Saturday 7th February
The Waldorf Hotel
“NO – Young Miss Paget, you must remember, grace and elegance!”
Mary Thomas took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes as she said, “Look – imagine you’re doing dressage. Would you allow your horse to walk that way? No? Then use the same control on yourself. Let’s do that again.”
The girls had been at work since noon, and the final walkthrough was due to start at four – allowing the girls, professional and amateur, to enjoy the unique experience that is a Mary Thomas rehearsal.
They were all sitting round the side, in various outfits, waiting to be called out for John Hammond to take their photographs.
"So let me get this straight." Maggie Fife
paused, "You were in New York last weekend for the deb ball thing, you
flew back to England, a week in school, you get out Friday lunchtime, back to
New York for this show, then Monday morning bright and early back to school."
"That's right." Angel smiled.
"How the hell is your body coping?" Maggie
shook her head.
"I'm not sure it is,” Angel said as she
stretched, “but at least now I get a few more weeks at home before
"The busy life of a model darlings." Mandy
sat down languidly next to her daughter and her new friend.
"I'm not a model." Maggie and Angel said
"Tell me that next year, didn't you see that knot
of scouts and agents watching you both yesterday and today."
"Mummy, I'm doing this because Juliette asked me
to, but honestly do you see me making a career doing this?"
"Seriously?" Mandy asked, "I think
you'll both have the opportunity if you want it, whether you do or not is up to
both of you."
"I get so nervous." Maggie looked round, "But I see my Mom looking so proud of me, and it gives me the confidence."
“You’re not the only one with a proud mother,” Mandy said as she hugged Angel. “Besides, you get the year off to try new things, so don’t write it off just yet.”
"Okay girls give me a slightly bored look please."
John Hammond was shooting Abby, Jo and Lily in one of the hotels period
reception rooms, dressed in Dior evening gowns.
"The built in corsetry in this dress is killing
me." Jo moaned as she posed.
"They are incredible evening dresses though."
"That's nice girls." John stood up.
"You can relax for a few."
"Thank you." Jo sat down on a chaise.
"How did they look?" Lily and Abby huddled
round the computer as John downloaded the images he'd shot.
"John these look AMAZING," Abby put her
glasses on. "They look so atmospheric."
"Thank you girls," John said as he looked at
them, “I'm rather proud of them. I
really want to capture that look.”
"Why didn't you want us to smile wide John?"
Jo came over to look.
"Because models of the period rarely did, they had an air of aristocratic hauteur. I think you girls look quite wonderful."
“Still think you can’t do this Jo,” Lily said as she looked over.
“I know my limits,” Jo said as she looked at the photos, “but man he makes me look good.”
“Ever thought of getting a photo of Shirley in one of these outfits, John? She’d look fantastic in it.”
“Thinking about it,” John said quietly, “thinking about it…”
“Here we have Mandy and Angel Carrow showing the classic lines of Dior’s New Look,” Janine said as the Carrow's took to the catwalk, while Missy and Maddie talked to one side.
"I'll set up a meeting between my boss and you
for early next week Madeline."
"That sounds fine."
"Shirley never said she had an interest in a model
agency." Missy smiled, "But then again I suspect she's a woman of
"You know it." Maddie smiled. "I'm glad
for your help though with this."
"Well I don't handle children myself, but the
agency does, a working agreement with a major agency on the coast makes
sense…at least to me it does."
"Well it would be of mutual benefit to both
agencies I believe."
"So what did you make of the dress rehearsal
"There are some wonderful outfits, so much
glamour, so much style."
"I know, but I was meaning professionally."
"Well…" Maddie thought hard, "the stars
look great, but one or two of the amateurs, if I didn't know they were just
school friends of Abby's I'd not have spotted the difference."
"Exactly my thoughts, and unfortunately,"
Missy glanced round, "I think some of my colleagues saw it as well."
"Mandy Carrow's daughter reminds me so much of
"She's an English classic for sure, but her I'm
not worried about, Mandy knows the business inside out, when and if Angel does
model, I guess Mandy will bring her to see me."
"The Fife girl with that wonderful natural red
"She I really want, she's a complete package,
she's tall, she moves well, she talks well, and as you say that hair."
"She's out being photographed by John
"I know, I'm going to try to get to meet her mother
"Abby says Maggie is very shy."
"So is Abby herself, but that doesn't prevent her
being a top, top model. It’s a question
of projecting confidence, even if you don’t have it."
"I guess not."
"In that young man’s terms." Missy nodded at Winston, "While Abby was a slam dunk first overall pick in the draft, Maggie is a high first-rounder and she'll be getting interest from a lot of teams."
“And you wish to ensure you make the right pick?”
“Precisely,” Missy said with a smile.
"Hey Aunt Jeanne." Abby sat down next to the
television presenter. "How are things going?"
"Not bad my darling, I was just thinking back to
that first interview we did, hard to remember it was only a year ago."
"I know, just so much has happened."
"And you never did lose 'The Stick'."
"I know, but it's no longer a term of ridicule,
It's a name I wear with pride."
"Are you guys nearly finished?" Jeanne asked
as the makeup people and techs fussed over Abigail.
"Nearly." the producer shouted from beyond
the TV lights.
"Okay silence please," the cameraman called
as people cleared out the way, "Counting down Jeanne, Five, Four, Three,
Two, One…Go Jeanne."
"Hi I'm backstage at the Dior retrospective show
sponsored by Complete Style, with me is Abigail de Ros, one of the many famous
names who have given of their time for this incredible charity event…Hey
"Hey Jeanne." Abigail smiled at the camera.
"So what does it feel like wearing such fabulous
clothes as you're modeling tonight?"
"Oh it's incredible, it's like stepping back in
time to an age of elegance. Dior was a
huge influence on the fashion world, putting Paris at the centre of the fashion
world – so it’s a great honour for me to be taking part in this tribute."
"Now not all of the models are tonight are
"No, some of them are school friends of mine, and
there are a couple of my teachers."
"So how did they get roped into this?"
Abigail laughed, "Well we did a school pinup
calendar to raise money for a scholarship fund at my school, and it sort of
went viral, so Juliette Huntingdown suggested we capitalize on our notoriety
and get most of the ladies to model here tonight."
"Now this is?" Jeanne asked as Ally's pinup
on the Harley was flashed up.
"That's Allyson Rochermann, an old friend who's a
year ahead of me at school."
"And this is," the picture of Marnie on her
horse flashed up.
"Marnie Paget, she's another senior at
"Now this is both of them on the runway
earlier." Film ran of them coming down the catwalk in tight vintage
cocktail dresses, "Can I say they look thoroughly professional out
"Well they've worked hard, Mary Thomas from CS has worked hard with all the girls."
“I noticed quite a few scouts and talent agents today – so do you think we’ll be seeing some of these girls joining you and Jeannie Brewster on the catwalk in the months to come?”
“Well, that’s between them and people like Missy, Jeanne,” Abby said with a smile.
“And any words of advice you would give them?”
“Make sure they get a lawyer to check everything,” Abby said with a laugh.
“And apart from the unspoken advice?”
“Jeanne, if this is something they love doing, and they want to do it, I wish them all the best.”
“Now as you say, Mary Thomas has put this together. And Mary is known for her surprises. Any hints as to what unexpected thing we may see tonight?”
“Sorry Jeanne – you’ll just have to watch with the rest of us.”
“And we will be watching with great interest. Abigail, many thanks for your time.”
“Always a pleasure, Jeanne.”
“And we’re out,” the floor manager said as Abby relaxed.
“Come on, Abby, what does Merlin have up her sleeves for today?”
“All I know is you’ll love the opening – after that, you’re on your own,” Abby said as she stood up. “See you later, Aunt Jeanne.”
“And with that, we thank you for attending tonight, and wish you a very pleasant evening,” Janine said as she looked over. “What do you think?”
"Well other than those minor hiccups and the band
I think that went rather well?" Mary took off her glasses and rubbed her
"Aye it was no too bad." Fiona stood up and
stretched. "Yon gel of Juliette's has a great voice for compering."
"Janine was a speech major in college, I think
she originally wanted to work in radio journalism, but she got into fashion
"Ah see she's wearing' that Dior you found in
Paris that time."
"Ay, and she looks perfect in it."
"Do ya wanna go over anything again Mary?"
Leslie her assistant came up and asked.
"No tell everyone they can relax till
"Tell em that as rehearsals go it was nae a disaster." Fiona smiled.
“Got it,” Leslie said as she walked off and Janine walked over.
“You said you needed to see me once we were finished, Merlin?”
“I did? Oh yeah I did,” Mary said as she put her arm round Janine’s shoulders. “I need you to keep a secret – and add an extra couple of cards to your notes. Walk with me, my dear…”
“Good news folks – Mary’s happy, so relax, get something to eat and drink – be back here by six for final prep.”
"Did you see Jack's pictures in today’s dailies
Juliette?" Alice MacKinnon said as she sat down next to her old friend.
"I did, fantastic work, but we scarcely needed
the extra publicity, we'd sold every ticket by last weekend."
"Well it might get extra people watching
"It might," Juliette smiled. "Did I see
you sketching ideas earlier?"
"You did darling, these clothes are
"So your next collection will be Dior influenced."
"Hey nice to see lazy models putting their feet
up while dressers work." Karen came over.
"I switched you to dress Carina because it would
be less work darling." Juliette laughed.
little madam has had me wondering just exactly what I've been doing to stress
my dressers for years."
"Tell Carina from me to stop being a bitch."
"Oh I already told her. " Karen laughed as she sat down.
“Well, this is the place,” Sandy said as she pulled up outside the specialist dealership. As Shirley got out, she looked round the vehicles in the yard and nodded in approval.
“It appears to be a reasonable dealership,” she said as Janice got out from the rear seat, “now it is a question of seeing if they have what they said they had.”
“Miss Richmond – it’s a real pleasure to see you again.”
The three women turned to see a well-built man walking towards them, dressed in a grey suit with a white shirt and black silk tie.
“Good afternoon Gerald,” Sandy said as she shook his hand, “may I introduce my friends Janice and Shirley?”
“A pleasure ladies,” Gerald said as he shook their hands. “So which of you is it who is interested in the SL300?”
“Well, that would be me,” Shirley said, “but I brought my friends to advise me.”
“Then I think it best if I show you the item – would you follow me please?” He led them to a large building, containing a number of classic sports cars, and then to one in particular.
“Here we are.” Gerald said, “A ’63 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL in excellent condition. One of the last to reach this country.”
“What a beauty,” Janice said as she ran her hand down the silver bodywork. “Now many owners?”
“Three very careful ones – about twenty five thousand on the clock. The last one mainly used it as an exhibition piece.”
“So why did he get rid of it?”
“Divorce settlements – you know how they can be?”
“I try not to remember,” Sandy said as she looked round. “Specifics?”
“Just had a major overhaul – new brakes, and we adapted the air flow to compensate for the oil issues known with this model.”
“Engine and oil never mixed that well – can we turn it over?”
“Be my guest,” Gerald said as he opened the gull wing door, and Janice climbed behind the wheel, turning the engine as she checked the interior.
“Sounds good – oil just replaced?”
