Two Weddings and a Robbery – Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 9th July

10 am BST

The New House, Ardray

 

The tall bearded man walked into the kitchen, smiling as he said “Well, something smells good.  What is it?”

 

“A casserole – I wanted to show whoever it is that is coming what we can do, given half a chance,” Sheilagh McAdam said as she looked over from the stove.  She was in her early fifties, her dark hair hidden under a blue headscarf.  A large blue apron covered her mustard coloured jumper and knee length blue skirt.  “Have you any idea who is coming, Rory?”

 

“Not one,” her husband said as he sat down, and watched as Sheilagh poured him a coffee.  “When are they due to arrive?”

 

Looking at the clock, she said “ten thirty.  All I know is it is a party of five coming, and one of the things they want to discuss is using the house for a large house party in five weeks’ time.”

 

“Aye – I just walked the moors.  If they want shooting, we’re more than ready.”

 

“We’ve been ready for two decades, Rory,” Sheilagh said with a smile.  “Anyway, I need to clean up and get ready for the arrival – and so do you.”

 

“All right, all right,” he said as he stood up, “I’ll have a shower and put on the correct clothing.”

 

 

 

 

 

“Good lord,” John Gaunt said as he looked out of the window, “I thought Athlone was a beautiful place, but this is magnificent.”

 

“And we’re not even really in the Highlands,” Kit said as she looked out of the window.  “Are we on the estate now?”

 

“We just came on,” Tamsin said as she glanced out.  She, Kit and Agnes were wearing white jumpers and grey skirts, with black ankle boots, while John and Donald were wearing grey jumpers and pants with walking boots.

 

“How are you feeling, Aunt Aggie?”

 

“Scared,” Agnes said as she looked out, childhood memories coming back as she looked at the heathland.  In the distance, she saw a ruin rising over the horizon, and sighed.

 

“You never thought you would be back here, did you,” Tamsin said as she squeezed Agnes’s hand.  Her older sister just shook her head as she smiled, taking in the view, seeing the clear blue water.

 

“I thought it always rained in Scotland in the summer,” Kit said.

 

“Not true – it’s in August,” her mother said as the car turned onto a private road, Donald turning round from the seat and saying “best prepare yourselves – we’ll soon be there.”

 

The party nodded as they drove under a stone arch, and along a driveway that led up along a line of trees on one side, and a large lawn on the other.  Eventually, they saw the New House, the large Greystone structure making John whistle as the car came to a stop at the front entrance.

 

The doors opened and Sheilagh McAdam came out, Rory following in his kilt, waistcoat, shirt and tie.  As they stood and waited, the driver came round and opened the front passenger door, Donald stepping out and walking up to them.

 

“Lord Donald,” Sheilagh said with surprise as he walked towards them, “so it is you who has asked Agdon if you can use the house?”

 

“In a manner of speaking, Mrs McAdam – how are you both?”

 

“As well as can be expected, Your Lordship,” Rory said as he saw the rear doors of the car open – and then gasped as he saw who was stepping out.

 

“Rory?”

 

“Forgive me, Sheilagh, Your Lordship,” he said as he walked forward and bowed formally before Agnes.  “It has been far too many years since you have graced your home with your presence – I welcome the McAdam of McAdam home to Ardray.”

 

“Miss Agnes?  Oh my,” Sheilagh said as she walked forward and bowed her head.  “Had we known you were in the party, we would have welcomed the Laird with all due honour.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Agnes said, “I wanted this to be as quiet a visit for all of us as possible.  But you are right Rory – it has been far too long, and I am glad to be able to return now.”  Turning, she said “I am sure you remember Tamsin.”

 

“Of course – welcome home,” Rory said, “and is this your daughter?”

 

“It is – Mister and Mrs McAdam, this is Catherine Mahan-Gaunt, Knight of the Red Hand, and her boyfriend, Lord Eventon.”

 

“We are honoured to have you all here,” Agnes said, “I have some coffee ready for all of you, and a good lunch later, but may I ask…”

 

“Allow me to answer,” Donald said, “we three are the directors of Agdon Properties, and as such the rightful and legal owners, but as of now, I formally cede the rights and privileges on ownership to the McAdam of McAdam.”

 

“And I in turn,” Agnes said, “appoint you to remain as Housekeeper and Factor – but let’s talk more inside.  I would be honoured if you would both join us.”

 

As they walked through the doors, Agnes suddenly recalled childhood memories of her and Tamsin running down the stairs on holidays, their father laughing as they did so…

 

“Will you take coffee in the breakfast room, Miss Agnes?”

 

“Thank you Sheilagh,” she said as she turned and walked with Tamsin into the large bay windowed room.  As Kit and John looked out of the windows, Tamsin, Donald and Agnes sat at the large table, watching as Shelaigh returned with a large tray, Rory closing the door behind her.

 

“So would it be impolite to ask, Miss Agnes…”

 

“I think my life is a matter of public record, Sheilagh,” Agnes said, “and I recommend the Sunday Times tomorrow if you wish to know more.  For now, suffice to say I am no longer in that line of – shall we say, entertainment?  I am devoting my life once more to my academic leaning, and to supporting those who need it most.”

 

“My father always said it was a bad business, what happened to ye,” Rory said as he sat down.  “Yer pa left ye in an impossible situation, if you will forgive my saying so.”

 

“Well, the past is past,” Agnes said as she looked round the table.  “What matters is the future, so first things first.  You need to know that Christine has been appointed my heir, and as such will take the title of Master of Ardray.”

 

“Whether I like it or not,” Kit said with a smile.

 

"So can we be expecting visits more often Miss Agnes?" Sheilagh asked.


"I think so," Aggie smiled. "I've promised a young friend she can be married from here next month, and as her wedding coincides with the 'Twelfth' I am also asking a few friends to join us for the shooting."

"About time if I say so Miss Agnes," Rory smiled, "the moor has been ready for several years."

"That was what I was hoping to hear Rory."

"Will I need to take on some temporary help Miss Agnes?"

"Probably Sheilagh, I'm still not sure as to exact numbers who will be staying here at the new house, but yes please hire some local girls to help you."

"And who will the guns be Miss?"

"Well certainly at this stage,” Agnes said as she sat back, “His Grace of Lardarn, Lord Ordford, Lord Archibald Gordon, Sir Charles Treharran, Sir Charles Gresham-Fox, Lord Donald Fitzstuart, Lady Sithwell..."

"Miss Catriona is coming home as well Miss?" Sheilagh smiled.

"That she is...now who else...oh yes, Miss Caroline Jameson..."

"The famous model?"

"Yes...Oh and probably His Highness the Prince of Furstenheim, and just perhaps the King and Queen of Ruritania."

"Well it won't be a quiet restart," Rory smiled. "I'll hire the beaters over the next few days."

 

“Excellent – We can discuss the details once I have the firm names Sheilagh.”

 

"I didn't hear you name yourself among the guns darling," Donald whispered in her ear.

"Well I was never that great a shot to start with, despite Daddy and Catriona's efforts to teach me, and I have not shot at all for twenty years, so I'm not embarrassing myself out there alongside big shots such as Tom, and yourself." Aggie smiled, "I'll content myself with joining you all for great lunches."

"What about you Tam?"

"Donald dear, if anything I'm worse than she is."

"What about you John?" he asked as Kit and John joined them at the table.

"Oh I'll probably come out with the guns. I'm not in father's league, but I inherited a vintage pair of Purdy’s from Grandfather and I do enjoy shooting."

 

"Changing topics slightly,” Agnes asked, “do you hunt John?"

"NO," John looked daggers at Kit as she burst into howls of laughter.

"Am I missing something?" Donald looked perplexed.

"If you'd ever seen John on a horse Uncle Donald you'd never ask that question," Kit tried to control her laughter.

"Look...I'm just too tall to be a good rider, shall we leave it at that please," John rolled his eyes.

"I hunt, Mummy hunts, Eve and Aileen hunt, Uncle Tom and Aunt Paula ride with the hounds...but poor John just keeps falling off at the first fence."

"I said I'm just too tall for any horse."

"That's your excuse," Christine started laughing again.

"Kits darling please stop teasing John," Tamsin smiled. "I thought you were in an adult relationship now?"

"We are," Kit giggled, "except when it comes to John and horses."

 

“Listen – Sheilagh, would you take the youngsters here on a tour of the house?  I want them to see everything you are in a position to show – including the gallery.”

 

“Of course Miss Agnes – come with me please,” Sheilagh said as she stood up.  “I will serve lunch at one.”

 

“Rory, can we discuss the shoot,” Donald said.

 

“Aye yer Lordship – come to the office,” he said as they left as well, Tammy and Agnes walking over to the windows.

 

"I always preferred eating here to the dining room," Tam looked through the large windows at the view down to the loch, and to the mountains beyond.

"Yes Tippy Toes, standing here really makes it real that something of my old life is returning," Agnes let a couple of tears drop, "I have missed both you, and this place, so very much."

"Well we are here now and let's just concentrate on enjoying ourselves," Tamsin put her arm round her sister.

 

“Hey – come on, I want to see if the Fort is still there.”

 

Tammy smiled as the two women made their way out of the room…

 

 

11 am BST

Selfridges

 

"Who is that lady with the three younger girls?" one of the assistants whispered to another as they watched.

"It's the Duchess of Lardarn, two of her daughters, and one of their friends... Anjee told me when they came in."

"Why is Mr Humphries dancing attendance like that?"

"Because according to the Duchess she's here to buy entire new summer wardrobes for all three girls, and the sales commissions should be substantial."

 

“Typical – only interested in the money…”

 

 

 

"Look at the pictures of Orion?" Aileen shook her head as they looked at the counter carrying the latest Sharamel jeans. "I get so jealous...she's a superstar and yet she's only my age."

"What is she like?" Lizzie asked.

"She's actually a very down to earth Belfast girl." Paula interrupted. "I like her a lot...But proud Mother or not darling, I can say neither you nor Eve are an inch less beautiful."

"But what about me Aunt Paula?"

"Oh I don't think you need worry either Liz."

"But I don't see anyone offering us huge modelling contracts," Aileen shook her head as she looked round.

"I never thought either you or Eve were interested?"

"I'm not really Mummy,” Eve said, “but just an offer would be such a boost to my ego..."

"And my self-confidence." Aileen added.

 

11 am BST

Xavier International

 

“You called, I came,” Catriona said as she sat in Shirley’s office. 

 

“Indeed – and as I promised today is the day,” Shirley said as she sat back.

 

"So whilst my daughter is shopping, I'm going to be attacking, and robbing, a security van delivering uncut stones to Hatton Garden?"

"You can still change your mind and back out Cat?" Shirley said quietly.

"And miss out on this thrill...Shirley you know me better."

"Men will probably be killed you know?"

"I know...I know I might even have to do it myself. There is a need...a hunger...inside me that needs filling with a dose of evil violence. Believe me I've thought this out over a long period darling."

 

“Very well then – I need you to come with me.  You will join the team once you are changed and masked up…”

 

 

1.30 pm BST

The New House

 

“That was wonderful – thank you Sheilagh,” Tammy said as she pushed her plate away.  “I think the wedding arrangements are in good hands with you.”

 

“Thank you Miss Tamsin,” the cook said with a smile, “I hope the young couple agree as well.”  As she started to clear the plates, Agnes looked into her handbag.

 

"Dear Lord how did they ever hear?" Agnes shook her head as she looked at her phone.

"How did who hear what dear?" Tamsin asked.

"The Clan McAdam societies round the world, just so many messages welcoming me home to Ardray."

"I don't know Aggie, but isn't it touching that they should all send you greetings?"

"It is indeed Tippy Toes."

 

“So what did you do when we were given the grand tour,” John asked.

 

“We went outside – when we were children, our father built a large treehouse for us, which we called The Fort.   We wanted to see what state it was in – given there may be a few children coming as well.”

 

“And?”

 

“A wee bit o’ repair work, and it’ll be fine,” Rory said as he came in.  “Ah’ll get someone on that.”

 

"I suppose this afternoon we should all go down to Ardray village?" Donald spoke as he wiped his chin.

"Aye that you ought," Rory concurred. "I don't know how but I'm willin' to bet word is already out there that the Laird has returned."

"I'd thought of that," Agnes steeled herself. "We will drive down about two thirty and i will show my face in a couple of the shops, re-introduce myself so to speak."

 

“Fine – Ah’ll come wi ye as well, while Sheilagh prepares yer rooms fer the night.”

 

“Thank you Rory – are you coming Tammy?”

 

“No – I want to take a walk, but take Kit and John with you and Donald.  She can compare to our home.  I’ll meet you at the castle later.”

 

2 pm BST

Hatton Garden

 

The black transit pulled up outside the jewel merchants, the two women in the front looking round through their black glasses.  They were wearing black jackets with white blouses, and said nothing.

 

In the rear, Catriona looked out through the dark glasses she was wearing at the other four women.  Their heads were covered with black hoods, covering everything except their eyes – and then they covered the dark glasses so it looked like part of the mask.

 

The hoods were tucked into the collars of white blouses, fastened with black ties down the front, their tailored jackets fitting snugly, their skirts knee length.  The dark hose and knee length boots encased their legs, as Catriona controlled her breathing, felt the heft of the gun in her hand.  She knew the make and model – lethal if necessary, intimidating no matter what.

 

“All right,” she heard the team leader say, “final checks.  Bags?”

 

“Ready,” the woman sat next to Catriona said as she held up the bag.

 

“Weapons?”

 

They all checked their guns before she said “right – move out.”  She opened the side door of the vehicle, all five moving out as they headed into the outer entrance to the building.

 

The guard who was standing there was taken by surprise, as he saw the masked and armed woman aim her gun at him, while the leader said “open the doors, fucker – and not a word of warning.”  Catriona tried not to smile as she saw the fear in his eyes, as he pressed a button and the door swing open.

 

“RIGHT YOU BUNCH OF COCK SUCKERS – NOBODY MOVES AND KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM!”

 

Catriona was surprised not only at the words, but also at the Midlands accent as she swept the room.  There were two people in the room – a middle aged couple, as two of the team aimed their weapons at the three staff behind the screen on the other side of the counter.

 

“YOU HEARD HER,” the team leader said.  “YOU – OPEN THE DOOR, AND ALL OF YOU ON THE FLOOR OUT HERE, HANDS BY YOUR HEADS.”

 

“DOWN!”  Catriona walked over and pressed the barrel of her weapon into the man’s stomach, smiling to herself as the dropped to the floor and lay on their stomachs.  She covered them as the door was opened and two of the staff – a grey haired woman and a young girl – walked out and lay down.

 

It was as she saw the young man suddenly stoop, and heard the blast from the shotgun as he was hit in the arm, that she knew what she was feeling.  “We said no alarms, you stupid fucker,” one of the other woman said as he was pulled out of the rear area and made to lie down.

 

“Secure them.”

 

One of the women opened the bag and pulled out black zip ties, using them to secure the wrists and ankles of the men and women as the team leader went behind the counter, and forced the manager out.  He had been watching the events, frozen with fear, as he joined the others on the floor, zip tied and his mouth covered with sticking plaster.

 

“Empty the shelves,” the team leader said, Catriona and another moving behind the counter and emptying the jewels from the trays into another bag.  The other three walked round the front room, threatening the hostages and guard.

 

Catriona could not believe it – ten minutes, and they had control of the room, taking all they wanted.  The feeling was indescribable, as she glanced to look at a monitor.

 

“The armoured car’s here,” she called out.

 

“Places,” the team leader said as two of the team stood by the door, Catriona and her partner coming round and placing the bags on the work surface.  They watched as two men got out of the car, carrying a box each as they came in.

 

“Let them in.”

 

Catriona nodded as she opened the door, the two guards coming in.  In the time it took them to realise what was happening, their legs had been hot on the back of their knees with wooden staves, and they had guns aimed directly at their heads.

 

“If you’ve got any sense,” the leader growled, “you’ll get face down and not move.”

 

One of the guards looked at her, and reached for his radio.  His hand only got halfway before the shot took out his neck, and he fell forward, the hostages screaming into their gags.

 

“Well,” Catriona said to the second guard, “want to try your luck.”

 

He shook his head and dropped to the floor, Catriona barely containing herself as he was secured and gagged, the contents of their boxes emptied into the bags as well.

 

“Right – thank you for your cooperation,” the leader said as they picked the bags up, “move out.”

