The Sins of The Past – part 1









Saturday 9th April

10 am



Eleanor looked out over the ocean, smiling as she watched the seagulls dancing on the air.  Turning round, she made her way back into the kitchen and started to make some pancake mix, humming to herself.  The phone call from Tom Callaghan has brought her up to speed, and it meant she could relax more.


She turned as the door to the house opened, and Katy came in, wearing shorts and an old t-shirt.


"Oh dear Goddess that was invigorating," Katy stretched her arms overhead as she came in from her walk on the beach. "So quiet, so beautiful, just so so so peaceful."

"Well I'm glad you enjoyed it," Eleanor passed Katy a glass of OJ. "Sit down – I’m making some pancakes up and I’ll cook some bacon.”


“Sounds great – I’ve worked up an appetite already,” Katy said as she sat down.


“Oh – and I have some good news for you..."

"Oh what?" Katy sipped from her glass.

"They captured Danny Morgenstern last night...slightly worse for wear, but still alive."

Katy looked over at Eleanor as she put her glass down, and whispered "Still alive?"

"Well,” Eleanor said as she removed some turkey bacon from the icebox, “he'd been shot in the kneecaps, and beaten badly, but yes he will stand trial for his crimes."

"Well that makes a great morning...PERFECT!" Katy drowned her juice. "Did you hear Mom?"

"I did," Jan smiled a smile of relief as she came in.  “When did you hear?”


“Tom called half an hour ago – how are you feeling?”


“More awake, which is good news – how did they find him?”


“Apparently,” Eleanor said, “in a packing case at the entrance to the precinct house.  Someone wanted to show him they had strong views on what he did.


“Anyway, where is that son of mine?”


“Still asleep – that’s not bacon is it?”


“Turkey rashers – with pancakes and maple syrup?”


“Okay – so assuming he gets out of bed, what are we going to do today?”


“Nothing – yet,” Eleanor said, “given what has happened overnight, Sharon is driving Katherine up to join us.”


“Gran’s coming here as well?  YES!”


“Hey – everyone looks happy.  What did I miss?”


“It’s over,” Eleanor said to her son, “Morgenstern is in custody.”


Adam smiled as he rubbed the back of his head.  “Good – do I get to see him?”


“Depends – if you know who would kneecap him and beat him up after that?”


“Want me to draw up the list – me and Jan at the top of it?”


“Well, we know it wasn’t you – sit down, I’ll cook breakfast.”



11 am

Media Production Studios, Battery Park


The two pharmacy clerks looked on as the masked woman walked in, wearing a brown checked blouse, with a buckskin waistcoat and faded jeans, the legs tucked into her cowboy boots.


"Okay boys,” the bandit drawled, “put those hands in the air where I can see them. This is a stickup" Doc smiled under her mask as she gave the order.

"Please, please Miss don't shoot us," one of the clerks simpered.

"Well hand over the Magnilash..."

"CUT!" the director yelled...


“What’s going on,” Becca said as she sat with Nikki.


"Anna,” the director said, “this isn't working right."

"Well I'm following the script Ed."

"I know,” Ed said, “but I somehow think you are too nice a girl to be portraying a bandit."

"You need look and sound tougher Doc," Nikki smiled, "like this."

"Like how Nik?"

“Watch me,” Nikki said as she walked onto the set, and looked at the clerks.


"This is a stickup!" Nikki stood with the gun outstretched, definite menace in her voice.

"Precisely," Ed the director smiled at Nikki. "Are you an actress perchance?"

"She has a tiny role in the new Pussycat Gang movie...if that makes her an actress," Becca laughed.

"It does...look I want to phone the agency, but in the meantime Sasha darling can you get her in the spare mascara bandit outfit, I have an idea."


“What just happened?”


“You got drafted,” Doc said with a smile.


“Nikki, will you come with me please,” the wardrobe mistress said as Nikki followed her along, Doc shaking her head as she sipped a drink.


11.30 am


"How the hell do you wear these things Doc?" Nikki grumbled as the makeup artists attached the false lashes, then started applying the mascara.

"With difficulty," Doc grinned as they retouched her makeup.  “It’s all part of the...”

"Now what is this all about?" Olivia Duchamp, the executive for Magnilash, said as she swept into the studio, accompanied by a large standard poodle.  She was wearing a powder grey leisure suit, with a pink top underneath.


“Well,” Ed said as she looked over, “I had an idea for how to make the advert work with this young lady as well as Anna.”


"Hi I'm Nikki Colman." She extended her hand to shake that of Olivia’s.


"Nikki is a friend of Anna's who came to watch, but she's an actress not a model," the director talked, "can you see the ideas I proposed over the phone Olivia?"

"I can," she said as she stood thoughtfully, "who is your agent Nikki?"

"I don't have one...I've only done one small part professionally."

"Contact Norstar Olivia,” Doc grinned, "her Mom is a friend of Missy's."

"Alright I'll agree a contract with them," she said as she walked away, reaching for her phone.

"Okay girls these are my ideas," the director grinned as he started to outline the new approach.

"We are going to be here a LONG time," Becca whispered in Ama's ear, "scratch getting to the pool this afternoon as an idea."


“I would tend to agree,” Ama said as she took her phone out, “I will contact Abby and let her know.”



12.30 pm



“That’s all right – they’re expected.  Let them drive up,” Eleanor said into the handset before she put it down.


“Who was that,” Jan said as she came in from the yard, where she had been relaxing in the sun.


“Your mother’s here – they just wanted to let me know,” Eleanor said as they walked past Katy, who was talking on a laptop.


“I’m fine now Orion – it was a bit frightening at the time, but they caught him, and he’s in custody now.  From what I hear, he won’t be hurting anyone for a long time.”


“Well,” the redhead in the Skype window said “I’m just glad you survived.  Where are you anyway?  That’s not your apartment.”


“No – we were invited to stay somewhere for the weekend...”



Eleanor and Jan walked out into the cool air as the car drew up, Jan smiling as Sharon got out and walked round to the trunk.


“Nice place,” Sharon said as Jan walked down and opened the passenger door.


“You have no idea how glad I am to see you,” she said as she saw her mother sitting there.


"As glad as I am, I hope.  Did you hear about my piece of excitement last night?" Katherine asked as she got out of Sharon's car.

"I did," Jan kissed her Mom, "and thank you SO MUCH Sharon, that cannot have been easy."


"GRAN!" Katy ran out and threw her arms round Katherine.


“Well, you look a lot happier,” her grandmother said as she looked at Katy.  “Something about this place must have done you the world of good.”


“Come in both of you,” Eleanor said.  “Sharon, please join us for lunch and I’ll show you where you are sleeping.”


“Thanks – I’d like that,” Sharon said as she collected the bags, and then followed them in.


“So, I see the Carmogie player is still in you,” Adam said with a grin as he came forward and hugged her.


“It’s a family thing – now, let’s get some coffee...”



1.30 pm

Media Production Studios


“All right – hands in the air where I can see them,” Nikki snarled as she pointed the gun at the clerks, the black scarf over her lower face so only her eyes showed, the false lashes more prominent with the mascara.


“You heard my friend,” Doc said in a menacing voice, “give us what we want.”


“What do you want,” the clerk said quietly.


“All the Magnilash you have,” Doc snarled, “it really makes us stand out...”


As the two girls rehearsed, Nikki all in black and Doc still in her cowgirl outfit, Becca and Ama were sat at the back.


"Wow the bandit thing really does work," Becca looked up from some of the test polaroids that had been shot of Nikki in her black bandit outfit, "the mask the hat, etc, really mean your vision gets drawn to the eyes."

"It's a neat trick." Ama nodded in agreement.

"Ed don't you think we need Anna all in black as well?" Olivia said as she looked up from petting her dog.

"We don't have a second black outfit Olivia..."

"Well send someone out to buy one," the executive interrupted.

"You heard the lady," Ed shouted at the Wardrobe Manager.


“The lady in black – that really will stand out,” Ama said as they watched.


As they laughed, Ama took her telephone out.


“Hello Pepsi...  No, I’m afraid it looks as if we will not be able to go swimming.


“Well, Nikki stepped in to help Doc, and now she’s part of the commercial as well.


“I know – I am sorry as well, but I am sure you will find something else to do.


“All right, we will see you later tonight.  Have fun.”


“I think she may find something else to do as well,” Becca said with a grin.



2 pm

New Haven


“Essay handed in?”


“Essay handed in,” Carina said as she unfastened Judith’s coat.  “So I intend to take the rest of the day off and relax before starting a major revision binge.”


“Mamma, may we go to the playground at the water later?”


“I think so – you want to see your aunts now, don’t you?”


Judith nodded and grinned as Judy came over and hugged her.  As Carina hung her coat up, her cell phone went off.


“Can you get her a drink while I take this,” Carina said as she went into her bedroom.  “Aunt Natalya – what news?”


“Carina, my dear, I fear Edwin Breitz is indeed looking into my past.  I am told he went to the records office to look at certain dates I know I was – hunting.”


“I see,” Cari said quietly.  “I fear we need to take more direct action.”


“As do I – and preferably before Klaus and Juliette return.  Do you know their plans?”


“Ingrid and I are meeting them in Paris next Saturday, for the shoot organised by Olivia Savage.  Aunt, allow me some time to think and call you tomorrow.  We may have a window of opportunity – if we plan carefully.”



3 pm

Media Production Studios


“And cut,” Ben shouted out, “much better girls.  Well done.”


“So are we done,” Nikki said as she pulled the mask down.


“For today,” Olivia said, “but...”


Elaine Colman looked up from the papers she was reading, and said “Are we finished for today?”


“We are,” Ben said, “and they can get changed and the make up removed.  What are you thinking Olivia?”


The two young girls looked at the executive as she stroked her poodle.


"Nikki,” Olivia eventually said, “can you make yourself free Tuesday and Wednesday after school?"

“Maybe,” Nikki said, “why?”


"I want to shoot a harem scene themed advert with the two of you wearing veils...and also some stills for photo ads..."

"But I'm not a model," Nikki groaned, "I'm just a schoolfriend of Anna's."

"This morning that might have been true,” Olivia said, “but this afternoon you are one of the Magnilash girls."

"What do you think Mom?" Nikki saw Elaine sitting watching.


“Well,” Elaine said, “it’s up to you dear – but we do need to put it on a more legal footing.”


“Yes, I think we do.”


“Missy!  How do you do that?”


“Years of training,” Missy said, “I arrived back two hours ago, and was coming to see how you were doing.”


“Mary and the family?”


“In the air back to San Francisco – so Olivia, you wish to use Nikki?”


“I do – and if these work as well as I hope, we will also do some with the two of you as Ninjas in a couple of weeks or so," Olivia said as she gave her poodle a doggy treat.

"Ninja!" Doc smiled.

"I hope you have a good stuntwoman in mind," Nikki laughed, "neither of us is exactly athletic."

“Oh that is well in hand...”


Both Doc and Nikki looked at Olivia and Missy, as Doc said “so this is what Abby was talking about...”


“What is?”


“That feeling that Missy is about to drop something on you...”


"Well Missy, when we spoke a short while ago,” Olivia said with a smile, “recommended a lady from Hong Kong called Helen to come and train you quickly."

"Oh no!"  Doc looked pained..."NOT HELEN!"

"You know her?"

Doc nodded.

"Oh good...all the better."

"For whom?" Nikki whispered.


“She’s going to fly in the day after tomorrow,” Missy said, “it’ll be fun...”


“Fun to watch,” Becca whispered to Ama, who nodded as she tried not to laugh.



4 pm

Yale Boathouse, Derby, Connecticut


Judith was sitting next to Carina, drinking from her cup as the two women rowed down the lake.


“Can we go and see Aunt Molly and Aunt Kelsey, Mamma?”


“Why not – I need to talk to them anyway,” Carina said as they made their way down to where the two rowers were coming into the boathouse steps.


“Well now – look who is back from their trip to Germany,” Molly said as she got out first, Kelsey following as they lifted their boat out.


“And we have someone who has missed you,” Kelsey said as she went to her kit bag, and took out a teddy bear.


“Hello Teddy,” Judith said as she hugged and kissed the toy.


“So Specs – I hear you’ve got us a base for the training in Munich?”


“Yeah – you can take a couple of rooms at the Munich townhouse, if you don’t mind us two and Annie being around as well.”


“Our lucky mascot?  I think we can cope,” Molly said with a grin.  “Anyway – come here – we want to show you something?”


The four of them walked to where a long, dark wooden boat was placed on two sets of rests.


“What is this,” Carina said as she stroked her hand along the wood.


"It's a vintage coxed pairs boat Specs,” Kelsey said, “a Pocock wooden shell..."

"Practically a museum piece."

"I get that,” Cari said, “but what's it to do with me?"

"We want you to sit in the coxes seat and come out with us?"

Cari stared at them, before she said "Me?  Cox?  Would I have to steer?  What would happen if I crashed this beauty?"

"We'd get in a lot of trouble..." Kelsey said

"But we won't let that happen,” Molly said, “and the advantage of this compared to a modern boat is that the cox sits up..."

"And doesn't lay down."

"But what about Judith?"

"We'll take care of her," a couple of guys from the Varsity eight volunteered.


“Oh – all right,” Cari said, Judith clapping as they lifted the boat into the water, Cari taking the seat and holding the steering ropes as the rowers got in and they started to row down the river...


6 pm



“Now this was a good idea,” Jan said as she sat on the patio, “to have a barbecue and relax.”


“Gives me a chance to share me amazing charcoaling skills,” Adam said as he stood behind the grill, watching the coals as they started to glow.




Eleanor smiled as she greeted the new arrival.  “Veronica – come, meet Katherine, Jan’s mother.  Katherine, my good friend Veronica Joyce.”


“Pleasure,” Katherine said as the two women embraced.