“Shirley, sit in here, see if you can get into the correct position and how it feels.”
Shirley sat in the leather seat as Janice moved the steering column back into place, watching as her friend adjusted the seat and looked over.
“Very comfortable – the engine capacity?”
“A hundred litres – mileage averages out about 100 kilometres to 17 litres, so the tank will take you about 570 kilometres. Oil needs changing every 1000 miles or so.”
“Hmmm – it certainly is a beautiful car,” Shirley said. “May I take it for a test drive?”
“I need to accompany you for legal reasons,” Gerald said, “so if your friends could stand to one side?”
As Sandy watched Shirley drive off, Janice listened to the engine. “Needs re-tuning – it’s slightly off,” she said as the car disappeared.
“Yeah, I noticed that too – not a problem, of course, but let’s keep that for negotiating,” Sandy said with a smile.
“She does look good behind that wheel, though,” Janice said as she looked round. “There are a few here I wouldn’t mind owning…”
“Save you would have to explain how you could afford it on a government salary.”
“Yeah – but a girl can dream, can’t she?”
“Come on – let’s get a coffee and wait for them to get back.”
Half an hour later, they watched as Shirley walked in with Gerald smiling broadly.
“It is a magnificent car, and I feel it will indeed suit me,” she said, “but I bow to the more expert eye of my friends to see if there are any issues?”
“May I see the registration Gerald,” Sandy said as Janice borrowed the keys and went back into the showroom. She took the documents and glanced down it, before saying “there’s a period of four years when the mileage hardly increases Gerald. Why?”
“That would be the second owner – a car collector, he bought it for the aesthetic pleasure of owning it, as opposed to driving it.”
“Such a waste,” Sandy said as she continued to read the document, then handed it back. Janice came back in, and said “Well, all numbers match, but I noticed a loose brake cable and some leakage on one of the cylinders.”
“Be assured, my dear lady, all faults you identify would be rectified before purchase.”
“So what do you two think?”
“I wish I could afford it,” Janice said.
“I can, but I don’t need it – I think it’s perfect for you, Shirley – if the price is right.”
“Ah yes, the price,” Shirley said with a smile. “Tell me, Gerald, what are you looking for to part with such a fine specimen?”
“I must be honest, Shirley,” Gerald said with a smile, “given the rarity of the model, and this is one of the last ones ever made and sold in the US, I think it commands a premium price. I would be looking for one million.”
“Hmmm,” Shirley said, “that is asking a premium price. My research tells me that for this year, seven hundred thousand is nearer the mark. I may be prepared to go to seven fifty unless you can add something to sweeten the deal.”
“Well, we can add free servicing for a period of time, and white wall tires if you desire – but with that, I still think nine is nearer the mark,”
“I see – over what period?”
“Three years, twenty per cent deposit.”
“Gerald, Sandy speaks very highly of you,” Shirley said with a smile, “and you strike me as an honorable man. That over three years is too much, however – I will offer eight hundred thousand, half on agreement, the other half on delivery, guaranteed bearer’s cheque.”
Sandy smiled as she saw Gerald raise an eyebrow, before saying “I would need to consult with the head of sales, and run a credit check.”
“My card,” Shirley said as she handed Gerald a business card, “feel free to run your checks.”
Gerald looked at the card, then at Shirley, before saying “If you will allow me a few minutes?”
“Of course,” Shirley purred as Gerald walked off.
“I had them made,” Shirley said as she handed them a gold embossed card.
CEO, Xavier International Inc.
London, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong
A website and contact details were on the card as well.
“Very chic – and the site?”
“Oh we’ve added that recently thanks to Charlotte – but it looks as if it has been in place for some time.”
“Have you heard from her and Penny,” Janice said.
“I have – they had an interesting encounter last week, and Penny met some old friends. I think she will – ah Gerald, what do you say?”
“You have a deal, Miss Xavier,” Gerald said as he held his hand out, “At eight hundred thousand, all inclusive and with delivery to your Park Avenue address. Shall we complete the paper work?”
“Of course,” Shirley said with a smile as they walked to a desk, the other two watching and smiling.
The Waldorf Hotel.
“Right,” Mary said as she walked in and clapped her hands together, “two hours to show time. This is your last chance to get something to eat – I want all models in hair and makeup in the next fifteen minutes, and no excuses!”
“I don’t think I can eat anything,” Marnie said as she looked round.
“That’s all right, but drink water,” Jeannie said, “or you’ll get dehydrated.”
“Listen up everyone,” Abby said. “The hotel will be providing a full buffet with refreshments for everyone after the show, so don’t worry if you cannot eat. Do drink however – dressers to your places please.”
“Showtime,” Karen said as she and Cherry moved with the others to the dressing rooms.
“Janine, did you manage to do what I asked?”
“Yup Merlin,” Janine said as she ate her sandwich.
“Good, come with me.”
Mary joined Fiona with Janine at the stand by the catwalk.
“Take a look out there, lass,” Mary said, “what do you see?”
“Seats waiting for people.”
“And in just under two hours, they will be full of people clapping, taking photos, looking for something special. Ready to give it to them?”
“Nope – but I’ll do my best.”
“Good gal,” Fiona said, “a wee bito nerves is the right fing tae have.”
“I want you to hold this picture in your mind – then when you come out, ignore all the other additional distractions, and do what you’ve done already today.”
“Mary – your guest is here.”
“Thanks Leslie,” Mary said. “Right - go and get ready lass, I’ll see you in a little while.”
“Come on we’ll get you ready,” Fiona said as she took Janine by the arm and led her off.
“Got your programmes?”
“Yes Boss,” Pepsi said as she and the others stood round.
“Good – the reception has started outside, and the doors open in fifteen minutes. Make sure each person gets a copy, and is shown to the front if they have the VIP invite.”
Mary walked over to where Caroline and George were standing, George in a dark suit, shirt and tie, Caroline in a Versace trouser suit and silk blouse.
“We have staff placed at all doors, and George is in constant touch with our control room,” Caroline said. “I’ll slip off for my bit before the interval, but that means I’ll be backstage as well.”
“Everything looks good from this side,” George said, “and we have two at the rear entrance in case of possible trouble makers.”
“Good – it all looks discrete as well, just the way I like it,” Mary said with a smile.
“Right – I need to go get ready. Doors open in ten people!”
"Did you get all the pictures you wanted this
afternoon John?" Juliette asked the photographer.
"I did, and thank you for letting me photograph
this show like this."
"Well the magazine gets some fabulous pictures
for its article…"
"And I get to see how I measure up against my
idols, Irving Penn, Henry Clarke and all the other greats who photographed
these outfits originally."
Juliette smiled, "So are you set up outside to do
some runway shots?"
"I am, and by the way can I say thank you to
Leslie for her help, I don't think she's stopped working for a moment."
"I know, she left at two this morning, and was back at seven. Mary needs to give her a bonus."
“And she will – but right now, it’s fun time. I imagine Shirley and the others will be outside soon.”
"These tightly rolled up umbrellas are a great
accessory." Holly remarked as Carina put her contacts in.
"I know and remember how Mary wants us to use
them in our pose at the end of the runway."
"Are you ready for the hat Carina?" Karen
"I think so." Cari looked at the hairdresser who nodded.
“Jeannie, fifteen minutes!”
"Who knew you find so much talent by looking at schoolgirls?" George remarked to John.
"Haven't you ever heard the famous story of how Norman Parkinson found Nena von Schlebrügge George?"
John sat down for a moment and smiled. "He was in Stockholm and he did something you'd probably get arrested for today. Swedish models were rather the rage and he decided he'd stake out the best girls school in the city at leaving time and look for prospects. One of the girls he spotted was the 14 year old Nena, a tall gangly blonde kid still at the time."
"You're right they would arrest a man approaching kids like that today." George chuckled.
"Well as always Norman's eye was perfect, he found several models that afternoon, but Nena was the jewel, she was a star model in the 60's and of course Uma Thurman the actress is her daughter."
“So you’re saying talent shows that early?”
“How old was David Beckham when he was spotted by Ferguson, George?”
“Seventeen – ah, I get your point, John.”
“Take our friend Winston over there – spotted at sixteen, two years training for college football, then pro hopefully. It’s the same in Fashion – normally, you get spotted early, unless your name is Caroline Jameson – and she’s the exception.”
“John, we start in ten.”
“Enjoy the show,” John said as George stood back, watching the tall young man as he gently lifted Jeannie into her wheelchair.
"So is Jeanne all set up out front of the hotel?'
Juliette asked Caroline as she came backstage to get dressed.
"Along with all the other TV crews, they were
interviewing people coming in."
"A bit, this show is a really big deal, I didn't realize
till I looked out at the crowds."
"Well celebrities, socialites, fashionistas…this is the
place to be seen tonight in New York."
"I know." Caroline smiled.
"So any trouble?"
"No, very quiet for us, the cops picked up a couple of
pickpockets working the crowd outside."
"That's a hazard on any given day in Manhattan." Juliette nodded.
“This way please,” Pepsi said as she led Shirley, Maddie and Emma, Lilly, Susan and Clint, and Ama and Maisha to the front row, letting them sit down before they were handed their photographs. Shirley smiled as John came over and said, “How did it go this afternoon?”
“I found what I was looking for,” she said as she smiled back. “I think you will like it – perhaps we can go for a drive when I take delivery?”
“I’d like that,” John said, “and I’ll see you later.”
“You two really are smitten, aren’t you,” Maddie said with a smile.
“Tell me again why we will like this, sister,” Maisha whispered to Ama.
“We see our friends in a new setting – and I am told the clothes are very special. Also, you see Caroline at work.”
“Indeed – it’s important we see the others in all their aspects,” Susan whispered back as Vanessa, Sandy and Heather sat behind them with Tonia and Roy.
“I see Tom’s talking to his worthy opponent again,” Tonia whispered as they looked at the other side of the catwalk.
“All’s fair and all that,” Roy whispered back as the lights started to dim, and Janine walked out onto the catwalk. She was wearing a classic fitted black jacket with a brocade front, and pencil skirt, as well as three-inch heels.
She nodded to the band at the side, and then placed her cards in front of her, drawing a deep breath as she looked out, the spotlight in her eyes.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this very special evening, celebrating the life and work of Christian Dior and the influence on the fashion of today. We would like to thank the staff of Complete Style Magazine, and the curators of the Dior Retrospective, for allowing us to stage this special event for you.
“Dior was responsible for a revolution in Fashion, and for one night only we invite you to return to those post war years, beginning with this couple.”
As the spotlight moved to the stage curtains, they parted to allow House to push Jeannie onto the centre of the stage. She was wearing a light coloured jacket over the long pleated skirt, three-inch heels and a hat over her hair. Winston was wearing a grey double-breasted suit, with a red pinstripe shirt, red tie, brown trilby and brown shoes.
Stopping the chair, he doffed his hat to Jeannie and offered his hand, Jeannie taking it as he lifted her, the band started playing, and they started to waltz down the catwalk to gasps and applause.
“Jeannie Brewster is wearing the classic Bar jacket and skirt, first unveiled on the 12th of February 1947 in Paris. Note the sleek lines of the pleats as they cross the floor…”
“Oh my,” Ama said as she smiled, “she looks so beautiful like that, and he treats her so gently.”
