Tommy Takes Charge
Monday 25th August
Tommy Morgan’s Apartment
“Hey,” Tommy called out as he came in, and tossed his keys into the bowl by the door, “yous up yet darling?”
“Yeah,” Annie called out from the bedroom, “want to put the coffee on? I’ll be there in a little while.”
“Sure thing,” Tommy said as he took his jacket off, and hung it on the back of a seat. Switching on the coffee maker, he picked up the paper and started to read through it.
“How was the market today,” Annie said as she came through, putting on a pair of earrings. She was wearing a white silk blouse and grey pencil skirt, with a pair of comfortable shoes on her feet.
“Busy as always,” Tommy said as he poured the coffee. “Heading in early today?”
“Yeah – got a delivery coming in. Thanks,” she said as she took the mug. Taking a big drink, she said, “That’s better – what about you Tommy?”
“A couple of people to see, but nuttin…”
Annie saw Tommy looking intently at the paper. “Don’t tell me that’s the personals,” she said as he put his mug down.
Tommy slowly nodded, and then said “Yeh – but it’s not an order. They want a meet – today, 1 pm. So don’t worry darling, no danger this time.”
“Thank God,” Annie said with a sigh. “Come by and tell me what happened afterwards?”
“Ya got it,” Tommy said as he kissed Annie. “I’ll see ya about two thirty or so.”
He watched as Annie put on her grey leather jacket and headed out of the door, before he read the ad again. “Now what do those ladies want,” he said to himself as he bit into his bagel.
As he approached the familiar barn, Tommy could not help wondering why they had called him to come today. It had been a very quiet summer, and now they were becoming active again?
“Well, guess I’ll find out soon enough,” he thought as he drove into the barn, not surprised as the doors closed behind him. He recognized the black Daimler that was already parked as he stopped his truck and got out.
There she was, dressed as always impeccably in a dark jacket and skirt with a thin grey pinstripe. Her black silk scarf was tied round her neck as a cravat, the leopard pin sparkling on her lapel. Sheer black stockings and a pair of black leather shoes with three inch heels completed her outfit – that, and the black stocking that was pulled down over her head, pressing her black hair down.
“Good afternoon, Tommy – thank you for coming,” she said as Tommy closed his van door.
“Hey – always a pleasure now, Ma’am,” Tommy said.
“You know Miss Cheetah, of course,” Miss Panther said as the tall woman walked past, identical save for her scarf tied as an ascot round her neck.
“Sure – nice to see you again,” Tommy said as Miss Cheetah nodded at you.
“Walk with us Tommy,” Miss Panther said as she made her way across the barn, “There are some people I would like you to meet.”
Tommy followed the two women to a table, where two more identically dressed women stood. One was as tall as Miss Panther, and wore her scarf tucked into her jacket. The other was an inch or more smaller than Miss Cheetah, but the heels made it difficult to tell.
“May I introduce Miss Lioness and Miss Wildcat? Ladies, this is Tommy the Fish, an invaluable ally.”
“Pleasure, ladies,” Tommy said.
“Likewise,” Miss Lioness said, in a deep voice, accented, and yet warming. Tommy shook himself as he said “so how can I help yous ladies today?”
“Actually, Tommy,” Miss Panther said, “we wanted to, as they say, tap you for some information.”
“Oh?” Tommy was genuinely taken back by this – he had helped the Pussycats before, but to be asked for information so openly?
“Tommy,” Miss Lioness said, “Miss Wildcat and I are engaged with the ladies of the Pussycat gang in a joint venture, to end a most abhorrent situation.”
Tommy looked at them and then said, “May I be honest with yous ladies?”
“Of course,” Miss Panther purred.
“Well, forgive me, but if it is something yous find abhorrent, then it must really be some serious shit – forgive the language.”
“You are forgiven,” Miss Panther said. “I may not go into all the details, for your own safety, but part of the situation involves the supply of some heavy duty arms to certain parties.”
“How heavy duty?”
Miss Wildcat looked at Tommy, before saying in another accent similar to that of Miss Lioness “We are talking about firearms, grenades, rocket launchers – war tools.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa – that is way outta my league ladies.”
“We know, Tommy – but you are in a position to know who those suppliers are. We have already dealt with one of them.”
Tommy looked at them. “Yeah I heard someone big got busted by the Feds last weekend. Yous ladies were behind that?”
“In a way, we helped things along,” Miss Lioness said. Something about her voice made Tommy think she was easily on a par with Miss Panther – and the combination scared him a bit.
“Those guys were big league – they only accepted payment in gems. Is this part of your situashion as well?”
“They are connected, as is a trade in… Tell me, Tommy, the recent kidnappings in Nigeria, what were your thoughts on that?”
Looking at them, Tommy said “Plain and simple wrongs, ladies. I have no truck with people doing things like that.”
“So if I told you the same people seeking to buy these arms also trade in child slavery?”
The expression on Tommy’s face changed. “These guys won’t care, but I do. What do yous ladies need to know?”
“Keep your ear to the ground, Tommy, ferret where we cannot. We need to know who these people are likely to turn to next, so that we can – intercept them. Again, we must ask this of you, knowing you may place yourself in great danger.”
“I’ll ask around, talk to some people – but if things get heavy, can I calls on yous?”
“Of course,” Miss Panther said, “but we have a new method. Miss Cheetah?”
The Pussycat opened a case, and took out a silver laptop which she opened. Tommy watched as she tapped on the keys, and then held up a small device.
“Look directly into this, Tommy,” she said, holding what looked like a key fob up. As Tommy looked at it, he saw a blinking red light, and wondered what was happening.
“This laptop,” Miss Cheetah said as she showed Tommy, “is a secure communication method for you to us. The key fob is a retinal scanner, and opens a direct hidden connection from you to us on a mail system. Use it, and we will respond as soon as possible. We will also use it to contact you – a text will alert you of a message.”
“Neat – and otherwise?”
“Enjoy – responsibly,” Miss Panther said with a smile. “May we count on your support?”
“Of course you mays, ladies,” Tommy said as he closed the laptop.”I’ll ask around, and update you on dis daily.”
“Excellent,” Miss Panther said as the four of them smiled. “Please, leave before us.”
“Sure – oh, and one more thing?”
Miss Panther looked at the dealer.
“On behalf of Annie and myself, thanks for the gift.”
“You are welcome, and good luck,” Miss Panther said as Tommy headed for his van.
“Get this home first, and then a drink,” he said to himself as he drove off.
“So that’s your arms dealer Juliette?” Madame shook her head after she’d removed the stocking mask and her wig.
“Yes Tommy is a most useful contact; he has a reach into the underworld that we just don’t possess.”
“So Penelope dear how does it feel to be a Pussycat?” Madame smiled at Penny as she too removed her mask and wig.
“It’s an honour.” Penny smiled. “I just hope your friend is as good as you hope Juliette.”
“Oh you don’t stay in business and out of prison for as long as Tommy has without being extremely good.”
“Yes that is a great recommendation.” Madame smiled.
“Well he can tap into our communications net now.” Heather removed her wig and mask. “So we should know what he hears very promptly.”
“How sophisticated is your encryption Heather?” Penny asked out of professional interest.
“It’s not just encryption it’s also encoded, I use a cypher that even experts can’t hope to crack without knowing the key, as long as those computers stay secure then our network is secure.”
“And if we lose one?”
“I trigger a destruct signal and wipe them, and we start out again with fresh computers.”
“That’s impressive thinking indeed Heather.” Madame looked impressed. “When all this is over can I ask you to maybe revamp my organization’s communications.”
“It would be my pleasure Madame.”
W 62nd Street
The New Calabria Club
“Hey Tommy,” Annie said as he came in and sat at the bar, “Usual?”
“Thanks Annie,” Tommy said as he unfolded the paper and looked at the sports page, Annie bringing over his beer. “So how did it go?” she said as she looked at him.
“Went well - they want me to find out if someone is trying to buy some heavy stuff. Should be easy enough – I’ll ask around, find out, tell them – nothing to give us any concern.”
“Not today,” Tommy said as he looked at the racing schedule. “I’ve got the poker game tonight, remember?”
“How could I forget? Monday night round at Willy’s place, chewing the fat and drinking cheap beer.”
“Saves the profits at this place,” Tommy said with a wink. “Besides, gives me a chance to get started on this job.”
“Well, don’t be too late back.”
“How can I? I gotta be at the docks tomorrow.”
Annie smiled as she went off to serve another customer, while Tommy took another drink of his beer.
“By the way,” Annie said as she came back over, “there’s a package here for you.”
She handed Tommy a brown envelope, which he looked at carefully.
“For me? Why would someone bring summet for me here?”
“No idea Tommy – you tell me,” Annie said as she went to serve another customer. Tommy looked carefully at it, and then said “Let 'em take this out back.” He slipped through the bar and out of the back door, placing the package on a table next to some empty barrels.
“Now what are you,” he said as he took out a pen knife, and carefully cut away at the tape at one end. Opening the paper up, he used the pen knife blade and carefully looked inside.
He looked at the white bundle inside, and slit into the plastic, putting the blade in and drawing out a black stone. “Whadafug,” he said to himself as he held it up, and then extracted a note inside. Reading it, his eyes darkened and he said to himself “no fucking chance.”
Walking into the bar, he took a clear bag from the back of the bar and slipped the package inside, sealing it and carrying it back in.
“So what was it?”
“Someone’s idea of a joke, Annie – a pack of black stones.”
W 34th Street
“All right, gentlemen, let’s see them.”
Tommy looked at the two cards on the table, then at his hand before he said “I’m out – this hand’s not worth the ink printed on the cards.”
Big John, the stevedore and part time enforcer, threw a ten spot into the centre and looked round, literally keeping his cards close to his massive chest. He was bald, but nobody crossed his path.
Carlos looked closely at his hand, and said “see you and raise you ten,” throwing the twenty into the middle. One of the legion of yellow cab drivers, he also had a nice sideline in courier services between several of the number runners and small time loan sharks.
“I’m out,” Jack the Scar said as he threw his cards down. He got his nickname because of the long scar down his cheek. The legend was he got it in a fight over a woman. The boys knew the truth, but had enough respect not to push it around. Besides, Jack was a good man, and would have your back in any situation.
Weasel threw a twenty in and said “Call.” A thin man with slicked back hair, he had no obvious means of income, but he made a decent amount of money. His trade was information – he was a planner, a thinker, and always knew far more than people realized.
And then there was Willy, the dealer and host. Willy ran a bar under his apartment, and in the best had been a foot soldier for the mob, but ‘services rendered’ as he put it had left him the resources to buy the bar, and he was a good host. In his fifties, balding and portly, he was a good host, and didn’t even mind that Tommy was a silent partner in that Calabria. As he had said, “Tommy, me boy, at least you’re expanding your horizons.”
Big John turned over his hand. “Three fives,” Willy said. Looking at Carlos, he then said “Two pairs, kings and tens. Weasel?”
“Beats my two tens,” the thin man said as he put the cards down.
“Break before the next hand – replenish our drinks?”
“Sounds good to me,” Weasel said as he stood up and left the room, while Tommy and Big John headed for the kitchen.
“So how does it feel to be a married man,” John said as he handed Tommy a bottle.
“No different from before – save the arm of a gorgeous woman at bedtime,” Tommy said with a smile as he took a drink. “Seriously, John, it’s fantastic.”
“Well, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” John said as he clapped Tommy on the back, almost making him choke.
“Hey, careful big man,” Willy said as he came in, “Annie’s a wonderful girl, but she’d kill me if I let anything happen to him.”
“Aw she’s not that tough,” Jack said as he grabbed a bottle.
“Oh she’s tougher than she looks,” Tommy said with a smile as John took Jack back through. Willy opened a bottle and leaned back, folding his arms as he said “How’s business, Tommy?”
“Pretty good – nothing major, but a few of the families keep me ticking over.”
“Did you hear about O’Brien?”
Tommy nodded. “The Feds hit him over the weekend I heard. Seems he was into some major trading. Big clients, big payments.”
“Well, play with da big boys, you gotta take the risks,” Tommy said as he took another drink from the bottle. “Still, I liked him. An idiot, but I liked him.”
“Dat’s what I like about ya, Tommy – you have scruples and a code. Yer better outta that line of work. There’s a vacuum now, though – and I hear the people who traded with O’Brien are looking for new contacts. Get a parcel today?”
“Yea – I looked at it, saw the pebbles, sealed it and locked it away. You?”
“Same – I got a call to a meeting as well. I think you will do too.”
“And if I want no part of it?”
“Do them the honour of hearing them out, Tommy – you can do that. At least it gives you the chance to return their gift, and thank them.”
“Der is that,” Tommy said. “I thought you were out of the biz.”
“I am – seems they’re spreading their net wide.”
Willy looked at Tommy and said “is it true you supply some private clients as well?”
“Come on Willy – you know I cannot discuss clients, and their requests.”
“I know, I know,” Willy said with a laugh. “Still, Tommy, watch your step. I think these guys mean business.”
“Willy, do I look like a man who scares easily?”
“Tommy da Fish,” Willy said as he raised his bottle, “I salute you. Now, let’s go play some cards.”
New Fulton Fish Market
Tommy the Fish thought there was only one thing wrong with the New Fulton fish market, he had to drive all the way up to the Bronx now rather than down to South St. He had to admit the new place was bigger, cleaner; more efficient then the old market, but he rather missed the smells and the atmosphere of the old place. It had been there for a hundred and eighty years, while this place was less then ten years old. Tommy missed the old place, he thought of himself as a traditionalist; Annie just said he was getting old.
Tommy had always thought the fish business was just his front, but truth was he made far more money nowadays legitimately then he did through selling weapons. To tell the truth there were times he thought seriously getting out of the racket, but he knew he’d miss his old friends, he’d miss the excitement, and besides he was a damn good arms dealer.
His trucks delivered to stores and restaurants all over the tri-state area. Tommy had a nose for the best of the catch - Bad fish, and overpriced were never things you could associate with Morgan Fish Wholesalers. He brought the same standards to his gun business, if it wasn’t as near perfect as possible he wouldn’t sell it.
So as he supervised the loading of the last truck for the day, he had a big smile on his face – the catch today had been good, and his profits high.
“There yas go Dirk – as requested.”
“Nice work, Tommy,” the delivery man said as he loaded his van. “They’ll eat well at the Waldorf today with that.”
“Don’t I always do right by ya, Dirk,” Tommy said as he slammed the door of the van shut, and then banged on the side before he drove off. Putting the money in his pocket, he walked back to his office and closed the door, making the entries into the books before locking the money in the safe.
“Good day, Tommy?”
“Can’t complain, Gio,” Tommy said as he looked at the tall, well built man with grey hair. “What brings yous down to my humble office?”
“Business, Tommy,” Gio said as he closed the door, “urgent, so I thought I’d better come to you.”
“Aw geeze,” Tommy said as he sat back and put his pen down, “you knows I don’t like mixing the two up.”
“I know, I know, but the boss was most insistent – he needs guns and ammo by ten tonight, good ones, and as he says if you want the best in a hurry, go to Tommy.”