“I see the male provider has taken his traditional position?”


"I didn't raise Adam to be a male chauvinist," Eleanor smiled, “but over the years he has developed this idea that at a barbecue it is the man’s right to do the grilling."

"Well I don't object if it means that I don't have to cook." Katherine laughed, "and besides I hear Clint has given him the secret of Clint's barbecue sauce, and that is WONDERFUL!"

"Ah!" Eleanor smiled, "well if he has a new sauce then I'll let his usurpation of the grill pass."


“Spoken like a true leader – delegate where necessary, lead where required.”


“We’re off the grid tonight Veronica – let’s just sit down and...”


Everyone looked at Katy as she came out in her bikini top and denim shorts, Katherine and Eleanor both raising an eyebrow.


"Katy that bikini is starting to look a trifle small," Jan commented as her daughter sat down.

"I know, these damn things keep growing," Katy looked down at her breasts. "I'll have to go hit Canyon and buy myself some new ones."

"Aren't they rather expensive?" Veronica asked, "I've looked in their windows, but the prices frightened me away."

"Not if you are a top model Veronica, they get a huge discount," Jan smiled.

"You'll have to come shopping with me Veronica and I'll get what you want with you."

"Well on my pay all the discounts help...Thanks Katy."


“So, getting back to the topic of conversation,” Katherine said as she closed her eyes, feeling the warm breeze on her face, “what was that song again?  We’re busy doing nothing?”


“Oh yeah...



Katy watched as her grandmother started singing “We're busy doin' nothin'
Workin' the whole day through
Tryin' to find lots of things not to do
We're busy goin' nowhere
Isn't it just a crime
We'd like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time

I have to watch the river
To see that it doesn't stop
And stick around the rosebuds
So they'll know when to pop
And keep the crickets cheerful
They're really a solemn bunch
Hustle, bustle
And only an hour for lunch”

Jan and Eleanor joined in with “La-la-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la” before Eleanor started singing.

“We're busy doin' nothin'
Workin' the whole day through
Tryin' to find lots of things not to do
We're busy goin' nowhere
Isn't it just a crime
We'd like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time

“I have to wake the Sun up
He's liable to sleep all day
And then inspect the rainbows
So they'll be bright and gay
I must rehearse the songbirds
To see that they sing in key
Hustle, bustle
And never a moment free”

Everyone then joined in with “We're busy doin' nothin'
Workin' the whole day through
Tryin' to find lots of things not to do
We're busy going nowhere
Isn't it just a crime
We'd like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time”

To Eleanor’s surprise, Veronica then started with “I have to meet a turtle
I'm teachin' him how to swim
Then I have to shine the dewdrops
You know they're looking rather dim
I told my friend, the robin
I'd buy him a brand new vest
Hustle, bustle
We never do have
We never do have
We never do, never do
Never do, never do, never do have the time
Never do have the time”


“I had no idea you knew A Connecticut Yankee, V,” Eleanor said as she looked over.


“Good – I still have surprises left,” Veronica said as Katy’s cell phone rang.


“Who is it,” Adam called over as he started to put some meat onto the grill.


“Pepsi – hey sis,” she said as she answered the call.


“Hey little sis – a bit open, nope?”


“Everyone here knows – and believe me, we’re not keeping any secrets about that amongst ourselves anymore.”


“Fair enough – so what are you up to?”


"We are having a barbecue was swimming this afternoon?" Katy asked.

"A washout," Pepsi replied, "Nikki got roped in at Doc's advert shoot, and they were there still when I last rang."

"Shit,” Katy said, “sounds like a break for Nikki though."

"Yeah, it seems Doc's acting left a little to be desired at first, but according to Ama she did improve when Nikki joined her."

Katy had to suppress a giggle before she said “She had to teach Doc to be a big bad robber?”  As she glanced over, she saw Jan looking at her with a bemused expression.


“I know – but she got it in the end.  Thing is now, they want her in the adverts with Doc, and she hates that idea.”


“Why?  I thought she liked acting?”


“Acting yes.  The prospect of the next two weeks in the company of Helen York, learning some basic martial arts?  Not so much.”


"So,” Katy said when she managed to stop laughing, “what did you and Jack end up doing Sis?"

"You are too young to know," Pepsi giggled down the phone.

"Other than that," Katy laughed.


“Actually, we went to see a film, and he’s taking me out to dinner tonight.”


“Oh very nice – anywhere classy?”


“He won’t tell me, but he did say I didn’t have to dress up.”


“So Mickey Dees, right?”


Katy smiled as she heard Pepsi laugh.  “Okay, I asked for that one, but no – not if he wants to live. 


“Anyway, I need to get going.  Say Hi to everyone for me, and I’ll see you Monday.”


“Got it – have fun Peps,” Katy said as she ended the call, and then saw everyone looking at her.


“I presume that was Nikki,” Eleanor said with a smile.


“It was – she was telling me about the misadventures of a couple of friends.”


“Doc and Nikki?”


“Yeah,” Katy said, “Doc is Anna Carlton, a very bright girl who is also an up and coming model, while Nikki is the one I told you about – she wants to be a fighter pilot.  Well, she and a couple of other friends, Becca Morse and Ama Jameson, went to see Doc film a commercial for a brand of Mascara.”


“Back up a minute,” Veronica said, “Ama Jameson.  Is she related to Caroline?”


“Her adopted daughter,” Sharon said as she sat down, “she was one of the Mazengwean slave girls who were liberated a couple of years ago.  Nice kid – I met her when I started working for Caroline.”


Veronica nodded as Katy continued “anyway, Doc starts the shoot, dressed as a bandit, but she just can’t get the menace in her voice, so Nikki shows her how.”


“And she knows because?”


“Nikki has a small part in the Pussycat Gang film, Eleanor, as the daughter of one of the families.  I think she must have been watching Cassandra Stone when they were filming.”


“So, next thing she knows, Nikki is in costume, and she and Doc are making the advert together, while one of the LerraBella executives looks on.”


“Can they do that?”


“Well, the executive managed to get Missy before she landed.  Now Nikki is possibly under contract to NorStar, and she and Doc are going to be the MagniLash girls together.”


“She might even get her card now,” Veronica said.


“Her card?”


“Her SAG card – two parts, you can apply for it, if she wants it.”


“And you know this how, Veronica?”


“You’ve never met my brother have you?”


“Your brother...”  Katy suddenly looked up and over at her.  “Don’t tell me Billy Joyce is your brother?” 


“Baby brother by ten years,” Veronica said with a grin.


“Dear god,” Sharon said as she sipped her drink, “the king of the modern Beach Party movies is your brother?  That explains the show numbers...”


“Anyway,” Jan said, “Nikki and Doc do the ad together.”


“Yeah – and then Missy turns up, Nikki’s Mom agrees in principal to a contract, and then the executive hits them with ideas for adverts – including one for them as ninjas.”


“Doc and Nikki as ninjas,” Adam said, “how are they going to look convincing?”


“Because,” Katy said with a grin, “Missy is calling in a specialist to give them a crash course in how to look convincing.”


“How does Missy...”  Jan suddenly started laughing as she said “Oh Goddess – not Helen?”


“The very same,” Katy said with a grin, “Helen York is arriving Monday, and they have two weeks with her training them.”


“Oh lord,” Jan laughed out, “can we get copies of the training tapes please?”


“Okay, what am I not getting,” Eleanor said as Adam laughed.


“Let me put it this way, Eleanor,” Jan finally said, “Giving those two over to Helen is like you are asked to train a rookie to be an expert helicopter pilot in ten days.”


“Oh, NOW I get it,” Veronica said as they all started laughing.


“Oh I needed that,” Katherine said as Eleanor stood up.  “Sharon, will you help me with the salads please,” she said as the two of them walked into the kitchen.


“Can I ask a question,” Eleanor asked as she picked up a bowl.


“Sure,” Sharon said as she picked up a plate of vegetable sticks.


“Katherine said you were incredibly cool last night.  Did you have much experience of that sort of thing before?”


“Being held at gunpoint?  Oh yes.  Doing what I did?  I followed Caroline’s instructions, and prayed she was right.”


“Well, you showed incredible bravery last night,” Eleanor said, “and I wanted to say thank you.  Where are you going to school?”


“Simmons, majoring in Business Administration.”


“Well, something tells me you will be very successful, whatever you do,” Eleanor said as they carried the food out.


“Meat will be ready in a few minutes,” Adam said, “are these sausages Kosher Mom?”


“Beef, since you asked,” Eleanor said with a smile.


“Fair enough...”


"Do you enjoy car racing Veronica?"

"A bit...” Veronica said as she looked over, “why Jan?"

"I was wondering if you want to come watch the weekend after next at Watkins Glen, we are running the six hour race there."




“RCM Racing – I’m the C in RCM.”


“Are you now?  Well, that might be interesting.”

"Do I get invited as well?" Eleanor said as she came and sat down with some sausages.

"Of course dear mother-in-law." Jan laughed.


Eleanor looked over at Adam before saying “is there something you forgot to tell me Adam?”


“Not that I’m aware of – Jan?”


“Sorry, I couldn’t resist,” Jan said with a smile, “but if Katy is going to start calling you Gran, then you are as close to a mother-in-law as I’m getting at the moment.”


“Are you sure you’d want me as a mother-in-law,” Eleanor said with a smile.


“Enough – let’s eat,” Katy said as Adam sat down at the table.




7.30 pm

Temple Hill Hospital


“Knock knock – may we come in?”


"Hello Gale, Hello Alain," Jeanne pronounced the little ones name in the French style.  “Come in, come in.”

"Hello Jeanne," Gale leaned over and kissed the new mother.  “So Allan will at least have one boy from our set to get to know growing up."

"He will, and these two handsome men can fend off the girls together." Jeanne cradled her newborn in her arms and looked into his eyes.

"Yes, or else help John Boyd out." Gale sat on the edge of the bed. "So how are you?"

"A bit tired,” Jeanne said, “but I've been laying here wondering if any of us will go to quite full term?"

"Knowing her luck,” Gale said as she tickled Adam’s chin, “it will be Annie, and her baby will be late."

"Probably," Jeanne smiled.

"Has your Mother...?"

"She's been in and out yes, an old friend from the French Consulate though has taken her out to eat."

"Well that is nice, and what of your father?"

"He looks like he's walking on clouds," Jeanne smiled again, "and he swears Adam will not race cars..."


"No he sees at his weight him doing something far safer...riding race horses." Jeanne rolled her eyes.

"Whoops!" Gale held her manicured hand to her mouth as she laughed.  “Listen – what of Adam’s father?  Will you tell him?”


“When I have the chance,” Jeanne said with a smile, “when I have the chance...  So what of the others?  Has Tom managed to get some sleep?”


“Well, he woke up late this morning, and feels much better for it,” Gale said.


9 pm

New Haven


“Hey there,” Carina said as Juliette appeared in the chat window, “One week of your new life over.  You look ridiculously bronzed already.”


“Yeah,” Juliette said with a smile.  “I wonder if they’ll need to lighten my skin next weekend in Paris?”


“Can you imagine Pru will have let her tan die down?”


“True, very true.  Hey little one – are you behaving yourself?”


“Yes Grammy.  Where’s Grappy?”


“He’s getting ready for us to go out for a late dinner little one.  So what did you do today?”


"Mamma went out woing," Judith proudly told her grandmother on the screen.

"She did what darling?"

"She went woing with Aunt Kelsey and Aunt Molly."

"Does she mean rowing Cari darling?"

"She does Mom, and I wasn't pulling an oar. They dug out this antique wooden shell in the boathouse, and all I did was sit in the coxes seat..."

"Mommy helped it go VERY fast," Judith pronounced.

"I didn't," Cari smiled, "but I did have fun."

"Good,” Juliette said, “but now I have a question.”


“And that is?”


“What is this about Katy?"


“Ah – right.  First up, we didn’t tell you because things moved fast, but in essence Katy’s stalker nabbed her and held her in his basement.”


“Damn,” Juliette said quietly, “so what happened?”


“From what Heather told me, Jeanne and another agent were assigned to help the NYPD, and then possibly one of the most unusual teams ever assembled got to work.”


“Oh?  And who was in it?”


“Caroline,” Cari said as she counted off on her fingers, “Jeanne and Erin Corben from the FBI, Moletti and Morgan from the PD, Eleanor Ball – and the Hidden Hand.”


“Now that is an unusual team,” Juliette said, “was that it?”


“Nope – you need to throw in Tommy the Fish and his friends, Sharon Kennedy, Jane Molloy and Tom Julian.  At any rate, they found her when she, by all accounts, showed her captor what she thought – and then ran straight into the arms of the police.”


“And her captor?  Did he get away?”


“At first – but Tommy had eyes on him, as well as others.  The bad news is, he broke into Jan’s apartment and tried to kill Katy.”


“Goddess,” Juliette whispered.


“The good news is, they weren’t there – Eleanor Ball had taken them to her house in Annapolis, so only Sharon Kennedy and Katherine were in the apartment.  They chased him off, only for him to fall in the hands of Tommy.  Apparently, they then held their own trial.”


“Did we help?”


“I could not possibly comment – save that Miss Leopard and Miss Tigress may have expressed their displeasure right after he was kneecapped.”


“At special invitation?”


“At special invitation,” Cari said with a grin.  “Apparently he was delivered on ice to the police in the early hours.”


“So that bit is over?”


“I think so – I went to see Jeanne as well.  Adam is such a cutie.”


9 pm

The Village


“Hello Mister Callaghan,” Ama said as she opened the door, “please, come up.”


“Tom,” Caroline said as she looked up, “How are things?”


“Well, the case is fairly cut and dried,” Tom said as he sat down.


“May I get you something to drink, Mister Callaghan?”


“Some coffee, if you can,” Tom said with a smile as Ama went to the kitchen.  “Where’s Annie tonight?”