“Indeed – they make a wonderful couple,” Shirley said as they returned to the chair, House kissing her before he placed her back into the chair and wheeled her off to a round of thunderous applause.
“Well done ye twa,” Fiona said as she clapped them both on the back, “take Jeannie to her next fitting. Cari and Holly!”
“Ready,” the two girls said as they stood with the umbrellas as Janine said “Everyday wear was an important part of Dior’s vision, without compromising his principles and style. Please welcome to the stage Carina Huntingdown and Holly Berryman, both wearing plush fitted jackets and tight pencil skirts, Carina in dark grey and Holly in blue.” They wore matching hats and gloves, and walked with the umbrella in their hands as they looked out on the audience, their heels clicking as the band played period music.
Stopping at the end of the catwalk, they stood side by side, the umbrella held loosely in their hand, the other one pointing down as their legs crossed. The ligthbulbs flashed incessantly as they turned and sauntered back up the catwalk, standing back to back and smiling before they left at opposite sides.
“Man what a rush,” Holly said as she embraced Carina, “but it’s terrifying as well.”
“Come on, we need to change,” Cari said as Marnie came to the back, and then stepped out in a cream jacket and skirt, the wide hat covering her hair.
“I’m amazed how elegant these girls are making these outfits look,” Missy said as she sat next to Diana.
“You mean the students?”
“I do – I mean, Abby I expect it from,” Missy said as Abigail walked down in the Diorama evening dress in pale red, the matching opera gloves over her elbows as she posed at the end of the catwalk, “and Jeannie was amazing at the start. But they all have brought something to the table.”
“To show two of Dior’s classic evening dresses, please welcome two wonderful young ladies, Angel Fitzstuart and Maggie Fife.”
The crowd gasped as the two women walked out side by side, in strapless gowns that were gathered tightly at the waist, the skirt wrapped at the back and split to allow the tiny steps they took, their gloves pulled up and their hair held up.
“Those two,” Missy said, “have an incredible future ahead of them. Now, where is Mrs Fife?”
“There,” Diana said as she pointed to a small red headed woman beaming with pride and sitting next to Will Fitzstuart.
“Right – I will talk to her before Ellen does – that girl needs to know how good she is.”
“I have faith in Mandy,” Missy said as the two girls walked back.
“Now please welcome to the stage Joanne Smith and Allyson Rochermann…”
“What about Jo and Ally?”
Missy shook her head. “It’s not that they are not beautiful – they are, but I cannot see either of them making a success of it.”
“Not even like Cari?”
“No – the occasional show maybe, but no more. I really think their talents lie on their chosen career paths.”
“Please welcome in two more evening gowns two very special guests, Lily Cole and Kate Moss, both gowns on loan from the Fitzstuart estate.”
"Can someone pick that up please?" Lily shouted as
she dropped the mink jacket she'd had on with the previous outfit as she ran to
do her next change.
"These damn earrings look wrong tonight." Ingrid
Muller shouted as she stood in line to go on.
"No they don't, they are perfect." Mary reassured
"Has anyone got an unopened pair of nylons?" one of
the dressers called out, “these are laddered.”
"I have." one of the dressers said as she threw the
packet across the room.
"Is it always this hectic backstage?" Marnie
whispered in Jo's ear.
"Pretty much." Jo smiled as she pulled her gloves on. "Just so long as everything looks perfect out front you learn to work in this chaos back here."
“Please welcome back Joanne Smith and Marnie Paget in two more gowns, Joanne in a pinafore style jacket with cinched waist and long skirt, Marnie in a strapless dress gathered in front and made of red silk.”
"They all look so fabulous in those clothes."
Heather whispered to Sandy.
"I know, makes me think I was born 60 years too
"You can still find great style today." Vanessa
spoke, "It's just harder, back then all women espoused to look this
"I know, it was the time before blue jeans with everything.” Heather gasped at Annie wiggling her way down the runway in a sky blue cocktail dress with matching bolero jacket and gloves. "Oh wow, just look at Annie!"
“She is beautiful,” Ama said as she looked at Annie walk down the catwalk, and along the other side, before Janine said “and now, with the very kind permission of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, please welcome Caroline Jameson in the classic Zemire design, made in pale red silk.”
There was a huge round of applause as Caroline walked down, smiling under her large brimmed hat as she walked with careful steps, her fur cuffed gloved hands raised as she smiled and posed, and then walked up the other side to huge cheers and applause.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are going to take a fifteen minute interval at this point. Feel free to mingle and talk.”
"So Darling, what did you make of the amateurs?"
Ellen purred into Missy's ears.
"A couple that might make it just about." Missy
tried to downplay her own enthusiasm.
"I rather think there are more than a couple dear."
Micki Webber from the Ford agency glanced down at her notes.
"You think so?"
"Darling you aren't fooling anyone, you are just as
interested in some of those girls as we are." Ellen laughed.
"Well like most upper class girls remember most of them
don't have to model if they don't want to." Mike Westgate, the talent
scout remarked. "Most of them will go to college, work at something for a
few years, then settle down as suburban or Upper East Side matrons."
"We know Mike." Ellen nodded in his direction. "But others won't and they can make a lot of money for an agency."
“Well, I need to take a walk,” Missy said as she stood up and went to talk to Will Fitzstuart, as well as the woman sitting next to him.
“Okay girls,” Mary said backstage, “get into the next outfits.”
“Ye were wonderful Caroline dahling,” Fiona said as Caroline emerged in her street clothes.
“Thanks Aunt Fiona, but I gotta get up front,” she said as she walked through to the front area.
“George, what’s up?”
“Not sure,” George said, “look at that guy over there.”
Caroline followed his line of sight to a man with dark hair, standing at the back of the room.
“What about him?”
“He had a press accreditation pass, but hasn’t taken a single shot of the fashion or the models – he’s been much more interested in the Morse family.”
“Hmmm – let me talk to him,” Caroline said as she walked over. “Excuse me sir,” she said politely, “may I see your accreditation please?”
“What? Oh sure,” he said as he handed her his pass. “Say, you’re British – what brings you here?”
“I’m the security head,” Caroline said as she looked at the pass, “and I somehow do not think the Sun is interested in the fashion show here, Mister Burton.”
“Call me Dick – and of course we are.”
“Really? Then why do my security staff tell me you have only taken pictures of Deputy Mayor Morse and his family?”
“Well – can I be honest with you? We’re doing a piece on American politics and the ‘mom and apple pie’ bit – and the Morse family is very prominent socially. I’m just…”
“Leaving,” Caroline said quietly as she took his arm, “before I have the police arrest you for entering a premise on false pretences. Good night, Mister Burton.”
She watched as he was escorted off the premises, and palmed his credentials.
“Who was he,” George said as he walked over.
“Sheesh – just as well you did it. He might have recognized me.”
"The Zemire is always a show stopper."
Vanessa Richmond said to Shirley as they drank their champagne.
"It's a wonderful dress, and the
accessories…" Shirley sighed.
"I know." Vanessa smiled.
"Is this a good time to remind you both that
Huntingdown's can offer custom couture made in China?" Sandy smiled.
"Don't tempt me." Vanessa remarked as she
"I was thinking of flying to see Catherine next month." Shirley pursed her lips. “Perhaps I should arrange some fittings while I am there.”
“It may be an idea,” Diana said as she walked over. “She may even be able to do an acceptable copy of that for you.”
“It’s an amazing show so far,” Albert Brooks said as he stood with Tom Morse.
“It is – so how goes the campaign?”
“Come on Tom – no politics tonight please. I look forward to the debate next week though.”
“So do I – it should be quite a show,” Tom said as Bobbi came over. “You remember Albert from last week Roberta?”
“Of course I do,” Bobbi said as she shook his hand.
“And where is your other daughter?”
“Rebecca? She is one of the models – didn’t you see her?”
“No – I must keep an eye out for her,” Brooks said as he made his excuses and walked off.
“Nice guy,” Tom said as Caroline walked over.
“Forgive the interruption, Tom, could I have a word in private please?”
“Sure – Bobbi, see if you can find your mother. She’s probably with the other Sinners.”
As Bobbi moved off, Caroline said, “I think you need to be aware the British tabloid press have sent a reporter to follow you and your family.”
“Oh? Don’t tell me they’ve run out of celebrities to hassle?”
“I appreciate the humour, Tom, but this could be serious. I’ve had to eject one journalist because he admitted he was only here to follow you, Claire and the girls.”
“Got a name?”
Caroline showed him the credentials, and Tom mentally took a note. “I’ll get our press department to try and put a stop to it – thanks for the heads up Caroline.”
As he turned to head to his family, Caroline saw Jane Molloy taking to Jeanne Beckmann.
“Good evening ladies,” she said as she walked over, “I wonder if I can borrow Jane for a moment?”
“Sure – I’ll catch up with you later Jeanne,” Jane said as she walked to the corner with the blonde.
“Listen,” Caroline said, “stop me if I’m out of line, but how influential are your employers with the British press?”
“Beyond sharing stories, not very – why?”
“There’s a British tabloid reporter digging for dirt against the Morse family.”
“Oh him – there’s no dirt to find I’m aware of, but if it keeps him out from under my feet…”
“So there’s nothing we can do about it?”
“Freedom of speech – gotta love it,”
“Fair enough – but if you hear anything?”
“I’ll talk to Claire first,” Jane said.
“Good – thanks.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Pepsi called out, “please take your seats for the second half.”
As Missy walked back, she had the sweetest smile on her face, sitting next to Diana and nodding.
“Do I take it you were successful?”
“You may take it Mrs. Fife has agreed to bring Maggie to see me Monday after school, with a little help from Will.”
She turned and smiled sweetly at Ellen and the others, before Janine came out and said “Welcome back – and welcome please Rebecca Morse and Anna Carlton, in two white evening gowns from the ’54 collection, loaned to us by the Fitzstuart estate…”
"These dresses from his A Line collection are a
lot easier to move in." Carina smiled at Holly as they both wore day
dresses from the collection.
"Remember still though plenty of swing in your
step, give all those petticoats under the dress life and movement." Mary
reminded them. "Now put all the
other bits on remember you walk very early this half." So jackets, gloves
get set to go."
"Yes Mary,” Holly nodded.
"Well looks like I maybe win one and lose
one," Missy whispered in Shirley's ear, “while I was cultivating Maggie's
mother, Micki Webber was cultivating Marnie's.”
"Are you disappointed Darling?"
"Not overly, I got the main prize, but signing
Marnie as well would have been a bonus.”
"Well just because they are talking doesn't mean
she will sign.”
"Oh I think if Micki wants her that bad I'll leave well alone, Fords are a great agency.”
“Good for you,” Shirley whispered as Carina and Holly came out.
“Carina is wearing a printed taffeta afternoon dress from the 1956 collection, while Holly models a 1954 white dress with red rose print…”
"I'm sorry can you please move your camera."
Mandy complained at one of the TV crews filming backstage, "My hair needs
come out of these rollers darling."
