To Be in England – Part 5






Tuesday 21st June

1 pm

5th Avenue


“Well here we are darlings – the answer to all your needs,” Kylie said as the cab drew up outside the boutique.


"So what does APCO stand for Kylie?" Vicky asked as they got out of the cab.

"Alice’s Personal Company...A...P...CO," Kylie replied as she paid the driver.

"Oh I get it,” Vicky said, “that's actually very clever."

"Yes it is...” Kylie said as she looked at them.  “Alright girls - I have a conflicting set of instructions on this so let’s see what we can find will please both Mary and yourselves."

"We just don't want to look like children Kylie." Allison pouted.

"I know darlings," Kylie drawled, "so let us see what we can do...alright?"

"Alright," Suzie nodded.


Smiling, Kylie opened the door and watched as the three girls walked in, their eyes opening wide as they looked round.


“Kylie – it is good to see you again, and I guess I can formally say welcome to New York now,” the blonde haired manager said as she walked over.


"Hello Betsey darling," Kylie kissed the store manager on both cheeks. "Allow me to introduce my three friends - these are Mary's sisters, Vicky, Alison and Suzie."

"They are all just as beautiful," Betsey smiled, "welcome to APCO girls."

"Thank you," Vicky said quietly.

"As I said on the phone darling, we are shopping with Mary's money."

"Oh I do remember about Mary and spending money," Betsey nodded.

"Well the girls do not want to look either like children or poor relatives in France, so we need to create looks for them that will just about please everyone."

"I understand Kylie," Betsey pursed her lips, "so shall we start from the bottom and work up girls? Do you wear heels?"

"We do when Mary either cannot see..." Vicky answered.

"Or when she says yes like at the Kentucky Derby." Suzie added.

"And we all love wearing very high heels," Allison finished off.

"Okay I get the picture," Betsey laughed, "so let’s look at some shoes shall we?"


“While you do that, I will look at the summer collection, and see what I can find,” Kylie drawled as she looked round.


2 pm

Holiday Inn Express


"So Veronica,” Eleanor said as she sat in the coffee shop with her old friend, “are you ready for France again?"

"I am Eleanor,” Veronica said with a wry smile, “though my superiors are a bit less than happy."


"Why do you think? The Chicago gem heist."

"But they'd already granted you leave before that happened."

"Exactly,” Veronica said as she shook her head, “and it’s only that technicality that's allowing me to go."

"So they still think the stones are in this country?"

"According to my informants they are, and the thieves are supposedly trying to get them out, but with the all agencies full-court press on, hopefully we are preventing that."

"So I had heard Veronica."

"The Russian government is desperate for their return, and all shades of political opinion are barking that they must be found."

"I heard Trump's speech last night." Eleanor nodded.


“Do not talk to me about that man,” Veronica said darkly.  “Let’s discuss what we can do in the Medoc…”


“In a minute,” Eleanor said as she took her phone out, “give me five minutes.”


Leaving the coffee shop, she answered the call and said “Good evening Madame.”


"Good evening Mermaid,” she heard the deep, rich voice say, “so are you looking forward to your next trip to France?"

"Very much Madame, it sounds as though it will be a memorable weekend."

"I very much think so as well." Shirley paused. "In the meantime I haven't as yet thanked you for your part in that recent operation?"

"I would say that I enjoyed it,” Eleanor said quietly, “but somehow I think those are the wrong words."

"Yes, but in many ways I'm glad you have crossed the barrier Mermaid...And as to your recompense..."

"New York put the funds into what was an old 'my eyes only' account that I had kept from the days I worked covert."

"Very good."

"And may i look forward to further opportunities to add to that account Madame?"

"Oh I think I can promise that Mermaid." Madame chuckled.

"And when?"

"Oh I think another associate of mine is the one to inform you of that."
"Juliette if I don't miss my guess," Eleanor thought to herself.

"Well I will hope that this will be very profitable," Eleanor actually said.

"And I think I can also promise that."


2 pm

APCO, 5th Avenue


The three Clark girls turned as they looked at themselves in the mirror, Kylie nodding as she stood with Betsey.


"These matching nineteen fifties summer dresses of yours are gorgeous Kylie," Allison sighed.

"Well with the polka dots in different colours, I designed them to be worn with

different colour long gloves, hats and shoes."

"They will be ideal for the Sunday," Betsy ventured.

"Yes I can see them being worn to church," Kylie pursed her lips.  “And I admit, the colours do suit them, but…”

"Can we have them please Kylie?" Vicky practically pleaded.

"Mary will have a fit you know..."

"But they are SO sophisticated," Suzie looked at Kylie, "PLEASE?"

"Alright I give in, but be prepared to hear some words from your sister."

"And now for the party itself," Betsey started taking outfits from the racks.


10 pm CET



“My apologies, Your Highness,” the maid said as she came into the drawing room, “Miss Linda Evangelista is on the telephone, and wishes to talk to you.”


“Mother?  Bit late for her to be calling,” Carina said as she held Mags, Annie nodding as she held Rudi.


“Well, I’ll see what she wants,” Juliette said as she put her tablet down and went into the hallway, taking up the handset.  “Hello Linda, what can I do for you?”


“Sorry for the late call,” she heard the supermodel say.  "Pelican, is it true that Sister Virtue will be in Rosville?"

"So I believe Mother."


"Okay Linda,” Juliette said with a laugh, “I've known you long enough to know that tone in your voice...spill?"

"Well I've been approached by Nouveau Parisienne to style a retrospective shoot on the early nineties, and I was thinking of asking some girls who consider themselves long since retired to pose for it."

"And you thought of Paula...why?"

"We all know with more push that she could have been as big as any of us Ju."

"Well I agree on that,” Juliette said, “but I'm not sure she'd do it."

"Oh I'll chat to her at Abby's party and see if I can persuade her."

"Who else do you have in mind Mother?"

"If I can get you to talk to them..."

"Who now?" Juliette sighed.

"Diana and Sandy Richmond, we both know they terminated what would have been star careers far too early."

"And both have sworn off modelling forever.  Especially Sandy," Juliette said quietly.

"But Pelican, Diana did do that mother daughter thing...could you try persuading them for me?"

"For a rival publication?  Pippa will kill me."

"Not if I also talk her into posing."

"Oh Linda darling that is wicked," Juliette giggled.  “Look, I’ll talk to them, but no promises, all right?”


"The other thing I wanted to mention Ju is that I'm convening a meeting of PTA's Grand Council for the night before the party."

"So we are all to bring our robes?"

"Yes...I'm sending a memo out to all the girls I know will be there."

"Alright, I'll see if you missed anyone if you send me the list."

"I also want to induct a couple or so girls."

"Are they guests?"

"Probably not, but I am ringing Valeria in the morning and asking her for a huge favor."

"Well I know there are several last minute additions Mother, so you can but try."





“So that’s settled - see you Friday,” Linda said as the line went dead.


“So what do she want,” Klaus said as she came back into the room.


“Oh, just to get me to do ten impossible things before breakfast…”



5 pm

The Richmond Mansion


“Well, that’s nice…”


"Who was the text from Jo? Curt asked as she put her phone down.

"Hmm?  Oh, it was Kits Mahan-Gaunt."

"Isn't that the girl who is a Knight?"

"Yes, she's Eve Gaunt's best friend, and the girlfriend of John Gaunt."

"He I remember, tall and thin with glasses."

"Yeah that's Lord Eventon,"Jo smiled, "but Kits was thanking me for asking Valeria to invite her and her mother to the party."

"Is the whole world coming?"

"Nearly," Jo chuckled, "but Aileen Gaunt is a close friend of Katy and Orion's, and Clodagh is just a sweetie."

"So how is the Irish contingent getting to Rosville?"

"Plane chartered by the Duke, they are bringing Orion and her father too.  So they fly from Dublin to London to pick up the rest of the family, then to France."


“While we all fly off tomorrow night in a chartered jet?”




10 pm BST



"Oh God, how many years since I wore this?" the Duchess of Lardarn said as she shook out the dusty robe that had been left in a corner of her wardrobe for so long.

"What are you talking about Dearest?" Tom asked from the bathroom.

"Oh just something I needed to pack," Paula said as she slipped her robe into her suitcase. "When do Orion and her father arrive?"

"Late tomorrow night,” Tom said as he came in, drying his hands, “she has the rest of the school term off so she can then go to Sydney."

"Her much dreaded aunt not going then?"

"No her father will chaperone her the whole trip."

"Well,” Paula said with a smile, “she will prefer that."

"And our own dear children fly in first thing in the morning from London."

"Along with Christine?"

"Yes, and Tamsin earlier will meet us at the airport and stay the night here, I spoke to her earlier."

"How are things at Ballysatten?" Paula asked.

"Pretty much as normal she says."



7 pm

Mary Thomas’ Brownstone


“So what do you think,” Vicky said as she, Suzie and Allison walked round the room, Kylie standing with Mary and Dave Clarke.


"Kylie,” Mary said quietly, “all those outfits look incredible..."

"I hear a BUT coming darling."

"BUT even with my discount they cost just so much,” Mary said as she saw Vicky in the off the shoulder dress and heels, “and… Well, they make the girls look so much older."

"Well if needs be I'll split the costs with you Mary, and yes I know they look older, but face it darling I'm only 16 myself, and..."

"I know how you dress Kylie,” Mary said quietly, “I just don't know though about the girls looking like that."

"Well I think they look beautiful," Dave smiled, "and I think we can indulge them on a weekend like this Mary."


“All right then,” Mary said as she nodded, “I guess they also double as party or prom dresses.  And they do look wonderful Kylie…”


“Thank you!”  The three girls ran up and hugged their sister then went to get changed.


“Well, my work here is done,” Kylie said with a smile, “and so to bed…”



Wednesday 22nd June

8 am CET



As Klaus left the breakfast room, Juliette said quietly "Girls, remember to pack your PTA robes for Rosville."

"I read Mother's request Moms," Ingrid nodded.

"So did I Mom." Carina nodded.

"And Abby?"

"She's having it expressed from New York, she didn't bring it with her Mom."

"I guess I should have thought in advance that with so many members gathered in one place, Linda would call a council meeting."

"So why do we all need dress up Moms?" 

"Because,” Juliette said as she sipped her coffee, “I guess she wants to really put on a show for the initiates she wants to bring in Ingy darling."

"I guess that makes sense."

"So,” Carina said, “any ideas who the new girls will be Mom."

"Not a clue," Juliette shrugged her shoulders.






