To Be in England – Part 4

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 18th June

4.30 pm BST

Downwood School

 

“Can someone answer my phone for me,” Grace called out as she heard the ringing from her bag.

 

“Here we go,” Harriet said as she opened the bag, and looked at the caller ID.  “It’s Pippa Ashley.”

 

“I’ll take it,” Grace said as she reached out from under the gown, and put the phone to her ear.  “Hey Pips – what’s up?”

 

“Just calling to say I took care of that thing you asked me about,” Pippa said.  "So how are things over in the old home country Gray?"

"At the moment VERY hectic Pip," Grace said, “I'm having my hair done as we speak by a couple of the girls I used to teach."

"And how is THAT going?"

"Not badly," Grace laughed, "they are more worried how my hair will look for the show then I am."

"Well I'm sure it'll be great."

"So am I."

"Well how did the fete go?"

"Great - Jeannie really put on a star’s performance, signing, posing for photos, etc.  Maggie was her usual diplomatic self…"

"And the rest of you?"

"Oh we had a good time, Harriet won a couple of prizes in the raffle."

"I bet that pleased her?"

"Oh it did...Oh and in other news Pip I ran into a kid called Tabitha Todd."

"Name means nothing to me."

"It didn't mean anything to me either,” Grace said with a smile, “but it turns out she's Francesca Hutchinson's daughter."

"Oh she's Frankie's girl...”  Grace heard Pippa laugh before she said “was her mother there?"

"No, but it turns out she only lives in Stortbridge, I might try and drop over and see her if I get a chance."

"So Tabitha, I hope her mother never told her some of the things we all got up to at Wycombe Abbey?"

"She didn't say anything."

"Well if you do see Frankie give her all my best please."

"Will do Pip.  Anyway Eloise wants to use a dryer on my hair, I need to go, talk later."

"Yeah talk later Gray, give me a ring when its all over."

"Will do."  As she ended the call, she handed the phone back and watched the teenager get to work.

 

 

 

 

“Barbara just called – they got held up, and they’ll be a little late,”

 

“Okay – Jeannie should be fine,” Rose said as she looked at the other students.

 

"You know Rose I'm so pleased with this."

"Well you should be Lindsay," the Irishwoman smiled as Nikki tried posing in the poncho and leather trousers. "Leather is hard to work with, especially if you are doing a flared leg like that."

"I'm just glad Nikki had her own high-heeled boots, they complete the look really well."

"Actually they aren't mine," Nikki smiled, "they are Miss Hooper's."

"Miss Hooper owns boots with that high a heel?" Lindsay shook her head.

"Yeah it's amazing what you sometimes find out about teachers."

"Isn't it just." Lindsay laughed, "who'd of thought it?”

 

 

“Everyone has their own little secrets,” Rose said with a smile as she saw Pepsi come in.  “Hey – you finally got here,” Orion said as she looked over.

 

“Yes – is Caroline around?”

 

“She’s helping Mandy in the hall with their walks,” Rose said as she looked at the young girl, “what’s up?”

 

“Nothing – just need to get her for a minute…”

 

 

 

 

“That’s good Parminder darling,” Mandy said as she and Caroline watched the young Asian girl walk down the marked out walkway, “keep your head up and smile…”

 

“Sorry to interrupt,” Pepsi said as she looked in, “can I borrow Caroline for a few minutes?”

 

“Hey Pepsi,” Caroline said as she looked round, “what’s up?”

 

“Nothing serious – Ama asked if I’d come and bring you to the staff room.”

 

“Go Darling,” Mandy said, “send Jeannie in when you see her.”

 

As they walked out, Caroline said “okay, what’s going on?”

 

“Best you see for yourself,” Pepsi said as she opened the door, Caroline going to see Barbara and a grey haired woman sitting there, both of them sitting there as they came in.

 

“Barbara,” Caroline said, “What’s going on?”

 

“Caroline,” Barbara said quietly, “I’d like you to meet Rhona.  She also adopted a girl from Mazengwe as her daughter, and she met Ama at the fete this afternoon.”

 

“Is that why you asked them to stay back?  It’s a real pleasure to meet you Rhona – how old is your daughter?”

 

“Uma is about to turn eleven,” Rhona said, “but…”

 

“Barbara?”

 

Before she could say anything, Caroline saw Ama come in, her face glowing as she said “MOM!  Please – there is someone I want you to meet.”

 

“Who,” Caroline said as Ama went out of the room, returning holding the hand of a younger girl.  “Mom – I want you to meet Uma.

 

“My younger sister.”

 

“Your…”  Caroline looked at them, before she said “the reports said you had…”

 

“No – I took her from that place of hell and adopted her myself,” Rhona said, “never thinking they would be reunited…”

 

“But the Holy Father has brought us together,” Ama said, “and I give thanks to him for that.  Uma, this is my adopted mother, Caroline Jameson.”

 

“It is a great pleasure to meet you,” Uma said quietly, “Ama said my mother and I could stay to watch tonight?”

 

“Of course you can,” Caroline said quietly, “I’ll make sure you get the best seats in the house.”

 

“Mom,” Ama said, “Uma and I have talked.  She has her mother and friends here – I have you and my friends.  Now we have found each other, we will stay in touch – but we stay with our families, if that is all right?”

 

“Your daughter is a wise young woman,” Rhona said as she saw Uma smile and nod.

 

“As is yours,” Caroline said quietly, “Barbara, I have to get back, but…”

 

“I’ll introduce Rhona to Harriet and Sarah, and catch you up,” Barbara said quietly as the two girls talked.

 

 

 

 

"Liz you need to place your feet one in front of each other so your hips swing." Mandy got up on the little catwalk and showed the student what she meant.

"Like this Miss...I mean Mandy," Liz said as she walked down.

"More like this," Mandy demonstrated again. "I'm not the world’s greatest walker but I'm not bad. Just give me a couple of minutes on Youtube and I'll show you girls the woman who is."

"And who might that be?" Cathy and Ashley asked together.

"One Olivia Savage," Jeannie called out as she wheeled herself in, "she's every models ideal as to how to walk a catwalk."

"Here girls gather round," Mandy pressed go to start a Youtube clip.

"Holy Shit!," Sarah Taylor shook her head, "my body isn't built to move like that."

"She just looks so fluid," Ashley shook her head as well.

"Well do you see what I'm getting at?" Mandy asked as they watched more clips of Olivia walking.

"I think so." Liz stood up and started to walk slowly.

"Hey Liz that aint bad." Jeannie spoke encouragingly.

"It's an improvement darling."

"Well at least my walk isn't the worst?' Liz laughed.

"And who do you think has the worst?" Jeannie asked.

"YOU!" several girls shouted in unison.

"Alright," Jeans shook her head, "I should have seen that one coming."

 

“Hey – where did Ama get to,” Doc asked as she walked over.

 

“She’s…  Nah, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”

 

“Believe what,” Becca asked.

 

“She’s talking to her little sister.”

 

Doc, Nikki and Becca turned and looked at Pepsi.  “Sorry,” Nikki said, “did you say Ama is talking to her little sister?”

 

“Crazy as it sounds, yes,” Jeannie said as she took her blouse off.  “I met this young girl, who had been adopted from Mazengwe, and we asked her and her mother to come back and meet Ama later.  They came back, she looked at Ama, Ama looked at her…”

 

 

 

“And then they embraced,” Barbara said to Harriet and Sarah as they stood with Rhona.  “Rhona ran the village school Ama went to, and adopted Uma when her parents died.”

 

“Good lord,” Sarah said, “and now they’ve met?”

 

“It was a shock tae me as well,” Rhona said quietly, “but I recognised her as well.  By some miracle, they found each other.”

 

“And now?”

 

 

 

 

“They want to stay with their families, but keep in touch,” Caroline said to Grace and Mandy as they sat at the make-up station.  “I’ve already invited them to come over later this summer for a week.”

 

“What is it about this place,” Grace said as she looked around.  “It’s like a nexus for this sort of news.  So do you have the running order Virginia?" Grace asked as the teacher came over.

"Rebecca is just running off copies."

"Okay."

"Does anyone need last minute 'elp and advice?" Rose yelled out.

"Can you look at this seam Rose," Eric called from where he was sitting at a sewing machine.

"Alright...Now what do you think is wrong with tat young Eric? I'd be proud of that seam meself."

"You would Rose?"

"I would."

"Well why does it worry me?"

"It's called last minute nerves Eric." Doc smiled as she walked by.

"Yeah everyone gets them," Rose smiled, "so who else do I need to look at?" she shouted.

 

11 am

Jack Linklater’s Studio

 

"Glenda you know you remind me of Mary Clarke?" Jack smiled as he watched the makeup girl at work on the former beauty queen.

"Oh that is plain silly," Glenda laughed. “I’m nearly three times that girl’s age.”


"Actually it’s not,” Jack said, “you have very similar cheekbones, you are both absolutely classically beautiful women."

"Well,” Glenda said, “I think this young lady’s work is what you are really seeing."

“Oh no,” Jack said, “but of course with Miss Nessa here it's all about those fabulous eyes."

"Jack,” Nessa said with a smile, “you are nothing but an old flatterer."

"No he's right Nessa - there is a flash and a fire in your eyes that I'm just hoping I can capture today," Luke said as he looked in.

"Well, whatever these gentlemen say, the next thing ladies is to get that hair out of the rollers," Jackson the hairdresser said as he clapped his hands, and his assistants got to work.

"And then I'll supervise in wardrobe," Jack looked serious suddenly. "I had a variety of outfits brought in, so we will see what you girls look most amazing in."

 

“Should I be worried,” Glenda said as she looked at Nessa.

 

“Excited, Glenda, excited…”

 

 

 

 

Twenty minutes later, the two women were looking at the clothes that were laid out, Glenda looking slightly nervous.

 

"Jack I do NOT have the legs to wear anything that short," Glenda looked at the skirt for the suit Jack was proposing, "and besides, mini skirts are hardly age appropriate."


"Well I think you can get away with this...and who exactly is the wardrobe supervisor here?" Jack smiled again.

"Glen I'm as old as you are, but I still adore wearing short skirts and high heels."

"Yes but Nessa darling if you take out the forlorn Vanessa years then you still are in your early twenties."

"I suppose that's true," Nessa checked herself in the mirror. "Well Jack do you approve?"

"You look incredible darling, and this very deep red is so you"

"It is rather my color," Vanessa smiled at her reflection, "alright both of us in suits."

"Very appropriate for two successful businesswomen." Jack adjusted the jacket of Vanessa whilst Glenda sighed and gave into the inevitable and started changing.  “Trust me – I’m a professional.”

 

“I know – that’s what worries me,” Glenda said as she and Nessa walked into the main studio.

 

“Right ladies,” Luke said quietly, “to work…”

 

 

5.30 pm BST

Fleet

 

"Well Penny its been a lovely afternoon, and such a joy to meet you at last Helen."

"Thank you Kay."  The group was gathered at the van as Penny looked over.


"But as I think Jane intimated yesterday we have plans for tonight."

"Well you all keep safe," Penny kissed each of her friends in turn.

"Oh we'll try to," Bobbie laughed.

"I think we know what we are doing," Sue smiled, "we taught each other well."

 

“Safe travels,” Penny said as they got in and drove off.