“She went round to see Grace and the others,” Caroline said as Ama brought two mugs through, and then went to her room.


“So, the unfortunate Master Morgenstern?”


“Well, someone showed their displeasure – kneecapped and then his face and chest beaten to a pulp?  Do you know anyone who would do that?”


“I can think of various people – but I am sure they will all have solid alibis for last night.”


Tom nodded as he took a drink.  “Anyway, I’ll see Adam and Jan on Monday, but they can come back in any time.  I need to ask you a question?”




“Sharon Kennedy?”


“She has a concealed weapon licence,” Caroline said, “and I asked her to stay in case he turned up.  I did not expect him to do what he did however.”


“And now?”


“She is in Annapolis – she drove Katherine there, and will bring them back tomorrow.”


“Well, she was good,” Tom said, “very good...”


Sunday 10th April

7am Local Time

Harare, Zimbabwe


They were meeting in one of the more well to do areas of the town – which meant the piles of rubbish were manageable and organised.  He was nervous, looking round as if even those had eyes.


“Relax,” the woman he was standing with said.  “Nobody can see us here, nobody will know what you have done.”


“Still, he has eyes everywhere.”


“So – Bavaria Ranch?”


“He has lived a charmed life – but his time is up.  The old man has had enough – and the word is certain people he was unhappy with were last seen heading there before they disappeared.”


“You are certain?”


The man nodded as his eyes darted from side to side.


"And we have how long?" the masked white woman asked as she passed over the bundle of US dollars to the nervous looking black man.

"Three days, four at the most...then they are sending in the Economic Security Unit."

"AKA the land grabbers...Ja?" the woman said in a faintly Scandinavian accent.

"Yes...they will go in with a full two companies of troops, and the troops will have orders to shoot to kill."

"Even innocents?"

"Are there innocents left in this country?" the man asked cynically as he counted his money, "here if you don't look out for yourself, who else is going to do so?"

"Ja." she nodded.  “I understand how that can happen.”

"Alright it is all here, the details are in this folder."

He handed over a manila folder, the masked woman nodded as she looked at it.  "Good.  We offer our thanks."

"Now I'm out of here."

"And I guess I should be as well,” the woman said, pulling down her mask as the man ran to his car.  She walked round the corner to a waiting vehicle, getting in and flicking through the contents of the folder.


“Gode Gud - han är I verkliga problem,” she mumbled to herself before she took out a headset, and slipped it on.


“Little Mother, this is Blondie – are you receiving me?”


“Loud and clear Blondie,” Charlotte said as she crouched over the radio set, “I take it the meeting went well?”


“It did – and you were right.  The man is in very deep trouble – and I now have the records and plans to prove it.”


“I am going to kill him when I next see him – right after I thank him,” Charlotte said as she shook her head.


"Thank God there are still dishonest individuals open to straight-forward, old-fashioned, bribery Little Mother," Margaretha spoke into the tiny transmitter.

"Agreed Blondie...  Can you drop what you got off at the South African High Commission, and make sure its marked eyes only for Suzu Makaruti."

"Is she a sister?"

"No,” Charlotte said, “but Uncle John trusts her implicitly."

"Alright...what is her cover?"

"She works on tourist contacts and publicity for SA, so perfectly normal she'd see as famous a photographer as you."

"Alright, that sounds perfect."


“My thanks again Blondie – keep safe.”


“You too, Little Mother,” Margaretha said as the line went dead.  Charlotte sat back and picked up her mug of coffee, grimacing as she took a drink.


“We need to get some of the Turkish coffee brought in,” Liz said with a smile.  “So, it does not sound good?”


“It’s not – we have four days top to get our plans in place.  When are we due to meet our contact?”


Liz glanced at her watch.  “In two hours.  You’d better get ready – she’s coming here to visit her sister.”


1 pm Local Time

The South African High Commission, Harare


Margaretha looked round, wearing an open necked blue blouse with a sand coloured jacket and skirt, as the sound of footsteps approaching made her turn.  She looked at the tall, slim, dark haired woman who was approaching her, conservatively dressed and with long black hair.


“Margaretha Olsen?”


“That’s me,” she said as they shook hands.


“Suzu Makaruti – would you like to come with me and we can sort the paperwork out for your visit.”


“Of course – it’s very kind of you to do this for me,” the blonde Swede said as they walked into a private office.  “I know it is a little outside your usual remit, however...”


“We are in Zimbabwe, Miss Olsen – I think I understand,” Suzu said as they sat at a desk. “So, you have the forms and your passport?”


“Here we go,” Margaretha said as she handed the documents over.


“Well, that all seems to be in order – just let me take a copy of this and we’ll get this processed as a matter of urgency.”


“Which will take?”


“You can collect the permits and visa first thing in the morning,” Suzu said as she went off.  As she left the room, Margaretha slipped a manila folder from her bag and placed it under the envelope with the forms.


“There we go,” Suzu said as she returned, and handed her passport over.  “If you will return at nine tomorrow?”


“Of course – and thank you again for your help,” the Swede said as Suzu picked up the documents, and escorted her out of the building.  Suzu then walked to her office, sitting down and checking the application – and then noticing the package.


“For Suzu Makaruti – for her eyes only?”


She stood up and locked her door, before she looked at the documents inside the folder.  It took her a moment to realize what was been said, as she picked up her telephone and dialled a number.


“Come on, come on,” she whispered.


“This is Colonel John Vosloo.”


“Request secure line.”


“One moment,” she heard John say, and then “Suzu – what do you have for me?”


“Bad news – I just received documentation proving they plan to hit Bavaria Ranch in the next few days.”




“By personal courier I think – John how would they get this?”


“Story for another day – Suzu, send the material to Hennie, not me, by diplomatic pouch now.”


“Why not you?”


“Long story – but do it, and thank you.”




The Richmond Mansion


“Oh – hello Alan,” Sandy said as she opened the door.


“Thanks for allowing the kids to come round,” he said as he came in, Andrew and Dawn looking round, “I need to get some things done today, and with Sharon away...”


“I understand – and don’t worry, they’ll be fine here.”


“Oh hi Andrew,” George said as he came out of the kitchen, carrying a pizza, “want to come up with me?  We can leave the girls to their thing.”


“Hello Dawn,” Sands said as she came out.  Like Dawn, Sands was wearing a jumper and jeans.  “Come on through – the girls are in here, and Heather has pizza and Coke for all of us.”


“I’ll call back for them later tonight – and thanks again,” Alan said as Dawn went through with Sands into the drawing room.


“Dawn – welcome.  Come and have something to eat and drink.”

"Thanks for having me over Sands." Dawn Kennedy smiled as she took a glass of pop and a slice of pizza from Heather.

"Well it's about time you started to get to know everyone."


Dawn nodded as the two tallest girls, wearing t-shirts and shorts, came over.

"I'm Shawnee."

"I'm Liz."

"Hi," Dawn shook hands with the two taller girls.

"We are Laura and Cassie,” the other two girls said in sync.

"Well, it's nice to meet you all," Dawn smiled.

"So any more news from Katy?"

"Not much Shawnee," Sandy ate some more pizza, "they had a barbecue last night, and today they plan to have a relaxing day then drive home tonight."

"Poor Katy, I can't imagine being alone like that..."

"But weren't you robbed?"

"We were Liz,” Dawn said “but at least my Dad and sisters were there with me...Katy was all alone."

"I get what you mean."

"We were terrified," Dawn shook at the bad memories, "but we helped each other."


“Well, Katy’s made of strong stuff – but you didn’t see her on Friday,” Sands said.  “She was nervous as anything, trying not to shake.”


“She must have been brave,” Laura said, “to get away the way she did.”


“Well, we give her the biggest cheer when she gets back,” Shawnee said.  “So, plans for this afternoon?”


“Let’s eat and hang out first,” Sands said, “and then decide.”



“Wow – some bedroom,” Andrew said as he looked round George’s room.


“Thanks,” George said with a smile, “here – have a slice.”


“Does your sister invade your space like Dawn does with mine?”


“Not really – and I stay out of her room as a rule as well,” George said as Andrew took a slice of pizza.  “Don’t get me wrong, I love Sands, but we both need our place to be ourselves.”


“Yeah – Sharon’s like that with her room,” Andrew said, “but she’s off to college in August, so we’ll see what happens then.”


“Hey – want to play a game?  I just got the latest upgrade to Destiny.”


“Wow – have you got a spare controller?”


“Here you go,” George said as he handed one over, “let’s see what we can do...”



“What’s going on,” Jo said as she came in with Curt.


“Peace have descended,” Sandy said.  “The girls are in there, the boys are upstairs, and the adults are going to get lunch in the kitchen.”


“Sounds good to me,” Curt said as they made their way through.




US Naval Academy, Annapolis


“Captain Ball,” the guard said as he saluted Eleanor, “what brings you here today?”


“Showing my son and his partner’s family round – I trust there is no issue with that?”


“Of course not – but I will need to see some ID for the adults.”


Adam and Janice passed over their FBI badges, while Sharon passed her driving licence and Katherine her ID card.


“Excellent – thank you agents, ladies,” the guard said before he indicated the gates should be open, and Eleanor drove onto the base, making her way to the car park outside the Levy Centre.


“One of the advantages of rank – I get to park in places like this,” Eleanor said as she got out, and waited for the others to get out.  She was wearing her old naval uniform, while Adam was in an open necked shirt, slacks and a sports jacket.  The others were wearing short sleeved blouses and skirts.


“Do you have to wear your uniform whenever you come here,” Katy said as she looked at Eleanor.


“I guess I don’t have to, but it is expected,” she said as she put her cap on, “so be warned – I may end up getting saluted by a few people.  Don’t worry about it?”


“Leave that to me,” Adam said with a grin as they headed towards the river, Eleanor saluting back as some of the midshipmen saluted her.


“This is bringing back a few memories,” Jan said as she looked round.


“Where’s this assault course, Mom?”


“Over the river,” Jan said as the party turned and looked at the boat house.


“It seems so peaceful here,” Katherine said, “and yet it is a military academy.”


“Well, it’s not as raucous as West Point, unless they’re visiting for Varsity sports,” Eleanor said as they walked along, “it’s the weekend so a few of the midshipmen will be on weekend passes, and the rest studying for exams.


“Here – we’ll cut across the quadrangle,” she said as they turned and walked past an athletics track, where some of the students were training, and walked across a grass courtyard towards a chapel.


“That,” Eleanor said, “is where John Paul Jones is interred – we can have a look after we have eaten.”


“And where are we going to eat Gran?”


“I’m so glad you asked,” Eleanor said as they walked past a pedestrian entrance, and entered an old building.


“Captain,” the uniformed officer said as he stood and saluted, “your card please.”


“I’d forgotten you were a member,” Adam said as the officer checked Eleanor’s card, and then said “welcome back Ma’am.  These are your guests?”


“They are.”


“Very good – you know the way,” he said as he saluted again, and Eleanor walked through, removing her cap as she did so.


“What is this place,” Jan asked.


“Welcome to the Naval Academy Club,” Eleanor said as they walked along an oak lined corridor, and then through two doors.




To Jan and Katherine’s astonishment, and Katy’s amusement, most of the room stood to attention as Eleanor looked round.


“At ease,” she said, the room relaxing as she looked at the man who had called out. “Are you going to do that every time I come here, Chief?”


“Very likely Ma’am,” the veteran said with a smile.  “Your usual table is ready.”


“Thank you,” Eleanor said as the party of six walked in, Sharon looking round as if she could not quite believe she was here.



8 pm CET


The Buchenwald Townhouse


The sun was setting, the street lights illuminating the street outside as Natalya looked out of the window.  The radio was playing quietly in the background, but the music was lost to her as she surveyed the street scene, the people walking past.


“Come on,” she whispered to herself, “I know you’re out there, but where?”  She tapped her foot nervously, the high leather boots she was wearing creaking as she did so, but there was nothing unusual she could see.


Which worried her even more.  Natalya Buchenwald was not feeling happy that particular Sunday night. Every time she stepped outside she was conscious of the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. She was pretty sure she was being followed, and as used as she was to taking precautions, she was certain she was being photographed.

Whoever it was though was good, and he, she, or even them, were beginning to get on her nerves. They were cramping her style, they were stopping her being herself.
Inside she was feeling that familiar stirring to do something, to hurt someone, to kill someone, but her superior sense of caution was warning this was not the time. She had doped her husband fully intending to venture out, but instead she found herself pacing her own drawing room. What was that expression?...Oh yes...she was all dressed-up with nowhere to go.

Inwardly she wondered if it was Breitz's people she could sense, the police were in her opinion too stupid, but that man worried her.  He was asking questions, and the talks she had afterwards with some of the local townsfolk had informed her he was asking about Brigitte, and about their memories of her when she was a child.


It was becoming increasingly obvious to her he would have to be dealt with – but to do so would invite far too many questions, unless it was done in a way that ensured she had all the information he had collected.  That would require someone with specialised skills – but did she know anyone who...


And suddenly, a plan started to formulate in her mind.  The issue was, to execute it would require asking for specialised help – and the one person who could contact the one person who could do this was not in a position to be contacted.


Perhaps, however, there was another way to keep it in the family.  Walking quickly to a laptop, she opened it and made a Skype call.  She smiled as it was answered by a petite blonde.


“Aunt Natalya?  Were you going out?”


“I was,” she said to Carina, “but plans change.  Are you alone?”


“Yeah – Judith’s having a nap and Jude is out practising for her exams.  What’s up?”


“Carina – last May your mother was able to call on the Hidden Hand to help us with finding young Gale?”


“Yes – and?”


“Carina, I find myself in need of her help.  Is there any way you can contact the most skilled and esteemed woman?”