“Flatterer,” Tommy said with a smile, “so who let him down?”
“O’Brien, the schmuck. He was meant to deliver today, but…” Gio threw his hands up in a gesture Tommy knew all too well.
“Who the hell was he dealing with, anyway?”
“Lord above and the ATF alone knows, but the word was he had some heavy payments – uncut diamonds. Word also is they’re looking for a new supplier.”
“Hold that thought,” Tommy said as his cell phone went off. “Ye’re through to Tommy Morgan.”
“Am I speaking to Tommy the Fish?” The voice was female, cultured, and with no discernible accent.
“You do not know me Tommy, but I believe you received a package from me yesterday?”
“Hold the line a moment,” Tommy said as he looked at Gio. “Got a list?”
Gio put a slip of paper down, which Tommy glanced at. “No problem. Eight tonight, usual place, usual terms?”
Nodding, Gio headed out of the office while Tommy sat back. “I got da package, which means I get to talk, but that’s all.”
“That is all we ask. Shall we say 2 pm, the Metropolitan main entrance?”
“How will I knows yous?”
“We’ll know you,” the voice said as the line went dead. Looking at the phone, Tommy tried to call back, but the number was withheld.
“Time to send a message,” he thought as he sat back, looking at the market. He then picked up the phone and dialed a number.
“Big John? Tommy. Sorry to wakes ya, but I needs a favour…”
Complete Style Magazine
“Yes, Janice, I’d love to be part of a party tonight, but why that particular restaurant.”
“I’ll explain later,” Janice said on the other end of the call, “Can you get some others together and meet at your apartment at seven?”
“Of course – Would you object if I brought a friend with me? She’s visiting from England, and I’d like her to meet some of you?”
“Sure – I may slip out for a few minutes, but it will be fun. See you then.”
Juliette put her phone down, and then dialed another number.
“Shirley? Are you free tonight?
“Good – I’m meeting a few friends and going to the Peacock Inn in Chinatown. Care to join us?”
“Oh really? Excellent, I’ll see you then.”
The Waldorf Hotel
“A dinner invite? Are you sure?”
“I am Dominique,” Madame said quietly, “it will kill two birds with one stone. The Peacock Inn is owned by Madame Chen. I think I will take a couple of devices with me…”
“Let’s hope dis thing works,” Tommy said as he started the laptop. The normal windows screen appeared, as Tommy took the key fob and held it to his eye.
The screen pixelated, and when it returned it was a deep blue, with a cat motif on the background. He saw icons for messages, and also a chat window.
“Not a chance,” he said as he opened the e-mail, and selected the address “Miss Cheetah.”
“I’ve been contacted – got a parcel today, and a call for a meet at 2 today. Word is whoever is buying is auditioning. Will meet and politely decline, but find out what I can.”
He sent the e-mail, and sat back, wondering what would happen next. He was completely taken aback as a chat window popped open.
“Miss Cheetah: Message received Tommy. Do you require backup?”
“Tommy: Nah, I have cover arranged.”
“Miss Cheetah: I understand, may we know where and when?”
“Tommy: 2, Metropolitan entrance.”
“Miss Cheetah: Very well – good luck and report back.”
“Whatcha doing, Tommy?”
“Sending e-mails,” Tommy said as he turned off the laptop.
At the Richmond Mansion, Heather sat for a moment.
“JO – get the kids. We’re going to the Metropolitan.”
The Listening Post
Susan looked up as Annie entered the room.
“I just came to find out the targets for tonight,” Annie said as she went over to Susan. “I only have time for a couple – freshmen induction this week.”
“Ah, the sound of eager new learners,” Susan said with a smile.
“Obvious you were never a teacher,” Annie said as Charlotte handed her the list. “Oh my – a couple of East Sider specials, Susan.”
Annie and Charlotte turned to see Susan looking at her laptop.
"Annie," Susan suddenly sounded serious as
she looked at her friend. "Heather and Jo need a third soldier to shadow
and protect a friend and informant, normally I'd go, but Dom and I are both
Annie gulped. "Okay I guess I can do this."
"Come with me, we need to fit you with a shoulder holster and something with more oomph then your .22 – Good thing you went for a blouson jacket today."
Annie looked at the grey leather jacket she was wearing. “Why?”
“Easier to conceal a holster – let’s go.”
“Where is this happening anyway?”
“Open place – the Metropolitan lobby.”
The Metropolitan Art Museum lobby
There was a fair crowd moving around the lobby area, with a few families taking the chance to visit the art galleries before the new school year started. Heather and Joanne were in the lobby, looking at the picture of the Hotel Europa with Little George and Sandy, one of them keeping an eye on the children as the other looked round.
On the far side of the lobby, Annie sat looking at some papers she was preparing for the first week, but also keeping an eye out as two men walked into the lobby. One was tall, broad shouldered, and dressed in a jerkin, shirt and jeans. The second was smaller, his dark hair graying, and wore a black leather jacket over a white shirt. Smart black trousers and highly polished shoes completed his outfit. As he played with his finger, Annie saw the way it was deformed, and nodded towards Joanne.
“Thanks for coming, big man,” Tommy said as he looked round, “Sit down, keep yer eyes and ears open, and if it looks like I got a problem, move quickly.”
Big John nodded as he sat down in the lobby, Tommy walking round as he looked at the pictures.
Annie followed him with her eyes, and then looked away quickly as a tall dark skinned woman walked in. She wore a fitted black leather jacket and mini skirt, and a pair of open toed ankle boots with four-inch heels.
She looked round through dark glasses, and then walked towards Tommy, smiling as she did so. She stood beside him for a few minutes, admiring the picture, before she said “Good afternoon, Mr. Morgan, thank you for meeting with me.”
“Well, your invitation was different, lady, I’ll grant you that.”
He saw her smile as she said “A small taste of what we have to offer if we can do business, Mister Morgan. I have heard many good things about you – you are reliable, and have a reputation for honesty in the business.”
“May I ask who mentioned me?”
“Mister O’Brien would speak of you – did you know him?”
“It’s a small world, lady – but if you wish to discuss business, I need some idea of what you are after, y’know?”
“We require a steady supply of arms and ammunition as well as sundry other items, grenades, rockets, hand held weapons. Is this something you can help us with?”
Tommy slowly shook his head. “Sorry lady – these are items out of my supply list. I may be able to get them, but I would need some idea of what they are required for.”
“Is it that important to you – surely you would welcome a good profit, paid in easily traded gems?”
“I have a code, lady, and I like to know where the things I supply end up. Call it professional curiosity.”
He watched the woman nod out of the corner of his eye. “Very well – I represent certain factions in a conflict in my home country, and we need the arms to prevail.”
Tommy stared at the wall, and then reached into his inside pocket, taking out a clear bag with a package in it and handing it to her. “I’m flattered yous thought of me,” he said quietly, “but this is something I cannot help you with. I’d be more than willing to recommend someone who can help you, but it won’t be me.”
“I heard you were a man of principle and honour,” the woman said as she slipped the package into her bag, “and I see they are right. Thank you for meeting with me, Mister Morgan. Perhaps we will meet again some day?”
“Sure ting lady,” Tommy said as he walked away. The woman stopped for a moment, and then headed for the café, Annie standing up and walking behind her as Jo followed her with her eyes.
“All done,” Big John said as Tommy walked to him.
“All done – come on I’ll buys yous a drink.”
Heather watched them as they walked out, and then nudged Jo, taking the children into the museum.
In the café, Annie watched as the tall African woman went over to a table and sat with a large, balding man, then turned and walked out.
“Well,” Susan said as Annie came in.
“He’s safe – I think he turned them down, but I know who’s looking for a new supplier. I recognized both of them.”
“Who is it,” Susan said quietly.
“Angel Xantu and Oliver Cohen.”
“Now why am I not surprised – I’m sure Tommy will report in due course.”
"Listen, can I take this off now?" Annie
removed her jacket and pointed at the .38 nestled in her armpit.
"Oh yeah let me give you a hand." Susan said
as she got up to help her friend remove the holster.
"I don't like…. what's the expression? … Packing?"
Susan laughed. "None of us really does except
"I keep thinking it's going to show in my face…
Look here this woman is armed."
Susan laughed again. "Just think of it as a tool
that is sometimes necessary in this line of work."
"I still have a lot to learn." Annie sighed.
“You’re a fast learner though,” Susan said as she put the gun to one side. “Come – Madame needs to know this, and she is leaving soon.”
“Going out for the night?”
“Actually – yes.”
The New Calabria Club
Tommy walked in and indicated to Annie to follow him into the back office. As the other bar staff rallied round, Annie followed him in and closed the door.
“You alright Tommy,” she said as she looked at him.
Tommy rubbed his eyes before he spoke.
“Okay Darlin’ I got summut I orta tell ya.”
“Sounds serious Tommy.” Annie looked concerned.
“Ya know da ladies asked me to meet ‘em?”
“Oh no – you said dey aint goin’ back to work. Are they?”
“Not as such.”
“Not what?” Annie looked puzzled.
“Miss Panther and Miss Cheetah were accompanied by two English ladies, they introduced as Miss Lioness and Miss Wildcat.”
“Well I sorta think Miss Lioness was that English broad the FBI were so interested in a while back…. Madame X.”
“Oh shit, wot they got ‘emselves inta now?”
“Well if yous ask me, then they are on da side of da angels for once.”
“The angels Tom?”
“Yeah.” Tommy paused for thought. “You remember that mess a whiles back when dem girls got kidnapped in Africa?”
“Yeah I remember.”
“Well it looks like some of the bad guys in this old burg are involved for swappin’ arms for African girl slaves and uncut diamonds.”
“Oh crap!” Annie looked amazed, “Does dat really happen, it aint just in books?”
“It seems so, well da ladies don’t like this and…”
“I don’t like it either Tom.” Annie interrupted her husband.
“Well, you know day asked ter keep my ears open for people lookin’ for weapons.”
“And you said yeah?”
“Of cours I said yeah, what kinda schmuck dja think I am”
“Yer just my big heated teddy bear.” Annie put her arms round her husband.
“Well anyways I gotta call to set up a meet earlier, some African broad, nice looker, but boy I bet she’s poison.”
“What she want?”
“Pretty heavy grade weaponry, grenades, rocket launchers, dat kinda ting.”
“And yous said?”
“I told her da truth, that kinda shit is out of my league.”
“Didja tell da ladies yet?”
“Yeah they gave me some fancy computer to stay in touch with.” Tommy thought again, “I took Big John along for protection like, but I’m pretty sure some of dem was there as well.”
“Watchin’ over us again?” Annie smiled, “sounds like old times.”
“Well I’ve done what I can, anyting now I guess will just be rumours I hear from da guys.”
“I’m proud of ya Tommy, helping out like this, it’s nice bein’ on da right side for once.”
“Dats what I love abut you Annie – you know me so well.” He kissed her gently and then said “I gotta go get some shuteye – see ya at home later?”
“Sure – we’ll eat before ya head off to work,” Annie said as they held each other…
“Thanks for coming and providing me with a cover girls.” Janice spoke as the cab pulled up outside The Peacock Inn on Canal Street.
“I thought you were on the Pussycat Gang taskforce Jan?” Sandy remarked.
“I am, but we were asked to provide some troops to check out rumours of major arms shipments through the city… Don’t worry you’ll be in no danger, I’m just looking.”
“Oh that’s a pity.” Kelly Rochermann pretended to pout as she climbed out of the cab. “I was looking forward to seeing a shootout.”
“Not me - I’d faint if anyone produced a gun near me.” Juliette whispered.
“Me too.” Juliette’s English friend Shirley looked alarmed as she spoke in a soft whisper.
“I’d love to see my husband’s face if he heard his wife was close to a shoot-out.” Claire Morse spoke, as she was the last one out of the cab. All six were wearing light jackets and trousers, with silk blouses and camisole tops underneath.
“I looked this place up on the net.” Juliette spoke, “the Cantonese cuisine is actually supposed to be first rate.”
“Well what could be more natural then six ladies trying it out then.” Janice smiled. Tom Callaghan had been doubtful when she laid out her plan, but really this group of girls was above suspicion, they really did just look like a group of ladies slumming it in Chinatown. Her idea was simple – a meal with friends, and when she had a few moments she would slip into the back office and plant a couple of listening devices. In the end, he had agreed and sanctioned it. The intel they had said this was a place where some of the suppliers met, and she wanted to make use of that.
“Good evening ladies, a table for six?” the hostess greeted them as they entered.
“Please.” Juliette smiled back at her.
“This way please,” she said as she set off. She wore a blue cheongsam with silver trim, and a pair of killer black leather heels, her legs in sheer black stockings. The party crossed the busy restaurant and made themselves comfortable around a table in a quiet corner.
“Okay first order of business,” Claire spoke up as they were handed the menus, “are we going Dutch, or will we just split the bill?”
“Well, since I’m the stranger, how about we make it my treat?” Shirley proposed as she glanced down.
“Okay but only if we get to repay your hospitality soon.” Kelly answered.
“Well I’m not sure how long Shirley is in town… ‘
“Nonsense,” Madame interrupted, “I’m in New York for a few weeks probably, I’d love to come and visit with you ladies some time.”
“Then it’s settled,” Shirley said as she smiled across the table.
“Oh they have that champagne Juliette served at Cari’s party. Remember that Jan?” Kelly laughed at her friend.
“Oh don’t remind me.” Janice laughed. “I’ve never had a hangover like that in my life.”
“I suggest we skip the champagne tonight.” Juliette looked sympathetically at the FBI agent, “I’ll suggest the white Bordeaux from Chateau de Ros.”
“de Ros?” Shirley asked.
“The chateau is owned by Diana’s mother-in-law, and the 73 is a very good year.”
“Ladies can I bring you drinks?” a waiter came to the table.
“Well we will start with the de Ros 73 please.” Claire ordered for the table.
“Two bottles.” Sandy spoke.
“And you better keep them coming.” Kelly laughed.
“Excellent choice,” he said as he went off, and they returned to perusing the menu.
“It all looks good,” Kelly, said, “how about we go for the banquet – starters, soup, duck – the whole works.”
“Very well then,” Shirley said with a smile, “I am agreeable if everyone else is?”
“Then we have a plan,” Juliette said as the waiter came back and poured the wine. “Cantonese banquet all round, please.”
“Very good, Madame,” the waiter said as he took the menus, Kelly sipping the wine. “Oh this is good,” she said with a smile, “and you say Diana’s mother in law owns the vineyard? Does she get family discount?”
“They don’t get on that well,” Juliette said with a smile.
As they were talking, Shirley noticed a group of Chinese people being walked through the restaurant to a private booth. One in particular, a woman in a black trouser suit with short hair graying at the sides, was familiar to her.
Juliette caught the look in Shirley’s eye, and whispered “Problem?”
“Opportunity,” Shirley whispered back as she stood up. “Would you excuse me one moment, ladies,” she said as she stood and made her way to the rest room, checking her purse as she did so.
A few moments later, she emerged, looking from left to right as she saw a waitress taking a wine cooler to the private room. A second one was approaching, and as she passed she attached a small disc to the bottom of the cooler, without anyone noticing. She then made a phone call, before joining the others at the table.