"Who was the first designer to give backstage media permission?" Alice called out loudly. "It's bad enough getting this makeup done right even without you buggers." She pouted her lips while the makeup artist applied deep red lipstick with a brush.
“Whoever it was needs to be shot,” Juliette said.
“The Dior style spoke of elegance and simplicity – as demonstrated here by Mandy Carrow in this ’56 evening dress creation.”
The floor clapped as Mandy walked out in a long black sleeveless floor length dress, with matching opera gloves adorned with diamond necklaces. A white fur wrap was wrapped round her and pinned at the back, as she held a champagne glass in one hand and the bottle in the other.
As she shimmied down the catwalk, John took several pictures, returning her smile as Kate Moss followed her out in a cream silk dress, and then Alice in a peach silk dress that fitted like a sheath, a mink jacket over her shoulders and a brown cloth belt around her waist.
“Finally for this group, Juliette Huntingdown wears a 1955 top and skirt in silver lame. The top is cut to hang off the shoulders, and the skirt to allow grace in movement.”
The four women posed in their outfits, the audience clapping before they moved off again and left the stage.
“We return again now to evening dress, as Maggie Fife wears a ’55 evening dress in black taffeta. Note the padded tops of the dress sleeves, and the daring for the time cut of the neckline.”
Maggie walked down the stage in her dress, a pearl choker round her neck as she held a single rose to her mouth.
“Angel Fitzstuart joins us as well in a sea foam green evening dress, with a long white chiffon wrap and white kid leather opera gloves.
“An excellent move,” Missy whispered, “remind me to buy a replacement for that set of gloves for her.”
“You think she used her own?”
“I know she did,” Missy whispered, “I saw Mandy hand them to her backstage.”
The two girls stood back to back, smiling as John took his pictures, and then walked back to the curtains.
“By the end of his life, Dior graced royalty and celebrity alike, as demonstrated here by a very special guest. Making her debut on the catwalk, please welcome Ingrid von Furstenheim in a black strapless evening dress with marching gloves, as worn by Princess Margaret.”
“Did you know she was doing the show tonight,” Shirley whispered to Diana.
“No – and I would not be surprised if this was the only unannounced addition,” Diana said as Ingrid slowly walked down the stage, her skirt trailing behind as the cameras flashed.
“Well done Ingy,” Carina whispered from the side as Abby took a deep breath. “Here we go,” she said as she walked out, to Janine saying, “Abigail de Ros is wearing a blue velvet and silk evening dress with velvet wrap and elbow gloves.”
As she walked down, Janine continued with “she is joined by Lily Cole in a ’54 black cocktail dress with a silk panel on the front of the skirt.”
As they headed off the stage, Janine smiled as she said “as we draw towards the close of the evening, please welcome back Rebecca Morse in a light purple silk jacket and skirt, Joanne Smith in the Porto Rico dress from the ’54 collection, and with them Jeannie Brewster in a grey jacket and dress - the jacket has a gathered front and the skirt comes to just above the knee.”
Becky and Joanne walked on the stage, pushing Jeannie between them, the crowds clapping and cheering as they took up their positions at the end of the catwalk.
“And now, please welcome the rest of our models from tonight’s show and show your appreciation for them.”
As they came back on, the audience stood and cheered, clapping them as they took their places at the back of the stage and applauded each other.
“Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we have celebrated the work of a true genius of fashion – a man who influenced so many in his life and after. To conclude tonight’s show, please welcome to the stage one very special guest.
“Ladies and gentlemen, wearing the Lutetia EMBA mink jacket by Christian Dior, and the grey dress she wore in the 1958 Paris show, please welcome Carmen Dell’Orefice.”
“Oh my goddess,” Abby said as the model walked out, shaking the hands of all the models and Janine before she walked down, her grey leather gloved hands wrapping the fur around her as the models followed her in two lines. The audience stood in an ovation of applause, the models smiling as they bowed and waved to the audience.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for attending tonight, and we commend the Dior retrospective to you for all to see over the next few months. Before I go, please thank the brains behind tonight, Mary Thomas!”
House escorted Mary down the catwalk, kissing Carmen’s hand before she embraced Mary and she took a bow.
“Thank you, and please join the models for some refreshment in a short while. Good night to one and all.”
Janine walked the line and hugged each of the models in turn as the audience applauded, and then they made their way off stage, the lights coming up.
"Carmen will hate me saying this, but that was an
amazing living link with history." Abby whispered in Lily's ear.
"That's Mary's thinking at its best." Kate
Moss embraced Mandy.
"Carmen you looked amazing." Juliette hugged
the veteran model.
"Well surprisingly my figure is exactly the same
as the first time I wore that."
"Don't rub that in." Jeannie laughed.
"Hey Baby S, " Carmen reached down and hugged the youngster. “I see a few of your friends did well tonight as well.”
“We all did a spectacular job,” Jeannie said as she looked round. “I bet Missy and the others will be hunting.”
“Where did you hide her,” Karen asked Mary.
“I didn’t – Caroline and George took care of it for me.”
“And may I say,” Carmen said as she looked at Caroline, “how wonderful it is to finally meet you. I know this is your second, less important career, but your mother would have been proud Face.”
“Thank you,” Caroline said as they hugged each other.
“And as for you,” Carina said as she looked at Ingrid, “you could have told me.”
“What, and missed the look on your face? Oh no – that will live with me forever.”
"Okay I'd forgotten Ingrid as a prospect," Missy looked flustered, “I refuse to let her go elsewhere. Excuse me Diana.”
“There goes a woman on a mission,” Diana said as Missy made her way backstage, and straight towards the sisters.
“Your highness, may I introduce myself? My name is Missy Auerbach, from Norstar, and I wonder if I could talk to you about something.”
“If I was you,” Carina said as she put her hand on Ingrid’s shoulder, “I’d listen and then talk to Dad and Aunt Sigi. Just don’t say yes.”
“My god, that was amazing,” Holly said as Carina joined her, “Kate Moss just shook my hand and said well done.”
“Oh my goddess, Aunt Bets! How long has it been? Holly, this is Betsey Johnson.”
“Too long, Cari Bear – so listen, word is you’re mainly print these days, right?”
“Yeah – too small for the main catwalk.”
“Not for me, come down to New York for my show and join in.”
"You want me to do your show at Fashion Week Aunt
Bets?" Carina shook her head.
"Well it will be nice having a few models shorter
then me kiddo." the veteran bundle of energy laughed, "Your friend
here as well if she wants to do it."
"Did Betsey Johnson just invite me to walk her
runway show?" Holly's mouth was wide open.
"She did," Cari laughed. "Look she's asking one or two of the others as well."
"Miss Auerbach, what should my daughter say,
she's being made offers to walk shows, to see other agencies." Mrs. Fife
"I'll ride shotgun on her Mrs. Fife, and give you both a chance to think."
“Thanks Miss Auerbach,” Maggie said as Carina walked over.
"Missy you gotta talk to Aunt Betsey, she just verbally booked both me and Holly to do her show at Fashion week…who said I couldn't do catwalk?" Cari laughed in joy.
“Well, Betsey is an exception – but I’ll make a note of that,” she said as she looked at Maggie. “You as well?”
Maggie nodded as Missy said, “go and get changed – I’ll set up a meeting later this week.”
"Mummy I think I have problems, I've been approached by several people asking if I'm walking New York Fashion Week." Angel shook her head.
"Do you want to darling, I'll be here, and you are on half term, Feb 13th to the 22nd." Mandy drawled.
“Well – it might be nice to spend some time with Abby if she’s free – but do I have to sign contracts?”
“Let me talk to Missy – and don’t worry, it’ll be fun.”
“Well, Missy, you look happy,” Juliette sad as she came over.
“I am – a fantastic show, one or two new signings, an agreement with Angel Fitzstuart – and a good amount raised for charity.”
“Cari says Betsey has approached her and Holly?”
“Yeah – about the only other person who would consider it, and she’s over the moon about it.”
“Right everyone – come in, change, eat, celebrate – at least the fact you don’t have to wear those heels and corsets any more.”
“YES!” Jo shouted as she headed to get changed.
“Ju, when do you fly out to Austria?”
“Monday night,” she said to Missy, “why?”
“I’ll make an appointment to come see you Monday afternoon – I want to talk to you about Maggie and a couple of the others?”
“You got it,” Juliette said as Mary came over.
“Merlin, you did it again,” Juliette said, “and you too Janine – we need to see if we can use you again in the future.”
Her assistant blushed as Leslie came over.
“Make sure everything – EVERYTHING – is correctly packed and labeled for Caroline to get back to CS tonight. Then I want you to do something else for me?”
“What’s that Mary?”
“Take a nice long Sunday rest – you’ve earned it,” the Wizard said as she put her had on Leslie’s shoulder.
“You’ll maybe not see a better illustration of the cult of the mobile phone.” Juliette spoke to Diana as they surveyed the scene of so many young women seemingly glued to their electronic devices.
“I suppose they are checking with their agents, husbands, children, friends, etc.” Diana looked at her own daughter sending a text message to someone.
“I wonder if there isn’t some damn person in here actually communicating with someone else in this room, and not even bothering to go talk to them.” Juliette shook her head.
“So were you pleased by the show Darling,” Diana changed the topic.
“Immensely…I think this will go down as one of the greatest shows ever seen in this city.”
“I agree.” Sandy came over balancing three champagne glasses, “And I think a slew of amateur models are going to get offered contracts, tonight will have made a lot of reputations.”
“Well Missy thinks she has Angel, Maggie, and Ingrid safely locked up.” Ju sipped her glass.
“Marnie seems to be all set to sign with Ford.” Sandy observed.
“Carina and Holly can’t stop bubbling about Betsey asking them to do her show you know girls.” Diana sipped her drink
“I know, and good for them.” Juliette smiled, “Betsey’s shows can be hard work, but they are always fun to do and original.”
“Even Jo got offered a couple of why don’t you drop in and see us invites.” Heather brought over a plate of sandwiches.
“Is she going to take them up?” Juliette asked.
“No - my sister knows what she wants, some odd modeling like this every now and then is fun, but track and her academics are her priorities.”
“Jo has her head screwed on properly.” Diana nodded her approval.
“Not like that one?” Juliette nodded at Anna, “We really need to do something about her you know.”
“True, but what?”
“I’m going to talk to Sheila and Dom Monday, see if we can put our heads together – before it’s too late.”
“I think we need to talk as a group of seven as well - tomorrow, over dinner.”
“Sounds good – about six?”
“Well again we were the oldest and the youngest models.” Carmen sat down next to Jeannie.
“I guess we were.” Jeannie reached out and hugged the older woman.
“You all booked for Fashion Week?”
“Yup, as much as the law and school lets me do…you?”
“Oh I have a few bookings,” Carmen smiled with a glint in her eye.
“Hey Carmen.” Abby and Lily both kissed the older lady as they sat down with some food.
“Hey both of you,” she smiled in return.
“Are you staying for fashion week Lily?” Jeannie asked.
“No, but I’ll be back, four days in San Francisco first.”
“Well it could be worse?”
“In what way?”
“You could be Angel, she’s back to London yet again, then out here next weekend for the third time in two weeks.” Abby looked up from her food.
“Yeah that might kill even me.” Kate sat on the floor.
