‘Tis The Season – Part 1









Wednesday 23rd December

7.30 am

The Carlton Home


Anna Carlton opened her eyes and sat up, looking round before she got out of her bed and walked over to the window.  She had slept in a pair of blue cotton pyjamas, her legs tucked into a thick pair of bedsocks, so as she walked across the room and opened the curtains her feet felt toasty warm.


Which was just as well, as she looked out across the street, and the light snowfall that was starting to cover the road and sidewalk.  “Happy birthday to me,” she sang to herself as she looked at her cell phone, glancing at some of the messages, “Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday Dear Anna...”


“Happy Birthday to YOOUUUUUUU...”


“Hi Mom,” Anna said as she saw her mother standing in the open doorway, “I see it’s snowing.”


“Good – makes today interesting,” her mom said as she looked at her, “come and have some breakfast, and then I’ll  maybe – maybe – tell you what’s going to happen today...”


“So this is going to be a day of miracles?”


“Maybe – maybe not.  Come on down.”


As Anna came down the stairs, she saw a small pile of cards sitting on the breakfast table, as well as a number of small boxes.


“Who are these from,” she said as she looked at the cards.


“Your aunts and uncles – and at least one of those boxes is from your grandparents,” Emma said as she poured two mugs of coffee, and handed one over to Anna.  “I imagine you may get other presents throughout the day, and in due course.”


“Where’s Dad?”


“He had to go out, but he’ll...  Well, you’ll find out,” Emma said as the door opened and her father came in.


“Dad?  Mom just said you had to go out?”


“I did – and now I’m back,” he said with a smile as he took his coat off.  “Is that fresh coffee?”


Emma handed him a cup as Anna started to open some of the cards, smiling as she read the messages and put them to one side.


“Don’t lose those pieces of paper,” her dad said as he sat with her, “they’re important.”


“Oh, right,” Anna said with a smile as she looked at the cheques and gift tokens.  “I forget just how big our family really is at times.”


“Lot of cards,” Emma said, “so you go and shower, put some clothes on, and then you and I need to take a trip.”






“You’ve said nothing about my party – what’s going to happen?”


“You’ll see,” Emma said with an enigmatic smile, “you’ll see...”





9.30 am

Saks, Fifth Avenue


“All right Mom,” Anna said as she and Emma walked into the lobby of the famous department store, “why are we here?”  The birthday girl was wearing a blue sweater under her padded jacket, a woollen scarf wrapped round her neck, blue jeans and a pair of brown knee length boots, while her mother was wearing a pair of black boots, visible under her camel coat.


“Well, it is your birthday, Anna – so I thought you might like to pick a present.”




“And then she had a better idea.”


Anna turned suddenly to see Pepsi, Nikki, Becca and Ama standing behind them.  All four girls were wearing leather jackets, jeans and boots, and smiled as Ama said “You will be spending today with us, Doc, while your mother and father take care of a few things.”


“What’s going on...”


“Well, since you ask,” Emma said as she took an envelope out of her Jameson bag, “it’s a treasure hunt.  Here’s the first clue.  I will see you girls later at the appointed place and time.”


“Gotcha Mrs C,” Pepsi said as Emma walked into the store, Doc looking at her friends as she said “A Treasure hunt?”


“Apparently,” Nikki said as she opened the envelope and read the first clue.


“Your first place is in a far off land, but as of now is somewhere near to hand.

The image may come from the East, but you must find the beauty in the beast.”


“What on earth is that meant to mean,” Becca said as she looked at the others.


“Well, let’s think it through...”  Doc looked round, and then said “Where are Catherine and Helen staying?”


“The Waldorf – but she’s a business woman,” Pepsi said.  “What would she have to do with an image...”


“But there is that exhibition at MOMA – the Chinese paintings.  Is that what they were talking about?”


“Well, only one way to find out,” Doc said, “let’s cut through Central Park...”



10.45 am

Metropolitan Museum of Art


“Every time I come to this place,” Ama said as the five girls walked in, “I am amazed at what I have not seen before.”


“Indeed – so where is this exhibition,” Doc said as they looked at the notice board, and then frowned.  “It says here you need tickets to get in – have we got any?”


“Well, that might just have been arranged.”


Doc turned round to see Helen standing there with Penny, both women wearing long dark coats and black boots.


“Happy birthday Anna,” Penny said as she handed Doc an envelope, “this will get you into the exhibition, and I hope you find what you are looking for there.”


“What are you girls going to do,” Doc said as she looked at the others.


“Don’t worry – we will be in the cafeteria when you are ready,” Ama said as they watched her head to the lift, and get in.


“So, you know what else is happening today?”


“Oh yes,” Nikki said, “but we’re telling her nothing...”





“These are truly magnificent,” Doc thought to herself as she looked round the exhibition, taking note as she looked at the catalogue she had been handed as she came in.


“Now what is this piece,” she eventually said as she stopped in front of a large print.  It depicted a young maiden, dressed in traditional clothing, who was secured by rope to a tree, and was being menaced by a large dragon.  If you looked closely, however, on the chest of the dragon could be see the face of a young man.


“What is the name of this picture,” Doc said to herself as she looked at the brochure.  “Zài yěshòu dì měi.  Now what on earth does that mean?”
“Literally, darling, it means the beauty in the beast.”
Smiling, Doc said “hello Kittycat.”
“Happy Birthday Kitten,” Kylie said as she stood by her friend.  “Congratulations on reaching the first stage of the treasure hunt.  Your reward.”
She handed Doc an envelope, watching as she opened it and read the message inside.
“By the wide road and the olden man,
You will find a thing that always ran.
A lady made her debut here,
Now you must go and find a cheer.”
“Oh, and before I forget darling,” Kylie said, “You get this.”
She handed Doc a quarter of a sheet of paper, which was blank on both sides.
“Hold on to that, all will become clear soon enough,” Kylie said with a smile.   “I will see you later, darling – enjoy the exhibition and your day.”
As she walked off, her bottom swaying in her jeans and her bomber jacket done up, Doc smiled and shook her head.
“There she is,” Becca said as she came into the cafeteria.  “Well?”
“I got the next clue,” Doc said as she showed the other girls.  “Any ideas?”
“On this occasion,” Becca said, “Yeah – yeah I do.  We need to take the subway.”




12.30 pm

The Wall Street Bull,

Broadway and Morris



“I don’t get it this time,” Pepsi said as they got out of the subway station and approached the large metal bull.  “Why here?”


“Bobbi showed me the copy of Complete Style where Abby made her debut,” Becca said as she looked round, and the group looked round the iconic statue.  “The shot of one Abigail, Countess de Ros, was a classic.”


“So when they say to find a cheer, what do they mean?”


Looking round, they saw a pop-up shop for the New York Jets.  Ama walked over, and then beckoned to the other girls to join her.


“What do you see in the window, Doc?”


The young blonde looked through her glasses, and then smiled as she looked at the picture of Juliette Huntingdown – but a fifteen year old Juliette, in a cheerleader’s outfit.


“You know, I really did not suit that outfit.”


“Hello Aunt Juliette,” Doc said as she turned round, “I thought you were welcoming Sigi and her family today?”


“Later – right now I have to give you this.”  She handed Doc another small quarter of plain paper, and then another envelope.



“Another clue?”


“I believe so,” Juliette said as she looked at the girls, “good luck.”


“So, what cryptic clue have we been left this time Velma?”


“Which of us is Scooby then?”


“I suspect I am Shaggy,” Ama said, the girls laughing as Doc looked at the third clue.


“Round and round the people go,

And where they stop nobody knows.

But if you wish to find a clue,

You need to find the woman in blue.”


“Round and round the people go?  Could be a merry-go-round or a skating rink – does anyone know how many of them there are in Manhattan?”


“Why Manhattan?  Could be down in Little Odessa or Coney Island?”


“Not today Pepsi,” Doc said, “we’re sticking to this area – the question is, which one would they direct me to?”


“Well, if we are talking friends and family,” Ama said, “there is really only one logical choice.  If you will follow me...”


“Ama, where are we going?”


“To a tradition I know the older girls keep.  However, we have some time – why don’t we treat Doc to lunch on the way.  Mom told me about this amazing hot dog stand...”





2 pm

Central Park


“Okay,” Doc said as she licked her fingers, and then put her gloves back on, “I will grant you, that is an exceptional hot dog.  So, why are we here in particular Ama?”


“Well,” the tall African girl said, “this is where Carina, Abigail and Joanne come on the day after Christmas every year.  I think this would be as good a place as any to consider who the lady in blue is.”



Doc nodded as she slowly walked round the outside of the ice rink, and then smiled as she saw a familiar face sitting, watching the skaters go by.


“Miss Jeannie Brewster,” she said as she sat by her friend, dressed in a blue all in one suit, “I sense a pattern in this day.”


“Oh?  And where else have you been this fine day?”


“Oh, here and there, round and about – so, just out of pure interest, do you have something for me?”




“Let me rephrase the question,” Doc said with a laugh, “do you have some paper for me?”


“Of course I do,” Jeannie said as she handed Doc a third square of paper, and another envelope.


“Lovely – where am I going to this time,” Doc said to herself as she opened the envelope.


“You were told you would make friends for life,

When you came through the gates that day.

Now if you wish to know what’s right,

Go back to where your dreams were made.”


“Freeform verse, how poetic,” she said with a smile.  “But the easiest of the clues.  Will I be seeing you later?”


“Could be,” Jeannie said as she started to wheel herself off, Doc smiling as she walked back to the others.


“So – where to boss?”


“East 87th Street ladies – let’s see who is waiting for us there.”



3 pm

E 87th Street

St Angela’s


“You do know, Miss Carlton, that the last place I want to be during a holiday break is here?”


“Oh come on Becca,” Doc said as they approached the gates, “where is your sense of adventure?”