“Starters arrived,” Janice said as she indicated the dim sum type plates, “help yourself.”
“Thank you,” Shirley said as she took some of the food and started to nibble on it.
Secure Storage Inc.
Tommy loaded the last of the order into his van, and went back to the lockup, ensuring all the cabinets were firmly locked before setting the alarm and closing the heavy rolled door. Setting the padlocks in place, he got behind the wheel and headed off, waving to the security guards as he left the compound and drove towards the Battery.
Gio and two other men were waiting as Tommy pulled up, and jumped out of the cab.
“Punctual as always, Tommy,” Gio said as he opened the rear doors and the two men started to transfer the guns and ammunition to the second van.
“Yer a good customer, Gino, so I didn’t wanna disappoint ya,” Tommy said as he stifled a yawn. “But I needs me beauty sleep, so…”
“Sure, sure,” Gio said as he handed over a brown package. “Hey, by the way, you get contacted by O’Brien’s customers?”
“I know, I know – professional ethics. All I’m saying is watch your step – word is the Feds are noticing heavy shipments.”
“Thanks for the tip, Gio – have a quiet night,” Tommy said as he got back into the cab and drove off. He had an e-mail to send, and then a few hours kip…
The Peacock Inn
The dim sum was soon cleared, and as the bowls of soup were ladeled out Sandy took a whiff.
“Hot and sour – I love the scent of lemon grass and ginger.”
“So long as it doesn’t burn my mouth out,” Kelly said as she took a sip. “Hmmm – fragrant.”
“So are the girls ready for next week, Kelly,” Claire said as she ate the soup.
“I think so – hard to think of them as Seniors.”
“Come on – I just got one out and another goes in.”
“Do you know Joanne has been spending all day today trying to figure what she’s going to say to them on Friday?”
“It’s easy Sandy,” Claire said “Hate the Nuns, support each other, and above all remember you’re an Angel.”
“That’s fairly much what she came up with,” Sandy said as Juliette stood up.
“Excuse me ladies – I need to powder my nose,” she said as she moved off.
“I’ll come with you,” Shirley said as they walked to the rest room. She waited a few minutes, and once the room was theirs she leaned against the wall.
“You socialize this openly with a detective who is out to catch and punish you?” Madame had a glint in her eye as she said this.
“Well you know the old saying,” Juliette said as she dried her hands, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.”
“Well I know… but?”
“We all like Janice anyway; if circumstances were different we might have even made her a pussycat.” Juliette paused. “We are just very careful round her like we are with all our friends. Surely you have outside friends as well Shirley?”
“Well,” Madame reflected, “Let’s just say not many.”
“That’s a pity we all need good friends.”
“True – but given my past, trust can be an issue. However, you have a point – perhaps I should organize more nights out with Penelope and the senior staff.”
“Good,” Juliette said. “You can keep practicing outside.”
As they came back, they saw Janice was missing, but the Peking duck had arrived.
“She went to take a phone call,” Sandy said as the others sat down, and they started to help themselves.
Juliette saw Janice slip in from the back office and smiled as she sat down.
“All done,” she whispered. Janice nodded and helped herself to the duck.
At the listening post, Susan and Penelope were watching as one of the girls transcribed the conversation in the private room.
“How’s it going,” Charlotte said as she came over.
“Intriguing,” Susan said quietly. “It was a good thing Xian came with us – the conversation is in Cantonese. So far it’s mainly small talk, but Chen just went up the league of evil.”
“Some of the girls ended up in private brothels, others – well, we shall rescue them in due course.”
“Nothing too much yet – but we shall see…”
“So, Shirley, what line of business are you in?” Kelly asked Madame as they helped themselves to rice and some Kun Po chicken.
Juliette cast a quick glance in her friend’s direction, wondering what she would say.
“Oh dear I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that.” Shirley giggled lightly as she wiped her mouth.
“Why, is it something exciting and glamorous?” Kelley asked.
“I wish,” Shirley laughed again, “No it’s so mundane it’s boring, I run a firm that values and insures antiques, jewellery and other such items.”
“Well that sounds pretty interesting to me.” Claire spoke. “Having to make sure they are all protected and well taken care of.”
“It was - when I started I got to go out and see a lot of those things myself. It’s so big now though I really just sit behind a desk and shuffle papers that my staff need signing or approving.”
“That’s the peril of success, “ Sandy nodded, “any organization gets too big it can suck a lot of the fun out.”
“It’s why I enjoy my work,” Janice spoke, “I get nights like this when I get to get out in the field, I’m not stuck behind a desk all the time.”
“And you get to drag your friends along.” Kelly laughed. “Anyway Shirley how do you know Ju?”
“Well through business.” Shirley looked at Juliette as she shook her head.
“Shirley handles the insurance on some of my textiles. The stuff can go missing, despite all my best efforts.”
“Oh. Well that makes sense.” Kelly lost interest as she poured herself another glass of wine.
“Look enough shop talk,” Shirley said as she sipped her wine, “tell me something of yourselves…”
Annie walked out of her apartment block towards the Daimler parked by the kerb.
“I’m your delivery driver and protection tonight.” Abby smiled as Annie jumped in the back of the car.
“I thought Diana was… “
“Mom’s busy.” Abby interrupted.
“You do know the addresses don’t you?” Jo double-checked.
“Yeah we don’t want to hit the wrong buildings… this time.” Annie laughed.
“Hey I make one little mistake between Fifth and Park and you guys will never let me hear the end of it.”
Annie and Jo laughed, it was too easy getting a rise out of Abigail.
“On the other hand, that diamond and pearl necklace went to good use,” Annie said as she checked her .22.”
“Remember in and out and no one knows we’ve been there.” Jo warned Annie as Abby dropped her off in an alleyway behind an apartment building in the East 60’s.
“Okay one, two, three, four, five stories, yay he left a window open for me.” Annie counted the stories of the building before she smiled.
“Okay I’ll go drop Jo off, and then I’ll swing back for you.” Abby drove away.
“Another night at the office.” Annie spoke to herself as she started to climb up a drainpipe.
“I do like the fact she likes her work,” Jo said with a smile.
“Don’t we all,” Abby said as she turned the corner.
“How on earth did you hear about this place, Francois?”
Francois Legault smiled as he opened the door. “I happen to know the owner, Natasha, and the food is excellent.”
“Monsieur Legault, a pleasure to see you again,” the hostess said as she looked at them. Natasha was wearing a pair of black leather trousers and a white silk blouse while Diana wore a blue dress with a black jacket.
“Thank you, is my usual table available?”
“Of course – this way,” she said as she led them across the floor.
“Diana! What are you doing here?”
Diana stopped and turned, recognizing Claire and the others.
“What a surprise to see you girls here.” Diana smiled. “This is my sister-in-law Natasha and Monsieur Legault who she works with at the UN.”
The girls all said, “Hi.”
“Diana you know Shirley of course.” Juliette did introductions, “Natasha meet the posse, this is Shirley, Kelly, Janice, and Claire, you know Sandy already of course.”
“So what are you all doing here?” Natasha asked.
“Girls night out.” Kelly grinned. “Gossiping, eating, drinking, and generally having fun!”
“So I see,” Francois said with a smile. “A pleasure to meet you all.”
Natasha looked at the empty wine bottles and smiled. “I see you are all drink Mama’s wine.”
“Oh you are a de Ros as well?” Claire asked.
“We really need talk about getting a discount on a few cases.” Kelly laughed.
“Sadly, Mama does not allow such deals,” Natasha said. “Of course, I may have some personal bottles that can be shared round…”
“Spoken like a true politician,” Diana said as the coffee for the ladies arrived. “We shall see you soon, ladies.”
As they sat down, Francois smiled and said “Good friends Diana?”
“Very good friends – so what do you recommend, Francois?”
“If you will trust me, I promise you a most wonderful meal.” As he spoke, the door to the private room opened and the older Chinese women came out.
She walked around the tables, talking to some of the customers, and then stopped at Diana’s table.
“Francois, how nice to see you again,” she said as Francois stood and kissed her hand.
“And you, Madame,” Francois said with a low bow. “May I present Countess Natasha and Countess Diana de Ros. Ladies, this is Madame Jiayi Chen, a fellow diplomat and the owner of this fine establishment.”
“An honour,” Diana said as she stood and bowed, Natasha doing likewise. As they did so, Kelly and Claire started laughing at the next table.
“Friends of yours,” Madame Chen said as she looked at Diana.
“They are – please, do not take their laughter as an insult to you. They have enjoyed your company, and your cuisine, and now are happy.”
Madame Chen smiled and nodded as Diana said “Perhaps I should have a quiet word with them.” As she and Natasha walked over, Madame Chen sat and looked at Francois.
"So who are they?" she asked Legault in Mandarin.
"Oh just a bunch of rich ladies from the Upper
East Side out for their idea of a fun evening, lots of wine and lots of
"Nothing we need concern ourselves with
then?" The Chinese woman looked relieved.
"No they aren't the FBI undercover, just a group of silly irrelevant women. Have your heard from Angel and Oliver."
“I have – some are open to the idea, one definitely said no.”
“One said no – a man of principle?”
“Indeed – according to Angel, he was courteous, polite, and returned the package with the contents inside.”
“Still, however courteous, he insulted me by not accepting our offer. We should show him our displeasure.”
“So it shall be. Any word yet on Rice?”
Madame Chen shook her head. “We are watching, and he is anxious for news,” she said as Diana and Natasha came back over.
“Enjoy the rest of your evening,” she said as she stood up and made her way over to Juliette’s table.
“Ladies, I trust you are having a pleasant evening?”
“Thank you, we are,” Claire Morse said as she finished another glass of wine. “We should come here more often.”
“Such as yourselves are always welcome,” Madame Chen said as she looked at Shirley. “Your voice marks you as not one of them?”
“A friend, visiting – your very good health,” Shirley said as she raised her glass.
“And yours,” Madame Chen said with a smile, “if you will excuse me?”
She walked off as the waiter brought the bill over, smiling as Shirley handed him her card. “Excuse me one moment,” he said as he walked off.
“So, how about back to my place for a nightcap,” Sandy said as she sat back.
“Sounds good – but not too late,” Janice said quietly, “I have to be in the office tomorrow.”
“As do I sadly,” Juliette said, “but a nightcap does sound good.” As the waiter brought the pad back, Juliette said “can you hail a couple of cabs for us?”
“We will take care of it for you,” he said with a bow as he accepted the pad back, and Shirley stood up. “Well then, shall we?” she said as the others joined her.
“Your friends seem to be happy,” Francois said as she watched them leave.
“Indeed – I suspect mostly due to the wine.” Natasha smiled as Diana said “Now, shall we order?”
The Richmond Mansion
Heather looked up as she heard the chatter, closing her laptop as the party came into the front room.
“Good night,” she said as they flopped into the seats, with the exception of Sandy who went to the drinks cabinet and fixed several glasses.
“No complaints from me,” Claire said as she accepted the gin and tonic from Heather, Kelly doing likewise as Sandy handed Shirley and Janice a brandy.
“Good food, exceptional wine, and good company,” Juliette said. “And no headache in the morning, with any luck.”
“How was your evening,” Sandy said as she looked at Heather.
“Quiet – the kids went to bed early, so I got caught up on the work for Amy in London, and sent her my report.”
“How did she take our decision to stay?”
“With good grace – she may send some more work my way in due course.”
“You were thinking of moving?”
“Yeah – but I changed my mind,” Heather said as she sat down and nursed a beer.
“So how is Bobbi anyway Claire?”
“Busy – classes started at eight this morning, and she had a full day. She called just before I left and had a moan. What about Carina?”
“She starts tomorrow, 8.20. History of Art 101 in fact, Heather.”
“Oh the poor girl – she’ll have fun with that,” Heather said with a smile.
“Right,” Janice said as she put her glass down, “I’m really sorry girls but I have to go. Thanks for helping me out tonight once again.”
“No problem – I’ll come with you,” Kelly said as she stood up, then sat back down again.
“Come on,” Claire said as she helped her friend up, “let’s get the three of you into a cab…”
As she walked the three of them out, Juliette swirled the malt whisky around her glass and took a sip. They waited until Sandy closed the door, and sat back down, before Madame said “A most entertaining and profitable evening.”
“I had a message from Susan,” Heather said as she opened her laptop again, and held a key fob to her eye. “The listening devices worked, and although arms were not discussed something else was – the whereabouts of some of the girls.
“She also said they were discussing a new shipment – I think they may be bringing some more girls over.”
“How unfortunate – any way of intercepting?”
“No way of telling yet – we’re monitoring the other devices at her house and office for information.”
Madame nodded slowly as Juliette said “Tommy?”
“He reported back in, confirming what we saw. He has refused their offer of trade, and returned the package they sent to him. Turned out they were uncut diamonds – from what he said, the woman was quite taken aback.”
“Possibly never met a real gentleman,” Sandy said with a smile. “Any word on who this woman was?”
“Susan knew – it was Angel Xantu, the partner of…”
“Francois Legault – he was in the restaurant tonight, along with Diana and her sister-in-law. He seemed very friendly with Madame Chen.”
“I’m worried,” Juliette said as she sipped from her glass. “Natasha has no idea what she may have walked into – she wasn’t even meant to be working for Legault, but now she is.”
“You are concerned she may be caught in anything that happens?”
Juliette and Sandy both nodded.
“We must take great care then,” Madame said quietly. “I will talk to Diana myself – she needs to be aware.”
“It gets worse – Susan informed me that Angel then went and met with Oliver Cohen.”
“Hmmm,” Madame said as she took out her cell phone. “Susan? Cross reference Oliver Cohen’s contacts with known gun suppliers in the tri-state – see if there are any matches.”
“You think he really is the go-between?”
“In terms of realizing the cash for the gems, yes. I believe I have said before my belief Angel Xantu is more involved than we had realized – this seems to confirm it.”
“When are you expecting Jo back?”
Heather glanced at the wall clock. “Not for another hour or so, they had a few places to visit tonight.”
“Well,” Madame said, “I must return to my hotel and await developments. Thank you for tonight Juliette – let me know when I can return the favour.”
“I’ll be sure to do so,” she said as they embraced, and Madame made her way to the door, Juliette following behind.
“Sounds good,” Sandy said as she reached out and took Heather’s hand…
Wednesday 27th August
New Fulton Fish Market
“onetwenty onetwentyfive onethirty onethrityfive alldoneatonethrityfive alldone…. SOLD!”
“Paid a bit extra than usual there Tommy, ” one of the other traders said as Tommy signed the chit on the auctioneer’s board.
“Maybe, but its quality stuff, and I got a client waiting for it,” Tommy said as one of his men took the box of turbot and carried it straight to the van. “Get that down to the client as fast as safely possible,” he said as the two men set off, and he went to grab a coffee.
As he walked between the aisles of traders, chatting with a few of them, he suddenly saw Weasel standing at the side. He indicated with his head for Tommy to follow, the two men walking outside for a few minutes.
“What brings you down here,” Tommy said as Weasel lit up a cigarette.