"So the two races in Switzerland girls?" Abby asked as she stood with Molly and Kelsey in the kitchen.

"They are both Europa B championship races," Molly looked up from making protein shakes, "one in Zurich, the other on the Rotsee at Luzern."

"And what sort of grade is that?"

"Well let me put it this way Abs if we don't win we have no chance of going to the worlds." Kelsey sat down.

"And will you win?"

"We have raced several of the crews in the past, and yeah we can beat them."

"Even with a guest cox Molly?"

"Yeah, but it would have been nice that Specs didn't have to jet round the world to do a fashion show."

"So when will she do her first race?"

"Weekend after you all return to Europe, another Europa B race here in Munich."

"Does she know Kelsey?" Abby laughed, "you know she gets nervous?"


“So we noticed,” Molly said, “hence the lack of notice.”



Noon BST

Ascot Racecourse, near Windsor


As the minibus drove down the tree lined road, Ama looked out and smiled.  “A truly beautiful place,” she said as she looked at her mother.


“Indeed – Royal Windsor, a truly magical place,” Caroline said with a smile.  She was wearing a pale grey jacket over a knee length sheath dress, a matching hat on her lap with her purse.  Ama was wearing a black dress with a white fern pattern, held by thin shoulder straps, the white hat with a black strap on her lap.


“First time here in a while,” Harriet said as she sat next to Grace.


“Since last June,” Grace said as she looked at the countryside speed past.  “Hell of a way to celebrate the year.”


“Could be worse.”


“How, Sarah?”


“You could meet Doctor Dalton there…”


Grace looked at her, and then burst out laughing as she shook her head.  She was wearing a grey dress coat with matching hat and gloves, while Harriet wore a green dress with a cream jacket and green hat.


“You know, I can’t believe it’s been a year since we went to the O2 and this crazy journey began,” Sarah said as she sat with Barbara.  She was wearing a cap sleeved black and white dress, with black heels and a white hat on her lap, while Barbara was wearing a Yves St Laurent pale blue trouser suit with white heels.


“I know – it’s just over two years since Dad came to visit, we were invited to London, and this whole thing started for us,” Barbara said with a smile as she looked at Jeannie.  She was wearing a white cap sleeved dress with a rose print, and a small pink hat pinned to her long hair.  The skirt came to just over her knee, to comply with the dress rules.


“If you had known what was going to happen, would you have changed your mind?”


Barbara shook her head as the minibus drove through the gates.  “Nope – not a bit of it,” she said as the bus came to a stop.


“All right, everyone out,” Grace said as they stepped off the bus.  Pepsi was first, in a grey knee length dress with a wrap effect upper body, and a large grey hat in the same shade, while Becca had on a peach coloured dress held by a gold collar, and a smaller hat in the same shade.


They turned and smiled as Sarah and Caroline lifted Jeannie into the chair.  Finally, Nikki was wearing a sleeveless knee length green dress, with a small white hat.


“So what time is the first race,” Jeannie asked.


“Two thirty.”


"If it's that long till the first race why are we here so early?" Jeannie asked.

"Because protocol says one never arrives after the Queen."

"Unless you are Joan Collins Grace," Barbara laughed, "I will never forget that fuss.”

"And I also want to be sure you all get great views to see the parade."

"I appreciate that Face," Jeannie smiled.

"So does everyone have their badges on for the Royal Enclosure?"


The group nodded as they showed their lanyards holding the cards up, and the group made their way across the courtyard to the entrance to the Royal Enclosure.  The security guards checked their passes, and then they made their way through to the reception area.


“Ah – excellent.  You made it in time.”


“We did Shirley,” Grace said as she kissed her friend.  “Where are the others?”


“Hello Ama.”


Ama smiled as she turned and embraced Nyala, smiling as she looked at her.  The teenager was wearing a white dress with a small floral print, and a thin black belt round her waist, as well as a white hat on her hair.


“How are you wnjoiyng your vacation so far,” Ama said quietly.


“Once I recovered from the journey, I have loved every second, is that not right Maisha.”


“It is,” Maisha said as she joined them.  The older girl was wearing a white lace overdress with a floral print, over a shorter white dress, heels and a pink hat.  “How are you sister?”


“I am well – have you heard?”


“I have - but I wanted you to tell Nyala yourself.”


“Tell me what,” Nyala asked.


“I met Uma.”


Nyala stared at her, and then said “your sister?  She is alive?  And here?”


“She lives in the town we have been visiting – come, let me tell you everything…”




“Well now – I see you and your friends have arrived Nicola?”


Pepsi smiled as she said “we have indeed.  Anna, Nikki, Becca, this is Lady Yvonne Leventhal – she was the lady who very kindly sent the bouquet to the ball.”


“Very pleased to meet all of you – especially you Rebecca.  I have heard a great deal about you?”


“You have – who from?”


“Who do you think little sis?”


“Oh boy,” Becca said as she turned to see Bobbi, in a dress with a grey and black snake skin pattern, her arm round that of Simon in his morning dress and black top hat.  “You certainly dressed for the occasion – and if you are here then…”




“Don’t worry Claire – Becca has been the model of helpfulness,” Grace said as she stood with Tom and Claire Morse.  “so who else is here?”


“Most of the Debs for this year,” Claire said with a smile, “which means young Becky is about to get a surprise…”





“Magnificent, aren’t they?”


“I have to agree – although I think he could stand a little taller?”


“You two talking about the men or the horses?”


“What do you think,” Angel Fitzstuart said as she looked round.  She had a black lace dress with short sleeves over a knee length underdress, a matching hat perched on the side of her head.


“With you, Ang, I’m never quite sure,” Fi Treharran said as she looked through her glasses.  Her white dress was worn with a matching bolero jacket, both women wearing high heels in black and white respectively, Fi wearing a large white hat.


Samantha Gordon just smiled and shook her head, holding her clutch bag in the same shade of red as her wrap round dress, the short sleeves coming to just above her elbows.  She had a smaller black hat pinned to her head, with matching heels.


“So are your brothers here Angel?”


“Mum and Dad are, but they will be here for two.”


“I see others are though,” Fi said as she saw Ama and Maisha talking to Nylala.  “Does that mean Caroline is here as well?”


“Must do – on which note,” Angel whispered to Fi, “did you get the message?”


Fi nodded.  “Mummy and I have them packed.”


"So where is Michael today?" Samantha asked.

"He should just about be arriving at the venue in Minsk," Fiona said as she looked at her watch. "He's flying from there to France tomorrow."

"So how has Nell coped on tour?"

"I hear her nails are long and red..."

"Eh?" Angel tilted her head, "why is how she's done her nails important?"

"Because she hasn't painted them red, that's blood from the girls she's scratched the eyes out of as they made plays at my dumb brother."

"Now I understand," Angel laughed softly, I never thought i'd say this about a New York Slut, but I feel sorry for Nell."


“Why?  She always gives as good as she gets…”





"Hello,” the grey haired gentleman said as he approached the girls, “would you be Anna Carlton?"

"I might be...and you are?"

"Oh sorry," he chuckled, "I'm Robert Patterson, I'm one of the bursars at Kings College Cambridge, and an old friend of Will and Mandy's."

"Oh sorry Dr. Patterson," Doc smiled, "Pepsi did mention meeting you last week."  She extended a hand to shake.

"And this is my wife Edith."

"Hello Mrs. Patterson." Anna let her kiss her on the cheek. "I'm sorry I was cautious, but well some friends have had trouble with over zealous fans."

"We understand dear," Edith nodded.

"So to get to the point Anna, since talking to Nicola I ran a couple of checks on you, and I want to ask you have you considered Cambridge University, and particularly Kings for your pre clinical education?"

"Well after Pepsi raved about it,” Doc said, “I will admit the thought has crossed my mind."

"Good," the bursar nodded, "can I therefore formally invite you to come visit us at sometime?"

"Well that's very nice, but I'm off to France..."

"Oh I didn't mean now, but sometime in the next year?"


“In that case,” Doc said with a smile, “I think that can be arranged.”




“I am so glad you were able to come Francesca,” Shirley said as she stood with Charlotte, Piet and her mother, “it means a lot.”


“Well, how could I turn down such an invitation,” Francesca said with a smile.  She was wearing a coral pink dress with a matching bolero jacket, heels and hat, while Charlotte was wearing a dark blue short sleeved dress with a square collar.  Shirley was wearing a pearl cap sleeved dress which came to just below her knees, and a matching wide hat.  “So how many people here will we know?”


“More than you may think – I see Maisha and Nyala have met one, for example.  Caroline – how has the trip been?”


“Productive,” Caroline said as she came over, “Marchesa, Charlotte – how are you both.”


“Getting bigger,” Charlotte said as she held her small bump, “and looking forward to July even more.”


“I had a fascinating call on that during the week – I’ll tell you about it later.  In the meantime, have you met Claire and Tom Morse, Francesca?”


“No – will you make the introductions?”


“Tom!  Claire!  Spare a minute?”


“Of course,” Tom said as he came over in his morning suit.  “Hello Charlotte, Shirley – and this is?”


“Representative Tom Morse, may I introduce you to Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello.  Francesca, Tom and Claire Morse.”


“A pleasure,” Tom said as he kissed Francesca on the cheek, “you are Charlotte’s mother correct?  We accepted your kind invitation to attend her wedding.”


“And I am grateful,” Francesca said with a smile.  “You travel tomorrow as well?”


“We do,” Claire said, “we wanted to break the journey and meet up with our other daughter.  Caroline – do you have a moment?”


“Of course,” Caroline said as she came over, “Marchesa – a pleasure to see you again.”


“And you Caroline – is your daughter here as well?”


“Indeed – Ama, come and meet Charlotte’s mother.”  The group watched as the three African girls came over.  “Francesca, my daughter Ama, you know Maisha of course, and this is their mutual friend Nyala from Los Angeles.  Girls, this is Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello.”


“A great pleasure to meet you,” Francesca said as she kissed the cheeks of Ama and Nyala.  “I hope you enjoy the day.”


“We hope so too,” Maisha said, “if you will excuse us, we are going to talk to the other girls.”




“Stephen, tell me why we have to dress like this?”


“Tradition, Rick, tradition,” Stephen Stone smiled as he walked in with Rick and his grandson.  The two men were in morning dress, with top hats, while Stevie was in a dark suit, running his finger under the collar of his shirt.


“I know how you feel,” John Gaunt said as he came in, also wearing morning dress, “but at least you get excused the tails – unlike me.”


“It just feels so…  Oh my, is that Benedict Cumberbatch over there.”