Carina sat back for a second, and said “I’ll ask Mom – she’s calling later. This is getting serious, isn’t it?”


“It is – when can we meet?”


“I’m coming to Paris next week for the Nick Wu advert – can you make it down?”


“I believe I can make the arrangements.”


“Good – if Mom makes the contact, you’ll hear from the Hand?”




“Trust me – you will hear from her...”


5 pm



“Now this is how to end a weekend,” Eleanor said, smiling as she relaxed.


“Oh I have to agree,” Katy said as she looked out through her sunglasses.  “This really was what we needed – thank you for letting us come.”


“Oh believe me, I’ve enjoyed it as much as you have,” Eleanor said.




“Yes dear?”


“Can I come here to visit again please Gran?” Katy asked as she sat next to Eleanor on recliners on the patio looking out over Chesapeake Bay.


“Of course you can Katy,” the older woman smiled, “feel free to ring anytime you want to come visit.”


“Well it all depends on my school and modelling schedules, but yes I definitely want to come back.”


“Well I’m more than happy to have you.  I’d forgotten how nice it was to have a young voice around the place.”






“Gran,” Katy said as she turned to look at Eleanor, “I get sort of nosey…”


“So Jan and Katherine have told me.  A very useful trait, if used correctly.”


“I know, secrets tend to unwind round me,” Katy giggled, “but what I wanted to ask was…”


“Go on,” Eleanor said as she sat up.


“Are you still a spy?”


Smiling, Eleanor said “who said I ever was one dear?”


“You worked in Naval Intelligence according to Adam,” Katy said, “doesn’t that automatically make you a spy?”


“It depends on how you split hairs Katy,” Eleanor took off her large sunglasses.


“Split hairs?”


“Well - technically, spies gather intelligence, I always worked mainly in counter-intelligence, that is trying to catch spies…Do you get the difference?”


“I guess so…” Katy paused and looked thoughtful. “So what is Veronica’s job then?”


“She is also in intelligence, but her targets are criminals.”


“Oh you mean drug smugglers, people smugglers, that sort of person?’


“Exactly dear, Veronica has huge responsibilities for the New York area of the United States Coast Guard.”


“So did you know her from the academy here?”


“No she went to the Coast Guard Academy…it's like Annapolis, just about a quarter sized.  We worked together a few years ago on a case, and have remained friends ever since.”


“Okay…I think I understand.” Katy turned over, “but you still didn’t answer my question…Are you still a spy?”


“Technically no,” Eleanor put her glasses back on, “but I do keep some of my old contacts active, and I’m available as they know to help out - when they need to use a civilian to have official deniability.”


“Wow!” Katy whistled, “and I thought being a model was cool.”


“Oh I think being a model is VERY COOL darling.” Eleanor smiled as Jan approached.


“Is she interrogating you Eleanor?”


“Rather skilfully Jan.  I think he is going to make a first rate lawyer if she takes that path.”


“That’s my daughter.” Jan sat down and said, “Eleanor can I ask a favor of you?”


“Certainly Jan, and what might it be?”


“Some English friends are in town on Wednesday night and they and the Morse’s are coming to dinner, would you like to come?”


“I’d love to Jan,” Eleanor said, “but why the formal invite?”


“It’s the first REAL dinner part she will have thrown,” Katy grinned, “you’ll be among the guinea pigs.”


“Aha well I understand,” Eleanor smiled as she sat up. “Should I bring anything?”


“Just a date to keep numbers even please.”


“George is my date as always.” Katy laughed.


“Well,” Eleanor said with a smile, “I think even at my age I can raise up a date.”


“Good.  It should be a fun evening.”


“So who are the other test subjects?”


“The Leventhal's, their son dates the eldest Morse girl…  Yvonne Leventhal has become a dear friend…”


“Mom asked her for lots of advice about you.” Katy blabbed.


“You did?” Eleanor lifted her glasses again and looked at Jan.


“I did,” Jan blushed “Yvonne is an expert on Jewish mothers in law.”


“Oh I think she and I need to have a chat.” Eleanor smiled contentedly.


“We’re packed,” Katherine said as she came back in.  “Adam says he’ll drive, and Sharon will follow us.”


“They’re not worried are they?”


“No – but she does have to bring my car back,” Jan said with a smile.



7.30 pm


"So tell me more about this Helen York?" Eleanor asked while Adam drove the SUV northwards. "Who is she?"

"Technically,” Jan said, “she's the Executive Assistant to Catherine Lo, who heads Huntingdown's operations in Hong Kong."

"Which with you being a director of Huntingdown's,” Eleanor said, “means she in a way works for you?"

"I suppose," Jan smiled, "but away from the office she's a professional class dancer, with several martial arts black belts."

"She sounds a formidable young woman," Eleanor made a mental note to check out one Helen York.

"That she is Mom,” Adam said, “ and what makes her worse is that as an instructor whether teaching dance or martial arts, she's tougher then old Gunnery Sergeant Blaxo used to be at Quantico."

"Oh now darling, that is impossible."

"You wait till you see Helen in action," Adam laughed.  “She has worked with other friends of ours, and transformed them.”

"Tell Gran Eleanor what her hobby is," Katy giggled.

"She has time for a hobby?"

"Oh yes," Jan laughed, "she describes it herself as she likes making bangs."

"Bangs?" Veronica enquired from the rear seats.

"She makes her own fireworks." Katherine replied.

"She really sounds VERY formidable then," Eleanor made a further note, a martial arts expert with knowledge of explosives...   That was certainly someone worth checking out...maybe Madame might know something of her?  Make use of her?




9 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


As the car rose into the air, taking John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Jeannie turned off the player and looked at the others.


“And I thought Ama’s party was going to be tricky,” Becca said as she sipped her drink.  “So, ideas?”


“Poodle skirts and Peter Pan collar blouses,” Doc said as she looked at her notes.


“Pedal pushers and round collared tops – and chiffon scarves,” Ama said.


“This is going to be fun,” Jeannie said, “and that’s without going into high fashion.”


“Thank the Goddess,” Doc said, “I have no wish to repeat the Dior experience this week.”


“Did you guys notice the make up?”


“Full red lipstick, hair in ponytails or lots of hairspray.”


“Fairly much so – Ama, any thoughts?”


“Apart from the distinct lack of any with my colour of skin in the film?”


“We’ll let that one pass,” Jeannie said.


“Oh I agree...”


“So what presents are we getting?”


“I will go with Mom after school tomorrow,” Ama said.  “I hope we find something appropriate.”


“I found something really special,” Jeannie said, “and I am saying no more than that.”


“Well, it’s going to be a fun night anyway...”


9 pm

The Colman Home


Elaine picked up the pen and signed where Missy Auerbach indicated as Bradley and Nikki watched.


“Is that it?”


“It is - Well I think that is now official,” Missy looked up from her pile of contracts. “Welcome to Norstar Nikki.”


“I can’t believe that my daughter is under contract as a model and as an actress,” Bradley said as he shook his head.


“Well she is,” Elaine smiled.


“I can’t believe it either Dad,” Nikki said as she looked at him.


“Oh believe it Nikki, Lerrabella are loving those ads you and Doc shot,” Missy put the contracts in her case, “you made a big hit.”


“All I was doing was showing Doc how to deliver her line.”


“That can be all it takes sometimes,” Missy smiled.


“So what kind of work do you see Nikki getting Missy?”


“Beyond mascara ads Elaine?”




Missy put her case down and thought for a moment.  “I really am not sure,” she eventually said, “purely as a face I’d not have signed her, but as she showed give her lines and she excels.”


“I do?”


“Yes darling…YOU DO.” Her mother patted her leg.


“So,” Missy said as she stood up, “we get her Equity card and I’ll start trying to find more commercials, and other acting parts for her.”


“A bit out of your usual line Missy,” Bradley remarked.


“Well I have represented a few models who can act as well, and thanks to our tie-up with Maddie on the West Coast, she can also help out.”


“Well as long as everyone remembers I want eventually to go to Annapolis.”


“That’s why we made this a two-year deal Nikki,” Missy checked her phone, “Now I guess I better head for my bed, I have a LONG week coming up.”


“Oh – it’s not Fashion Week again is it?”


“No – but there is this gathering in Paris on Saturday and Sunday I need to be prepared for...”


9.30 pm

West Central Park


The apartment was in darkness, until the door opened and the light from the hallway shone in – until Sharon found the light switch and put the light on.


“Back home at last,” Katherine said as she hung her jacket up, “can I offer anyone a drink?”


“I’ll take a glass of warm milk Gran.”  Katy grinned as she put her jacket on a hook, and made her way to the main room.


“Okay milk for Katy, what can I get for the rest of you?” Katherine smiled, “a hot drink, or a real drink?”


“I’ll take some of that decent Irish whiskey I noticed you had,” Eleanor smiled, “and then Veronica and I will take a cab to our hotel.”


“You know there is always the spare room if you are willing to share a bed ladies.”


“No thanks Jan,” Veronica said, “I need be at what the press call an undisclosed location at six.”


“Okay point taken Veronica.”


“And I’ll just keep her company.”


“If you say so Mom.” Adam nodded. 


“Well, there are a few things we need to discuss – privately,” Eleanor said as she winked at Katy.


“Do you want anything Sharon?”


“No thanks Katherine,” Sharon said as she checked her phone, “I’m going to call a cab and head home before Dad and the kids succumb totally to worry.”


“Ah, yes point taken.  I’m sure they will have missed you.”


“Alright all, it’s been an INTERESTING weekend,” Sharon smiled, “but I’m off.  I need my beauty sleep.”


“Byeeee and Thank You for everything,” Katherine said as she hugged the younger woman.


“Sleep well,” Jan said as she kissed her cheek.


“I’ll tell Caroline how impressed we were,” Adam gave her a hug.


“I’ll second that,” Eleanor kissed the departee.


“THANK YOU SO MUCH!” Katy flung her arms round Sharon before accompanying her to the door.


“Nice kid – I think Caroline has a good one there,” Eleanor said as she sat down.”


“Now whiskey’s for all us grown-ups…and hot milk for Katy,” Katherine said as she started doing the drinks.


“Maybe I ought to have had a whiskey?” Katy asked.


“NO!” everyone else replied in unison.


“Spoilsports…and just remember who here is the top model.”


“And that brings us to the root cause of this weekend’s fuss.” Jan sighed as she sat down next to Adam. “Katy love - maybe we ought to think about toning down some of the assignments you accept.”


“Mom all that would do is start turning the paedophiles on,” Katy took her milk then sat cross-legged on the floor. “Face it with these ladies, I’m not exactly cut out to model young miss clothes.”


“She has you there,” Eleanor spoke quietly, “chronologically she may be 13, but that body is far more mature looking.”


“Exactly Gran.”


“Well what should we do?” Jan sipped her drink.


“Pretty much what we have been doing I guess.” Katherine said thoughtfully, “just taking extra care about perverts, etc.”


“It really is all you can do Jan.” Eleanor nodded.


“Well I’m still going to worry like hell…at least for a while.”


“I know you will darling, but I know Katy is sensible,” Katherine said.


“And after all she sensed this guy was there from the start?” Adam put his arms round Jan.


“All right then – but we talk with Missy in the morning all right?  At least you weren’t invited to the shoot this weekend.”


“The adults in play at Paris?  I’m glad – I want to spend time with the girls over the next week,” Katy said as she sipped her milk, and then yawned.


“Bed young lady,” Eleanor said, “you have a busy day tomorrow...”



Monday 11th April

7.30 am

The Brewster Brownstone


“There you are,” Barbara said as Jeannie wheeled herself into the kitchen, “ready for another week at the coalface.”


“As ready as I ever am,” Jeannie said with a smile as she poured herself some orange juice.  “Will you see Jeanne today?”


“I think she’s been discharged later, but I’ll try and pop in before I start my shift,” Barbara said as she started to make some coffee.  “What have you got today Dad?”


“Vanessa wants me to run her out to Curragh – there’s someone coming out to do some research for Juliette,” John said as he sat down.  “I’ll be late back, but not too late.”




“Yes dear?”


“Do you remember that outfit I modelled in London last year?"

"You wear so many costumes in one shoot,” Barbara said as she turned round, “how am I supposed to remember just one?"

"Sorry, what I meant was the fifties one I wore while I posed on the Vespa for John?"

"Now that one I DO nearly gave me a fit with that pose." Barbara finished laying the breakfast table.

"Well do you think John knows where to get it from?"

"Why?...Oh now I get it...for the Sweet Sixteen?"


"Well you can but ask, and yes you looked pretty special in that."

"My granddaughter always looks special," John kissed her.

"She looked extra special then." Barbara laughed.

"So, do you want me to ring John Hammond and ask?"

"If you don't mind Mum?” Jeannie said as she started her corn flakes.

"Are you alright driving to school Jeans?"

"YES MOM!" Jeannie grinned, "you need to learn to trust that I've passed my test and I do know what I'm doing."

"Stop worrying every morning love," John looked up from the newspaper, "Jeannie is a safe little driver."


“I know – but you can’t blame me for worrying,” Barbara said as she passed mugs of coffee round, and then sat down.


8 am

West Central Park


“I know, I know, I’m LATE!” Katy yelled as she ran into the kitchen.


“Well good thing your French Toast and juice is already on the table then.”


“Thanks Gran,” Katy kissed her grandmother before she sat down.


“Have you forgotten anything darling?” Jan asked as she came in.




“Then why was your English assignment still on the coffee table?”


“Was it? I could have sworn I packed it.”


“Katy you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on.”


“Ah Katherine,” Adam grinned, “Isn’t it nice all is back to normal.”


“Indeed – so we are going to have a quiet few days, right?”


“I hope so – but with Jeanne off for a few weeks now, our workload increases...”


