We Are Gathered Here – Part 5








Saturday 10th December

The Waldorf Astoria

9.30 pm


“Liz, what’s going on?”


“Mummy,” Liz said as Catriona, Tammy and Paula came in, “we were outside, talking, and then two men bundled Olga into a van and it drove off…”


The mothers looked at Penny, who nodded as Sharon said “we’re keeping the news contained in here for now – we don’t want to disturb the party more than necessary, but be assured – the authorities have been informed and they are looking for her.”


“We also know her mother seems to have gone missing,” Penny continued.  “Please, stay here for now – I’ll get word to Aggie, and she will join us in time.”


“What exactly are we doing,” Cat said as she looked at Penny.


“Everything we can…”




As Yuri looked out of the window, he heard his phone ping, and then looked at the message.






Before she could get an answer, the door opened and Kay came in.  “Are we secure,” she said as she looked round.


“We did a bug sweep, nothing – but Yuri…”


“Byushin,” Yuri said quietly, “has my daughter, and he says if I do not go and confess to a contact I am the mole, she will not return to my wife.”


“Bastard,” Kay said quietly, “and Tatiana…”


“I do not know for certain,” Yuri said as he rubbed his head, “but I suspect she is with – that contact.”


As Francesca nodded, Kay sat down and rubbed her own head.  “Dammit – the perfect storm.”


“This should not have happened, Commander Cornwall – you promised me this would not happen…”


“I know,” Kay said quietly as Francesca looked at Yuri.  “You…  You’re Shakespeare?”


“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” Yuri said as he sat down and put his head in his hands.


“I should have known you were aware,” Kay said quietly, “but he is too valuable an asset for us.  We need to find a wat to deal with this – quietly, discretely.”


“And how do you intend to do that,” Yuri said angrily as he stood up, “they have my wife, my daughter, and no matter what I do, I am the one who will have to suffer.  Give me one reason, one reason why I should not go now and confess to the contact…”


“The Sisters of Maisha.”


“The…”  Yuri looked from Kay to Francesca, before he said quietly “do you know what the contact thinks of them, after New York…”


“That was reactionary – we are working on a way to solve this for all of us,” Kay said as Yuri sat back down.  “We have had eyes on Olga for some time – and those eyes are talking, with two sisters, to one of the men who took your daughter.  He will tell us where they have taken her.”


“And then?”


“And then – we have some friends who will get her back,” Francesca said, “quietly, with no danger to her.  Once we have achieved that, then we deal with Byushin – he is a cancer that has to be removed.”


“What friends?”


“Yuri,” Kay said as she leaned forward, “trust me, it’s better you don’t know.”


“And what about Tatiana?”


“Yeah,” Kay said, “that’s a little trickier.  Is this ‘contact’ high placed?”


“VERY high placed.”


“Okay – then this falls within my bulwark.  Mine and one other person.  Yuri, you need to remain calm – I promise you, I am going to do everything I can to make this work.”


“I always suspected,” Tatiana said as she looked across, “but why tell me this now?  I am under no obligation to keep this a secret?”


“Ah, but you are under the strongest and greatest obligation of all,” the President said as he sipped his coffee.  “You love your husband, and your daughter, and that means you will keep their secrets.”


“Forgive me, but what I meant to say was, why tell me at all?”


He put the cup down, and smiled as he said “your husband has been under suspicion of acting against the state.  I do not, however, believe he is thew real traitor to the motherland.  I believe he is going to lead us to him, and as such…”


There was a knock on the door, and as he looked over one of his aides came in.  “Forgive me, Comrade President,” he said “but there is a message for you.  Hand delivered.”


He nodded as he took the note, read it, and then said “I suspected as much.  Thank you – I will deal with it in due course.”  Lighting a match, he burnt the note and said “so, we wait…”




“What do you think,” Angela said as she looked at the man, a red stain spreading over the pad on his shoulder.


“He’s telling the truth,” Jo said quietly, “so what are we going to do?”


