation said this was a parents’ lunch?" Alan looked at the table full of ladies.

"Well strictly speaking darling, it's a mothers’ lunch, but since you are both widowers we asked you along." Mandy giggled.

"Ummm ladies I'm not sure I really belong in here," Dave looked round.

"Nonsense...Dave is it?" Olivia extended a welcoming hand, "I'm Olivia, and your Mary is a friend of my daughter Fiona's."


“Sit down,” Rebecca said, “and let me introduce you.  This is Mandy, Kelly, Victoria, Katerina, Diana, Emma, Deborah, Terry and Suki.  Ladies, most of you know Alan Kennedy, but the other gentleman is Dave Clarke, Mary’s father.”


As Alan and Dave sat down, Olivia said “Don’t worry – we’re not going to bite.”


"Well I have to say that this is an improvement, having two such divine men at one of our girly gatherings." Kelly laughed at the gentlemen's evident discomfort.

"Don't let them tease you boys," Emma spoke, "we are all united by our daughters knowing each other."


“Are all your daughters models,” Dave said as he looked round.


“Sharon isn’t,” Alan said, “not that I know of anyway.”


“They are to a greater or lesser degree, darling,” Mandy drawled, “but today, they are here as friends, first and foremost.”


“Can i pour some wine for you sir?”


Dave looked at the waiter and said “I’d prefer a cold one.”


“Make it two,” Alan said, “I think I’ll join you in that.”


As the waiter went round and took their orders, Olivia said “I have to say, your daughter is a very talented young model Dave.”


“Thanks – I’m very proud of her,” he said quietly as the beer was put next to him, and he took a drink.


“So out of curiosity, do you know each other apart from the balls,” he then said.


“Well,” Olivia said, “Diana, Mandy, Victoria and I were all models in our younger days, and our daughters are following in our footsteps.”


“Terry and Katerina are sort of distant cousins,” Diana said, “and I know Kelly, Deborah and Suki from New York.  Emma and Rebecca we met at the balls.”


“I met most of them in New York,” Alan said, “so don’t worry – I felt exactly the same way.




“Hmm – oh yeah,” Dave said, “I’ll have the soup and burger please.”


“So what do you do for a living Dave?”


“I work in an autoshop, to tell the truth Ma’am...”


“Oh please – it’s Olivia.”


“Well – Olivia.  I repair cars, and that and bringing up seven kids keeps me busy.  What about you?”


“I work for some charities,” Olivia said with a smile.  “A lot of us do something like that.”


“What about you Alan?”


“Banking – but please, don’t blame me for the last few years.  I don’t work in that particular arena.”


“Well, I’ll try not to,” Dave said as he took a drink.


“Abigail told me that she had invited Mary and the rest of your family to join us for her eighteenth birthday party,” Diana said with a smile, “I do hope you will be able to come.”


“Abigail?  Forgive me, but you’re Abby de Ros’ mother?”


“The same,” Diana said as she inclined her head.


“Yeah – Mary told me last night.  We’d be honoured – but we need to sort passports and things out.”


“Oh I am sure that will not be a problem,” Diana said with a smile. 


“So we saw the photos from the show on Thursday, Olivia,” Victoria said, “you all looked magnificent.”


“Well, we tried our best,” Olivia said with a smile.  so while the younger generation party, Rebecca, what we will be doing tonight?”


“I have a cocktail bar set aside for the parents,” their hostess said, “and you are all most welcome.”


"Ladies – and Alan,” Dave said, “I can say with an awfully large sense of relief that tonight I can put my feet up and watch the game on TV, while you all get fancy."

"You aren't coming Dave darling?" Mandy asked.

"Well Mary aint a debutante...if you pardon my language, and her brother is her escort, so I get to avoid all of it."

"Shame," Kelly fluttered her lashes being openly flirty.

"Leave the poor man alone Kelly," Diana whispered in her friends ear.


“No – I also have to watch the rest of the kids anyway.  They’re going to a concert tomorrow with Mary – well, the girls are anyway.”


“Oh yes – Mick’s charity concert,” Deborah said as she looked at Olivia.  “I understand it is a sell out.”


“So he told me – so he asked a couple of friends to join him, and I’m not allowed to say any more that that...”


“How well do you know these ladies,” Dave whispered to Alan.


“Most of them only in passing – I suggest we just go with the flow, especially when...”


“So Terry – are you coming to Munich in April?”


“Oh yes – Rudolf and I will be there with Charly.  Phil and Mathi will be there as well, as well as Maxi and Wili, and Marge and Freddie.”


“Juliette told me that Charles and Camilla are also coming,” Diana said quietly.