“I got some word on the wire,” Weasel said as he inhaled and then blew out a cloud of smoke. “A number of suppliers received a package over the weekend – a down payment for possible work.”
“May have happened – if it did, I would have refused and returned the package.”
“Smart man – the word is some of them didn’t. There’s a lot of police chatter about armed raids on the families of suspected dealers – and no cooperation about what was stolen.”
“Is there now? Sounds like somebody doesn’t appreciate dishonest men,” Tommy said with a smile. “Still, as I say, that isn’t me Weasel. Thanks for the tip though.”
“Yer welcome Tommy – see you around,” Weasel said as he crushed his cigarette under his shoe and walked off.
“Honesty in our trade? Jeeze,” Tommy said as he went back in, to finish the work for the night and head home.
As he pulled up outside his apartment block, Tommy jumped out of the van and started to walk up to his apartment. Picking up his mail as he did so, he looked through the envelopes before letting himself in.
“Annie, I’m back,” he called out – and then her stopped and looked round. Everything seemed to be in place, but the apartment smelt spotless, as if nothing had been made – or cooked.
Reaching into his jacket pocket, he felt the heft of his gun and moved slowly down the hallway, looking into the kitchen. It was tidy, clean, and the coffee pot was empty, the table bare.
Tommy took the gun out and held it as he looked in the main room – nobody there, no signs of anyone waiting. He walked across and knocked on the bedroom door.
“Are you in there, sweetheart?”
He could hear a faint noise, and slowly opened the door, looking in. Annie was lying on her side, staring at him over one of her shawls which had been tied tightly over her nose and mouth. Her arms and legs were encircled in rope, and her ankles pulled back behind her.
“HLMLMMMMM” she mumbled out as Tommy put his finger to his lips. She then motioned with her eyes to the back of the door, Tommy nodding as he counted to three with his fingers – and then slammed the door suddenly back. The groan told him he had hit his target, as he pulled the door back and grabbed the intruder by the throat, forcing him to the ground as he placed his gun against their temple.
“Fucking dick move on yer part, son,” Tommy said as he hit him across the temple with the barrel of the gun, dazing him enough for Tommy to roll him over and pull his jacket down around his arms, then grab some twine and secure his wrists together.
“Yous all right, Annie,” he said as he looked up, his wife nodding as he came over and untied the scarf, uncovering a second knotted scarf that sat between her lips. Once he had removed that, he pulled out a washcloth and then released her ankles, sitting her up as he got a glass of water.
“Oh god Tommy,” Annie said eventually, “I thought he was going to kill ya and then me.”
“We’re too tough for that,” Tommy said as he held her, and then removed the ropes. “Yous go and get washed and changed – I’ll take care of the garbage.”
“Are you going to…”
“Nope,” Tommy said as he took out a cell phone, “Dis I can handle. Jack? Find Big John and meet me down at the warehouse – we’re gonna break a pinyata.”
“Tommy, you’re not gonna do anything stupid, are ya,” Annie said as she wrapped her robe around herself.
“Don’t worry, Annie, I’m just gonna take him and have a little chat with him and the guys,” Tommy said as he pulled out the laptop. “But first, I want someone sitting with ya today – let me send a mail.”
The Richmond Mansion.
“Morning,” Sandy said as she walked into the kitchen, “No sign of Jo yet?”
“ Nope – enjoying her last day of freedom,” Heather said with a smile as she checked the morning web sites. Her stare suddenly hardened as she read an incoming e-mail.
“Yeah,” Heather said as Sandy looked over her shoulder.
“Someone tried to get to me through Annie today. She’s shook up and scared, but unharmed. I got da word today those who received gifts over the weekend had been visited. Seems I was on their list.
“I need to take care of this, but I don’t want Annie to be alone, just in case. Would appreciate it if one of the nieces could see their way to spending the day with her. Reply ASAP if possible. Tommy.”
“Can you raise him on chat?”
Heather looked at the machine, and then opened a window.
“Tommy, Miss Cheetah here. We can get someone there in an hour. Do you require assistance?”
They watched the screen before the reply came.
“Not at dis stage, but may want info later if you have it. For now, I’m keeping this in the family, and dealing with it my way. The offer is appreciated though. Tell the niece three one three.”
“I get the feeling Tommy is pissed,” Sandy said as she dialed a number on the telephone.
“Never,” Heather said as she typed “Keep us informed.”
“Will do.” And with that the screen showed Tommy had gone.
“Diana? It’s Sandy. Is Abby busy today?
“Good – we need her to keep Annie company. Tell her to go prepared. Three knocks, then one, then three. And tell her to keep in touch with you.”
Tommy hoisted the still unconscious intruder onto his shoulder and kissed Annie. “Someone’s coming to sit wid ya, Annie. Three knocks, one, three. It’s your niece. I’ll call later.”
“Tommy, for god’s sake be careful.”
“I always am, Annie – see ya later,” Tommy said as he went out, closing the door behind me.
Annie sat nervously at the kitchen table. Tommy had said someone would come sit with her, but as yet no one had arrived. She’d been eating... too much; she did that when she was nervous.
A rap on the door made her jump. Three taps, one tap, three taps. That was the signal Tommy had told her listen for.
Putting the bagel down, Annie slowly walked to the door. “Who is it?” she asked.
“It’s your niece.” The visitor gave the right answer.
Quickly Annie unbolted the door. As she opened it her visitor smiled. “Hey Aunt Annie, long time no see.”
“Oh it’s good to see you too.” Annie embraced the very tall young woman and let her in.
“Miss Tigress?” Annie enquired looking at the tall, shapely, girl with the dark bobbed hair, and the large sunglasses.
“Got it in one.” Abigail smiled.
“Oh dear God am I glad to see you.” Annie looked grateful as the visitor took off her jacket and she saw the .38 nestling in a shoulder holster.
“Well I’m glad to be here, you and Tommy are sort of family, so we are always glad to help out.”
“Can I offer you a cup of coffee? Only instant I’m afraid.”
“That will be fine thank you.”
“Oh and before I forget thank you all for the wedding present, it was lovely.”
“You are more than welcome.” Abby smiled as she eased herself up onto a bar stool in the kitchen.
“So you’ve not been too busy?”
“No we’ve been kind of laying low.” Abigail thought how busy in fact her real life schedule had been.
“Well at least you’ve been staying out of trouble.” Annie passed her a mug.
“Yeah I suppose.” Abby thought. “How much has Tommy told you?”
“Only his suspicions that you are trying to bring down some real bastards.”
Abigail nodded, “yeah they make us look like angels. Tommy obviously annoyed them when he turned down their offer.”
“Yeah!” Annie looked mad. “I’ve never seen him react like that.”
“It’s not easy seeing a person you love hurt.” Abigail reflected back to when Carina had been shot.
“Will he be okay?”
“I hope so.” Abby tried not to sound worried for Annie’s sake.
“I phoned Billie, she's going to open the bar for me, I said I was unwell and taking the day off." Annie
"You did the right thing."
"So do we just sit here."
"I guess we do." Abby pulled a laptop out of
her carryall. “I'll just tell my friends I'm here and that we are going to
watch the soaps on TV."
"Mind looking away Annie, I need do a scan."
"Oh sure…" Annie turned her head.
"Okay all done, you can look again." Abby said as she fixed her sunglasses back in place.
Morgan Fish Wholesale Warehouse
“Who the hell do you think you are!”
The man looked up at his bound wrists, by which he was suspended on a hook above the ground, and then back down to where Tommy was standing looking at him.
“I’ll make it easy for you,” he said as Big John and Jack the Scar came in. “Talk now, tell me who put your up to this and you walk away.”
“Go to hell,” was all he said.
“Well, I gave ya da chance,” Tommy said as he looked at Jack. “Ya see, you hurt my love, and I don’t take kindly to those who hurt the ones I love. The last one ended up regretting it.”
“OH, what did you do, talk him to death?”
“No, I knee capped him,” Tommy said quietly, “but I want you to talk. This is Jack – he’s called Jack the Scar. Can you guess why?”
“On accounta the scar?”
“Yeah – would you like to know how he got it? Jack used to play Hockey – Ice Hockey. Quite the guard he was – and then someone hit him on the cheek with his stick.”
“And your point is?”
“Show him Jack.”
Jack picked up the hockey stick, weighing it in his hands before he brought it crashing onto the back of the intruder’s knees.
“Hurts, doesn’t it? Now, who told you to attack my wife?”
The man shook his head, only to scream out again as Jack brought the hockey stick down on his ankles.
“Now, youse gonna talk, or do I ask Jack here to get nasty?”
The Waldorf Hotel
“Have you seen Madame yet this morning?” Penelope asked Dominique.
“Why, is something wrong?”
“Far from it, she was beaming and smiling.”
Dominique smiled, “I think we can take it then she enjoyed her night out with Juliette.”
“I guess so.” Penny nodded.
“So what was she up to earlier?”
“Well other then reviewing mine and Susan’s briefing documents, I caught her on the phone to her wine merchant back in London ordering several cases of Chateau de Ros.”
“Oh I think we can guess what wine was served last night then.” Dom laughed. “I’m glad she has become friends with Ju, it’s nice to see her going out and having some fun for a change.”
“Agreed – good morning Juliette. Any word on Tommy and Annie?”
“Abby has gone to sit with Annie,” Juliette said as she removed her coat, “as for Tommy – we’ll hear in due course.”
“I have the feeling he wishes to get, as someone once said, medieval on someone’s ass.”
“Indeed – you should have seen him when Maroni threatened Annie. I’ve never seen him as angry as then, but today may come close.”
“She’s waiting,” Charlotte said as she walked by. “let’s go in.”
The ladies filed in to find Madame sitting by the coffee table.
“Alright ladies can we come to order please.” Madame glanced round the room. “Things are starting to happen fast and we need work out our plans for the next period.”
“Well my listening teams are getting plenty of relevant chatter, but we are no closer to discovering who The Walrus is.” Charlotte led off.
“I think we’ve covered everyone thoroughly with our devices.” Dominique reported.
“Tommy the Fish is very, very mad… “
“I can understand that Juliette, coming home to find that scene cannot have been pleasant.” Madame spoke calmly.
“I personally think they are beginning to show some stress.” Juliette thought aloud. “I don’t take them for being stupid, but rattling Tommy that way was a dumb move.”
“I’d have to agree with Ju on that.” Dominique nodded.
“Legault is being pressured hard by the others, he makes one more mistake and he’s gone I think.” Susan looked up from her notes.
“I don’t know if Legault is behind this though – unless he is their enforcer, and I still think Xantu fits that role.”
“We need to offer Tommy assistance if he asks for it,” Juliette said quietly, “but somehow, I think he will find out for himself. For now, we have other matters to discuss.”
Morgan Fish Wholesale Warehouse
“I… I’ve told you all I know. I was paid to hit ya, through a third party. Money up front. Please – I need a doctor.”
“One more thing,” Tommy said as Jack leaned on his stick. “Where did ya meet this go-between.”
“Downtown – bar next to Cohen’s place…”
“Put him on ice,” Tommy said to Big John, who lifted him off the hook and then threw him into a box half filled with ice. Closing the lid over him, he nailed it in place and then put a shipping label for Boston on it.
“Jack, thanks for yer help,” Tommy said as he shook the big man’s hand. “If I needs ya again, can I counts on ya?”
Jack nodded as Tommy took out his cell phone.
Annie nearly jumped out of her skin as the telephone rang. Picking it up she said “Hello?”
“Annie it’s me – did our niece arrive?”
“she did,” Annie said as she looked over at Miss Tigress. “We’re just having a snack.”
“Put her on, will ya?”
“He wants to talk to you,” she said as she handed Abby the phone. Nodding, she said “Hello Tommy – is all well?”
“Moving along, Miss – I need to go and see a man named Cohen. Familiar?”
“I have heard the name – I suggest caution.”
“Gotcha – I’ll call again in an hour.”
“Susan – a message?”
“My apologies Madame, it appears Tommy had contacted Heather.”
“One moment Madame – a message from Heather.”
Susan looked at her screen and read "Tell Madame
from me that whoever tried to hit Annie and Tommy was hired near Cohen’s store
– and Tommy knows. We might need troops
on the street and quickly."
"Okay I get that." Susan typed back.
"Tell Juliette to get her ass over to Sandy's and bring help… NOW!"
"Okay see you soon." Heather typed back.
“Forgive me Madame,” Susan said quietly, “Juliette, you, Dom and I are needed at Sandy’s place.”
“It may have been Cohen who arranged the hit.”
“Go,” Madam said as the three of them headed off.
The New Calabria
Tommy and Big John were sitting in a corner booth, talking quietly when the door opened and Carlos came in.
“Tanks for coming,” Tommy said as Carlos sat down.
“Scared. Carlos, we need to know who does business out of Toledo’s, near the Cohen jewel place?”
The cab driver looked round and said quietly “A few people, mainly rackets and numbers. Why?”
“The guy who ordered the business with me and Annie worked from there. Any thoughts?”
“Only one guy I know in this line of work frequents there – and you ain’t gonna like it when I tells ya.”
“Carlos, spill it – who would it be?”
“Willy’s brother – Bald Andy.”
“Shit,” Tommy said, “that’s not da news I needed. Thanks Carlos – does he still frequent the bar?”
“Yeah – usually there 1 to 4.”
“Thanks – I’ll see ya.”
Carlos nodded and walked out, as Big John looked at Tommy.
“Bald Andy? I hope you’re packing.”
“Oh I’m packing – let’s get a drink and then I fancy a game of bar pools at Toledo’s.”
The Richmond Mansion
“We’re here,” Dominique said as they ran in, “What’s the word.”
“Tommy is on the warpath – we think he’s heading to Toledo’s bar next to the Cohen traders. If he finds out Cohen is linked to this…”
“All right ladies,” Juliette took charge. “We need to quickly get into some kind of disguises and grab some firepower.”
“I brought a few things.” Diana indicated the heavy looking bag by her side.
“I got some things out of the priest’s hole.” Sandy added.
“Priest’s Hole?” Susan whispered to Heather.
“When Catholicism was illegal in England Catholics houses had holes or traps to hide priests in, Sandy’s Great Great Grandpa had one built in this house, we use it for storage.” Heather whispered back.
“Are we late?” Annie and Penny arrived.
“No we just didn’t expect you.” Juliette smiled.
“I swung by and collected her from St Angela’s,” Penny explained.
“Well thought Penny.” Dominique nodded to her old friend.
“Okay ladies as far as we can judge Tommy has Cohen’s name and is out to get him.” Juliette paused, “Our job is to protect our friends, and keep this from turning into something we can’t control.”
The others all nodded.
“Diana and Dominique, you take the sniper rifles and head down there now, find high ground and let us know what’s going on.”
“We are on our way,” the two shouted back over their shoulders.
“Okay mobile teams. Susan you and Heather out front and try and blend in.”
“I sorted some wigs out.” Heather called to her friend as she rushed out the door, “Let’s get you changed quick.”
“There’s an alleyway behind.” Annie remembered.
“Good.” Juliet grunted, “You and Sandy get ready and I want you there in twenty five minutes maximum.
“Gotcha.” Both women exited.