“We’re going to report to my superior,” Angela said quietly as she held his head up, the eyes closed, “he can stay here until we alert the correct authorities.  Although who they should be on this occasion…”


The knock on the door made them both look round, as a voice said “Can I be of service, sister?”  Jo walked over and opened the door, Angela recognizing the woman who walked in.


“Captain Eleanor Ball – are you one of these Sisters as well?”


“Kay and I will have a long chat with her later – what is the word?”


“A friend is coming to collect him,” Eleanor said quietly, “do we have a location?”


“We do.”


“Let me have it – Captain Gresham-Fox, it would be better if you rejoined your husband and his family for the moment.   Be assured, you will be fully debriefed later.”


“Oh this is going to be fun,” Angela said as she shook her head and walked out, Jo shrugging her shoulders as she closed the door.


“Old friends?”


“We went to a few places together.  What happens now?”


“Now,” Jo said as she took a cell phone out, “I make a call, and we sit back to watch the fun.  It’s time to call in some very specialized help.”


“Like who…”






“Cathy,” Juliette said as she joined her old friend, “what’s going on?”


“Whatever do you mean, Juliette?”


“Let’s see – Yuri is told Olga has been taken, and Tatiana disappears, now he is hiding somewhere.  I notice Penny is not here, and neither is Helen – and I think I saw Marina slip out with Kylie and Beverley.  So I’m going to ask again – what’s going on?”


“Nothing you can assist with, Juliette,” Cathy said quietly, “except to be there later.  There is a family that is going to need a lot of support…”





10.30 pm
The Waterfront
Near Pier 34


“This is like a bad movie,” Olga thought to herself as she looked round.  They had brought her to a warehouse, and she could hear boats outside sounding their horns – but they had also made her sit on a chair that made the ones at Benenden like leather upholstered armchairs, and used so much rope that she was having some trouble breathing.


But she was controlling her breathing, as the blindfold remained over her eyes.  She was struggling, but she knew she had to remain calm…


“Why is she so important, anyway,” one of the two guards in the room said before he took a draw on his cigarette.  “she’s just a girl.”


“But her father is important – and he has upset Byushin,” his partner said as he looked at Olga.  “So she gets to stay here.”


“And when the big man has what he wants?”


His partner just laughed as he picked up a radio.




“No sign of anyone coming,” the man said as he stood on the roof of the building.  His coat was puled up round his neck, and the gun sat heavily in his gloved hands, but he had his orders, and he knew all too well what would happen if he failed to carry them out.


The air was so damned col…


His eyes opened wide as he felt the pin prick in his neck, and then he slumped to the ground, unaware of the four black clad figures that walked towards him.


“Excellent, Mongoose.  Silk Shadow?”


“I see four more outside – two at the rear, two at the front.”


“I concur – we need to move silently.  Shadow, Mongoose, you take the rear.  Swan, with me.”


The four split into pairs, running noiselessly as the lifeless eyes of the guard looked out over the cold night.


At the rear of the building, the two men were facing in different directions, carefully scanning the other buildings.  Their boss had made it very clear what would happen if they allowed anyone to get access before he arrived.


So when the thin wires were pulled tight across their throats, crushing their larynxes as the band got tighter and tighter, the life draining from them as they were lowered to the floor.


“Rear entrance secured Sensei,” one of them whispered.


“Acknowledged – await my word…”



As the front of the building, the guards were slightly more alert – but the only warning they had of the impending events was the swish of cloth, before a blade crossed the throat of one of them.  He stood there, his eyes open as the slit turned red, before he fell to the ground.  His partner turned and aimed – only to crumple to the ground as he was struck on the side of the neck, hos eyes wide in shock as well.


“Excellent work, Shadow – your skills with the rope dart improve with each use.”


“I thank you Sensei,” Bev said quietly as she bowed.  “So we move in?”


“We do – Mongoose, Swan, enter and eliminate silently.  We converge on the main floor…”




The Astoria-Waldorf


“Would it be all right if we went to bed, Mum,” Miley said as she started to yawn,


“Of course it is – do you want me to come up with you?”