8.55 am

Bishop Walden School


“Good morning girls,” Miss Hooper, the deputy principal said as the school sat in the assembly room, “and welcome to a new week at the school.  May I start by saying how glad we are to have Katy safely back amongst us.


"Now, while I'm sure you all have a million questions for Katy, can I please ask you to refrain from mobbing her and to treat this as a perfectly normal day," Miss Hooper asked the school assembly.

"Normal?" Katy whispered in Sandy's ear, "after everyone lined up to clap me into the yard from Caroline's car?"

"Well you deserved that." Sandy smiled at her bestie.

"Just remember that it is school picture day on Wednesday..."

The girls started to groan.

"And I know how popular that is," Miss Hooper laughed, "but your parents like them."

"Can we wear makeup Miss?" a girl asked.

"Very much in moderation Shannen." Miss Hooper looked at some of the slightly older girls, "I hope you all understand what that means?"

"YES MISS!" a group of girls replied in unison.

"Alright I think that is all the announcements over," the deputy principal looked at her watch, "time for your first classes girls."


“Normality – just what I need,” Katy said as she and her friends walked to the class.




2 pm Local Time

Bavaria Ranch


“Belle,” Fergus MacLean called out as he walked back into the house, “Belle where are you?”


“Good afternoon Mister MacLean,” the young maid said as she came out.  As with the other female workers at the house, she was wearing a white short sleeved blouse and a knee length black skirt.  “I trust you had a good day at the bank today?”


“Well, an interesting one at any rate,” Fergus said as he mopped his brow.


“I will go and fetch some iced tea for you sir.”


“Before you do that,” Fergus said, “have our guests in the cottage been taken care of?”


“They have sir – the transport will be arriving for them after dark tonight.”


“Good – now, how is the new girl working out?”


“Mindy?  A hard and conscientious worker sir.  She is settling in very well.”


“Ask her to bring the tea to me, will you?  I wish to talk to her.”


“Of course sir,” Belle said as she bowed her head and walked away, Fergus heading to his den.  As he walked in, he looked at the pictures on the wall, and stopped in front of one with him standing alongside two others.  One was a thin man, smiling as he had his hand on the shoulder of a young girl, wearing dungarees and her red hair in pigtails.


The knock on the door made him turn and say “come in” before he took a seat by the coffee table.  As he looked to the door, he saw it open as a young woman brought in a glass on a tray.


“You wished for some iced tea, sir,” she said as she closed the door behind herself.


“Yes I did, Mindy,” Fergus said, “please, sit down.  I wanted to have a word.”


“If you say so sir,” Mindy said as she placed the tray, and then took a seat in the wicker basket chair, sitting with her legs and feet together.


“Are you enjoying working here Mindy,” Fergus asked as he took a sip from the glass.


“Very much so sir,” Mindy said, “it was good of you to allow me to come and work here.  So few of these old houses are left.”


“I know,” Fergus said as he shook his head, “and I have heard good reports from my other staff about you.  I wanted to let you know that I am pleased as well.”


“Thank you sir,” Mindy said with a smile, “if there is nothing else, I have my duties to attend to.”


“Of course,” Fergus said as he and Mindy stood up, him watching as she walked out of the room, and then taking out his mobile phone.


Mindy walked down the corridor, but stopped as she felt the buzzing in her pocket.  Taking out the phone, she looked at the message and nodded, before she replaced the phone and went back to the kitchen.


9.15 am

Xavier International


“Sharon,” Caroline said as she came into the lobby, “come on up.  We’ll do the debrief in the conference room.”


Sharon nodded as she followed Caroline to the lift.  “I hope you managed to get some sleep,” she said as they stepped in.


“Yeah – I got home, hugged the youngsters, talked to Dad, went to my room – and the next thing I know, he’s bringing me a coffee and telling me I need to get ready.  I hope this casual look is all right?”


“If that is casual,” Caroline said as she looked at her designer jeans and silk jumper, “what is dress down?”


“Fair point,” Sharon said as they walked into the conference room.


“Ah, the heroine of the hour,” George said as he looked over from the coffee machine, “may I offer you a mug?”


“Thanks,” Sharon said as she sat down, George passing her a mug as Susan came in.


“Is this all of us for the debrief,” Caroline said.


“Apart from the boss,” Susan said as Pamela brought in some pastries.  “Pamela, ensure the room is secure when you leave please.”


“Of course Susan,” Pamela said as she went out.




“We have very good cyber security,” Caroline said as the large screen lit up, and Sharon saw Penny and Shirley appear on the screen.


“Good afternoon Miss Xavier,” Sharon said quietly.


“Good morning Sharon,” Shirley said with a smile, “are we secure Susan?”


“We are Madame.”


“Good – Sharon, I must first formally welcome you to our organization.”


“The wider organization?”


“Indeed,” Caroline said with a smile, “your actions this weekend show we were right to bring you in, and therefore this debrief is at that level, not just for Jameson Security.”


“So, to complete the formalities,” Susan said, “Sharon Kennedy, may I introduce you formally to the head of our organization, Madame X.”


Sharon looked at Shirley, before she swallowed hard and said “I thank you for granting me this honour, Madame.”


“Good – there will be time to fully introduce you to the structures later, but in essence, Penny is my number two, Susan as the head of Xavier International’s New York office is my head for that area, and Caroline...”




“Within this organization,” Caroline said, “I am better known as Dominique, Madame’s head of security and chief enforcer.  Hence the reason I was the one to bring you in.”


“Over the next few months, we have much to teach you,” Madame said, “but for now, we would like you to tell us what happened over Friday night and the weekend, after Caroline left you with Katherine Carter.”


As Sharon told the story of the events from her perspective, Caroline nodded and took notes, as the others asked questions.  Eventually, Shirley said “excellent – you did the right thing, Sharon, and you proved invaluable in bringing to an end the threat to the Carter family.”


“I was glad to play a part – but what happened to Morgenstern after he ran out?”




“He ran foul of some of the local criminal fraternity,” George said, “who operate to an old code – which includes never threatening children or innocents.  As I understand it, they held their own form of court, and doled out punishment before handing him over to the authorities.”


“They would do that?”


“I highly recommend, as part of your studies, a viewing of the Fritz Lang classic M,” Shirley said, “as a lesson in the rules of our friends.  In the meantime, Dominique, continue her training.”


“As you wish Madame,” Caroline said with a smile.


“Would it be impertinent of me to ask a question, Madame?”


“No – I encourage learning.”


“When Dominique and Penny – brought me in, they admitted they were involved in the raid in Philadelphia.  Are the Pussycat Gang part of your organization?”


“No,” Shirley said, “but we have very close ties, and assist each other from time to time.  They were instrumental in the dismantling of the Mazengwean slave ring, alongside the likes of the Hidden Hand and Agent Carter.”


“Which is why we helped,” Susan said.  “Janice Carter has an insurance policy with Xavier International, but we also owe her a debt of honour – and we always recognise our debts.”


“And Dad knows nothing of this.”


“Naturally,” Susan said, “but it is one of the reasons we are fighting this takeover.  It’s just not a reason we can admit publically.”


“Now, it is getting late, and we have other meetings.  Dom, I authorise informing Sharon of our connections, but no names.”


“Understood Madame.”


“Thank you Sharon, George, ladies,” Shirley said as the screen went dead.


“What role do you play in this George,” Sharon asked quietly.


“Oh I’m something of a specialist adviser,” George said, “but mainly I assist Caroline with security issues.”


“Will I ever meet the Pussycats?” she asked Caroline.


“Who can say – but right now Sharon, we need to discuss some arrangements for the week ahead.”



11 am

FBI Field Office


“Once again, thank you for your help in this Eleanor – I’ll ensure the right people know.”


“My pleasure,” Eleanor said as she stood up, walking out of Tom’s office to see Jan standing there.




“I will not say no,” she said as the two women went to the recreation room, pouring two cups of coffee before they sat down.


“So before I narrow down my list of possible escorts Jan,” Eleanor said, “what are the likely topics of conversation?”


“Well Tom Morse wants to work on mother I know.”


“Work on her?”


“Get her to take a spot on his re-election committee after what she did to get him elected last year.”


Sipping the coffee, and then grimacing, Eleanor said “I take it Katherine is reluctant?”


“Oh she just doesn’t see that she can contribute anything, and she’s a little intimidated as well.”


“I can’t understand why?”


“Nor me,” Jan said, “she enjoys politics, and thanks to her position in the Daughters of Erin she has something of a platform as well.”


“Alright then I need find someone NOT bored by Democratic Party politics?”


“It might help.  Also, don’t go too far the other way – a certain billionaire is not a favoured topic of conversation.”


“I’m not exactly found of the idiot either,” Eleanor said quietly.  “What about the Leventhal's?”


“Well Colin is a very mildly conservative banker, young Simon has the radicalism of youth, but Yvonne and Bobbi keep them from fighting too much.”


“I asked a couple of London friends about Lady Leventhal - they all say she is tremendous.”


“Oh I’d agree, there’s nothing nasty at all in Yvonne, she’s socially conscious, very involved in charities, especially Jewish ones, and I enjoy being with her immensely.”


“Okay I’m getting a picture of the party, and I may know just the ideal man.”


"Oh and given Toddy will be there with Mother, a certain interest in race horses might help, though maybe we can leave him to Jack."


"Jack Fitzstuart, my OTHER daughter has invited herself and her boyfriend, just to meet you properly Eleanor."

"Oh I better be on my BEST behaviour then."


“So got someone in mind?”


“I think so – and he’s visiting the city as well...”


5 pm CET

The Buchenwald Townhouse, Munich


“Ah Natalya,” Wilhelm said as she came back in, “how did the meeting with the lawyers go?”


“It went well,” she said with a smile, “when will dinner be ready?”


“In about two hours – and then we have the concert later.”


“Of course – I will be back in a few minutes,” she said as she took her phone out, and walked to the outer room.




“Good evening, Baroness,” a voice Natalya recognised instantly said, “I understood you wished to talk to me.”


“Indeed – so Carina got the message through?”


“I received it – how may I assist you?”


“I need to know,” Natalya said quietly, “if someone has been paying attention to me.”


“In the sense of watching you?”


“In the sense of having me watched and photographed – I suspect one person, but I need to know if I am right, and what this person may have on me.”


“I see – and the name of the person?”


“Breitz – Edwin Breitz.”


“The name is known to me Baroness – I will be in touch within the next 24 hours.”


“I thank you,” Natalya said as she ended the call, and breathed a sigh of relief.


3.30 pm

St Angela’s


“And that s the end of another thrill packed day of education,” Doc said as she collected her bag from her locker, and locked it.


“So what are you doing tonight,” Jeannie said as they made their way to the exit.


“Well, I for one would like...”


“Anna, Nicola, would you come into my office for a moment please?”


The two girls looked at each other, and then made their way into Grace’s office.


“Have we done anything wrong Mrs Brand,” Nikki said as they went in.


“No – someone is here to meet with you,” Grace said, both girls stopping as they saw Helen York standing there.


“Ah,” she said with a smile, “my pupils.  Kylie sends her greetings, and a message.”


“A message?”


“Oh yes Doc – she says good luck.  Now, shall we go to your gym and I will lay out the program?”


“Have fun,” Grace said as they went off, shaking her head and chuckling to herself...




3.45 pm

Bishop Walden School




"What are you doing here Peps?" Katy asked as she came out of school with her posse, "not checking up on me are you?" she asked suspiciously.

"Nope,” Pepsi said as she stood in her uniform, “I'm here to take you shopping."


"Yeah - I need a new dress for Wednesday night, so I guessed maybe you did as well?"

"Are you coming with us Katy, or going with Pepsi?" Caroline called out from her car.

"She's offered to take me shopping Aunt Caroline...what do you think?" Katy giggled.

"Alright," Caroline chuckled, "just ring your Mom and Gran and let them know what you are doing."

"Will do."


“See you,” Caroline said as she drove off, Sands waving as she looked out of the window.


“So – do we go to APCO?”


“I think so – want to catch a ...”


As a car backfired, both Pepsi and Katy jumped and looked round.


“Yeah – yeah a cab,” Katy said as they walked out of the gates, looking round.


4 pm

New Mode Magazine




Pippa looked up from her desk to see her assistant standing at the door.


“Adam Cabot to see you?”


“Oh yes – show him in,” she said as she stood up and smoothed down her skirt, walking round as Adam came in.


"Ah Adam, it was good of you to drop in?" Pippa said as she kissed her visitor.

"Well it's good of you to invite me," the photographer smiled.

"Look,” she said as they went and sat round her coffee table, “I'll get straight to the point - I'm planning my last cover for this magazine as editor, and I'd like you to take it, and do the accompanying spread."

"Alright," he nodded, "with whose words?"

"Mine I'm afraid."

"Well,” Adam said with a shrug, “can't have everything I suppose..."

"Bastard!" Pippa laughed.

"So what is the topic to be?"

"The young, fresh,  New York socialite models that seem all the rage right now."

"Including Poppy?"

"Including my daughter yes."

"So who are we talking about exactly?"

Pippa looked at her notepad.  "Helena Astor-Warren, Sukie van Rensselaer, Perdita Cuzzins, Brooks Hunter, and of course Ingrid, Carina, Anna, Abby, etc, etc."

"Wearing what and when do you need it by?"

"On and off duty shots, I'd like you to sit down with me and all the team here on Thursday to discuss exactly what we dress them in?"

"Okay, as long as I'm Paris by Friday night."

"I'll make sure that happens." Pippa smiled.


“Fine – what time Thursday?”


“Will ten be fine – I’ll throw lunch in.”


“Deal,” Adam said as he stood up, “I’ll start researching the ones I don’t know that well...”




9 pm Local Time

SAIS Headquarters, Pretoria


“Colonel,” Abel said as he looked into John Vosloo’s office, “you wanted to see me.”