“It is,” Cassie said as she smiled, “so mingle and enjoy yourselves.”


“Eve – you managed to get everyone here then?”


“Not really –the girls fly back over with us later today,” Eve Stone said as she greeted Grace.  “What’s this I hear Mother wants a meeting tomorrow night?”


“So I’ve heard – no idea who or why, but some new sisters will be inducted.”





“You have worked hard, Maggie, and you need a day off, so I’m glad you came with me today, all right?”


“Just promise me,” Margaret Harker said as she walked with Lady Amelia Ashley, “this is a day at the races, and not an attempt to bend my ear about something…”


“As surprising as this may sound coming from me, Maggie, I don’t think there is any more you can do to convince people one way or the other – you just have to wait and see, and cast your vote before we leave tomorrow.”


Maggie shook her head before she said “Well now – you here with the girls Gracie?”


“We are indeed,” Grace said as she kissed them both on the cheek, “and what’s more, they let us in here as well?”


“Well, many of you are real celebrities,” Amelia said quietly, “who is that with Caroline’s daughter?”


“Ama?  The taller girl is Maisha – Shirley Xavier is her guardian – and the other girl is Nyala.  She came from the same village as Ama, at the same time.”


“Indeed,” Amelia said with a smile, “and…  My lord, is that the Marchesa di Cambrello?  You must introduce me, Grace darling.”




“Purely to talk to, Maggie, nothing more…”



“Uncle Stephen, Aunt Annabelle – I should have realised you would be here,” Grace said as she came over to them.


“Grace, my dear,” Stephen said, “here with friends?”


“There’s a party of us here – as you well know Uncle Stephen, because Uncle Charlie said he was going to tell you.”


“I cannot tell a lie,” her uncle said with a smile, “Colin’s around here somewhere as well if you wanted to see him.”


“I don’t particularly – I had words with him last Saturday about what he did,” Grace said quietly.


“Ah – yes, that would do it.  Well, don’t be too hard on him,” Annabelle said, “he was…”


“An idiot?”


Stephen and Annabelle looked at each other, before they nodded…



“What is this,” Doc said as Pepsi handed her a tall glass.


“Something called Pims – a bit strange but still it is refreshing,” Pepsi said as she took a sip.  “So – what’s up?”


"You remember telling me that you met Dr Patterson of Kings College last week Peps?"

"Yeah,” Pepsi nodded, “he and his wife were just so nice."

"Well he sought me out earlier,” Doc said as she took a sip, “and gave me a personal invitation to go see Kings, and Cambridge, sometimes in the next year."

"The perks of being a genius," Pepsi laughed.

"Oh come you are dumb...we are both on academic scholarships, remember?"

"Yes…. but I'm not the one being invited for the personal tour. You're the one they are head-hunting."

"Do you think that?" Doc looked slightly perplexed.

"Yep...I think they want you badly Doc. Just like most of the universities back home."

"Sheesh - Now I feel like House must have when he was being recruited to play college football."

"It's pretty much the same process...Hey Ama did you hear?"

"That someone from Cambridge University was trying to tempt Anna to study there?"

"How the hell does she do that?" Anna shook her head.

"I don't know," Pepsi laughed, "I sometimes think she has all carrying bugs."


“I listen and I assess,” Ama said quietly.  “But it is obvious – Pepsi visits Cambridge, talks of her friends, and next you are invited.”


“What about you Ama – tempted to come here?”


“I have not given it much thought yet,” Ama said with a smile, “although I know there are some attractions here for both of you.”


“Like what,” Pepsi said, before she heard a familiar voice say “Good afternoon ladies.”


“Why, your lordship, you look particularly dapper today,” Doc said as she saw Jack in his morning suit.


“Indeed – Miss Broadhurst, would you care to take a turn around the enclosure?”


“How can I refuse?”








"Well aren't we a merry group, darlings?" Mandy languidly drawled as she spotted her friends and walked over.

"You are at least a glass of champagne behind Mandy," Caroline smiled as she kissed her friend, "and didn't we see enough of each other last week?"

"No darlings," Mandy lifted off her sunglasses, "and besides I'm taking EVERY opportunity I get to get my dearest other half away from his pigs."




"Hello again Will?" Caroline let the Marquess kiss her, "she got you away from Yorkshire again I see."

"Yes," he took his top hat off to kiss Caroline, "but this and France will keep me from fretting too much I suspect."

"So are the boys here?"

"Well Jack is trying to find Nicola, but Billy already found Becca."

"And David?"

"Over there somewhere with assorted members of the McNally clan." Mandy pointed in a general direction.


“Well, this is a day for surprises,” Grace said as a well dressed man smiled and walked over, "What are you doing here and not in Rosville Guy?" 

"I have been shooed away for the day Grace my darling,” Guy said as he raised his top hat, “Valeria and Diana said I was cluttering up the place and put me on a plane this morning, I fly back tomorrow morning."

"Now how do I know a charming lie when I hear it?" Grace smiled. "For starters you had to apply in advance for admittance, and secondly my uncle blabbed about the secret meeting of the Jockey Club and the Breeders Association tonight."

"Shhh keep that quiet," Guy's eyes twinkled, "you will blow my cover as they say."

"I will try," Grace laughed. "Now there is someone who you'll be surprised to see here for the first time in many years."

"And who might that be Grace?"

"This lady." Grace pulled a sleeve and smiled as Olivia Treherran turned round.

"Olivia darling," Guy said as he embraced her, "and how the hell did they get you up here from the depths of Cornwall?"


“Accompanying Fiona of course – there is a mini reunion of the Europeans Debs today, with Charley attending.”


“Charley,” Paula Lardarn said as she joined them.


“Princess Charlotte – she and her parents have been at Windsor all week,” Olivia said, “you know Guy of course?”


“Of course – we’re all looking forward to the weekend, Guy.”


“It is going to be a very interesting time…”


“Of course – it recalls the song from My Fair Lady, no?”


“Perhaps – I see the Queen Anne is filling up as well…”



“We have to stop meeting like this,” Penny said as she approached the other two women in the other enclosure.


“We deserve a day off as well,” Sue said as she and Kay kissed Penny on the cheek.  “Not with the boss lady up there?”


“Not today – I have some business to conduct on her behalf – nothing to do with you two.”


“Anything to do with me?”


"Not in the Royal Enclosure Agnes,” Penny said with a smile, “you must know hundreds of people in there?"

"I do Penny,” Agnes McAdam said with a smile, “but there is no way they will ever let the notorious Lady D'eath into their holy of holy's."

"There was a time when THE McAdam of McAdam would have got automatic entry, and I know that because I've seen your photo album," Penny spoke quietly.

"Well I have the title, I own a ruined castle, but so called society quickly forgot a poor lady laird when they found out how I was making a living...especially when they heard I'd been in prison."

"You did three months Agnes...that is trivial."

"Yes but for prostitution offences...”  Looking up, Agnes smiled sadly and said “I have relatives in there would sooner walk in shit then acknowledge me."

"I know that feeling," Sue spoke, "look at my ex up there like a preening peacock."


"You see up there Paula Lardarn talking with Olivia Treharran...I wonder if they ever deign to remember we were friends at Benenden?" Agnes shook her head, and let a tear come.

"Should I ask them in France tomorrow?"

"No....better people, even the good ones like them, forget they even knew me Penny."

"You know for sixpence I'd phone Abby and get all three of you last minute invites to her party, I know she'd do it for me."

"No," Agnes sniffed another tear, "I'm sure so called high society the last thing it wants is to see ‘Banquo's ghosts’ like Susan and I."


"Why do you come to Royal Ascot Agnes?" Kay asked quietly.

"To torture myself by looking over there and seeing people I once counted as friends. It's the same reason I stand outside the Royal Caledonian Ball each spring, just to watch people going in."

"Agnes you were penniless, how did they expect you to put yourself through your Masters and Doctorate?" Penny asked.

"Well not becoming a dominatrix," Agnes let a tiny smile escape. "You know who the biggest hypocrites are?"

"No," Penny shook her head.

"Those who come to my dungeon, they never acknowledge they knew Agnes McAdam, but they are so so eager to avail themselves of Lady D'eath's services."

"Bastards," Sue let the word spit out. "Just like all those people gladly came to my wedding, and then shunned me when they found out where I'd come from."


“DO not dwell on what happened,” Agnes said quietly, “that way lies madness…”


"Agnes if people knew the truth?"

"What truth Penny? That Daddy died owing many thousands in gambling debts and that I felt duty bound to clear them."

"Yes...that you left yourself penniless and homeless in settling up for him, all while getting a first in your final exams at Oxford." Penny put an arm round her friend, "if people just knew?"

"No I was too proud to tell the world Daddy was a wastrel back then, and I'm too ashamed now of myself to own up." Agnes cried again, "just better i maybe take the train back home right now."

"No Agnes, stay with us and enjoy the races," Kay held her arm, "what's that saying, ‘never let the bastards ground you down?’"

"Yes it is Kay," Agnes let a tiny smile go.





“Paula,” Olivia said as she looked into the other enclosure, “your eyes are far better than mine.  The grey haired lady talking to those young women – does she look familiar to you?”


Paula Lardarn looked over, and said “she does, but I’m not sure why…”


“Olivia, Paula,” Grace said as she came over, “can I introduce you to my friends Shirley Xavier and Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello?  Shirley, Francesca, this is Lady Olivia Treharran and Duchess Paula Gaunt.”


“A true pleasure to meet you,” Paula said as she smiled, “I have heard of you, but what brings you here?”


“Well, I am based in London at the moment, and…  Shirley, is that Agnes there talking to Penelope?”


Shirley looked over and said “yes it is – I did not know she was coming today, or I may have invited her to join us.”


“Agnes…  My god, is that Agnes McAdam?  I did not know you knew her, Shirley?”


“I support some charities she works with, as does Francesca.  But how do you know her?”


“We were in the same class in Berendean,” Paula said, “I lost touch with her after she graduated from Oxford.  I wonder if I can get to talk to her…”



8 am

Mary Thomas’ Brownstone


“Hey there,” Mary said as she saw Mary Clarke come into the kitchen, looking at her phone, “what’s worrying you?  Kylie spend too much yesterday?”


"No…  Mary I need a favor?" Mary whispered.

"And what might that be love?"

"My PTA robe is at home, and Mother has called a wouldn't know where I can get hold of one...would you?"

"Ai actually I do, just leave that with me Mary darling."

"Oh THANK YOU Merlin, I guess I should have packed it?"