“Heading rapidly back to a warm room and a cup of cocoa,” Becca said as she looked round, “so who might we be looking for here?”


“That is an incredibly good question,” Ama said as she looked round, “for I cannot see anyone here.”


“Well, let’s review,” Pepsi said as she looked at Nikki.  “First clue, at the MOMA, Kylie.  Second, at the bull, Abby.  Third, at the ice rink, Jeannie.  So we’re here at the school, and looking for someone who...”


“Oh for the love of,” Doc said, “Who was the first person we saw each week last year?”


“Ah, so you do remember,” Annie said as she walked over.  “I have been asked to give you this.”


She handed over a final square of paper, smiling as she said “you all look cold.  May I suggest the cafe down the road – they have lovely candles on the tables.”


“Right – I think.  So what happens now?”


“As I said, go to the cafe,” Annie said as she wrapped her coat over her bump.  “Now, if you will excuse me, I have somewhere else to be.”


“Thanks, Annie,” Doc said as she walked off, and she looked at the pieces of paper.


“Blank paper?”


“Can’t be just that,” Doc muttered.  “Let’s find this cafe – maybe a light will go off in...”


“Oh I know that look,” Pepsi said as she looked at Doc, “What are you thinking?”


“Lemon juice.”


“Lemon Ju... OH sweet lord you may have something,” Nikki said, “let’s go to the cafe.”


The five girls were soon sitting round a table, watching as Doc held one of the squares of paper over the top of the candle, and smiling as brown writing started to appear.


“Lemon juice – invisible ink,” Doc said as she set the square down, and started to heat a second one up, Ama and Pepsi grabbing two more candles and heating the other squares of paper.


“It’s an invitation,” Doc said as she put the four squares of paper together.


Master Chet van Roon requests the pleasure of Miss Anna Carlton to celebrate the occasion of her sixteenth birthday.


Transport will arrive to collect her at 4 pm, to take Miss Carlton to a location to prepare for the event.


“It’s four o’clock now,” Doc said as she looked at her watch, “where am I meant to be?”


“Right here.”


She looked at her friends, before she said “you...  You all knew already didn’t you?”


“Good afternoon, Miss Anna.”


They then turned to see the older gentleman standing by the table, smartly dressed and smiling.


“Thomas,” Doc said, “so you are the transport?”


“Of course – if you would follow me?”


“I presume I’m seeing you girls later?”


“Could be,” Pepsi said with a smile as they watched Doc get into the limousine, and Thomas drive off.


“RIGHT,” Nikki said as she finished a drink, “Cab to the Waldorf and we start to get ready?”


“Indeed,” Ama said as she put some money on the table, “let’s go...”




5 pm

The van Roon Apartment


“Well, if it isn’t the birthday girl,” Blair van Roon said as Thomas opened the door and Anna came in.  “How’s it been so far?”


“Very strange,” Doc said as she removed her coat, Thomas taking it and hanging it on the coat rack.  “Are you parents visiting as well?”


“Yup – but they’ve gone out with Pussy and Frieda to see Aunt Paulie and Uncle Gus, so you have the apartment to yourself – for now.  Go through there.”


As Anna walked into the front room, she found Chet standing there, opening a bottle of champagne as he said “there you are – happy birthday Doc.”


“Well now, fancy meeting you here,” Doc said, smiling as she walked over and took a glass.  “So how long are you in town for?”


“The holidays – surprise,” Chet said as he filled both their glasses.  “We wanted to tell you in advance, but the elders asked us not to.  So, allow me to toast you, Anna Carlton.”


“Why thank you, Sir,” Anna said as they clinked glasses, and she took a sip.  “So, are you finally allowed to tell me what is happening tonight, as in a party?”


“I am allowed to tell you here is a party,” Chet said, “but I can’t tell you where.”


“Why not?”


“Mainly because I don’t know,” Chet said as he shrugged his shoulders, “none of us do.”


“Then how are...”


Doc’s protests were silenced as Chet kissed her, and then looked at her.


“Okay,” Anna said with a smile, “don’t ask, just go with the flow.  So do I get to dress up?”


“Eventually – why don’t you have a look at my present first.”


He put his glass down, and handed over a thin box.  Doc took it and opened it, before she took out the diamond pendant.


“Chet, it’s beautiful – but this must be expensive, you can’t...”


“I can and I have.  You’re only sixteen once after all,” Chet said with a smile.  “I’d like you to wear it tonight, if that is all right.”


“Of course I will – so what else are we going to do?”


“Oh, I think we can find a way to pass the time...”




6 pm


“Ah there you are,” Gus said as Chet and Anna came out of the room, “no time to lose.  You are to go up the stairs young lady – your dressers await.”


“I need to change as well – see you later,” Chet said as he took Anna up, and then showed her into one of the bedrooms.


“Sarah?  Where’s H?”


“Probably getting ready with Chet,” her friend from Chicago said as she stood up.  She was wearing a strapless silver dress and high heels, her hair cut short as she looked over.  “As for you – into the shower, birthday girl.”


“And quickly,” Kylie said as she appeared from the bathroom, “we need to make you look fabulous darling.”


“So what am I actually wearing?”


“First shower,” Kylie said as she cleared the doorway, “and then we show you.”




The clock showed seven as Chet and H were standing at the bottom of the stairs, wearing smart suits, shirts and ties.


“So, where are they,” H said as he looked up the stairs, and nudged Chet.


Kylie had put on a white long sleeved dress with a tight knee length skirt, and white pumps, as she and Sarah accompanied Anna down the stairs.  The birthday girl was wearing a cream coloured sheath dress, the slit from waist to hem allowing her to move, and white heels.  The diamond pendant hung from her neck, as Thomas held a white fur coat for her to wear.


Sarah and Kylie put on brown fur coats, as Thomas said “this way, ladies, gentlemen...”




“So I finally get to find out what the theme is,” Anna said as the limousine made the way through the evening traffic.


“Oh yes – and I think you’re going to like it,” Kylie said, “it has been so wonderful to be part of the arrangements of this.”


“So where are we going?”


“We’re here Master Chet,” Thomas said as he pulled up outside the Astoria-Waldorf, and got out, opening the door to allow the five of them to walk in.  As they entered the lobby, Doc saw two people waiting for her.


“Mom?  Dad?”


“There you are,” Steve Carlton said as he kissed Anna.  He was wearing a double breasted suit, shirt and tie, while Anna was wearing a red forties style dress and shoes.  “Shall I open the doors?”


“We both shall,” Emma said as they opened the doors, Anna and Chet walking in to a chorus of “Happy Birthday to You,” from everyone who was waiting inside.


Anna stared at the room which was decorated in white and silver, a huge banner saying “HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY ANNA CARLTON” hanging over the stage where the bad was playing.  Ama, Pepsi, Nikki and Becca came up to her, all four wearing short white evening dresses, and walked her and Chet to the centre of the room as everyone applauded.


“The theme is White Christmas,” Pepsi said, “and you – you are the star of the night!”


“It’s...  It’s fantastic,” Anna said as Chet took her coat, while Sarah held H’s arm and Kylie slipped round to join Marina at a table with Susan and Chet, April looking round.


“Let me take that,” Juliette said as she came over, and Chet took her arms.  The band started to play, as they danced round, Ama and Nick joining them as others followed suit.


“Ju, I don’t know where to begin thanking you and the others for this,” Emma said as she and Steve stood with Juliette and Klaus, “you’ve made a very special young lady very happy.”


“Hey it’s our pleasure,” Ju said as Doc danced past, “by the way, Klaus and I have a favour to ask of you and Steve.”


“Oh – and what is that?”


“I would be honoured if Anna would form one of my party in Munich in April.”


“You want Anna to be one of your bridesmaids?”


“I do Steve – and we want you both to come and celebrate with us as well.  Klaus and I want all our friends to be there if possible.”


“I...  I don’t know what to say...”


“We say we would be honoured,” Steve said as he shook Klaus’ hand.


As the music finished, Chet took Anna over to a small table, where a number of presents had already been placed.


“Our big present,” Emma said as they walked over, “is waiting at home – but cannot be used until you get your licence.”


“I’ve got a car?”


“A Beetle – it will do you as a first car,” Steve said as he looked at the pendant.  “A gift from Chet?”


“Yes,” Anna blushed as the guests started to bring over their presents.


“I can’t believe who’s here,” she said as she looked round, “is that Georgia-May and some of the other models over there?”


“It is,” Abby said as she gave Anna a gold box, “a number of them were in the area, so we arranged for them to come as well.”


“I hope you have a wonderful evening,” Diana said as she kissed Anna on both cheeks.




“I don’t believe it,” Jean Brooks said as she and Tom Stennit sat at a table with Grace and Sarah Nightingale.  “I knew you taught some famous girls, but to see them here, in the flesh, just as friends...”


“It takes a little getting used to,” Sarah said with a smile as she watched Jeannie hand a parcel to Anna.  “But believe me, the right thing to do is see them all as friends, whatever they do.”


“Still,” Tom said as he sipped his wine, “so many supermodels...”


“Top girls,” Grace said as she looked at him.


“Sorry – so many models and all talking as if they knew each other.”


“Well they do,” Grace said as Annie walked over with Judith.


“Hello, little one,” Grace said as she picked her up, and put her on her knee, the skirt of her party dress covering her knees, “is it a good party?”


“Yes,” Judith said as she nodded, “presents soon.”


“That’s right,” Annie said, “you must be Grace’s colleagues from the UK.  I’m Annie Kelly – I teach Math at St Angela’s.”


“Jean, and this is Tom,” the redhead said as they shook hands.  “Is this your daughter?”


“My partner’s daughter,” Annie said as she looked at Carina, who was talking to Judy and Bobby.  “I’m carrying our second child.”


“You’re Carina Huntingdown’s partner?  I saw her in the tribute issue.”


“A lot of the models from that issue are here,” Annie said, “but I’m glad you could make it.”