“Jo make yourself look as young as possible, we will put you on foot and you try get close.
“Okay Juliette.” Jo started to run up to her bedroom.
“That leaves you and me as a mobile reserve Penny, we plug up any holes… Come on we better get our guns and disguises.”
“Okay.” Penny gulped. Nowadays this kind of action was usually a bit below her pay grade.
“Cheer up – with any luck, we can calm him down and make sure nobody gets hurt.”
“And if not?”
“Let’s not think about that,” Juliette said as she collected some things.
Ten minutes later, Joanna came running downstairs, her face scrubbed clean of makeup, her auburn wig tied back as a ponytail, she looked about 13 years old.
“Well do I look okay?” she asked Juliette.
“Perfect… now do you have your com device and your gun?”
“Both in my rucksack.”
“Okay you look ready to go.”
“How about us?” Annie asked as she and Sandy returned.
“Oh those boots are to kill for.” Jo admired Annie’s patent knee high boots.
“Concentrate.” Juliette warned her.
“Okay you’ll pass Juliette ran an expert eye over the jeans and denim jackets her two friends were wearing, that’ll blend you in, and I love those wigs.”
“Why thank you darling.” Sandy laughed as she fingered her red curls.
“Okay all three of you out of here, drop Jo off then take up a waiting position.
“Got it.” Sandy nodded. The three of them ran out as Penny watched.
“Susan, Heather, you need to be rolling.”
“We’re coming, “ Heather shouted as two very, very sexy ladies of the night, entered Sandy’s drawing room.
“Oh dear Goddess - Well certainly no one’s going to recognize you.” Penny laughed.
“Those gold pants look like they’ve been sprayed on your ass.” Juliette laughed at Susan, “And Heather that mini skirt is more like a belt.”
“Hey you said disguises,” Heather laughed as she adjusted both her huge sunglasses and her long blonde wig that matched Susan’s exactly.
“We can finish our makeup when we get there,” Susan noted.
“Okay I have everything in our purses.” Heather replied.
“Okay girls see you soon.” Juliette shouted as they left.
“Juliette, I’m not dressing as a Hooker.” Penelope laughed.
“No you’re just fine as you are.” Juliette glanced at her as she collected up maps, her laptop, coms, etc.
“Just put these on.” She passes Penny a dark bobbed wig, and some large sunglasses.
“Okay.” Penny started adjusting her hair. “This suit is not exactly Action Girl,” she nodded down at the red suit she had on, the skirt of which ended at her knees.
“Well my outfit’s the same type,” Juliette looked at the Ivory jacket she wore over a simple navy shift, “but we should be fine.”
“Okay let’s go.” Juliette grabbed her loaded bag and car keys.
“Tell me again why we are on stakeout here,” Adam Ball said as he sat next to Janice.
“The bugs I placed last night recorded some telephone conversations between Madame Chen and Oliver Cohen – his business is here. The crew we talked to earlier followed him to his business, and now we see who comes in and who goes out.”
Janice stifled a yawn and reached for her coffee.
“Late night with the girls?”
“Not really – I just hate this… Hold on.”
They watched as a bald, portly man walked out of the jewelers and entered the bar.
“That’s Cohen – wonder what he wants to do in a dive like that?”
“One of us needs to go in and find out.” Adam looked over at Janice, and said “I guess it’s me. You’re not exactly dressed for this place.”
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing,” Janice said as he looked at her faded jeans, tan jacket and heels.
“Yeah – come on then. Let’s get a drink.”
“That’s convenient,” Diana said as she drove her Daimler up to the top of the multi story parking facility.
“Okay we are here, and our targets are there.” Dominique checked out the map on the sat nav.
“Which means… “ Diana got out of the car and scoured roof tops, “our two best positions are there.” She pointed to a large office block, then continued “and that construction site over there.”
“Agreed.” Dominique scanned the terrain. “I’ll toss you for positions.”
“Heads the office, tails the construction site..”
“Up she goes.” Diana watched the coin fly.
“Shit!” Diana said, “Okay I have some old jeans in my bag, and I guess I can stain this shirt.” She looked down despairingly at the $700 Chanel shirt she was wearing.
“Take my leather jacket, “ Dom added “and try find yourself a hard hat.”
“Dom try this wig darling,” Diana tossed her an auburn shoulder length wig, while fitting a similar length but blonde one over her own hair.
Within five minutes they had both transformed, neither recognisable except maybe to their closest friends as they both donned sunglasses.
“Okay you have your com, and the rifle is in the case, let me know when you are in place.” Diana told Dominique as she embraced her. “Good hunting darling.”
“And to you,” Dominique said as they separated.
“Well, this is the place,” Annie said as she and Sandy walked into the alley.
“That must be the back entrance to the bar,” Sandy said as she looked at the pair of black doors.
“And that’s the back of Cohen’s,” Annie said as she looked at the high wall, topped with barbed wire.
“I leave that to you ladies,” Annie said with a smile. “There’s an alcove over there – let’s go and take up position.”
Joanne walked along the street, her nose in a book as she cast a glance over to the row of stores and bars. Crossing the road, she stopped at a book store next to Toledo’s and began to flip through some of the items outside while Heather and Susan walked past.
As they walked into the bar, they looked round, then sat in a booth and ordered drinks.
“That’s Cohen,” Susan said as she looked over at Oliver Cohen.
“Who’s the bald guy with him?”
“No idea – but those two are watching him as well.”
Heather looked in the same direction as Susan. “Shit – Carter and Ball. They’re…”
“FBI – I can spot them a mile off.”
“We’ve got a problem,” Heather muttered into her microphone, “Carter and Ball are here.”
In a car down the road, Juliette nodded. “Copy that – continue surveillance. We’ll deal with that if we have to.”
“Janice,” Adam said as his partner looked round again, “what the hell’s bothering you?”
“There’s another surveillance team here Ball.”
“What the hell do you mean Janice?”
“Look at the hookers over there, that teenager trying to look so young, the pair in that car down the street.”
“Okay I see them.”
“They’ve all got ear pieces in and they are studiously avoiding trying to look suspicious.”
“Nope.” Janice nodded. “They look more like Langley types to me.”
“But the agency isn’t supposed to operate on US soil… “
“Oh come on Adam you can’t be that naïve.”
“Control, this is Carter,” Janice spoke into her cell, “can someone high up tell Langley this is a Quantico operation and get their people outta here.”
“Are you sure of that accusation Janice?” Tom Callaghan’s voice came online.
“Yeah these people are real good, but they aren’t ours, so I sorta figure given the nature of what we are doing… “
“I’ll ring Washington and find out.” Callaghan finished.
“You do that Tom.”
“Madame, the FBI think our people are CIA.” Charlotte came rushing into Madame’s rooms.
“Well that might work to our advantage.” Madame smiled.
“Relay that information to Juliette.”
Juliette smiled as she looked at the message, and replied “Thank you.”
“Listen up ladies – you’ve been made, but they think you’re CIA. Use this knowledge creatively.”
“Oh this could be fun,” Sandy said as she looked at Annie. “Think we can get into the yard?”
Annie looked at the wall, then at her boots. “Just be grateful it’s a low wall,” she said as she scaled and jumped over, opening the doors and letting Sandy in. They made their way to the fire exit and waited outside.
Tommy stopped in the street outside and looked up and down. “Let’s do this,” he said to Big John as they got out, taking the hockey sticks with them.
“Tommy’s here,” Diana muttered as she looked through her sights. “Showtime,”
The two men walked into the bar, looking round and then heading to one of the pool tables. As they walked there, Tommy looked at the two balding men sitting talking quietly at a table.
“I need to get closer,” Janice said as she stood up, “another drink.”
Adam nodded as Janice walked to the bar, listening to the conversations as she did so.
“You recovered all the packages?”
“Sure I did – after all, that’s what you hired me for. There was one exception – I left one of my men there to educate the schmuck.”
“One exception? Angel will not be pleased – who was it?”
“Morgan – pity, my brother likes him.”
Tommy glanced round and smiled as he hit the white ball.
Janice had to stop herself from reacting as she paid for the drinks and carried them over.
“Morgan was off the list,” Cohen whispered, “he refused but returned the entire deposit. Who the hell told you to hit him?”
“I got a call from your French friend – said to make sure he got a visit.”
“I will have to have words with him,” Cohen said quietly. “Anyway, the contract is your brother’s if he wants it.”
“I’ll let him know,” Andy said, but as he stood a tall man stood next to them.
“Can I help you,” Oliver Cohen said as he looked at them.
“My friend would like to buy you a drink,” Big John said quietly.
“Janice, you listening?”
“Go ahead Tom,” Janice said as she sat down.
“Langley swear they don’t have an op going down there today. Thing is, that’s exactly what I’d expect them to say. What’s the sit?”
“Cohen was speaking to someone, but it looks like they’ve been joined by – oh hell.”
“What is it, Carter?”
“Tommy Morgan just joined them – and he don’t look too happy.”
Annie and Sandy walked in from the rest room corridor, and sat at the bar.
“Two Coors,” Annie said as the barman gave them their drinks, and they looked round.
“So where’s Tommy?”
“Talking to the two men – no three men over there.”
Diana made her way slowly up the open staircase, Dominique’s leather jacket covering her blouse and her bag slung over her shoulder. She had managed to obtain a white hard hat from the supervisor’s office, and when challenged by the one or two paying attention she said she was one of the surveyors.
“Why they needed to build here I’ll never know,” she mumbled to herself as she got to the floor she needed, and opened the door, walking into a bare corridor. The building work had completed the superstructure, but the fitting crews had not reached it yet.
“Thank the Goddess for work crews,” Diana said quietly as she walked into a large open floor, and strode across, the heels of her ankle boots clicking as she approached the open space where the windows were going to be.
Looking down, she saw the store and bar front, the cars parked along the road. Smiling she knelt and took the bag from her shoulder, laying it down and opening it as she stroked the barrel of the gun.
With practiced movements she assembled the rifle, making sure the sights were correctly aligned as she aimed at the car outside the tavern, and then adjusting her thoughts.
“Your estimate of wind?”
“I’d say about 10 mph, north north westerly.”
“I agree – make sure you compensate accordingly. Ju, I’m in position.”
“Got that Diana – await orders.”
“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, Mister…”
“The name’s Morgan – Tommy Morgan. My friends call me Tommy the Fish,” he said as he looked at Oliver Cohen.
“Well, Mister Morgan, my friend and I have some business to discuss, so if you don’t mind…”
“Well, Mister Cohen, that’s just the problem,” Tommy said with a smile, “I have some business to discuss with youse as well. I had an unwelcome visitor at home today, and when I asked him who had sent him, he said someone from this place – and someone named Cohen had paid him.”
“Mister Morgan, how many people do you think there are in New York called Cohen?”
“Oh plenty, I’m sure,” Tommy said as he sat back, “but you were the one who shouted my name earlier.”
“I’ve heard enough,” Cohen said but as he stood Tommy snarled “Sit down, Cohen. I want ta know why you paid him to…”
“Well hello boys – buy a girl a drink?”
Tommy looked up to see Heather and Susan standing there, smiling at all four of them.
“Hey ladies,” Andy said, “why don’t you come and sit with us? Make room for them, Mister Morgan.”
Tommy stood up and allowed Heather to sit down, while Susan sat next to Cohen.
“So what are you boys getting so hot under the collar for anyway,” Heather said as she smiled at Tommy.
“Nothing that can’t keep for a few minutes,” Tommy said with a smile. “Come on John – you can win that twenty back.”
“Sorry ladies,” Cohen said once they were alone, “but I’m married.”
“Don’t let that stop you,” Susan said as she stroked her chin,
“Andy – I got your message.”
“Disappear ladies – we’ll talk later,” Andy said, Heather and Susan moving off with a disappointed look. Tommy looked over at the new arrival, and swore under his breath,
“Nicely intervened,” Sandy said as the two women sat back down again.
“Only delayed lover,” Heather whispered back as she watched Tommy. “Ju, what news?”
“They think we’re Langley. Let’s try a little something. Jo, come and get something from me will you?”
“Hey – the kid is going up to the car now. If they’re not Langley, could they be DoJ?”
“ATF is not meant to be stepping on our toes either,” Janice said. “If this is Langley, I’m going to…”
“Phone call – phone call for Tommy Morgan.”
“Watch my back,” Tommy said to Big John as the new arrival looked at him.
“What’s he doing here,” Willy said as he looked at his brother.
“A mistake – don’t worry about it,” Andy said quietly.
“This is Tommy.”
“Hello Uncle Tommy dahlin’.”
Looking round, Tommy whispered “Miss Bobcat?”
“That’s right Tommy – now listen very carefully. We know you want revenge, and you shall have it, but not here, not this way. We need you to create a diversion – a nice big one. Do that sweetie, and the rest will follow.”
“I tink I can do dat,” Tommy said with a smile, as he handed the phone back.
“Sandy, Annie, Tommy is about to go apeshit. Sandy, you got that special present?”
Sandy reached into her jacket pocket and smiled. “Got it. We’ll take the chance.”
“Diana, Dominique, we’re going to make a move. Take out the tires of the Saab parked two from us when the fun starts.”
“I’ve got it,” Diana said. “Dominique, covering fire if needed.”
“Acknowledged,” Dominique said as she took aim.
“I think we can do business,” Willy said as he shook hands with Cohen, “the delivery will be ready in…”
“COHEN YOU BASTARD!!!”
Tommy brought the hockey stick down hard on the table, cracking it in two as the others leapt up.
“Tommy what the fuck…”
“This bastard paid someone to try to kill me and Annie,” Tommy said as he raised the stick again, narrowly missing Cohen, “and he’s gonna pay!”
“Morgan, it was an honest mistake – let us compensate you…”
Andy fell to the crack of the stick on his skull, as Willy lunged at Tommy to bring him down – only to be stopped as Big John took him down.
“You had a slimeball bind and gag my wife, threaten to kill her, and youse say it was an honest mistake. I ought to…”
“Dammit,” Janice said as she and Adam jumped up, the two hookers running to the door as they did so, “You get Tommy, I’ll get Cohen.”
“Cool it Tommy,” Adam Ball said as he grabbed the smaller man, while Janice looked at Andy. As they struggled, Oliver Cohen walked slowly to the door.
“Who wants to know,” he said as the two women in jeans, boots and jackets came either side of him,
“CIA – come with us sir.”
“No fucking wAAAAAAAAAAA” Cohen said as Sandy drove the Taser into his side, and the two women carried him out. Penny had the trunk open as they piled him in, closing it on him before they all climbed in.
“Shit – someone nabbed Cohen,” Janice said as she and Ball ran after them, looking to the speeding car before two shots rang out. They dived to the side, only to see the tyres on their car slowly deflate.
“Where the hell did that come from?”
“NO idea,” Janice said, “but I’m going to…”
“Carter! Ball! Report!”
“Whoever this lot are, they took Cohen,” Janice said, “We’ll tell you more when we find out.”
Walking back into the bar, Adam took Tommy to one side and said “start talking…”
“Later,” Tommy said as he and Big John walked out, not noticing Bald Andy following them.