 

“Right,” Kay said quietly, “Stortbridge, here we come…”

 

 

6 pm PST

Downwood School

 

The design students were sitting round with the visitors, talking of issues vital to the moment…

 

"So Orion, how were you discovered if I'm not being rude?" Ashley asked as they sat next to each other having their makeup done.

"Actually,” Orion said with a smile, “at something very like this. They were having a young designers event at Belfast City Hall, Sandra the girl next door was entering, her model got measles and she needed someone quick.”  She took a drink from a bottle of water, and continued “Well as you can tell I'm pretty tall and she asked Dad if I could do it, and after some umming he said he guessed so."

"So how old were you?"

"Twelve, nearly Thirteen."

"You were even younger than Jeannie was?"

"I was I guess,” Orion said as she looked over at where Jeannie was sitting, “I was this tall kid with red hair and as yet no real figure, but somehow Sandra made me look pretty special, and she was amazed to win second prize. I was even more amazed when Lizzie McDonald from Transatlantic knocked on our door the next day and asked my Dad if I had ever thought of becoming a professional model."

"And it was as simple as that?" Ashley shook her head.

"Yeah believe it or not," Orion smiled, "I slowly got some work offered, and of course in this last year everything has just taken off."

"I know, I read about it."

"Orion the local newspaper would like a chat?" Virginia called.

"I'm just finished," Corinne the makeup girl shouted.

"Okay Virginia just give me two minutes to have a pee and I'll be there."

 

 

 

 

 

"Well wotcha think Tone?" Jeannie asked as her old friend lifted her back into her chair.

"You look bloody amazin' Jeans,” Tony said with a smile, “Don't she Case?"

"I never thought this dress could look so good," Casey stood back to admire, "but you make it look incredible Jeannie."

"Why thank you." Jeannie smiled as she adjusted the capped sleeves on her shoulders, "but models only show off what the designers create, this looks good because you made it good Casey."

"Oh now you'll make me blush," the girl smiled shyly.

"You know Jeans it aint arf bin fun 'avin you back this week." Tony wheeled the wheelchair bound model over to have her makeup finally touched up. "It's 'ad me thinkin'."

"About what Tone?"

"Why I never bleedin' asked you out?" Tony looked serious. "What would you 'ave said if I 'ad?"

"Probably yes, I fancied you sumfin rotten at one time."

"Why did you never say?"

"And 'ave everyone think you were takin' pity on the poor cripple Tony?" Jeannie looked up. "A lot of the girls are after you and I was a sort of nuffin round 'ere."

"Well despite what those fuckin' bitches say, you weren't and aren't a freak Jeannie Brewster."

"Thanks Tone." she grinned, "your a great mate." Jeannie let the girls start touching up her lipstick.

"Yeah a great mate," Tony thought as he shook his head, "and even then you didn't know 'ow much I fancied you and were too scared to ask you out, you were even then I thought the most beautiful girl in the world."

 

 

 

 

“I see the hall is filling up nicely,” Grace said as she, Mandy and Caroline looked out from behind the curtain.

 

“Aye – I wonder why?”

 

The trio turned to see Fiona McKenzie standing behind them with two photographers.

 

"So has British CA been reduced to covering school fashion shows Fiona darling?"  Mandy kissed the Scottish journalist.

"Well yer know Anna,” Fiona said with a shrug, “since she took over as Global editor, she’s instituted these huge financial cuts, did ya nae hear?"

"And you could almost have me believing that Fiona," Mandy laughed, "it's just so nice to see you looking..."

"And sounding, so much better." Grace kissed the older woman.

"So really why are you here Aunt Fi?" Caroline asked.

"Well when this many top girls do a humble show like this, it's a news event, do you nae understand that?"

"Well I suppose it does make some sense." Grace laughed.

"Hence why ahm here with Richard and Clive ta write this up."

"Well we are happy to see you Fiona.  This is Virginia Hooper, the design teacher for Downwood."

 

“Ah, the mastermind of tonight,” Fiona said as she looked round, “very professional…  Who's yon young lad makin' goo-goo eyes at young Jeannie Barbara?"

"That's Tony Fiona,” Barbara said quietly, “his family used to live next door to us, he and Jeannie have known each other since the day they were born practically, and I'm sure he only thinks of Jeannie as a friend."

"Not the way he's lookin' at her,” Fiona said, “that's a boy with a bad case a love sickness if I ever saw one."

"I'm sure you are wrong Fiona."

"Ah'll betcha fifty pounds ahm not."

 

“Deal…”

 

 

 

 

“Twenty minutes people, twenty minutes!”

 

"Tone was asking me what I'd 'ave said if he'd asked me out when I still lived 'ere." Jeannie smiled at her friends as they sat waiting.

"And you said wot Jeannie?" Cathy asked.

"I said I probably would 'ave."

"Why probably?" Liz cocked her head.

"It would 'ave ‘ad to be that I thought 'e weren't just askin' outta charity for the girl in the wheelchair. Specially as I know that arf the girls in our year were dyin' for 'im to ask them."

"Yeah but I think he only ever really fancied you Jeans." Ashley smiled, "he just couldn't ever get up the nerve to ask."

"Oh come on yer windin' me up aint yer?" Jeannie looked shocked.

"No," Liz smiled, “it was a pretty open secret that he wanted to go out with you."

"Well why the 'ell did he never ask?"

"Because I think he thought you'd just think he was asking out of pity." Liz shook her head.

"Blimey," Jeannie had to pause to think, "and do yer think 'e still..."

"Why else would he have volunteered to push you round and lift you al this week?"

"Oh crap Cath, what do I do about this?  I’m with the House, but I want to let ‘im down gently…”

 

“Starting positions girls!”

 

 

 

 

“So your mother is a model,” Uma said as she sat with Ama, Barbara and Rhona at the front.

 

“She is many things – a model, she has her own security firm, and she to me is the greatest Mom in the world,” Ama said quietly.

 

“Well, Mother is not a model, but she is all I need,” Uma said with a smile as the noise of the audience grew louder.

 

“Time to watch the show, Uma,” Rhona whispered as the lights dimmed, and Victoria came out.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests,” she said as she stood at the stand, “welcome to the Downwood School design show, and to start our presentation, please welcome to the stage Grace Gresham!”

 

There was a round of applause as Grace stepped out, and the show started…

 

 

2 pm

Jack Linklater’s Studio

 

“All right ladies – imagine the young Tom Jones is looking across the bar at you…”

 

“Fair enough,” Nessa said as she leaned back, the silver silk of her drop neck gown showing enough of her for both Luke and Jack to smile.  The skirt was split from waist to floor, as she extended a leg, put her head back and laughed.

 

Glenda was wearing a black cocktail dress, held up with silver clasps on her shoulders, the pleated skirt just showing the top of the sheer stockings she was wearing, the Italian leather shoes caressing her feet.

 

“Can you imagine getting him into bed in his prime,” Nessa said as she smiled.

 

“Well, I can imagine him getting into my bad now,” Glenda laughed as Luke walked round.

 

“Wonderful… and look at me please…  That’s great…”

 

Looking up, he said “right  - final outfit ladies.”

 

“this is the one I’m looking forward to,” Nessa said as they walked through, stripping off and then letting the assistants dress her in the purple halter neck dress, the backless top half hugging her curves, the skirt knee length at th front and then flowing to the floor at the back.

 

“I never would have known,” Glenda said as she stood in the gold dress, the wide belt cinching her waist as the skirt flowed out to the floor.

 

“Perfection,” Jack said with a smile.  “Come – your photographer awaits…”

 

 

3 pm

The de Ros Mansion

 

“Miss Abigail is on the telephone Madame,” Edith said as she stood in the doorway to the bedroom, Diana looking up from the outfits on her bed.

 

“I’ll take it downstairs – could I have some coffee please Edith,” Diana said, the housekeeper nodding as they walked back down the stairs.

 

"Well Cherie,” Diana said as she took the heandset, “how did today go?"

"VERY WELL Mama,” she heard Abby say, “other then I got cold, I got wet, and I was forced to eat some revolting fast food."

"Oh dear," Diana laughed softly, "that bad?"

"Well no, it was really a very good day, I went out for both the sessions on the water, and I got some pretty good images."

"Have you shown them to Carina and Juliette yet?"

"Not yet, I just finished downloading them and Cari is playing Mom at this moment while Annie goes to pay a couple of social calls with Klaus and Aunt Ju."

"Oh?  And where are Ingrid and Janine?"

"Out buying Janine some more clothes for my party."

"Are you looking forward to it darling?"

"Oh just so much Mama, all my friends there, including the new girls I met doing the deb thing this year...It will be amazing."

"Well I'm almost packed for my flight tonight, so I'll be in France when I call tomorrow."


"Wish Grand-mere and Grandfather my best,” Abby said, “and thank them for doing this."

"Well I think my brother and your Aunt Natasha are also doing a lot of the arrangements,” Diana laughed, “according to Father they are driving from hotel to hotel trying to find spare rooms for guests."

"I didn't realize how many people there would be till I counted up the names on the list."

"Yes there are a lot," Diana laughed again, "but returning to your photographs...what next?"

"Well I'm going out again for both sessions in the morning, the forecast is for brilliant sunshine so I'll see what that does."

"It sounds like you have things well in hand."

"I am trying, oh and by the way can Grand-mere fit in two more guests?"

"Who?"

"Kelsey and Molly, I'm getting to know them pretty well and I'd like them to come."

"I'll alert your grandmother." Diana paused as she made a note.

"They are going to do a couple of races in Switzerland while we are all away, with Editha Bruckner who is a famous German coach coxing them."

"So they will not be interrupted too badly while you and Cari are in Sydney.

"No."

 

“Well, sleep well darling – I will call you tomorrow.”

 

“Of course – good night Mama,” Abby said as the line went dead.

 

“Your coffee Madame.”

 

“Thank you Edith,” Diana said as she took the cup, “are you sure you will not reconsider your decision?”

 

“Thank you, but no Madame – I will give my birthday greetings to Miss Abigail to take with you, but my place is here.”

 

9.30 pm BST

Downwood School

 

There was a standing ovation as the girls and models walked out behind Jeannie, and then applauded the Design class as they walked down the catwalk.

 

"Can I please ask for silence?" Eric eventually said as he held his arms up, "First all the designers want to thank the hard working people behind the scenes, the makeup and hairdressing teams. The lighting and sound crew, especially Rob Foulds who handled the music."

Eric paused while the audience clapped.

"Can I also thank all those who worked front of house selling programmes, drinks and food, etc."

More applause.

"We would really like to thank all the girls who volunteered to model tonight," Eric read from a little card, "especially one in particular. I'm still not sure if I should call her Miss Gresham, Grace, or still be calling her Mrs. Brand, but we'd like to give her these flowers for getting everyone together and making this such a special night."

Lindsay walked out from backstage and presented the bouquet to Grace.

"And there are a couple of other people we want to give flowers to as well, firstly to Rose for showing us all what sewing is all really about."

Eric paused while Melody pulled Rose out and Casey presented her with her flowers.

"But really above all to Miss Hooper for being such a smashing teacher and for all the hard work she'd put in running this show backstage."

"Eric you all shouldn't have," Virginia blushed as Penny made the presentation.

"SPEECH!," the cry came from all over the hall.