“It’s all right, I’ll take them up,” Donald said as he stood up, “besides, I get the feeling someone is coming to talk to you.”


“So they are,” Agnes said with a smile as Grace came over.


“Agnes, have you seen my darling sister-in-law anywhere?”


“Sorry – had to step out for a few minutes,” Angela said as she came in, “but I’m here now.  Is Mike behaving himself?”


“Sure – are you sure you’re all right?”


“I think I will be – tell Mike I will catch him later.  I have to see a man about something…”


Aggie and Grace watched as Angela walked out of the ballroom again, along a corridor and then she knocked on the door.


“Angela – come in,” Caroline said as she opened the door.  Sharon nodded as the door was closed, and Angela said “what news?”


“We expect to have Olga back,” Caroline said as she looked at her watch, “within the hour.  We then have another problem to deal with – two actually, but your commanding officer is going to deal with the other matter once Olga is back.”


“Mrs Gresham-Fox?”


Angela turned and looked at Kit, Liz and Eve.  “Okay – Miss Cuthbertson, Lady Lardan, Mrs Mahan-Gaunt,” she said as she looked at their mothers, “I need to let you know that I am a little more than their Geography teacher.”


“Now why would we think that?  Oh yes – you shot one of the men who took Olga!”  Kit looked over as she said “you were her bodyguard?”


“In a way – I need you to be patient a short while longer…”




Near Pier 34


“Come in, Olaf…”


Olga was sitting still, wondering why one of the men was a little edgy as he talked, before he said “something’s wrong.  Call him.”


“I’m not happy about this,” the second man said quietly as he took his cell phone out – and then stopped.  “Did you hear that?”




Olga sat quietly, listening, before the man said “there – someone fell down.”


He was right – she had heard a grunt and then the fall, but she wasn’t going to give them the pleasure of telling them they were right.  She was more interested in the ways she imagined in her mind what she was going to do to them.


“Chto za chert?”


She heard the hissing sound, and then the footsteps as one shot rang on – before someone fell to the ground in front of her.


“kto tam?”


“YA smert', i segodnya vecherom idu za Byushinym - raz uzh zabral tebya.”


“Net, yesli ya ub'yu tebya pervym.”


“YA skazal, chto ya smert', ya ne skazal, chto ub'yu tebya. Mangust, Lebed'.”


“Vse neytralizovali senseya - spasite etogo nedostoynogo.”


“You are Olga Marakova?”


“Yes,” Olga whispered, “who are you?”


“Remain calm, do not move.”


Olga nodded as she heard the first female voice say “Sī yǐng——nǐ yǒuxìng.”


Olga could hear the strangled gasp, and then the thud, before she felt the ropes part.


“Come with us – it is best if the blindfold remains for now.  We are taking you to your father…”


The Astoria-Waldorf


“Thank you – I will await your arrival,” Cathy said quietly before she put her cell phone away, and walked quietly out of the room, stopping at the meeting room door and knocking.  As Caroline looked out, she said “I am pleased to inform you that Olga will shortly be returned.”


“thanks,” Caroline said quietly as she stepped out, and took her own cell phone out.  “Commander – extraction achieved.  Time to make the next move.”


“Copy that,” Kay said as she looked at Yuri, “we’re ready to move at this end.”  She turned off her phone, and then said “we have Olga – it’s time to extricate you from Byushin.  You know what you have to do?”


“Will this hold up,” Yuri said as he held up the stick.


“It should do – we have had some time to prepare it, but your contact may still need persuading.  Are you up for it?”


“I have to be,” Yuri said quietly as he took his own phone out.  “I need to see you, Sir – I have some information that is pertinent to tonight.


“No, I believe it is of vital importance – I will be with you in five minutes.”


Ending the call, he took a deep breath and then said “what about Byushin?”


“My friend will deal with that…”





“Well, it appears we are about to have a visitor,” he said as he stood up, Tatiana watching him carefully.  “I apologise for the fact you have had to be here for some time, Madame Ulyanova, but I think all will be well soon.”