"For a gathering of the tribe like this, then just maybe you should have."

"I know better for next time.  What are you making?”


"Pancake batter – big breakfast needed…”



1 pm BST

Ascot Racecourse


“Where is Helen anyway?”


“In the office,” Penny said with a smile, “One of my colleagues is heading to Hong Kong to work with Helen in the next few weeks, and she wanted to outline a few things to her.”


“Lucky her,” Agnes said as an official walked over, and handed a slip of paper to Penny.  She glanced at it, then looked into the other enclosure, before she nodded.  “Girls, Agnes,” she said quietly, “come with me for a minute will you?”


“Where to?”


“Outside for a minute or two – I’ll explain when we get there,” Penny said as they started to make their way through the crowds, and into the area which sat behind both the enclosures.


“Penny what are we…”  Agnes stopped as she saw three very elegant women emerge from the Royal Enclosure – women she recognised instantly.


“Shirley, Francesca,” Penny said as they walked over, “this is a surprise, may I ask what has happened?”




“Agnes?  Good lord, it really is you,” the third woman said as Agnes looked over, her face a picture.  “Thanks for stepping out and coming to talk to me.”


“Perhaps a small introduction to Kay and Susan first,” Shirley said, “girls, this is Paula, Duchess of Lardarn, and Francesca, Marchesa di Cambrello.”


"And why would Your Grace wish to talk to me?" Agnes asked quietly as she looked at Paula.

"You can knock off the title Agnes we have known each other far too long for that." Paula looked angry.


“Perhaps,” Agnes said, “but we hardly move in the same circles any more, do we?”


"Irrelevant,” Paula said as she looked at the other woman.  “What happened to your hair Agnes?"

"It went grey while I was in prison Paula, I leave it like this so as to remind me of that."


Nodding, Paula said “Okay, I can understand that.  And I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t shocked about what happened – but that was the past Agnes.  Why didn’t you contact me or Olivia when you got out?  We wondered what happened to you, we wanted to help our old school friend…”


“You were both at school with Agnes?" Shirley asked in surprise.

"Yes back in the days when I was the Honourable Paula Addison-Priest, and she was Lady Olivia Peel, we were friends of Agnes.  I know to the day how old you are Aggie seeing as I was born in the same hospital, on the same day as you." Paula smiled.


“I know,” Agnes said quietly, “and I’m not going to pretend I haven’t missed both of you, but after the case, and my time inside, I knew your world would want no part of me…”


“No, I suspect many of them would not – but I did,” Paula did.  “Bad enough Olivia hid herself away in Cornwall – at least we talked and met from time to time.  But you…”


“Can you blame me?  Can you really blame me Paula?  I was shunned by everyone after that newspaper plastered my name over the front pages, and at that time, they closed ranks!”


“Yeah – I guess they did,” Paula said quietly, “and I’m personally sorry they did.”


“Besides – when it comes to you Paula, there is another reason.  Does 'she' ever say anything about me?" Agnes asked in a barely audible whisper.

"No, and if I've ever tried asking what she's heard about you she just clams up and changes the subject."

"Well my disgrace hurt her probably more than it did me."

"Have you spoken?"

"No," Agnes shook her head, "I tried ringing a few times, but as soon as she heard my voice she hung up."

"I'll be seeing her later..."

"She's not here is she?" Agnes looked very panicky.

"No." Paula shook her head, "she rarely leaves Ireland."


"Who are you and the Duchess talking about like that?" Penny asked.

"A woman called Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt...Mrs Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt."

"And who is she Agnes?"

For a few seconds Agnes tried to compose herself, and then she said "My sister."

"You have a sister?" again Penny looked amazed. "I thought I knew you Agnes, but all this...?"


“Agnes, I need to know - why did you do it?" Paula asked softly.

Agnes took a deep breath.  "Because what there was in the way of an inheritance went on paying off my father’s gambling bills, and I was faced with how did I pay for my own education, how would I pay school fees, etc.  I needed to rent a flat, provide food and clothing...  Oh life needs some kind of income Paula."

"And how did..."

"I answered an advertisement in the Evening Standard, not realising that what this tempting job sounded like was actually working as a dominatrix in a dungeon." Agnes smiled again, "I guess I was pretty naive back then.  Turned out, however, I was good at it – and so Lady D’Eath was born."


“I can understand that – and why you kept it secret,” Paula said softly.  “Then the weekend that article appeared…”


“My whole world came crashing down, and I lost everything.  Unlike you Susan, I never even got to the altar, my story broke in the 'News of the Screws' on the Sunday before the Saturday I was supposed to go down the aisle."

"You never told me that Agnes." Penny looked shocked.

"Oh yes - would you believe someone actually wanted to marry me at one time?"

"Who was he Agnes?"

"Oh let me just say I can see him right at this moment over on that side of the barrier with his wife."

"Goddess Agnes...That sucks." Sue shook her head.


“From what you say Paula I have even more sympathy for Agnes then I had before," Francesca said grimly, "we both seem to have made fatal choices that we thought were for the best and just ended up hurting the ones we love, and ourselves."

“But your sister,” Shirley said quietly…


"Tamsin had left Benenden just weeks before Agnes's downfall, she's never forgiven Agnes for what happened that summer,” Paula said quietly.  She fled to Ireland to live with a cousin, and well she met Christopher and he could see that Tam wasn't her sister, and he married her."

"Young Kit is Agnes's niece?" Shirley asked, "I met her in Kentucky."


“Yeah,” Agnes said, “where is she now?”


“At Benenden – my oldest girl, Eve, is in the same class as her, and John is dating her.”  Looking at Agnes, Paula said quietly “just how bad was it – inside?”


"That first night in Holloway was far,far worse then even my first night at boarding school Paula,” Agnes said quietly.  “I was frightened, scared, desperate...My hair turned grey overnight."


"I wear wigs or hoods, you obviously get that men don't find grey hair attractive." Agnes laughed.


“And you’re still?”


“Providing a service – yes, but more than that.  I help as many as I can of the runaways in the city – Shirley and Francesca support me in that.  Try to get them out of that life and better themselves.”


Shirley took her phone out and looked at it.  “I’m sorry – John and the others are looking for us.”


“Agnes – when I get back from this trip, the three of us have to meet up.  Somewhere quiet.  How can I…”


Agnes smiled and said “I’d like that – especially you two, but no others, please.  Shirley knows how to get in touch with me.”


Paula nodded, and then reached out, embracing Agnes as she did so, and whispered “I never judged you” before the three walked off.


“Well – that was intense,” Susan said, and then she stiffened as she heard a voice say “Susan – is that you?”


Turning slowly, she said “Charles, Roberta – how are you?”


“We are well,” Charles Gresham-Fox said as he stood in his morning suit.  “We never found out what happened that night, after Colin…”


“What did he tell you?”


“That you broke it off and ran off,” Roberta said quietly.  Susan looked at them, and then said quietly “that is not my recollection, perhaps you should ask him about the bonfire.  Forgive me – I need to return with my friends.”


“Susan…”  They watched as Susan walked off with Agnes, Kay and Penny, and then looked at each other.


“He lied to us, didn’t he?”


“Again – we need to talk to him…”




“We need to take up our positions, girls,” Caroline said as she ushered Ama, Maisha and Nyala to where Mandy was standing with the family, Pepsi and Nikki.


"So how was Aggie?" Olivia asked her old school friend as Paula joined her.

"She looks old,” Paula said quietly, “that grey hair, no makeup, she looks twenty years older than us."

"It's probably why we didn't recognise her straight away." Olivia thought for a second, "why doesn't she dye it?"

"Because she sees it as being another way of punishing herself...and I'm sorry to butt in." Francesca spoke.

"Punish herself?"

"Yes Olivia," Paula shook her head, "you know she probably did all this back then just to give Tam what she had had."

"Ah you caught that reference to school fees, etc." Francesca smiled.

"I did," Paula nodded.  “She loved her kid sister, and wanted to make sure she wanted for nothing.

"But I'm confused," Olivia knitted her brows, "what about her inheritance."

"She paid off her father’s gambling debts with it...I caught that as well Francesca."

"His debts? But why, surely when he died they became invalid?"

"Not to Agnes," Paula shook her head, "I should have remembered that oh so strong sense of duty of hers."

"So she sold everything, and then what?"

"She got a job...well doing you know what Olivia, and she raised Tam while doing her own advanced degrees at London University."

"And Tam never had a clue what she was doing to keep her at Benenden?"

"No Olivia." Paula shook her head.  “That’s why it was such a shock when the whole mess broke.”

"Why did she never come to us?"

"That same pride that made her pay her father's debts I guess, and besides we were both living in Paris at the time."


“But still – what does she do now?”


“She works in the city,” Shirley said, “providing support for those who need it most.”


“Actually, that is the sort of thing she would do,” Olivia said quietly as the group gathered round.


“Excuse me a minute – I’ll be right back,” Paula said to Tom as she walked over to another couple.


“Paula,” the man said as he saw her coming over, “I thought I saw you earlier.”


“Hello Donald, Catherine – enjoying the day so far?”


“I am – I’ll be back in a minute,” the blonde haired woman said as she walked to the toilets.


“Donald do you see that grey haired woman in the Queen Anne with the three younger women?"


"Down there," Paula pointed, "walking towards the rails."

"Yes I can see," he said as he looked through his binoculars, "Should I know her Paula, she looks familiar."

"Oh yes you should know her Donald,” Paula said quietly, “you were going to marry her at one stage."

"Agnes..." he let the word hang as he stood there open mouthed.


“I just talked to her,” Paula said, “and heard the truth of what happened.  If you get a chance, go and talk to her…”




“Uncle Charlie!  Aunt Roberta!  I didn’t know you were coming over as well!!”


“Well, I was summoned,” Charles Gresham-Fox said as he kissed his niece on the cheek.  “Here with your friends?”


“And some of our charges,” Grace said with a smile.


“Well, we made it just in time,” Roberta said, “it’s nearly two o’clock…”


"Do you want to know the stupid thing girls?" Agnes said as the group stood at the rails.

"Which is what Agnes?" Kay asked.

"That despite this wicked, sinful, life that I've led...I'm still a virgin."

"You are what?" Penny's hand started to shake as she poured the champagne.

"I'm a virgin Penny," Agnes shrugged her shoulders as she held her glass.

"But they did you for prostitution..."

"Oh I've performed plenty of blow jobs, etc during the course of my career...I just never had sex with anyone."

"Why?" Penny asked quietly as the grey haired woman drank her champagne.