“Listen to us all complain, do you know how many girls envy and admire us?” Jeannie asked.
“And you all know that all this work builds you nice fat bank accounts.” Carmen reminded the younger women. “All four of you are making so much money I bet even you don’t know how much you earn?”
“I know, we shouldn’t complain.” Abby sighed.
“And besides – if we really hated it, we’d quit, right?”
All of them nodded in agreement.
“Also, look at all these fresh faces – I predict at least one of them is going to make it big.”
“Klaus darling,” Juliette hugged her daughters’ father and kissed him. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to collect Ingy, but with this food and wonderful champagne I might just linger.”
“Well Ingrid is having her ears filled by Missy regarding the joys of modeling.”
“Oh,” Klaus said as he looked over. “She does know Renate was represented by Ford?”
“I think she’s counting on me and Carina as clients of hers bringing Ingy into the fold.”
“Hey Klaus ah was sorry to hear aboot poor Renate.” Fiona came over and kissed
“My God, is that you Fiona? You look as young as ever, and thank you, you were one of her favourite editors.”
“And yer as smooth tongued as ever ah see.” Fiona laughed lightly. “Been a long time since we were all in Paris.”
“Yon Ingrid can make it big if she wants yah know…she and young Angel Fitzstuart are both second generation beauties.”
“It will be her choice…not mine, I’ll just be happy at what she decides.”
“Och ae ken that – and if she has your mind with Renate’s beauty, ahm sure she’ll be fine.”
“So are you ready for Thursday?”
“In terms of personal preparation, yes. Carina and you?”
“Hey Alice – got a minute?”
“For you, a lifetime,” Alice McKinnon said as she came over. “Klaus – I hear you’re dragging my two favourite models for a night’s dancing next week?”
“Well, a little more than that perhaps – how do you know?”
“Because they are going to blow the competition away next week. I’ll pop round tomorrow for the final fittings Ju – ten be fine?”
“Should be – see you then?”
As Alice walked off, Juliette said, “Which just leaves your family.”
“Sigi is running interference – but we’ll talk Wednesday after we arrive.”
"So Mags, does this all appeal to you?"
Carina asked the tall redheaded girl as she wiped the last of her makeup off
before heading home.
"In a way very much so, in others not so
"Yeah I saw the cameras and journo's all over
"I find it so hard to think what to say."
"You and Abby both." Cari smiled.
"You know I'm hoping to get into Boston College,
could I combine college and modeling Cari?"
"Well I do, but I'm not a full-time model…Just
look at Lily Cole though she combined modeling with getting a degree from
Cambridge in England, didn't seem to hurt either her academics or her
"And your Mom did both…"
"Very successfully." Carina smiled.
"So what's your opinion Cari should I or
"That's all up to you Mags, but I'd sit down with
Missy and your folks and listen, maybe talk to a couple of the girls, tell them
what you want to do, listen what Missy in particular says, and then decide for
yourself once you think you have all the information."
"Thanks…that sounds sensible." Maggie hugged the smaller girl.
"The first reviews are online." Heather
called out, quieting conversation in the dressing rooms.
"So what da they say lass?" Fiona asked.
"You aren't going to believe this." Heather
shook her head.
"That bad?" Mary asked urgently.
"No that GOOD!" Heather beamed.
"Of course they are good Darling, but do they
mention me?" Mandy smiled.
"They seem to mention most of the models." Mary called out as she read over Heather's shoulder. “Let’s see – The Times has ‘The Spirit of Dior is alive and well in New York’, while the Post has ‘Youth and Age shines in spirit of Haute Couture.’”
“Let me see that,” Alice said as she looked at the screen. “The true pleasure was in seeing the experienced models mixing with fresh young talent, and the show started with a bang as Jeannie Brewster was waltzed round the stage by a young man. From there one felt it could only go down, but instead it went up and up, displaying the full range of talent Dior had with the help of people like Kate Moss, Abby de Ros and Lily Cole.
“They shared the stage with young amateur talent, including the majority of girls from the trend setting St Angela’s Academy Calendar.”
“That’s you,” Annie said as she looked at Anna and the others.
“Look at this – ‘Bright new talent such as Maggie Fife and Marnie Paget joined seasonal professionals, and more than held their own. But shining over all was Carmen Dell’Orefice, bringing the show full circle.’”
“They’re right about that,” Cari said as they looked at some of the photographs.
"Oh Dear Goddess, is this how things look
backstage?" Shirley asked as she shook her head.
"Believe it or not, this has actually calmed
down." John nodded to a couple of friends.
"Calmed down? … Well I'm glad I didn't see it
"Congratulations." John kissed Mary, Fiona,
and Juliette in turn.
"Thank you," Mary smiled proudly, "So Shirley
did you enjoy the show?"
"I did immensely thank you, my enjoyment marred
only by Maisha asking me what did it feel like wearing those clothes when I was
"Whoops," Mary burst out laughing, "I
sort of faced the same question from some of these kids."
"To them anyone over the age of 20 is positively
ancient." Juliette passed round some glasses of champagne. "We were
just the same at their age."
"Congratulations Anna dear." Shirley kissed
Doc on her cheek.
"Thank you Miss Xavier," the 15 year old
grinned, "I think that was the single most thrilling thing I've ever done
in my life."
"Well Ama said to tell you she wants you to phone
her tomorrow and tell her everything."
"Okay I will do." Doc smiled again.
"After I have had a LONG sleep."
"We are all gonna need that lassie." Fiona nodded.
"Time we got you home young lady." Barbara said as she sat up.
"Yeah, it's been a LONG day." Jeannie yawned. "Want to carry me out to the car Winston?" she winked at her boyfriend.
"Okay I'll give you a couple of minutes
alone." Barb laughed as House carried her daughter away.
"So you think we should listen to Miss Auerbach, Mrs.
"All I can say she's always been wonderful as Jeannie's agent Mrs. Fife. Remember this was all a hidden world a year ago to both of us – neither of us thought we’d be moving to New York, much less doing all this.”
“Sounds like she was your guardian angel?”
“Oh good lord no – she’s sitting over there,” Barbara said as she pointed to Sandy and Heather. “No, but despite all appearances, she has Jeannie’s interests at heart. You just have to be firm and consistent – and get a good lawyer. When Jeannie won her cosmetics contract, we had to argue over a week to remove clauses about appearances and so on. And by the way, it’s Barbara – only the people at work have to call me Mrs. Brewster.”
“Well, in that case it’s Andrea – most people just call me Andi.”
“Then take a deep breath and look round Andi – this is where you’re going to end up more often than not.” Barbara looked at her and said “Listen – bring Maggie round to our place tomorrow. She and Jeannie can talk, and we can do the same.”
Sunday 8th February
The Huntingdown Apartment
“And what are you looking at,” Ingrid said as she brought through two mugs of coffee and handed one to Carina. The two girls were dressed, in a diametric opposite to the previous night, in sweatshirts and joggers, while Judith sat in her playpen and sucked on her Raggedy Ann doll.
“Here – listen to this. ‘When I heard about Complete Style assembling a mixture of professional and amateur models for its gala Dior retrospective, I must admit that I wondered if their actions were little more than a publicity stunt. However after last night I am forced to admit that I found it exceedingly hard to distinguish amateurs from professionals, as all distinction vanished into the slick perfection one expects from a show produced by the inestimable Mary Thomas.’" Cari read the words to Ingrid and little Judith.
"Well that's a high compliment indeed." Ingrid spoke.
“See – your mom and grandma are in the papers again,”
Carina said as she tickled Judith. "It's
from the online pages of the New Yorker, it will be in the next print edition
of the magazine."
"I'd love to get hold of a print of that picture
of me for my album." Ingrid pointed
to the shot of her on the catwalk.
"Ring and ask them." Carina smiled.
"Hey you two, in the land of the living at last." Ingrid smiled as her Father and Juliette came into the kitchen holding hands.
“May I remind you it is still early, Ingrid,” Klaus said with a smile.
“Not for you it’s not – want some coffee?”
“I’ll come and help you make it,” Klaus said as he and Ingrid went to the kitchen.
“So how do you feel this morning,” Juliette said as she sat down.
“On top of the world, ma! Seriously, I feel amazing – and to have Aunt Betsey invite me to take part in a couple of weeks time as well!”
“I’m pleased for you as well – what do the reviews say?”
“You should read the New Yorker piece,” Carina said as she passed it over.
“It is a given that Dior needs to be worn with style, and style is what we had in this show. Mixing seasoned professionals like Lily Cole and Kate Moss with the same models who blew New York away last September in the St Angela’s Charity Show, including the youngsters and teachers who took part in the fastest selling calendar last year, allowed the designs to be worn as close as possible to the intended clients of the era, and therefore in the best way possible.
“Some people deserve special mention – Janine Holden, who provided the introductions, kept the show flowing at a good pace, and the special surprise appearances by the daughter of the late Renate von Furstenheim, and by Carmen Dell’Orefice gave a sense of history to the proceedings.”
“History? Better not let Klaus see that.”
“See what?” Klaus handed Juliette a mug of coffee and then looked at the article. “Hmmm – she is her own lady, but I accept the compliment.”
“So when is Alice coming,” Carina said as she looked at her mother.
“She said between ten thirty and eleven – so I need to go and shower, and make myself semi-presentable,” Juliette said as she drank down her coffee, and then stood up.
“Perhaps we should make ourselves scarce when Alice arrives,” Klaus said as he looked at Ingrid. “I promised your aunt I would call at six her time anyway, and she asked to speak to you as well.”
“Fair enough,” Ingrid said, “which just leaves us time to ask one tiny little question that bothers me, and I imagine bothers Carina as well.”
“Oh? And what is that?”
“So, here we are, sitting and drinking coffee,” Carina said, “and you two come sauntering down the stairs, hand in hand, as if there is nothing unusual in it.”
“I do not believe there is,” Klaus said, “We woke up, came down for some coffee, and said good morning to you.”
“True,” Ingrid said, “the question I have is, what happened between leaving the hotel last night, and you coming down those stairs hand in hand this morning.”
Juliette blushed slightly, and said “do I really need to explain this to you Ingrid?”
“No,” Ingrid said, “I just like to see you blush in the flames of love, that’s all.”
Klaus laughed and said “I see so much of Sigi in you, my dear.”
The knock on the front door made Juliette jump as she ran up the stairs, and Carina answered to see Alice standing there, her assistant carrying two dress bags.
“Come on in,” Carina said, “Mom won’t be long.”
“Well, last night raised our public profile a bit,” Maddie said as she looked at the full-page ad in the program.
XAVIER INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED
Xavier Holdings, London, New York
Xavier Insurance, New York, London, Los Angeles
Rising Stars Model Agency, Los Angeles
Media Training and Production, London, New York
As well as interests in international shipping and security
Proud Sponsors of the Complete Style Christian Dior Retrospective
“Interests in international shipping and security? I like that,” Lily said with a smile.
“Well it’s true – after all, you shipped millions a couple of weeks ago,” Susan said as she sipped her coffee.
“And we do deal in security – after all, you’re my biggest customer,” Dominique said as she sat back.