"Oh I don't know what to say," Virginia fought back tears, "but thanks to all you turning up to watch, and some more then generous contributions from some of these famous ladies, can I say we raised enough to fund arts and design at Downwood for at least the next two years...THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH...and most especially thank you to my students who have worked so hard, done so well in their projects, and who I am truly proud of."

 

“Right,” Grace said as the applause continued, “smile, and walk backstage – soft drinks await.”

 

“Soft drinks?”

 

“It’s a school Jeannie – wait until later…”

 

 

“Did you enjoy the show Uma,” Barbara asked the young girl.

 

“I did – your mother is amazing Ama.”

 

“Yes she is,” Ama said, “come – we will go back and meet the others, if you want.”

 

“No,” Uma said, “thank you, Ama, but I am tired and I wish to go home now.  But may I come and see you tomorrow?”

 

“Of course – come to the hotel for ten, we can talk more then…”

 

“Where are you staying,” Rhona asked.

 

Briggens House,” Barbara said as the two girls hugged each other, “Let us walk you to your car.”

 

 

 

 

"Well Aunt Fi?" Caroline asked as they both nursed glasses of lemonade back stage.

"A couple of these youngsters have real talent."

"It’s what we thought," Mandy said quietly.


"Aye ah wont be surprised if ah hear their names again someday."

"So they will get filed in that famous card index of yours then?"

"Och Caroline, there int no such thing, it's a myth put round in the biz."

"Rubbish," Caroline grinned, "remember I've been in the back office at the magazine."

"Shhh well keep it a secret lassie," Fiona smiled, "its just mah way of remembering people."

"Are you talking about your file boxes Fiona darling?"

"She was Mandy."

"Well file a couple of the girls who modelled away as well. Jeannie's friends Parminder, Liz, Cathy and Ashley, could all maybe one day make it if they get a break."

"Ah'll agree wi that," Fiona nodded, "Young Parminder, we have far too few Asian girls in this biz, she maht just have a real chance."

"Look at all their photos Monday Fiona, I think the other three might surprise you as well." Caroline smiled.

"Well we will see."

 

 

 

“Tone – you got a minute?”

 

“Sure Jeans,” Tony said as he followed her into a quiet corner.  “What’s up?”

 

“Some night, eh?”

 

He smiled at Jeannie as he said “yeah – quite an experience.”

 

“Tone…  I need to say sorry?”

 

“What the heck for Jeans?”

 

“When we were talking earlier, about how I would have asked you out or you asked me out…”  Jeannie sighed before she said “we’ve been friends since we were toddlers, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Tony said quietly.  “Jeans, I know where this is going – and I know you’ve got the man mountain now.  I still could dream however…”

 

“You know,” Jeannie said quietly, “I always will think of you as my friend – but beyond that, I’m sorry.  I have Winston, and I love him.”

 

“It’s all right,” Tony said as Liz came over.  “Hey,” she said, “get a girl a cup of lemonade?”

 

“Go on,” Jeannie said as she reached up and stroked his face, “you never know…”

 

 

 

6 pm

JFK Airport

 

“Oh wow,” Vicky said as she walked through the sliding doors, “we’re really here?”

 

“Yes we are,” Dave Clarke said as he and David pushed the luggage trollies, “so we need to.

 

“Mary my wee angel.”

 

“Mary,” Mary Clarke said as she embraced the Welsh Wizard, “are you sure you want to put all of us up for a few days.

 

“Oh aye – save on yer hotel bills, and I want the company with Ju and everyone away. Dave – welcome to New York.”

 

“Thanks,” he said as he shook her hand, “for everything.”

 

“Right – Follow John here, and we’ll get out to the car.  Sooner you are at my place, sooner you can unpack and settle in…”

 

“Wow – four days here,” Suzie said as she walked with Alison.  “We have so much to do…”

 

“By the way, this is Sally,” Mary said as she looked at the brunette walking with David.  “Sally, meet Mary Thomas, known as Merlin.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you – according to Mary, you are the heart of Complete Style.”

 

“No – I’m just a part of a very good team,” Mary said as they saw John standing by a SUV.  “Get the luggage in now…  Oh by the way – Katy is coming round to see you girls tomorrow with Sands.”

 

 

“Great – can we go to Central Park with them, Pops?”

 

“If they promise to behave themselves, then yes – but we’re all going out for dinner tomorrow night, remember?”

 

“We remember,” the three younger girls sang in chorus as they rolled their eyes.

 

 

8 pm

Mary Thomas’ Brownstone

 

As Sally and David sat in a corner of Mary’s library, looking at one of her books, the three younger Clarke girls were looking at a map of New York while the rest of the menfolk were discussing the week ahead.

 

The two Marys were in the kitchen, clearing away the plates from the light meal they had all eaten.

 

"So what has Missy got you doing before we all go to France Mary?"

"A lot...as usual,” Mary said with a sigh, “some new Cadeau Aphrodite ads with New York backgrounds, shoots for Vanity Fair and French Vogue, I'm sure she will think up something else as well.  In fact, Trina and I were betting if she got the chance, she’d have a shoot arranged over the weekend.”


"It wouldn't Missy if she didn't."

"So Merlin darling,” Mary said as she leaned against the work surface, “can I beg that you find someone to take the kids shopping, and to try and keep it from costing me a fortune?"

"I can try, Kylie and Marina will be in town tomorrow, maybe they can?"

"Well I trust Kylie's taste…  Okay – We’ll get them together one day."

 

“As for the boys, House is around this week, and at a bit of a loose end – I’ll see if he can help out as well.”  Mary looked through the door and smiled.  "So David and Sally - they look pretty serious?"

"They are, and she is wonderful. Her family like David as well."

"That always helps," Merlin grinned.

 

 

 

Sunday 19th June

10 am BST

Briggens House Hotel

 

As they walked into the lobby of the hotel, Uma gripped her mother’s hand tightly.  “This is such a nice hotel,” she whispered quietly as she looked at the Scottish woman.

 

“Aye,” Rhona said quietly, “but not as nice as our home, eh?”

 

“Of course not – nothing can replace home,” Ama said as she and Caroline approached them.

 

“What is home for you, Ama?”

 

“We have an apartment in Greenwich Village,” Caroline said, “sharing with our friend Annie and her two new born babies when they return.”

 

“Oh?  Where are they just now?”

 

“In Munich,” Ama said, “staying with the rest of their family.  Come – we have some coffee ready, and we can talk.”

 

“So that’s her younger sister,” Grace said as she and Mandy looked over.

 

“Indeed – well Will and I will head off later this morning.  I will see you on Thursday afternoon?”

 

“Indeed,” Grace said with a smile, “letting the train take the strain.  I’d better get going – I have an old friend to surprise…”

 

 

 

“I was wondering,” Ama said as the quartet sat round a table, “if it would be possible for you to join my friend Pepsi and I as we go to Mass this morning.  We can then have lunch together.”

 

“I can do,” Rhona said quietly, “will you join us Caroline?”

 

“I regret to say I need to take a meeting this morning,” Caroline said as she sipped her coffee, “some business that cannot wait.  But I will be here when you return.”

 

“May we Mother,” Uma said quietly.

 

“Of course – which church were you thinking of going to?”

 

“St Augustines in Hoddesdon?”

 

“Ten minutes from here,” Rhona said.

 

“Come with me Uma,” Ama said as she stood up, “we will find Pepsi and return.”

 

“She’s become a wonderful young woman,” Rhona said to Caroline as they walked off.  “What really happened to her?”

 

“Really?  After they took her and her friends from the village, the girls were drugged and sold as slaves.  The boys, I am told, went to work in the mines.”

 

“And Ama ended up in the US?”

 

“In New York – then she was rescued, and that was the trigger that started the exposure of the conspiracy.  Now she helps support those who have been through similar experiences.”

 

“Did they find any others?”

 

“Hundreds, world wide,” Caroline said quietly, “I have myself only met two others – Maisha is the ward of one of my friends, and then there is Nyala.”

 

Rhona looked at Caroline and put her cup down.  Nyala?  Ama’s friend?  The two of them were inseperable!”

 

“Indeed – she was also in New York, but then went to Los Angeles, where she lives with her adoptive parents.  Ama and she speak most days.”

 

Rhona shook her head as Ama reappeared with Uma and Pepsi.  “If you are ready, Mother,” the younger girl said.

 

“I’ll see you all later,” Caroline said as the group set off, Doc and Nikki coming in with Becca.

 

“Off to chapel?”

 

“Yeah – so, what are you doing today?”

 

“We’re heading into the town centre – Jeannie hasn’t got up yet, so we’ll see her when she gets back.”

 

 

"Thank you for driving us Rhona,” Ama said as she sat in the back seat, “Pepsi and I both try and go to church on Sundays."

"It's my pleasure Ama,” Rhona said as they went onto the main road, “so you have become a Roman Catholic?"

"She was baptized Amamaria Marastella...It was a very moving day." Pepsi smiled as she looked round.

"Mara as in our mother Ama?" Uma asked quietly.

"Yes,” Ama said, “and I added Stella which was Mom's Mom's name."

"Mother would have liked that." Uma hugged her sister.

"And do you go to church sister?"

"Occasionally,” Rhona said, “I'm bringing Uma up in my faith as a Presbyterian Ama."

"Good, it's important that we have God in our lives somewhere."

"Amen," Pepsi nodded.

"So do you have any other new family Ama?"

"Well I have my Granddad."

"And who is he Ama?" Rhona asked.

"Well technically he is my Great-Grandfather, he is Mom's Granddad. His name is Dan Jameson, and I'm afraid he spoils me," Ama blushed.

"He sounds wonderful," Uma looked happy for her sister.

 

“What about you?”

 

“I have Aunt Mabel.”

 

“She’s my younger sister,” Rhoda said, “lives and works in Harlow.  Apart from that, I’m afraid that is it.”

 

“I hope we meet some day,” Ama said quietly.

 

"Do you drive in America Ama?"


"I do, Mom got me a Mini-Cooper for my 16th birthday."

"You have your own car Ama?"

"I do Uma,” Ama said with a smile, “I drive it to school when it is my day to drive some of the girls."

"Well I bet driving in New York City isn't like this?" Rhona said as she looked in her rearview mirror.

"No," Ama giggled, "this traffic is a lot lighter then we get in Manhattan.  Except for the road we drove on from the motorway to here."

 

“The M25?  No that is a bad road – so is the M11 on most days as well.”


"You need come see Ama play soccer at the end of August when we return," Pepsi said as they entered the village.”

"It will be a pleasure," Rhona said, “your team is coming here?”

"Yes Miss Nightingale set us up a three game tour, we are to play her old team at Downwood."

"I will definitely come watch." Uma nodded as they drew up outside the church.  The four of them got out, smiling as they walked into the church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.30 am BST

Stortbridge

 

As Grace pulled up outside the large detached house, she was surprised to see two police officers walking down to a police car, as a middle aged blonde haired woman stood in the doorway.  She was wearing a pale grey jogging suit and trainers, and looked as if she had not slept much.

 

Grace waited until the police officers drove off, and then got out of the hire car herself.  The other woman looked at her as she walked up the path, the skirt of her light summer dress moving in the breeze, and said quietly “Grace?  Good lord is that you?”

 

“Well, I hope so – why were the police here?”