"Because I was keeping it for my wedding night...believe it or not." Agnes laughed, "ridiculous isn't it?"


“Oh I don’t know,” Kay said, “It sounds a little romantic…”





The sound of the trumpets made everyone look up, as the announcement came over the loudspeakers.


“Please be upstanding for the Royal Parade.”


“Sorry – can’t do that,” Jeannie said as she sat by the rail, Barbara nodding as the girls stood either side of them.


“Remember boys,” Will said, “hats off as the cariage goes past.”


“Just follow our lead,” Guy said as they saw the carriages start to come down the course, two riders in the red Horse Guards outfit at the front.


As they approached, Guy removed his hat, the other men following suit as the first carriage came towards them, drawn by four grey horses and two riders.  Ama smiled as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh rode past, accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.


“She looks magnificent,” Shirley whispered to John as she looked at the Queen, in her pale pink coat dress and floral hat, her white gloves visible as she waved.  The Duchess was wearing a white lace effect dress with a matching hat.


“Kate looks fantastic as well,” Angel said as the second carriage approached, Rudi and Theresa waving as they sat on one side, and Charley on the other side.  While Rudi was in morning dress, Theresa wore a dark blue coat dress and white hat, and Charley a cream short sleeved dress and a large hat.



"Do you know the Queen of Ruritania Agnes?" Penny asked from their position in the enclosure, "I've met her socially, she's an old friend of several of my friends."

"Yes I know Terri," Agnes again tried smiling, "I roomed with her the term I spent as an exchange student at Esperance House in Lausanne. She's someone else I'd rather like to avoid embarrassing by running into."


“If they are the guests of the Windsors, that won’t be too difficult,” Kay said as the third carriage came past, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall waving with the Earl and Countess of Wessex.




“They all look so regal,” Nyala said as the carriages went past, “so the first race?”


“Once the Royal Party turn into and enter the Royal Enclosure,” Grace said, “they can make the preparations for the first race.”


As the last carriage went past, Guy and the others replaced their top hats, turning to watch as the first carriage turned left and came into a paddock next to the enclosure.

The liveried men got down from the back and opened the doors, folding out the steps as the Queen stepped to and walked in.


As she and the Duke of Edinburgh talked to some of the guests, William and Kate followed them in, and then the Royal Family of Ruritania came in, making a beee line for the group by the railings.


“Well you are a sight for sore eyes,” Charley said as she hugged Angel, Sam and Fi.  “And it is good to see you as well BS.”


“You too Flavia – how was it staying in the country?”


“George and his sister are real cuties – so come on, what have you been up to?”


“Intros first – you know Pepsi and Anna, but these are the rest of my friends, Nikki Colman, Rebecca Morse and Ama Jameson, as well as Ama’s friends Maisha and Nyala.”


“Your Royal Highness,” all the girls said as they curtseyed.


“Right – that stops right now,” Charley said with a smile.  “I’m Charley, and it’s a real pleasure to meet all of you – now gossip!”




"Who is that man in the grandstand staring so intently at us though his binocs?" Sue asked as she looked over.

"I don't know him," Kay looked.

"Nor me," Penny shaded her eyes to try and see better.

"It's Lord Donald Fitzstuart girls,” Agnes said quietly, “and I should have guessed that Paula would tell him I was here.”

"First," Penny said as she turned to look at her friend, "Is he related to Will Fitzstuart?"

"He's his younger brother."

"Secondly what is he?"

"Last I heard he was someone in the Foreign Office."

"And thirdly what is he to you?"

"He was the man I was going to marry Penny," Agnes's tears started to flow again as she looked over.




“Donald – what’s wrong,” Will said as he stood next to his brother.


“Will – cover for me will you,” Donald said as he turned round.


“Why – Donald?”


“I’ll explain later,” he said as he walked quickly off.  “What’s got Uncle Donald rattled,” Jack asked as he came over with Pepsi.


“I have no idea – your royal highnesses,” Will said as he bowed to Rudi and Terri.


“Okay – don’t do that today Will.  Where are the rest of your family…”



Walking quickly down to the entrance to the Queen Anne Enclosure, he had a word with the two security guards, watching nervously as one of them went inside.


“She has to come,” he thought to himself, “there’s so much…”


“Is this the lady, sir?”


Donald turned and looked at her, grey haired, face lined, but he recognised her instantly.


“Yes it is,” he said quietly, “Agnes, thank you for stepping out for a minute?”


“Well, I wanted to put a bet on the first race anyway,” Agnes said quietly as they walked into a corner.   “It’s been a long time Donald – twenty years.”


“Well,” Donald said quietly, “after what happened, I got the feeling I would be one of the last people you wanted to see.  I didn’t exactly part on good terms with you, did I?”


“Slight understatement Donald,” Agnes said quietly, “but then, you were always the diplomat, the well chosen word…  You know of all the things that happened Donald, what was the most disappointing?" Agnes tried to smile.

"What was Aggie?"

"That you did it by letter...I thought you'd have more courage."

"Meaning what?"

"That you'd at least be brave enough to come see me and tell me it was off."

"I got as far as your doorstep...and then..." Donald shook his head.

"And you were wrong in one thing you said in the letter Donald, despite what you thought, and you might have heard, I was...and for that matter, I still am...a virgin, just like I promised you I would be all those years ago."


Donald shook his head and said " can you still be...they convicted you of being"

"Donald you can say the word. They convicted me of being a common prostitute."

"But how?"

"Oh you can perform a lot of sex acts Donald, without losing your virginity Donald," Aggie laughed bitterly, "I could have made a lot of money selling my body Donald, but I kept it for you."

" long were you in prison?"

"I got two years, but through my solicitor I got a word to someone who knew me from the Home Office saying I might tell names...They let me out after three months."


"What was the reason for letting you go?"

"I was a wreck, I'd gone grey that very first night in prison...they decided that given my mental state they should release least that was the official explanation."


"But you went back to being...her?"

"Only after it became clear no company, or no university would hire Lady D'eath Donald. Tam had fled to Ireland, I had tried going straight, I was existing on the dole so I thought to myself one night, why not go back?...So I did, and I'm still there."


"What was prison like Aggie?"

"Oh a bit like Benenden,” Agnes said quietly, “but with guards rather than teachers telling you where you were supposed to be at every hour of the day."

"What did they have you doing?"

"I worked in the library, I suspect they hadn't ever thought out what to do with a whore who not only had a Phd, but was a clan chieftain as they put me where they thought I'd at least use a little of my brains."


“Aggie…  I know I was a coward, and I hurt you, but…”


"By the way Donald why Catherine? I knew her well enough to know she wasn't the moral paragon you thought I was."

"Because Aggie,” he said as he looked away, “she said she was pregnant."

"So your standards slipped Donald and you had sex with her?" Agnes looked amused.

"Yes...but it turned out she wasn't."

"Oh you fell for that old trick...Honestly Donald I hope the other senior men at the FO have more brains then you," Agnes laughed, "No wonder we might be on the point of leaving the EEC."

"You think?"

"Donald when we were a couple she had the worst crush on you, she even tried to break us up...No wonder she got in there so quickly after my shaming. So how is Catherine anyway Donald?" Agnes said quietly.

"She's doing well Agnes."

"You know i was at your wedding?"


"Not inside the church, but I stood outside crying...people just thought I was a crazy woman who cried at weddings."


She could see the regret in his eyes, but said nothing as he said “I…  I need to get back, but if you ever need anything…”


“I survive Donald – go, be the man you became.”


Nodding, he whispered “Goodbye Agnes” and walked off, Agnes watching him before she walked back in.





Will looked over as his brother walked back, Catherine stopping him and talking to him.


“Is there a problem Darling,” Mandy said as she looked over.


“I’m not sure – something’s happened, but I have no idea what.  I’ll see if I can talk to him later.”


“Well, I am going to collect my winnings from the first race – I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she drawled as she walked off.





"Girls I had better go home," a very tearful looking Agnes said as she kissed her three younger friends."

"But it’s still early Agnes," Penny replied.

"Yes I know, but I've had my annual bout of envy, self-loathing, and torture. Time I went before I ruin someone else's life by talking with them."


"No Sue, you girls be good and back winners...Penny I'll see you probably at Madame's...Bye girls." Agnes turned and walked away back under the stands.


“Should we…”


“No,” Penny said quietly, “Better she does this alone.”



Agnes walked slowly towards the betting area, and handed her ticket in, collecting her winnings before she turned and saw the grey-red headed woman facing her at the next booth.


“Oh – forgive me darling,” she said with a drawl as she looked at Agnes.


“Nothing to forgive,” Agnes said as she walked off – and then stopped as she felt a hand on her shoulder.


“Agnes – Agnes McAdam, is that really you?”


Sighing, she turned and said “Hello Amanda – it’s been a long time.”


“I know – but it is still a shock to see you here.  Did you know Donald was…”


“I did – I talked to him a few minutes ago,” Agnes said quietly.  “It’s probably better I slip away before Catherine hears I am around, and some things are said that are best left unsaid.”


“Look,” Mandy said quietly, “the past is the past – and I never agreed with what he did anyway.  If you ever want to visit…”


“No – I am not part of that world any more Amanda – and I don’t want to upset any others.  Excuse me…”


As Agnes walked quickly off, Mandy watched her leave, wishing there was something she could have said.


“There you are,” Will said as she walked back over, “what’s wrong?”


“I…  I just literally bumped into Agnes McAdam,” she whispered.


“You did?  That would explain…  Let’s not talk about this now, all right?  We can talk later…”



“So how are we doing girls,” Shirley asked as she walked over.


“Officially or unofficially,” Pepsi asked.  “I cannot bet of course, but I am ahead with a few well placed tips…”


“And we have followed her lead Miss Xavier,” Nayla said with a smile.


“Oh?  And this would be from the young Viscount?”


“Nope,” Angel said as she walked over, “he’s been following my tips this week.”



"Why do I even bother coming to the races Donnie?" Will asked as the horse he had backed finished back in the back.

"You come bro because it's what is expected of a Marquess, and because Mandy would kill you if she couldn't get to strut her stuff in her very best at least for one week of the year."

"I know, I know," Will smiled, "but she backs winners...How does she do it?"

"By assiduously NOT betting on anything you are Will."

"I guess," Will shook his head, then whispered, "have you recovered from the shock of seeing Aggie earlier?"

"No, and I'm not sure I ever will...She looked so horrid."

"Her hair is still as long and thick and beautiful as it ever was Donnie, but it being grey like that makes her look far older then she is."