Tommy turned to see Andy produce a gun, and then drop it in agony as Andy was shot in the shoulder.
“Serves you right you bastard,” Tommy said as he and Big John walked away, Andy cursing after him.
“What the hell is going on…? ADAM!! Man Down!!!”
“What the hell – Callahan, we need a paramedic and ambulance at the stakeout. One man down, shoulder gunshot wound.”
“Well, time we weren’t here,” Susan said as she and Heather slipped out the back.
The Listening Post
As the car pulled up outside the back entrance, Charlotte opened the door, waiting as Penelope and Susan lifted the unconscious Cohen onto a trolley and two of the girls wheeled him in.
“What’s going to happen to him,” Sandy said as she and Juliette stood by the car.
“Last time Carina did the honours – this time we will leave it to Dominique when she returns. Ladies, thank you for your help – and Madame hopes you understand if she declines your invitation tonight, Sandy. She will be – otherwise engaged.”
“Understood,” Sandy stopped for a second, “I’m not sure which I’d find more scary,” she said as they drove off, “Carina in full Lynx flow, or Dominique’s calm manner.”
“Neither do I,” Juliette said, “but I need to get home and changed, and then collect Tommy…”
“Tommy!” Annie jumped up and embraced her husband as Miss Tigress stood to one side.
“Hey Annie,” he said as he kissed her, “I told ya I’d be back.”
“Did you find out who did it?”
“I did – and it got a little heated, but it’s done. They won’t bother us again.”
He kissed Annie and then walked over to embrace the tall young woman. “Thank you, and thank the others for me. I woulda killed him, and instead – well, hell awaits him.”
“It’s a pleasure Uncle Tommy,” Miss Tigress said. “If there is anything else we can do…”
“Nah – I need to be here, and ya need to go. There’s a dam good chance I’ll have visitors ya don’t wanna meet soon.”
“Gotcha,” she said as she pushed her laptop back into her satchel and smiled at them. “Keep safe.”
She embraced them both and then walked off, leaving Annie to look at Tommy.
“Who’s gonna call,” she finally said.
“Carter and Ball – they were at my last stop.”
“And the man who was here?”
“Dealt with,” Tommy said as he stripped his jacket off and put it on the back of the chair. He then noticed the empty pizza boxes, and smiled.
“Tomorrow, salad, got it?”
“Got it. Shall I put the coffee on?”
“Yeah, ya’d better – I reckon I’ve got…”
The knock on the door made them both look. “No time at all,” he said with a shrug as he went and opened the door.
“Agent Carter, Agent Ball – come in,” he said as he held the door open for the two agents.
“Tommy,” Janice said as he closed the door, “Want to explain what the hell happened today?”
“Care for some coffee? Annie, darling, we have guests.”
“Agent Carter, Agent Ball – how nice to see you again. Can I get you both a cup?”
“Yeah, why not,” Adam said as he and Janice sat down.
“Look, I didn’t know you were there today,” Tommy said as Annie prepared the cups, “I went down to talk to a man who had done wrong by me and Annie. I had no idea youse guys were interested in someone as well.”
“Tommy, you have a very nasty habit of been involved in the trouble we look into – what happened?”
“No idea – I came home today to find someone had robbed me, and trussed up Annie. I asked around, heard it was someone who frequented Toledo’s. I may have lost my temper a tiny bit, mind you…”
“He’s my protective hubby,” Annie said as she sat with them, “you can’t blame him if he got upset.”
“Guess not.” Adam said as he sipped his coffee, “but something went down between you and that bald guy. A bloody hockey stick?”
“I was really mad at him. I suppose I should thank you,” he said to Ball,” I might have hit him with it, and then I wouldn’t be here.”
“So who shot him?”
“No idea – I was walking away, heard him shout, turned and then bang – down he went. Is he dead?”
“Nope – but he ain’t talking either.” Janice drained her mug, and then said “You two all right now?”
“Yeah – look if you want a statement…”
“Forget it Tommy – something else went down today, much bigger. We’ll talk soon.”
“Well, if that’s all agents, I want to take my wife out to dinner.”
“See you Tommy,” Adam said as she escorted Janice out. As he closed the door, Annie said “Dinner? Where?”
“I fancy Chinese – I heard about a nice place…”
“He’s hiding something isn’t he,” Adam said as he and Janice got into the car.
“Yeah – let’s report to Callaghan, and then we need to get ready for this dinner party.”
The de Ros Mansion
“Thank you Edith,” Juliette said as the housekeeper took her coat and placed it in the closet, “I trust I am not too late.”
“Of course not Miss Huntingdown – if you will come this way?”
Juliette smiled as she and her partner came in, Diana coming forward to greet them.
“Thank you for coming,” she said as she handed her a glass of champagne.
“Our pleasure,” Juliette said as she smiled and embraced Natasha, and then joined Sandy and Heather. The women were in full evening dress, complete with tiaras and necklaces, while the men wore dinner jackets, crisp white shirts and bow ties.
Tom Morse after checking everyone had a full glass decided to propose a toast. “As one of New York City’s deputy mayors, can I formally welcome Miss Natasha de Ros to our fair city.”
“Thank you.” Natasha blushed and smiled.
A short while later, Edith announced that dinner was ready, and the couples filed in.
“Okay it’s official I’m old and I’m pathetic,” Juliette took off her gloves as she sat down at Diana’s long dining table. Her dress was strapless, with a black bodice that slipped into a v-shaped band at the front of the white skirt.
“Pathetic darling?” Diana asked.
“When I have to recruit one of my daughter’s boyfriends as my date for a dinner party, I KNOW I’m old.”
“You’re not old Miss Huntingdon,” Tommy Boyton said as he held her chair out for her.
“Tommy you are the sweetest young man, but an awful liar.” Juliette smiled at him.
“Well I get to drag my partner from work Ju,” Janice laughed. Janice wore a cap sleeved royal blue silk dress with matching opera gloves.
“But Adam looks so good in a dinner suit.” Juliette laughed. “Hold on to him tight Jan I might pinch him to become my escort.”
“Well at least since we came out we don’t need to rustle up men.” Sandy spoke as she smiled at Heather. Both women wore vintage Dior gowns with high collars, the skirt flowing from the gathered waist.
“Well I’m happy, it means I get the pleasure of Alexander as my date.” Diana laughed, “although should one really call a priest a date?”
“Of course – we like a good diner as much as the next man,” Alexander Richmond said with a smile in reply. Diana wore a pale cream silk gown with long sleeves, while Abigail wore a strapless grey silk dress with a slit from hip to floor.
Looking round the table Diana was very happy with the turnout for a dinner party to officially welcome Natasha to New York. All her friends were here, plus the Morse’s, the McNally’s and the Rochermann’s.
At 13 Kevin McNally was the youngest there, and he was officially Abigail’s escort, but the poor boy was so tongue tied at being round Abby she despaired of getting any decent conversation from him.
“Relax,” she eventually whispered to him, “nothing will get back to Becky tomorrow.”
“Not unless you want it to,” Abigail said with a smile as she sat down, and removed her gloves.
Natasha smiled as well, she too had needed to dip into the realm of younger brothers for her escort, but Jimmy Boyton, while he might only be 17, was well-mannered and it seemed quite academically gifted. All in all she could, and had in the past, have done a lot worse.
“So where is Shirley tonight?” Rachel McNally asked.
“She begged off, there’s someone she had to meet with urgently.”
“That’s a pity.” Rachel laughed, “I can see her becoming one of our group so to speak.”
“Well maybe next time.” Juliette smiled at her friends.
The Listening Post
“Who the hell are you? Come on out and show yourselves!!”
Oliver Cohen screamed out into the empty room as eh strained at the leather straps holding his wrists and arms firmly down to the arms of the heavy wooden chair. A wide leather belt held his waits to the chair back, while another sat across his chest.
His legs and ankles were strapped to the front end, as he looked at the table and mirror on the wall.
“You can’t hold me here like this!! LET ME GO!!!”
“Lively, isn’t he,” Susan said as he and Penelope watched him through the two way mirror.
“Very much so – I wonder what Dominique will do?”
“Dominique will finish her coffee,” she said as she came in, dressed in a black cat suit with knee length lace up boots, “and then she will go and talk to Mr. Cohen.”
“You’re not going to do a Carina on him, are you?”
“Not worth it,” Dominique said as she sipped her coffee, “I think we’ll try another approach with him.”
“A small injection?”
Dominique nodded. “What does the medical workup say?”
Penelope handed Dominique a sheet of notes, which she quickly scanned down.
“All right,” Dominique said as she picked up the telephone. “Have our guest hooked up to the monitors – we begin in ten minutes.”
The Peacock Inn
“Good evening sir – do you have a reservation?”
“I do – name of Morgan.”
The hostess scanned down the list. “Ah yes – this way if you please.”
As they crossed the restaurant floor, Annie held Tommy’s arm and said “How did you hear of this place, Tommy?”
“It came recommended,” was all he said as they sat down, and he ordered two Chinese beers.
The de Ros Mansion
“I can’t believe the school year starts for them tomorrow – Jeannie must be excited,” Claire said as she looked at Juliette.
“So I understand, Barbara and John are having one last family night before the fun begins,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Well, I hope she has a better day than we did,” Janice said as she looked at the girls.
“Oh, what happened,” Kelly said as she put her soup spoon down.
“Now girls,” Sandy said quietly, “I’m sure Janice does not want to talk about her work today.”
“I’m sure she doesn’t either,” Adam said as he looked at Janice. “It was a rough day for both of us.”
“You can say that again,” Janice said as she drained her glass, “Inter-office politics and a fight in a bar. Just what I needed.”
Alexander patted his mouth and decided to change the subject as the plates were cleared.
“Natasha,” he said as he looked at her, “I once had the privilege to listen to your mother speak at a wine industry seminar in Florence, I will admit to being stunned by her knowledge of her industry.”
“I’ll pass that on Father.”
“Call me Alexander.”
“Alright, I’ll tell her that Alexander.”
“Chateau de Ros under her stewardship certainly rivals most of the Premier Cru’s in my opinion.”
“Oh never tell her that.” Natasha giggled.
“Because she has long considered that list outdated, outmoded, and bad for our wine growers generally.”
“I take her point, there are certainly vineyards that cruise by, and charging premium prices because of that 19th century classification.”
“Exactly. Mamma feels a more appropriate appellation needs to be introduced.” Natasha smiled. “You are very knowledgeable, Alexander.”
“Well, when you are a priest, my dear, you have to have some hobbies to take your mind off the day job. Otherwise it becomes a day and night job.”
“So how is NYU Tommy?” Juliette started making small talk.
“In many ways like prep school, I get up, I go to school, I come home, I study, I eat, I study some more, and then I go to bed.”
“Wish you’d gone away to college now?”
“A bit, but NYU does offer one of the best medical educations going, and a strong biology program.”
“So still set on being a bacteriologist then?”
“Yes. Any openings in the Bureau for that line of work, Miss Carter?”
Janice looked at Tommy and said “Might be – forensic sciences are important, but can you hold yourself in a fight?”
“I think I can. Why don’t you tell us about your day.”
“Janice, perhaps you’d better…”
“It’s all right Adam,” Janice said as the Chicken Chasseur was placed in front of her. “Truth is Tommy we were on a stake out today for a suspected arms dealer, and it went south – big time.”
“Sounds bad,” Kelly said in a sympathetic voice.
“So what persuaded you to become an FBI agent Janice?” Alexander asked.
“Well I was a pre-law major in college, and I’d been accepted at Columbia Law.”
“That sounds good,”
“But then my father died, and there wasn’t the money for law school, but I saw an ad for the Bureau and to my surprise they both took me AND I survived Quantico.”
“I suspect it wasn’t as bad as a Paris Island boot camp pre-Nam,” Alexander said with a smile.
“Probably not,” Janice admitted.
“What about you Adam?”
“I joined after I was discharged.”
“Oh,” Alexander said with interest, “what branch?”
“Marines – I did a tour in Iran, and then Afghanistan. After that, I thought I’d seen enough, so I came home – and they called me in. You?”
“67 to 69, mainly in the Mekong delta… May I offer a toast?”
Everyone round the table raised their glasses.
“To the ones who did not come home.”
They all drank in silence, before Diana said “another toast – to Alexander, Adam, and those who came home.”
“Hear hear,” Jimmy said.
The Listening Post
“Good evening Mister Cohen – my apologies for keeping you waiting.”
Oliver looked at the tall, slim woman in black as she came in and laid a tray on the table.
“Who the fuck are you? And why the fuck am I here?” he shouted out as Dominique smiled.
“Who I am is irrelevant, Mister Cohen, the question is, what have you been up to?”
“I was doing business, and then those two dames knocked me out, and next thing I know…”
“You are here,” Dominique said quietly as she checked the blood pressure and heart rate readings on the monitors. “Now, we have a few questions to ask you, Mister Cohen, and we would appreciate complete and honest answers.”
“I ain’t saying anything without a lawyer.”
“Mister Cohen – Oliver,” Dominique said with a smile, “what on earth makes you think we allow lawyers? You heard we were CIA.”
“And you cannot operate on US soil.”
“Who says you’re still in the United States?”
Oliver Cohen stared at the young woman, as she opened a box and drew out a syringe. Pulling his sleeve back she swabbed his arm, and then injected the contents of the syringe into his blood stream.
“Now then,” Oliver heard her say through the growing fog, “What is your name?”
“My… My name is Oliver Jacob Cohen.”
“And you are a native of New York?”
Dominique looked at the monitors, and then said “Good – what is your connection to Dominic Rice?”
The Peacock Inn
“Well, Tommy, I gotta admit, this is a swell place.”
“Yeah, it is,” Tommy said as he looked at Annie, “I’m glad I heard about it.”
“Yeah,” Tommy said as he looked at the waiter.
“Champagne, sir, with the compliments of the management.” He placed two glasses on the table and opened the bottle.
“What did we do ta deserve dis?” Tommy said as he poured the glasses.
“Madame Chen, the owner, had heard of your recent marriage, and wishes to make this as a present to you. She also offers this.” He handed Tommy an envelope, which he opened and glanced in.
“Will you tank her for dis,” Tommy said as he put the envelope in his jacket pocket. “Annie will youse excuse me a moment?”
“Where you going Tommy?”
“Little boys room,” Tommy said with a smile as he headed for the restrooms, passing the gents and then heading outside.
“Mister Cohen, thank you for stepping out.”
He looked at the two women, one tall, thin and African, the other shorter, grey hair, Chinese.
“Well, I thinks I deserve an explanation,” he said quietly.
“What happened this morning was – regrettable,” Angel Xantu said quietly. “You and your wife are perfectly safe – you have my personal guarantee on that. We trust the money is adequate compensation.”
“There is no such fing,” Tommy said quietly, “so, if youse don’t mind, I’ll make a donation to a local appeal named after a bright kid who got killed when she was in da wrong place at da wrong time.”
Angel nodded as she looked at Madame Chen. “We have one other question – do you know what happened to the other man, the one talking to the one you attacked?”
“The Cohen guy? ‘fraid not – I was busy being held back by a cop.”