“It’s certainly different from watching Strictly with the family,” Tom said as he looked round.





“Thank you, Juliette,” Anna said as she looked at the history of fashion books Juliette had given her, “I’ll make sure Dad doesn’t hide it away.”


“Well, I am sure he will enjoy it as well,” Juliette said as Steve looked at the front cover.


“Hey Doc,” Nell said as she and Ally came over, wearing white floor length dresses with halter necks, “happy sweet sixteenth.”


"These are beautiful girls," Anna said as she proudly showed her parents the gift from the Rochermann twins.

"Well one is a watch, the other just a straight bracelet, but wear them opposite wrists and they match."

"I'd guessed that.  Thanks," she said as he put them on the table and hugged them both.

"Do I need up my insurance?" Steve Carlton asked as he looked at the growing pile of gifts.

"I think that's where I come in," Caroline said as she hugged the birthday girl. "Yes you need to, and I'll come over after the holidays and update your security for you."

"Thank you Caroline. We’d really appreciate that."

"And now,” she said as she handed Anna a parcel, “this is the present from me and Ama."

"Oh My God!"  Anna looked in the box, and said “you both remembered!”

"Remembered what darling?"

"This Mom, I joked about getting some at a sleepover at Jeans ages ago," she held up the sheer satin lingerie. "Oh this is magic," she hugged Caroline and Ama.

"Well just don't show your Gran, or maybe even your father." Emma glanced at Steve.


"And this is my present Anna," Missy Auerbach said as she pressed an envelope into the young woman's hand.

"What is this...OH MY SHITTIN" GODDESS!"

"What is it?" her parents tried to get a look.

"It's a two-year contract with Norstar.”  Missy smiled as she said, “I thought it was time Anna cashed in on her fame as a pinup and did some serious modelling."

"You aren't bullshittin' me are you Miss Auerbach?" Doc asked in wide eyed amazement.


“Nope – your parents need to check and sign, but I hope you’ll take advantage of it.”


“Welcome to our world,” Jo said as she hugged Doc.  “Come and meet some of the others.”




“Just think, this time next year this will be you,” Mary Thomas said as she sat with Denice and Erica.


“Well, a few months on,” Erica said with a smile, “who knows what I’ll do for mine.”


“Let’s get through Christmas first, and into the new job and the new apartment,” Denice said as she sipped her wine.


“Ai – I am so proud of you for getting that job,” Mary said as she put her hand on Denice’s.


“This is some party,” Poppy said as she came over, “I wish Jess could have been here for it.”


“Did she arrive safely?”


“She called me from Barcelona – tired, but she made it.”


“So I hear your grandmother and aunt are going to stay for Christmas?”


“They are – the body still hasn’t been released, so they need to hang around for a little while – what are they doing?”


They looked to the stage where Pepsi was standing by the microphone.


“Anna Carlton, this is for you,” she said as Ama, Becca and Nikki came up and joined her.


The room turned and watched as the music started, and they all struck a pose, legs bent, hands by their knees.


“Oh my goddess,” Anna said, shaking her head as they began to sing...


“Sisters, Sisters,
There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone ‘No, sir’
I'm there to keep my eye on her”


On that, Ama turned to look at Pepsi, and Nikki at Becca, shaking their heads and smiling at each other.

“Caring, Sharing,
Every little thing that we are wearing

When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress and I stayed home.”


They then started to walk towards Anna, bringing her with them to the stage as they continued.

“All kinds of weather,

We stick together,
The same in the rain or sun.

Four diff'rent faces,
But in tight places,
We think and we act as one.”


“That’s true,” Katy Carter called out as she sat with George and Sands.

“Those who've seen us,
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up but no one can

Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man!”


They ended by taking a bow before hugging Anna as the room applauded.


“When did you find time to rehearse that,” Anna said as they walked off the floor.


“We found the time,” Nikki said as they sat at a table.


"So we both have cars now?" Pepsi delivered a glass of white wine to Doc.

"Well in neither case anything too fancy,” Doc said as she took a sip, “but they will get us from A to B."

"As will my van after my birthday." Jeannie wheeled herself over to join the group.

"Are the modifications complete?"

"Yep, and I start lessons in the new year...and when I can start driving to school, whoa betide the girl who pinches my disabled parking spot."

"So where is the big guy?"

"Still at Stanford,” Jeannie said with a sigh, “with them making it to the Rose Bowl, no one even gets time off for Christmas."

"That's the problem with them having such a great year Jeans," Chet came over bringing food and setting it down, before he said, "And I saw he was named an Honourable mention All American in a couple of the lists."

"House thought with Christian McCaffrey getting all the attention mere linemen like him would be passed over."

"So from that we can take it he was both pleased and surprised Jeans?"

"That you can Doc.  But it means I won’t see him until the middle of January – he’s told me he’s definitely going to be here on the 10th Ama."


“Well, I hope you all will be there,” Ama said with a smile.


“We both do,” Alex Richmond said as he appeared with Nessa.  “Happy Birthday Anna – I have put our present on the tables with the others.”


“Thanks, Father,” Anna said with a smile as the band started to play again.


“Excuse me,” he said as he walked over to where some of the mothers were sitting.


“Alex,” Barbara said, “ready for the holidays?”


“Sermons prepped and ready.  So will Jeannie be watching the big game on TV Barbara?"

"You mean New Years Day Alex?"

"I do."

"She probably will.  She wanted to fly to Pasadena, but we'd already committed to New Years Eve here in New York, and we’re in London Sunday to Wednesday anyway."

"I'll admit,” Alex said with a smile, “I thought of ducking out and going to the game, but my sister threatened to do something to me she hasn't done since we were children...It made me change my mind."

"OUCH!" Barbara laughed.



“Adam, would you be insulted if I took Jan onto the dance floor,” Jack Linklater said as he walked over in his suit.


“Of course – but she’s no idea about the dance off on New Year’s Eve,” Adam said as Katy went onto the dance floor with George.


“So Missy gave Anna a contract?  Good for her,” Jack said as he looked over, “I think she may have a small future.”


“She’s a good looking young woman,” Jan said as she looked in Doc’s direction.


"Talking of models, have you given any further thought to Katy's potential career," Jack asked as he danced her round.

"A little, and I've talked it over with Mom and Adam too."

"And your thoughts?"

"Jack my daughter is discovering herself, finding what she likes and what she doesn't."

"That's pretty obvious."

"Well, would modelling be the commitment too far? She has her school work, her shooting, her friends, a steady boyfriend, a modelling contract on top of that might be..."

"She doesn't need to sign yet, just let her do a couple of shoots with me and Luke, and see what happens. Then if things still look good, and she's interested, I will personally take her into see Missy."

"Well I like that idea I will admit, she's not obligated then to do something she may quickly dislike."

"Exactly Janice darling."


The band finished as Abby said “Doc, come over her for a minute will you please?”


“Sure, Countess de Ros,” she said as she came over.”


“Girls, this is Anna Carlton, Doc to her friends.  Doc, meet Emma Ferrer, Georgia-May Jagger and Lily Cole.”


“I’m overwhelmed,” Doc said as she shook their hands.


“Don’t be – Abby felt the same way,” Emma said.  “Welcome to our world...”


“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please?”


“Oh God, Dad’s going to embarrass me,” Anna said as Steve came on the stage.


“We have a special guest to entertain us tonight,” he said, “who needs no introduction.  Please, welcome him.”


"Oh my FUCK!" Anna's mouth gaped open as the man took the microphone, looking round the room as he said "It's been a bit of a while since I played birthday parties, but when I was approached by both my daughter, and by such an old dear friend as Mary, well how could I refuse?"


"Of course it is, or as I call him Dad," Georgia-May laughed as he started to sing Satisfaction, the crowd gathering and cheering as he did so.


“Thank you,” he said as he finished, “Keith and the boys got the night off, so you get me unplugged with the band backing up.  Now, I've been told that you guys have another singer who can warble a bit when she tries. Can I ask Mrs. Richmond to join me up here please?"


“Me?”  Nessa was pushed up onto the stage as Mick talked to the guitarist.


“Now then,” Mick said as he looked at Nessa, in her fur trimmed dress, “we’re going to sing an old song, one of the first Keith and I wrote.  We didn’t think much of it, so we gave it to a friend to record.  So, ready?”


Nessa heard the opening chords as some of the older party goers cheered, and said “yeah, ready.”


Mick nodded as he started.


“It is the evening of the day,

I sit and watch the children play.”


He nodded to Nessa, who smiled as she put the microphone to her lips.


“Smiling faces I can see, but not for me.

I sit and watch as tears go by...”


They nodded as the guitar played, and then Ness sang

“My riches can’t buy everything,

I want to hear the children sing...”


Mick nodded as he smiled and sang


“But all I hear is the sound, of rain falling on the ground,

I sit and watch as tears go by.”


“They’re amazing together,” Alex said as he stood with Klaus.


The guitarist played the instrumental part as Mick whispered into Nessa’s ear, then they sang together.


“It is the evening of the day,

I sit and watch the children play.

Doing things I used to do, they think are new.

I sit and watch, as tears go by.

La la la la la la, la la la...”


The music ended as Mick kissed Nessa’s hand, clapping her off the stage before he said “Anna – your choice of song!”


“How about Paint It Black?”


He nodded as the band started, and the crowd started dancing...


“So tell me Miss Thomas,” Georgia-May said as she handed Mary Thomas a drink, “just what did happen between you and my father all those years ago?”


“Ah that is between me and him,” Mary said with a smile, “but your mother has never said anything to me to say she objected.”


“I don’t think she would – it was years before they got together by all accounts,” the young model said, “but it’s one of those great unanswered questions.”


“As it should be,” Mary said with a smile as Nessa started singing Dancing in the Streets with Mick.




“Hey,” Jo said as she sat with Abby, “how’s the phone message count?”