 

“I’ll tell you inside,” Frankie Todd said as she closed the door.

 

“Have they gone Mum,” Grace heard a young female voice call down.

 

“They have – an old friend has just arrived.  Want some coffee?”

 

“In a few minutes,” she called back down as Grace followed Frankie into the kitchen.

 

"What happened Frankie?" she asked as she sat at the breakfast bar.


"Oh,” Frankie said as she put some water in the kettle, “we got robbed by the China Doll Gang last night Grace."

"JESUS!...Were you hurt?"

"No,” her old friend said as she put some coffee into three mugs, “just tied up and left lying on the bed, we were untied when my daily woman arrived this morning."

"So they got both you and Tabitha?"

"Yes.  They actually waited until she got home before doing anything…"

"Oh dear Lord, you know Pippa Ashley and her daughter got robbed by an American gang that works in the same way last year." Grace looked round, "it scared the shit out of them."

"Well it did me too.  Strange thing though – they didn’t tie me the same way as Tabitha.  I think they saw something and decided to take a little pity on me."


“Something?”

 

“I had an operation recently,” Frankie said as she looked round, “one o fthem must have seen the consultant’s letter.”

 

“Nothing serious I hope?”

 

“A biopsy – hopefully to confirm nothing is wrong,” Frankie said as she handed Grace a mug.

 

"So what did they get?"

"Well among other things,” Frankie said as she held her own mug, “the diamond necklace that my late mother-in-law gave me."


"That sucks...anything else?"

"The pearls I got from Mummy and Daddy on my eighteenth, diamond earrings my husband had bought me, a very nice choker with a large ruby in it." 

"The bitches!...So what was it all worth?"

"We had it insured for three quarters of a million."

"THAT MUCH?"

"Yes Grace, the necklace alone is valued at three hundred thousand."

"Oh Frankie I'm so sorry," Grace said as she looked across the bar.

"The police think someone in the insurance company must have given them a tip off."

"Do they have any idea who?"

"Not really."

"Oh Frankie,” Grace said, “and I came over hoping for a nice little reunion today."

"I know Grace,” Frankie said as her daughter came in, wearing a black jumper and jeans.  “Did you talk to Charlie Tabitha?”

 

“Yeah – we’ll meet up tomorrow instead,” the teenager said as she looked over.  “Ms Gresham – what brings you here today?”

 

“Well as you know I was at school with your mother, and today is a day off for me, so I thought I’d drive over and say hello.  How are you Tabitha?”

 

“Tired – and scared, but I’ll manage,” Tabitha said as she took a mug, and walked out of the kitchen.

 

“Anyway,” Frankie said, “Enough of my woes, what about you?  I've read about your comeback in the old girls’ magazine, and Pip is the new editor of American CS?"

"She is,” Grace said as she put her mug down, “and she asked me last night to pass on her best wishes, I'm sure she would doubly say that now."

 

“How old’s her kid now?”

 

“Poppy?  Fifteen – I’m the dean at the school she attends.”

 

“And she didn’t come over for this trip?”

 

“No – she’s coming over later this week to attend a birthday party in France for a mutual friend though – Abigail de Ros.”

 

“Sheesh – you really are back at the top aren’t you?”

 

“Yeah – but this time is different.  What about you – do you work?”

 

“I lecture at the local uni – social studies.  Try to make it interesting and relevant.”

 

“Tough call that one,” Grace said with a smile.

 

 

 

11.30 am BST

Harlow

 

“Well, I think we all are thinking the same thing,” Becca said as she looked round the shopping area.

 

“And that is,” Pepsi said with a smile.

 

“This place is worse than the Heights,” Doc said as they walked past the empty shops.

 

A few other people were walking past, not paying much attention to the three teenagers as they looked round – except for two girls wearing zipped up bomber jackets.

 

“Come on – I saw a café over there,” Becca said as they walked into a quiet alleyway, the two girls following them.

 

“You sure it was down here,” Doc said as they passed the boarded up doors – and then they heard a voice say “well now, three little chickadees ripe for the plucking.”

 

“Sorry,” Pepsi said as they turned round and looked at the two girls, “are you talking to us?”

 

“You see any other American Idiots here?”

 

Doc looked at the two girls, and then said “I saw you at the school the other day – You were the ones threatening Jeannie.  She told me about you – Yvonne and Crystal, right?”

 

“Oh she’s sharp,” Yvonne said as she stepped forward.  “So you know what you’re going to do now?”

 

“Find that café,” Pepsi said – and then she saw Yvonne produce a knife.

 

“Oh – a shakedown,” Doc said quietly, “Pepsi, Becca, keep walking please.”

 

“You sure Doc,” Pepsi said quietly.

 

“Yeah I’m sure – I’ll catch you up.”

 

“Doc…”

 

“Come on Becca,” Pepsi said quietly, “large Cappuccino Doc?”

 

“Yeah – extra cinnamon,” Doc said as she smiled, then turned to face Yvonne and Crystal.  “So – you think you can threaten me,” she said with a smile.

 

“You got a death wish, bitch,” Yvonne snarled.

 

“Nah,” Doc said with a smile, “go on – your move.”

 

Yvonne and Crystal looked at each other, and then Yvonne charged at Doc – only to be taken by surprise as Doc stepped to the side, tripping her and leaving her to fall to the ground as Crystal ran forward, her arm raised.  The last thing she expected to happen was for Doc to stand her ground, and drive her knee into her stomach, making her fall to the ground.

 

“Your move,” Doc said as she looked at Yvonne, as Crystal rolled on the ground.  Yvonne snarled, and then dove at Doc – only to feel her knee as it connected with her chin, and she fell to the ground.

 

“Let me make it easy,” Doc said as she walked over and kicked them both, “approach Jeannie or us again, and I forget to be nice.”  She left them both writhing on the ground as she walked off…

2 pm CET

Rosville – Chateau de Ros

 

“Welcome, Countess,” the maid said as Diana stepped out of the limousine, “the Dowager Countess is in the drawing room with the Duc, as well as the Duc and Duchess.”

 

“Thank you,” Diana said as she looked round, and breathed in deeply.  She now felt more comfortable to be in Rosville than in past years – and as she walked into the hallway, she smiled as she removed her coat and gloves.

 

“Is that you Diana,” she heard Valeria say, and as she walked in she saw the rest of the family sitting in the comfortable chairs.

 

“How was your flight, my dear,” Guy said as he stood up, greeting his daughter with a kiss.

 

“Very comfortable, thank you – although the coffee is most welcome,” she said as she sat down.  While she wore a blue jersey dress, hose and heels, Valeria and Natasha were both wearing white silk blouses and grey skirts, while Guy and Willy were in suits.  “How are the preparations here?”

 

“Progressing – we have found accommodation for the two latest attendees,” Natasha said, “but we have officially taken over the town now.  It is a good thing Caroline confirmed she was only coming with Ama.”

 

“Oh – did I miss something?”

 

“Apparently,” Willy said, “Ama met her younger sister while she was at an event yesterday, purely by chance.”

 

Diana paused and raised an eyebrow as she said “her younger sister?”

 

“A story for another time,” Valeria said as she saw the maid in the doorway.  “Diana, can I impose on you for a few minutes?”

 

“Of course,” Diana said as she put the cup down, and followed Valeria out of the room, the maid indicating the smaller drawing room.  As they entered, a sandy haired man stood up, as did the grey haired man with him.

 

“Countess de Ros – a pleasure to see you again.  May I present my son – he is joining the firm having qualified as a lawyer, and I wish for him to take my place as the trustee.”

 

“An honour, Countess, Countess,” the younger man said as he bowed.

 

“My apologies for asking you to call today, Gentlemen,” Valeria said as they sat down, “but we have a duty on Friday morning that we have to perform, and I suspect this is the only opportunity we will have between now and then to discuss the details.”

 

“If I may begin then,” the older lawyer said, Valeria and Diana nodding as he took some papers from a briefcase.

 

“Let me guess,” Guy said to Willy and Natasha, “the trust fund?”

 

“Indeed,” Natasha said, “the first surprise she will get on Friday…”

 

1.30 pm BST

Briggens House Hotel

 

“It is good of you to invite us to join you,” Uma said as she and her mother joined the group in the restaurant.

 

“Well, we all need to eat,” Pepsi said with a smile as they waited for the starters to come again.

 

“So you all go to the same classes?”

 

“More or less,” Jeannie said, “I have a different Physical Therapy regime, but otherwise we are the same.”

 

"Did Ama tell you she has a boyfriend Uma?" Nikki laughed as the starters were served.

"No...”  She turned to look at Ama, and asked “Who is he sister?"

"His name is Nick,” Ama said with a smile, “he lives a couple of blocks from us, his parents are artists, and he's white."

"You go out with a white boy?"

"Yes she does," Doc smiled, "but it took her nearly a year to admit that."

"Ama shares her New York Red Bulls season tickets with him," Pepsi grinned.

"Well that sounds a pretty serious thing," Rhona said as she joined in the smiles.

"Nick plays soccer as well,” Ama said with a shrug as she ate the salad, “we practice a lot..."

"And make out at the movies." Becca started to laugh.

"We don't," Ama blushed.

"Well you certainly make out in our living room darling," Caroline teased her daughter.

 

“Well, perhaps – but we do not wish to take it any further at this stage,” Ama laughed as she looked round the table.  "So what is your school like sister?" Ama said as she tried to change the subject.

"It's nice, and I have a wonderful friend called Michaela, we sit together at our desks."

"Friends are good," Ama grinned, "just never end up with a gang like mine."

"Unfair Am," Pepsi shouted, "we are all great friends to you."

"Who gossip and blab." 

"Hey what else are girlfriends for?" Doc asked.

"I like that you all laugh so much," Uma looked at Ama, "it's good to hear you laugh again sister, I thought for certain I never would, and then suddenly..."

"It was a true miracle," Caroline said quietly.

 

“Well, I have much to laugh about,” Ama said happily, “and now I can relax and enjoy some time off.”

 

“So what plans do you have for the rest of the week?”

 

“I go with Doc – sorry, Anna and Nikki while they do some promotional ads,” Ama said as the plates were cleared, “while Mom goes with Mrs Brand and Jeannie to meet with another friend.”

 

“Anyone I may have heard of,” Uma asked.

 

“Cassandra Stone,” Grace said quietly, “we have a shoot with her and another star of her recent film, JD Carlucci.”

 

“I saw the trailer for that one night,” Rhona said, “not a film I would want to see.”

 

“I know,” Nikki said, “I played a small part in it, and went to the premiere, so I have seen it – it is a very powerful, but also difficult film to watch.”

 

“We all have Tuesday off, Wednesday we go to Ascot, and then Thursday to France,” Barbara said as the main course was served.

 

“We will keep in touch, will we note sister,” Uma said as she looked at Ama.

 

“We will speak every day,” Ama said as she hugged her, “I promise.”

 

 

 

 

10 am

JFK Airport

 

They made a striking pair – the blonde haired teenager, wearing a fawn coloured jacket over a cream sundress, and the older redhead in a grey trouser suit and blouse, both wearing Italian leather shoes.

 

"That flight is worse than a five hour training session with Helen darling," Kylie yawned as she picked her second suitcase off the carousel and loaded it onto the trolley.

"It's not my favourite thing to do either," Marina said quietly, “but we only have to make it one more time.”