“I did,” John said as he stood up, “we’ve had reports that there is going to be another group of refugees smuggled out of Harare and across the border tomorrow.  Can you take this report to the Zimbabwe desk for me please.”


He handed his assistant a sheet of paper, who said “of course sir,” as he saluted and left the room.  John looked after him, and then noticed the red light flashing on his secure line.


Picking it up, he pressed a button on the phone and said “Colonel Vosloo?”


“Greetings from the Sisters, Uncle.”


“Hello Charlotte,” John said with a smile, “you managed to get settled then.”


“We did Uncle, did you get the information?”


“I did, unopened – and damn I wish I hadn’t opened it.”


“That bad?  What exactly are they planning for him?”


"He's supposed to have an 'accident' Charlotte," John Vosloo looked at the documents in front of him.

"Does anyone really believe such accidents happen nowadays in Zim?"

"Not really, but it allows the old man cover with his own voters."

"I suppose...and all the other deaths?"

"They won't even bother explaining, so-called enemies of the state, and a few ranch hands and servants, nobody will raise much fuss if they just vanish off the earth."

"And the politicals?"

"Will have died elsewhere and at other times, probably at the hand of opponents in the opposition movements."

"MY GODDESS!" John could imagine Charlotte shaking her head, "what utter crap."

"I know, but when you lack a free press, and freedom of speech, what do you expect?"

"Not a lot, but the old Rhodesian government wasn't a lot better."

"True Charlotte,” John said as he rubbed his eyes, “but while it lacked political freedoms for the majority, at least we whites brought relative economic prosperity, even in rural areas."

"True." Charlotte smiled, "at least my Dad would have agreed with you on that."

"You know he would."

"So what would you do if you were in my shoes Uncle John?"

"Take them off, those stilettos would be killing me..."

"Ha, Ha, Ha." Charlotte smiled again, "that joke is ancient...But seriously I'm asking for your thoughts?"


“I think we need to get him out, and everyone we can, but they must have someone in the house as well.  How do we get them on our side?”


“I agree – and that is where someone like Liz comes in.  But yeah, we need an extraction plan.”


“So when do you go in?”


“Tomorrow – the next time you’ll hear from me, either we’re out, or you’ll know we are at work.”


“I understand – good luck Little Mother.”


“Before I go – you sent the messages?”


“I did.”


“Good – we’ll get word to you when we know.”


The Training Camp for the Sisters of Maisha

On the South Africa/Botswana Border


Helga and Poison looked up as Charlotte came into the schoolroom.


“How bad is it?”


“Really bad – we need to move in.  Alright - before we are inserted over the border Teacher, who do you have for me?"

"I've got you two sticks,” Helga said, “all Ndebele, Shona, and English speakers. Commanders codenamed Artemis and Athena"

"How many of the 20 have seen combat before."

"Eight, but you know our trainees even first time..."

"Have a habit of rising to the occasion," Charlotte nodded.

"I take it Liz will go in to co-ordinate intelligence?"

"She will."

"What other specialists will you need?"

"Rassie and at least one other chopper pilot who can get in low enough to avoid detection."

"Well I can try." Rassie walked into the old schoolhouse.

"Who else?" Helga asked.


“I brought a specialist from London.”


"So who is the man you brought in with you?"

"Corporal Josias Swart - I'm informed he's the finest thief in SA."

"And his use is?"

"Getting into Brigade HQ in Bulawayo and disrupting their planning and scheduling."

"Dirty tricks eh?"

"Yeah the more time I can delay them the more we can do."

"It sounds like a plan to me."


“Good – we meet at midnight for briefing and dispatch.”


4.45 pm

APCO, 5th Avenue


“So what do you think,” Pepsi said as she came out of the changing area.


“I don’t know – do you think white really suits you,” Katy said as she stood with a smile on her face.”


“Probably not – back to the dark blue one?”


“I think so.”  Pepsi walked back into the changing area, Katy watching – and then jumping as someone put their hand on her shoulder.


“Oh lord, I’m sorry Katy,” Betsey said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”


“It’s all right,” Katy whispered, “I guess I’m still a little jumpy.”


“Well, we have that crimson dress wrapped for when you are ready.”


“Great – thanks Betsey,” she said as Pepsi came out.


“Hey – what happened?”


“Betsey caught me by surprise that’s all – and yeah I think that is the one for you.”


“What do you think Betsey?”


“Oh I agree – especially with that skirt.  Shall we wrap it for you?”


“Yeah I’ll take it,” Pepsi said.  “Your dress sorted?”


“It is – so you get changed, we’ll settle up, and then get these back to our homes.”


“Listen,” Betsey said as Pepsi walked back in, “we’re all glad you are back safe and sound Katy.”


“Thanks – I’m just glad it is over now,” Katy said as she looked round.


“Honestly, you’re safe in here little one.”


“Thanks – and what are you doing here Abby?”


“Looking for my prom dress,” Abby said.




“Tell me when in the next few weeks I will get a chance...  Listen – if you want to wait, I’ll give you a lift home.”


“Pepsi as well?”


“Sure – why are you here anyway?”


“Dinner party on Wednesday...”


10 pm Local Time

The Training Camp


The two sticks stood in the centre of the camp, as they awaited the word of the senior officer.


"Is everyone happy with their boots?" Poison asked the assembled troops, "speak now we can change 'em, once you are on the bloody ground it won't be so easy."

“Anyone complains, they get extra duties,” Artemis said quietly.


"What about ammunition and your field packs?" Teacher asked.

"We have them," the girls chanted in unison.

"And just to be sure none of you have forgotten yer bloody weapons have you?"

"NO!" the women laughed as they shouted out their replies.

"Are you sure where you are putting us down Rassie?" asked Liz as she stood with the pilot and Charlotte.

"Ja, and in these three choppers we also have enough supplies to start a small war."

"Well let's just hope it doesn't come to that."


"So how do you know this drop zone Rassie?" Charlotte asked.

"We used it in the Bush War, the Ters never rumbled it, and according to my intelligence it hasn't been found or used in the last 36 years."

"Let's hope it stays forgotten and ignored."

"Well it isn't on any maps, and there are only the vaguest references in the history books."

"Sounds good to me," Charlotte whispered. "But drop the Ter label, some very brave people fought on both sides, they believed the end of white rule would bring democracy and freedom..."

"Ja, but look how wrong they were misjudging the old man?"


“Not the first time, not the last,” Charlotte said quietly.  “All right – move out.”



5.15 pm

St Angela’s


As Ama and Jess were walking past the gymnasium, they were surprised to hear a voice call out “and stretch and kick and stretch and kick...”


“I did not know dance club meet on a Monday,” Jess said as she looked at her friend.


“They do not, and we would have seen them when we went to change,” Ama said, and then she smiled.


“So who is in there?”


“Come and see,” Ama said as they slowly opened the door.  Nikki and Doc were at one of the beams, stretching out each leg and kicking out as Helen watched them.


“Good,” the older woman finally said, “and relax.  For a first session, that was not too bad.”


“Not too bad,” Nikki panted, “I’m exhausted and I ache all over.”


“That will pass,” Helen said as she tossed each of the girls a towel, “with the schedule I have mapped out, you will be able to at least do a passable impression within two weeks.”


Doc and Nikki looked at each other, before Doc said “and that schedule is?”


“Sessions at 7.30 and 4 every day for the next two weeks.”


“EVERY DAY?  But Friday is...”


“Except,” Helen said as she raised her hand, “for Friday this week and Saturday morning.  I know what Friday is, and we will rest for that time.


“And you are welcome to join us if you wish, Ama and Jess.”


“How did you...”


Helen turned and smiled, and then they noticed the mirrors on the other wall.


“Thank you,” Ama said quietly, “but I prefer soccer for my exercise.  I will, however, ensure their friends know of their schedule.”


“Mom is gonna kill me,” Nikki said as she wiped her face.


“Want to place a bet our mothers will hear each other?”


“Ten bucks.”


“We will see you tomorrow,” Ama said as she and Jess walked out, Doc holding her back and groaning.


“Okay girls – you can go now,” Helen said with a smile.  “I will see you both here tomorrow morning.”



4.15 pm Pacific Time



“So these are the posters,” Cassandra Stone said as she looked at the proofs laid out on the tables.


“Yup,” Mike Babbage said as he and Brian Goldstein look on as well.  The main     poster was a head shot of Cassandra, her face on one side visible, in the other covered by the stocking mask, with the tagline “what makes a woman a Pussycat?”


The other main poster showed the seven women, their backs to the viewers, but all dressed in grey jackets and skirts, stockings and high heels.  Four held sawn off shot guns in their hands, two large bags, and the line “Pray you never meet them.  July 2016” was printed underneath.


“Good, good,” Brian said.  “The TV spot?”


Mike walked over to a television and turned it on.  He then pressed the play button on a remote, as the screens showed Cassandra working at a desk.


“What makes a woman turn to crime?”


The scene continued as she went shopping, was seen having a drink with friends, and having a meal.


“Why would someone feel they had to terrorise others?”


They then showed Cassandra as she looked at the screen, the black wig in place, as she said “Are you sure you want to know the answer?”  It then pulled back to show all seven women, identically dressed, before the screen went black.


“The Pussycat Gang.  Dare you find the answer?”


Brian nodded as a second scene began, this time showing each of the women in turn.  Cassandra smiled as JD appeared at a hotel bar, looking for a client.


“Seven women, seven reasons, one calling.


“The Pussycat Gang.  Coming July 2016.  Be prepared.”


“Okay,” Brian said, “let’s do this.  Test screenings?”


“Next week – Brian, the rating?”


“I know, I know – I’m talking to the MPAA, and hoping they’ll accept an R.  If not, we’ll get a special dispensation for the youngsters to come to the premiere.”


“And the premiere itself?”


“The Lincoln Centre, June 14th.”



“Okay then,” Mike said, “thank you Brian.”


“I need to head to another meeting,” Cassandra said as she picked up her bag.




“Yup – she’s signed to play Emma in the Ladydown biopic, and we’re both having a dinner meeting.”


“Good luck,” Mike said as Cassandra headed out, and took out her cell phone.


“Rick?  I’ll meet you at Spago’s...”



Tuesday 12th April

2 am Local Time

Near the Bavaria Lodge


The helicopter flew low in, and landed in the clearing as Rassie said “Drop off point, ladies.”


“Go,” Charlotte said as six women, each carrying a rucksack and a box between them, ran for the trees, her jumping out after them.  At the same time, a second helicopter came in to land, another six women getting out alongside Josias.


As they joined the others in the trees, they watched the final helicopter land, Liz leading the last members of the sticks as they carried their supplies.  They then watched the three helicopters take off and head for the border. 


“All right,” Charlotte said, “Athena, Artemis, establish the camp.”


“Yes little mother,” she said as two of the women stayed with her, Liz and Josias.


“You two will provide security for this man here – get him safely to Bulawayo, contact us when you are in position.  Josias, you know your role?”


“Get in, have fun with their orders and schedules, get out and await further instructions?”


“Got it in one.  Good luck.”


“Let’s go,” one of the women said as they headed off.




“I go to establish contact with our woman on the inside, find out what is happening.  Two sisters are shadowing a vehicle that left the ranch at midnight.”


“Go – and safe journeys,” Charlotte said as Liz slipped away.


“First two for each stick on guard duty, others set up the bivouacs,” Athena called out, “I want eyes on all possible ways in.”


"These camouflage nets are still serviceable," Charlotte smiled as she looked at the abandoned covers, "they've been here all these years but we can still make use of them."

"Yeah it looks like the Rhodesian SAS only moved out yesterday." Artemis smiled, "my Father always told us they were hard, nasty, murdering, bastards, but I'm glad for the thoroughness of their work at least for now."

"Well get the radios up and running, and our generators," Charlotte ordered.

"Yes Little Mother."

"I want us operational in an hour, and within two hours I want to know everything that is round up to a distance of 10 clicks."

"Yes Little Mother," Athena hurried off.



3.30 am Local Time

The Bavaria Lodge


Mindy woke without making a noise, pulling back her covers and slipping on a dressing gown as she made her way out of her small cabin.  She stood on the veranda, looking out over the dark land, and wondering once again how something so beautiful and peaceful could hide so much hurt.


“I know – how can God create such beauty, and then leave it to us.”


Mindy smiled as she said “it is an eternal mystery, my old friend.  I received your message – what news do you bring?”


“We are here, and we stand ready to help – but they plan to move very soon.  Be alert, and be ready – we will get word to you when your sister comes to visit.”


“I had better be sure to let Herr MacLean know then.”


“We are concerned the old man may have an agent in the house as well.  Thoughts?”


“None at this moment, but I will consider what you say.”


“Good – Little Teacher is here, and looks forward to meeting you.”


“And I her.  I will see you soon, old friend.”


“For the Heart and the Strength.”


“For the Heart and the Strength,” Mindy said before she turned and walked back into her room.



5.30 am Local Time


“Incoming” the guard whispered as Charlotte looked out.


“Stand down – it’s Liz,” she said as Liz entered the camp.  “How did it go?”


“She’s primed – you’ve done well here,” Liz said as she looked round.


“Okay – now comes the fun bit.  I need to go and have a chat with Uncle Fergus, find out if he realizes just how much Guano he is swimming in.  Artemis, I need an escort.”


“Understood, Little Mother.  How are you planning to go in?”


“Through the front door – they need to be dressed in civvies, and be armed.”


“I also told her to beware of who may have been placed in there.”


“Little Mother – message from Teacher coming in.”


Nodding, Charlotte came over to where the radio operator was waiting.


“Teacher, this is little mother.  What do you have to tell me?”


“We have a contact with a group from the Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organization – a team of four who turned up at the proposed crossing point.”


“Okay – the guests from the Bavaria Ranch?”


“We had confirmation they got into Botswana safely.”


“And the team?”