 

Catriona nodded as she opened the door, watching as the driver of the security van looked to the door.  Instinctively, she aimed and fired, the window of the door exploding inwards as he slumped forward.  She heard the screaming as the five of them jumped into the SUV and the door was closed.

 

“Control – need diversion!”

 

“Traffic problems once you pass,” a voice said as they drove off, Catriona groaning as she looked at the others…

 

 

2.45 pm BST

Ardray Village

 

The village of Ardray was basically one street, with shops and one or two public houses on the street itself, and a number of side streets leading to small clusters of houses.

 

“So who lives here,” Kit said as they got out of the car.

 

“Mainly farm workers or holiday homes, Miss Christine,” Rory said, “the families have lived here for generations as well.”

 

“You have a church as well?”

 

“Two actually,” Rory said, “that’s the Kirk, and we have a small chapel up that street there.”

 

“Catholic?”

 

“No miss – Methodist.  If ye want a chapel, ye have to go to the big town.”

 

“I guess I have tomorrow morning off then,” Kit said with a smile as a grey haired man walked past, wearing a black suit and shirt with a dog collar.

 

“Reverend Johnston,” Rory said as he went past, “I trust you are well today?”

 

“I am passing well, Rory,” he said as he looked at the visitors.  “Will you introduce me please?”

 

“Of course – Miss Agnes, Miss Christine, Your Lordship, the Right Reverend Harry Johnstone, who has been our minister for the past ten years.  Reverend Johnston, this is Lord Eventon, Miss Christine Mahan-Gaunt – and Agnes, the McAdam of McAdam.”

 

As he looked at Agnes, he smiled and said “so the laird has returned.  The honour is mine, and I hope to see you at the service tomorrow.”

 

“I would be delighted to attend – at the back of the church,” Agnes said.

 

“As ye wish – good day to you Rory.”

 

“Reverend,” Rory said as the minister walked off.  “So, where to Miss Agnes?”

 

“There are two other important places I should visit,” Agnes said, “starting there.”  The small party crossed the road to a shop, vegetables arranged on a pair of tables outside, Rory opening the door for them.

 

"Miss Agnes," the white haired lady in the village shop bobbed a curtsey as the visitors came in.  “Welcome home.”


"Mrs McDonald, it has been far too long... How are you and Sandy?"

"Well ahm a bit older and creakier Miss Aggie,” she said with a smile, “but he's just as cantankerous as ever."

"Some things never change eh?"

"And they are all the better fer that."

"Yes." Agnes laughed. "Mrs McDonald can I introduce my niece the Knight of the Red Knife, though I think she'll prefer it if you call her Christine, or Kit. Also her boyfriend Lord Eventon."

"It's lovely to meet you Mrs McDonald," Kit extended her hand, "and definitely don't call me Knight please."

"Or Master?"

"Nor Master," Kits laughed.

 

“Very well then – I am glad to see you again Miss Aggie, the village has not been the same without you and Miss Tammy.”

 

“Well, we will see what we can do about that – we hope to have a large party here in a month’s time, so you will be busy then.  In the meantime – do you still sell my favourite?”

 

“Ah do,” the shopkeeper said as she moved some steps, climbed them and brought down a jar of dark sweets.  “The usual?”

 

Agnes nodded as she measured out a quarter pound, and handed them over, Agnes paying before they left.

 

“Black Bullets?” Donald asked as they came onto the street.

 

“For later,” Agnes said as she put them in her handbag.

 

"Do you own any of the village like I own most of Ballysatten village Aunt Aggie?"

"To be honest I no longer know Kits, I did at one time, but since I sold it...to Donald...I'm not sure what he kept."

"Uncle Donald?"

"I kept all the farming land,” Donald said “but I did sell a couple of parcels in the village for building on."

"What about the tenants Donald?"

"I let a couple of families buy their freeholds, but 98% of what you inherited Aggie you still own."

 

“In which case, it is important I make the second stop,” Agnes said as they approached a pub, a sign with a lion rampant and “The Red Lion” underneath.

 

As they walked in, the people in the bar turned and looked, as did the grey haired man serving.  He looked round, then rang a bell that hung from a rafter and called out “Tha a h-uile càil aig McAdam à McAdam!”

 

“Sìth dha na h-uile a tha gràs an àite seo” Agnes replied, the customers raising their glasses as the barman said “Welcome home, Miss Agnes – what can I get ye?”

 

“A malt for me and Lord Donald here – and as for these two?”

 

“Jack – ye turning a blind eye for a while?”

 

“For the Laird, aye,” a dark haired man said as Agnes said “then the same for them.  I take it you are the local constable?”

 

“Constable Jack McCormack – a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Agnes.  I take it you remember Dougie?”

 

“Of old – how is business?”

 

“I cannae complain,” the landlord said as he poured into five glasses, “more tourists these days mind you.  Your very good health.”

 

“And yours,” Agnes said.

 

“Is Miss Tamsin here as well?”

 

“She is, but she is at the house.  Allow me to present her daughter, Catherine, Knight of the Red Knife and Master of Ardray, and her fiancé Lord Eventon.”

 

“We really do prefer John and Kit,” John said as he shook the landlord’s hand, before Dougie kissed Kit’s hand.

 

“So noted – welcome to Ardray, all of ye.”

 

“Dougie - the New House will be hosting a wedding and shooting party in a few weeks.  Can I ask you to meet with Sheilagh and make sure we have enough liquid supplies?”

 

“Aye ah’ll dae that.  Tell her I’ll call round tomorrow Rory.”

 

Rory nodded as he raised his glass of water.

 

 

 

4 pm BST

Ardray Castle

 

"Am I going to sound like a total nerd if I say I can understand why your ancestors chose this particular spot to build their stronghold Aunt Agnes," John looked round.

"Not really John,” Agnes said as they stood by the car, “with the loch surrounding it on three sides, here at the foot of the pass taking the road to Oban, it was both defensible, and yet let them extort tolls from people using the road."


"Unlike Lardarn Castle which was purely a statement to the Irish that we Gaunts now owned the land."

"Yes up on that hilltop it certainly made a statement." Agnes smiled. "This place though was more about self preservation for the McAdam's from larger, and usually hostile rival clans."


"And was it this castle the flag flew over?" Kit asked.

"No, that was its predecessor, the one the McDonald's sacked after taking it at the end of a terrible siege." Aggie smiled, "the ‘Grey Laird’ rebuilt it, but even he didn't foresee the development of artillery, and it was sacked by the Covenanters, and then further destroyed by the English troops after the rebellions."

"Which was when the New House was built," Tamsin spoke.  “Now…”

 

“It stands proud – come on, it may be July, but it will be Sheilagh complaining if we are much later.

 

"So do we own as far as the eye can see Aunt Aggie?"

"Not quite, there are a few bits that escaped the familiy's grasp Kit?'

"Such as?"

"Oh about 850 actres at the north end of the loch, that passed as dowry to your Aunt Cat's Great Great Great Great Grandfather when he married a McAdam."  Aggie smiled as she continued "and a few small bits of freehold that were sold, or given away, but basically we still own over 19,000 acres."

"Rather dwarfs the 8,000 plus acres I own at Ballystatten,"

"Yes, but Ballysatten's farms probably earn rather more than the forests and sheep pastures of Ardray do...  Size is relative Christine. Always remember just how few acres in Mayfair and Belgravia constitute the bulk of the Grosvenor's riches."

"As they say on the real estate shows," Kit grinned, "location, location. location."

"Exactly.”

 

4 pm BST

Xavier International

 

“Catriona Cuthbertson,” Angela said as Shirley watched her old friend enter her office.

 

“Thank you Amanda – see that we are not disturbed,” Shirley said as Cat came in, and sat down in the leather armchair.  “May I offer you a drink?”

 

“Some McAllan if you have it,” Cat said as Shirley poured the amber liquid into two glasses, and handed her one.

 

"So how did it go Cat?" Shirley asked as she sat opposite her.


"If you don't know Shirley then you haven't really done half the things credited to you," Cat smiled as she took a drink.  “What does the news say?”

“Armed robbery at jewel merchant – two dead, one badly wounded.  Security cameras wrecked, and they got away – no small thanks to a major lights failure at the Barbican and Smithfields junctions.  Wonder how that happened?”

 

Cat shook her head as she said “well, it was an eye-opener…”

 

"You know, your share of the takings will be about a million pounds?"

"God, as much as that?" Cat shook her head, "and on top of all the incredible sensations I felt."

"No worries about killing those two men?"

"Not at all Shirley...after all a million pounds, its worth killing for."

 

“And you – how are you feeling?”

 

“Oh lord – I have this huge desire in me now to…  To…”

 

Shirley nodded as she came over and sat next to her friend.  “I understand – there are times, when I’ve been out in the field, when afterwards…”

 

"Shirley are you still in love with me?" Catriona looked deeply into her old friend’s eyes.

"I…  I don't think you ever fall totally out of love ever with the first person you love Cat. There will always be a place in my heart just for you."

"That's how I feel too, Jamie was the great, true, love of my life, but deep in my heart you are still there as well."

"That is sweet, and so beautiful," Shirley smiled.  “With me, it was Robert, and now John, but I thank you for that.”


"Have you ever...well you know what I mean...since me?"

"Just the once,” Shirley said, “and it was to relieve the feelings inside that a robbery in which I killed two people aroused."

"Like I'm feeling right now?" Cat batted her eyelashes.

"Yes." Shirley moved her head closer to the Scotswoman. "Just like the feelings that I think you are having."

 

“So how did you deal with them?”

 

“Like this,” Shirley said quietly as she kissed Catriona on her lips, her friend responding as she placed her hand on Shirley’s cheek.  They started gently, moving together as Shirley’s tongue traced over Cat’s lips, and she slowly opened her mouth, inviting her to move her tongue in.

 

After a few minutes, they stopped and looked at each other, as Cat said “I had forgotten that taste.”

 

Shirley nodded before they kissed again, and she started to slowly unbutton Catriona’s blouse, pulling it from hr skirt and down her body as he long fingers stroked down the smooth skin.

 

“Oh yes,” Cat moaned as Shirley kissed her neck and throat, while taking her own jumper off, Catriona moaning before they put their arms round each other and kissed again, stroking each other as they sat on the couch.

 

“Do you remember what I used to do,” Shirley whispered, Catriona nodding as she removed her bra, letting it fall to the floor as she lay on the long seat, Shirley smiling as she knelt down and started to kiss her friend’s chest and belly, and then enveloped her nipples one at a time as she sucked, her tongue running over them.

 

“Oh sweet lord it’s been so long,” Cat groaned, “perhaps you should keep me quiet…”

 

“The room’s soundproofed,” Shirley whispered before they kissed again, their tongues entwining as she slowly pulled down the zip and removed Cat’s skirt.

 

"You know you always did know just how to excite me Shirley," Catriona threw her head back and moaned as Shirley found and agitated her clitoris.

"I remember how sensitive that always was to the touch," Shirley again kissed her friend long and passionately, their tongues once again meeting as the feelings got stronger inside.


"Sink your fingers in me Shirley darling...I need something hard inside...Oh Yes! she moaned as she felt Shirley insert two fingers into her, moving them to and fro as she bucked in time to the movement.  The fire inside her was raging now, as Shirley leaned over and kissed her chest again, bringing her closer and closer, nearer and nearer to the edge as she felt the dampness, felt the desire, felt the burning only one other person had ever…

 

Had ever…

 

“OH YYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

 

Cat’s whole body convulsed as she experienced her first orgasm in nearly twenty years, Shirley using her lips and tongue to keep her going for as long as possible, until eventually she collapsed on the seat, Shirley gently kissing her as she calmed down.

 

“So – feeling better now?”

 

“Oh yes – it is a drug isn’t it?  That bloody film was close to the mark when it said it was the power and the sexual arousal that drives those women…”

 

Shirley merely nodded as she stood up.  “Rest, compose yourself – when are you meeting Lizzy?”

 

“I said I’d be home at six – wonder if she fancies going out tonight?”

 

 

 

4.30 pm BST

The New House

 

"So Agdon Miss Agnes?" Rory enquired as they walked in.

"Agnes and Donald, I'm amazed I never worked that out," Aggie shook her head. "When I sold up Lord Donald bought the estate intending it as my wedding gift."

"Which nay happened Miss."

"Exactly...Anyway Donald held on to the estate, and thanks to yours and your wife's amazing stewardship it was possible for me now to return home and find it virtually as I left it."

"Thank you Miss Agnes," the Factor smiled, "and now is it just yours again?"

"For all practical purposes yes, but with all the tax implications Agdon as a company will remain the official owners."

"And the Master, she will one day inherit Agdon, and thus the estate?"

"If all goes well Rory."

"Are there any changes you wish to implement Miss?"

"No, not yet, I want just to wallow in my memories."

"Aye, that sounds like a plan."

 

“Well, one thing,” she said as Tamsin joined them, “it is time we added to the Gallery.”

 

“Ah’ll let my wife know you are back – she’ll wish to discuss dinner wi ye,” Rory said as he bowed and walked out.

 

“Time for a new painting?” Tamsin asked.

 

“I think so.  Shirley has a friend who is an art historian, I'll ask if she can ask her to recommend a contemporary painter to do yours and mine portrait to hang in the gallery Tam."

"Both of us,” Tammy said, “shouldn't that just be you as laird Aggie?"

"No, I want this to be for both of us darling."

"Even though I wouldn't speak to you for all those years?"

"Yes, I want it to show us united again as a family."

"That's a lovely sentiment," Donald smiled as he stood in the doorway.  “So, our rooms are ready if you are.”

 

Nodding Agnes saw Sheilagh come in.  “May I ask what you will be doing for dinner tonight, Miss Agnes?”

 

"Sheilagh… just for tonight can we eat in the kitchen, us and you?"

"Rory and I?"

"Yes I know you probably usually eat in your house, but for tonight I want us all to join in celebrating my homecoming."

"Can I ask my Morag and David?"

"Oh I forgot to ask if you had children...Sorry how rude of me."

"Well she's 13, and he's 10..."

"Sheilagh tonight the more the merrier, and I want to eat in the kitchen to remind me of when your grandmother was cook here and Tam and I used to eat with her when Mummy and Daddy had gone out."

"Aye I remember her telling me," Sheilagh smiled. "You mind if I go and fetch the bairns Miss?" 

"Please Sheilagh," Agnes smiled broadly.

 

10 am PT

San Francisco

 

Fashion and photo shoots were nothing new in the area, as people walked past the camera crews setting up outside the cafes and restaurants.

 

Which meant nothing to the teenager sitting nervously in the chair as the make-up artists and hairdresser worked on her.

 

"Please tell me just what you want me to do Mr Nakamura," Suzie fidgeted as they finished doing her hair, "I'm still too new to this to have many ideas myself…"


"How many times do I need say it's John Suzie," the photographer smiled, "and as I said when we were talking this out, I'll talk you through what I want."

"Alright," Suzie took 4 or 5 deep breaths as the hairdresser checked his work, "where do you want me first?"

"We will start with you sitting at the restaurant table Suzie...Remember I want you to look just what you are...Young, fresh, and full of life."

"And full of nerves," Suzie said as the gown was removed and she stood up, looking at the short sleeved top and pinafore dress she was wearing.  Taking a deep breath, she slowly walked to her appointed place and sat down. 

"Now just watch people Suzie, just imagine you are a tourist watching the crowds."

"Okay," Suzie smiled as she spotted a couple of boys looking at her hard from beyond the lights.

"Now that is what will get you a long career in this business," John laughed, "you smile and it lights up your whole face."

"It will?" Suzie moved her head, and spotted the inevitable mime trying to earn a few bucks and laughed lightly.

"That is amazing," the photographer hopped round, “just give me a lot of that personality Suzie."

 

From behind the cameras, David watched with pride, as his sister smiled and relaxed…

 

6.30 pm BST

The New House

 

Sheilagh smiled as she tried to control her son’s tousled red hair, and straightened his pullover.

 

“Remember children you call them all Miss and then their Christian names, except for Lord Donald...do you understand?" she asked.

"We know," Morag nodded.  The young girl was wearing a blue pinafore dress over a white jumper, white tights and black shoes.

"Well nae bad manners please, the Laird wants this to be informal, but just remember she still is the Laird."

"We understand Mum," David McAdam nodded.