"Is she still MY Aggie Will?"

"Underneath probably bro, but she has had to establish a front to stop herself getting hurt like that again."


“I can’t say I blame her,” Donald said quietly, “I just pray Catherine didn’t see her and recognise her.”




"Alright I'll accept that there is no room for the likes of me over that side," Sue spoke softly as she and Kay waited in line to collect their winnings, "but Aggie is one of them, she has a far posher heritage then most of those bastards have."

"There are some who would welcome her back I think," Kay nodded to where they could see Mandy, Olivia, and Paula collecting their winnings from one of the rails bookmakers, "but as long as most people just remember Aggie for one thing, then she will still punish herself."

"And she'll never be able to go in there again anyway Sue," Penny joined them, "a criminal record is a permanent disqualifier from admittance to the Royal Enclosure."

"Personally I don't see what the big woohoo is anyway," Sue looked across the divide, "that bloody wanker Colin took me in there for one Royal Ascot, him and his bloody snobby Oxford friends..."

"That bad Sue?" 

"Oh not really Kay, they pretended well enough to accept me...but I knew they were really thinking, get back where you belong whore."




"Why are Penny and her friends over there?" Doc asked, "while we are over here?"

"That great divider that is called the British Class System," Jack looked upset for a second. "on this side we are regarded as ladies and gentlemen, over there they are just men and women."

"Jack have you had too much champagne? that makes no sense."

"Oh it does here in Britain Anna."

"Penny is far more of a lady then I'll ever be," Anna looked hard down at Madame's number two.


“I agree.”


“Simon,” Jack said as Simon Leventhal joined them, “I suspect you feel the same way?”


“Indeed – there are some parts of our society that just make no sense in the modern world – that someone like Penelope Harker, who supports charities and is a powerful businesswoman, cannot enter the Royal Enclosure while certain, shall we say, less desirable members of society can?  It just is not right.”


“So why do you tolerate it?”


“Because of her,” Simon said as he looked at Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.  “She is one of the most beloved women in the country for the right reasons, and so we allow protocol at things like this.  One day, she will pass on, and then things may change…”





"So how is the riding going Marnie?" Tony McNally asked as they stood by the parade ring.

"Sir William Hyde-Andrews has let us ride work with his string at Newmarket on a couple of occasions...but don't let Missy hear, or Angel and I will be so deep in the shit."

"Well he won't hear from me," Tony smiled. "And I can safely take it that it was Lady Leventhal made the arrangements?"

"Yes...she's been wonderful."

"Well don't let him hear, but Simon is a credit to his parents...and I know he's an old mate of mine, but Cambridge really seems to have agreed with him. He's grown up a lot since Harrow."


"Hello Jimmy, Hello Daffy," Colin said as he shook hands with the man, and kissed the woman, "are you winning?"

"Just about," Lady Davina smiled.

"I saw you both got summoned to the presence earlier?"

"Yes, protocol said I had to do my bow...silly really when I see the family all the time and don't have to do that."

"I know Daffy," Queen Therese joined them, "it's a bloody silly ritual."

"It is Terry...alright I had better make an introduction, Colin Gresham-Fox meet her Royal Highness the Queen of Ruritania."

"Your Majesty," Colin said as he bowed.

"Please make that the last time young man," Terry smiled, "now are you one of Grace's brothers?"

"No I'm a cousin Your Majesty."

"Daffy hit him for me...Young man my name is Terry, and as the cousin of one of my oldest friends I think you can safely call me that."

"Alright, and I'm Colin."

"Good, first names are just so much friendlier, don't you think?”


“Indeed – so you are here for the week?”


“No – tomorrow I like many of my friends here journey to France to attend the eighteenth birthday ball of the daughter of another dear friend – the Countess de Ros?”


“Ah – you mean Abigail de Ros?  I have, of course, seen her photographs,” Colin said with a smile.  “Will it be a large gathering?”


“I believe most of the fashion world, and many family friends, will be there,” Terry said as she smiled.


"Mister Gresham-Fox?”


“Yes,” Colin said as he looked round.


“I have a message for you?" one of the men in the green coats and top hats said.

"Thank you," Donald took the piece of paper and read.

"Have you missed me cretin? Who's that bimbo you are with? She looks about as intelligent as those idiots raided the house that time. Still I bet she aint a whore is she...probably gives it away rather then she sells it...Or are you reduced to buying it now?"

Colin shook his head, he didn't bother looking for a signature, he recognised both his ex-wives tone, and her handwriting.  He looked down into the Queen Anne enclosure and saw through his glasses Sue holding two fingers up in the air looking back at him.


“Will you take a reply for me – Miss Sue Morgan or Miss Susan Fletcher, whichever will receive it?”


The attendant nodded as he took out a slip of paper and a pen.


"Miss Morgan, or Miss Fletcher darling?" Mandy asked Colin as he gave the messenger the note.

"She can be both, she used Sue Morgan as an alias."

"But her real name is Susan Fletcher?"

"So I'm assured, but given her past record Mandy, I'm not sure she even told me the truth about that."





"Well he got the fucking message," Sue laughed as she saw Colin look away.

"Sue Fletcher, that was nasty of you," Kay shook her head.

"Well he bloody well deserves it...and don't tell me he don't Kay...remember?"

"I remember it all Sue, but is this pecking away at him helping put things to rest?"

"It's damn well helping me."

"I'm just glad that neither he, nor us will be at Rosville this weekend," Kay shook her head.

"No he and his Tory pals will be figuring out what to do after the referendum decides we are going to stay in Europe."

"What side is Colin on?"

"The sceptics...shows you how bleedin' stupid he is."

"Are you Miss Morgan...or Miss Fletcher?" an attendant asked.

"I can be both...why?"

"I have a message for you."

"Oh thank you?" Sue took it and laughed.

"So what does it say?"

"Drop dead Sue."






"So is this the perfect way to finish the British leg of the trip or not?" Barbara asked.

"I'm enjoying myself if no one else is." Jeannie smiled. "Everyone has far too good manners to hassle me."

"I noticed people recognising you but not saying anything darling...  So are you winning?"

"Well Jack had been placing bets for both me and Pepsi, and I think all three of us are up."

"Well I'm not," Nikki joined them, "I heard that last animal was a certainty?"

"You haven't been listening to my Dad," Pepsi laughed, "there isn't such a thing."

"So both your families will be getting set for the flight Peps?"

"Yeah, I can't wait to see them all…  I have so much to tell them."

"About a certain magical night in Cambridge," Nikki replied.

"Yes, especially that." Pepsi blushed. "But above all I must thank Mom Janice for sending 'Kimberley' those roses."






"Did you ever see such two doleful men in all your life Grace," Harriet pointed to the two men looking over the stands railing. "they must both be losing a fortune."

"No they haven't been losing much today Harriet," Grace shook her head, "they are both lamenting old losses."

"And how do you know that?"

"Because one is my cousin, the other I've known since we were children."

"So if you know them so well, why are they both looking so sad?"

"Because they both chose losers in the Love Stakes..."

"Is that a big race?"

"For most people it is, both fell in love with women who got themselves enmeshed in scandal, and now they are both lamenting the loss of the women they truly love."

"So who is the stunning blonde who just joined him?' Harriet pointed as she walked over.

"His wife."

"But didn't you say he'd lost his love."

"I did Harriet...and the wicked bitch of the west is who he actually tied himself to."





"Did I hear a rumour that the tart was here Donald?" Catherine whispered as she brushed some lint from his morning coat.

"Not from me you didn't," Donald tried to make a clever retort.

"Just remember Darling, I know all about her...”


“If she was here, Catherine, I hardly think she’d want to talk to me, would she,” Donald said tersely.  She looked at him, thinking to herself “if I hear you've been sniffing round her...and POOF just like that I'll re-blacken her name, and you can kiss your ambassadorship goodbye."




"Hello Daffy, having fun?"

"More fun than you seem to be having Donald darling." Lady Davina looked sympathetic as she joined him.  "Penny for them?"

"Oh my thoughts aren't worth that much..."

"Oh?  Something I don't know about Donald?"

"Long before your time Daffy, I was just dreaming what might have once been."

"Ah...I heard about that from Mummy and Daddy when I was growing up."

"Just be glad you have Jimmy darling, and whatever you don't let him go...Never be as stupid as I was."

"Are those tears," Davina said as she retrieved a handkerchief from her handbag."

"No I just got an insect in my eye," Donald turned and put a smile on his face, "well you backed another winner Catherine my love."


“I always do Donald – Davina darling, how are you?”


“Doing well Catherine – I hear something is about to be announced?”


“we will see, we will see…”




For a couple of hours Agnes sat in the lavatory on Ascot station, crying and telling herself off for even coming today. All she had accomplished was to make her humiliation worse, and her heart heavier after seeing so many people she had once loved and cared for...No correction...people she still loved and cared for.

Donald had looked so wonderful, even now, and Catherine was stunning. She hoped Donald was happy and she felt pride that she had heard he might be the next British Ambassador in Paris. He'd worked so hard in his career, it would be his just rewards for all he had done...all he had endured because of her.

Olivia, Paula, and Mandy were all so chic. She looked down at her own outfit and reflected how bad she looked in comparison, still she had better things then to buy clothes for herself, this might be fifteen years or more old, but it was not damaged, and what did fashion matter to her?

Today was Wednesday, it had been two weeks since Sergeant Bennett had last made his unwelcome self pop up to harass her. Odds on she'd get a raid in the morning, she wondered what excuse he would use this time? 

"Friday I'll go back to work." she told herself, "I'll take tomorrow off as well. maybe go take a long walk in Hyde Park..."

Quietly she let the tears come again. Tomorrow was Ladies Day here, she remembered the last Ladies Day before her father died, how proud he had looked of her and Tamsin, the compliment Her Majesty had paid to her outfit.

"Oh that was so long ago, and it was another woman," she reminded herself, "why torment yourself Agnes McAdam?"


Hearing her train announced, she stood up and slipped out, getting in and sitting down, hoping nobody saw her…




"Well,” Kay said as she looked round, “do you want to watch the last race, or go home Sue?"

"Might as well go Kay, I'm winning, I annoyed that prat Colin, all in all in its not been a bad afternoon."

"Who is he chatting to right now?"

"I don't know her, probably some toffee nosed bitch."

"Actually she's one of Madame's people," Penny spoke softly. "Her name is Lady Davina Hatton...Daffy to her friends."

"Well she still looks posh."

"Sue you just hate to see him with anyone else."