Madame Chen seemed to stare at Tommy before nodding.
“Return to your wife, Mister Morgan,” Angel said, “you will not hear from us again.”
“Good – I hate warring with women,” Tommy said as he turned and walked back in.
“A real man of honour – I made a mistake.”
“You did, Madame,” Angel said, “and now Cohen is missing as well. We must find whoever is behind this. When does he arrive?”
“We meet tomorrow at Twining’s house – eleven.”
“Very well – I will see you then.”
The de Ros Mansion
“I think half my trouble is that so many of my friends are spinsters, or widows…” Juliette glanced at Diana.
“Or gay,” Sandy chirped in.
“Or as Sandy says gay, that I guess I don’t tend to meet many nice, charming, men.”
“Do you need me to set you up with someone?” Rachel asked.
“Would any man have me?”
“Juliette,” Alexander said as he put down his pudding spoon, “maybe, and I say maybe, with the exception of priests like myself, or the gayest of the gay, there isn’t a man over the age of 25 who hasn’t at some time fantasized about becoming the lover of Juliette Huntingdown.”
“That’s true,” Tom Morse, said before noticing the look on his wife’s face.
“Well, he’s right,” Tommy said, “and a few under 25 as well…”
“Shall I tell Carina that Tommy?”
Tommy had the grace to smile as the others laughed.
“So this man was snatched away in all the confusion,” Kelly said as she looked at Janice.
“Yup – right from under our noses.”
“Not a suspect I hope.”
Adam shot a warning glance at Janice, who shook her head and said “Nope – guy called Oliver Cohen, owns a jewelry traders next to the inn.”
“Oliver?” Claire Morse looked over and said “He was snatched? The poor man – his wife will go mad with worry.”
“In my country this happens too.” Natasha shook her head. “People who have somehow fallen foul of one or other groups, they leave their house one morning, and – poof, never seen again.”
“But surely that is just the sort of thing that happens in overlong action movies – our government would never be involved in that sort of thing?”
Alexander looked at Jimmy and shook his head. “Fear makes men, and especially men in positions of authority, do stupid things Jimmy. I’ve seen that far too many times. Besides, it is a matter of historical record that we are no better than other governments at this sort of thing.”
“I saw a film on TMC the other day,” Rachel McNally said, “called Missing. It said the CIA did exactly that sort of thing in Chile in the 1970’s. If they could do it then, they could do it now.”
“Well it’s not supposed to happen in the US of A.” Janice was still fuming. “Not only do we have a full scale denial program in place, but now Cohen’s lawyer is trying to present a petition of habeas corpus.”
“Can you blame him?”
Janice shook her head and smiled. “One problem - since no one is acknowledging having him then he doesn’t know who to present it to.”
“I know Oliver Cohen slightly from temple,” Tom Morse spoke. “What with that robbery he had and now this, his wife thinks he’s been deliberately targeted.”
“Well I’ve certainly said to my supervisor that that robbery needs re-examining closely.” Janice sipped her wine. “It looks too coincidental to me.”
“How so Janice?” Diana asked from the head of the table.
“Well an all woman gang robs him, an all woman extraction team grabs him. A pound to a penny they were the same group.”
“Your pussycats Jan?” Sandy enquired.
“I wish… be even more I can pin on ‘em one day, but no these bitches were far better and cleaner then the damn pussycats, this was very slick, very professional, very damn CIA.”
"So if you were making an informed guess Janice,
where would you reckon Cohen is right now?" Tom Morse asked.
"He's either on his way out of the country, or
he's already in the hands of some so called 'friendly' nation."
"Would you be prepared to say that in public
"Hell no, I've got a pension and a daughter to
protect, once tonight is over I'm never giving Mr. Cohen a thought again."
"Isn't that very cynical?" Alexander
"Yes it is father, but both Bell and I have seen other careers ruined by people who got too interested in what the agency was up to."
The Listening Post
“Chen… Chen supplies local brothels with the girls, and keeps a couple for her amusement. I feel pity for them.”
Dominique was looking at Oliver Cohen as he continued to answer her questions. The drug she had administered was similar to Sodium Pentothal, but less side effects – although she carefully monitored his pulse and blood pressure.
“Thank you Mister Cohen,” she said quietly as she raised his eyelid and looked at this pupils, “you have been very helpful. Now, we know you have been instrumental in the arms pipeline to Mazengwe and Burinda. Who is your primary contact at the embassy?”
“Not at the embassy – outside…”
“Who is it Mister Cohen?”
“Angel… Angel Xantu. She is a niece of Vice President Kimba, and is his voice in this country…”
“How very interesting,” Madame said as she watched with Penelope from behind the two way mirror. “That confirms our suspicions as to her role in this. We must keep a close eye on her.”
“Their apartment is bugged, but we have no surveillance on her outside that,” Penelope said quietly. “We should find her cell phone and other numbers, and them to our list.”
“See that it is done,” Madame said slowly as Dominique made a note.
“Time for you to rest now Mister Cohen – we will talk more tomorrow. Sleep.”
“Thank you,” Cohen said as he slowly let his head drop. Madame walked out of the room next door and came in.
“Excellent work Dominique – we will have him taken to one of the secure rooms here and make sure he is treated well for now. I think we should consider our next steps.”
“Against Madame Chen?”
“Possibly – but I still desire knowledge of The Walrus. Make that your focus – for now, when is your next shift?”
“Tomorrow,” Dominique said as she checked her watch, “I promised Ama I would sit and watch a film with her when I had finished. If you will excuse me?”
Madame nodded as Dominique left the room, and smiled.
The Peacock Inn
“Tommy, thanks for a wonderful evening,” Annie said as Tommy signed the receipt.
“Nuffing’s too good for my baby,” Tommy said as he helped Annie to stand and then walked to the entrance, hailing a cab as they stepped out.
“Hey Tommy,” Carlos said as they got in, “Good night?”
“Can’t complain,” Tommy said as he closed the door. “Take us home, Carlos.”
As the cab drove off, Angel stood in the doorway with Madame Chen.
“We need to do something about your partner,” the Chinese woman said.
Angel sighed and said “Sadly, yes – but a discussion for tomorrow.” She bowed and walked away, the older woman watching carefully.
The de Ros Mansion
As they sat round drinking coffee, Alexander sat next to Judith, listening to her complaints about the day and how she felt about what had happened.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back to
chasing honest thieves and murderers. At least they don't hide behind a wall
and call it National Security." Janice said as she drained her glass. It was obvious to Alexander she had clearly
had enough to drink, and he was not the only one.
Diana said as she caught Ball's eye. He
nodded and stood up.
"I know, I'll go order a cab then get her home. It has been a pleasure to spend the evening with all of you, if you will excuse me?"
“Come,” Alexander said as he helped Janice to stand up, “I will keep you company while Edith fetches your coats.”
“Thank you Alexander, you are a good man – you all are good friends,” Janice said as Alexander gently guided her out of the main room.
"I'm sorry everyone, I hope she didn't ruin the
party." Adam said as he gathered up Janice's gloves.
"No she didn't." Diana smiled.
"Janice is a lovely lady Adam,
I look forward to meeting her under more normal circumstances." Natasha
gave Adam a peck on the cheek.
"Just make sure she gets home safely Adam." Juliette also kissed him. "She's a very special friend to all of us,"
Adam nodded and smiled as he followed Alexander out.
“Wow – she has had a rough day,” Heather said as she sat in the seat.
“True – forgive me ladies, but I think she did not mean what she said.”
“We all have bad days, Diana,” Kelly Rochermann said, “no apologies necessary.”
“Now, are you sure you’ll be all right with her,” Alexander said as she helped Janice to get in, and closed the door.
“I’ll manage, Father – and thank you.”
Ball turned and looked at Alexander for a moment.
“She’s a good woman – if you have to report what she said, be gentle.”
Alexander nodded and waved the cab off, before heading back into the house.
"Take me to a hotel Adam?" Janice snuggled
up very close to her partner in the back of the cab.
"No I think it's safer if I take you home to your
Mother." Ball laughed lightly.
"Don't you want me?" Janice inexpertly tried
to kiss him, missing his mouth and planting her lips on his cheek instead
before she fell into a fit of giggles.
"Janice,” Adam said gently, “you are a little the
worse for wine and you had a bad day today, I'm not going to take
"Who say's it's not me taking
advantage of you?" This time she managed to put her lips on his.
"Janice,” Adam sighed, “you are my partner, and
probably the best friend I have in this world, I'm not spoiling that to have a
quick tumble in bed that we will both regret come morning."
"A quick tumble? Adam I used to be considered damn good in the
"I bet you were Janice, I bet you'd still be, but
Janice turned and looked out of the window, her arms
folded. "Am I that
unattractive?" she said in a petulant voice.
Adam Ball smiled and turned her face towards him. "Jan you are a stunning woman, but I'm
gentleman enough to know this is the wine talking not you."
"Am I as attractive as Juliette?"
Janice giggled, "Now I know you're lying Ball, no way I stack up against a supermodel." She then laid her head on Adam’s shoulder, before falling asleep.
“Good night, mac?”
“Strange night,” Adam said as he held Janice around her shoulders, “Strange night…”
Thursday 28th August
They came in ones and twos, young girls, nervous looking, fiddling with their collars as they passed through the gates of St Angela’s Academy for Young Ladies.
Rebecca Morse looked at the entrance, and gulped slightly as her mother gave her a hug.
“Just remember, Becca, your sister told you a few lies about the place. And the other girls are just as worried as you.”
“I know mom,” she said with a smile. “Well, here goes nothing.”
She opened the car door and stepped out, adjusting her skirt and jacket as she put her backpack over her shoulder.
She turned and smiled as she saw Jeannie wheel herself along the pavement, Barbara and John watching from the car.
“Morning, Jeannie – ready for the great adventure?”
“Nope – but let’s do it anyway,” she said as they crossed the threshold together, Becky holding the door for Jeannie as they entered the main hall. A few of the other girls stopped and looked at Jeannie, before she said in a stage whisper “Did I forget to put my clothes on, Becky?”
The laughter broke the silence as Jeannie wheeled herself to the front row, the other girls taking their seats as the teachers filed in. As they sat on the platform, Kate Hardisty walked in, along with Joanne Smith, Katherine des Moines and Suzanne Carter. Jeannie and Becky had to stop themselves laughing as they saw the daisy chains on their heads, before Mrs. Hardisty stood at the lectern.
“Freshmen of St Angela’s Academy for Young Ladies stand for your principal, Miss Wilhelmina Tarrant.”
Miss Tennant walked in as the faculty and girls stood, smiling as she walked up to the lectern and stood behind it, surveying the room through her glasses. She nodded to Jeannie to show she had seen her, and then looked at her papers.
“Be seated,” she said as she nodded, the girls and teachers sitting as one.
“Ladies, welcome to your first year here at St Angela’s Academy. I am Miss Tennant, and it is my most sincere hope that over the next four years we will take a journey together to educate and prepare you for adult life.
“To aid you in this, we have the faculty,” she said as she turned and indicated the teachers. “They are dedicated to helping you fulfill your potential, so learn from them, study hard, and show them what you have to give.
“You also have your fellow students, and each other. Many you will meet next week when they start here, but for these first two days Joanne, Katherine and Suzanne, the head girls for this year, join us. Today, they will help introduce you to the school and the facilities, and one will come to talk to each of you in your home rooms. They are here to lead and inspire you – and hopefully, keep you out of trouble.
“For today, you will remain in your homeroom classes, and be able to get to know your classmates and the head girls. Your lessons start tomorrow – so be prepared. This afternoon, you will have a chance to see some of the after school clubs and activities, and see if any interest you.
“Above all, ladies, always remember – you are the representatives of St Angela’s to this city, and we expect you to behave as such. Now, please draw from your induction packs the words to the school song.”
The girls hurriedly drew out the sheet as Miss Pomrey started to play the piano, and they followed as they started to sing along.
Once the song was over, Miss Tennant smiled at them. “You may go now to your home rooms, and enjoy your time here.”
“Miss Palmer’s group, follow me please,” Joanne said as she walked off the stage, Becky pushing Jeannie along as they entered the room. Jeannie took a seat at a table with no chair, her name on a folded piece of paper there, while the others found their places.
“All right, girls, take your jackets off and put them on your chairs,” Jo said as she stood at the front of the room. “The worst bit of today is over.”
She waited a few minutes for the girls to take their blazers off, and then stood up.
“Miss Palmer will be along in a few minutes to go through the academic side of things, but I get a chance to speak to you informally first. My name’s Jo, and as Miss Tennant said I’m one of the Head Girls this year. There’s kind of a tradition here to the Head Girls – one is a sporty one, one a brainy one, and one a listener. Well, we’re all listeners, but I’m not the brains of the outfit. Kathy gets that, and Suzie knows how to find things out. Which kind of makes me the Jock.”
She waited until the laughter died down, before she continued, “Miss Tennant is right – we do represent this school, and we stick up for each other. We are all Angels – and if you remember nothing else today, remember that. From this moment, you are an Angel, and we Angels look out for each other. So if you see a classmate struggling, help them. If you see one of us needing help, offer it – it will not be refused.
“Some of us are known for other things than being Angels, but here, in this place, they are our fellow students – and we respect that. With that in mind, I want to offer a special welcome to you, Anna Carlton.”
The girls looked at a small, blonde haired girl who blushed slightly at the attention.
“Anna is the first recipient of a scholarship from the Jamie Kirkham Memorial Fund. You will hear us talk of Jamie a lot, so in her name, welcome Anna – and I want this to be the first and last time that is mentioned. Anna is an Angel now – what is she?”
“An Angel,” the class called back.
“And what are you?”
“And what do Angels do?”
“THEY LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER!!”
“That’s right,” Jo said as Miss Palmer walked in. “I’ll see you all in the refectory at lunch – enjoy your morning.”
Central Park West
“Well it’s an amazing apartment.” Janice stood looking out of the windows overlooking Central Park.
“It certainly is.” Mrs. Carter and Katy said as they joined Janice and Sandy in the main room.
“Are you sure that’s the payment per month, and not per week?” Janice said as she glanced down at the tenancy agreement the Richmond Trust’s lawyers had drawn up.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Janice said with a smile.
“What’s the catch?” Mrs. Carter asked.
“Sandy I know this is far, far below the going rate for places like this.”
“Call it a friends and family rate Jan.” Sandy smiled. “With all the property my family owns we can occasionally afford to do nice things for special people.”
“Nice things.” Janice looked round still a bit stunned, “and it comes furnished as well?” She looked at the upholstered seats and wooden cabinets.
“That it does. We worked out a similar agreement for John, Barbara and Jeannie, so it’s not just you we have done this for.”
“After the way I behaved last night, I’m surprised you didn’t tear this up.” Janice turned and looked out of the windows again.
“Jan darling, you had a bad day and you got a bit loud and tipsy, we’ve all been done there and done that.”
“I know,” Janice said with a smile, “but I’m still embarrassed, I sent Natasha an apology note, and God knows how I’m going to face Adam.”
“Adam will be fine.” Mrs. Carter smiled, “he explained all about what happened when he dropped you off.”