“Will not be reporting their failure.”


“Understood Teacher – thank you for informing me.  Little Mother out.”


As Charlotte rubbed her eyes, she took out her cell phone and dialled a number.



6 am Local Time

The Vosloo residence


“Oh lord,” Marianne said as the telephone started ringing, “this early?”


“I’ll get it,” John said as he stood up and removed the handset.  “Vosloo?”


“Good morning, Uncle.”


John went out of the bedroom, and said “God Charlotte, don’t tell me they moved early?”


“No – but I do have news.  The Sisters encountered a group who were trying to intercept a transport.”


“Where?”  John was suddenly wide awake and alert.


“On the road between Beitbridge and Messina.”


“And the party?”


“I have reports they are in Francistown, and will be moved on from there.”


“Understood, leave the ramifications with me.  Thank you, Little Mother.”


“Good luck Uncle,”  Charlotte said as she ended the call.  John went into his study, and picked up a second phone.


“Hennie?  I need to see you in your office at eight – we have a rat to deal with.”


8.15 am Local Time

SAIS Headquarters, Pretoria


General Hendrik Botha shook his head as he looked at John.  “How do you know?”


“I told four people to ensure you got copies of the proposed crossing point – all had different locations.  I had confirmation today of where the CIO goons were waiting.”


“Have they been dealt with?”


John nodded.  “Given the location, it’ll take a while for the Harare office to be informed.  So they will not have been told yet.”


“Which leaves us with the problem here,” Hennie said as John nodded.  “Well, if it is to be done, best done quickly.”  Pressing a button on his intercom, he said “Will you come in please?”


The door opened as Colonel Botha’s secretary came in.  “You wanted to see me sir,” the dark haired man said as he looked at the two officers.


“I did, Sergeant N’Goma,” Colonel Botha said as the NCO stood to attention, John standing by the window and looking out.  “Do you have the briefing papers ready for the meeting with the Minister today?”


“Right here Sir,” Sergeant N’Goma said as he handed over a folder.  Hennie opened it and glanced through the papers, nodding as he did so.


“There is an omission,” he finally said as he looked at the soldier standing at attention in front of him.


“There is?  I assure you, Colonel, all relevant information received by me has been included.”


“I believe you,” John said, “But we have a report of a skirmish on the border crossing near Messina – apparently four CIO agents were killed.  I would have thought such an incident, given it shows agents of another country active in this country, would be included in this.”


John watched closely, seeing the small beads of sweat on N’Goma’s forehead as he said “I can only apologise, Colonel, for the oversight.  I will find out the information and add it to the briefing material immediately.”


“That will not be necessary,” John said as he held up a second folder, “all the relevant details are in this report, save one.”


“And that,” Hennie said as he stood up, “is how long you have been reporting to the CIO in Harare about operations from this office, and in particular concerning the activities of Fergus MacLean at Bavaria Ranch, near Bulawayo?”


The NCO said nothing as John opened the door, and two officers walked in.


“Take him to an interview room – we will talk to him later,” Hennie said as his secretary was marched out of the room, and he looked at John.


“I’ll need a new secretary.  What was in that file I gave you yesterday?”


“Proof the old man is going after MacLean – this week.”


“Dare I ask who dealt with them?”


“Best you don’t at this stage – suffice to say we have eyes on MacLean, and he is under protection.”





11 am Local Time

The Bavaria Ranch




Fergus looked up from his desk to see Belle standing at the door.


“What is it Belle?”


“You have a visitor sir – a Miss Charlotte Gordon.”


“Well, show her in, show her in,” Fergus said as he stood up, smiling as Charlotte came in.  She was accompanied by a tall, thin, dark skinned woman, dressed like Charlotte in a white blouse, knee length linen skirt and matching jacket, and heels.  “Charley – this is an unexpected pleasure.  What brings you to my humble abode?”


“Hello Uncle Fergus,” Charlotte said as they hugged, “I’m in the area looking into potential new supporters and homes for the fund we manage.  May I introduce Ellen Burke, the local liaison?”


“Pleased to meet you – sit down, sit down.  Belle, some coffee for my guests?”


“Of course Sir,” the housekeeper said as she left, closing the door behind her.  “I presume this is the charity that was formed to help those poor Mazengwean girls?”


“That’s right,” Charlotte said, “but it has now expanded to support not just them, but any other girls found to have been sold into slavery.  One example would be the girls released on the West Coast of the US last summer.”


“Well, anything I can do to help, I will do,” Fergus said, “but if its money you are looking for, you may be barking up the wrong tree.”


“At this stage,” Ellen said as the door opened, and Belle carried in a tray with a coffee pot and three cups, “we are looking more for prominent men, such as yourself, to give your support to our work.  Money at this stage is not an issue.”


“Thank you Belle,” Fergus said as the housekeeper left, Ellen watching her the whole time.  As he poured the coffee, he looked at Charlotte and said “Have you talked to Eddie yet?”


“Eddie Cross?  We’ve spoken on the telephone, and I’m going to see him after I leave here.  He has already agreed to give his backing.”


“And the old man?”


“If you will forgive me, sir,” Ellen said, “our work traverses all borders and covers all countries.  Leaders may object, but we still see the need.”


“A very brave thing to say out loud, young lady,” Fergus said as he passed her the coffee cup.  “Especially around here.”


“Sometimes, these things need to be said.”


“Well, I will certainly lend my support,” Fergus said as he sat back.  “So far we have been very lucky not to have any of our young women taken, but these are dangerous times.”


“So just how bad are things at the moment, Uncle Fergus?”


“The ranch?  Well, they have been worse, but they have also been a hell of a lot better.”


“His land reforms?”


“In a way – they have led to the breakdown of the controls that stopped the damn Foot and Mouth spreading, and we’ve had our fair share of cases here as well.  No, that I’d got used to – it’s this damn drought.  I’ve had to half my stock – and even then, the price of maize is going through the roof.”


“That’s not what the official reports from Harare say.”


Fergus merely raised an eyebrow as Charlotte shook her head.  “And yet you still are here – the mine?”


“Not as much as it used to, but the income is useful – the vein is just about exhausted anyway.  I don’t know Charley – if I didn’t love this place so much, I’d think about selling up and going somewhere else.”


“So why don’t you?”


“Well, because I love this place so much,” Fergus said with a smile, “and because I like being a thorn in the side of the old man.”


“He still has a bite, Uncle Fergus.”


“He can’t live forever – and maybe, just maybe the madness will die with him,” Fergus said quietly.  “In the meantime, I do what I can.”


Charlotte glanced over at Ellen, who quietly nodded.


“So we can count on your support?”


“Of course,” he said as both Charlotte and Ellen stood up.  “Will I see you again this week?”


“Count on it,” Charlotte said as he escorted them out.



7.50 am

St Angela’s


“Okay – take a drink girls,” Helen said as Doc and Nikki straightened up.


“This – is hell on earth,” Nikki said as they walked to their bags.


Doc nodded as she said "I thought all of what went on in Chinese movies was done with wires, CGI, and illusions..."

"Don't forget stunt people Doc," Nikki sipped from her water.

"A lot of it is," Helen smiled, "but for example Jackie Chan, even at his age, still does most of his own stuff.  If you watch his films, you see the outtakes – and often they show stunts that have gone wrong somehow, yet he survives and keeps going."

"And you know that?" Nikki asked.

"Because,” Helen said, “I've been privileged enough to see him working on set.  He’s a true renaissance man – actor, singer, dancer and martial arts expert.  You should hear his version of I’ll Make A Man Out of You from Mulan."

"Yes,” Anna said, “but isn't he an exception?"

"Not really Doc, even the top actresses must have a degree of martial arts skills to fake it."

"Well I bet we hurt more than they do?" Nikki rubbed her forearm ruefully.

"Oh stop being cry babies girls,” Helen said, “you should see Marina and Kylie's morning workouts."

"I'd rather not...please." Doc stood up and started stretching again.

"Okay girls, 20 more repetitions of that last exercise, and I'll be counting."

"I swear she's out to kill me," Nikki started to bend her trunk.



8.40 am

St Angela’s


“Oh my – you look bright and alert,” Becca said as they were joined by two very tried young Sophomores.


"I never looked forward so much to a nice, quiet day at school." Anna walked slowly across the yard.

"Oh come on, the workouts can't be that bad?" Jeannie asked as she wheeled herself towards the ramp.

"Do you want to bet?" Nikki grimaced, "and I have to do a photo session straight after school, before I get to do it all again."

"Welcome to my world," Jeannie grinned.

"What are you all complaining about this morning?" Abigail asked as she walked by.

"Helen," Doc tried hard to smile.

"Just remember - what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."

"Abby you say that one more time and I swear I will kick you," Nikki chided her friend.

"Forgive her Abs, she's going to be in a bad mood ALL DAY," Ama laughed.

"So did you hear from Maisha?" Pepsi tried changing the subject.


“I did,” Ama said, “she will be back later this morning, and is coming round to see me tonight if you are free to join us.”


“Good – so she can make it on Friday?”


“She is looking forward to it.”



10 am

Xavier International


“Alan Kennedy for you Susan,” Pamela said as he showed the banker in.


“Alan – good to see you again,” Susan said as she came round and shook his hand, “coffee please, Pamela.”


“Thank you,” Alan said as he sat down, “I wanted to ask before we started how Sharon is doing.  Caroline certainly seems to have a lot of trust in her.”


“She has proven herself a very capable assistant, from what I have seen when she has visited the offices,” Susan said as Pamela brought in the coffee.


“Well, I’m glad to hear it – now I know she’s heading Boston way, I’m glad she is gaining the experience.”


As Susan poured the coffee, Alan said “Well, I met with David McIlroy yesterday.”


“And you discussed?”


“Oh this and that,” Alan said with a smile.


“And your thoughts on the position?”


"He's coming to the end of every legal maneuver that he can use Susan." Alan Kennedy relaxed in his chair and sipped his coffee. "The couple of shares he has picked up fall well short of the one-percent mark he even needs to request a meeting under the company by-laws."

"Good,” Susan said with a smile, “so we might be seeing this finish?"

"The takeover?” Alan put his cup down and sat back, his fingers under his chin. 

“Maybe, but the competition from AMININCO I'm not so sure."

"Meaning what Alan?"

"Meaning that with them having seen the health of your balance sheet I hear that they are even keener to get into your elite niche market."

"So, they are going to..."

"Either buy a rival, or set up their own little company. Whichever option they take I don't think they are going away."

"Damn," Susan whispered under her breath.


“On the other hand,” Alan said, “they have to build their reputation – and in your business, that counts for a great deal.  Honestly, you have to just keep what you are doing.”  Sipping his coffee, he said “did I hear Anderson Lowe has signed a contract with you?”


“That is not public knowledge yet – did Sharon speak out of turn?”


“No – I met him over the weekend.  He was very impressed in particular with Caroline’s proposals for security.”


“Well, I cannot confirm or deny – yet,” Susan said with a smile.


“That is what I mean – discretion and known high profile clients.  We just need now to wait for the formal withdrawal of the offer – and then, watch for the next stage.”


“And the small matter of your bill?”


“Ah yes – my superiors will be in touch on that one,” Alan said with a smile.


11 am

The van Roon Townhouse


“Thank you Constance,” Paulie said as her housekeeper laid the tray on the table, and poured the tea into the cups for her.


“Is there a cup for me as well,” Gus said as he came in.


“Of course – who was on the telephone?”


“The band for Friday, just confirming when they can get back in.  Ray also called – he found it.”


“Found what?  Oh no – he found the car!”


“He did indeed – and he’s called in a favour as well.  Did Pussy talk to you about the surprise guest star?”


Paulie nodded.  “It should be fun – especially for Nessa.  So, have you got the letter jacket sorted out?”


“Oh yes – both Augie and I will don the old garment.  I hear Alex may even do the same.”


“Does his still fit?”


Gus raised an eyebrow as Paulie shook her head.  “Stupid question I know.”


“So what about you and Nessa – ready to rediscover your lost Pink Ladies?”


“We have a plan in mind – and for once, Liz, Pussy, Tracy and Blair are all in agreement on what they will be wearing.”


“Should I be worried?”


“Of course you should,” Paulie said as she put her hand on her husband’s.


3.30 pm

The Faculty Room, St Angela’s


“All right, ladies and gentlemen,” Wilhelmina said as she sat with her staff, “we have only a few weeks before that time of year we all love hits again.”


“The last fortnight of term,” Kate said as she sipped her coffee, “has anyone heard anything?”


"Well I heard one rumor that the seniors have been seen round town buying condoms by the box." Nathalie Perreault one of the French teachers spoke.

"Oh that must just be gossip," Grace smiled, "what could they do with so many condoms?"

"The mind boggles," Kate Hardisty gulped.

"Ladies and Gentleman, let's not start to let our imaginations run away with us," Wilhelmina Tennant looked grimly at her assembled staff.

"Well be prepared for literally anything." Kate sipped her coffee, "just remember last year we thought we'd got off lightly with our day away, and then they hit us with that bra stunt shown on national television."

"Are they really that inventive and clever?"

"I swear they spend all year thinking the damn stunts up," Annie shook her head.

"Just remember that they do raise a lot of money for charity," Eden Gross from the Biology department spoke.

"And they fry our nerves while they do so," Wilhelmina said quietly.

"So our usual ears to the ground?" Ingrid Mueller asked.

"Yes, and let’s try getting something more solid then rumors...Eh Miss Perreault?"



“Good – now, on another matter, we will be gathering for our annual dinner in a week’s time...”



6.30 pm

The Village Studio


“That’s great Nikki,” Brian said as he put his camera down, “I think we’re done for the night.”


“Praise God and pass the cleanser,” Nikki said as Doc came in, waving as Nikki made her way over to the dressing table.