 

“Good – now, help me lay the table.”

 

 

 

"I always remembered your father had extremely good taste," Donald smiled as he came in holding a small box of bottles.

"How much do they pay for this down in London Your Lordship?" Rory said as he gently pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

"An absolute fortune, there are connoisseurs would kill for a taste of this" Donald shook his head, "and I barely looked at what other riches the cellar holds, but I thought this appropriate for us to toast the return of its Laird to Ardray."

"Aye, I'll agree to that,” the Factor nodded.

 

“How old is this,” Kit asked.

 

“Fifty years old, Miss Kit – and perhaps a little old for your tastes.”

 

“Well, she might like one later,” Tammy said as she and Agnes came in.  “I have to say, being in my old room again is a strange experience.”

 

“Are ye sure ye would not prefer the Laird’s room, Miss Agnes?”

 

“No – I want that preserved for the couple getting married,” Agnes said, “my room is fine.”

 

“Well, may I propose a toast,” Donald said as he poured some of the amber liquid into glasses.  “John?”

 

“Not for the moment thank you,” John said.

 

“Join us Rory – to Ardray.”

 

“Ardray!” the other three called out as they raised their glasses and drank.

 

“Oh lord, that is good stuff,” Tammy said as the door opened.

 

“Miss Agnes, Miss Tamsin, may I introduce David and Morag,” Sheilagh said as they came in.

 

“I’m very pleased to meet you,” Agnes said as he shook their hands, “thanks for joining us tonight.”

 

“Thank you for inviting us, Miss Agnes,” Morag said with a smile.

 

“Right – come on through, dinner’s ready…”

 

 

 

“Let us give thanks,” Rory said as the held hands, praying silently before Sheilagh started to serve the lamb.

 

“So where do you go to school,” Kit asked as she took a drink from her glass.

 

"David still goes to the village school, but I take the bus into Oban," Morag said, then blushed as she drew a glance of rebuke from her mother for speaking with her mouth full.

"Well at least you aren't away at boarding school like me and my friends," Kit smiled. "You get to see your parents every day."

"I think I'd hate not seeing Mum each night," David shook her head.

"My little sister Clodagh is saying the same thing about when it comes her turn to go off to school." John spoke.

 

 

"So the guns for the shoot,” Rory said as he wiped his chin, “who will be bringin' their own dogs Miss?"

"Good question Rory, I think you are better off asking the two gentlemen."

"Well I think most of them will bring their own dogs Rory," Donald spoke. "I know for certain my brother and I will."

"And we will too," John Gaunt smiled.

"Caroline Jameson won't I know," Agnes interjected, "she's never shot grouse before, but she is a top notch clay pigeon shooter."

"Well then she'll probably get the hang very quickly," Rory nodded.

"Will she need a loader?"

"No, I got the message Ama her daughter will load for her."

"What about the gentlemen?"

 

“I’ll ask,” Donald said with a smile.

 

7 pm BST

Belgravia

 

"Wow Mummy, since when did you have curves and legs?" Lizzie laughed as she saw Catriona in a knee length tight green dress.

"I might ask the same young lady," Catriona looked at the very tight and short cocktail dress was wearing. "Is that new?"

"Yes...Do you like it Mummy?"

"I love it, but just be glad you found it first darling."

"Well we can always share clothes you know Mummy,” Liz said as she looked over, “you are a little taller than I am, but otherwise we are almost exactly the same size."

"You are right darling," Cat shook her head, "how come I'd never noticed that?"

"Because you weren't really looking Mummy, you'd hustle me away so quickly."

"I know, and for that darling I will be eternally sorry," Cat let a couple of tears drop.

"Mummy,” Liz said with a smile, “stop before you ruin that fabulous eye makeup. We are going to get this right from now on, so let’s forget the past shall we?"

 

“All right then,” Cat said as she put in her earrings.

 

"So where are we eating?"

"Well I fancied Italian, so I got us reservations at Daphne's."

"I know girls who've eaten there. They say both the food is super, and you can have what amounts to a cabaret just watching all the celebrities and other people."

"So I hear Darling," Catriona smiled.  “So let’s go watch…”

 

 

Rutland Street, Kensington

 

Susan looked across the room at the assorted Gresham-Fox family members, and said quietly “but…”

 

"No - We are going to eat as a family at Daphne's and I will hear no arguments Susan."

"Mmmm Roberta,” Susan said as she looked at her, “will they let me in?"

"If they don't there will be hell to pay," Sir Charles smiled, “I reserved a table for eight, and eight of us will sit down."

"Alright," Sue laughed, "but I'm not sure I really own the right dress."

"Which is why the girls and I hit Harvey Nicks this afternoon," Victoria spoke.

"And one of them is bound to look absolutely fabulous on you..." Antonia and Ambrosia spoke as one.

"Darling I'd listen to them," Colin smiled as he and Martin served cocktails.

"Well I suppose I had better try them on..."

"Go in my bedroom," Antonia smiled, "and we can all come in and look."

"I trust you mean all the ladies darling," her Mother spoke.

 

“We did,” Ambrosia said.

 

“All right, all right – lead on…”

 

 

 

“Well, that is a new look.”

 

Susan smiled as she walked down the stairs, wearing her new dress – sleeveless with a black top, the skirt flowing out with the black floral pattern on white cloth.

"I didn't hear you come in Kay," Sue said as she checked herself out in the mirror.

"I'm here to babysit Peter while you go out."

"Saturday night...and no date?"

"Nope...It's depressing isn't it?" Kay sighed.

"Well at least it meant you could help Martin and I out Kay," Vicky smiled, "so thank you for that."

 

 

7 pm BST

The Savoy

 

"That from John darling?" Paula asked as she put her watch on.

"It is indeed, he was saying that they are all in the kitchen at Ardray waiting for the leg of lamb to finish cooking, and just  relaxing."

"Who is all darling?"

"The factor, his wife the housekeeper, their children, and Aggie and party."

"Sounds like fun."

"Indeed...especially as Donnie went exploring in the cellar and found some fifty year old whiskey."

"Well tell John just to sip it, and not drink too much." Paula smiled.

"Did Eve say how long she and Aileen would be getting ready?"

 

“We’re ready dad,” Eve said, “let’s go…”

 

“Hold on – your sister is just calling us,” Paula said as she looked at the screen. 

 

“It’s just not fair – I’m stuck here on my own!”

 

"Clodagh darling you can come next time, but you had school to finish." Paula smiled down the Skype, "and you had Bridget there to look after you."

"Yes but I missed you Mummy."

"Well I'll be home on Monday."

 

8 pm BST

Daphne’s, 112 Draycott Avenue, London

 

“I wonder if she will be here already,” Eve said as she and Cassandra got out of the taxi, waiting for Stephen to follow.

 

“Eve, my love, when have you ever got to a family gathering she is attending before her?”

 

“Never,” Eve said as they walked in, and saw the tall grey-blonde haired woman waiting in the bar area, smiling as she saw them.

 

“Cressida, my dear, you look as lovely as ever,” Stephen said as he kissed her hand.

 

“And you’re as flattering as ever – hello Cassandra?”

 

“Hi Aunt Cress,” Cassie said, “thanks for coming.”

 

“Well, it’s not often we get together – John, how are you?”

 

“All the better for seeing you,” John said as he came in with Paula, Eve and Aileen.  “So – drinks?”

 

 

 

"Well here goes nothing," Susan whispered to herself, "they will either let me in or they won't."

"Sir Charles it's nice to see you again Sir," the doorman said as he opened the taxi door.

"Thank you," Charles said as he, Martin and Colin helped the ladies out of the cab," I have a reservation."

"Very well Sir," he said as he opened the door.

"Alright now the test," Sue whispered to Colin as they walked inside, the girls looking round.

"Sir Charles," the Maitre d' beamed, "and your whole family?"

"Pretty much," Charles smiled, "is our table ready?"

"Of course. This way."


"Still think they will chuck you out darling?" Colin whispered.

"The night is young my love."

 

 

 

 

“Is that Charles Gresham-Fox,” Cressida asked as the group made their way to the table.

 

“It is,” Paula said, “that’s his son Colin, his fiancée, and his daughter Victoria with her family – well, most of them anyway.”

 

“So he is marrying again?”

 

“Well – re-marrying,” Tom said. 

 

“I thought…”

 

“Let me bring you up to speed…”

 

 

 

“The girls were right – this is a real celebrity magnet restaurant,” Liz said as she ate some more of her linguine.

 

“I know – a few people I’ve represented as well,” Catriona said as she smiled and waved at another table.

 

“Her?”

 

“Long story – tell you later…”

 

 

 

 

"Well look who is here?" Bobbi smiled happily.

"Who Roberta?" Sue looked round.

"Catriona Cuthbertson and her daughter, it's about bloody time Cat repaired fences with Lizzie."

"That's Catriona Cuthbertson...the barrister?" Sue looked surprised, "she's not a lot like I envisaged her."

"Well Cat still scrubs up pretty well, and Lizzie bids fair to be a beauty."

"She's an old friend of my Mothers," Colin whispered to Sue.

 

“Friend as in…”

 

“They went to the same prep school…”

 

 

"I think we should quickly go say hello to the Gresham-Fox's darling."

Liz stared at her mother.  "But Ambrosia and Antonia go to Wycombe Abbey...that's beyond..."

"I remember the school rivalries darling,” Catriona said, “but if the woman in black and white is who I think it is, then I want to support her."

 

“Who is she?”

 

“Someone very like your Aunt Aggie – a wronged woman.”  Wiping her chin, she stood up and said “come over…”

 

 

 

“Now why is…  Oh my lord, is that Charlie Gresham-Fox,” Paula said as she looked over.

 

“It is – and Sue’s with them,” Tom said with a smile.

 

“Sue?   The girl who works with Agnes McAdam,” Eve asked.

 

“The very same, and she’s staying – that’s a good sign…”

 

 

“Catriona – you look amazing,” Charles said as he stood up.

 

"Charles darling, it has been a while," Cat said as she let him kiss her on the cheek.

"I know, well I think you know everyone other than Susan, Colin's fiancé."

"Hello," Sue extended her hand.

"Well we might not know each other,” Catriona said, “but we do have several acquaintances in common."

"Oh who?" Bobbi asked.

"Aggie, Shirley, Penny, oh and a few others."

"We do then," Sue smiled and relaxed.

"Anyway I just wanted to say that I am so happy to hear you are getting married, and to offer my house as further accommodation for guests at your wedding."

"Oh that is most generous Cat." Bobbi beamed.

 

“Oh – my daughter Liz.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you,” Victoria said, “my daughters, Ambrosia and Antonia.”

 

“We’ve met,” Liz said with a smile, “on the Hockey field.”

 

 

 

 

“The girls over there,” Eve said, “go to Wycombe Abbey.”

 

“Oh boy,” Aileen said, “and Liz is talking to them?”

 

“Because her mother is,” Cressida said.  “I have had occasions to employ Catriona for some legal matters.”

 

“So why is the manager going over?”

 

“Oh dear,” Tom said as he wiped his chin and stood up, “excuse me a minute…”

 

 

 

“Excuse me, Sir Charles, may I have a word?”

 

Susan sighed and said “it’s all right, I’ll…”

 

“No – stay sitting,” Sir Charles said.  “I know what you are going to say, and unless you want a lot of unwelcome and unhelpful publicity for this restaurant, you will not say it.”

 

“Sir Charles…”

 

“Is there a problem,” Catriona said as she looked over.  “I was just congratulating their son on his upcoming marriage – why do you wish to interrupt that?”

 

“Charles, Roberta – how are you?”

 

“Good evening, Tom – you know His Grace, the Duke of Lardarn?  He is related to the host for their wedding.”

 

“In fact,” Roberta said, “we need to discuss accommodation with you and Catriona – and the Marquis of Ordford when he is free,” Bobbi said.

 

The manager was looking uncomfortable as he said “nonetheless Sir Charles…”

 

“I think we have made our position clear,” Martin said as he and Colin looked across the table, Colin holding Sue’s hand.

 

“Sir, may I have a word,” the doorman said as he came over.  He took the manager to one side, the two talking quietly, before the manager nodded and walked off.

 

“Sorry about that Sue – George passed the word round us, but it hasn’t reached them yet.  We’re working on it.”

 

“Working on what,” Colin asked quietly.

 

“You’re coming off the list Susan – well done.”

 

 

 

“Is everything all right,” Eve asked as Tom came back over.

 

“Yeah – I think they were going to try and ask Susan to leave, and they put their foot down.”

 

“Why would they do that, unless…  Oh,” Cressida said quietly.

 

“She may have in the past,” Paula said, “but she’s working now with Agnes McAdam establishing her new offices.”

 

“Agnes?  She’s resurfaced as well?”

 

“Yes she has,” Paula said, “she and Tamsin are reconciled, and they’ve taken Kit and John with them on a weekend visit to Ardray.”

 

“Well I never – I thought she had dropped completely out of sight.  What happened?”

 

“We discovered the truth – about a lot of things…”

 

 

 

“Well, that was interesting – why were they so protective of Susan,” Liz said as they sat back at their table.

 

“Let’s say she has had a colourful past,” Cat said, “but she’s leading a normal life now.  The sort of past which would have made her unwelcome here.”

 

“Really?  So what does she do now?”

 

“Work for Agnes McAdam – her life is changing for the better, especially with her decision to stand openly by Colin.”

 

“Well, she’s very brave in that case – what does Agnes say?”

 

“Why do you think we’re helping host the wedding guests…”

 

 

“I don’t believe it,” Susan said quietly, “I can come to places with you?”

 

“Well, I still wouldn’t try the clubs,” Colin said, “but it’s the first step Sue.  After this, anything is possible…”

 

 

 

9 pm CET

Munich

 

"What has you smiling so broadly on this Saturday evening my darling," Klaus asked as he passed Juliet a glass of brandy.

"These pictures from San Francisco Klaus my love...We booked Suzie Clarke a shoot with John Nakamura for her book, and he just sent me some of the images they've got so far."

"Are they good?"

"Better than good...She just has a personality that can light up a room and he's captured that."

"Very different from her sister."

"Oh yes, Mary is pure classic beauty, Suzie on the other hand is the fun girl from next door."

 

 

 

9 pm BST

The New House

 

"You know I've eaten in some wonderful places, but to me the greatest meal of all is still roast leg of lamb, eaten here at home...with such good friends." Agnes smiled as she sat back in her chair.

"Well I hate to disagree Miss,” Rory said, “but if I remember Miss Catriona and I both used to agree that roast beef as Sheilagh's gran prepared it over an open fire was the ultimate treat."

"Aye it was pretty special," Sheilagh laughed, "I've just never quite been able to do it the way she did."

"Changing subjects," Tamsin said as she sipped from her wine, "do you still play shinty Rory?"

"Aye,” Rory said with a smile, “I've captained Ardray the last five or six years."

"Any luck?"

"A couple of quarter-finals but we also seem to run up against one of the Oban clubs, and they just have more players to draw on."

"Do you play David?"

"Aye I do Miss Aggie."

"He was regional young player of the year," his father patted his head proudly.

 

"What is shinty?" Kit asked.

"It's sort of a cross between hurling and hockey darling, but far closer to hurling then hockey." Tamsin replied.

"Okay I get the picture."

"And what's your sport Miss Christine?" Morag asked.

"I like watching soccer...an awful lot, but playing I'm best at tennis I suppose, though I'm not awfully good."

"We both follow our local club in Ireland." John added.

 

“Although I may get a taste for Rugby…”

 

“I should ask Uncle John to take you to a Quins game some time…”

 

“Aileen is the runner – she’s been running with a mutual friend – Jo Smith?”

 

"You know the lady who advertises Fitzstuart Woolens Miss?" Morag sounded more than just impressed.

"I do," Kit smiled, "she's in London right now with her family."

"She always looks so great in her pictures."

"You'd make her blush saying that," John spoke, "Jo doesn't think she is special."

"Truly?" Sheilagh asked.

"Yes," Kit shook her head, "but her two best friends are Abigail de Ros, and Carina von Furstenheim, I suppose she compares herself to them."

"Ah understand that," Rory nodded.  “Comparing tae others can be a problem…”

 

"So as well as your other duties Rory,” Tamsin said, “you run Home Farm?"

"Ah do Miss Tamsin."

"My brother runs the Home Farm on the Ordford estate," Donald nodded, “he's into pigs in a very serious way."