He heard the knock on the door and nodded as his guard gripped the handle, Tatiana staring as Yuri walked in.  He, in turn, looked at her, before he said “Comrade President, why is my former wife here?”


“Insurance, Marakov,” he said as he stood, his hands behind his back, “what do you have for me.”


“Evidence of a conspiracy against you, Comrade President – a conspiracy, I regret to say, I have been an unaware part of.  I confess my fault, and bring the evidence to you now.”


“Oh?  And who is at the heart of this conspiracy?”


“With regret, Comrade President, it is my current client, Oleg Byushin.”


He sat down, and said “your evidence?”


“Before that, I have a question, Comrade President – were you aware of the fact Byushin kidnapped my daughter earlier tonight?”


Tatiana whipped her head round, and said “Olga?  Yuri, he did this to us?”


“He did – Comrade President, I apologise if I seem forward, but I have to know…”


Nodding, he leaned forward and said “your candour is forgivable, given the events of this evening.  I will be equally honest with you – we had concerns about your loyalty, and instructed Byushin to instigate an investigation.  It would appear, however, he may have overstepped the mark.”


“He has indeed,” Yuri said quietly, “when Olga was taken, he may not have been aware his men were being watched.”


“By British Intelligence?  We are aware Commander Cornwall is in the building…”


“No – by the Sisters of Maisha.”


The mention of that name made him stand, as he said “that particular group is not a friend of the Motherland – after recent events in New York…”


“They are aware of that, Comrade President,” Yuri said as he stepped forward, and placed the stick on the table.  “A representative of the group approached me tonight – I do not know who she was – and said they were aware Olga had been taken.  They said they had been watching Byushin because they had concerns about his involvement in – shall we say, recruitment for adult entertainment industries in Eastern Europe.


“They have asked me to tell you that they are taking steps to remedy this situation, and the stick contains documentary evidence of that involvement.  I believe you should see it and have it verified.”


He nodded to one of his men, who took the stick and quietly left the room.  “While he does that, Comrade Marakov, I think I deserve an answer to the question I asked earlier tonight.”


“Comrade President..,”


“I have had the pleasure of your wife’s company for the last few hours, and have explained some things to her,” he said, a slight smile playing on his lips.  Yuri looked at Tatiana, who nodded before she said “I know, Yuri – I know you had no choice, I know you cut us off to protect us.”




He looked up as his man came back in.  “We had a preliminary look – the evidence is overwhelming, it would appear Byushin has been trading in underage transportation.”


Nodding, he said “well, Marakov, do you feel you have an answer for me?”


Marakov stood to attention, and said “my loyalty is, and always has been, to Mother Russia, Comrade President – and it has cost me personally greatly, in many ways, but I have never wavered in that loyalty.”


He nodded, as he said “I believe you, Marakov.  Did the Sisters say anything about Byusihn?”


“They did – they ask you to leave Byushin to them, and to accept their assurance this is nothing to do with our internal politics.”


He sat still for a moment, and then nodded.  “I accept your word, Marakov – you and your wife are free to go.  I assure you, no further action will be taken.  In fact, we should discuss our arrangement with you to – allow further freedoms.  You have served your country tonight, Marakov – thank you.”


“Thank you, Comrade President – Tatiana, come with me please.”


As he nodded, Yuri took Tatiana’s hand and escorted her out of the suite, not stopping until they were in the lift.  As the doors closed, he leaned back, closed his eyes, and let out a long sigh.


“Yuri, Olga – is she?”


“I am told they have found and rescued her – she is coming back here now,” he eventually said.  “Tatiana, I am so sorry you had to find out this way…”


“You are an asset for them – and have been ever since…”


“Ever since I volunteered to walk into the honey trap.”


Tatiana slowly turned her head, and looked at Yuri as she said “you…”


“I did not lie to him – I cannot, or you and Olga…”  Removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes, Yuri said “we have a lot to talk about, and I have a lot of explaining to do, but right now, that is not my priority.  But the time has come for the truth to be told – once…”


The doors opened on the third floor as they both saw Kay Cornwall standing there.