“It’s gone down a bit – I guess she’s in Cornwall and being kept busy.”


“Well, Missy said she had arranged a shoot at Treharran Hall for the last two days, and then it’s Christmas, so hopefully you’ll get a peaceful Christmas.  Heard from Tony?”


“I have – he’ll be back for the New Year party,” Abby said with a contented smile.


“Oh yes – my darling cousin returns early,” Judy said as she sat down.  “At least David and the family will be over then as well.”


“Hey Simon,” Abby said as Becca came over with Simon Leventhal, “how’s life at Cambridge?”


“It’s going well – but at least we survived the first meeting of the parents,” he said as he sipped his wine.


“Where are they tonight?”


“Mom and Dad have taken them out for a meal – you’ll meet them tomorrow,” Bobby said.


“So how are you enjoying New York this time, Simon?”


“It’s much colder than I thought – but it’s so alive,” he said with a smile.




“So why was Andrew at the house when I came back this morning, Lover,” Sandy said as she sat with Heather.


“Oh – he dropped off some quotes for the furniture restoration you were asking about,” Heather said, “he was sorry he didn’t see you, though.”


“And the kids got their presents sorted out?”


“Oh yes,” Heather said as she looked at them talking to Katy and Pepsi.


“So we get a quiet day tomorrow?”


“Err – you may have forgotten the small matter of our party lover?”


“Oh I haven’t – it’s all in hand...”


“Nessa is in her element tonight,” Heather said as she finally came off the stage with Mick.


“Oh yes – it’s amazing compared to how she was this time last year.”


“And so much for the better...”




"So did you never consider singing for your supper Vanessa,” Mick said as he handed her a drink, “you had the voice to."

"From you Mick that is the ultimate compliment,” Nessa said as she blushed, “and it's Nessa please."

"Your voice reminds me of Beverly Bivens..."

"Oh I wish," Nessa interrupted, "I adored her singing."

"Well I'm bein' straight with you, your voice has the same quality...And anyway returning to my original question why did you never try singing professionally? Because you went away to college?"

"No,” Nessa said, “because my parents put me in a lunatic asylum to rid me of such ideas."

"No seriously...”  Mick looked at her and then said “Oh Jesus H Christ you are being serious!"

"Totally Mick, and it had their desired effect. It's only in this past year I finally escaped the mental straightjacket I allowed them to put me in."


“Well, I’m glad you managed to break free, even if it took a while.”


“Thank you, Mick me boy,” Mary said as she came over and kissed her on the cheek, “you made a young lady very happy.”


“Hey, I loved it,” Mick said, “and if you ever want to play Old Maid again...”


Mary blushed as Nessa looked at her.  “Mick, you promised...”


“I know – but to see you blush like that, it’s worth it.”


“Miss Thomas?”


Mary turned to see a young man standing behind her in a dark suit.


"There is a Sir Thomas Woodward from Pontypridd outside Miss Thomas, he asked me to ask you if it might be okay for him to come in?” one of the assistant managers discreetly asked.


“Sir Thomas is here,” Mick said, “this could be fun.”


“You know who he is talking about,” Nessa asked as she looked at them.


“You may be singing again later,” Mick said as Mary shook her head.

"Let me just ask please..." Mary walked over towards Anna and her mother.

"Enjoying yourself Mary?"

"Immensely...look an old friend of mine is outside, can he come in?"

"Certainly...the more the merrier."

"Alright," Mary turned towards the man from the hotel, "tell Sir Thomas to come in please." Mary smiled as she paused till the crowd in the room recognised the gatecrasher.


“Oh my god,” Erica said as she saw the white haired man, “I thought Mary was joking...”


“Mary, my little love,” he said as they embraced, “I heard you were in here.  Am I interrupting?”


“No, of course not Tom me boy.  Anna here is celebrating her sixteenth birthday, and this is Emma and Steve her parents.  Folks, meet...”


“Tom Jones,” Emma gasped, “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.”


“Tom, me boy!”


"Hey Boyo, don't say they had a relic like you doing the entertainment." Tom hugged Mick. "There's hope for my career still."

"What career you old has been?"


“Anna, many happy returns – will you allow me to give you a small present?”


Anna just nodded mutely as Tom took the stage, and spoke to the band leader.  “Hey Boyo – want to go for a walk round the park?”


“Later – hit it!”


As the band started to play It’s Not Unusual, Anna walked slowly over to the other girls.


“Okay, you topped me,” Pepsi said as they listened to the song, “cheers!”






“I can’t believe it,” Ingy said as she stood with Carina and Annie, “I had heard the rumours of who Mary knew, but to have both of them in the same room at the same time?”


“I know – I mean, I’d heard the stories as well, but this?”




“Hey, Nessa,” Mick called put, “get up here a minute will you?  Tom, meet Nessa Richmond.  Nessa, Tom Jones.”


“I’m sorry,” Nessa giggled, “it’s just becoming a very surreal evening.”


“And it’s about to get better,” Tom said, “Mick here says you sound like my old friend Bev.  Want to give one of hers a try?”


“Alex,” Gus said as he and Paulie stood by the bar, “have you ever seen her look so happy?”


“No – this has been a transformative year for her,” Alex said with a smile.


“I wonder how she’s going to react tomorrow at the party when she sees the special guests we’re bringing?”


“We’ll find out tomorrow – listen,” Gus said as Nessa nodded to the guitarists, Mick taking a guitar himself as he and Tom stood by a microphone.


Taking a deep breath, Nessa closed her eyes and began singing


“When I woke up this morning
You were on my mind
And you were on my mind”


“Oh I used to love this song,” Valeria said as she put her arm round Guy’s waist.

“I got troubles, whoa-oh
I got worries, whoa-oh
I got wounds to bind


So I went to the corner
Just to ease my pains
Yeah, just to ease my pains”


Mick and Tom looked at each other and started to sing the backing vocals as Nessa closed her eyes and held the microphone.

“I got troubles, whoa-oh
I got worries, whoa-oh
I came home again.”


They them harmonised as Nessa continued.


“When I woke up this morning
You were on my mi-i-i-ind and
You were on my mind
I got troubles, whoa-oh
I got worries, whoa-oh
I got wounds to bind.”


“Key change,” Mick said as they continued.


“And I got a feelin'
Down in my sho-oo-oo-oes, said
Way down in my sho-oo-oes
Yeah, I got to ramble, whoa-oh
I got to move on, whoa-oh
I got to walk away my blues


When I woke up this morning
You were on my mind
You were on my mind
I got troubles, whoa-oh
I got worries, whoa-oh
I got wounds to bind!”


As the song finished, the partygoers whooped and clapped while Emma came onto the stage.


“You know, when we started thinking of what to do for Anna’s birthday, the last thing I think we expected was to have this amazing group of musicians.  Please thank Nessa Richmond, Tom Jones and Mick Jagger.”


Anna came back in and joined her mother on the stage as she said “and I think Anna wants to say something now.”


“I just want to say,” Anna said as she looked round the room, “thank you, each and every one of you, to make this such a special day!”


“Three cheers for Anna,” Emma said as the group cheered, and she turned to talk to Tom and Mick.


“Look – I want to thank everyone here for this amazing evening,” Emma said, “but one person in particular.


"When Steve and I started to think about what to do for Anna’s birthday, two things were decided first.  One, it had to be a complete and total surprise for her, and as her friends will tell you, that is not easy.  The other was it had to be a way of all of us telling her how much we loved her.


“So it soon became apparent the question was what do you do for an exceptional daughter on her 16th birthday?" Mrs. Carlton smiled. "Well thanks to both her parents, and Anna herself, having such exceptional friends, the answer is you turn into an EVENT!" She paused, "and when our little group is planning an event there is really only one person you consult, So can I here and now get you all to applaud the wonderful social skills of the amazing Nessa Richmond."

At this moment everyone burst into cheers as Judith toddled forward holding a bouquet of flowers which she gave to Nessa.

"OH" Thank you Judith, Thank you all, it was really nothing." Nessa blushed.


“Please, everyone, enjoy the rest of the party,” Emma said as Anna waved to everyone.


"What are they?" Ama asked a beaming Doc as she came over with a folded silk pad.

"My panties,” Doc said, “signed by Mick Jagger and Tom Jones, if that isn't the ultimate souvenir of my 16th birthday, then I don't know what is."

"You never..."

"I went in the powder room and whipped them off...No way I was missing this opportunity."

"You know that is an idea?" Nell looked at her sister.


“After you,” Ally said as they slipped out...



As Tom looked at the girls mingling with the other teachers, he turned to his former boss.


"Teacher-Staff relationships seem far more relaxed here then back in England Grace?"

"I think they are by and large, especially at a school like St Angela's."

"So any major disciplinary problems?"

"No," Grace said as she pulled Letty into the conversation, "thanks largely to this young lady."

"What?" Letty looked bemused.

"Meet Letty Kinman, one of our head girls, and all round good egg."

"Oh I wouldn't say that." Letty blushed.

"No you wouldn't but as Dean of Students, I'm allowed to...By the way did you look at some of those scholarship options I brought over?"

"One in particular caught my eye."

"The one at Penn which goes to descendants of Benjamin Franklin wanting to study Pre-Med?"

"And are you?"  Grace looked at Letty and raised an eyebrow.

"It just so happens that via my father’s grandmother that I am. What's better is that it hasn't been claimed in five years, and it’s a full ride, so just maybe I might get it."

"Well even I know the prestige of their medical school." Grace nodded.

"Yeah and while I don't precisely want to be an MD, its perfect prep for the grad school work I'd want to do."

"Fingers crossed for you," the English teachers smiled.




“This has been an amazing party,” Juliette said to Missy as Judith dozed on Carina’s lap.


"It certainly has.”  Missy took a drink, and then said “Well. Did you see the session they shot on the America's cup boats out on San Francisco Bay Ju?"