"Ah remember reading about it in one of the agricultural magazines," Rory smiled, "and a picture of Lady Ordford feeding the pigs."

"Does she really do that Your Lordship?" Sheilagh asked.

"Yes, it wasn't just a photo-op - when Mandy's at home she does more than her fair share on the farm. She's in London at the moment so my nephew Jack's girlfriend has taken over her duties on the farm."

"And her looking so glamourous," Sheilagh shook her head.

"Well at times she is Sheilagh, but most of the time she's a farmer’s wife just like yourself."

"You know I find it hard to get my head round that idea."

 

"What about you Lord John,” David said, “will you go farmin' one day too?"

"No David," John smiled, "I want to be what you call in Scotland an advocate, our farms will be left firmly in the hands of the tenants without my interference."

"And what about your estates Miss Kit?" Rory asked.

"We have a wonderful steward who manages the estate perfectly, rather as you do Rory, he doesn't need me poking my nose in."

"Aye that's one thing with Agdon...I mean Lord Donald owning the estate, I've been largely left in charge."

"And from the profits the estates run at Rory, I'd say you've done a wonderful job of being in charge." Aggie sipped from her whiskey.

 

"So how long has your family owned Ballysatten Miss Christine?" Rory asked.

"A tiny time when compared to how long the McAdam's have held Ardray...about 125 years."

"Christine's Mahan ancestor was a younger son, and a Catholic, and facing the difficulties that put him under in 19th Century Ireland, he emigrated to America," Tamsin told the story. "Over there he made a fortune as what they call a meat packer in Chicago, which basically meant he ran a huge slaughterhouse and meat processing company."

"Ah getcha Miss," Rory sipped his whiskey.

"Well having made his fortune, unlike most other Irish he returned home with his fortune, and one of the first things he did was to buy Ballysatten, which was then in a decrepit state, and have it restored. Along with his very wisely invested fortune, that passed down to my late husband, and on his death to Christine."

 

"Mummy needs to add, he also bought property in Chicago, that I till this day own and get the rents on that land." Kit smiled.

 

“Oh?  Any idea where?”

 

“Not really Aunt Agnes – I’d need to ask.  Why?”

 

“Wonder if it is near the van Roons…”

 

“Right – time we got you two back hame,” Sheilagh said, “Ah’ll see you all in the morning, Miss Agnes.”

 

“Thank you Sheilagh – for everything,” Agnes said, “we can lock up, and we’ll talk after the service tomorrow.”

 

4 pm PT

Oakland Hills

 

"So how did it go?" Allison asked as they watched Suzie change into old jeans, a t shirt, and sneakers.

 

"Pretty well...I think." Suzie paused, "He's booked me to shoot some ads for Gump's"

 

"Gump's...WOW!" Vicky looked amazed, "Modeling what?"

 

"Jeans and tops." Suzie pulled her shirt on, "though he did also mention me doing some prom dresses."

 

“Right – give our sister some room,” David said, “let her wind down…”

 

Midnight CET

Venice

 

"Well there is the final evidence," Mary looked at her phone as she lay in Richard's arms, the sounds and heat of the Venetian night coming through their hotel rooms terrace doors.

"Evidence of what?"

"That Suzie is more then just the cute girl next door type," she said as she showed her boyfriend the pictures of Suzie looking ultra chic in a designer suit, as well as the mind-blowingly sexy pictures of her in an evening dress made up to the nines.


"She does not look like the Suzie I have met," Richard shook his head.

"That's the point darling," Mary laughed gently as he reached under her naked body and pulled her closer, "she's supposed to be able to show a variety of looks."

"So people will be impressed?"

"I bet you five bucks Missy is already showing these pictures to a host of people who might book Suzie."

"On a weekend?"

"Richard,” Mary said as she shook her head, “when you get to know Missy better you'll know that's a silly question. She's the best booker in the business because she never really stops working for us girls."

 

“So, she joins the life?”

 

“It looks that way – but that’s tomorrow.  What can we do tonight?”

 

Richard smiled as he said “I can think of something…”

 

 

11.30 pm PT

Oakland Hills

 

“Who on earth is ringing at this time of the night,” Dave Clarke said as he turned on the hall light, and picked up the handset.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Dave?  Missy Auerbach.”

 

"Missy you do know that it's gone eleven at night here?" Dave yawned,

"I do, but in Europe it’s already Sunday morning in Germany," Missy said with a laugh.

"And why should that worry me?  I was just going to sleep."

"Because people are awakening to the latest pictures of Suzie..."

"Yeah they looked pretty great didn't they?" Dave interrupted.

"Better than good Dave, I have had Antonio Bell on the phone practically begging us to let him book Suzie for a shoot."

"The Maestro? Hey she's beaten Mary in time taken to get invited to sit for him."

"She has indeed."

"Well I'll tell her in the morning he's interested, she'll get a big kick outta that."

"Yeah well I haven't told you the full bit yet Dave...He wants to shoot her Wednesday and Thursday...in Munich."

"HE WHAT?  Missy, she has literally just got settled back, and now you want her to fly…"

 

“I know, I know – I can get Mary to come here from Venice and be the responsible adult, and Juliette is happy to put them both up rather than a hotel.”

 

Dave took a deep breath, and said “let me talk to her Missy – I’ll call you later.”

 

Sunday 10th July

8.30 am BST

The New House, Ardray

 

“It’s a beautiful day again,” John said as he looked out of the kitchen window.  “So when do we have to be there?”

 

“Eleven,” Agnes said as she poured some more coffee.  “Probably more like quarter to.”

 

"It seems strange that, with John being the only protestant among us, we are going to a Presbyterian service." Kit smiled as her mother dished up some more bacon.

"Not really Kit,” Tamsin said, “Aggie and I might be Catholic, but most of our people are Presbyterians."

"And we do need to show our faces Kit darling," Agnes suddenly looked panicked as Donald came in from outside with a copy of the Sunday Times.

"Well Donnie darling, how does it read?"

 

She watched as he sat down, looked at her, and then said “see for yourself.”  He passed the Weekly Review over to Agnes, who slowly opened it and looked inside.

 

 

 

The Lady Returns

 

Twenty years ago, Agnes McAdam was one of the brightest lights of the social scene in London, with a glittering career ahead of her.  Then the revelation of her work in the underside of London led to her withdrawal from society, and a conviction was the final lock on the door closed on her.  But why did she do what she did, where has she been – and why has she chosen now to reappear and work again in the world of finance?

 

Born and raised at the Ardray estate in Argyll, Agnes and her sister Tamsin were the daughters of…

 

“And?”

 

“The first few paragraphs are background,” Agnes said to Tamsin, “and then we get to the heart of the matter…”

 

The Agnes McAdam of today looks much the same as she did twenty years ago, when she was engaged to Lord Donald Fitzstuart and awarded her Doctorate by the University College London.  Her face is more lined, but she still has the flaming red hair that was shown when she was the Debutante of the Year in 1992.  But in one month, she fell from the heights to the depths, so as we sat I asked her a simple question – what happened?

 

“What happened?”  She laughed before she said “it’s actually very simple – my father passed away when I graduated from Somerville, and I discovered like many of my generation that inherited estates then he had left a number of large debts – debts that had to be paid.  So I needed to get a part time job, and hope the sale of Ardray would cover my sister’s fees.”

 

There's a saying - the road to hell is paved with good intents. For Agnes, it was the need to earn money to support herself while she studied that led to answering the advert. 

 

"I wore a scarf and dark glasses, but it was only when I walked in I realised it was a brothel," she said as she held her drink, "but the money was good, the sale of land kept Tamsin at school at first, and I discovered I was good at it." 

 

How good was clear – the stories of the woman known as Lady D’Eath were widespread in London and Soho for those who knew up to 1996, while at the same time Agnes McAdam was studying for a PhD and courting, then engaged to, Lord Donald Fitzstuart.  Nobody suspected the two were the same – and then Agnes’ world came crashing down after her identity was exposed in a Sunday newspaper.

 

"Do I know who it was who gave my name to the papers and exposed me?  Yes. Am I angry at what they did to me? Yes.  Will I name them? No.  They deserve my pity, not my wrath." 

 

Agnes looked at Donald, who smiled as he said "thank you..." 

 

“At any rate, Donald broke off the engagement, and I was shunned by my friends and society.  Then came the court case…”

 

“In June 1996 Agnes was jailed for Prostitution – a sentence of three years, although she only served six months.  When she was released, she had no friends, and her family had turned their back on her.

 

“I did,” her sister Tamsin said, “I could only see the shame in what she had done, and never asked the reasons why.  I ran away, met a good man, married – but even then, she still put me and my family above herself.”

 

“I know I broke her heart,” Lord Donald said when I spoke to him, “but at the time, it was what was expected.  It is still the hardest thing I have ever done.”

 

“I had no choice really – with no way to use my talents as a financial adviser, I had to turn to my other profession – so I went back to the brothel, and Lady D’Eath became one of the best known names in London.”

 

What was little known, however, was just how much Agnes gave to help those even worse off than her.  I’ve spoken to a number of people who have had contact with Agnes through a small – well, a school is as good a word as any, that has become a beacon of light for runaways and others in Soho.

 

Dame Margaret Harker, who has a special interest in this area, said “I was aware for many years of this school, and that it helped many children survive and get off the streets – and that it was supported by many businesses in London.  But to finally meet Agnes McAdam, and thank her for doing this, was a rare privilege for me – to meet a true heroine.”

 

"In a way, helping these kids means I can stop them from falling through the cracks.”  Agnes does not like to speak too much of her work there, but she did confide one thing that I believe speaks volumes.  “Given what I went through, they are the children I never had, and I hope they appreciate it." 

 

They do - speaking to some of the street kids, they all have nothing but good to say about Agnes. A far cry from the perception of Agnes over these last two decades. 

 

“I was wrong,” Tamsin her sister said, “I condemned her without knowing the facts, or why she did it.  When I recently heard how she had provided for me and my daughter, and of what she sacrificed for us, we were reconciled and now we are united again.  Truly, her deeds speak louder than words.”

 

During those years in the wilderness, however, some friends were there when she needed them.  Such as her childhood friend, Catriona Cuthbertson QC.

 

“Looking at what happened now,” she said as we talked in her chambers, “it is clear Agnes was harshly treated.  I hope we can get some redress for that.”

 

Agnes looked up, wiping away a tear as Tamsin took the paper and looked at the closing paragraphs.

 

Her work on third world finance is now more and more recognised, with world and government leaders looking at how it could be applied.  She has renounced the title of Lady D’Eath, and is working again as a financial adviser – and the school?

 

“That is, and always will be, a major focus of my life.  Do I have regrets, would I have done things differently?  There is no point in asking those questions – I do not regret what I did to survive, and to support others.  But now I have my friends and my life again, all I ask is to be left to live it.”

 

A brave woman – and one more deserving of our respect than we may realise.

 

9 am BST

Rutland Street, Kensington

 

"So basically what does Agnes have to say?" Colin asked as Sue brought the Sunday papers back to bed.

"Pretty much what I will I have to say I guess, 'Needs must when the Devil drives.'" Sue said as Colin opened the paper.


"Is there any mention in there of Catherine?"

"No," Sue shook her head, "She does say she was 'outed' by someone, and Donald is quoted why he called the marriage off, but Catherine's name never appears."

"Good,” Colin said, “the last thing she needs is creating fresh trouble in that direction."

"Agreed."  Sue climbed back into bed and leaned her head on Colin’s shoulder.

"So who else have they interviewed?"

"Dame Margaret, Shirley, Catriona Cuthbertson, Lady Ordford...oh and they talked to some of the kids she's helping at her school."

"That's good."

"There is also a very nice bit by the Marchesa di Cambrello explaining how the trauma of her divorce caused her to take actions she would never otherwise done."

"I'll read it a minute, when you've finished."

"In the end it doesn't gloss over that she had been a dominatrix and had some scrapes with the law, but it's explained that what she was doing was essentially legal, and that given her social and academic shunning, she was faced with little to fall back upon to earn a crust.”

 

“So when you tell your story, it falls in line, and with luck…”

 

“With luck,” Sue said quietly, “enough people will understand…”

 

 

 

9.15 am BST

Margaret Harker’s Flat

 

"That is a great quote from you Maggie," Nessa smiled, "about her charity work with runaways."

"Well from what I've heard it's only true," Glenda said with a smile as she put marmalade on her toast.

"Did you read the rather humbling one from Tamsin Mahan-Gaunt?" Maggie brought over fresh coffee.

"I did...It was brave of her to admit that she had reacted as she had without investigating the facts, and that when she found out what the circumstances had been, that she both understood, and admired her sister, for just what she had done."

"Her deeds speak louder than words," Glenda quoted.

"There will still be an awful lot of people who will not understand," Maggie sat down, "but hopefully many people will, and give her the second chance she deserves."

"Amen to that," Nessa laughed as she started to eat her toast covered in strawberry jam. "By the way Maggie I should curse you for turning me onto this jam, it's going to do my diet no good at all."

 

“Try it without butter,” Maggie said with a laugh.

 

 

9.30 am BST

Near Fleet

 

"Well I like the overall tone," Penny smiled as Helen brought her tea in bed. "It doesn't try to excuse Agnes' actions, rather it seeks just to explain them..."

"As well as her not excusing herself," Helen said as she climbed back under the sheet.

"Yes...You know Elia Scaraponi did a fantastic job in getting this article published, and it will make Sue's coming-out a whole lot easier."

"I agree," Helen sipped her jasmine-tea. "You know one day I'll get you to try this."

"No," Penny laughed, "I think I'll stick to good old proletarian Typhoo."

"So did you read some of the other bits?"

"I did, we do seem to have the police running round in circles."

"And a couple more days or so when it will just get worse if all goes to plan."

"Just so," Penny turned to the sports pages, "let's just forget the outside today, and just concentrate on being ourselves.'

"That sounds like a plan to me my love."

 

 

10 am BST

The Priory

 

"It's a bloody whitewash," Catherine could not believe her own eyes as she read the Sunday Times article. "They make her sound like damn Mary Magdalene, the repentant whore,"

Throwing the paper down, she walked to the window of the room and looked out.  "Even my own sister had the cheek to say nice things...and if I ever get my hands on Donald then he's going to pay for this craven cowardice."

"Well that reaction tells me a lot," Serena Gleb observed from the other side of the one-way mirror, "I don't think I have ever seen such a plainly visible reaction of hate."

"She clearly represents a danger to a lot of people," the other doctor shook his head.

"Well she's also very clever at acting, she shows people the face they want to see, but little does she know we have her under 24 hour observation from in here."

"And that we've substituted placebos for the drugs she's been hiding."

"Exactly," Serena nodded.

 

10 am BST

Ardray Loch

 

"You know this is so beautiful," Kit smiled up at John as they walked hand-in-hand along the shore of the loch.

"It is," he gazed across the dark water. "You know the river runs through both Ballysatten's, and Lardarn Castle's grounds, but it's not the dominant beautiful feature this is in the landscape."

"Agreed," Kit nodded in agreement. "So what did you really make of the article?"

"It was as it had to be," John said.  “Aunt Aggie, by denying nothing except those blatantly stupid rumours about what went on in her dungeon, comes across I think very honestly."

"You know what my thoughts are John darling?"

"Tell me."

"That if today’s media had covered what i know my ancestor got up to at the start of his career buying cattle in Wild-West frontier towns, would he ever have become of Society first in Chicago, and then back home in Ireland?"

"It's an excellent point, but I have a better one for you...What about BBC News covering the Gaunt's invasion of Ireland...how would todays so-called high society react to those stories."

"Oh God!," Kits rolled her eyes and laughed.

"Time for Church," they both heard Tamsin yell out from up at the house.

 

 

 

10.15 am BST

Chelsea

 

As John sat drinking coffee, he could see Shirley looking through messages on her phone – and he could guess why.

 

"And the reaction to my cousin/niece's revelations is Shirley?"

"From the people we know darling,” Shirley said as she looked over, “overwhelmingly positive."

"Good," John paused, "you know I am ashamed of myself for disowning her in that manner without ever seeking out either her side of the story, nor the facts."

"Well you have plenty of time to make things really right with Aggie."

"I know, I'm relishing the chance to go shooting at Ardray again after all these years."