"Sadly true…  So who is collecting us?"

"One guess?"

"Clint?"

"Give the young lady a prize," Marina said as she balanced her Jameson bag on the trolley. 

 

"Well, I just hope immigration doesn't hold us up forever darling," Kylie said a sshe looked round.

"Well I have my Green Card now, and you have a student visa, so they should be cool. Shall we…"

 
"Miss Mitchell, Miss Sokowski?" a man in a uniform asked as he came over.

"Yes darling,” Kylie drawled, “what can we do for you?"

"Well I'm hoping it's more what I can do for you Miss, there are a posse of journalists land-side."

"Oh dear,” Kylie sighed, “that is tiresome."

"Well unless you want to confront them,” the official said, “we have a VIP immigration and customs check, and a private exit where your driver is waiting."


"That would be a big help to us," Marina looked at Kylie.

"Well if you follow me this way ladies.”  He took their trolley as he guided them to a marked off lane, and through the security checks.

 

 

“Your Green Card seems to be in order Miss Sokowski,” the border official said as she looked at the documentation, “and you will be permanently resident at this address?”

 

“That is correct,” Marian said with a smile as she watched the woman stamp her passport, and hand it back over. 

 

“Welcome to New York,” she said as Marina smiled and followed Kylie and the official, through the Customs check and out to the VIP arrival area, where Clint stood, smiling at them as they came through.

 

“Welcome back – if only for a couple of days,” he said as he took the trolley.  “How was the flight?”

 

“Tiring as ever darling,” Kylie said as they walked out to the waiting car. 

 

"Did you arrange the VIP treatment Clint?" Marina asked.

"No that was actually Alexis's doing,” Clint said as he loaded the bags, and the girls got into the back of the car.  Closing the trunk, he got in behind the wheel and said “somehow it got in the papers that Kylie was arriving in town and Alexis figured they'd be staking out the Hong Kong flights."

"I'll have to ring and thank her."

"That you will Kylie," Marina nodded. "So are we staying in 'our' apartment or yours and Susan's."

"Sandy felt it was probably best, given your papers, if you went straight to your new home,” Clint said as they moved off, “but my dear wife thought you might want to join us for dinner later."

"I know I want to darling,” Kylie drawled, “and I cannot wait to see what Tonia and Sandy have done with the place."

"It does look pretty awesome," Clint grinned.  “Sandy should be there for when we arrive.”

 

 

 

11.15 am

West Central Park

 

“Well, here we are,” Clint said as he pulled up, and let Marina and Kylie out.  As they looked up at the building, the front doors opened, Kylie smiling as she saw Katy and Sands coming out.  Both girls were wearing sleeveless jerkins over logn sleeved tops, jeans and sneakers.

 

“KYLIE!” Katy shouted as she hugged the teenager, “Mom said you would be arriving today.  Is this your permanent move then?”

 

“No – that’s in a couple of weeks,” Marina said, “but we might as well start to settle in on this trip.  Going anywhere exciting?”

 

“Meeting up with the Clarke girls,” Sands said, “they’re here for a few days before we fly over on Thursday.  Can I pop in when I come back?”

 

“If we’re here, yeah,” Marina said as Clint locked the car. 

 

“Let’s head up – I’ll come back for your bags in a few minutes,” he said as they walked in, the doorman looking over from his desk.

 

“Hey Clint – so this is Miss Sokowski and Miss Mitchell?”

 

“It is indeed – Marina, Kylie, this is James the doorman.  Don’t let him scare you too much – he’s your best friend in this place outside of the Carters.”

 

“Miss Richmond is waiting upstairs for you – do you need a hand with any bags?”

 

“I could use a hand in a few minutes James – let me get them up first.”

 

“Of course,” James said as they walked into the elevator, and rode to the floor.  Stepping out, they walked up to the apartment door and waited as Clint knocked.

 

“Hey here,” Sandy said as she opened the door, “come in.”

 

“Is that fresh coffee I smell,” Marina said as they walked in.

 

“Yeah – we laid in a few things to get you over the next three days, including coffee.  Anyway, come through.”

 

“I’ll go and get your bags up,” Clint said as Sandy showed the girls through to the kitchen.

 

“I think you’ll find everything you need here,” Sandy said as they looked round, “including a large icebox for you to store those things you need for the full English breakfast Marina.”  Pouring coffee into three mugs, she handed two over as she said “I know what that flight is like – and with both of you about to do the Grand Tour?”

 

“The what Darling,” Kylie said quietly.

 

“France – Sydney – London – New York – the round the world flights.  And speaking of work,” Sandy said with a smile, “you are both requested to be at Complete Style tomorrow morning.”

 

“I expected as much, Anna wants to see me?”

 

“Induction – and I think Mary has a favour to ask of you Kylie.  Right – shall we go round?”

 

Holding their mugs, they followed Sandy across the hallway and into the main room.  “Right – plenty of room for you to unwind in here and have guests round, standard entertainment system – I’ve set you up with a standard cable package as part of the rent.”

 

“Very tasteful,” Marina said as she ran a hand over the back of the leather recliner.

 

“So, your room first Kylie,” Sandy said as they went to the next room, Kylie smiling as she looked at the light blue paintwork.  As well as the bed and wardrobes, there was a bookcase and large desk, the matching chair positioned in front.

 

“Exquisite, darling,” she purred as she looked around. 

 

“You each have your own en-suite bathroom,” Sandy said as she opened one side door, “and you each also have something else.”  Walking to the bookcase, she smiled as she reached behind and pressed a hidden switch, a door opening to reveal a secret closet.

 

“Practical as well, for hiding those things you do not wish others to see,” Kylie whispered as they closed the door, and then went into the other bedroom.  Marina nodded as she looked round, and then said “what of the other two rooms?”

 

“There is a third bedroom, should you wish to entertain guests,” Sandy said, “but Tonya and I, we think, have really excelled ourselves with the last room.”

 

Opening the door, she smiled as the two younger women walked into the training room.  “I consulted with Helen on certain aspects,” Sandy said as they looked round, “and there are hidden closets here for your equipment.  We will get that shipped in in due course.

 

“So – think you can deal with living here?”

 

“Oh I think so,” Marina said with a smile, “we owe you both for this Sandy.”

 

“Well, Catherine and Shirley have met the bills – but babysitting some nights would be a start,” she said as Clint looked in.

 

“Want to tell me where to put the bags girls?”

 

“Of course,” Marina said, “let me show you.”

 

As she walked out Kylie smiled and said “I saw young Sands as we arrived.  She is turning into a beautiful young woman.”

 

“Yeah – I had noticed,” Sandy said quietly, “Heather and I have been doing a lot of talking to her recently.”

 

“Really?  About…”  Kylie suddenly went silent for a moment, before she said “ah – yes, I can see that would be a help.”

 

“Yeah – right then, I’ll let the two of you get unpacked and settled in.  Enjoy the rest of your day, but I should warn you George will be round later to take you through the alarm system.”

 

As she went back to the kitchen, Kylie said “just one tiny thing before you go darling?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“The keys?”

 

“Right here,” Sandy said as she held up an envelope.  “If I don’t see you before, I’ll see you on Wednesday at the airport.”

 

“Allow me to show you out darling,” Kylie said with a smile as she escorted Sandy to the apartment front door, passing Clint and James as they carried the last of the bags in.  “Right,” Clint said as he looked into the kitchen, “I’ll tell Susan to expect you girls at about six?”

 

“Sounds good Clint – and thanks,” Marina said as she showed the two men out, and then smiled at Kylie.

 

“Well, for better or for worse, here we are kiddo.”

 

“Indeed – here we are,” Kylie said as she held her mug, and took a sip.

 

12.30 pm

Holly and Sands’ Apartment

 

"So let me guess you guys want regulation HOTS clothes, and Mary is saying smart but age appropriate?" Katy asked as they sat in the sitting room of 'Sand's' apartment.

"And cheap as we can get them, you know our big sister," Vicky grinned, "and I can't believe Sands that you have your own apartment where you can keep things like this?" she posed in front of a mirror in one of Alexandra's cocktail dresses.

"Well actually Holly and I sort of share it,” Sands said as she sat back, “but yes i do have sort of have my own home away from home."

"Well this apartment is incredible, it makes ours look tiny," Suzie shook her head.

"And frankly shabby," Alison looked round in amazement. "How the hell did you get your mom to agree?"

"That's a VERY long story," Sands laughed.

"So coffee, or something stronger?" Katy asked.

"Stronger?" 

"Well the apartment comes with a fully stocked bar."

"We'd better not," Vicky giggled “in case Mary or Pops smell it on our breath."

"Alright five coffees it is," Katy wiggled into the kitchen.

 

“The good news,” Katy said, “is Mary Thomas is going to ask a friend of ours to help you out.”

 

“Oh,” Suzie said as she sat down, “Who?”

 

“Kylie.”

 

“Kylie…  Kylie Mitchell?  Wow,” Vicky said as she sat down with a thump.

 

“I’ll pop in when I get home – she’s taking an apartment one floor down from us – and let her know the situation…”

 

 

 

2 pm

West Central Park

 

“Did you manage to find a convenience store,” Kylie called out as she heard Marina come back in.

 

“Yeah – I met Katherine Carter in the lift, she pointed me in the right direction,” Marina said as she put the paper sack on the breakfast bar, and deposited the New York Times on the surface.  Kylie smiled as she started to ptu things away, and Marina opened the paper.

 

“Anything of interest, darling?”

 

“Hmm…  Hmmm… ah.”

 

“Ah?”

 

"Oh No wonder there was a fuss at the airport Kylie, the New York Times Style section ran that article about you today."

"What did they have to say darling."

"Well I think the headline pretty much says it all."

"And what is that?" Kylie perched her glasses back on her nose as she looked...  "Oh Lord, 'Fashion's Wonder-kid'."

"The article is incredible in the praise it heaps on you dear."

"Well I just hope Alice isn't offended," Kylie shook her head.

"I would say not," Marina scanned the page, "she appears to have been their main source of quotes praising your talent, though there is also a very nice one from Mary Thomas."

 

“Well, we might see them over the next couple of weeks as well,” Kylie said as Marina’s phone went off.

 

“Hello…  Oh hello Anna...  Yeah, we’re settling in…  Right, eight o’clock tomorrow morning.  See you then.”

 

“To work tomorrow?”

 

“To work tomorrow,” Marina said with a smile.

 

3 pm

The Richmond Mansion

 

“When is Sands due back,” Heather said as she sat with Sandy and Jo.

 

“Another hour or so,” Sandy said as Jo looked at her laptop.

 

“Incoming,” she said as the other two came round, an image appearing with Carina, Annie, Abby and Annie.

 

“Hey Stick – how’s the shoot going?”

 

“Very well so far – good evening Mamma, have you settled in?”

 

“I have darling,” Diana said as she appeared in a window, and then Caroline with Doc.  “And the news from England, Dom darling?”

 

“Some – interesting developments.  I take it you have heard Diana?”

 

“I have – but the others possibly have not yet.”

 

“Well, ten second version – Ama has found her younger sister, alive and well, living near here.”

 

The others scared at the screen in silence as Shirley appeared on the screen.

 

“Am I interrupting something?”