"I did,” Juliette said with a smile, “and they were pretty damn near perfect."

"Near perfect?"

"Hey Missy you know me," Juliette laughed, "I make it a policy NEVER to tell new and young models they are absolutely perfect. It gives them room to grow."

"That is true, but on your terms Mary and Trina got pretty close out there."

"I'll agree on that, two exceptional young models wearing beautiful sweaters, hunky young yachtsman, Anna was more than pleased and she upped the layout to 7 pages this afternoon."

"Well I know Mary has already spent her fee ensuring her family have their best Christmas since they lost their Mom."

"I'm glad for them, they are such nice people." Juliette watched as the DJ cranked up the music. "Has Mary handed in her notice at the hotel yet?"

"No, she's still not convinced that this isn't just a dream."


“Give her time Missy – she’ll see the truth soon enough.”




Eventually, Anna came to the stage and said “Folks, I’ve had an amazing day, but it’s time to go home.  Here’s to the next party, and once again, thanks to all of you for everything.”


“Three cheers for Anna Carlton,” Kylie called out, “Hip hip...”




“Hip Hip...”




“HIP HIP...”





Thursday 24th December

Christmas Eve

9 am

The Carlton home


“Well, good morning,” Emma said as Anna came into the kitchen, “I didn’t think you’d be up so early.”


“I know, but I woke up and could not get back to sleep.  Can I get some coffee please?”


As her mother handed her a cup of coffee, her father looked over and said “We’ve put all your presents upstairs for the moment, locked away until Caroline can come round and sort things out.”


“And my panties?”


“Oh I washed them...”




“Only joking,” Emma said, “they’re up there with them as well.”


Doc shook her head as she looked at her phone.


“Who is it?”


“Chet – he wants me to meet him with Sarah and H in the park before they head back later.  Is that okay?”


“I think so – so long as you’re back before it’s too dark,” Steve said as Emma sat down.  “Can we talk about Missy’s present?”


“The contract – that was out of left field.”


"Well,” Emma said as she held her mug of coffee, “you have done two pinup calendars, and walked a couple of high profile fashion shows."

"I know Mom, but I'm still pretty surprised, at five eight I'm borderline on height, I am short-sighted..."

"But not as bad as Carina," Steve looked up from the paper.

"That's true," her mother nodded. "Also have you thought that it might help you from getting bored out of your skull while you finish St Angela's? Grace Brand thinks it will give you something else to think on beyond your studies."

"It might." Doc thought to herself if they knew what else really went on in her life.  “It might at that.  Okay – what do we do?”


“We?  You call Missy at her number,” Steve said as he tossed a business card over, “and find out what her initial plans are, while I get the family attorney to look it over.  I need to see Bert about our insurance policy anyway.”


Doc nodded as she drained her mug, and went into the front room.  Picking up the telephone, she dialled a number and waited.


“Norstar Agency, how can I help you?”


“Anna Carlton calling for Missy Auerbach,” Doc said as she settled into the armchair.


“One moment,” the female voice said, and Doc was left listening to Burt Bacharach.


“Anna, my dear.  Recovered from your party?”


“Beginning to,” Doc said with a smile.


“Well then, how can I help you today?”


“I’ve been considering your present.  Mom and Dad seem to think it’s a good idea, and I hear Grace thinks so as well.”


“I know – I told her in advance.”


Taking a deep breath, Anna said "So Missy if I do sign, what sort of work would I be doing?"

"Well,” Missy said, “I can promise you a gig doing teen clothes for one of the big catalogs."

"That sounds interesting, where are they shooting it?"


"BUFFALO!" Anna half-screamed. "Abigail gets Rio, Jeannie gets London, and I get offered Buffalo?"

"I know," Missy laughed, "but unfortunately that's where the shoot is."

"Alright, well we know a lawyer who's going to look things over for us...When should I pencil...YUCK!...Buffalo into my schedule?"

"January 3rd, you fly up early, and get home late. I want you to do some go sees though before that, and work with Jack to learn some tricks of the trade."


“So forget next week as a holiday?”


“Well, not quite.  I’ll let you know where and when.  I think you’ll love it Anna.”


“Okay Missy.  I guess you’ll hear from us soon.”


“Excellent – and don’t worry about Jeannie.  I think she’ll be exhausted next week anyway.”


“Anna – muffins are ready,” she heard her mom call out as she put the phone down.


“Coming,” she said as she walked through, grinning broadly.





The Village


“Hey Grace,” Annie said as the door to the apartment was opened, “thanks for inviting us round for lunch.”


“Glad you could make it,” Grace said as Annie, Ama and Caroline came in, removing their coats and hanging them up before they made their way up the stairs.  All three were wearing thick jumpers, jeans and snow boots, while Grace was wearing a blue jersey dress and slippers.


“You remember Jane and Tom from last night – guys, meet again Annie, Caroline and Ama, our neighbours.”


“Hey,” Tom said from his seat, “all ready for tomorrow?”


“As ready as we will ever be,” Annie said.


“You know, it shouldn’t be weird, but hearing you with the only American accent in the room, and that not a local one...”


“It is everyday life for us,” Ama said as she sat down, while Caroline handed a small bag over to Sarah.


“Presents for both of you from us,” she said as she looked at the small tree, “to go on the pile.”


“Thanks – I think Grace has some for you as well, before you go,” Sarah said as she placed them to one side.  “Want some coffee?”


“Please,” she said as she sat down.  “So how are you enjoying your stay so far?”


“It’s certainly different,” Jane said as she crossed her legs, and sipped her drink.  “Harlow’s a quiet little town, and this...”


“It does take a little getting used to,” Sarah said as she sat down, “but it’s – what four months now?”


“Just over,” Grace said as she brought a tray of cookies through.  “On the other hand, Christmas in New York is as special as I remembered it being.  And as cold.”


“What are you looking forward to, Ama,” Tom said as he looked at the young girl.


“A very special day,” Ama said with a smile, “with my mom and family.”






1 pm

Central Park West


“And – there we go,” Katherine said as she put the star on top of the tree, Katy smiling as she stood back.


“Now it really is Christmas,” Katy said as she looked at the lights.


“Indeed – so what are you going to wear tonight?”


“I thought I’d wear the black evening dress – if mom will let me,” Katy said with a giggle.


“I’m sure she will – it’s amazing how much you have grown up since this time last year Katy.”


“I know Gran,” Katy said as she sat on the stool, “I can’t believe it either.  I don’t think mom can quite believe it either.”


“Still, you’ll always be my little girls,” Katherine said as she kissed her granddaughter’s forehead.



1.30 pm

Long Island


“Deck da halls wif bous of holly...”


Tommy the Fish was in a particularly good mood today.  He had completed a deal that ensured the finest fish available would grace the tables of the main hotels that night, made sure the accounts were all settled, and had given notice he would not be open for business again before Monday – a fact his clients accepted with good humour.


He had one more piece of business to conduct, and then it was home where Annie was waiting with Tammy.  They’d go to mass at the church, and then have a real family day opening presents the next day.


“But first,” he said as he drove into the barn, “business...”


He stopped his pickup opposite the Daimler, and got out, watching as Miss Panther and Miss Leopard got out as well.  Both women were dressed to impress – long black coats with fur lining, sleek leather boots and gloves, and as always the scarves round their necks, and the stockings holding their short dark hair down.


“Good afternoon, ladies,” he said as they walked over, “season’s greetings at both of ye.”


“And to you, Tommy,” Miss Panther said.  “Thank you for fulfilling our request before the holidays.”


“Always a pleasure – you’ll find what you need in da back as usual, nice and untraceable.”


Miss Leopard walked past, smiling at Tommy as Miss Panther said “I presume young Tammy is looking forward to her first Christmas?”


“I don’ fink she quite understands it, but she likes the tree – keeps reachin for da lights,” he said as Miss Leopard walked back.


“Excellent as always, Tommy – if you will do the honours?”


“Of caus,” he said as he lifted the two bags out and carried them to the trunk of the Daimler, placing them inside and retrieving two holdalls.


“Your payment,” Miss Panther said as he carried them round, “and also some gifts for us.  The usual rules, Tommy?”


“Sure fing – and may you have a Happy Holiday, all of youse,” he said as he put them in the pickup, and drove out of the barn.


“I hope she likes the play centre,” Diana said as she removed the stocking and wig.


“I’m sure she will – do you have time to get them up to the farm and get back to the party?”


“I have – and I shall see you all there,” Diana said, “but let me take you to your car first...”



6.30 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Do you think I look all right in this dress, Sandy?”


As she looked over at her mother, wearing a halter neck blue velvet dress, and nodded as she said “I think you look wonderful in that, and I am sure you will be the belle of the ball.”


“One of several,” Nessa said as she looked at Sandy, in her gold evening dress, the cap sleeves covering her shoulders.


“Can you help me with this, Mom?”


“Of course I can,” Nessa said as she same over.


"Well Mother, do you think we can outdo last night?" Sandy asked as she got Vanessa to fix the clasp on the choker she was wearing.

"From my personal viewpoint,” Nessa said as she fastened the clasp, “nothing will ever surpass the thrill of getting to sing with Mick Jagger and Tom Jones my Darling."

"You did seem to be enjoying yourself."

"More then I think even you can imagine Alexandra."

"Oh I think I understand Mom," Sandy said as she stood up and hugged her parent.

Looking in the full length mirror and smoothing her dress down, Sandy put on a pair of opera gloves.  "We are going to have an even fuller house then normal this year."

"Well with George and Katy now being a couple I thought it right to invite her family."

"And Gus and Paulie are bringing their family as well." Vanessa inspected herself in the mirror.

“Tom and Claire are bringing their house guests over...”


“And Diana is coming with her family.”


"Klaus and Juliette are going to the function at the German consulate first, but they will be here later, and Carina and Annie will be early arrivals."

"They are such a nice couple of girls."