“Still, our program to put a more public face on the company does seem to be working,” Shirley said as she looked round the room.
“We’ve had a slew of new inquiries in the office overnight for consultations and quotes – enough to keep me busy for a while anyway,” Susan said quietly.
“I spoke to Kathy Huang yesterday after we returned – she welcomes the chances to build links with Norstar, and will fly out on Monday for our meeting on Tuesday.”
“Excellent – I like Missy, and I feel she can be a useful contact for us in the future. Now, Lily, I fear I have a task for you,” Shirley said.
“Oh? What’s happened?”
“Last night, George identified a ‘reporter’ from the Sun, a Dick Burton, who was snooping round the Morse family. We need a complete profile of him, including his movements in New York over the last few weeks.”
“I’ll get right on it,” Lily said.
“Susan, Maddie, assess calls for today and liaise with Penny tonight. She has her home network set up now. I need to discuss a matter with Dominique – shall we go to the den?”
“Of course,” Dom said as she followed Shirley into her den, waiting until she sat down before she took one of the leather seats.
“So Juliette wishes to see us and Heather – I presume this is to do with young Miss Carlton?”
“It is – I fear my warnings to them last December may have gone unheeded, and she has started down a very dangerous path. And she has taken others with her – including Tom and Claire Morse’s daughter Rebecca.”
Shirley sat in thought for a moment, before she said “what is done is done – what is needed now is a plan to get her off this path. Tell me all you know about her.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Complete Style Magazine gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship and support of the Richmond Trust for tonight’s show.”
Vanessa put down the program and looked over at Sandy. “Well, I think everyone benefitted from last night,” she said with a smile as Jo took the children into the garden.
“I think so – it was a wonderful event, and the reviews in the papers just keep getting better and better.”
“And we have one of the stars right here,” Heather said as she grabbed Jo and hugged her.
“Oh no – I’m a runner and a student, not a catwalk queen,” Jo said as she sat down, “this is probably the last time I do this. Anyone else can talk to one of the others.”
“Fair enough – which reminds me. Sandy, Ju wants me to drop in and see her tomorrow – with Caroline and Shirley.”
“Oh – is this about the shipping contract they asked your advice on?”
“I think so – time to get serious.”
The Carlton Home
“Just make sure you get your work finished by lunchtime,” Anna heard her mother shout up as she closed her bedroom door.
"So how are bookings looking for this week?"
Anna read her e-mails as she sat down and drank a cup of coffee.
"Not bad,” she hummed as she totted up in her head her profits just on the escort bookings alone. Being a madam was not a bad source of income, and with her own earnings from her dates she was banking a nice amount of cash.
“Let’s see,” she said as she starts to send messages, “I hope they’ve recovered from last night – lot of babysitting jobs to fill. I see Mister Brooks wishes to book Genevieve again – I hope she enjoys all the things she’s finding out about her father’s opponent.”
She stopped as she looked at one particular request. “Hmmm – new client. I’d better do some checking first,” she said as she looked at the picture of Dick Burton that was attached.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“Alice you’re a genius,” Juliette said as the dresses were packed away.
“Of course I am – right, these are ready to go with you tomorrow. Have fun and let me know how it goes.”
“We will,” Carina said as she showed them out, and allowed Klaus and Ingrid back in.
“Do we get a peek?”
“No you don’t you naughty man,” Juliette said as she kissed Klaus on the cheek.
"I think maybe we need to cancel Cari and
Juliette's hotel bookings in Vienna Papa. Cari and I can share the guest room
in the apartment, while you and Juliette…"
"Sounds like a plan to me." Carina giggled, “As
long as Ingy doesn't mind Judith waking her up for her morning feed."
"Well darling do you mind us cohabiting?"
"As long as it causes no family problems…Oh why not." Juliette smiled.
“Excellent – I’ll let Sigi know and she can take care of things.”
The Brewster Brownstone
“I got it mum,” Jeannie said as she pressed the button on the wall and the door swung in, revealing Maggie and Andi Fife standing on the steps.
"Hey Jeannie, your mom invited mine over to talk about modeling."
“Oh yeah, come away in,” she said as she moved out of the way and watched them come in. Maggie was wearing a pair of jeans, the legs ticked into scruffy black leather boots, and a red jumper, while her mum had on a grey jumper and leggings
Maggie looked round as Jeannie showed them into the
front room. "You guys have a nice place here," she said quietly.
"Yeah, it's not bad, and Granddad made sure it
was wheelchair friendly."
"Hi Barbara, I hope we aren't imposing?"
Maggie's Mom spoke as she looked in at the kitchen.
"Not at all Andi,” Barbara said as she made some
coffee, “so did you get much sleep last night?"
"Some...but we were talking till quite late
before we went to bed."
"Come to any decisions?" Barbara put tea and
coffee pots on the coffee table.
"Only really to listen and learn."
"Well that's wise." Barbara smiled. "Tea
"Coffee please." Andi relaxed, "This is
a lovely room."
"Thank you…and you Maggie?"
"You can have the tea on your own Mum. “Jeannie
"Well fire away with any questions you have." Barbara relaxed in her chair.
“All right – just how does this life work?”
“The best way I can describe it,” Barbara said as she sat back, “is that Jeanne has a hobby she really, really enjoys, and I support her in doing that hobby. Of course, she gets paid for it, paid an awful lot in fact, and we go to some – interesting places, but she loves it, and I want her to be happy.”
“Mum exaggerates a little,” Jeannie said as she sipped her coffee. “We also get tough with lawyers – we said right at the start that school came first, and we work round that and the local child labour laws. You would get to do slightly more than I do – because of your age, not because I’m in the chair.”
“No I get that – seeing you dance with House last night was truly amazing,” Maggie said. “I just don’t know if I can do that for long periods of time. My nerves would get the better of me.”
“Abby’s the same way – she can give some pointers, breathing exercises and so on. Also, practice makes perfect – not all show runners are like Mary, but she gets the best from everyone.”
"So what can you tell me about Missy
Auerbach?" Andi asked as she put her mug down.
"I don't know a single one of her clients, who
doesn't moan, complain about, or threaten actual bodily harm on her at least
twice a week." Jeannie smiled.
"And Mothers of her girls maybe even more
often." Barbara also smiled.
"But I also don't know of another agent any of
her girls would leave her for." Jeannie nodded.
"Even though they complain?" Andi asked.
"I don't think there is a better agent out there, she gets her girls literally the maximum." Barbara smiled again.
“And she has your back – did you hear about those posters of Abby that were on sale? The – augmented ones?”
“Yeah, I heard about them.”
“Well, when Abby told her and her mother, the two of them went to the vendor and shut him down, then went to the supplier and shut him down. And then there’s the story of Caroline.”
“Caroline Jameson? I saw her at the show last night, both on stage and behind the stage.”
“Well, Missy tried for months to sign her, until Caroline basically demanded three things. Two Missy could do, one she could not, but she made a counter offer that both met Caroline’s demands and actually raises more for the Jamie Kirkham fund.”
“The Kirkham fund?”
“Caroline’s contract stipulates a percentage of everything she earns goes to the fund – and Missy also contributes the same percentage of her fee. That is now known as the Jameson contract – others follow the same model.”
“The point we need to make,” Barbara said, “is she will support you, even if you hate what she does to do that.”
"Another reason is that Missy doesn't sign girls
she's not sure aren't going to be first rate working models." Jeannie
smiled further. "Put simply she's the best agent in town and she works her
arse off to make sure her girls are employed."
"That's true I have to admit." Barbara
nodded in agreement, "Most models complain because they don't have enough
work, Missy's girls complain because she can find them too much work."
"You'll need to do a few go sees, where they
literally assess you and see if your face fits, and get your portfolio built up
Mags, but once your face is known, you'll be turning work down, I'll bet on
"I wish I had your confidence Jeans." Maggie out her drink down and said “I just don’t think I look that good.”
“Have you seen the Sundays – especially the Times?”
Both Maggie and Andi shook their head, as Barbara showed them the social pages – and the picture of Maggie and Angel back to back in their evening dresses.
“Oh my,” the senior said quietly, “Is that me?”
“So how did you get known, Jeannie?”
"Well I did that shoot with Abby and Lily in
London – literally out of the blue – and then on the strength of that I was
offered a contract. I did a few
catalogue shoots on my first trip here, but when I moved permanently I had so
"Well, your impromptu flying at the show last
year may have had something to do with that." Barbara smiled again.
"True," Jeannie giggled, "But I did
that stunt because it sounded fun, not because I knew it would make me
"You did it because you knew it would worry your
poor mum to death Jeannie Brewster."
"Oh that was just an added bonus." Jeannie
"But you'd still recommend if Maggie tried
modeling, that she sign with Missy Auerbach?" Andi asked with an intense
look on her face.
"If it's what Mags wants to do, then yes she can't do better then to sign with Missy." Barbara nodded.
“Well, you know her better than we do, so the ball falls back into Maggie’s court. I’ll support whatever her final decision is.”
Maggie was still looking at the pictures from the show, slowly shaking her head.
"So you are hoping for Boston College Maggie I
heard?" Barbara enquired, "And I'm sorry I know little about
universities, let alone American ones."
"They have a pioneering major in Environmental
Geoscience." Maggie smiled. "My father rates it very, very
"My husband teaches Geology at NYU." Andi
explained. "We are a pretty academic family. That's one of the reasons why
we are having to learn as we go with this modeling thing."
"Well," Jeannie smiled, "I can't see
why Mags can't combine the two, at the very least she'll earn enough I'm sure
to pay for college and grad school."
"And how can you be sure of that Jeannie?"
Mrs. Fife enquired.
"Because I use my eyes, and Maggie has looks that
put her way up there in modeling."
"Thank you Jeans," Maggie smiled shyly.
"No bull Jeannie?" her Mother asked.
"None Mum, all the girls agreed on it yesterday,
no way Maggie misses if she really wants to try modeling."
"Well I must admit she does impress me." Andi smiled, "But then I'm her Mom."
“These photos speak volumes,” Jeannie said with a smile. “But the choice is yours Mags and yours alone.”
The redhead looked up, and said “Well, it’s one way of paying the bills, and it won’t hurt to try. Let’s do this mom – with Missy and the others to help.”
“All right,” Andi said with a smile, “I’ll call her in the morning and see what the lawyers say about any contract.”
“The Jameson Contract – I like that idea. Do you think Missy will do that for me?”
“Doesn’t hurt to ask – but I’m a patron of the fund, so I would only say yes,” Jeannie said with a smile.
The de Ros Mansion
“Maggie rang – her mom’s going to talk to Missy about a contract,” Abigail said as she sat down. “Word is Marnie has gone to the other agency, as Missy predicted.”
“All right then,” Juliette said as she sat down. “For once we don’t have a target as such to discuss, but a person. Anna ‘Doc’ Carlton, aka Angel. Everyone, take several deep breaths, and then let’s bring together what we know.”
“Well, to put it simply,” Jo said, “she’s become a little Madam.”
“Well, I agree she can come over as a little aggressive, but – oh,” Diana said as she held her glass in her hand, “you mean she is procuring?”
“Exactly – how many girls at the last count Sis?”