“He’s a swell guy,” Janice said, as Sandy noticed a blush in her cheek. “I think he and my uncle bonded a bit last night,” she said as she looked at the fireplace, and said “I’ll get someone round to fix that.”
“Oh Miss Richmond?” Mrs. Carter asked.
“I saw that.” Janice intervened, “I guess both being combat veterans they have a shared bond, even if it was two different wars.”
“Well Alexander is going to propose something to Carina.”
“To Carina?” Janice looked puzzled.
“Well Carina’s having trouble picking a godfather for Judith, so Uncle Alex is going to suggest Adam.”
“Oh Adam would love that Sandy.” Janice smiled.
“He’d be an excellent godparent for any baby.” Mrs. Carter nodded.
“Well he’s going to get Carina to ring him, so mum’s the word for now.”
“Yes.” Janice agreed.
“Well anyway returning to the apartment, do you want to take it?”
“My daughter will be a fool if she doesn’t.”
“Maybe I should have offered you the tenancy Mrs. C?”
“No I’ll take it.” Janice smiled as she hugged Sandy. “I know an offer that is too good to turn down when I see it.”
“Well get your lawyer to look at the agreement then let me have it back.”
“I will Sandy.” Jan turned to her daughter, “Well Katy do you think you’ll like your new home?”
“I’m going to LOVE IT.” Katy bounced on the sofa.
“Katy! … Stop that, we don’t need to pay for damage before we have even moved in.”
"So where was home originally Mrs. C?"
"I was born and raised in Waterford,
my parents came here when I was 14."
"I can still hear the Irish accent if I listen
closely." Sandy smiled. “My Great Great
Grandfather would approve of you living in a trust property."
"How so Miss Richmond?"
"When he set up the trust one of the conditions
was we provide affordable housing to Irish immigrants."
"Was he from Ireland himself?"
"No, but his father was, he came from County
"I take it you've been to Ireland Sandy?"
Jan joined the conversation.
"Yeah I went to try find where Granddad Jack as
he's remembered in the family came from. All I found was a suburban housing
development and not a trace of the Richmond's"
"That's disappointing." Janice's mother nodded.
“That’s life,” Sandy said with a smile. “Now, if you will forgive me, I have some business to attend to. Let me have that ASAP Janice, and we’ll agree a moving in date.”
Janice could only nod as Sandy waved and left them to plan their future there…
The Listening Post
Oliver Cohen slowly moved his head from side to side.
“I do not know who the Walrus is – only Xantu knows. I just do as I am told.”
“Very well then,” Dominique said quietly, “One last question. Our information is that a fresh batch of young women is arriving soon. Where and when is the auction?”
“Sunday… Warehouse on pier 10… Private party, invitation only…”
“Very good, Mister Cohen – now I want you to listen very carefully…”
“What’s she up to,” Charlotte said as she and Susan watched.
“Getting us passage into that auction – Cohen is in a very suggestive state because of the drugs, so Dominique will plant a suggestion of an addition to the guest list – one who can then open the door for us to come in.”
“Where did she learn to do this anyway?”
“Charlotte,” Susan said with a smile, “There are things about Dominique that constantly surprise us.” She watched as Cohen fell asleep again, and Dominique came through into their room.
“I think we’ve got all we can out of him,” she said quietly, “Let’s report to Madame.”
“Charlotte, Susan,” Penny said as they came out, “you may wish to see this.”
She handed them a press release, stating that the Australian government had issued an arrest warrant for Dominic Rice.
“They’ll have fun finding him,” Susan said quietly,
“Carina interrogated him.”
“OH,” Penelope said quietly, as they walked off.
The Twining Residence
“Sir? A Miss Xantu and a Madame Chen to see you.”
Sir Winston Twining looked up from his desk and nodded, moving to a circle of leather armchairs as the butler escorted his two guests in.
“Thank you both for coming – Jardine, inform our house guest of the arrivals, and then have coffee brought in here please.”
“Very good, Sir,” the butler said as he closed the door, leaving Twining with Xantu and Chen.
“No word on Rice or Cohen yet?”
“Sadly, no,” Madame Chen said as she sat back, “I am concerned that two of our inner circle has disappeared so easily.”
“Indeed – ah, Your Excellency, thank you for joining us.”
The three stood as Kimba walked in, and took a seat beside them.
“This is an intolerable situation,” he said as Jardine brought the coffee in and left it for Sir Winston to pour. “Have we managed to unearth anything yet?”
“Nothing – the listening devices we find are all standard intelligence issue, and traceable. And yet we have been – extremely unfortunate in recent weeks. Far too unfortunate for mere coincidence.”
Kimba nodded. “What of the supply line, Angel?”
“We have found a new supplier, and the first shipment has already been received. We had one or two – security issues, but they have been dealt with effectively.”
“Indeed,” Twining said with a raised eyebrow, “one of which led to the disappearance of Cohen. Related?”
“Unlikely – it would appear that at least two other agencies were interested in what was happening in the bar at the time. Cohen knows of the gun supplies – but not who the real buyer is. If he talks, he only condemns himself.”
“And the other trade?”
“He has one of our workers in his own house, he is unlikely to implicate himself.”
Kimba nodded slowly, and said “Rice?”
“No sign of him for a week now – it does not look good. I propose scorched earth on him.”
“Has this been discussed with – Him?”
“The Walrus has approved the plan.” Twining picked up his cup and sipped from it. “He also wishes to deal with Francois – Angel?”
“Plans are in place – if he is indeed the source of the information, life will be – short, and unpleasant.”
“Good,” Kimba said, “now, about Sunday…”
The place was alive as the girls talked to each other, as well as Kathy and Suzie as they moved around the tables. A small cluster was sitting with Becky and Jeannie as Jo came over.
“Mind if I join you,” she said as she sat down.
“Not at all,” Becky said as Jo sat down and unwrapped her sandwich.
“Survived the first morning then,” she said with a grin as she looked at Jeannie.
“So far – at least I can get round the school,” she replied with a smile.
“So what makes a good Angel Jo?” one of the freshmen asked as she sat down with her lunch.
“Hmmm,” Jo thought, “I guess I’d say she’s an all rounder, she works hard, she’s athletic, and she can out party any girl in this city.”
The line got laughs and giggles from everyone.
“This school is known as one of the best in the country and there’s a reason for that.” For a moment Jo got serious, “we have wonderful teachers, great facilities, and the girls form an amazing bond with each other.”
All the girls looked at each other.
“Just look round, you are looking at the girls who will be your best friends for life. Do you understand what that means?”
“Yes.” Becca nodded.
“Now Anna here got her scholarship because one day she wants to make a career of helping people in medicine. One day you’ll probably boast about her being your friend. Jeannie is already one of the world’s most famous models, but to you she’ll never be Jeannie the supermodel, she’ll simply be your friend Jeannie, and as you get to know each other you’ll all find you are very special in some way.”
“I feel a little intimidated.” A girl called Nicola Broadsmith spoke up. “I’m here because I got a scholarship. I’m not rich like all of you.”
“I’m not rich either Nicky.” Anna smiled.
“Trust me,” Jeannie said with a smile, “I’m not from a privileged background either. In England, I was just a normal schoolkid until earlier this year.”
“I’m here because my sister’s employer pays my fees.” Jo smiled, “My sister is a nanny, we aren’t rich, so drop all the crap from your mind about rich girls and poor girls, we are all Angels. It doesn’t matter how you got here, from the moment you stepped through those gates this morning you put everything aside, from now on you are all sisters.”
“So what do we do about the Nuns?”
Jo looked at another freshman. “You’re Nikki aren’t you – Nikki Colman?” Jo looked at her closely. “Don’t I know your sister Harri? Isn’t she at Sacred Heart?”
“That’s right – my older sister is a Nun, and I don’t know what to do about that.”
“Well, Nikki – and all of you – the Nuns are our enemies, and you will discover feelings run very strong about them. But one of the Seniors has a twin sister who is also a Nun, and last year, when I was in real trouble, they rallied round and stood together with us. So yeah, they are the enemy, and are to be beaten at every opportunity – but it must be done with dignity and grace.”
“Unless it’s on the Hockey field,” another freshman called out.
“Or the basketball court, or the track – actually, every available opportunity,” Jo said with a laugh, the others joining in.
The Waldorf Hotel
“Excellent,” Madame X said as Dominique completed her report, “I think it is clear what our next target will be. I do not propose we use Annie for this exercise – for one thing, she is not sufficiently trained for what we need to do.”
“And for another, she is back at school,” Susan said quietly. “So what do we do with Cohen?”
“He is unconscious at present – we will leave him at an appropriate spot to be found. He will remember little since the snatch, and what he will remember will be a haze, save for one thing – the additional invitation.”
“I look forward to receiving it,” Madame said with a smile. “Any word from Juliette and the ladies?”
“All is quiet,” Penelope said quietly. “Charlotte is reviewing the transcript of a meeting between the four primary targets today. A summary will be with you in due course.”
“Excellent – any news from our London office?”
“Lillian has heard from our esteemed friend – she stands ready to use what information we can get, after the successful dissemination of the facts around Dominic Rice.”
“Good – ask her to conduct a thorough family history of Sir Winston Twining for me will you, including past family connections to China, Mazengwe and Burinda.”
“It shall be done Madame.”
“Good – Dominique, I would be grateful if you would join me for dinner tonight. I wish to discuss Ama with you.”
Willy looked up as Tommy came in, walking over to the bar and taking a seat.
“Tommy – usual?”
“Yea – and five minutes if ya can spare them, Willy.”
He sat staring straight ahead as Willy poured the beer, and then motioned to a side booth. As they sat down, Willy said “I need to apologize for that idiot brother of mine. You would think he would recognize the name of a friend of mine and not do what he did.”
“He did what he was paid to do,” Tommy said, “so no hard feelings dat way. My beef was wit Cohen, and why he did it. Youse and me, we know not to make war on da families of each other – he did not.”
Willy nodded as Tommy took a drink of his beer. “So are you back in da game now Willy?”
“Too good an offer to refuse, Tommy – and I make a very handsome profit.”
“Yeah, right,” Tommy said. “Willy, how long haf we known each other?”
“Decades, Tommy. Why?”
“Well, I reckon that gives me the right to offer some advice to ya, if you’ll listen.”
Willy nodded as Tommy finished his drink. “Yer playing wif fire here, Willy – and yer big enough and man enough ta know what yer doing. Just tread very carefully – I don’t want youse ta get hurt.”
“I always do Tommy, but thanks for the advice.”
“Yeah,” Tommy said as he stood up. “And as for that brother of yours – tell him to stay away from me and mine. Understood?”
“Understood – poker night next Monday?”
“I really hopes so,” Tommy said as he left the bar, Willy watching him.
FBI Field office.
“Well – calmed down since yesterday?”
Tom Callahan looked at Janice as she and Adam came in.
“Yeah – I’m sorry Tom, I have no idea why I reacted the way I did.”
“We all get frustrated in this business at one time or another, Jan – and you two have more reason than most to do so. Besides, you had no idea it was going to descend into that sort of chaos – I actually think you did well to keep anyone from getting killed.”
“I take it Langley still deny everything?”
Tom slowly shook his head. “If it was them, then they’re not going to admit it anyway. Plausible deniability and all that.”
“What the hell would they want with Cohen anyway? I get it if he’s the middle man in a gun running thing, but for the CIA to be involved suggests it is something bigger.”
“It may well be – that diplomat who disappeared, Rice – the word is Australian Secret Service want him as well.”
“Oh no – the Pussycat task force is bad enough for…”
“What is it, Pearce?”
“We just got word over the wire – Oliver Cohen has been found.”
Janice and Adam both turned to the door as Callahan said “Where?”
“Liberty Island – he was discovered on a bench under the statue, unconscious. He’s been taken to hospital, and his lawyer had said nobody gets to see him.”
As the two agents turned and looked at Callahan, he shrugged his shoulders.
“There is one possibility you have not considered,” Tom said quietly, “that he was working for them.”
“Cohen?” Adam sat back for a moment, and then said “It is possible – but if that is the case, and they let him go…”
“Whoever he is working for will be asking the same questions,” Janice said.
“Exactly,” Tom concluded. “I want a watch on him – I can’t shake the feeling something big is coming down.”
As they walked out of his office, Janice dragged Adam into a corner.
“Adam how big an idiot did I make of myself last night?” Jan asked.
“You didn’t make a fool of yourself at all, but I think you’ll need to tell me when you want the wedding to be?”
“Wedding? … OH come on I think I’d remember if I proposed to you.”
“Who said it was you that proposed Janice?”
“You mean?” Janice caught the twinkle in his eye. “YOU BASTARD ADAM BALL.” She laughed.
“I had you going for a few seconds.”
“So are we cool?”
“We’re icy cool Janice, but can I suggest if you are going to party with your friends, you cut back on the wine, That’s twice I’ve had to take you home now.”
“I know… and thank you Adam,” she kissed him lightly on the cheek.
“So – the apartment?”
“Perfect – I dropped the lease agreement at my lawyers – if we get it cleared, I could be in within three weeks.”
“So signed up for anything yet?”
Jeannie looked through the small pile of leaflets she had collected, before saying “I thought I might give gymnastics a try – what do you think?”
Becky and Anna burst out laughing as they sat with her. “Seriously, I need to check my diary for the next few months before I sign on to anything. What about you Anna?”
“Well, I’m going to try out for the Freshmen basketball team – apart from that, I’ll need to wait and say. Film club sounds fun.”
“Well, just remember homework,” Jo said as she came over. “Jeannie, can I borrow you for a second?”
“Hold my place,” Jennie said as she wheeled after Jo, both of them going over to join Miss Tennant.
“Ah good, there you are Jeannie,” she said as she turned from talking to an older gentleman. “May I introduce you to James Kirkham. Jamie was his daughter.”
“Oh,” Jeannie said as she shook his hand. “It is an honour, sir.”
“Actually, the honour is mine,” James Kirkham said. “It’s not often I get to meet so famous a young lady. Miss Tennant and I have been talking, and we have also mentioned our idea to Joanne, who said we should talk to you.”
“Idea? What idea?”
“The Jamie Kirkham Memorial Fund is very healthy,” Miss Tennant said, “but we wish to continue the fundraising effort, and to do so we feel a couple of patrons need to be established. We want them to be people with a public face, but who are connected to the school.”
“So,” Joanne said quietly, “we were wondering if you and Abby could be the first patrons. I already mentioned it to Abby, and she is willing if you are.”
“Wha… What does a patron do?”
“Agree to do things to promote the fund – but the girls do the real hard work.”
“No – if I do this, I do my share as well. After all, we’re all Angels, aren’t we?”
“We are indeed.”
“Then I would be honoured to,” Jeannie said, “provided my mother agrees.”
“I’m sure she will,” Jo said, “come on, let’s go back and join the others.”
Half an hour later, the freshmen were released from their first day.
“Hey Becca how about we go swimming on Saturday?” Jeannie asked as she wheeled herself into the vestibule.
“You swim Jeannie?” Anna asked.
“I broke my back not my whole body Anna.”
“Sorry.” Anna looked a little shamefaced.