 

“Sorry Madame,” Caroline said, “I’ll bring you up to speed later.  On which note – Ju, you wanted to talk to all of us together?”

 

“I did - I’m sorry to break into your Sunday’s girls, but it’s important to bring you up to date on what the plan is for London?”

 

“Is it on for definite then?” asked Jo.

 

“It is.”

 

“And for when Cherie?” asked Diana.

 

“Two days after we return from Sydney.”

 

“Can it wait until then?”

 

“Yes Sandy.  The gold is going nowhere.”

 

“And what about the Japanese dragon lady?” Doc asked.

 

“We don’t think she has as yet been able to work out access.” Shirley spoke. “I think she is where we were before we got Barb Brookmayer’s drone down there.”

 

“She doesn’t have the advantage we gained by Anna and Katy copying that old map.” Juliette nodded.

 

“And Peri and her sewer rats have deployed those sensors you made up Heather to tell us IF anyone else gets down there.”

 

“I knew they’d probably help Shirley,” Heather said.

 

“In addition, I have combat teams on constant alert in case they get too close.”

 

“Well, let us hope they will not be needed Shirley.” Juliette nodded.

 

“So have you worked out finally who goes where and when Ju?” Dominique asked.

 

“I was going to do that over the next couple of days.”

 

Caroline nodded before she said “I still think the biggest point of weakness is holding the driver’s family for that long.”

 

“Agreed Dom, but the sheer weight of the gold means we will never be able to move it all in one night, so we have little choice.”

 

“Shouldn’t we at least take a peek behind those walls to make sure the gold is still there Juliette?” asked Catherine as she sat with Helen, “It will make everything pointless if somehow it got removed.”

 

“She has a point Ju darling.” Diana nodded.

 

“Your opinion please Shirley?”

 

“I’m not sure Ju,” Shirley said quietly, “we don’t want Tanaka’s goons spotting our girls going in and out, but equally I do think we need to know.”

 

“Well who goes down and when?’

 

“Peri will kill me if I send her again,” Shirley chuckled, “so I guess Lillian draws the short straw this time.”

 

“Alright send Lily and a team in tomorrow night your time please.”

 

“Will do Juliette.”

 

“Get Charlotte to show you the fibre-optic cameras we worked on,” Heather spoke, “they’ll need to just open a tiny crack and feed that through.”

 

“Once they’ve cleared away the rubble and the bodies, etc.” Dom observed. “Plus fought off the rodents.”

 

“Lily won’t like it, but that’s tough,” Juliette smiled, “she needs earn her share this time.”

 

“Agreed – well, we will all meet on Thursday and share stories then,” Juliette said, “I’ll let you all have what is left of the day back.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 20th June

8 am BST

Chelsea

 

Maisha,” Shirley said as the teenager emerged from her bedroom, fastening the last button on her blouse, “your guest is arriving.”

 

“Thank you Aunt Shirley,” she said as they stood in the door, Maisha wearing a blouse, jeans and trainers, Shirley in her grey jersey dress and heels.  As they stood there, the car drew up at the bottom of the stairs, Maisha walking down to greet the young African girl who stepped out.

 

“Welcome to my home, Nyala,” she said as they hugged each other.  “This is my Aunt Shirley.”

 

“I’m glad to finally meet you,” Shirley said as she came down and hugged the young girl, “welcome to my home.”

 

“Thank you for inviting me,” Nyala said as she looked round.  “You have a nice home Maisha – very different from mine.”

 

“Indeed – but you must be tired.  Come in and I will make you some coffee.”

 

“I’ll sort out your bag,” Shirley said as the teenagers walked in, and she walked to the cab driver.

 

“Do you live here alone with your Aunt?”

 

“Uncle John lives here as well, but he left early – he is doing a photographic shoot in Hyde Park today.”

 

“And our sister?”

 

“Ama is in North London, but we will meet on Wednesday before we go to France.  I am told she has some news to pass on.”

 

“so how was the flight,” Shirley said as she paid the car driver, and he left the bags in the hallway. 

 

“Long – but I slept for most of it.”

 

“Then let us make some coffee,” Maisha said with a smile, “and we can talk…”

 

10.30 am BST

The Serpentine

 

They made a strange group as they sat at the Serpentine Café – Grace, Caroline and Cassandra watching as Jeannie talked to JD.  On the other side of the path, John Hammond was working with his assistants.

 

"So John, how does Shirley feel about letting you out with so many women?" Grace asked with a twinkle in her eye as he walked over.

"By knowing that when I have the perfect woman in my life...why would I stray?" John smiled.

"She's very, very, lucky John." Cassandra smiled.

"I'll agree with that, but John you maybe owe me something," Caroline grinned, "I gave her my personal recommendation of you."

"And all because I used to give you sweets when you were a child, and your first taste of wine."

"You got it."

"You all sound like a family?" JD whispered in Cassandra's ear.

"Well I guess we are in a way. I knew both Grace way back when, and Caroline's Mum." Cassandra whispered back, “and John was one of my Dad's best friends."

"And Jeannie?"

"Her I only met in the past year, but with her personality it doesn't take her long to make friends."

 

“I know what you mean,” JD said with a smile.

 

“So enjoying your ‘vacation’ so far?”

 

“Yeah,” JD said quietly as Grace and Jeannie went with John, “but would it be wrong if I said I wanted a little action?”

 

“You’ll get your chance,” Caroline whispered as she walked over, “we go after Sydney.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” Cassandra said quietly…

 

 

 

 

"Elegance and sophistication as our theme," Grace mused, "are you sure you should be using BS for this John?"

"Yes."  John smiled as he looked at the two women in their designer suits.


"And I have this to say to you Palomino?" Jeannie smiled as she stuck two fingers in the air.

"You do know at school I'd give you a month’s detention for that?"

"Well it’s a good thing we aren't at school then." Jeannie giggled. "And I can look just as elegant and sophisticated as any of you,” she continued as she struck a pose.

"Mmmm not bad...for a baby." Caroline stood still her nose slightly in the air. "Now that is a sophisticated look."

"Up yours Face," Jeannie laughed out loud.

"Returning from the hilarity though girls, what did Barbara say about those poses we discussed Jeannie?"

"Nothing John..."

Raising an eyebrow, John said "Are you sure?"

"Yes, perfectly."

"She might have if BS had told her John?" Caroline spoke.

"Hey what she doesn't know can't hurt me." Jeannie shrugged her shoulders.

"Honestly," John shook his head, "well I'm glad Bruno is here and ready to catch you if things go wrong Jeans."

"No honestly we will be fine, I've been practicing."

 

“Fair enough then – ten minutes ladies…”

 

 

11 am BST

The Tower of London

 

The Crown Jewels glistened in their display case, the security system obvious as the two masked figures crept into the room.  Their bodies were clothed in black, including the balaclavas, only their red lips and their eyes with the thick black lashes showing.

 

They looked round, then at each other, before they made their way past the jewels and to the wall, one of them nodding as the other felt along the edge, and pressed against the wall.  A hidden panel slid back, the two girls reaching in and taking out the Magnilash, before they placed them in their satchels and closed the panel again.

 

“And what is the tag lien again,” Pepsi said as she watched with Ama and Becca.

 

“Not even the Tower can keep your Magnilash save from the bandits,” Becca whispered back as the girls moved off, and the director said “CUT!  Good work girls – now go and get ready for the photo shoot.”

 

Doc and Nikki pulled off their masks and smiled as they high fived each other.  “Right – we might just nail all this by lunchtime,” Doc said as Ama looked at her phone.

 

Nyala has arrived – she is resting and we will see her tomorrow.”

 

 

11.30 am BST

The Serpentine

 

"How the hell is she doing that?" JD shook her head as Jeannie posed.  She was wearing a cream coloured dress, with Edwardian frills and elbow length sleeves – but she was leaning back against a bench, smiling as she talked with Caroline.


"Well part is that guy ducked down and holding that brace,” Cassandra said as she pointed to the young man on the far side of the bench, holding a metal seat that went under the skirt, “the rest is just Jeannie's sheer will power.”


“How much longer John,” Jeannie said through her smile.

 

"Alright Bruno," John spoke as he looked over, "lift her up and put her back in her chair."

"Hey John,” Jeannie said as the young man jumped up, and lifted Jeannie into her chair, “how was that?" 

"You know very well it was perfect Jeans,” John said as he walked over, “but I'm glad the rest of what we are doing you are sitting down."

"Me too...” Jeannie said as she accepted a bottle of water, “that was hard work."

"And when were you planning to tell me?" a voice came from behind the lights.

"Okay now I'm in the shit." Jeannie whispered as she saw Barbara standing there.

"JEANNIE BREWSTER WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?"

"My job Mum," Jeannie said as Barbara came over.

"Giving me a damn heart attack is what."  Rubbing her head, Barbara said “Jeannie, I know you want to do the best you can, but you really scare me sometimes.”

 

“I need to push myself mum – how are they doing at the Tower anyway?”

 

“Making progress – Harriet and Sarah are being the responsible adults there,” Barbara said as John came over.

 

“Come and have a look, Barbara,” he said as he guided her out of the way.

 

“One word of advice, BS,” Grace said, “no more for the rest of this trip.”

 

“Okay, okay – should I tell her about the surfing shoot at Bondai Beach now or later?”

 

12.30 pm BST

The Cockspur, Soho

"Well this place has certainly changed a bit," Sue shook her head as she looked round, and then sat down at the table with Kay and Penny.

"Yeah they've cleaned it up and gentrified it since our day," Sue said as she sipped from her glass of Californian Chardonnay. Sue was wearing a jumper and jeans, while both Kay and Penny were in business clothes. "Now, to what do we owe the pleasure of seeing you again Pen for the third time in four days?"

"Well," Penny's voice dropped to a whisper, "first to congratulate on what i read was a nice haul Saturday night."

Kay smiled as she said "We'll know how good when our fence values the stuff...but you said first?"

"Yeah…  The second thing is to unfortunately you struck a bit too close to home Sue," Penny sipped her own wine, "it turns out the mother is an old school friend of some friends of Madame and mine."

"Hey," Kay lifted her arms up, "how were we to know that Penny?"

"I know,” Penny nodded, “and Madame has said no retribution will be forthcoming."

"So we will not be getting a visit from Dominique?"


"Nor from me Kay,” Penny said, “however it might be politic to clear targets with me, my friend Grace Gresham is VERY upset."

"You know Grace Gresham Pen?" Sue asked in surprise.

"Yeah,” Penny said with a smile, “and the funny thing is according to my friend Caroline, she gave your ex a right dressing down for what he did to you when they bumped into each other Saturday afternoon."

"Oh I wish I'd been there for that..."

"Well according to Caroline she told him he should have been proud that you had clawed your way up from nothing, not ashamed at how you had to do it."

"Now her I'd like to meet socially," Sue smiled.

"That might be arranged," Penny sipped some more of her wine, "but anyway coming back to my main point, do try and stay off Madame's radar please when you are working."

"No promises, but we will try." Kay sipped the rather nice Merlot she was drinking.

 

“Can’t ask for more than that.  Do you want to know something even funnier about Grace's chat with Colin Sue?"

"Sure,” Sue said as she sat back, “go ahead."

"He actually said that he might have been able to respect you if you'd been a thief?"

"He bleedin' what?" Sue all but spat out her wine..."The bastard!"