“Twelve – including herself. Most of whom are under seventeen – which puts them and their clients on a very sticky legal wicket.”
“Explain for me please.”
“If the client is over 21, and the girl under 17, then it’s rape in the third degree – and there is no acceptable defence. I’m fairly damn sure she’s aware of that, and she might even be keeping records now.”
“She wouldn’t dare…”
“If threatened, I think she might try blackmail. I wouldn’t be surprised if she hasn’t already used such a tactic in recruitment – not of the girls we know, but of some of the others.” Jo looked at the Nuns whose faces were on the page.
Juliette sat back and closed her eyes. “So we have someone here who is attracted to dangerous situations, who seeks excitement but either does not appreciate the risks or if she does she believes she can manage them. Would that be a fair appraisal of the situation?”
“That’s my thinking,” Sandy said. “She’s living on the high this gives her, as well as the earnings and the danger. Whatever we do to end this needs to take that into account and find another way to channel her undoubted talents.”
“Back up a minute,” Carina said, “even if they consent, it’s rape?”
“If the child is a minor, technically yes. I’m no law student, but I think there may be wriggle room in there, but just saying they did not know is insufficient.”
“Besides,” Heather said quietly, “if I am being honest, my main concern now isn’t Doc – it’s Becca Morse. If anyone ever found out this Genevieve was actually the fourteen year old daughter of the deputy mayor and Democratic candidate…”
“It would ruin his campaign, and possibly him,” Juliette said. “It would appear we have a major problem on our hands, and I am open to suggestions on how to solve it.”
Monday 9th February
“Monday morning math.” Jeannie sighed as she found her desk.
“I know - I feel like Cinderella after the ball.” Doc said as she took her seat.
“Did you read that one bad review Jeans?” Nikki asked.
“Abs showed me it this morning, I’m still not sure how you can do a review when you didn’t have anyone at the event.”
“Well Rotten Apple goes out of its way to be contrary and controversial.” Becca sat down.
“The whole point of doing a retrospective is like studying history at school, you look backwards to learn for the future.” Jeannie spoke seriously, “Just because the fashions of the fifties are not the fashions of today doesn’t make them irrelevant.”
“I’m thinking of writing them a letter saying that.” Pepsi smiled, “Personally I thought the whole thing was magical.”
“I’m never going to be able to see Miss Kelly in the same way after seeing her working the runway.” Nikki whispered as Annie came into the room.
“She and Caroline were beautiful.” Ama whispered back.
“Good Morning Girls.”
“Good Morning Miss Kelly.”
“Well, I hope you had as interesting a weekend as some of us did,” Annie said with a smile, “but now we come back down to earth. This week our focus is on the track meet this week, so today’s lesson will focus on something very important to the field events – trigonometry.”
The groan was unmistakable as Annie said “Now, who can remember SOHCAHTOA…”
NY Offices of Xavier Holdings
“Well how goes it Susan?” Lily said with a smile as she poked her head round her colleague’s office door.
“Busy,” Susan said as she sat back, “lots of people saw the advert and our phones have been ringing pretty constantly.”
“Mainly asking what?”
“For insurance quotes and security checks.”
“Well we know a lot about the field.” Lily smiled.
“I know, but I was saying to some of the girls, access like this makes for some tempting targets.”
“Hey remember - we don’t rip off our own clients.”
“I know.” Susan smiled. “Take this one lady though, she has a collection of Sevres porcelain that sounds beautiful.” Susan picked up the newly started file. “She’s paying Lloyds a fortune on her insurance, when it sounds like if she got a good security upgrade the price could be halved.”
“So what are you recommending?”
“Just what I said…I booked Dom to go see her and draw up a security plan, and told her that then we’ll quote her for a policy.”
“Who knew our skills could be made to pay handsome dividends so legitimately.” Lily smiled.
“People who aren’t our clients though remain fair game remember.”
“So what are you doing – keeping rejected quotes separate?”
“Naturally – Annie, our own girls, maybe even Ju if she feels it is substantial enough.”
She groaned and held her back for a moment.
“Yeah – this one is gonna be a strong one.”
“Just like her mother – listen, I wanted to run this report on the reporter past you, if you have a minute.”
“Sure,” Susan said as she took the report and read through it. “Hmm – usual hack qualifications, but it looks like he may have been involved in the phone hacking shenanigans.”
“Yeah – through that might interest you. I’ll take it over to Shirley now – she’s meeting Dom, Heather and Juliette later today.”
“Prepping for your meeting tomorrow.” Madame remarked as she came into the kitchen and saw Maddie’s documents spread over the kitchen counter.
“I am, these things Norstar sent over for me to look at are very revealing.”
“They duplicate a lot of what we do in LA but at a higher cost. There are natural synergies and savings that will increase their profitability in our market that are blindingly obvious.”
“So you are sharpening your pitch to them.” Shirley glanced at a balance sheet.
“I am. Similarly a tremendous amount of commercials using children are filmed and photographed here in New York, having Norstar pitching our kids as well could mean a lot of work opportunities.”
“It sounds mutually beneficial.”
“Very.” Maddie smiled.
“Morning,” Lily said as she came in. “The daily summary, and the report on Burton you asked for.”
“Thank you Lily,” Madame said as she glanced down the list, and then the report. “I see he has been out here for some time,” she said, “Lily, would you please ask Janice if the name or face is familiar to her?”
“You think he may have caused trouble already?”
“Possibly. Also, can you ask if anything came from the prostitute lead? I want to be sure Doc and the other girls are covered in that respect.”
“Will do,” Lily said as she left.
“Those girls worry you, don’t they?”
“Only because I can see the way things can go – the last thing we need is something like we faced in Paris happening to them.”
Maddie nodded as Madame glanced down the list again.
“By the way that diamond heist in Orange County last night?” Madame asked as she looked at a circled item.
“We are handling both transportation and sales.” Maddie looked at her watch. “In fact they should be on their way to Catherine in Hong Kong right now.”
“What are our percentages like?”
“That’s what I like to hear.” Shirley smiled, “Both sides of the business are looking good.”
Complete Style Magazine
“Caroline, Shirley, thanks for coming,” Juliette said as she stood up and walked round from behind her desk, joining Heather with them at the conference table in the room.
“Thanks you for inviting us – it always helps to debrief soon after an event, especially a successful one. The gowns that were donated have all been returned with Angel by jet yesterday.”
“Thanks for that Caroline,” Juliette said as she walked to the door. “Janine, see that we’re not disturbed please.”
“Got it Ju,” her PA called back as Juliette closed the door.
“Right,” Juliette said as she sat down, “I suspect you and Caroline have already discussed the topic for today.”
“As have you and the others I expect,” Shirley said as she sat back. “A very pretty problem, this one. Almost a three pipe problem, as Conan Doyle would have said.”
“We have before us an incredibly smart fifteen year old girl, who uses sex to find satisfaction and fulfillment, and has found the power it gives her is something she wants to feel again and again. The fact it means she gets paid as well is an added incentive.”
“I agree, Dom,” Heather said. “When Jo and I look at her, we see something of ourselves in her – and also something else. She has a streak in her that is as hard and dangerous as Carina,”
“What makes you say that?”
“She offered to kill Stevens,” Juliette said, “and I believe she was serious.”
“She’s also very, very good at lying. She says she’s not done this, but I checked her records – she has bookings for her group every night this week – actually, for the next three weeks.”
“All right,” Dominique said as she ran her hands through her hair, “of the girls we know, who’s involved.”
“Apart from Doc, Nikki Colman, Nell Rochermann – and Becca Morse.”
“Nope – for which I am very grateful,” Heather said, “the last thing I want to do if we can help it is get Janice dragged into this.”
“Because she is Pepsi’s mother?”
“How did you know,” Juliette said.
“I guessed – but you just confirmed it for me. I agree – especially with the loose thread from our recent activities.”
“You all realize we actually have two problems here – how to stop Anna doing something very stupid and dangerous, and how to stop anyone finding out about Becca.”
“You were going to talk to her Dom – did you get the chance?”
“Sadly no – I was just too busy. Rather like Jo in that respect.”
Juliette took off her glasses and sat back, her eyes closed. “She’s started to cross the line – and we need to find a way to bring her back and replace this with something she will find just as fulfilling.”
“You know the girls are convinced she will become a Pussycat?”
“I can see that as well,” Dominique said, “but we need to deal with this situation now. Is there a simple way?”
“I’ve managed to avoid her traps so far, and can still do so, but I can’t wipe it out without her knowing.”
“So what levers do we have?”
“We know the FBI are trying to find the contacts the manager had. We dealt with Greenwich, but she doesn’t know that. We could use that – make her aware there is a chance they may have got a lead on her.”
“As far as Anna and Becca are concerned, only you and Annie outside the group knew. Dom, can you talk to her, let her know, and say you need her help for a while?”
“And in the meantime try to show her something of where the path may lead her?”
Dominique nodded as Heather sat back.
“The other option is we put the frighteners on – but the Pussycats don’t do that.”
“I think we need to let Doc know we want to help first – if this goes bad, and I think we all agree it will, then we want her to turn to one of us for help.”
“I see – let her know we are aware of what she’s doing, and if she needs help, we’re there?”
Dom nodded as Juliette closed her eyes and thought it over.
“All right, as a first idea it will work, and it gives us a chance to start influencing her through you Dom. In the meantime, can we watch her activities?”
“I’ve already done it,” Heather said, “I have all bookings being copied to me. And I already see one problem. Albert Brooks is a regular client.”
“The Republican candidate? Well, it depends who he likes to be with.”
“Her professional name is Genevieve,” Heather said as she showed them the profile page.
“By the Goddess – his preferred girl is Becca Morse?”
Heather nodded as Dom looked at Madame. “Burton – you don’t think…”
“We need to find out – what actions are being taken?”
“Lily is checking his contacts and talking to Janice.”
“Who’s Burton,” Heather asked.
“British Tabloid journalist – George and I threw him out of the show Saturday when he admitted he was digging for dirt on Tom and Claire. Heather, you need to look into him as well.”
“Let me have what you have, I’ll dig further – but if he’s a hack for the likes of the Daily Post, then why worry about him?”
“Because he’s not – he’s a British Tabloid Journalist.”
“Which means he’s likely to use every trick in the book,” Shirley said. “And then some. If there is a problem brewing, it’s there.”
“I fly to Austria later today,” Juliette said, “can I leave it with the three of you until I get back.”
“We’ll keep you informed,” Dom said. “And pray nothing happens while you’re away.”
“I see the new catering staff has really made a big improvement.” Ally remarked as she looked at her salad, “this actually looks tempting.”
“I can’t believe that the old people were ripping off the school buying inferior ingredients, but billing for top quality and pocketing the difference in price.” Joanne sat down.
“It’s a wonder we didn’t get an outbreak of food poisoning.”
“I know Ally.” Abby added as she took her seat.
“Well the Tennant called in the NYPD and I guess someone will get prosecuted.” Jo smiled.
“Good, serve them right.” Ally started eating, smiling as she tasted the food.
“Do you both fancy going down to CS after doing the drop off runs this afternoon?” Abby asked. “Mary phoned and said John has dropped off the pics for CS to chose from for the article on the show. She asked if we want to come in and look.”