"Mom,” Sandy said as she looked at her, “you know there was a time not too long ago that their being lesbians would have shocked you to the core."

"I know,” Nessa said, “but I think I've grown as a person since then.  Talking of which, where is Heather?"


“She went to see how the kids were coming along...”



“All right, pillow talk all done with Curt?”


“Is that a hit of jealousy I here, O sister of mine,” Jo said as she put her earrings in.


“Are they new?”


“A Christmas present from a certain guy,” Jo said with a smile as she stood up, the skirt of her shorty black evening dress falling to her knees.


"Heather do I look alright?" Little Sandy called from her bedroom.

"I don't know until I see...”  Heather walked down the corridor, and stopped in the doorway, looking at the young woman standing there.


“OH DARLING!  You look incredible."


“I do?”  Sands looked at herself in the mirror and smiled.  "Well Holly took me to APCO today and we got this new dress, it's just that I'm not used to wearing a long evening dress."

"Take it from me you look beautiful, your Mom and Gran will certainly approve."

"And the makeup, did I get it like Holly does hers?"

"Yes you did." Heather hugged her young charge.

"Holly was such a help."

Heather looked closely at her young charge.  "You are developing a little thing for Holly aren't you?"

"Well she's so beautiful, and so stylish."

"I understand." Heather smiled. "Anything else?"

Sands blushed as she said "I think I have a girl crush on her...does that mean I'm like you and Mom?"

"Not necessarily," Heather hugged the young girl again. "At your age getting little crushes on older girls is pretty normal. Just see how it develops in your mind."

"Well just please don't tell Mom eh?"

"I Promise." Heather looked serious for a second. "You know a pair of opera gloves would really complete that look."

"But I don't own a pair."

"Luckily I have spares. Let's go and look shall we?"



“Hey,” Jo said as she came downstairs to find George pouring himself a soft drink, “starting early aren’t you?”


“Very funny,” George said as he put some ice cubes in, “do you want a drink?”


“I’ll wait – you look sharp in the suit.”


“Thanks – with Katy coming, I wanted to look good.”


“It’s serious between you two isn’t it?”


“You could say that,” George said with a smile as Sands and Heather came in.  “On the other hand – you look fantastic sis.”


“Well thanks, Bro,” Sands said with a smile as Sandy and Nessa came in.


“Oh my  - we’re all dressed to the nines, aren’t we?”


“Showtime,” Nessa said as the doorbell rang, “let’s see who is first...”


“I trust we are not too early,” Carina said as she came in, handing her fur coat to the maid and revealing her black evening dress.  Annie removed her own coat to show her green dress, the design cut to cover her growing bump.


“No, your timing is great,” Heather said as she kissed them both on the cheek.  “Hello Judith – are you looking forward to tomorrow?”


“Yes,” Judith said as she held her mother’s hand, wearing a blue party dress.


“She’s looking for brightly wrapped parcels,” Annie said as Jo handed her a glass of diet coke.  “Remind me to be nice to Susan, will you?”


“You’re nearly half way there, Coach,” Jo said, “endure.  How’s junior coming along anyway?”


“All looking good,” Annie said with a smile.   As they went into the room, the door was opened to allow Diana and Abigail to come in, both of them wearing ivory silk gowns that reached to the floor.


“Well, if it isn’t the deb of the year,” Carina said as she handed Abby a drink, “where are the rest of the family?”


“If you mean Grandpa and Grandmama, they are coming with your relatives,” Abby said with a smile.


“Aunt Natalya and Uncle Willy?”


“In the flesh – so how’s thing chez Huntingdown?”


“We’re all good to go for tomorrow – she is going to love it,” Carina said as she looked at Judith, who was dancing with Sands.  “And talking of love – look at Sands.”


“I know – she’s really coming out,” Abby said with a smile.


“My my, and who is this vision of beauty I see before me?”


“Hello Uncle Alex,” Sands said as she looked over, “do you really think I look that good?”


“Of course I do – you are so much your mother’s daughter,” Alex said as he kissed her on the cheek, “and as for you, you grow more graceful every day.”


“Flatterer,” Heather said, “I hear you have Mass tomorrow.”


“I do indeed – and I wanted to tell you all, with her permission, that Ama’s christening is now set for the 10th, after I spoke to her this afternoon.”


“Well that is good news – I’m sure we’ll all be here for that,” Heather said as she looked round. 



“Tom, Claire, we’re so glad you were able to make it,” Sandy said as she greeted the latest arrivals.


“Thank you for inviting us – you know Simon of course?”


“Of course I do,” Sandy said as she kissed the young man on the cheek, while Bobby held his arm.  “And these must be your parents.”


“Mum, Dad, allow me to introduce Alexandra Richmond.  Miss Richmond, may I introduce my parents, Sir Colin and Lady Yvonne Leventhal.”


“Please, can we dispense with titles tonight,” Simon Leventhal said.  He was tall, thin, and grey haired, and wore his dinner jacket with true style.  Yvonne was wearing a grey dress that flowed to the floor.


“Only if you agree to call me Sandy – my partner Heather.”


“I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay so far,” Heather said as she greeted the new arrivals.


“Very much so,” Yvonne said, “this is such a contrast to Chelsea.”


“So where do you hail from, Heather?”


“Upstate New York originally,” she replied as Jack and Becca made their way over to Carina and Abby.


“You made it,” Carina said.  “How was meet the parents?”


“Not as bad as you might think.  I heard you all had fun up in Stowe last weekend?”


“Nobody complained,” Abby said as she saw her grandfather and grandmother come in, and talk to the Leventhal’s.  “Elder relative alert Cari.”


“So I see,” she said as Natalya and Willy came in, Natalya wearing a red gown and Valeria a green one.


“Guy – it is so good to see you again.”


"And where else could I possibly spend Christmas Eve dear Vanessa," Guy kissed his hostess on both cheeks. "This has become part of the tradition of the season now, and besides there are so many beautiful women here."

"Down boy," Valeria laughed, "remember you are a reformed character now."

"I know," Guy sighed.

"Valeria, Guy."

"Alex dear man." Valeria laughed as the priest kissed her.

"I brought 6 bottles of that Lafitte-Rothschild you so admired down from Curragh Park for us to drink tonight."

"Oh lead on Alexander," Guy's attention switched to wine as they walked off.


“I will release Alex later,” Valeria said as Natalya walked over.


“Nessa, it is good to see you again,” she said as they kissed each other, “I understand you had a most entertaining evening last night.”


“It was fun, yes,” Nessa said with a smile.  “So you are spending Christmas here instead of Bavaria?”


“Well, with our family here now, it made sense,” Willy said, “and besides, certain other ladies wish to consult Natalya for the Opernball next month.”


“Of course,” Nessa said as she looked at Abby.  “How are Sigi and the family?”


“Well, and noisy – they send their love,” Natalya said.


“You seem very relaxed, Natalya?”


“I had a short break in Switzerland recently – it was most refreshing,” she said with a smile as she sipped her drink.



George smiled and walked over as he saw Katy arriving in her black evening dress, Jan in a grey one and Katherine in a more modest blue one while Adam was in a dinner jacket, dark trousers, white  shirt, bow tie and shoes.


“Hello Katy,” he said as she turned round, “you look wonderful tonight.”


“So do you,” Katy said as they kissed.  “Sands – my goddess girl, you look fantastic!”


“Thanks,” Sands said with a blush as they walked into the room.


"Adam,” Nessa said as she walked over, “you look particularly handsome."

"Thank you Vanessa, the dinner jacket is rather me I think."

"Distinctly," she paused, "Now which do I say, Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas? Or Happy Hanukah?"

"Happy Holidays covers everything," the FBI man laughed. "So most people just say that to me."

Nessa nodded as she said, “then I wish you a happy holidays,” as an unexpected couple walked in, the young man wearing a smart suit, the blonde haired woman a green evening dress with matching gloves.


"Hello Tommy, hello Holly.  We weren’t expecting you?"

"I'm sorry we are crashing the party for a few moments," Holly looked round, "we are on the way to Tommy's parents, but when I thought of the dress Sands and I bought today, I thought we maybe need to add these." Holly held out a long thin box with a white ribbon round it.

"Sands, Holly is here to see you." Nessa called out.

"Hey Holly, Hey Tommy," the youngster smiled as she came out.

"Oh I see someone had the same idea," Holly laughed as she handed the box to her protégé. "There are long gloves in here."

"Well these are on loan from Heather, but Thank You so much for the gift of a pair of my own." Sandy undid the box and then kissed the bespectacled blonde.


“Will you stay for a moment and have a drink with us?”


“We’d be honoured,” Tommy said as Nessa showed them in, Sands following behind them.  Heather watched from the other side of the room and then tapped on Sandy’s shoulder.




"Your daughter has a crush on Holly Lover."

"She does?"  Sandy looked at Sands as she talked to Katy.

"You can't tell?"

"No, I can’t.  My mind has been on other things I guess."

"She asked if it meant she was like us."

Sandy looked at Heather before she said "And you replied?"

"Probably not. I told her crushes are part of growing up."

"Well if she's going to chose a girl to have a crush on, then Holly is a pretty good choice."

"I agree." Heather nodded.

"Did I hear my name being mentioned?" Holly asked from behind.

"Did you hear what we were saying?" Heather asked a trifle embarrassed.

"Yes, but I'd guessed anyway." Holly laughed lightly. "I'll be gentle I promise and not let her down hard."

"Well if she's like me she'll soon find another crush." Sandy sipped her wine.

"Well,” Holly said as she sipped her wine, “I think it’s rather a compliment to me."


"It is Holly," Heather nodded, "but as I think you know, please just be careful with her."

"I promise I will be, and besides she's a bit like the kid sister I don't have."




“Aunt Natalya,” Carina said as she walked over, “it is good to see you again.”


“And you my dear,” Natalya said with a smile.  “Judith seems to have grown so much since I last saw her.”