"What an arsehole," Kay shook her head, "if only he knew."

"I know," Penny grinned, "Oh and another warning while I think of it, it seems political ambitions might one day catapult him into parliament, so whether it’s for a by-election or at the general election, you might just want to keep your wedding certificate as evidence Sue."


"Oh definitely," Sue started to laugh audibly, "and it will serve that bastard right."

 

“So what else have you got on this week Penny?”

 

“I’m heading to Ascot on Wednesday – works do – and then France for a party…”

 

8 am

Complete Style

 

“Well, now,” Alexis said as she looked over from the elevator, “I see you managed to arrive safely?”

 

“That we did,” Marina said as she and Kylie walked over.  While Alexis was wearing a green jumper and pants, Marian wore a cream linen jacket over a white sundress, and cream leather heels, and Kylie a blue short sleeved pants and shorts with white sandals.  “How’s life without the bosses?”

 

“Hectic – I’m looking forward to meeting my temp bosses at the weekend.”

 

“And they you Darling,” Kylie said as they went into the elevator car, “we need to go and see Anna, but we will pop down when we are done.”

 

“I’ll get the coffee going,” Alexis said with a smile as she stepped out, and the elevator went up.  Stepping out on the Editorial floor, Marina whispered “here we go” and walked to Anna’s office.

 

“Hey Marina,” her head assistant said as they walked in, “she’s expecting you both – go right on in.”

 

“Thank you, Emily darling,” Kylie said with a smile as they walked over, Marina knocking on the door as they heard Anna say “come!”

 

“Good morning, Anna,” Marina said as she opened the door and walked in, “reporting for duty as requested.”

 

“Welcome,” Anna said as she came round from her desk, and walked to a set of chairs round a low table, a pot of coffee and cups sitting on top.  “Begun to settle in?”

 

“Slowly darling,” Kylie said with a smile as they sat down, and Anna poured the coffees before handing them round.

 

"Alright Marina,” Anna said as she sat back, “first question - how good now is your Mandarin?"

Sipping her coffee, Marina smiled and put her cup down before she replied "Catherine says its excellent Anna."

"And the Japanese?"

"Well I would never pass for a native speaker,” Marina said, “but I can talk and read it now."

"Excellent."

"And before you ask, no my French remains lousy, as does my Italian and German."

"Well,” Anna said as she smiled, “I can't ask for everything can I?"

"Tell her Marina darling - you are enrolling to take courses in all three at evening classes," Kylie laughed.

"Well that is dedication above and beyond."

"Not really,” Marina said with a smile, “but I want to be able to read the old, and not just the new editions."

"Well talking of the new editions,” Anna said as she picked up a folder, “we will be meeting the editors and senior staff in Sydney next week, do you want to read these briefs on everybody who is important?"

"Thank you," Marina said as she quickly scanned one or two of the pages.

"In your own time."

"Alright Anna, but I think I met this woman when I was in St Petersburg." Marina pointed.  “Anna Burnova?”


"Ah yes,” Anna said as she nodded, “she will be the style editor for the Russian edition."


"Well if I remember rightly she dresses to kill - and her English was not that good, by her own admission.  I look forward to seeing her again."

"Well, that’s why I asked you to join my team.  Now Kylie," Anna said as she switched attention to the young blonde.  “I trust the examinations have gone well?”

 

“I believe so darling,” Kylie drawled, “but as Catherine said on the day of my last paper, there is nothing I can do now to change what will happen.”

 

“Indeed,” Anna said with a smile, “well, I was speaking with Mary, and as you know we have agreed to provide the practical experience you require for the Art and Design curriculum you will follow at St Angela’s.  She also looks forward, as does Casey, to your help in her storeroom over the holidays.”

 

“Well, when it is possible for me to do so, I will do so,” Kylie said with a smile.  “I hope to go down and see her today.”

 

“I’m sure she will be pleased to see you,” Anna said with a smile, “but take the afternoon off, both of you.  You need time to get supplies in as well.”

 

“Well,” Marina said as she put the cup down, “with your permission, I’ll head down to work with Alexis and Kylie will head to the Cave.”

 

“Of course – and good luck,” Anna said as the two younger women stood up and left the office.  Riding down in the elevator, they smiled at each other as Kylie turned to the right, and Marina to the left.

 

Entering the doors to the storerooms, Kylie called out “is anyone in here?”

 

“At the viewing table,” the Welsh tones of Mary Thomas called out, as Kylie moved through to find her and Mary Clarke viewing some prints.  “There you are,” Mary said with a smile as she came over, “ready for the main move?”

 

“Well, we have our apartment to settle into darlings,” Kylie said with a smile,” Mary, you look radiant.”

 

“Well, I need your help,” Mary Clarke said with a smile.  “I want my sisters to get some new clothes for the weekend, reasonably priced but still stylish.  Could you take them shopping tomorrow?”

 

“I’d be delighted, darling.”

 

“Good,” Mary said as she looked at her watch, “I need to get going.  I’ll see you Wednesday night at the airport Mary.”

 

As she went off, Mary Thomas said “right lass – I want to talk to you about next week…”

 

 

 

 

"So how Is Munich Janine?"  Marina looked at her laptop screen, as Janine sat in the office at the Furstenheim townhouse.


"Honest answer Marina?"

"Yes please."

"Well,” Janine said quietly, “at the moment it is a pain in my rear end."

"Why? Are you having problems with Juliette?"

"With Juliette?  Lord no, but I am with the European press, somehow they have picked up that I date Henri."

"Oh dear," Marina smiled.

"So I am getting followed by paparazzi everywhere."

"Not fun,” Marina said, “but also not something I'm ever likely to experience directly."

"Only second hand, Alexis told me that she made arrangements for you and Kylie to avoid a crush of reporters."

"Yes, that was very smart thinking by her."

"So changing the subject how is the apartment?"

"Very nice, but I'm glad we aren't paying a commercial rent."

"Yes what it is to have rich friends."

"Well you do have a few yourself Janine."

"True.  Right, instructions from the boss pre-Sydney…"

 

3 pm BST

The Serpentine

 

“There you are,” Caroline said as the others got out of the cars, “all done at your place?”

 

“All done,” Ama said, “how about here?”

 

“A few more minutes,” Caroline said before she walked over to John.

 

"Did you read that post from Blair Pepsi?" Becca said as she handed her friend a bottle of water.

"About the Royal enclosure?"

"That's the one."

"I hadn't realized quite how exclusive it is," Pepsi shook her head. "We really do owe various friends for getting us all guest badges."

"It should be a lot of fun...or at least Lady Leventhal says so."

"I heard,” Nikki said, “and by the way when do your family arrive?"

"Early tomorrow at Heathrow,” Becca said, “they are booked in at the Savoy for a couple of nights."

"I'll see my Mom and Dad when we get to France...hopefully before dad immerses in French horse racing," Pepsi laughed.

"Did you read about the rather grand accommodation that Charly is enjoying these next couple of days?" Doc said as she sat down with her friends.

"Windsor Castle," Becca sighed, "personal guests of the..."

"Yes, but I do not envy them all that formality," Doc interrupted.

"It will still be something huge to see people I know driving down the course in the open carriages." Pepsi smiled contentedly.

"Just remember you curtsey if you meet them girls, on Wednesday all the formal rules apply." Grace wandered in.

"Hey I can't," Jeans laughed, "but I suppose I have to lean forward like this?"

"Just like that," Grace nodded.  “show due respect is all I’m saying.”

 

"Why was your Mother having such a fit Jeannie?" JD asked as she sat down.

"Because if I fall I could break a leg or worse and never feel it."

"Ah..."

"So though she knows I train hard so this," she rubbed her abdomen, "is very strong, she still gets fits each time I push the limits of what a paraplegic model can do."

"Well I for one was amazed watching you work."

"Thank you JD, and coming from as amazing an actress as you are I take that as a real compliment."

"Oh one role doesn't make me a real actress yet."

"COME ON!," Jeannie laughed, "I've heard how many scripts you are looking at."

"I'll admit there are a couple of tempting ones."

 

“No thoughts yet?”

 

“Nah – I’ll be guided by those I trust,” JD said as John called out “We’re done – thank you everyone.”

 

"Are the extended Gaunt/Stone clan going to Ascot Cassandra?"  Barbara asked as the actress came from the caravan.

"Yes, it's a few years since I've been, but Dad talked me into it."

"So what about Paula's youngest?"

"She's going to Regents Park with Aunt Paula's old nanny."

"Oh that should occupy her."

"Should do, she's taking my youngest as well."

"So how does your dear husband look in a morning suit and top hat?"

"Oh he thinks he looks ridiculous,” Cassie said with a laugh, “I had such a fight getting into the right things when we went to hire them at Moss Bros, my son too."

"Well Rick and Steven are Californians, they like informality."

"They do, but Capricorn is into this big time. Her outfits for this trip make her look so much older, and really very sophisticated."

"That seems to be a theme with the younger ones in our group." Barbara nodded.

 

4.30 pm CET

Munich

 

"So how was Marina Janine?" Juliette asked as she came into the office.


"She sounded fine Juliette, they are going to be spending a couple of days making the new place feel like home, as well as starting her new job with Anna."

"I hate to be losing her to Anna,” Juliette said, “but she really is the ideal woman for that job."

"I know, but she thinks she might have found a candidate to replace her."

"Oh? Where from?"

"Xavier's I believe, she was going to talk to Shirley about it first though."

"Well no doubt I will hear in due time...I'm only the boss." Juliette laughed.

"What is so funny darling?" Klaus said as he walked in.

"Oh Janine was just telling me that Marina and the other PA's are finding my new assistant who will help run Huntingdown's."

"And they'll simply tell you who you are hiring," Klaus started to laugh, "sounds like the PA network working at its best."

"Well if Marina has found someone you can be sure he or she is top rate." Janine took a coffee from Klaus.

"Which is precisely why I won't intervene yet," Juliette also took a cup.

 

https://www.pinterest.com/email/tracking.gif?e_t=1c9e2a92c5344e99b777c4a6350f3619

2 pm

West Central Park

 

 

 

 

"You know what your other great skill is, other than soaking up languages Marina?" Kylie said as she slipped her footwear off.

"No," Marina said as she hung up their jackets, “what?"

"It's something we all knew about even when we were Vipers."

"And what might that be?" Marina sounded intrigued as they went to the kitchen.

"You never forget a face," Kylie grinned, "Darling how many Russian journalists did you meet in St Petersburg?"

"Oh I don't know...lots."

"But you were immediately able to place someone from just a glance at a photo."

"I guess."

"It's why we always let you go ahead and check clubs and pubs out, because if there were undercover cops, or any bad guys from other gangs, you'd be sure to spot them darling."

"Oh is that why?"

"Yes, and think of the number of times it got us out of potential trouble."

 

“True, true…”

 

“So – plans for this afternoon darling?”

 

“Relax – although we do need to get some food and…”

 

The knock on the apartment door made them both look, then stand up as Marina looked through the spyhole.  “Neighbour,” she whispered, Kylie relaxing as she opened the door and Katy Carter came in.

 

"Hey Kylie," she said as Marina closed the door.

"Hey back to you darling," the English girl said as she kissed Katy on the cheek.  “So to what do we owe this honour?”