“Hang on – Prince Charles?  And the others – Belgium, Holland and Denmark?”


“Oh yes Alan,” Mandy drawled, “it is most certainly the wedding of the year.”


“Forgive my ignorance, but who is getting married?”


“No forgive me,” Diana said, “you are the guest.  Our good friend Juliette Huntingdown is marrying Prince Klaus von Furstenheim this April.”


“I’ve met Juliette – nice woman,” Dave said as he sipped his soup.  “She’s been a great help to me and Mary recently.”


“Well, she deserves every happiness,” Kelly said, “and we will make sure she gets it.”




As the rest of the table raised their glasses, Alan leaned over and whispered to Dave “What’s the game tonight?”


“Clippers at Golden State.”


“Want some company?  I’ll bring the brews.”


“Not tempted to join them?”


“Tempted – but I just need a night off after the week I’ve had.”


Dave nodded as he said “sounds good.  Got something I can write down on?”


Alan handed Dave a card and pencil, watching as he scribbled down his address.


“Get a cab out, I’ll get someone to run you back to your hotel.”


“Thanks,” Alan said as he put them back in his jacket pocket.  “You may have just saved my life.”


7 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“Well, what do you think?”


Vicky, Alison and Suzie let out soft gasps as Mary came into the front room, holding her jacket and gloves over one arm.  The palr blue silk gown was a perfect fit, her chest just showing under the neckline, and her matching shoes visible under the skirt.


“Oh,” Dave said as he looked through, “you look...”


“Nice of you to say so pops,” David said as he came into the room, tugging on the sleeves of his tuxedo.


"Mary you look fantastic,” Alison said, “and David that tuxedo makes you look so handsome."

"Well it's a pity none of the girls at school will see me to think so." David smiled as Mary fixed his tie.

"Is Mr. Kennedy still coming over?"

"He is Poppit,” Dave said as he came through, “and we are going to watch the Warriors beat up on the Clippers.”


"Is he a basketball fan Pops?"

"He used to have 76ers season tickets, so I suppose you can't say he's a fan of the real game." Dave laughed aloud.

"Do you have your gloves Mary?" Victoria asked.

"I do."

"Okay Mary can you put 'em on so I can take some pictures?"

"Sure Pops," Mary pulled on the long gloves and buttoned them up.


“Well, it may be a few years late,” David said, “but I finally get to see my oldest girl in a prom dress.  Smile and say something funny.”


David and Mary smiled as their father took a picture of them, and then one with the girls.


“David, your car’s here?”


“Ready, big sis?”


“Ready.”  Dave helped Mary to put her jacket on, and then watched as they walked down the stairs, getting into the waiting car before they drove off.



7.30 pm

Nob Hill

The Culver Mansion


Trina came onto the terrace of the mansion with her parents, the lights reflecting on her gold silk gown, and smiled as she looked into the clear sky.


"Well our prayers have been answered." Trina smiled at her parents, "we will be able to dance on both the terraces as well as indoors."

"You are blessed," her father kissed her, "the day of your aunt Cecilia's ball it rained all day and night.."

"What about our other prayer?"

"That the West Coast and International and New York girls mix successfully?...  On that,” Trina said, “only time will tell.  But I am sure it will be fine."

“Well, the band is ready, the caterers are prepared,” Rebecca said, “now all we need is...”


"Miss there is a large dark red bus outside," one of the maids said as she approached quietly.

"My sorority sisters have arrived."

"Where there is going to be a party, I see they are early - as usual."

"Oh knock it off Daddy." Trina giggled.

"Well you had better follow Maria and go down and welcome them."


Trina smiled as she followed the maid back into the house and down the staircase, smiling as the door was opened and her sisters came in, wearing a variety of coloured gowns with their escorts.


“Welcome,” Trina said, “come in and help yourselves to a drink...”



“It’s good of you to do this for me,” Nell said as she looked at Winston, “and to organise the car for all three of us.”


“Well, Jeannie did ask, and it’s my pleasure anyway,” House said as he smiled.  Nell and Ally were dressed in long strapless gowns, Nell in green and Ally in blue, with matching wraps and elbow length gloves. 


“I’ve never been in San Francisco before,” Simon Lodge said as he looked out of the window.


“Not the best city on the west coast,” Mick Harran said, groaning as Fi kicked him in the shins.  She was wearing a cream coloured sleeveless dress with a low neckline, and a short jacket.  All three of the young men were in tuxedos, white shirts and black bow ties.



“Well, this is the place,” the driver said as he swept through the gates and pulled up outside the doors, a servant opening the car doors as the men offered their arms to the ladies.