“He accepted it, Kay,” Yuri said softly, “where is she?”


“Come with me.”


Yuri took Tatiana’s arm as Kay led them to a suite, a woman standing outside.  She nodded as they came over, and then knocked on the door.  As it opened, Tatiana said “Mrs Gresham-Fox – what are you doing here?”


“My duty,” she said quietly as she let Yuri and Tatiana in, both of them watching as Olga stood slowly up.


“Mamma...   Pappa...”


“My child,” Yuri said quietly as she ran into their arms, all three hugging as Angela looked at Kay and they stepped outside.


“They are safe?”


“They will be – once one last thing is taken care of…  Maisha.  I am going to assume you have heard on the winds?”


“I have,” Maisha said quietly, “and I wished to thank you for allowing the Sisters to rescue her and deal with Byushin.  Nobody else needs know what happened - save, perhaps, for some questions from Juliette Huntingdown.  I, however, would appreciate it if I was the one who told Mum.”


“Of course,” Kay said with a bow.



Oleg Byushin stood at the window of his suite, looking out over the city.  Marakov has reported to the President – almost certainly, he was on his way back to Mother Russia, and his daughter would make a fine addition to one of his businesses.


As for her mother – she was collateral damage, nothing more. 


He heard the door open and close, before he said “is he on his way?”


“No – he is reunited with his family.”


He turned and saw the two African women standing there, tall, proud, determined.


“I do not believe I have had the pleasure – and how did you get past my men?”


“The men outside?  Be assured, they will not disturb us,” Liz said quietly as she looked at him.  “And as for the men at the pier – they have also been neutralized, and Olga Marakova returned to the bosom of her family.”


Byushin stared at them before Leader said “your business, your desires for those who work for NorStar, and the way you have traded in innocents, Oleg Bysuhin, have come to our attention – and when you acted tonight, we took the opportunity to strike back at you.”


He looked at the two women, and then nodded as he said “so, what are you going to do?  Kill me and dismantle my organization?”




The bullet ripped through Oleg’s head as he dropped to his knees, his eyes wide open in surprise, as the door opened and Eleanor Ball came in – with a smaller, balding man who looked round the room through his glasses.


“We’ll arrange clean up,” he said quietly, “we thank you for bringing this to our attention, Eleanor.”


“So long as it can be kept quiet, Rupert – I need to get back.”


Rupert Brookes nodded as he said “we’ve taken delivery of the other person.”




“She’s safe?”


“She is,” Caroline said as she looked at the others.  “She and her parents need some time to talk, but you can see her tomorrow before you fly back.”


“Oh thank God,” Liz said as she sat with her mother and aunt.


“You girls go and get some sleep – I’ll talk to you all in the morning,” Caroline said as Paula and Tammy stood up.


“You go ahead – I need a quick word with Caroline about something,” Cat said as she and Aggie watched the others leave with George and Sharon.  As the door closed, Catriona said “okay – what the hell happened tonight, Dom?”


“You want the ten second version?”


“Go on…”


“Yuri Markov is a SIS asset, working within the Russian hierarchy.  Tonight, two parties used different approaches to test his loyalty – and the Sisters stepped in to resolve the problem.”


“Hang on,” Aggie said as she processed what Dominique had just said.  “Are you telling me that…”


“That Yuri Marakov willingly walked into the honey trap at your domicile?  Yes, he did – and right now, he’s telling the whole story to Tatiana and Olga.”


“I’m going to kill her,” Aggie said under her breath, “all these years…”


“Is it any different from what Eleanor Ball did,” Caroline asked quietly.


“Captain Ball?”


“A tale for another time – where is she?”





Sunday 11th December
1 pm Local Time
Phuket, Thailand


“So, Mrs Hammond, am I forgiven?”


Shirley smiled as she reclined next to the pool, and said “you are forgiven Mr Hammond.  Do I want to know how much this cost?”


“No you don’t,” John said as he poured champagne into a glass, and handed it to her.  “No, you really don’t, but I think it is money well spent.”