"You didn't even mention the wedding," Shirley both sighed and laughed lightly at the same time, "one mention of grouse shooting, and nothing else matters."

"I know," John laughed, "aren't we just such pathetic creatures?"

"You know I could answer that?" Shirley lifted an eyebrow.

"I'd rather you didn't my love," he laughed some more.

"Changing subjects I know what I'm wearing for the wedding, but the last time at a shoot I was able to get away with a pair of jeans, a Barbour, and some borrowed green wellies...Do I need to hit the stores?"

 

“I think so – we can try my stockist…”

 

 

10.30 am BST

The Babbage residence, London

 

"So do you think that the Met will now give Aggie a bit of consideration darling?" Sherry asked her husband as they ate brunch.

"Hopefully,” Mike said as he sipped his coffee, “she's been honest in reporting what she has and hasn't done in her life. People will either understand or they won't."

"Well I'm not understanding you having to work every hour god sends, we were going to take the children out today."

"I know, and I apologised to each of them," Tom shook his head, "you know I've never known a crime wave quite like this, after Hatton Garden yesterday our resources are getting pretty thin."

"It almost sounds like somehow it's being co-ordinated?"

"Well the crimes might be, but the traffic chaos is purely down to a glitch in our so-called state of the art system."

"When I rang Aggie earlier I congratulated her on picking the right weekend to be in the peace and quiet of the West Highlands, and away from this chaos."

"Did you tell her that at one stage the traffic outside her flat was gridlocked?"

"I mentioned it," Sherry laughed.  “but she’s off to the Kirk this morning – could be fun.”

 

 

 

10.45 am BST

Ardray Village

 

The car drew up outside the kirk, Rory stepping forward to open the door as Agnes and Tamsin got out.  Both women were wearing tweed long coats, with gloves and hats, while Kit wore a shorter jacket over a white dress.  Donald and John were wearing dark suits, shirts and ties.

 

Some of the churchgoers stopped to watch as they stood in front of the church, one little girl tugging on the sleeve of her mother’s coat and saying “who is the lady mummy?”

 

“I’m not sure,” her mother replied as Agnes said “well, here we go,” and the party walked to the door where a grey haired man was waiting.

 

“Miss Agnes – I heard ye came to the shop yesterday,” he said as he handed them each a hymnal.

 

“Thank you Sandy,” Agnes said as he opened the inner door, the low hum of conversation ending as they walked in and down the aisle.

 

“I think we were the topic of conversation,” Tammy said as Sandy walked in front of them, and opened the door to an aisle at the side, Agnes letting the others enter first before she took her seat.

 

“Did you see the look you got from some of the older ladies,” Agnes whispered as the organ played.

 

“Yes – I wonder what they’re going to say later?”

 

“If they talk to me at all,” Agnes said as she squeezed her sister’s hand, and a small door opened at the side.  The congregation stood as Rev. Johnston came out, climbing into the pulpit and smiling at Agnes as he said “Welcome, all of you, to our worship this morning.  We gather here today, all equal in the sight of God, to worship and here his word – so let us start with our first hymn…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.30 pm CET

Munich

 

"Did you read the London Sunday Times online?" Natalya asked as the family sat down for Sunday lunch.

"I think we all did," Klaus nodded, "a very interesting portrait of someone who having met her, I think is a remarkable woman."

"Agreed," Sigi nodded, "It illustrates though the double standard so prevalent in life."

"That sex when it’s used as mud, sticks only really on women." Annie looked up from feeding Mags.

"Precisely Annie."

"Well having had a couple of chats with her at Abigail's party, I think it was a very fair article," Carina said as she put some food on Rudi's spoon and fed him.

"Are you talkin' about Aunt Aggie?" Judith asked.

"Yes darling," Juliette answered.

"Well I like her, she pwayed a lot with Jennifer, Leenie and me...She's fun." Judith nodded her head decisively. "she knows lotsa nursewy wymes as well."

"If she has the Judith seal of approval, let's hope everyone else agrees," Dieter smiled.

 

“Indeed,” Klaus said, “I heard you talking to Missy earlier Juliette?”

 

“Oh yes – we may need to allow Mary and Suzie Clarke to stay for a few days.”

 

“Oh – why,” Abby asked.

 

“Antonio wants to use Suzie in his shoot this week – here in Munich.  If Suzie agrees, she’ll fly here tomorrow and arrive Tuesday, with Mary coming the night before from Venice.”

 

 

11.30 am BST

Ardray Village

 

"I take as my text today,” the minister said as he looked out from the raised pulpit, “the eighth verse of the eighth chapter of John's gospel. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. 

 

"The quote is famous, but for a moment let us consider the fact that the context for this scene is clear.  A woman, accused of adultery, and under Mosaic law could be stoned to death.  The elders of the temple, keen to find a reason to prove that Jesus was not who he said he was, the Son of God, brought this woman before him and expected him to condemn her, and then they could stone her.

 

“Now their intent was clear – the law was clear, but they wanted Jesus to agree with them, to condemn the woman, because if he did not, then he was defying the conventions, the prevailing wisdom, the way things should be.  Can you imagine the shock therefore, as he squats down and sifts through the pebbles on the ground, and then says those words of power and forgiveness.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

 

“But why did he say that?  He knew this was a test, a trap, and as he did on other occasions, such as the payment of taxes, he turned the question round.  He asked them a deep and humbling question – if all sin is punishable, had they examined their own lives and were they were willing to admit their own faults, their own sins?  Because, in the eyes of the Almighty, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

 

“One of the hardest things we can do, as men and women of faith, is to admit we are not perfect. But that in itself is liberating, as it allows us to see others as God sees us - imperfect but still loved by God. 

 

“So before we seek to pass judgement on others, take a good long look at yourself, and say. 'Am I completely innocent?' I cannot answer that in any way but no.  What of you?

 

“But there is another side – the woman.  As the crowd melted away, he looked at her and said ‘where are your accusers?’  When she acknowledged, they had gone, he said ‘well, neither do I.  Go and sin no more.’

 

“Go and sin no more – just as we should not judge, we also must remember that those who are repentant, who admit their faults, are to be forgiven and allowed to live their life anew.  Only in that can we go forward, only in that can we be the people He calls us to be.

 

“Let us pray…”

 

 

 

As the organ was played at the end of the service, Rev. Johnston walked forward and opened the door to the aisle, indicating that Agnes should walk out with him.  She smiled as she did so, the others following before the congregation started to filter out as well.

 

“I invite you to stand with me, as the Laird of Ardray,” he said as they stood outside the entrance, “and greet the congregation as they come out.”

 

“Why?”

 

“It may make you feel more welcomed home,” he said with a smile, “or at least know who is not happy.”

 

 

 

Noon BST

Lancaster Gate

 

"Welcome home Marchesa," Mrs Harris beamed, as she took her employers light coat, "how was your trip?"

"Very useful thank you Betty." Francesca shook her hair. "Did I see my daughter's car outside?"

"You did Marchesa, she's in the drawing room waiting for you."

"No she's not," Charlotte laughed as she came into the hallway, "I'm here now."

"That was a terrible pun," Francesca groaned as she embraced her daughter, "So how are you darling?"

"I think I'm starting to show," Charlotte turned sideways, "either that or I ate too many of Mrs Harris's home-made doughnuts."

"I think it's more likely the latter," Francesca laughed as her daughter put her tongue out at her, before they went into the drawing room.

"So did you read it yet?" Charlotte nodded at the open copy of the Sunday Times on the coffee table.

"Elia made sure I got to read it in advance yesterday."

"So what did you think Mama?" Charlotte as they both sat down and Betty brought in fresh coffee.

"I think Elia did a wonderful job, it will hopefully cause a lot of people who have been shunning Agnes to at least reconsider what they've thought for twenty years?"

"I certainly hope so."

"I'm afraid though there will be many others who see it just as confirming what they've always thought about her."

"Well Daffy agrees with you on that, but in her opinion Agnes has more than enough friends so that to use Davina's own words, 'they can go fuck themselves'."

 

“Well said that woman…”

 

 

1 pm BST

The Trafalgar, 200 King’s Road, Chelsea

 

"Do you know," Charles Gresham-Fox said as he sipped his beer, "I love Washington, but one of the things I really miss is having Sunday lunch in a good bar."

 

"What is it about roast beef and beer that makes someone feel good," Martin said with a smile. 

 

“Well, I for one am glad we came here,” Susan said, “I may be welcome in more places now, but a good Sunday pub lunch is always a treat.”

 

"Well at least the Sunday lunch they serve in here is better then what they used to serve in the officers’ mess Dad." Victoria sipped from her wine, "Do you remember darling?"

"I do, and the fact that they closed the base was one of the few things they got right in the last defence review," Martin shook his head, "eating food anywhere on that place was taking a risk with your health."

"I once worked in a place like that," Sue shook her head, "got to the stage we all ate in the Chinese place next door."

"Without being too indelicate was this a...?" Bobby asked.

"Yes it was a brothel Roberta...and I guess I had better stop referring to such places as if they were normal."

"Well maybe with outsiders, but I think within the family we at least understand," Charles smiled. "Now how good is the horseradish here?"

"It tastes awful, and it will burn your mouth out," Antonia answered.

"Mmm sounds just how I like it."

"The chef makes his own Dad," Colin smiled, "it's one reason I chose this place.'

"This gets even better," Charles rubbed his hands, "and he does understand what 'rare' really means?"

"He does," Colin smiled.

 

“Then let us begin…”

 

“Alright who let you lot in?" Grace laughed as she approached the table her family was sitting at.

"Grace my darling," Charles stood up and kissed her.

"Hello Uncle Charles, you remember Pippa don't you?"

"I do," the diplomat said as he kissed her as well.

"I understand huge congratulations are due Philippa," Bobby also kissed her, "the editorship of the flagship edition of Complete Style is quite something."

"Thank you," Pippa blushed.

"Where is your lovely daughter?" Colin smiled, "we saw her on the CS Awards show."

"Out with my Aunt Margaret, and a couple of her American friends being spoiled rotten I suspect."

"It's every older relation’s right to spoil beautiful girls like her?" Bobby laughed gently.

"Tell me about it," Pippa smiled, "I'm dreading letting her go clothes shopping with her grandmother to pay for it."

"Oh that I DO understand," Charles laughed, "I'm dreading the credit card bills from Bobby taking the girls here out."

"Now do you know my cousin’s wife to be Pip?"

"No - I saw her in France, but I'm not sure we were introduced."

"Alright...Sue this is Pippa...Pippa this is Sue."

"Charmed," Pippa said as she kissed the younger woman.

 

“Will you join us,” Colin said.

 

“If it’s not too much trouble – have you ordered?”

 

“It’s Sunday, they serve Roast Beef,” Victoria said, “what do you think?”

 

“Two more then,” Grace said as the waiter came over, and they took a seat with them.

 

"So Grace was telling me it will be a Scottish wedding?”

 

“Oh yes – in Oban, and the bride goes from Ardray.”

 

“The McAdam home?  How has that been arranged?”

 

“Short version – The Ardray estate is back in the hands of Agnes and Tamsin.”

 

“Good for her,” Grace said, “so you must be looking forward to it Susan.”

 

“I don’t think I’ve quite come back to earth on it,” Susan said, “these next few weeks are like a whirlwind.”

 

“Well, while you’re here,” Grace said, “I need to discuss wedding presents of a different type.  What do you get one of the richest young heiresses in the world?”

 

 

2 pm BST

The Dorchester

 

“Indeed – I have been monitoring the news reports over the last few days, father,” Tamiko Tanaka said as she looked out onto the street from her suite, “I do believe something is about to happen, but I am not sure what.  The issues in this city with the traffic is the one that bothers me the most.

 

“I met with them this morning for a late breakfast,” she continued as she saw three women leave the front of the hotel.  Mrs Tanamura was wearing a grey coat over her trouser suit, while her two daughters wore leather jackets and jeans.  “Be assured they were most grateful for your assistance to the honourable Tanamura.  I have arranged to go to the theatre with them on Monday night.”

 

As they walked down the street, two men dressed in dark suits followed a short distance behind, as a black transit van came down and turned down the road they were walking along.

 

“I will speak to you again tomorrow – rest well Father,” Tamiko said as she ended the call, and replaced the handset, picking up her cup and sipping her tea as she continued to look out.  On hearing the knock on the door, she said “come.”

 

“Forgive me, Mistress,” a smartly dressed man said as he came in, “you need to come now.  There has been an incident.”

 

“What has happened?”

 

“The Tanamura family…”

 

Tamiko literally ran after her associate as they went down the stairs and out of the hotel lobby, turning the corner to see the two men unconscious on the floor – and no sign of the three women.

 

“It appears they were taken into a black van, and our men drugged.  As it was done in broad daylight, the police are on their way…”

 

Tamiko nodded as she said “when they return, I will talk to both of them.  In the meantime, find out who may have done this…”

 

 

 

3 pm BST

Tate Modern

 

 

“Now why am I not surprised to see you here?”

 

"Serena - what are you doing here in London," Heather beamed as she saw the psychiatrist.

"I'm consulting on a very, very, difficult  case...and you?"

"I've been invited to deliver a pair of lectures at LIFA...I thought I'd told you?"

"You might have," Serena shook her head, "I have been awfully busy for a couple of months."

"Anyway what are you doing here in the Tate?"

"Trying to understand some of the artists thinking..."

"Serena darling," Heather laughed, "that sounds awfully like work."

"I know...but it does help me relax as well. So why are you here?"

"Sandy ordered me to go out and relax, she says that if my lectures aren't perfect now then they never will be."

"So she told you to take the day off," Serena smiled, "Very sensible of her...And how is Jo?"

"At this very second?" Heather looked at her watch, "she should be abseiling down a cliff face somewhere out in the country."

"Well if it's her idea of relaxation," Serena shook her head, "I will admit fully to having an absolute phobia about heights."

"Me too," Heather giggled, "it's why I'm NOT going climbing down in the south of France in a couple of weeks’ time. I'll stick to having a gallery viewing summer.  So – can you discuss the case?”

 

“No – but it is one of the most serious I have ever seen in my career.  What of you – getting plenty of sleep?”

 

“Oh yes – this next week is going to be hectic, so I’m getting as much rest as I can.”

 

 

 

5 pm BST

Somewhere between Glasgow and London

 

"This is the part I have always hated Donald," Aggie sighed as she looked out of the plane window, "the journey home on Sunday night. It's the one thing that makes me wish Ardray was closer to London."

"I know," the diplomat smiled, "still at least we got Tam, Kits, and John to Prestwick in time for their flight to Ireland."

"Yes, and I'm going to try drop over myself for a few days once I have everything in place in London."

"So what is the plan for tomorrow?"

"Book shopping so that I have the most up to date research materials that are publicly available."

"Well don't come asking me questions darling, you know I'm ethically, and by the terms of the Official Secrets Act. barred from telling you anything."

"That doesn't worry me," Aggie giggled, "by the time you chaps in the FO get information it's already old news anyway."

"Hey we aren't that bad..."

"Well just nearly that bad shall we say," Agnes interrupted. “Anyway you are on the European desk, my current research is into Southern Africa and South East Asia, and producing some policy ideas for Torware."

"Who is going to do your groundwork for you?"

"In Africa Charlotte's friend Liz Egwegwe is a pretty clued in lady on both Botswana and Namibia, having been in South African Military Intelligence, she has offered her help.”

"And South East Asia?"

"Not a clue as yet.  Shirley has some contacts in the area – they may be able to help.”

 

“But tonight?”

 

“Tonight, a drink, a hot bath, and bed…”

 

10 am PT

Oakwood Hills

 

“Munich?”  Suzie Clarke looked at her father and said “He wants me in Munich?”

 

“I know, but…”

 

"Pops you heard what Mary said, getting photographed by the Maestro is a career maker."

"I know Honey, but all that distance on your own."

"Pops, I won’t be alone, you put me into the care of the airline at the airport. Mary meets me in London, and we fly on to Munich, where I'll be with the von Furstenheim's and Mary as well."

"Suzie has to do this Pop," David added his opinion, "I watched her shoot yesterday, and sister or not, I have to say she does photograph beautifully."

"I know," Dave smiled, "I have two daughters who are models."

"Well Missy says that I do this Pop she will be doubling my booking fee...I do enough modeling and I'll pay my own way through college, I won't have to rely on Mary, and I can help contribute to the others college funds."