“Hey Niks.” Doc smiled as she sat down, “are you all finished?”


“Both metaphorically, and actually.” Nikki sighed as she put cream on her face to remove her makeup. “I’ll never say having your photo taken is easy again.”


“Well just think,” Doc said, “you have another session with Helen coming up.”


“OUCH! Don’t remind me Doc.”


“Have you eaten?”


“Yeah,” Nikki said, “when we broke half way into the shoot.”


“Good...  Well my car is outside, and Helen says she is on her way to the gym.”


“Just give me five minutes more to get this goop off, and drink a coffee and I’ll be with you.”


“Sounds good to me.”


“Hey Anna,” Elaine Colman kissed the younger girl, “did she tell you how well the photographs went?”


“No,” Doc looked at Nikki’s reflection in the mirror, “can I see while she’s still cleaning up?”


“I’m pretty sure the photographer won’t mind, he has the images on his computer.”


“Okay I’ll come look, and remember Niks five minutes, we don’t want Helen grouchy because we are late.”


“Oh no, we don’t want her grouchy,” Nikki said as she wiped her face clear...



6.30 pm

The Brewster Brownstone


“Jeannie!  Supper’s Ready!”


“Coming,” Barbara heard Jeannie call down before the lift went up, and then brought her down before she wheeled herself into the main room.




“I’m coming,” John said as he took his seat.


“John Hammond had this delivered earlier,” Barbara said as she pointed to the box on the sofa.


“Oh good, he was able to get it for me…why didn’t you call Mum?”


“Because,” her mother said as she brought through the casserole, “finishing your homework is more important than looking at clothes.”


“Actually I was looking at clothes…at least in books.”


“Not doing your homework?”


“No I was,” Jeannie grinned.  “I’m writing an essay on how clothing rationing continued after World War Two in Britain, and reactions to the huge amounts of material used in Dior’s ‘new look’.”


“Only you luv, could make a history essay about fashion,” John said as he poured some water.


“I am even illustrating it with a picture of myself wearing Dior’s legendary ‘Bar’ suit.”


“That is cheating, but it sounds like a good idea.” Barbara started to dish supper up.


“Well, we use what we know,” Jeannie said with a smile.



11.30 pm CET





The torso twisted with the impact of the leather, twisting as a fresh trail of blood began to drip onto the plastic sheet that lined the ground.




The drip drip of the blood was a nice music to her ears, but still, still there was something missing.




Natalya snapped the whip again, the crack echoing in the basement, but unheard outside the room due to the sound proofing. The pigs carcass showed further damage, as she fantasised this was a human being, but yet she still felt hollow inside knowing ultimately that a mere, already dead, pig, could never satisfy the feelings within her.

It was so frustrating, not being able to do as she wished, it almost felt like she was being choked. Still Carina was coming to Paris, maybe between them they could eliminate who or whatever was on her tail, so she could return to that wild exhilarating freedom she so enjoyed.




She stopped for a moment, and drew a draught from the bottle, before she noticed the blinking icon on her open laptop.  Curious, she walked over and double clicked on it.




“Ah,” she typed, “you did say you would be in touch, Madame Hand.  Do you have something for me?”




“I see – may I view it?”




“The offer is appreciated, but I wish to review first.  May I contact you tomorrow?”




“So noted – my thanks.”


As the window closed, Natalya poured a drink, and looked at the first item in the folder.  “Oh,” she said quietly, “this is not good.  Not good at all...”



4 pm Pacific Time

Brian Goldstein’s Office


“Well, I think we’re close now,” Brian said as he sat with Maddie.  “I’m glad the girls are happy with the plan and the cast.”


“Emma certainly is,” Maddie said as she sipped her drink.  "So how are the sales of Elly's theme going Brian?"

"Excellently...and the fact that the song is in itself is a good indicator for the movie Madeline."

"I'm glad to hear it...  The TV spots and the posters have certainly gathered a lot of comment on Twitter and the like."

“Oh yes, they certainly are doing the job,” Brian said with a smile.  "Have you seen a screening yet of the finished movie?"

"Not yet.  I was going to wait like everybody else."

"Well,” Brian said, “how about I arrange a private screening tomorrow night, say at my place?"

"I'm not..."

"I'll invite Cassie and Rick, and you bring Emma - and we can maybe finally agree on the script alterations?" Brian pointed to the pages that Maddie had given him.

"Alright, well that does sound like a good plan."


“Great – come round for about seven.”


7 pm Pacific Time

Oakland Hills, San Francisco


“Summat smells good,” Dave Clarke said as he came into the apartment, hanging his coat up.


“Tuna bake,” Mary called out as her father came into the kitchen, smiling as he looked at her.  He then noticed the album on the table.


"What are they poppit?"

"The proofs from the Prague shoot Pops...I can see why the Maestro is rated so highly."

"May I see...WOW!" Dave flipped through the glossy prints. "Is that really my ugly duckling daughter?"

"You know I asked myself just the same thing," Mary looked at her father, "but while I know they've been slightly retouched, I'm just still blown away by seeing myself look like that."

"Can I borrow a couple for show and tell?" Alison asked, 'to add to the other bits I brought from Prague."

"As long as you are careful," Mary nodded.

"I will be."

"Alright who is ready for supper?" Mary yelled so everyone in the apartment could hear her.


“We all are,” Dave said as he came in, “Smells wonderful.”


“Right,” Mary said as she carried the dish over, “Vicky get the glasses and drinks, everyone else sit down...”



Wednesday 13th April

6 am Local Time

The Advance Base


“Has Artemis checked in?” Charlotte asked the radio operator.


“She has Little Mother, her dawn sweep has found nothing new going on out there.”


“Good.  What else did she report?”


“She has left two observation posts out there for Athena stick to relieve in 6 hours time.”


“Okay, and what are they reporting?”


“Nothing as yet, they have both just done their first call sign checks, and I have them pinpointed on satnav.”


“Okay…now have you seen Liz?”


“She’s in the food tent,” Athena leader reported.


“Alright I’ll talk to her there. Are we set up fully?”


“As fully as we can get for now.”


“Good – keep me informed,” Charlotte said as she made her way to where Liz was drinking some coffee.


“Want some?”


“I won’t say no,” Charlotte said as Liz handed her a cup.


“Any word from Mouse yet?”


“No – but I’m not expecting to hear anything for a while.  On the other hand...”




“I’ve discovered something that might be very useful Little Mother.” Liz grinned as she pulled out a map from her trousers.


“And that is?”


“The road from Bulawayo has to pass through a gorge right here,” Liz pointed, “one of the hands at Bavaria says its forever getting blocked by landslides.”


“And that is useful to know…Oh now I get it,” Charlotte grinned too. “we do have some dynamite in the stores you know?”


“I figure we can at least gain 24 more hours from troops coming up in trucks from the city while they clear it.”


“And there are no alternate routes?”


“According to the locals just goat tracks over the hills, and we won’t mind if they try climbing those either.”


“Nope, them coming in by foot would suit us perfectly.”


“It’s bringing people in by helicopter that has me worried.” Liz’s expression changed.


“Well let’s just hope they see this as just routine, and don’t think to use anything other than land transport.”


“Agreed – so?”


“Wait until Mouse reports in later – then we will decide.  And if we do, we do it after dusk.”



9.20 am CET

Munich – the Buchenwald apartment


As Wilhelm say drinking his coffee and looking at the paper, he looked again to the door of the dining room.  It had been an uneasy night, the baron could seldom remember his wife sleeping so poorly. She had tossed and turned most of the night despite coming to bed so late. And...she kept saying odd things in her sleep.

It was all SO VERY strange.  And very unlike her.

The strangest thing though was it was 9.30 in the morning and he could only just hear Natalya coming down stairs to breakfast. He'd never known her to rise this late before.


“Natalya, my love – may I pour you some...  Mein Gott!" he exclaimed softly as she entered looking like he'd never seen her before. No makeup, dishevelled clothes, dark rings round her eyes...what was wrong?


“Good morning Willy,” she said quietly as she sat down, “I’m sorry if I disturbed your sleep last night.”


“Natalya, is there something you wish to talk about?  You look like something is troubling you.”


“It is,” Natalya said as the maid poured her coffee, “but I cannot really speak of it.  I had a bad dream last night.”


“What about?”


“Great Aunt Birgitte,” Natalya said with a weak smile, “as I say, a bad dream.”


“Is there anything I can do?”


“No – it will pass,” Natalya said, “but...”


“Whatever it is, name it.”


“Willy,” Natalya said, “why don’t we go to Paris and meet with Klaus and Juliette there?  Perhaps the change of scene will help me to put this dream behind me.”


“Of course my dear – I’ll make the arrangements today.  Why don’t you go back to bed, and rest?”


“No – once I have had some breakfast, I need to take care of a matter, but after that I will rest,” Natalya said quietly.  She knew what had to be done – but it had to be done carefully.  And she needed to make a call.


10.30 am CET



She heard the telephone ring, and waited a few moments before she picked up the receiver.




“Cousin – it has been a very long time, but I wondered if you would call today. 


“I had dreams – bad ones, ones of a type I experienced once before.  Do we need to meet?


“I see – I will see you on Friday for morning coffee.  You can tell me everything then.  And if there is anything I can do?


“We will talk then, but for now cousin relax.  I will be there for you, as you were for me.”



6 am

New Haven


Cari came into the main room, rubbing her head and wondering where those dreams had come from.  She went to make some coffee, and then looked at her phone.




"Cari - did you have bad dreams as well?"


"Yeah.  Really vivid and..."


"One of our cousins is troubled, isn't she?"


"Yeah.  I'll call you later Gale - Judith is waking up..."


Cari ended the call, and debated telephoning Natalya – but Judith took her attention.


8 am

West Central Park


“Katy – are you...”  Katherine stopped and looked at Katy as she appeared in her school uniform.


“Photo day Gran – we are allowed to wear a little make up,” Katy said as she picked up her satchel.


“Okay then – remember, home in time to get changed for the dinner party,” Katherine said.


“Sure – Pepsi is just taking us to do a little shopping first...


“You ready,” Jan said as she came in, and then saw her daughter.  “Nice – very subtle dear,” she finally said.  “Come on – Heather will be waiting downstairs.”


8.30 am

The Village


Caroline opened the door to the apartment, to see Sharon there, tired and yawning.


“What happened?”


“Really bad dreams – so what’s on the roster for today boss?”


“We have a meeting with Alexander, and then I want to introduce you to someone...”


9 am

Complete Style


“Good lord Alexis – what happened to you,” Janine said as Alexis came into the office.


“Really bad night – let me grab some coffee and we can get started...”


“Hey Janine – who’s in charge while your boss is away.”


“Hello John,” Janine said as she looked at the photographer, “what do you need to talk about?”


“I have the additional photos Juliette asked me to take for the wedding.”


“Go see Mary,” Janine said, “she’s collecting everything today.”




9.30 am

FBI Field Office


“Okay team,” Tom said, “now that things have settled down...”


“Somewhat,” Jan whispered to Adam.


“To a degree,” Tom continued, “it gives us a chance to catch up on a few things.  First things first – Erin, I know you started earlier than expected, but welcome to the team.  I know it’s been a rough few months for you, but hopefully things will be quieter for a little while.”


“Thanks Tom – I’m just glad I was here when you needed me.”


“How’s your mother,” Jan asked as Erin looked at her, the older agent in a black designer trouser suit.


“Settling in – we managed to get a ground floor apartment, and Tom managed to find a carer to come in when I’m in the office.  My sister grumbled a little, but after what happened she understood why we had to do this.”


“Good – if you need help, let me know, I’ll put you the way of...”




“Sorry, Tom – you were saying?”


“I was saying,” Tom said quietly, “that the guys upstairs have received a note of appreciation from both Brian Goldstein and Cassandra Stone for your input on their film and wish to invite us to the premiere.  If nothing else, it provides a works night out.”


“Fair enough,” Adam said as he looked at Janice.



11 am

Xavier International


“Excellent Susan – so Alan believes they will soon withdraw their offer?”


“Indeed,” Susan said as she sat with Shirley, “but we will have a new rival in his opinion.”


“Still, a rival is easier to deal with,” Shirley said as her assistant came in.


“They’re here Susan.”


“Good – bring them in and bring some coffee please,” Susan said as they moved over and sat in the coffee area.  A moment later, Caroline and Sharon came in.


“Ah good,” Shirley said in her deep, rich voice, “come join us Sharon.  I wanted to see you at the first available opportunity in New York, and that has proven to be now.”


“Thank you Madame,” Sharon said as she sat down, “Forgive me if I am still a little overwhelmed.”


“Well, as they will tell you,” Shirley said as she sat back, “I like to keep an eye on young talent.”


Sharon looked at Susan and Caroline in their jumpers and skirts, and then at Shirley in her open neck blouse and pants, before she accepted a coffee and said “so you think I have talent?”


“I do – and your actions in helping with the Katy Carter situation show that.  What it required was a focus, or rather a change of focus.  I hope we have put you on a different path now.”


“Indeed – if the method was a little drastic.”  Sharon yawned as Caroline looked at Shirley.


“Is Caroline overworking you?”


“Sorry – I had a rough night.  Forgive me Madame.”


“Of course – now, let us discuss your program for the next few months...”



12.30 pm

St Angela’s

The Refectory


“Look at them,” Letty Kinman said to Abby as Mrs Brand and Mrs Hardisty sat at the table, “you can see how nervous they are getting.”


“Oh yes,” Abby said with a smile, “you would almost thing we had something planned.”


“As if we would...”


“So when do you fly out?”


“Later Friday – we’re going as a group, and then flying back for Monday morning.  Most of the others have exams coming up.”


“And Juliette?”


“Gets there on Friday early, and we’ll see her on Saturday morning.  Anyway – I placed that order you asked for.  It should arrive next week...”





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