“Once more onto the breach, dear friends,” Mick said as they walked up the stairs, and handed their invitations to the butler.


“Miss Eleanor Rochermann and Mister Winston Brewster the Fourth.

“Miss Allyson Rochermann and Mister Simon Lodge

“Lady Fiona Treharran and Lord Michael Treharran.”


“You made it,” Trina said as she came over and hugged them, “are the others in their way?”


“Oh yes – we’re the advance party,” Nell said.  “The others are coming over the next hour or so.”


“Well come through – there is a bar and food there, and the band has started playing.”


As they made their way through, some of the sorority sisters came over.


"So Mick Harran?" one of the Stanford girls asked in a sexy whisper.

"Is the property of a New York girl called Nell Rochermann, and I can warn you that you as much as look at him, she will claw you to death."

"Well if he's tied up why is he escorting his sister?"

"While she's officially coming with Winston Brewster?"

"First Fiona is a lesbian and he has been her partner all season, and secondly the House is head over heels with Jeannie Brewster, and Jeans trusts him to play 'other' with Nell and Mick."

"It sounds complicated."

"Not really, just common courtesy among friends."

"So we still don't know who your escort is Trina?"




“Miss Mary Clarke and Mister David Clarke.”


Trina looked to the door where Mary and David were standing, looking round.


"What are you doing here so early Mary?" Trina kissed her friend.

"Well,” Mary said quietly “do you want an honest answer?"


"She wanted to see as many women arrive as possible and check out her fears that her dress wasn't good enough." David laughed as Mary glared at him.

"MARY!" Trina shook her head and stood with her hands on hips, "You are wearing a Kylie Mitchell one off, people will be comparing their dresses to yours...NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!"

"It's what I told her." David shook his head.

"Plus you are a world famous model,” Trina said with a smile, “you aren't a chambermaid crashing the party in someone else's clothes...WHEN will you get it through your head Mary...YOU ARE A SOMEBODY!"

"And on that we ALL agree," Trina's mother kissed Mary, whilst her father shook David's hand.

"I hear young man you may be Stanford bound?"

"If they will accept my late application...I wrote explaining the changes in my financial status."

"I'm sure they will take it into account."


“Look, come with me,” Trina said, “House and Fi Treharran are here with the NY Sluts...”


“Mary,” Fi said as they came in, “you look fantastic.”


“Thanks – I hope I fit in...”


“Of course you do – and this is your brother?”


“Indeed – David, may I introduce Fiona and Michael Treharran, Ally and Nell Rochermann and Simon Lodge.  You already know Winston.”


“Pleasure,” David said as he shook hands, “So I guess you are British, and you are New Yorkers?”


“Close enough,” Simon said.




8.15 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills


“Make yourself at home,” Dave said as he headed to the kitchen, “we don’t stand on ceremony here.”


“Nice kids,” Alan said as he looked at the pictures, “where are they?”


“In their rooms – this is my time, if you like.”


“Yeah, I understand that,” Alan said as he looked round.


“So, can I ask an indelicate question?  Mrs Kennedy?”


“My first wife – Sharon’s mother – it was ovarian cancer.  My second wife – well, she was killed by a bunch of armed robbers.”


“Oh lord – sorry I asked.”


“It’s all right – time heals.  Your wife?”


Alan looked at the picture of the blonde haired woman as Dave said “Breast Cancer – ten years ago now.”


“I’m sorry to hear that,” Alan said as he heard the bell.


“I’ll get it,” he heard Tom say, and then a female voice say “Oh hello – is your father in?”


“Sure – come away in,” Tom said, as Alan saw a tall, red-grey haired woman come in.


“You are not Dave Clarke – would you be Alan Kennedy?”


“You have the advantage of me, Miss...”


"Hello Alan,” she said as she came in, “I'm Madeline Moore, I'm not sure if we have met or not?"

"Ah yes, the lady who runs Xavier's here on the west coast."

"Hey Maddie," Dave came out of the kitchen clutching beer cans, "can I do you fer one?"

"No thanks Dave, I'm on my way to the ball..."

"And the champagne of the poor might spoil yer taste for the champagne of the nobs eh?"

"No," Maddie laughed, "but I'm driving myself and your cops can be quite strict."

"Gotcha," Dave sat down, “Anyways what can do fer you?"

"Oh I heard Alan was here, and I just wanted to tell him that I will support Shirley's actions 100%."

"Okay duly noted."




“I’m afraid so – I’ll leave you to the game now.”


As Maddie went out, Dave passed a can to Alan.


“So, ready for a real game?”







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