"She has a great argument there Dad," Vicky spoke.

 

“All right – but behave yourself, understand?”

 

 

 

7 pm CET

Munich

 

"Who was that darling?" Klaus asked as Juliette came back in.


"Oh Mary Clarke - just confirming that she and Suzie will be lodging with us for three or four days while Suzie works with the Maestro."

"Well they are both more than welcome...and it's not like we don't have the space." Klaus laughed.

"But at least one of those days I have to be in London, and I'm dragging Cari, Annie, and our rowing guests with me. Are you sure you, Ingrid, and the nursemaids will be able to cope?"

"Of course we can."

 

 

 

6.30 pm BST

Chelsea

 

"So what are our major social obligations for this coming week or so Shirley darling," John asked as he looked up from the book he was looking at.

"Well we have tickets for Glyndebourne with Klaus and Juliette next Sunday remember." Shirley laughed, "and I've been a trifle naughty in asking Francesca's Mrs Harris if she can prepare a hamper for us to take."

"I hope you asked Francesca's permission."

"I did.  Then we need to fly to Naples."

 

“Ah yes – and Charlotte’s bridal shower?”

 

“I may be out later this week…”

 

 

4 pm

West Central Park

 

"Are you ready for London Gran?" Katy asked Eleanor as she came into the main room.

"My suitcase is packed."

"Good, and just remember there will be some work done," Katy touched her nose.

"I know darling."

"Well just having got back from one trip round the world, I'm glad it’s you going this time Eleanor," Katherine joined them.

"Well with Jan and Jeanne briefing that International police conference, someone has to chaperone our supermodel granddaughter."

"How often do I have to tell you that the term is 'top girl' not supermodel Gran."

"Well forgive my ignorance of that world," Eleanor smiled, "perhaps I'll learn some more on this trip?"

"Who are you shooting this double with Katy?" Katherine asked.

"Doc, and the photographer is Mike Watson, who I've worked with before."

"Which magazine is it for?" Eleanor asked.

"German CS," Jan answered as she came in, "and i still think you are too young to model leather."

"It's very fashionable...what can I say?" Katy shrugged her shoulders, "and knowing CS it'll be nothing fetish."

"Well I hope so." Jan still looked worried.

 

 

 

10 pm BST

Hampstead

 

He glared at the masked women as they started to empty the contents of his safe into a black holdall, feeling both impotent and aroused at the same time.  Impotent because he was lashed tightly to the chair, ropes holding his broad chest and arms tightly to the chair back, and his ankles and legs to the front legs of the chair. 

 

They had forced him to strip naked, and stuffed his y-fronts into his mouth before wrapping the silver tape tightly round his head.

 

But the arousal was from a similar source – the young redhead who was sitting across his lap, looking at him with wide eyes over the silver band around her own head, holding her panties inside her own mouth.  Her arms were pulled behind her back, bound at the wrists and elbows, while her chest was bound in a very tight rope bra.

 

She had also been stripped and made to sit across him, before her ankles were tied to the back leg of the chair.  But she was so close to him, and as she struggled she knew that was arousing him as well, as he nuzzled her chest and tried to reassure her.

 

“Don’t worry, Father,” one of the masked women said as she pointed her gun at both of them, “the parish offerings will go to the poor and deserving – and besides, everyone should sin once in a while, don’t you agree?”

 

“Whhruddngtthhhultttlbesscchess?”

 

“Language most unbecoming – but don’t worry.  We’ll let your verger know of your situation – eventually…”

 

 

 

Monday 11th July

8 am BST

The Savoy

 

“The car will pick you both up at ten, Mrs Brewster.”

 

“Many thanks Jack,” Barbara said as Grace came out of the lift, waiting for her before they walked into the breakfast room.

 

"Where are you and Jeannie heading Barb?" Grace asked as they sat with Pippa and Poppy.

"Milan later this morning, of all things she's doing some shoe ads and commercials."

"Oh?"

"Yes, the theme is 'I might not walk in these shoes, but I still adore wearing...' Oh I forget the brand...I just know they are paying her an awful lot for her endorsement."

"Nice gig, and I suppose I see their point," Pippa smiled.

"So where are the three of you off to?"

"Well I'm flying back to New York," Pippa smiled.

"While Poppy accompanies me to Vienna, and then I play chaperone for her as she shoots a spread in Madrid." Grace smiled.

"Yeah my first solo spread," Poppy looked proud, "but today Aunt Grace and I go shopping with Gran here in London."

"Just don't spend too much," Jeannie smiled as she wheeled up to the table, "you'll probably get some nice things just given to you in Madrid."

 

 

9 am BST

Xavier International, The Aldwych

 

"So how do we stand as of this Monday morning Penelope?" Shirley asked as they sat in the office.


"Well Lily has been officially notified of her change of position."

"She deserves the promotion," Shirley smiled, "and whacking that bent cop proved she has what it takes."

"I know." Penny nodded.

"So has she given any clues so far who she wants for her team."

"Only one so far."

"And who is that?"

"Tracey, according to Lily she's been excellent when thrust into a variety of roles, and that she's sure she can do all the different little jobs a rapid reaction force might need do."

"Well she certainly has a point regarding Tracey's proven versatility...Hmmm I'll think on that some more."

"I'm sure Lily will be happy if you approve."

"Well before we start on the global report, how badly are the Met stretched now following yesterday's activities?"

"Pretty thin, I hear they might be calling in some help from neighbouring forces."

"Well today's planned events won't please them then."

"No Madame," Penny half laughed. "By the way before we proceed can I say that Cat more then held her own on Saturday."

"So I had heard...Anyway Penelope lets go over how we are doing with our 'guests' first shall we?"

 

“Well, they are comfortable at the farm – the new arrivals yesterday were drugged for most of the night, but they’re well otherwise.”

 

“And Miss Tanaka?”

 

“Natalya has been asked to call on her today.”

 

“Good – all is progressing.”

 

 

 

10 am BST

Piccadilly

 

The moped made its way down the street, the two riders looking round as they approached the Bank of Arabia.  The armoured car was already there, two men standing at the rear waiting.

 

It happened fast – as the bag was passed out, the moped mounted the pavement, blocking the way into the bank as the pillion passenger took out the pistol and shot both guards.  They scooped up the bag and rode into the side streets, the passers-by stunned into silence…

 

 

10 am BST

Heathrow Airport

 

"Thanks for meeting us Piet," the two blonde South Africans smiled as they saw a familiar face on exiting the arrivals area.

"Well along with my sisters you are her two oldest friends from back home,” Piet said with a smile, “and I was informed to get you here for this hen party thing or else."

"I detect Sarina's dulcet tones in that, don't I?"

"You do Charlene," he said as he kissed her on the cheek.

"Hey if Charl is getting one of those, then I want one too."

"I suppose so Wendy," Piet feigned reluctance before kissing her and smiling.

"So who else is coming to this thing?"

"Friends of hers from all over the world," Piet shook his head, "she just knows so many people nowadays."

"I'm looking forward to meeting some of them..." Charlene started.

"Particularly her mother." Wendy finished.

"You'll like Francesca."

"So has richness spoiled Roo?"

"You think it ever could Wendy?"

"I guess not...So what is this i hear that her grandparents restored a castle just to be your wedding present?"

"It's true." Piet smiled.

"God and I thought of none of our families was poor," Charlene shook a head, "but a real castle?"

 

“Yup – so let me take your cases, and we’ll get to the car.  We have rooms at the Savoy booked for you…”

 

 

 

10.30 am BST

Xavier International

 

"Oh this is going to get a lot of people in a tizzy," Daffy went in to report to Madame, "and we aren't even responsible."

"Oh what?" Shirley looked over the top of her glasses.

"Some idiot from the Treasury left a computer full of sensitive data on the tube, and of course when he went to look it had long since vanished."

"Not our responsibility," Shirley smiled, "but it does put further pressure on our friends in the police.”

"It does that Madame."

"So any other co-incidental incidents?"

"A burst water main on the Edgware Road causing even more traffic congestion."

“How convenient…”

 

"Also a visit from the President of Mogola, that is diverting some much needed police to his security...Oh a couple of other things..." Daffy looked at the papers she was carrying.

"So are you invited to the state reception this evening Davina?"

"Unfortunately yes," Daffy sighed, "these really can be so tiresome, and they cut into the serious good times at the end of the season before men lose interest in everything but grouse."

"Well Juliette Furstenheim and I, at least are getting to drag our men to Glyndebourne this next weekend."

"Which is fine if you love opera, but Jimmy is a true Philistine and hates it. Heavy metal is far more his taste," the aristocrat shook her head.

 

“On another note, the evening…”

 

“Details later Madame…”

 

 

11 am

The Dorchester Hotel

 

“Miss Tanaka?  Your visitor is here.”

 

“Thank you,” Tamiko said as she stood up, brushing the lint from her blue skirt as the assistant showed Natalya in.  The young Russian was wearing a short sleeved cream linen dress, and smiled as she said “Tamiko – forgive my inability to call more recently.”

 

“I understand – it appears to have been a busy time for you,” Tamiko said as they shook hands.  “Some tea?”

 

“Thank you,” Natalya said as she sat down.  “How are you anyway?”

 

“A little perplexed if truth be told – things do seem to have been occurring in your city with an unusual intensity these last few days,” Tamiko said as she poured.  “One would almost think something big was in the pipeline, as the Americans like to say.”

 

“Well, I will confess our involvement in the Hatton Garden raid, but the others are independent of us,” Natalya said.

 

“I understand – so many groups vying for position,” Tamiko said as she handed Natalya a cup.  “Were you aware of the incident outside here yesterday?”

 

“No – what incident?”

 

“The wife and daughters of a business acquaintance were kidnapped as they left the building – so far, no ransom demand has been delivered, but the head of the family is most anxious for their safe return – as am I.”

 

Natalya nodded as she watched Tamiko sip her tea.  “Well, I assure you it was not us.  Madame respects the Oyaban too much to do something like that without consulting with him first – but I will see what intelligence we can gather, and pass it on.  In the meantime, will you be free tomorrow night?”

 

“I may be,” Tamiko said as she raised an eyebrow, “Why?”

 

“I have tickets for Madame Butterfly at the ROH – if you are interested?”

 

11.30 am BST

The Savoy

 

“That’s better,” Wendy said as she finished her coffee, “so, how do we pass the time until…”

 

“Well look who just walked in,” Charlene said as she saw the four women walk into the coffee lounge.

 

"Hey Aunt Marianne," the two blondes said as the older woman spotted them.

"Oh dear God, now we are in trouble," Marianne shook her head. "Liz Egwegwe, Karen Kumalo, Itsy Buthelezi, meet Wendy Rhodes-Savage, and Charlene Botha, also known as 'the terrible twosome'."

"We've met," Itsy kissed both girls, "although it's been a while."

"It has Its...You just dropped off the map," Wendy looked concerned. "What happened?"

"Not something I want to say in public,” Itsy said quietly, “but I'll explain later in private."

"Understood," Charlene nodded.

"Karen is a Matabele princess in her own right." Itsy explained, "and Liz is ex-army, and we work together."

"So how do we keep Roo from knowing you are in the country?" Marianne mused.

 

“Well, the team at her office is keeping her busy today anyway, and others are helping…”

 

Noon BST

Chez Georgette

Soho, London

 

“Charles, darling, how are things today,” Georgette George said as he came in, wearing a grey trouser suit over a lilac shirt.

 

“You got a visitor boss,” the barman said as he indicated the redhead sat at the table.

 

“Oh my word – if it isn’t Aggie McAdam?”

 

"Hello George, it's been a long, long, time." Aggie said as she kissed the female impressionist on the cheek.

"Let me look Darling," he said as he took a step back.  “Now why didn't you do this many years ago."

"Do I look like the Lady you remember George?"

"Lady you look incredible - it just needs large dark glasses..."

"Well I no longer need hide what I did darling."

"I read the Sunday Times," he shook his head, "I can't believe you were set up like that."

"Looking backwards it now seems obvious, but I think for a very long period of time my brain stopped working properly."

"I'm just glad it is now Lady," George let a tear escape.

"So am I." Aggie smiled.

"Anyway, what made you drop in dear?"

"I need to rest my feet," Aggie smiled again, "I've been pounding the Charing Cross Road buying in books for my new consultancy."

"In that case love you need a drink," George smiled. "A long, long, Perrier with a twist of lemon Charles," he spoke to the barman.

"You remember..."

"Nothing alcoholic while you are working...I remember you teaching me that rule."

"And can I have a half pint of shandy," another female voice spoke.

"And you are?" George lifted an eyebrow.

"I'm Sue Fletcher, Agnes's PA," Sue extended a hand.

"Oh in that case welcome darling." George kissed her. "Charles...that shandy as well please."

"Well Agnes,” Sue said as she sat down, “I've been in contact online and by phone all morning, and they say they can get us all the HMSO books and documents, plus all the rest by Friday...just one or two titles that are out of stock."

"Okay we will review the list later Sue."

"This is yet another new side to you Lady, the hyper-efficient businesswoman..." George smiled broadly, "I rather like her."

"This past weekend I went home to Ardray George."

"And how did that go?" Gorge asked pointedly.

"Brilliantly if truth is told, just one or two little hiccups, but as I'm now a director of the company that owns the estate, I was welcomed as the Laird."

"Good," George sounded genuinely pleased.

"I'll even be opening Ardray up for the shooting, and to host Susan here’s wedding."

"You are getting married? Congratulations darling."

"Well technically I'm getting re-married," Sue sipped her shandy, "same man as before, and hopefully it will last a little longer this time."

"Amen to that," Aggie whispered as she sipped her water.

 

“I hear you’re out of that place you called home, and back in Bayswater Road – may I call some time?”

 

“Of course, George – you’ll always be welcome…”

 

“Good – I’ll join you in a minute or two,” George said as he walked into the lobby – only to meet a tall man there as well.

 

"Hello George,"

"Good afternoon Detective Chief Inspector,” George said with a raised eyebrow, “and to what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Nothing official George, I'm looking for Aggie McAdam, and my wife said she had told her she was having lunch here."

"Okay, in that case, she's in the other bar with her PA."

"Alright," Mike smiled, "mind if I go through, maybe order some lunch for myself?"

"Tell Charles your drinks are on me, and I'll come in and chat about food in a second."

"Thanks," Mike smiled as he headed for the club’s smaller bar.

"Mike!" Aggie stood and let him kiss her, "what the hell are you doing here?"

"Hi Aggie, Sue," he said as he kissed the younger woman, "would you believe I'm hiding out from work and hoping that this is the last place they will think to look for me."

"Well it's an idea Mike, so will you have lunch with us?"

"If you don't mind?"

"Charles a pint of the very best bitter you serve," Aggie smiled at the barman.

"Is work that busy Mike?" Sue asked.

"I've never known a period like it," he shook his head, "You know Tam is related to the AC Aggie?  He I hear is literally tearing his hair out that we have already busted our overtime payment limit for the year."


"Oh poor man," Aggie shook her head.

"It never rains but it pours..."

"I was saying that Friday," Mike interrupted, "today it's more like a full-scale hurricane Sue."

"OUCH!"

"Did you hear George, Mike is on the lam from the Yard, if they call looking for him can you say you haven't seen him, at least let him have lunch in peace?" Aggie asked.

"I understand, and sympathise Mike," George brought over his pint. "I heard the latest news."

 

“What’s happened now?”

 

“Drive-by at one of the Arab banks in Piccadilly – two people on a moped, shot two security guards and stole the bearer’s bonds they were delivering.  That’s not the funniest one from the weekend.”

 

“Oh – what is?”

 

“The Dean of Hampstead was robbed last night – female gang, tied him to a chair, a female visitor to him, and…”

 

“He got a vision of something?”

 

Mike smiled and nodded as he took a drink.  “So how was Ardray Aggie?”

 

“Oh so many memories came back,” Agnes said with a sigh.  “To walk down the village street and buy sweets at the shop…  Anyway, they now know the Laird has returned, and they met Kit as the Steward as well.  Even the minister was welcoming – and warned others not to judge in his sermon.”

 

“You’d almost think her had that planned,” Sue said with a smile.

 

“But I spoke to the Factor and his wife, and they’re making the preparations for the shoot and the wedding.  Have the banns been read Sue?”

 

“The first reading was last Sunday – Colin and I are going up this weekend to meet the minister and hear the second reading.”