“Indeed – she is so looking forward to tomorrow, and we all look forward to April.”


“As do we.”


"So, Switzerland Aunt?" Carina whispered.

"Oh it was just a trifling thing." Natalya smiled.

"How trifling?"

"Let me just say my creature sated her needs shall we." Natalya sipped her wine. "I must say this wine is quite intoxicating. Not maybe as nice as human blood, but still very satisfactory."

"Oh Goddess,” Carina said as she looked round, “those two bankers in Zurich who had their bodies drained...?"

"Hush dearest niece."

"One day you need to tell me just how you did that."

"When I'm sure we are in private and we can both let ourselves open up...then maybe I will."

"You had better dear Aunt.  I am – intrigued."


“Will our cousin be here tonight?”


“No – she has gone to visit Tom’s family for Christmas, but we will have the chance to talk together next week.”


“Good – I hear she is doing very well,” Natalya said with a smile.




“Chet!  Thanks for coming,” George said as Chet van Roon arrived with the rest of his family, “at least this year we get to be with the adults.”


“A relief for all of you, I am sure,” Chet said as Blair went to talk to Abby and Jo, while Pussy and Frieda went to see Heather and Sandy.


“I am so glad you could come,” Nessa said as she hugged Paulie, “are they all here?”


“Oh yes – and look, I hope you don’t mind, but a couple of old friends called today on me, so I asked them to come with us as well.”


“Oh – and who might they...  OH MY GOD!!!”




Alex looked over as the three older women came in and embraced Nessa, a smile growing on his lips.


“Where did you dig them out of, Gus my man,” he said as he old friend came over.


“Paulie called them, asked them all to come tonight.”


“Who are they,” Sandy said as she saw her mother acting like Liz and Tonia.


“Sandy, that is Miranda Court, Julia Deckard and Yvonne Dew.”


“Also known,” Paulie said as she came over, “as The Monsters.”


“As in Ness and the Monsters?”


“The very same,” Gus said as they watched the old friends.



"So what are you drinking Young George?" Adam asked as he refilled two glasses.

"Some cider that my Gran brought along. It looks like champagne but is non-alcoholic. Katy and my sister are drinking it as well."

"Don't tell your Uncle Alex, I'm sure he'd condemn it as an abomination."

"That is pretty certain." George giggled.

"So is your father dropping in?"

"He said he would try. He's got to drop our presents off, and he wants Jennifer's Gran to drop in and say Hi as well."

"What about Orlanda?"

"I think so, she's become a friend of Heather's."


“What did you get him as a Christmas present?”


George looked round, and then said “Orlanda arranged with Adam Cabot to take a family portrait of me, Sands and Jennifer to be taken.  I loved the one Jack did of Katy for me, so I thought we’d repeat it this time.”


“Good thinking, and Katy seems to be behaving herself,” Adam said as she looked at the teenager.  For a moment, he had a flash in his mind of her stripping off a similar dress, but shook that off.




“So Sir Colin, what do you do to earn an honest crust?" Natalya asked as she and Willy stood with him and his family.

"Honest?" Simon laughed.

"What my unfortunate son and heir means,” Sir Colin said as he raised an eyebrow in classic Roger Moore style, “is that I'm an investment banker, a profession he will probably enter one day, despite his current anti-capitalist leanings."

"Oh you are one of those Leventhal's? My late father was a customer of yours."

"Well there are a couple in this room actually.”  As he looked round, he said “Guy has been an old customer, and the Richmond Trust also has some of its capital invested with us."

"Not Valeria?"

"No she's a strict Rothschild customer."

"Oh of course she is related slightly."


“And what my heir also needs to remember is, his political leanings aside, we do a lot of good for the country as well.”




“You know, it is a genuine pleasure to be here amongst such good friends this year, with fine wine and good conversation,” Guy said as he stood with Jan, Diana, Valeria and Katherine.


“And it has been a successful year on all counts?”


“Indeed – the vineyard has produced a record harvest, and the stud has begun to come into profit ahead of plan.  Not to mention the success of Saints’N’Sinnerz and your success on the race track, my dear Janice.”


"My father has replaced his interest in young beautiful women, with interests in racing and fine wine." Diana spoke.

"Well a lovely filly has such beautiful legs..."

"Now are you talking horses...or women Guy?" Katherine laughed.

"Oh strictly horses," Guy replied with a twinkle in his eye.

"You had better be." Valeria gave him a glare that turned into a grin.

"So where are your children?" Katherine looked round.

"At the party at the United Nations, but we might see them later." Valeria looked at her watch.

"It's what my dear sister-in-law calls the works party."

"Isn't that an English idiom?" asked Valeria.

"It is, but we Irish say the same thing." Katherine added.

"So where is Susan spending her Christmas?"

"She's going to her in-laws, and her mum and Maeve are coming over for New Years Diana."

"They've taken Kylie and Marina with them to California." Katy joined the chat.  “I heard Helen is spending the holiday with Caroline and Annie tomorrow.”


“I presume Shirley will be back for the New Year as well,” Valeria said.


“She gets back on Monday I believe.  I know Ama is really looking forward to seeing Maisha again.”




"My point is that all the capital that is represented in this room, how much is actually being put to use for the common good?" Simon posed a question as he stood with the other young adults.

"Well my family has a lot of its capital tied up in land, vines, and wine." Abigail ate a delicate cucumber sandwich. "We are the biggest employer in our little region."

"Okay that I will give you," Simon laughed. "But how much do you have in the banks simply earning profits from the insidious modern banking practices?"

"Me personally? Or the family?"

"Hmmm.”  Simon rubbed his chin and said “well I'm not sure."

"Oh don't say you've stumped my 'red' boyfriend Abs?" Bobbi laughed.

"Not stumped, just made me think dearest." Simon paused "Abigail as we can guess earns millions, but again her image generates sales, which generate earnings for workers, which puts bread on peoples tables. And hey I'm not a true red, I just wish that we were using the billions held simply as capital, or as paper assets, to generate real things, and real jobs for ordinary people."


“I actually agree with you,” Jo said, “but the issue we have is the American dream is built on a philosophy of earn all you can and enjoy the gains.  Find a way to change that, that manages to please everyone, and I think there is a Nobel Prize waiting for you.”





"You know you should be very proud of young Simon." Guy looked across as he and Alex stood chatting with Colin Leventhal. "The boy has a very big heart, and a strong conscience."

"I know,” Colin said as he smiled.  “He may spout some absolute rubbish sometimes, but he is doing it from a sense of justice, and what is right and wrong.  If that can be channelled in the right way, we may have a real force for social justice standing there."

"Speaking personally,” Alex said quietly, “and not for the church, I do find his views somewhat in line with my own."

"I guessed you might Father."

"Oh just call me Alex please Colin. It's such a bore being called Father when I'm off duty so to speak."

"Alright Alex it is."

"I think all of us in the near future will need simply to look beyond our own personal comforts, and to decide what we can do to help our fellow man."

"You sound like Rabbi Lowenstein Alex," Colin sipped his wine.

"Well I'm hoping I do, Isaac and I are close friends, we sit on an inter-denominational committee together. His books have been a big influence on me, and we share a taste for good wine as well."

"Do you get to London a lot then?"

"Oh I'm in Europe for a month a year usually. Isaac and I often have taken the chance to just hire a car and follow our nose round a wine growing area."

"Don't let the good rabbi hear you say he follows his nose." Guy laughed.

"Oh I think Isaac long since made peace with that proboscis of his." Colin laughed.


“And what is amusing you so much, Father?”


“Ah Willy,” Guy said as he turned to see his son and daughter-in-law standing there.”And how was the party?”


“Boring – and the Russian delegation were about to lead a round of choral singing, so we took the opportunity to duck out,” Natasha said.  “Where is mother?”


“Talking to my darling sister and her old friends,” Alex said as he pointed to the small cluster laughing in a corner.


“Well, we shall circulate and catch up with her later,” she said as they walked off.




“Good evening Lady Leventhal, I’m Janice Carter,” Jan said as she held her hand out.


“Hello I’m Yvonne,” the Englishwoman said as she shook hands. “Now let me remember, our hostess did tell me who relates to whom...  You are the mother of that young girl in the black dress, the daughter of that lady over there, and the partner of that amazing hunk of man over there.” She pointed to each in turn.


“Guilty on all counts,” Jan laughed.


“So,” Yvonne said as she sipped her champagne, “do you plan to convert when you marry him?”


“Ummm convert, marry him?”  Jan blushed as she said “neither question has popped up so far.”


“Oh I can assure you that it will Janice, take it from someone who has been married over 20 years, Jewish men move cautiously, but they will pop the question eventually.”


“They do?”


“Definitely,” Yvonne Leventhal sipped her champagne again. “As for conversion, your mother’s accent betrays Irish roots, and unless that is a false track guarantees you are a Christian, and probably a Catholic.”


“Again, very good deductions.”


“I was in the same position, I was raised Anglican, but Leventhal men generally marry Christian women so that the inbreeding gets no worse than it did with all the cousin marriages in the nineteenth century. I converted to Judaism before our marriage.”


“It’s funny,” Jan said with a smile, “but religion is one of the few things Adam and I never have talked about.”


“Have you met his mother?”




“Well be assured she’s discussed your religion with him. I’m an expert on the subject of Jewish mothers-in-law.”


“You don’t get on?”


“Oh Helen and I get on famously. It’s the mothers-in-law of my friends that I know.”


“Okay Gotcha.” Janice laughed.  “But seriously, I do not think marriage is on the agenda.”  Sipping her own glass, she said “so if what you say is correct, how do you feel about Simon and Bobbi?”


“Now that is somewhat different.  I know this may sound cruel, but we are not related in any way, shape or form to the Morse family.”


“So it would be similar to me marrying Sandy Richmond’s brother if she had one?”