"Oh like I give give a damn what bleedin'  Colin Gresham-Fox does."


Kay and Penny looked at each other, shrugging their shoulders as they prepared to leave.





5.30 pm BST

Fountains Abbey, Paddington


Agnes slipped quietly into the bar, walking up to the bar and ordering her drink before she went to a quiet table, sitting down and reading the paper she had bought as she took a sip.


"Good Afternoon Agnes."

"Oh Lord,” Agnes said as she looked up at the thin man standing there, casually dressed but with an air of authority about him, “can't I even have a quiet drink on my way home from the races Chief Inspector Babbage?"  She saw the rueful smile on his face, and indicated for the plain clothes policeman to sit down.  "What am I supposed to have done this time?"

"As far as I know nothing Agnes,” the policeman said as he sat opposite her.  “Do you have a guilty conscience?"

"What do you think DCI Babbage?" Agnes laughed, "and since when do you lot need an excuse to rattle my cage?"

"Aggie there was a time you called me Mike."

"Well that was when I was a nice young thing, and you were the guy dating my roommate at Somerville...a lot has changed since then, including you becoming Inspector Bloody Morse, and me going to prison." As she finished speaking, Aggie rolled her eyes and breathed deeply.  "I'm sorry Mike,” she eventually said, “that was bad manners on my part, how is Sherry?"

"She's fine Aggie, and Alice my oldest is hoping to get into Somerville."

"Good for her. I'm genuinely happy for you Mike."

"Look Aggie,” Mike said as he leaned forward, “I'm trying to get that idiot Bennett off your back, but what you do with those kids, any judge is going to see that as giving due cause to get a warrant."

"Mike you know very well I don't run those poor kids lives, all I can do is suggest what they might try to do... if they end up shoplifting, it isn't me fencing the stuff for them."

"I know that, you know that...”  He took a sip from his own drink, and said “but others just look at your 'work' and your record Aggie, they put two and two together...and?"

"I know very well the answer they come up with Mike." Aggie whispered.

"Look I've said it before, and I'll say it again – Agnes, you need to give all this up."

"Well Detective Chief Inspector,” Agnes said quietly, “the day I can walk through Soho and not see some poor girl shivering to death trying to sleep in an alleyway... Then I will."

"I know Aggie, it tears my heart out seeing them as well."

"Changing the subject,” Aggie said as she sipped her own drink, “I saw Donald briefly earlier."

"At Ascot?"

"Yes, some old friends spotted me, and he tried to talk."

"You know,” Mike said quietly, “that he is probably getting the Paris embassy?"

"I'd heard the whispers...I'm just so proud of him Mike."

"Well a friend at mine at Five asked if I had anything on him?"

"Since when do detectives do vetting?"

"We don't...but he knew I was an old friend of his."

"Did you tell him all about me?"

"Yes, I gave him chapter and verse...”  Taking another sip, he said “It was my duty Aggie, not something I enjoyed."

"Well I've been out of his life for twenty years Mike."

"I told them that Agnes."

"Thank you Mike... if on top all the harm I did, I cost him Paris, I'd kill myself."

Looking at her, the detective said quietly "You've never stopped loving him have you Aggie?"

"Who me?  I'm a whore DCI Babbage, we aren't allowed to love anyone."

"It still doesn't mean you don't though...does it."

"Just call it our little secret Mike...Look my cat is going to need feeding, I better get home."

"It's been nice chatting Aggie."

"I know Mike, and for once without you hauling me in for questioning." Agnes smiled and stood up, "Please say Hello to Sherry for me, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for Alice."

"Bye Agnes...Keep safe."

"Oh don't worry about me Mike," she shook her grey hair, "I'm a bloody survivor."


“Yeah you are – but everyone has their limits,” Mike said as he watched her walk out.  There had to be something he could do – but what?”





“Well,” Caroline said as the last race finished, “I think it is about time for us to head back.”


“I will see you tomorrow,” Ama said as she hugged Maisha and Nyala, “journey safely sisters.”


“And you sister – we have a very special weekend ahead of us,” Nylala said with a smile.




“What do you mean they put the wrong date on the tickets?  Well can it be changed?”


“What’s happened,” Claire said as she looked at Tom.


“The travel agency – the bookings we have for our flight are for Friday instead of Thursday,” Tom said quietly as he put his hand over his phone.  “They cannot?  Well, can the hotel extend our booking here and change our booking there?


“So Rosville is taken care of?  Good – and the Savoy?


“Fine – we’ll head back there and take it from there.”


“Is there a problem,” Simon said as he walked over with Bobbi.


“We’re going to be staying in London for an extra day I’m afraid,” Claire said as Simon’s parents came over.


“Well, we’ll change our travel plans as well,” Yvonne said, “I want us to travel over as a party, if that is all right with you?”


“Sounds good to me – even if it means little sis gets there a day before us.”


“Oh I think we can trust to Grace and the others to keep an eye on her…”




"Well our American and Canadian friends will be collecting at the airport about now darling?" Mandy drawled very softly as the royal party entered the parade ring.


“Indeed – I wonder what they’re thinking,” Grace said as they watched…




1 pm

JFK Airport


“Well, this is going to be an interesting trip,” Jo said as she went into the private lounge, Sands and George walking with her.


“Tell me about it,” George said as he went and looked out of the window, “All of us on the same plane?  If this was a company…”


“They would not allow it,” his father said as he joined him, Orlanda holding Jennifer’s hand as she clutched her doll with her spare arm, “but then, this is a very special occasion, right Princess?”


“Yes Dad,” Sands said, smiling as she saw Holly come in with Tommy.




“So have you heard much from her,” Elaine said as she and Bradley walked into the room with Grant and April.


“Only that they have had a fun if busy time, and she really enjoyed the ball in Cambridge,” April said, “and then there is the news about Ama.”


“I know,” Grant said, “it must have been a huge shock to her to find her sister alive and well.  I hope we get to meet her at some point.”


“According to Caroline, they’re hoping to arrange a visit in August,” April said, “when they’re all off school and the travel pains have eased.”


“I know – she goes from France to Australia, then back to London, then home?  Rather her than me…”




"Joey settle down," Trina laughed as the petite Canadian model fidgeted in her chair in the waiting room.

"I know, I know, but I've had three cups of coffee already this morning."

"Oh is that what has made you so jumpy.”

"It's just I want to be awake when we get to France so I can take it all in."

"Joey darling, me the American, you the European aristocrat, shouldn't it be me getting excited?" Trina laughed.




"Are they on board safely Blair?" Sarah asked both quietly and nervously.

"They are, and stop worrying Sarah, how I've hid them no screening that I know of will see them."

"Okay, it's just that I'm not used to trying to get a fortune in 'hot' gems out of the country."





“I still don’t believe we’re here,” Eva Eckholm said as she looked round the lounge, taking in everyone that was sitting there.


“Well, with the younger kids off at camp, at least we could accept this invitation – amazing as it is,” Andy said as she sat with his wife and Denice.  “But why have we been invited?”


“Well,” Denice said as she saw Emma Carlton talking to Sandy, “here’s the thing about we Kirkham parents – and it’s something both I and Emma discovered – we’re part of the Saints and Sinners, even if it takes a while for us to realise what that can mean.  For me, it was going out for dinner and meeting some of Juliette’s friends.  For you, it’s an invitation to come to Abby’s party – all expenses paid.”


“But a chartered jet there and back?”


“Not to mention a long weekend in France,” Denice said with a smile.  “Then you come back, some of us go to the UK, some to other places – but look at it another way.  You get to meet all the others at one go…”




“Wow – just wow,” Melinda said as she stood with Erica and Jess, “I’m a kid from the ‘burbs, and suddenly here I am, waiting to get on a plane filled with people going to the same place…”


“Welcome to the world of Angels,” Erica said with a smile as she sipped her Coca Cola.  “Sinners All.”


“Sinners All,” Poppy said as she joined them.  “Hey Melinda – glad you could make it.”


“So what is the plan for the flight over?”


“Depends what Guy arranged in terms of inflight entertainment,” Poppy said, “but I guess we play it by ear.  There are coaches meeting us at the airport tomorrow to bring us directly to Rosville.”


“The town is named after her?”


“After her family,” Erica said, “but I’m sure it will be fine…”





“Well, here we are,” Mary Thomas said as the Clarke family looked round, “go and find somewhere to sit down, gran a drink, relax – they’ll tell us when to board.”


“On you go,” Mary said as he younger sisters and brothers went to the windows, Dave taking Sally to the bar as her father looked round.


“David,” Missy said as she waved, “come with Mary and join us.”


“Go on Pops,” Mary said, “I want to talk to Trina and the others anyway…”




“Oh wow – everyone who is anyone is here,” Katy said as she walked in with Janice and Adam, Katherine following with Eleanor and Veronica.


“Yeah – this is going to be some flight,” Janice said as she saw the Rochermanns talking to the van Roons.  “And the room is filling up.”


“I just heard from Rose,” Katherine said, “she’s ready to come tomorrow in the train with Maeve.”


“I also heard from mother,” Kylie drawled as she walked over with Marina, “she and the others will arrive on Friday in time for the party.”


“It really is coming together,” Eleanor said as she looked round, “and I intend to enjoy this break.”


“So do I,” Veronica said, “let’s get a drink and relax.”





7 pm BST



Agnes slowly closed the door behind herself and walked into the small, cramped main room of her flat, dropping her bag on the old settee and sitting down herself, before she buried her face in her hands and started crying.


The tears were real, genuine, and as she sobbed a large grey Persian cat came in from the kitchen and sat at her feet.


“Hey Tippy Toes,” Agnes finally said as she looked down, “are you hungry?”


As the cat purred, she stood up and looked at the pictures on the mantelpiece, showing her graduation, and with a thin, dark haired girl smiling next to her.  Shaking her head, she went through the old curtain, and then came back with a small bowl of water and a second one of cat food.


“There you go,” she said as she stroked the back of the Persian, “I’ll…”


The knock on the door took her by surprise, as she looked round.


"I'm coming," Agnes sniffed back her tears as she went to answer the door, "but if you are from work I'm going to kill you, this is my day off."

"No I'm not from work" Francesca smiled as Agnes opened the door, and stared at her.  “I heard you had left in a hurry, and got your address from Shirley.”

"Oh Marchesa...I mean Francesca, what must you think,” Agnes said as she wiped her eyes, “I look a total sight."

"You look fine Agnes.  Can I come in?"

“Of course – please,” Agnes said as she stood to the side, Francesca smiling as she came in.  "Can I offer you some tea?"