 

"Anyway George, changing the subject, is there any truth in this story that they are talking of re-doing the 'Good Old Days' with you as a regular guest?" Mike asked as they waited for their food.

"That they are talking a revival, then yes that's true. That I'll do it...Not in a million years."

"Why?" Sue looked curious.

"Sue you are too young to remember, but in its heyday that show was Danny La Rue's favourite gig. I grew up idolizing Danny, a lot of my act even now has echoes of his."

"So why not do the show then?"

"Out of respect for the greatest female impressionist I ever saw, and knowing that if I did it I'd be nothing but a poor imitation of genius."

"That's very honest George," Mike nodded, "also very touching as a tribute."

"Well we all have our own gods and goddesses Mike." George said softly.

"Guvnor," one of the doormen came in, “George Love is in the other bar, he wants a word with Miss Fletcher."

"George does?" Sue looked puzzled.

"Well show him in Tommy."

"Hello George, DCI Babbage, Lady Agnes, Sue," black man spoke softly, "sorry to disturb your lunch, but I wanted to keep Sue informed on something."

"Well sit and join us George, I'm not scared of talking openly in front of my friends, and an old friend of a friend."

 

“Well, I heard about Saturday night – I wanted to reassure you, all the doormen know you’re off the No list now.  We’re just having a little trouble persuading some of the restaurants.”

 

“And the clubs,” Agnes asked.

 

“Sorry Sue – they’re not budging for you or for you Lady Agnes – I was asked to pass on the apologies of the porters to you.  You’ve done a good thing, but there’s a way to go yet.”

 

“Well, it’s still good to know I can get into nicer places now – can I get you a drink George?”

 

“Sorry Sue – I need to get back.  If I don’t see you before, good luck on the day.”

 

Standing up, he kissed Sue gently on the head and then walked out.

 

 

12.30 pm BST

Lancaster Gate

 

"Well Sarina?" Francesca asked as Piet’s sister came back in.


"Piet collected them at the airport and safely deposited them at the Savoy."

"Good, I look forward to meeting them, they have...interesting...reputations."

"From what I've been told they can give Nell and Ally a run for their money," Caroline laughed.

"Well before Nell got hooked to Mick." Nessa smiled.

"Ladies...can we get back to the party plans?" Tanera pleaded.

"I guess so," Lily looked up from her sandwich. 

"Alright we are relying on you and Caroline to get her there without her guessing Heather." Tanera continued.

 

 

1.30 pm CET

Venice

 

"Am I being a dumb American hick if I say I prefer this island to Venice itself?" Mary asked as she and Richard sat eating a seafood platter outside a cafe on Murano's main little canal. "It's quieter, and a lot less touristy."

"Except where you are working Mary," Richard said with a smile as he touched her hand.

"I know," Mary smiled, "that crowd did get a little ridiculous at the glass factory and store."

"Still I loved those particular pictures of you with that guitar made of glass."

"Oh yes," Mary shook her head, "you know I was almost tempted to buy that, but it was so much."

"You never told me you could play a guitar."

"Well I'm not very good, but my two youngest brothers aren't bad at all."

"You did buy some nice glass things though for the family."

"Yes," Mary smiled, "I know Pop will love that beer glass with the different colors in it, and Allison will love the glass jewellery box."

"I just hope it all gets back to California safely.”

"It will probably beat me there, I paid for express delivery."

"So you won't be flying straight home?"

"No, this is a great thing for Suzie, so yeah I'll go with her to Munich, and try coaching her on how to work for the maestro."

 

 1 pm BST

The Gaunt townhouse, Dublin

 

As the door opened, the youngest Gaunt child looked out of the room, her smile growing as she did so.

 

"Ma you are home." Clodagh practically threw herself at Paula.


"Yes I am darling," the Duchess said as she kissed her youngest daughter.  “And I have missed you as well.”


"Paddy can we safely leave you with the luggage?" Tom asked the driver.

"You can your Grace."

"Put Miss Elizabeth's luggage in the white bedroom please Paddy."

"Yes your Grace."

"And is Miss Christine in her usual bedroom Paddy?" Eve spoke.

 

“She is Miss, she and John have gone for a walk.”


"Oh it is so good to be home in Dublin," Paula took a deep breath. 

 

“You made it then,” Tamsin said as she looked out from the kitchen.

 

“We have – now tell me all about the weekend…”

 

 

 

 

5 pm BST

Inns of Court

 

“What is it,” Catriona said as she looked up from her desk.

 

"Dr McAdam Madam," Hayley the office girl said as she allowed Agnes into Catriona's office.

"This is unexpected," Catriona kissed her old friend.

"Well I came to invite you to take your life in your hands and come eat at my place tonight. With Tam in Ireland, and Donald going to see the witch, and with Lizzie also in Ireland, I thought we could keep each other company?"

"I like the idea,” Catriona said, “but how about we just order in takeaway?"

"Oh I'm so glad you said that,” Aggie said with a smile, “I really didn't feel like cooking."

"Well I have about another hour’s work to do here, so see you in about an hour and three quarters?"

"That suits me darling.  I’ll have some wine chilling."

 

 

 

11 am PT

San Francisco International Airport

 

Susie Clarke looked at the large laminated pass hanging round her neck.

 

“Well, at least you won’t get lost,” Dave Clarke said as he saw her picture on the card.

 

"Don't worry Mr Clarke," the lady from British Airways smiled reassuringly, "we will make sure she is safe until her sister claims her."

"Pops I'll be fine," Suzie kissed her father.

"I know you will Baby."

"I'll do what I'm told by Mary, and I'll work hard, and we will both be home by the weekend."

 

“We’ll be waiting for you – call when you get there.”

 

Suzie nodded as she walked to the security gates, Dave watching until she went through.

 

 

 

 

"So why are you flying to Europe Miss Clarke?" the stewardess asked as she made sure Suzie was comfortable on the plane.

"Antonio Bell wants to photograph me for a magazine spread."

"So you are a model?"

"Well I'm not the famous one in the family, that's my sister Mary, but yes I'm a model." Suzie grinned.

"Oh you are Mary Clarke's sister...Now I place where I've seen you before, on the Complete Style awards show?"

"Yes."

 

“Well, settle down, we’ll get you some juice in a minute, and then after take-off we’ll serve some food.”

 

“Thank you,” Suzie said as she looked at the magazine, not realising people were looking at her as they made their way to their seats.

 

 

8.30 pm BST

Bayswater Road

 

“That was nice,” Catriona said as she put her knife and fork on the plate, and followed Agnes into the front room.  Sitting down, she watched as Agnes poured more wine into the glasses, and then sat down.

 

"So have you freed up a lot of August Cat?" Agnes asked as she sat opposite.

"Yes,” Catriona said, “I'm still waiting to get a trial date for that fraud case I had you look at, so really I’m just helping out colleagues, and planning the longest holiday that I've taken in years."

"That fraud case is so complicated darling, and if even I can't see clear evidence of fraud on your client’s part as I told you, it will be very hard to convince a jury," Aggie sipped her wine.

"Well it gives me a chance to be with Lizzie,” Cat said with a smile, “and I'm being paid to wait by my clients of course."

"You and she can have some genuine fun together."

"Yes, I'm looking forward to both going to Ireland...and to going home."

"It doesn't change a lot,” Aggie said with a smile, “I noticed a few new houses in Ardray, and a few familiar old faces are no longer with us, but I was amazed that so many people we knew as children are still there."

"Lizzie and I haven't been up there for a while now.”  Cat put her glass down and sat forward.  “My estate is largely forest, I have a caretaker looks after the house, and it really doesn't take a lot of management."

"You still own some of the moor, and knowing that you love shooting, why haven't you?"

"Because if and when I've allowed myself time, Elizabeth has invited me to shoot at Melhorn, and it’s hardly seemed worth opening up my place when I've always got excellent sport there."

"Have you taught Lizzie to shoot Cat?"

"Not really, it's one of the things I need to correct." Catriona sighed.

"I hear that Paula has plans to get you out with the Lardarn Hunt?"

"Let's put it this way...I might...just might...go out with them. I ride so infrequently, but Lizzie is a superb little horsewoman."

"Gives you both a chance to do the real thing."

"I know, one of the Labour measures that I never approved of was the hunting ban, thank God the Irish have more sense."

"Amen."

"I really fear they will move against shooting if Corbyn gets the chance, and just think of the number of places that are only kept solvent by hosting shoots?"

"Exactly darling,” Aggie said.  “One of the reasons I'm looking forward to opening Ardray is to enjoy a way of life that might soon vanish."

 

As Cat shook her head, the telephone rang, Aggie putting her glass down and walking to the side table.

 

"Hello Mandy darling”, she said as she answered the call, “I was just sitting here with Catriona. Everything is well at Ordford I trust?"

"Yes darling,” she heard Mandy drawl, “even Will has been moved to say how well Jack and Pepsi have been managing the place through our frequent absences recently."

"She will be an excellent chatelaine of the castle then one day?"

"Definitely," Mandy drawled, "you know for a big-city girl she has taken to the country way of life wonderfully."

"I'm happy for you and her then." Aggie smiled, "anyway darling why the call?"

"Just to formally accept the invitation to come shoot at Ardray."

 

“Excellent, I’ll let the factor know.  He was asking me about loaders and dogs?”

 

“The boys will load, and we’ll bring the setters.”

 

“I guessed as much…”

 

 

10 pm CET

Munich

 

"Klaus darling,” Juliette said as she looked at her tablet, “I'm afraid I'm going to have to take an extra night in London, you'll have to entertain Mary and Suzie one more night on your own."

"Oh,” Klaus said as he looked over, “why?"

"Charlotte's bachelorette, Heather finally circulated all the details."

"Will it end up with nude photos of Charlotte, the way yours did of you?"

"Goddess I hope not," Juliette laughed at the memory of that weekend in Stowe. "No this is a night out at a club."

"Not a Lesbian one I hope?"

"I hope so too...I'm not that good a fighter."

 

“Well, that’s fine.  When do they arrive?”

 

“Tomorrow Lunchtime I think…”

 

Tuesday 12th July

9 am BST

Heathrow – Terminal 5

 

“Would Miss Mary Clarke come to the reception desk please, Miss Mary Clarke?”

 

Mary stood up and walked round the corner, smiling as she saw Suzie standing there with the stewardess.

 

“Thank you very much – I’ll look after her now,” she said as she shook the stewardess’ hand.  “Did you manage to get some sleep kiddo?”

 

“Yeah, a little – when’s our flight?”

 

“We’ve got an hour or so – come and sit down.”

 

Suzie smiled as they walked to the leather chairs, waiting until Mary brought over two cups.

 

"So- ready to try and please the Maestro?" Mary asked as they sat down.


"I'm ready to try certainly, whether I will or not is another matter," Suzie shook her head.

"You know that the spread is all about eighties fashion coming back into fashion?"

"Missy told me that...but what does that actually mean Mary?"

Smiling, Mary said "I guess a lot of the glitz and glamour of old TV shows like Dallas and Dynasty...you know those re-runs Mom used to watch occasionally?"

"So shoulder pads?"

"Oh I hope not," Mary shook her head, "If they come back into fashion my body is the wrong shape to wear things like that."

"So it won't be anything Pops will object to?"

"Only maybe on the grounds of terrible fashion sense."

"Well that I think he can live with. If it's too much of my body showing..."

"You might be wearing some really short skirts, and plunging necklines, but as I said, nothing really age inappropriate."

"That's one concern out of the way, but it still leaves how is he going to tolerate a beginner like me?"

"Well he tolerated me Suzie."

"Yes, but by then you'd at least been at it a while, I've done so little."

 

“Don’t sell yourself short – just be yourself, and enjoy the experience…”

 

 

9 am BST

Xavier International

 

Penny stood by the desk as Shirley looked over the morning report, nodding as she did so.

 

“Excellent.  How are the logistics coming along Penelope?"

"Dominique says we have more than enough weapons and ammunition Madame."


"Good," Shirley nodded in approval.

"Clothes, vehicles, safe houses, the various department heads tell me they are all in place for what we still have planned to do."

"Where will we hold our final planning session for the gold heist?"

"Heather has procured us a conference room at Brassey's Hotel near Windsor for her and Juliette to give the final briefings tomorrow morning."

"John and I have stayed there, It's very private. Excellent choice."

 

“And it allows us to be in town for the evening.”

 

“For important business…”

 

 

 

 

10 am BST

The Savoy

 

“Something caught your eye bro,” Sands said as she and Holly watched George looking at his phone.  Both women were wearing short sleeved blouses and Capri pants, while Heather and Sandy sat at the table.

 

“Katy and her family just checked in Mom,” he said as he looked up, “can I go see her?"

"Are you that desperate George?" Holly laughed.

"George darling,” Sandy said as she looked over, “give her time to unwind before you..."

"MOM! I don't just love Katy because of sex."

"You'd never know from that bulge in your pants brother dear." Alexandra laughed.

"Stop teasing George both of you," Sandy smiled as she rebuked the two young women, "but seriously it’s better for Katy if you just chat on the phone tonight."

"God she's so near, yet so far." George rolled his eyes.

 

“Back in a minute,” Holly said as she headed to the bathroom, and Sands followed her mother into the bedroom.

 

“Hey – looking forward to today,” Sandy said as the door was closed.

 

"Mom you are starting to get itchy. Is there something coming off that I really don't need to know about?" Alexandra asked her mother.

"How the hell?" Sandy looked surprised, "have you been listening at..."

"No, I haven't been listening at keyholes, but I've been watching long enough to know the signs in you when something is about to happen...So want to spill?"

"Not really darling."

"Is it that dangerous?"

"Potentially yes."

"Will I need keep Holly out of the way?"

"For two nights."

"Two?"

"Yes darling."

"You'll have to spring for something really sexy for me to wear to distract her," Alexandra giggled.

 

“Okay then – Regent Street it is…”

 

 

“Right – we relax for the morning, and then take you to the shoot Katy,” Jan said as she finished unpacking.

 

"So when will I finally be told what I'm doing here in London?" Eleanor asked.

"At the same time I get to find out Gran," Katy smiled.

"Do you know what is going to happen Janice?"

"Eleanor I do, but I'm sworn to silence...Do you understand?"

"Yes, but it worries me to be out of the planning loop like this."

"I understand, you are used to being in control, but my partners are dealing with this on the strictest need to know basis."

"Well let me at least guess that this current crime-wave in London forms part of the plan?"

"I am genuinely able to say that I don't know," Jan smiled, "it probably is, but I've not been told that, I guess I don't need to know those details."

"I hate not knowing things..."

"We know Gran," Katy smiled, "it's your curiosity that got you into this in the first place."

"Eleanor just enjoy your day tomorrow with Yvonne Leventhal, and hopefully by the time you return I'll be able to tell you more."

"Mom can supervise me and Doc getting fitted for the shoot later." Katy smiled again. "I'm looking forward to seeing myself in leather."

 

 

"Well are you pleased with what we have got done so far?" Doc smiled as she and Kylie lay cuddling in the bed.

"You mean here, or the dresses?" Kylie giggled.

"The dresses Doofus." Anna laughed gently.

"Yes they'll look amazing when they are finished."

"My Mom wants to come see."

"Invite her to come Friday darling," Kylie drawled, "whatever's going on..."

"Will be over by then." Doc nodded.

"This is why it's annoying why we play for different teams so to speak darling."

"I know."

"You know things I don't know, and I don't know all what you know."

"That's the way this works my love."

"I guess we will find everything out in due time...BUT...in the meantime, I have that feeling again." Kylie pulled Doc in close and kissed her.

 

 

 

 

11 am BST

Xavier International

 

“Shirley just what is happening?" Francesca asked as she entered the office.

"What makes you think anything is?" Shirley said with a smile as she pressed the room’s secure switch.

"Because every spider sense that I developed working intelligence is tingling."

"Oh… Why?"

"Because I know when I see a systematic programme of distractions, and that is what is going on currently Madame."


"And you'd expect me to tell you Francesca?"

"If Carlotta is involved in anything dangerous...then yes."

"Well,” Shirley said as she leaned forward what would you say if I answered that question and said she is."

"Then I'd want in, to run protection for my daughter."

"You are retired Devil Fish."

"Not from protecting my family I'm not." Francesca snorted.

"Francesca I have several partners..."