“Precisely.  She is a delightful young woman, and they do make a wonderful couple.”


Jan nodded as she looked at Adam.  She had only met his sister Eve in passing – what was his mother like?






“So are the stories we have heard of Nessa in her youth true,” Valeria said as she looked at Miranda.


“That depends on what you have heard,” Miranda said with a giggle, “certainly she was one of the most modern women at St Angela’s at the time.”


“Which wasn’t easy,” Nessa said, “when you had the Dragon as the principle.”


“The Dragon?”


“Mrs Augusta Tremayne,” Julia said as she sipped her drink, “the Principle of St Angela’s at the time.  A real old school battleaxe - like Margaret Rutherford in those old British films without the sense of humour.”


“I can still hear her to this day,” Yvonne said, “I do not expect young ladies of this academy to conduct themselves in such a deplorable and offensive manner.”


“Didn’t stop us though, did it,” Paulie said, the five of them laughing.


“Seriously though,” Miranda said, “Yes, Vanessa Richmond was a trendsetter, as you may have heard.  Hey, you still sing?”


“Oh you should have heard her yesterday,” Paulie said with a smile, “she brought the house down at a Sweet Sixteen party for a young friend of Sandy’s.”


“Oh really,” Yvonne said, “who were you singing with?”


“Oh nobody special,” Nessa said as she blushed.


“Just a couple of old singers – guys called Mick Jagger and Tom Jones.”


“NO!!!”  Julia looked at Nessa, who blushed and nodded.  “How did that happen?”


“Long story – turns out a friend of a friend of Sandy’s actually knows both of them, she arranged for Mick to sing, then Tom turned up, and the next thing you know, we’re singing You Were On My Mind...”


“Oh now that does take me back,” Miranda said.


“So where on earth did Paulie find you?”


“Well,” Miranda said, “I’m retired now – I live down in Florida, but when Paulie called, I came running.”


“I had a bit of a trip too – up from Houston.”


“And as for me,” Yvonne said, “I live in Philly.”


“And partners?”


“All widowed, I’m afraid,” Miranda said, “Paulie’s the lucky one.”


“Yes, but how many children and grandchildren have you got between the three of you?”


The three looked at each other, before Julia said “Okay – I THINK we have seven children and fifteen grandchildren.”


“And one Great-Grand child on the way,” Yvonne said with a smile.


“So, why Nessa and the Monsters?”


“Oh that was a fun thing – what did we sign at our Senior Prom?”


“You were Head Girl, Miranda – you must remember.”


“I think we all do – Nessa, want to remember those days?”


“Why not – if you don’t mind a capella,” she said as the four of them stood up, Nessa facing them.



“Is she really going out with him?”  Yvonne looked at Julia who said “Well, there she is. Let's ask her. Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?”


“Mm-hmm,” Nessa said as the guests gathered round them.

“Gee, it must be great riding with him,” Miranda said, “Is he picking you up after school today?”


The three then said in unison “By the way, where'd you meet him?”


Nessa took a deep breath, and stated to sing


“I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture?”


The trio said “yes, we see,” before Nessa sang “That's when I fell for,” and they sang back “the leader of the pack.”


“My folks were always putting him down...”


“Down, down.”

“They said he came from the wrong side of town.”


“Whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?” they sang as they looked at each other.

“They told me he was bad
But I knew he was sad
That's why I fell for...”


“The leader of the pack!”


“One day my dad said, "Find someone new"
I had to tell my Jimmy we're through.”


“Whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?” they sang back to Nessa as they danced from side to side.

“He stood there and asked me why
But all I could do was cry
I'm sorry I hurt you...”


“The leader of the pack!”


As Miranda, Yvonne and Julia hummed, Nessa lowered her head and said “He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I'll never know

Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!”


There was a moment’s silence, before Nessa sang again.


“I felt so helpless, what could I do?
Remembering all the things we'd been through
In school they all stop and stare
I can't hide the tears, but I don't care
I'll never forget him...”


“The leader of the pack!


The leader of the pack - now he's gone
The leader of the pack - now he's gone
The leader of the pack - now he's gone
The leader of the pack - now he's gone...”


As they stopped, the room applauded as they looked round.


“That’s my mom,” Sandy said as she went to see who had arrived.







“What happened to you,” Sandy said as the group of four came in from the falling snow.


“Believe me, I have been thinking the same thing,” Ingrid said as she shook herself down.


“You made it.”


"I'm sorry we are late Vanessa, but the Consul-General droned on and on." Klaus apologized then kissed his hostess, whilst a maid took his and Adam's overcoats.

"It was a trifle boring to say the least," Juliette also kissed Nessa whilst the maid took hers and Ingrid's furs.

"Well duty can sometimes be irksome." Nessa smiled.

"So who is here?" Juliette asked.


“Well, Natasha and Willy arrived a little while ago, and I think you know almost everyone else...”


“I see the rest of your family finally made it,” Jo said as she handed Judith a glass of juice.


“GRAPPY,” Judith said as she toddled over to Klaus, his arms wide open in greeting.


“Yeah – how’s Curt?”


“Honestly – wishing he was here,” Jo said.  “On the other hand, it could be awkward for Saturday night if he was here.”


“True, very true...”






"I have to say young George is looking rather spiffy as they used to say."

"Isn't he just Valeria," Sandy smiled proudly.

"So who does he inherit his taste and style from?"

"Oh I wish I could say me,” Sandy said, “but he's definitely his father's son. George started taking him to his tailor two or three months ago, and they definitely share the same idea as to what looks good on themselves."

"Well George should be proud..."

"Proud of who?" Diana butted in.

"We were talking about Young George and his sartorial taste Diana."

"He is looking particularly handsome," Diana paused and looked closely, "maybe a bit conservative in his dress, but he carries himself so well, just like..."

"His father, it was what I was saying." Sandy smiled again. "It seems I'm doomed to have little sartorial impact on my own children. My daughter sees Holly Berryman as her model, and my son his father."

"Poor you," Valeria laughed lightly, "but at least you are not forcing upon them the negative stereotypes I forced upon my daughter."


“And yet she has become a beautiful wife and mother Valeria – and for the record, George has his own views on what looks good.”


“I recognise that voice,” Sandy said as she turned round.  “How are you?”


“Very well thank you,” George said as Nessa greeted Maureen and Tony Gardiner.  “I have a bag I need to leave here – Orlanda is talking to Heather with the details.”


“Where is Jennifer?”


“Babysitter – you may know her.  Letty Kinman?”


“Good choice,” Sandy said with a smile, George doing the same.  “I just want to say it’s good to see you smiling again.”


“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”


“It’s been a tough year,” Sandy said.


“Hello Dad.”


“Alexandra?  When did you become such a beautiful young woman?”




“It’s all right, we’re all thinking the same thing...”




“She really has blossomed, hasn’t she,” Orlanda said as she looked at Sands talking to her father.


“They all have – look at them,” Heather said as she looked at Katy and George walking over.


“Well, when Jennifer is their age,” Orlanda says, “I hope I will be as proud of her as you are of them.  You have done a wonderful job with them Heather.”


“That’s my sister, the wonder Nanny,” Jo said as she handed Orlanda a drink.  “Don’t praise her too much though – it’s her turn to wake up early if they do.”


“Somehow, I don’t think they will,” Heather said with a smile.




“Juliette, it is good to see you again,” Natalya said as she kissed Juliette on both cheeks.”


“And you – I trust you had a good flight?” 


“Passable – Willy slept for most of it.  Judith is so charming tonight.”


“I think she’s getting a little tired,” Annie said as she picked her up, Judith resting her head on the older woman’s shoulder.


“So tomorrow, is it all right is we arrive at lunchtime?”


“That will be perfect.”






"So how are you keeping yourself amused Carina?" Valeria asked.

"I'm reading the photocopy I made at Furstenheim of Grandma Lexa's diary."

"Now that would make interesting reading."

"Oh it is. I've just got to a piece where she is talking about her grandmother."

"Which one?" Valeria asked with genuine interest.

"Lady Sawchester."

"Oh HER!" Valeria laughed.   “I believe Alexa inherited a lot of her character.”

"She's telling a story of going shopping in London with her grandmother. In it she says that she wasn't sure about a certain dress. Her grandmother declared it perfect and after Lexa said maybe I need get another opinion, she delivered the crushing line, 'all things are either right or wrong, but since I'm never wrong, then why would you need ask anyone else?'."

"Oh that sounds like what my grandmother told me about old Lady Sawchester." Valeria laughed again. "I can see why you are enjoying reading the diaries, you will learn an awful about a lost world from them."





"So what is going on over there?" Heather asked Juliette as they watched the group of young people.

"Something to avoid, my step-daughter to be is adding the weight of her arguments to Simon's in support of social investment by capitalists, whilst Adam and Bobbi are arguing the other side, and everyone else is chipping in the best they can."

"Oh it sounds like the arguments we used to have in the dorm at Yale."

"Exactly, and as always with younger people it’s best to let them educate each other with arguments."

"You sound like a university tutor Ju?"

"Do I?” Juliette shook her head and said “Damn I must be getting old."

"Never," Klaus brought her and Heather some more champagne.

"Well you are biased my love." Juliette kissed her man.


“Have we got a good old fashioned debate going on over there,” Pussy said as she came over and joined them.  “I could have sworn I just heard Blair having a small dig at Bobbi.”


“There certainly seems to be,” Heather said.  “Do you remember the ones we had back in ‘08?”


“Oh lord yes – Dubya, Misunderstood or Misogynist?  That ran for months up to the election that year...”


“It amazes me that in this, they discover the people they truly are and will become,” Diana said as Sandy came over.


“And they are the better for it,” Sandy said with a smile.  “Look at them – just two years ago they were treating my kitchen like their den.”


“They still do at times, lover,” Heather said with a smile.


“I know – but they have come so far.”


All the older woman nodded as the party went on round them....







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