“Oh yes,” Shirley said as she looked out over the private beach, “oh yes…”




7 am
Park Avenue


Maisha looked over as Ama came into the kitchen.  “Thank you for letting me sleep over,” she said as she stretched and yawned, “with Mom working late, and Annie going back with Carina, I did not want to be alone.”


“It is all right, I appreciated the company,” Maisha said as she poured coffee for both of them. “How do you feel?”


“Strangely awake – I will be going to meet with Nick later.  I need ot thank him for all he did yesterday.




Maisha shook her head and smiled before she took a drink from the mug.  “You are so fortunate, Sister, to have someone who loves you and who you love.”


“Someday, your time will come,” Ama said with a smile as Maisha nodded.  “So we are expecting guests for brunch?”


“Indeed – Aunt Maddie and Aunt Sandra are coming with their partners, as well as Penny.  Helen sent her apologies…”





8 am
West Central Park


“Welcome,” Marina said as she stood back and allowed Tracy to come in.  “How are you feeling?”


“A little hungover, but not too bad,” the dark skinned girl said as she hung her coat up.  “I’m the last?”


“You are darling,” Kylie called from the room, “I have April for company, and Susan and Beverley are with Clint in the kitchen.”


“Is that bacon I smell?”


“It is – American bacon, but bacon none the less,” Marian said as they ehaded to the kitchen, Susan smiling as she said “hey – so, when do you head back?”


“Tomorrow – Clint, how many times have you been told you a miracle worker today?”


“Not enough,” Clint said with a smile as he started to beat some eggs.


“Look at you,” Susan said as she sat in her designer jeans and Fitzstuart jumper.  Tracy was wearing a black roll neck sweater and leather pants, Marina a slip dress over a white jumper, and Beverley in a silk sweater and skirt.


“Do one of us have a smut, Susan darling,” Beverley asked with a smile on her lips.


“No – I was just thinking of Tottenham a couple of years ago.  You lot have come so far since then.”


“I suppose we have, darling,” Kylie said as she came in, carrying April in her arms, “and we would not have it any other way.”


The Astoria-Waldorf


Kay was walking towards the restaurant when she was grabbed by the arm and walked to a side booth.


“We need to talk – now,” Aggie said as she sat opposite her old friend.  “About what exactly happened with Yuri Marakov.”


“Last night?  I had the distinct feeling you already….”


“No – at my place of work.”


“Ah.  Could we have two coffees please,” Kay said to a passing waitress, and then she looked at Aggie.  “Okay – without going into the details, we recruited Yuri Marakov because we knew that there was a Russian asset gathering information at your place.  We could recognise what was happening post-Yeltsin, and we reasoned having someone well placed to hear would be of use.”


“But Yuri – did he volunteer?”


“Well, there we go into things I cannot tell you – not even you Aggie,” Kay said with a little smile, “but he agreed – he did not like the way things were going either.  So yes – he volunteered, knowing what it may cost him.”


Aggie sat back and thought for a moment.  “A successful, high-flying lawyer with a model wife and a beautiful daughter, exposed in that way, forced to…  Yeah, I can see how that would work as a jacket, but the risk he took…”


“Last night, things came to a head – but, with the help of the Sisters, it has come to a reasonably satisfactory conclusion.”




“Well, there are some family matters to deal with.”


“Kay, if you knew, why not tell me?”


“Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act, for starters,” Kay said as she glanced across the room, seeing Angela Gresham-Fox walk to where two other women were sitting.


“Hey – and where is Mike Gresham-Fox?”


“On his way to an interview on local television,” Angela said as she sat with Cassie Craig and Jo Frost, “which means we have a chance to talk.  And I think we need to talk.”


“Okay,” Jo said, “but you need to answer a question first.  Are you still gainfully employed?”  She watched as Angela adjusted her blouse, before she said “I’ve been on long term assignment.”


“Bodyguard duty?”