"I just dropped in to say welcome,” Katy said as she sat down, “and to ask a favor."

"Which might be?"

"When you take the Clarke girls out shopping,” Katy said quietly, “dress them with some style and sexiness please."

"But..."

"I can guess what you've been asked to do,” Katy said quietly, “but they are afraid of looking like kids while most of the Sinners they know are dressed to impress."

"I can get that darling, but I'm under orders."

 

“Well, I also understand that, but there must be some way…”

 

“Well…  Let me see what I can do, Katy darling, but I make no promises – I have little time and a budget, after all.”

 

 

8 pm

42nd Street

 

"So still no special man in your life Marina?" Alexis asked as they sat in the Hightower Taverns sports bar.

"No such luck I'm afraid."  Marina sipped her drink, before she said "And you?"

"Oh people come...people go." Alexis shook her head.

"I know what you mean," Marina shook her head, "I was dating a guy called Padraig Walsh..."

"An Irishman?"

"Correct, but when his bank moved him to Singapore, well it became so hard to maintain a relationship."

"I understand that," Alexis nodded. "So there is no former partner at your college reunion you'll be hoping hasn't grown fat, or got married?"

"No," Marina laughed, "I'm not sure half will even remember me, I was the original all work and no play girl."

"You make yourself sound dull."

"I guess I was,” Marina said with a sigh, “I wasn't a great party girl back then."

"Well you've improved is all I will say.  So – Hong Kong.”

 

“Yes – Cathy is looking forward to meeting you, but we also have an idea for who will replace you permanently.  You’re also going to have a house mate while you’re there – you’ve met Bev Martello, haven’t you?”

 

“Works for Shirley Xavier in London, did some personal security for Katy Carter?”

 

“Yeah – she’ll be rooming with you, keep you company, hopefully.  One word of advice.”

 

“And that is?”

 

“Never play Poker with her…”

 

 

Tuesday 21st June

9 am BST

Heathrow

 

“Well now, “Simon Leventhal said as he saw the couple come through the arrival gates with the younger woman, “You are a sight for sore eyes.”

 

"Have you missed me?" Bobbi asked as she wrapped herself up to Simon.

"You might say so," Simon laughed as Bobbi discreetly rubbed his instant erection.

"Good, because I have a lot of tension I want to get out of me...and baby it feels like you need to as well."

"Roberta stop molesting poor Simon," Tom Morse shook his head as he stood with the luggage trolley.


"Oh I'm not sure he minds that much darling," Claire laughed as the young Englishman blushed.

 

“Anyway,” Simon finally said as he put his arm round Bobbi’s waist, “I have the car waiting.  If you’ll follow me?”

He smiled as Tom and Claire followed him and Bobby to the car park.  “So how is the campaign going?”

 

“Personally, good – I just wish it wasn’t turning into, if you will forgive the phrase, a shitstorm of argument,” Tom said quietly.

 

“Take some time to read our papers today,” Simon said as they approached the car, “you may find we are also having our own problems at the moment.”

 

“Perhaps I should take you mind off it,” Bobbi said with a grin.

 

"Sometimes I think I have as over-sexed daughters as the Rochermann's do?" Claire said as Simon opened the boot of the car.”


"Oh no, Becca and I can be far naughtier then the twins," Bobbi grinned as Simon attempted to load the luggage in his car.

"i probably should have borrowed dad's car."

"That's alright Simon," Tom smiled.  “I prefer the inconspicuous approach.  So what do we do now?”

 

“I get you to the hotel, you get to change,” Simon said, “and then we meet Mum and Dad for lunch…”

 

 

11 am CET

Munich

 

“So,” Abby said as she looked at the other three, staring at her laptop, “what do you think?”

 

“Abigail…  How did you just happen to be shooting just at the precise moment I caught a crab?” Kelsey smiled as she shook her head.

 

“Is that what that is called?” Abby looked up from the computer screen.

 

“Yeah it’s when your oar turns over in the water, and well you captured as it sprung up and hit Kels,” Molly looked over Abigail’s shoulder. “This picture is so dramatic.”

 

“Dramatic?” Kelsey shook her head, “blood is spurting where I hit my nose, and you can see me crying…”

 

“I’m thinking of calling it ‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears.” Abby smiled.

 

“I thought for a moment we were in real trouble,” Carina sipped her energy drink.

 

“But it didn’t take you long again to be cracking the whip Specs,” Molly groaned.

 

“Hey it was you guys who asked me to be the cox.”

 

“Yes but even we didn’t expect you to take up all the associated habits so quick Specs.” Kelsey laughed.

 

“As you said girls out on the river I’m in charge.”

 

“And don’t we know it!”

 

“This isn’t a bad picture either…look at the expression on Cari’s face?”

 

Mmmm,” Carina put her glasses on, “well I’ve looked better in pictures I’ve modelled for before.”

 

 

Abby turned and stared at her friend.  “But look at the concentration and intensity on your face Cari?”

 

“Yeah,” Carina said after a moment, “I must admit that is pretty amazing.”

 

“What is mazin?” Judith smiled as she came tottering in with Annie.

 

“This picture of your Mommy.” Abby lifted the toddler up to look.

 

“That doesn’t look like Momma,” Judith shook her head.

 

“It is though darling,” Cari smiled as she kissed Annie. “Hey Monster momma, where are the twins?”

 

 

“Having their nap my love,” Annie kissed her back.

 

“Alright if they are going to get lovey dovey I’m going to hit the gym,” Molly shook her head.

 

“Nope – you shower and change,” Abby said as she closed her laptop, “you are coming with me to get an outfit for the weekend…”

 

2 pm CET

Maison Margiela Munich Boutique

Maximilianstraße 34, Munich

 

The three women did not look like they should be shopping in a high-end fashion store, all three wore old jeans, hoodies, and sneakers. Each had no makeup on and their hair pulled back in casual ponytails. To the shop assistants they all looked like potential shoplifters, especially the one wearing the large dark glasses.

 

Kann ich dir helfen?” the shop assistant looked at the three very tall women.

 

Ich hoffe so, meine Freunde hier brauchen Kleider, um zu einer Geburtstagsfeier zu gehen.” Abigail replied.

 

“Ah you are American?” the assistant asked.

 

“Oh good you speak English,” Abigail smiled, “I’m sure my German was offending your ears.”

 

“Not at all Miss…”  As she looked at the other two young women, she said “and your friends need outfits for a birthday party. Can I ask whose?”

 

“Mine,” Abby said quietly as she took off her dark glasses.

 

Gott in Himmel…”  The assistant stared and stammered “you…you…you are Abigail de Ros…”

 

“Yes I am,” Abby said quietly, “but can we keep that a secret, my friends are rowers training at your Olympic centre and they didn’t bring any smart clothes with them from the US…Ingrid von Furstenheim says you are the best store in Munich to do so.”

 

“The Princess flatters us,” the assistant fought to control herself. “So what will your friends need?”

 

“Everything from shoes to handbags.”

 

“How much will this cost us Stick?” Kelsey asked as they walked over.

 

“It’s my treat girls, and with the new offer from Memories I can more than afford it.” Abby laughed.

 

“Well it’s your party…”

 

“Yes it is Molly,” the tall model giggled.

 

“This way please ladies,” the assistant ushered the two tall girls towards the racks and changing area.  “Let us see what we can find for you…”

 

 

 

10 am

West Central Park

 

“So where is Katy,” Eleanor asked as she sat on the couch, wearing a silk blouse and knee length skirt with black heels. 

 

“Out with the girls,” Katherine said as she carried the coffee tray in, “I said she could get out of the house today, given she’s working tomorrow before we fly out.”

 

“Good – so are you looking forward to this weekend Katherine,” Eleanor said as she took the cup, and Eleanor sat down, crossing her legs as she adjusted the skirt of her sun dress.

 

“Oh it is going to be fun I think,” she said as she sipped her coffee, “a planeload of Abigail’s family and friends descending on a small French town, I think it’s an event that will probably one day enter the local folklore.”

 

“That I get,” Eleanor said, “but I’m still not quite sure how I got an invite Katherine…I barely know Abigail.”

 

“But you know her grandfather…”

 

“Who from what I hear about a certain Halloween party,” Eleanor said with a raised eyebrow, “you and I have something in common?”

 

“Funny I heard that same rumor.” Katherine grinned, “but as I was saying you are integrated into the wider Sinners community, so you rate an automatic invite…and before you ask so does Veronica.”

 

“Well I know she’s looking forward to it immensely.”

 

“Everybody is,” Katherine said, “especially as Guy has chartered this jet to take us all.”

 

“It must be costing him a fortune?”

 

“Well according to Grant he’s going to do very well selling his studs first crop of yearlings.”

 

“That will help I suppose,” Eleanor finished her coffee. “So where did you buy your clothes for the trip Katherine?”

 

“I’ve barely bought a thing Eleanor…”

 

“But?”

 

“Mary Thomas opened up her magic cave,” Katherine grinned again, “you think if I wasn’t getting clothes loaned I could afford this?”

 

“I guess not,” Eleanor said as she remembered that Katherine wasn’t ‘one of us’.

 

“No the only really good bits I own personally are gifts from our granddaughter and her models discount at APCO.”

 

“I must admit I’ve taken advantage of Alice’s kindness myself.”

 

“Who amongst we sinners doesn’t?” Katherine stood up, “another cup Eleanor?”

 

“Thank you.  So what is the itinerary?”

 

“Fly out overnight tomorrow, relax in Rosville on Thursday, big party Friday, Christening Saturday – Pussy and Frieda’s daughter?”

 

“And relax for the trip back on the Sunday?”

 

“You and Veronica do,” Katherine said, “with Adam.  Jan and I go on to Sydney with Katy for the show.”

 

“The life of the international model,” Eleanor said with a smile, “but actually I’m going to London.  Something I have to do.”

 

 

 

5 pm CET

The Furstenheim Townhouse

 

“Okay, that was certainly different,” Molly said as she and Kelsey walked into the front hall with  Abby, the chauffer brigning the bags in.  “Fun, but different.”

 

“Well, you can borrow a couple of cases for the weekend,” Abby said as Frau Strecher appeared.  “Countess – you have a visitor in the drawing room?”

 

“I do,” Abby said as the girls collected their bags, and she went in – to find a young man sitting with his parents.  “TONY!”

 

“Hey gorgeous,” Tony McNally said as he stood up, “we got here half an hour ago, to find you had gone shopping?”

 

“A necessary evil,” Abby said as she kissed him.  “How’s the holiday been so far?”

 

“A bit lonely – but the family have kept me occupied,” Tony said with a grin.

 

“Ah there you are Abigail – how are you?”

 

“Very well, thank you,” she said as she hugged and kissed Tony’s parents.  Patrick McNally was a broad shouldered man, with thinning brown hair, but he looked like his brother, while Sheila his wife had long brown hair.  “I’m glad you could make it over for the party.”

 

“Well, thanks for inviting us here first – who do we thank?”

 

“Patrick, Sheila – I don’t think we’ve met since Judy’s party have we?”

 

“No – thank you for the invite, Your Highness,” Patrick said as he bowed.

 

“Please – just Juliette will do.  Come – let me show you round, give these two a chance to have some time together…”

 

“Very diplomatic of her,” Tony said as she walked out with his parents, “so, what can we do, hmm?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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