"Well tell them they have me at their disposal, I'm sure they'll know who the Devil Fish is."

"I think they do." Shirley closed her eyes. "Look I'll talk to the right people Francesca, but I can promise nothing.  I will say this – whatever is happening, Charlotte is not in the front line this time.”

 

“Let me know what they say,” Francesca said as she left the office, Shirley sitting for a moment before she looked up at the knock on the door.

 

“Hey,” Heather said as she came in, “everything all right?”

 

“Good question – let’s join them,” Shirley said as she accepted Skype call.

 

 

12.20 pm CET

Munich

 

"So Shirley?" Juliette asked the image on her computer screen.

"I THINK we are ready to go Ju."

"You only think?"

"I'm still worried that we might need some more personnel, especially above ground."

"You really think Tanaka will make her move when we do?"

"it's the only way her actions make sense Ju, she's going to let us retrieve the gold, do all the hard work, then try a snatch. She doesn't have enough goons to do it otherwise."

"I have to agree with Madame," Heather spoke, "it is the only plausible scenario."

"So do we need more people, or more stunts to distract her?" Diana asked.

"Let me think on it," Juliette said as she closed her eyes…

"As Sandy calls it, the computer is at work Shirley Cherie."

"I've seen this before Diana, but it still amazes me."

 

"I also need to raise a couple of names Juliette," Shirley stared at the screen as her friend opened her eyes.

"Who?"

"Francesca di Cambrello has put two and two together and practically demanded in so she can protect Charlotte."

"I thought the Devil Fish had retired?" Diana spoke.

"She has, except as she puts it, from protecting her family."

"And the other name?"

"It's Catriona Cuthbertson Ju."

 

“The barrister?  Friend to you and Agnes?  Why?”

 

“Let us say we need the support – and I think I know how…”

 

“I need to go Shirley – guests arriving.  We’ll talk tomorrow.”

 

As she ended the call, Diana and Juliette left the room to see Frau Blecher standing there.

 

“I believe Miss Clarke and Miss Clarke are about to arrive,” she said as they made their way to the main entrance.

 

“Excellent,” Juliette said as the car drew up, the driver getting out as two footmen went down.  As he opened the door, Mary Clarke looked round, followed by Suzie.

 

“Welcome both of you,” Juliette said as she kissed them both on the cheek.  “Come on in – we have some lunch ready for you, and then you can unwind…”

 

 

 

1.30 pm BST

Green Park

 

"Mom what do you think?" Katy said as she tried twisting to look at her own ass in the mirror. "These leather pants are incredible."

"Do they have to be that tight?" Jan looked critically at her daughter, her cowl necked sweater hanging loosely as well.

"Mom...be serious," Katy said, rolling her eyes as she stood, hands on hips, looking at her parent.

"Emma," Jan turned to Doc's mother, "do you think a 13 year old should be modelling those?"

"Leave me out of it," Emma shook her head, "just look at my daughter in that leather skirt."   They both looked at Anna, the hem of her skirt barely covering her crotch as the dresser adjusted the front of her blouse.

"Ouch," Jan shook her head, "I'm not sure which is worse."

"We got the sizes right then?" James Fortescue, the stylist for the shoot, said as he came into the dressing area to look.

"James, our mothers are saying these are inappropriate, tell her please," Katy tried a few poses.

"Ladies,” he turned and smiled, “this is mainstream fashion, don't you ever go to clubs? Kids wear things worse than this I can assure you."

 

“All right – let’s get this over with…”

 

 

1.30 pm BST

Lancaster Gate

 

“Miss Charlotte,” Betty said as she showed the young redhead into the drawing room.

 

Francesca waited until the housekeeper closed the door, and then walked to Charlotte putting her hands on her daughter’s shoulders.  "Carlotta darling look me straight in the eyes and tell me that what you and Shirley, and so many of your friends have planned isn't extremely dangerous."

"Mama I can't...  Madame told me that you had put two and two together, it's why I came over."

“So what is it?”

 

“I can only say for now it is big, and it will ensure the Sisters have all the funding they need.  I know that you know Mama that I have done several risky things in the past...I'll be fine I can assure you.  As Madame said, I am backroom on this one."

 

“Still, I want to be involved.”

 

"Mama I have to go down to Windsor to do a security sweep on a hotel we might be using, tell the girls you are taking the afternoon off and come along please." Charlotte asked.

"Will you tell me any more?"

"I will try, but I'll not give you names or details, I'm sworn to secrecy, and just like you I take oaths seriously."

 

“Very well then, let’s go…”

 

 

 

3 pm BST

Brassey’s Hotel, Windsor

 

"Miss Gordon," the manager of the hotel smiled, "are you here to check out the facilities for your conference tomorrow?"

"I am indeed Mr Hooper," Charlotte smiled.

"Well we have done everything that you've requested."

"Thank you,” Charlotte said as Francesca looked round, “I appreciate that."

"I must say,” Mr Hooper said, “I was astonished by the level of security you requested."

"Well Xavier's are talking to a lot of potential customers at this conference who prefer to maintain their anonymity."

"Including your mother here?"

"Exactly Mr Hooper, and now can I present my mother...This is Francesca Marchesa di Cambrello."

"Enchanted Marchesa," the manager bowed slightly, "now if you follow me please, I will show you the various rooms."

 

“Thank you,” Francesca said as they walked into the conference block.

 

“Well, we will have the coffee ready when you arrive, and then per our request leave you to your meeting,”

 

“Excellent, if you don’t mind,” Charlotte said as the manager nodded and left.

 

"Alright Carlotta,” Francesca said, “I've not said anything yet, but darling you did promise me a little more information."

"I did Mama, so I suppose this is as good a time to check the lockdown switch as any," Charlotte flipped a red switch on a panel by the door.

"Alright now can you tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Just give me a few seconds Mama," Charlotte swept the room with a hand held device.  Smiling, she said “okay – thirty second version, the legend of the Manchurian Gold is not a legend.”

 

She smiled as Francesca looked at her, and then sat down.  “Good lord – the legend is well known, but where…”

 

“Under Whitehall.  Everything so far has been about getting as many people we need to be out of the way, out of the way – and we haven’t even begun yet.”

 

“And your role?”

 

“You’ll learn more tomorrow, but I’m helping to run a room which controls traffic…”

 

“You can?”

 

“And the Underground system.  As I said, we’ve only just begun.  By Saturday morning, we will have succeeded – Goddess willing.”

 

"So you aren't going to be directly in harms’ way then like I was worried?"

"No," Charlotte laughed lightly, "but your volunteering to help eased one of Madame's worries."

"And what might that be?"

"Having enough people topside watching out for those below ground."

"So I'll be doing surveillance and protection darling?"

"Yes, and hopefully it will be two very uneventful nights...so if you haven't read War and Peace this might be your chance."

"Carlotta I've read it in five different languages," Francesca smiled.

"Have you done this sort of thing before Mama?"

"Yes...I didn't just do assassinations you know, I also did more than my fair share of protection work for others operations."

 

“Well, I will say this – you will have an old friend with you.  You’ll see them tomorrow – consider it a surprise.”

 

 

 

 

 

4 pm CET

Munich

 

 

"Okay Cherie tell me what is going through your brain?" Diana said quietly as they sat out in the garden with the twins.

"If I said a million and one things?"

"Then I'd say that was normal for you...but beyond that what is troubling you so much?"

"Oh last minute changes...have i bitten off more than I can chew...should I just call the whole operation off."

"Oh?"

"Look when I started planning this then just for example Charlotte was neither pregnant, nor about to get married. Annie hadn't given birth to these lights of my life.... Oh there are a dozen things that make me worry far more about people who aren't just members of a gang, they are my friends."

 

"Juliette darling, have any of these people asked to be let off this thing?"

"No."

"Doesn't that tell you something?”

 

“Still…  My problem is I know inside that at a couple of possible points, then we are going to have opposition gunfire to contend with."

"Which is why Dominique has procured all the body armour darling."

"Even that stuff though doesn't guarantee safety."

"No," Diana shook her head, "but every woman associated with this knows the risk she is taking."

 

“I know – so we go?”

 

“We go…”

 

“I’m going to tell Shirley – and get her to bring the other two in as well…”

 

7 pm BST

Rutland Street, Kensington

 

 

"Where are you off to darling?" Colin said as he saw Sue put on her coat.

"Colin, I told you this morning," Sue laughed softly, "we are going round to Kay's place to talk about the wedding."

"You told me?"

"Yes at breakfast...honestly either your memory is going, or the pressure at work is getting too much."

"I'll admit we are feeling some strain."

"Well go put your feet up, have a nice glass of wine, and just chill out."

"I'll try," Colin smiled. "When will you be back?"

"Around eleven I guess, your mother and sister are coming to talk to the girls so who knows how long it will actually take."

"Well ring and let me know before you leave and I'll have the bed-time drinks ready."

"Will do," Sue kissed her man full on the lips. "I'd rather stay in and share the quiet, but Bobby insisted we must have this meeting."

"I understand, from my Mother it's a command, not a request."

"Exactly."

Outside there was the sound of a car horn.

"That will be my taxi darling."

 

“Have fun,” he said as Sue ran out, and then picked up the menu for the local Chinese restaurant.

 

 

7.30 pm BST

Dublin

 

"So do you want to sleep at Ballysatten, or the castle Lizzie?" Kits asked as the girls sat talking.

"It doesn't worry me." Lizzie sipped her drink, "which is best for all of you."

"Well we have three spare bedrooms at the Dower House, so when your mother comes we can put you both up."

"Yes, but what about your Aunt Aggie?" Aileen asked.

"That would make us a bit crowded," Kits acknowledged.

"So better you stay at the castle then," Eve decided.

"Alright the castle it is then.  We’ll append the day together anyway.”

 

“What did your mum say she was doing tonight anyway Lizzie?”

 

“Reading…”

 

 

 

7.30 pm BST

Belgravia

 

Cat looked up from her book as she heard the doorbell, and walked to see who was calling.

 

“Shirley?  What brings you here?”

 

“To see you,” Shirley said as she came in.  “I wanted to ask if you could also spare the next couple of nights – I and some others need your help with something?”

 

“Oh,” Catriona said as she closed the door, “what?”

 

“I want to tell you a story – about the Manchurian Gold…”

 

 

 

"Wow, that is quite a story Shirley darling," Catriona said as she passed her friend a large undiluted whiskey.

"I can safely take it that you want to participate Cat?"

"Shirl you know better than to ask that question...Of bloody course I do."

"So can you make sure that you are free first thing in the morning to come to a meeting?"

"Just say where and when."

"I'll collect you at eight?"

"That's fine with me darling...Do I need to dress?"

"Business clothes Cat, after all this is very much a business meeting."

"Will you drive?"

"No I have a driver outside tonight, and he will drive us tomorrow."

"Logical I suppose," Cat shook her head, "so who else?"

"Don't ever ask questions like that Cat, just remember that most of these people protect their anonymity..."

"And aren't afraid to kill those who violate that?" Catriona interrupted.

"You get the picture."

 

 

8.30 pm BST

Kay’s flat

 

"I asked Lord Donald if he'd wear his kilt to give me away in. He and the other gentleman looked so wonderful in them at Abigail's birthday party."

"And he answered what Sue?"

"He said he thought it was a wonderful idea Vicky."

"Alright for those gentlemen who have it, Scottish dress?" Bobby made a note, "and for those who don't?"

"I suppose morning suits," Victoria mused.

“Except for John Gaunt,” Ambrosia said, “he wears the tartan as well…”

 

"Are you sure that isn't a bit fancy for the likes of me?" Sue enquired.

"NO!" Bobby smiled, "and get all thoughts you are inferior out of your head please Sue."

"You are marrying a true gentleman Sue," Jane mused as she sipped her wine.

"Where am I going to find a wedding date from though who will actually dress up like that?" Bobbie asked, "most of the guys I go out with don't even own a tie."

"I'm sure you'll find someone Bobbie," Bobby smiled.

"What about me?" Jane asked.

"There will be other gay couples there Jane," Kay spoke, "so I'm sure no one will think twice you bring another woman."

"They might of at one time," Bobby nodded, "but not in this day and age."

 

"By the way do you shoot Sue?" Roberta asked.

"God how do I answer that question?" Sue asked herself silently, "I can't tell her that actually I can shoot a pistol expertly, and that I'm decent with a long gun, she will want to know how and why I learned...Safer to say..."

"No I don't Bobbi, Colin has promised to teach me one day though," Sue spoke aloud.

"What about you other girls?" Vicky asked.

"No," the response came very quickly from the other three China Dolls.

 

9 pm BST

The Savoy

 

Janice looked up as Eleanor Ball came into the bar.

 

"So how was your day with Yvonne?"

"Very nice Janice, Eleanor smiled, "how did the fittings go?"

"Don't ask," Jan shook her head, "I know as the guy from the magazine said, that it is mainstream fashion, but it still looks far too much when stretched over my daughter, and young Anna."

"I bet they both disagreed with you?'

"Of course they did," Jan despite herself smiled, "one skirt Doc will be wearing I swear that I own belts that are bigger."

"Oh that short eh?"

"You know it Eleanor."

"Alright small talk over, you said you might have news for me Jan?" Eleanor whispered.


"I do."

"So?"


"Be up for breakfast at seven in the morning...we have a meeting to attend in the country."

"When all?"

"Yes, when all will be revealed."

 

 

"Mom,” Ama said as she and Caroline sat in their room, “this thing in the morning?"

"Is just a meeting at a hotel darling?"

"Okay, but what happens afterwards Mom?"

"Let me just say that I'll be spending a couple of nights out as Dominique."

"The Manchurian Gold..."

"Goddess...How?" Caroline turned to her daughter.

"I just put two and two together and remembered what I'd read in a book a few weeks ago."

"That one I brought home I suppose?" Caroline shook her head.

"Yes," Ama smiled, "after you and Annie read it I wanted to know what was so interesting."

 

“Well, worry not – it’s routine…”

 

 

 

“So the death dealers are now set Shirley," Juliette spoke into her computer as she sat on her hotel bed.

"Yes." Shirley nodded, "Helen, Marina, Kylie, Francesca, Jayne, JD...etc."

"All under Natalya's command?"


"Yes."


"Well we know all of them are far from being squeamish about shedding blood."

"Exactly Ju...They'll protect our arses from above."

"Who will be monitoring Tanaka?"

"Jill with a couple of the girls from my offices...They'll let us know if she makes a movement."

 

"When does our secret agent arrive Shirley?"


"She gets in from LA first thing."

"And she knows that she must make everything look very casual?"

"Well Tanaka knows she works for us, but with her Japanese manners she will not be rude to a friend."

"Louise does know the risk she is taking, that we are deliberately putting her out front?"

"She does, but as she proved in both Tokyo and Buffalo, she's not afraid to go into the lions den."

"Or in this case, Claridges Hotel."

"Exactly Ju.  How is Carina doing?" Shirley asked.


"A little annoyed that we haven't created an obvious opportunity for The Beast to have her fun, but otherwise she's at least in part distracted by the rowing. She and the girls are going training before the meeting tomorrow at the Olympic course, and afterwards."

"Where are they staying?"

"At a hotel in Windsor itself."

"How will she get to 'our' hotel."

"She's booked a cab."

 

"And Annie?"


"Is here with me." Juliette smiled, "she's only praying that she's done enough work-outs since she had the twins to be fit enough to do her share."

"Oh I'm sure she will."

 

 

 

 

“Where is Clint Susan?" Maddie asked quietly as they sat in the bar.

"He's driving Madame tonight and tomorrow Maddie...Where is your spouse?"

"Friends invited her to the taping of a music show for television."

"It keeps her out of the way I suppose," Susan spoke quietly, "and on the other occasions?"

"Well in the morning she's going shopping for my birthday present, and I do have a couple of things lined up for the nights I'll be out."

"Good...”

 

“Anyway how are you?"

"Getting a little jumpy...this is all just so big Maddie."

"It is, but you've done enough bits planned by Juliette to be confident she's worked everything out to the smallest detail."

"Yes, her criminal mind is incredible.  Have we been allocated a driver?" Susan sipped her drink.

"Yes, someone I think you might know..."

"Oh who?"

"Nick Horton."

"Oh yeah I remember him...he's not bad."

"Yeah he will get us where we need to be safely."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Pussycat Gang index

 

Return to the main index