“Yeah – and I wasn’t the only one.  A certain English teacher was also watching my mark for another concerned party.”  She accepted the coffee before she said “what happens next, given my cover is well and truly blown, depends on next week.”


“Nothing wrong with being a teacher,” Cassie said with a smile.


“Actually, compared to some assignments, it was a good one,” Angela said as she laughed.  “My turn – I’ve heard of the Sisters, but you two – and my commanding officer?”


“Oh we’re just a small part of a large machine,” Jo said quietly, “but yes – they are real, and we are indeed Sisters.  Normally, we do bodyguard duty, like you.”


“So why are you here?”


“Honestly?  We do know Shirley Xavier in a professional sense – and we were invited to attend as personal friends.  She comes from the area we work in, and Xavier International has supported our school.”


“Right,” Angela said quietly, “so you just happened to be on the scene?”


“Seriously – most of us did,” Cassie said as she looked round the room.  “How long have you got to spare?”


“An hour or so – why?”


“Drink up,” Jo said with a smile, “we want to introduce you to someone…”






“Mamma?  Pappa?”


Yuri and Tatiana stood up as Olga came through from the bedroom.  A trolley with pastries, orange juice and coffee was to one side.


“Did you manage to get some sleep,” Tatiana asked as her daughter poured herself a glass of orange juice.


“Some,” she whispered after she had taken a drink and sat down, “but I am still processing what you told me and Mamma.”


“You have not used those words in a long time,” Yuri said as he looked over, then sat down himself.


“That is true – but to know now you did all this to protect us…”


“I will never be able to apologise enough for the pain I have caused you – both of you – with my actions,” Yuri said as he held his hands together, “but I did not want you to be the victims of my decision.  This business with Byushin, however, forced my hand, and I realised I could not please both him and my handlers.”


“I understand,” Tatiana said as he knelt in front of him and held his hands, “now.  Love made us do strange things, Yuri, but I do understand.  What I do not understand is why you told Klaus.”


“I needed someone I could trust implicitly,” Yuri said with a wry smile, “and I could not use the most trustworthy person I knew of, because she was implicated already.  Klaus was one of my oldest friends, and I knew I could trust him with this knowledge.  I know he has told nobody – not even Juliette, and that has cost him.”


“So what happens now?  You said we are in no danger Mamma?”


“We are not – at least, I believe we are not,” Tatiana said as Yuri nodded, “but as for us, your father and I have agreed to – I believe the phrase you would use is bury the hatchet?”


“We are not going to remarry – that would not be practical, given I am going back to Russia,” Yuri said, “but there is no reason now for us to not be seen together, or for you and your mother to visit me on occasion.”


“At least we can be something like a real family,” Tatiana added, “if separated a lot of the time.”


“I would like that,” Olga said with a smile, “I would like that very much…”




The von Furstenheim apartment


“Yuri has been a spy all this time?”


“He has,” Klaus said as he sat with his wife in the study, “and I need you to keep that knowledge to yourself, Juliette.  Now that NorStar is safe, and after speaking with him, he has finally allowed me to share this one secret with you.”


“My god,” Juliette said as she shook her head.  “I understand why you kept this from me – but what changed?”


“Olga was kidnapped – and rescued – last night.  They are reconciling, but he wants those who need to know to know.  Outside of whoever is handling him, we are the only two – and that must remain the case.”


Juliette nodded as there was a knock on the door.  “Come,” Klaus called out as Judith toddled in. 


“Auntiee Cathy is here with Auntie Helen, Grammy.”


“Thank you Judith – we’ll be out in a minute,” Klaus said as Juliette stood up.


The Astoria-Waldorf


“There you are,” Eve said as Olga came into the coffee area, “how are you?”


“I’m fine – sorry if any of you got scared last night.  Trust me – you were not the only ones.”


“It doesn’t matter,” Kit said as she hugged the young Russian.  “What matters is you are safe – you are safe, right?”


“Yes, I am.  So – what horrors does Mrs Gesham-Fox have lined up for the flight over?”


“None – you will need your sleep,” Tammy said as she joined the girls.  “We all do…”







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