"I'd prefer coffee."

"It's only instant," Agnes said as they went into the front area, and she pulled back the curtain hiding the tiny kitchen space.

"That will do," Francesca said as she sat down, the cat looking up at her before she went back to her food.

"Alright – but don’t say I didn’t warn you," Agnes said as she filled the kettle and plugged it in, Francesca looking at the books, the photographs, and then the furniture.

"Agnes,” she eventually said, “even I have to ask, why do you live like this?"

"Oh this suits me...and pardon the piles of books everywhere."

"Agnes you must make a fortune from your dungeon, and yet you live like you are on public welfare...Why?"

"I don't leaves more money for important things I guess," Agnes shrugged her shoulders as the kettle came to a boil. 

"Still..." Francesca took a cup of brown liquid and sniffed it.

"I know this is awful coffee, but it’s cheap," Agnes looked ashamed as she sat down and sipped her own coffee, then grimaced.

"Darling…  Why?”


“Why what, Francesca?”


“Why are you hurting yourself like this?"

"Who says I'm hurting myself."

"This coffee?  Seriously, though, I do, because I've done it to myself for so many years, and," Francesca said as she lifted her sleeve up to reveal fresh scars, "I still do."

"You are a cutter Francesca?”  Agnes put her cup down and said “but why?"

"Because even now I can't quite forgive myself for destroying my family, losing the only man I ever loved, and for 25 years not knowing my daughter, or having a part in her life.  I know I am incredibly blessed, but still…"

"That's terrible," Agnes whispered.

"It's why I became an assassin,” Francesca said quietly, “not to kill others, but to kill the pain inside myself."


"And I will bet that killing the pain inside is just what you are doing?" Francesca smiled, "and at least in part by drinking coffee like this?"

"I told you it was cheap," Agnes shrugged.

"I asked a few questions today, after you had gone, and listened to a lot of people talk about you."

"And what did they say? Little good I suspect."  The grey haired woman laughed bitterly as she held her cup.

"Actually no, you still have some friends Agnes."

"You mean Paula and Olivia?"

"I also mean Penny and her friends.  And then there’s Peri…"


“Peri?  When did you meet her?”


“She’s my secretary in my office here.”

"Well,” Agnes said as she looked at one picture, of her with some younger boys and girls, “they are wonderful girls."

"Shirley thinks the world of you as well..."

"But she would never introduce me to John," Agnes interrupted, "I'm not sure my cousin would be very welcoming anyway even if she did.  It's why I teach Maisha when he is away."

Francesca stared at the other woman, before she said "John is your cousin...Does Shirley know?"

"Well I've never told her, and I suspect he has never mentioned me."

"But how? Why?"

"His mother,” Agnes said as she took a drink, “was my grandmother’s sister."

"But John is so amazingly nice, why would he...?"

"Because even he is ashamed to share blood with me." A tear dropped from Agnes's eye, "he made that very clear twenty years ago."

"Horrible..." Francesca shook her head.

"Oh there was worse, another cousin slapped me several times when I went to ask for help."

"Well, I was deported as a spy from South Africa and had to leave behind my husband, and my 6 day old daughter."

"I had heard and read that Francesca."

"Did you know, in the days before he died, he wrote a letter forgiving me?"

"No…  That I didn't."

“So perhaps, having met Paula and Olivia today…”


“And Mandy – I bumped into her, but ran off before I really started crying.”


“Well, perhaps there is hope for forgiveness and a fresh start for you as well?”


"Something tells me Donald will never be as forgiving, and beside he married someone else...And as for my sister?"

"Donald Fitzstuart is to you, as my James was to me."

"I suppose so."

"Agnes,” Francesca said as she took the mug, and put them both down, “we have both punished ourselves far too..."

The words were left unsaid as both women let the tears start to roll out, holding each other as the cat settled at their feet.



9 pm BST



“There you are,” Eve Gaunt said as she looked up and saw Cassandra come in with the family, “I was wondering what had happened.”


“We’re here now Mum – hey Tamsin.  Good to see you again.”


“And you Cassandra,” Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt said as they hugged each other.  Although in her early forties, she was slim with long brown hair.  “Is my daughter with you?”


“Yes I am Mummy,” Kit said as she came in with John, still wearing her school uniform.  “The others are just coming in now.”


“Hey Aunt Tamsin,” Eve said as she came in with Aileen and Clodagh, “how’s the homestead been?”


“Quiet without you,” Tamsin said with a smile.


“Okay you lot,” Tom said as he put his hat on the table, “everyone up and get changed, and we’ll sort out some supper.”


“Tam,” Paula said as she hugged her old friend, “I need to talk to you – in private.”


“I swear, I haven’t done anything…”


“This is serious,” Paula said as she indicated that her old friend should follow her into the drawing room, closing the door behind both of them.  “I met an old school friend today at Ascot?”


“Well, it’s not surprising,” Tamsin said with a smile, “who was…”


“It was Agnes.”


She watched as her old friend’s face suddenly hardened, before she said “and what was she doing there?”


“She was there with friends – at least, that’s what I thought at first, but…  Sit down, Tam, I’ll pour us both a drink.”


As she sat down, Tamsin watched Paula pour two glasses of whiskey out, and hand her one.  “I hardly recognised her, until some mutual friends told me who it was.”


“So was she selling herself?”


“No…  Tam, I discovered the truth today, about why she did what she did.”


“Oh – and what excuses did the whore cook up?”


“None – Tam, Aggie offered no excuses, in fact she admitted what she has done all these years."


"She's an unapologetic whore is she?"


"Tam you are being too harsh, reading between the lines, I think she did it to support you.”


“To…  To support me?  Paula, I know you were at school with her, but surely…”


“I’m serious.  How do you think your fees, etc, were paid at Benenden Tam, when she was a postgraduate student, doing her research?”


“From my trust fund that Daddy left me.”


“Tam,” Paula said quietly, “I adored your father, he was a charming old rogue, but he left relatively little, and what there was Agnes sold to pay off his large gambling debts.”


“No, No,” Tamsin said as she shook her head, “he left me well provided for….Agnes told me so…Paula I can show you the receipts.”


“Darling, that money comes from Agnes,” Paula blinked back a tear.  “She made it look that way to make sure nobody asked any questions.”


Tamsin stared at Paula, before she said “but under Daddy’s will, Kit’s fees at school are also paid from the fund…aren’t they?”


“I don’t think so Tam, again I think Agnes pays that.”


“Oh no that idea is too ridiculous for words,” Tamsin shook her head and sipped her drink.


“Is it really Tam?  Look - forget what she’s done to earn the money and remember Agnes as she once was, isn’t this just the sort of thing she would do?”


Tamsin stared at Paula, before she slowly nodded and said “yeah – she always put me first, even when Daddy was alive…” 


“Tam I’m guessing that the reason she never told you all of this was that she knew you idolized your father.”


“So…  So she made me think for all these years I had a trust fund, and all these years I’ve been getting her immoral earnings Paula?”


“If I have pieced this together correctly then yes Tam,” Paula nodded seriously.   “And it’s not just you – whatever else she does, I learned today she has devoted her life to helping runaways in London nor get sucked into the worst side of that city.”


“She what?”


“She runs an unofficial school, makes sure they are educated, know what to do and where to go, and stay off drugs and out of trouble.”  Sipping her drink, Paula continued “according to my friend Shirley who seems to know her reasonably well, Aggy lives in a tiny one bedroom flat in Paddington, with just her cat for company - everything it seems either goes to help the homeless runaways she nurtures and cares for…or it seems to you.”


“Oh come on Paula,” Tamsin almost spat out, “talk sense…I know for a fact that she runs an extremely profitable ‘operation’ in Soho.”


Raising an eyebrow, Paula said “so you have at least checked her out Tam…Be that as it may though, I don’t think Agnes is the one who profits from it.”


“Well…  Yes, I’ve heard things about her… despite everything she is my sister.”


“And I bet you’d not let Kits within ten miles of her?”


“Of course not…she’s a whore, and I’m surprised you even have to ask Paula.”


“Tam,” Paula spoke slowly and in a low tone, “Aggie ruined her own life, so as you could have yours…don’t you get that darling?”


Tamsin slowly nodded as she said “yeah – yeah it what she would do, but why the hell didn’t she tell me?” 


“Pride – the stubborn pride we all share.  Agnes I hear is fond of telling people that whatever you may have heard of Lady D’eath you can never say she has turned a child in need away without offering help.”


“Meaning what Paula?”


“All that love which is bottled up inside Agnes goes in giving help and giving those children just what she herself has not had in twenty years.”


“Dear Lord,” Tamsin said quietly, “and you’re telling the truth?”


“I’ve met some of the girls she has helped – you would never know they had been runaways to look at them.”


“Has she never had a man in her life?”


“I’ll bet you a thousand Euros the answer to that is no…Donald was her one and only, and will always be so.  I heard they met today as well – but she left soon after…”


“You didn’t say how she looks Paula,” Tamsin said softly.


“The truth?”


Looking at her glass, Tamsin said softly “Yes please.”


“She looks far too old for her years Tam, without makeup on, and her hair that colour grey she looks over 60.”


“My God…she’s like that?”


“Oh I bet she can pull it together with wigs and makeup, but the real her, no she’s not a pretty sight.”


“Have I got her wrong all these years…  Is she a criminal Paula?”


“I wouldn’t say directly Tam, but just as she probably knows a lot of customers who come to her from our side of the tracks, that she knows people who are on the other side as well.”


“Do men really…?”


“Go to Agnes to get their kinky fantasies fulfilled?”


“Yes,” Tamsin nodded.


“I’d guess so…no they must do,” Paula corrected herself, “she and her employees will do all the things our men want to keep secret and hidden.”


“Why doesn’t that surprise me – we forget how lucky we both are at times,” Tamsin said quietly.  “But what was she doing at Royal Ascot, if she knew she would be shunned?”


“According to one of Shirley’s people who I also know slightly, and who knows your sister very well, then she goes once a year to Royal Ascot just to torture herself with dreams of days past, and just what might have been.”


“Oh God,” Tamsin put her hand over her mouth. “She does that?”


“Yes, according to Penny she also stands outside Grosvenor House and watches people arrive at the Royal Caledonian.”


“But why?”


“I guess because all she has left are dreams of what if?” Paula dropped a tear, “she knows she will never be allowed to come home so to speak, have relatives and old friends even say hello to her.”


She watched Tamsin as she drained her glass, and then said “Paula…  There’s something I need to do, but I need your help…”









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