“I’m up for that.” Ally nodded.
“Me too,” Jo smiled, “And this lasagna is really great.”
“You not training tonight Jo?” Ally asked.
“We are – we’re meeting at the Armory at seven, it was the only time Coach could book us in.”
“So what’s the programme for the week?”
“Sprints and acceleration, so I can kick with 200 to go and leave Polly Hart in my wake.”
“She’s the girl from Anselma?” Abby asked.
“Yeah I only just beat her in the dual meet, and she has that huge advantage in them having their own indoor track.”
“So it’s between the two of you?” Ally looked up from eating.
“Pretty much, she was third last year when I was second.” Jo paused. “Mary McBride the Nun will try and make it a test of stamina and run the kick out of Polly and me by going hard from the start, but I can stay with her, and when Polly makes her move, I make a better one.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Abby smiled.
“Oh yeah,” Jo smiled, “and it’s a good one…”
“So what do you think they are talking about Annie?” Miss Tennant asked as they sat sampling the new catering.
“Well,” Annie said as she swallowed her pasta, “from the way Jo is gesturing with her hands I think she’s talking over her race tactics.”
“I understand she’s only got one serious rival.”
“Yeah Polly Hart from Anselma, they are pretty evenly matched, in many ways it could be the race of the night.”
“Changing the subject, I watched the fashion show online,” Miss Tennant smiled, “Ingrid Mueller and yourself certainly held the staffs reputation up vis a vis the students,”
“Thank you Wilhelmina, it was a fun thing to do, and some of our girls are I hear signing modeling contracts off the back of it.”
“Well as long as it doesn’t interfere with their studies…I hear you got an offer?”
“Yes, Betsey Johnson invited me to walk her show at fashion week alongside Carina.”
“Are you going to do it?” one of the other teachers asked.
“I think so, I’ve watched her show on TV and she seems to be incredible fun just to be near. I think it will be a great experience.”
“Well, it enhances our reputation as well,” Wilhelmina said.
“So what exactly was happening with the caterers?” Mrs. Mueller asked.
“I blame myself,” Miss Tennant said. “I allowed myself to be blindsided by the samples of the food I was given, until we paid our surprise visit. When I realized how – bad things were getting, I suspended the caterers and asked an independent auditor to carry out a review of the accounts for the last six months. It made disturbing reading.”
“Well, the girls certainly seemed happier with the new group,” Annie said as she looked round, “and I have to admit I like what they’re doing. Where did you find them so quickly?”
“I asked my respected opposite at Sacred Heart – they are the same company that do there.”
“Well, don’t tell them – it would ruin their day,” Annie said as she looked round.
“Ready for the flight?”
“Almost,” Juliette said as she looked up and smiled at Missy. “How are things at your end?”
“Good,” Missy said, “I think Maggie Fife will sign with us, and Mandy will talk with me next week.”
“And no hard feelings over losing Marnie?”
“No no – she’ll do well where she’s going.” Janine brought a coffee in and handed it to Missy, who accepted it with thanks.
“I also bring news of Kadeeja,” she said as she put her cup down. “Her parents have consented to her doing some modeling work for an Indian clothing firm, as well as for make up for that market. It is a particular contract, as all fees go to a trust fund, but she will do well with that.”
“And Beth, who you claimed was a body model?”
“She is – and she’s signed with my dear friend to do just that.”
Juliette smiled and said “well, given Annie and Miss Mueller are part time, that leaves Anna and Casey from the calendar. Either of them showing interest?”
“Anna said no – to all of us. She said she wanted to concentrate on other things. And Casey – Casey is interesting.”
“Oh? In what way?”
“Mary asked her to come and work as an intern here at the weekends – she thing she has some potential as a designer.”
“Really? Mary must have been impressed by her…”
“Missy? Maggie and Andi Fife to see you?”
“Thanks,” Missy said as she stood up and walked out into the office area.
“Well what have you decided?” she said as she ushered both Maggie and Andi Fife into her office.
“Well we went and talked to Barbara Brewster and Jeannie yesterday.” Mrs. Fife took a deep breath. “If we can satisfy ourselves on certain points we are willing to let Maggie sign with you.”
“And those points are?”
“That you understand I’m hoping to get accepted by Boston College, and I’ll be based there starting in the fall.” Maggie spoke for the first time.
“I don’t see that being an obstacle.” Missy smiled. “Remember for example that Alice McKinnon is based in Boston.”
“That her studies come first is something her father and I insist upon.”
“I can wholeheartedly agree with that, Mrs. Fife. Carina only works on down times or holidays as a rule. To be honest, this Deb season has probably given her more problems than her modeling work.”
“I wont do anything that’s salacious or risqué.”
“I agree, you are high fashion Maggie, I’ll not book you for anything that might even partially damage your brand or personal reputation.”
“I’d also like a Jameson type contract so as to help charity.”
“Caroline started a trend.” Missy smiled, “But yes that’s not a problem either.”
“In that case,” Maggie said, “What happens next?”
“Well,” Missy said as she opened a drawer in her desk, and took out an envelope, “I suggest you take this to your attorney and check it. This is our standard contract, with the Jameson clause as we call it added. If it is acceptable, you both sign and return – you’re not of legal age to sign alone yet Maggie.”
“And assuming this is fine,” Andi said.
“I’d like to invite you and your parents to accompany me to some of the Fashion Week shows – give you a taste of other people from Mary – and book you in for a portfolio shoot. It takes an age, but it is necessary. Having said which, I did get a call from the aforementioned Alice McKinnon to see if you would be up for a shoot in the near future.”
“As I said, Maggie, I believe you have a future, so get the contract checked, if you’re still happy sign, and then we talk.”
"How did that feel Jo?" Annie asked as she
looked at her stopwatch.
"Pretty good coach,” Jo replied as she bent over,
“that extra gear is there I think."
"The times suggested it, you better start your
"Okay." Jo started jogging round the outer
lanes of the track.
"She looks sharp Annie."
"Very." Annie turned round and smiled.
"Why are you two here?"
"We thought we'd take you and go grab some pizza
after training." Dominique smiled.
"You didn't eat earlier." Ama added.
"I know, I know." Annie pressed a stopwatch
and made a note on her clipboard.
"You and the team are working so hard." Ama
nodded to a couple of girls she knew.
"They are the ones doing the hard work."
"Annie you know that's a load of shit, I've seen
you at gone midnight looking at stats and times…"
"And don't forget worrying Mom." Ama
"Okay it's a BIG thing, but I owe it to the girls
for all their dedication."
"So will we win?" Ama asked.
"If we can get enough points in the field events,
other then Sheryl in the long jump, we are pretty weak. Coach Harper and I were
running projections, we need a lot of PB's earning just one better place then
the forecast if we are going to take the title."
"We will win a lot of the track races
"Again if Sheryl can win the 60 and the 200 that
"What about your distance girls?" Caroline
"We should win Jo's event, plus the 5,000. The 3K
is a toss-up and so is the steeplechase. The 1500 is a lock for Pixie Carteret
of Collegiate, My best hope is we get third."
"You have been thinking it out." Caroline sounded impressed.
“A good coach always tries to get the best out of their girls – and rates the opposition,” Annie said as the girls came round. “All right, hit the showers – see you all tomorrow.”
Tuesday 10th February
9 am CET
Vienna International Airport
“That has got to be one of the smoothest flights I have ever had – and so quickly through customs as well,” Carina said as they walked through the doors into the Arrivals Hall at the airport.
“I do love coming here,” Klaus said as he looked round, and then walked to a uniformed chauffer.
“Welcome back to Vienna Your Highness,” he said as he touched his cap, “I have the car waiting outside, and breakfast is waiting for you at the apartment.”
“Sigi must have arrived,” Klaus said as the chauffer put their cases on a trolley, and led them to the car park, placing them in the back of a large Daimler before waiting for them to be seated in the back.
“It will only take us a few minutes to get there – then you can shower, change and relax for a while, before I show you the city.”
“Well this isn’t what one expects when you come into the courtyard,” Juliette smiled at the exquisite taste of the apartment overlooking the street.
“I think even Vanessa Richmond would envy this.” Carina shook her head.
“This little place?” Klaus smiled.
“Mama carefully had it restored.” Ingrid smiled as well.
“Oh did it belong to Renate’s family then?” Juliette enquired.
“No to mine, but it had stood largely empty and neglected for many years, when I was a child my parents preferred staying in hotels when we came to Vienna. Renate thought it was a waste having this place and not using it, so its restoration was one of her hobbies.”
“Now I feel a bit like an intruder.” Juliette nodded solemnly.
“No you are not - Mama doesn’t haunt this place, and she liked you too much to deny you and Poppa some happiness.” Ingrid beamed.
“It’s no wonder with a smile like that dear sister that Missy wants you to do that toothpaste campaign.” Carina laughed.
“We originally owned the whole block, but most of it is now let as shops, apartments and offices. We just kept these two floors.”
“Dad it’s wonderful.” Carina kissed her father.
“Ummm Miss Huntingdown’s bags in the main bedroom, the girls in the other main bedroom.” Klaus indicated to his driver where to take the luggage.
“I’m not sure he approves darling.” Juliette whispered.
“Well he better get used to it.” Klaus whispered back.
“Is there a kitchen?” Carina asked, “Ingy and I will go make coffee if you two are going to get all smoochy.”
“It’s through the dining room Cari.” Ingrid pointed, “and I agree.”
“I’m not sure our daughters approve.” Klaus smiled once again.
“Oh I think they approve, just like most teenagers they hate the thought of their parents ever getting intimate.”
“Well they need to get used to it as well.” Klaus held his lover close and kissed her with passion.
“Aunt Sigi just rang.” Ingrid announced, “our escorts will meet us at the Café Mozart.”
“Where’s that?” asked Cari.
“Opposite the Albertina museum, which is part of the Hofburg, right behind the Opera House.”
“Sounds as good a place as any.” Carina looked at her reflection, “Is this okay?” she gestured at the jeans, boots, and sweatshirt she had on.
“Just remember to put a thick coat on, it’s cold out there.”
“Okay.” Cari pulled her parka out of the wardrobe.
“Oh and take your dancing shoes for the ball…”
“Will do.” Cari threw them into her bag.
“So these escorts come Sigi approved…”
“Meaning what?” Cari asked.
“That they aren’t likely to molest us I guess.” Ingrid giggled.
“So do you know either of them?”
“I know Markus very slightly, I was at school with one of his sisters. The von Feinstein’s are almost as old a family as ours. The Prince I know a little of his family history, but I’ve never met him.”
“So what can you tell me?”
“Well his real surname should be Bernadotte.”
“As in the Swedish royal family?”
“Yes, but his great grandfather married a commoner, so they were given the titles of Prince Hallestrom.”
“Oh like Abby’s gran is really a Romanov.”
“He sounds interesting, I just hope he’s not too damned tall.”
“Just be glad I’m partnering Markus then, he’s about six feet six in your terms.”
“Oh dear Artemis, he’d tower over me.”
“Well hopefully Aunt Sigi being my size she’s fixed me up with someone smaller.”
“We can but hope.” Ingrid pulled her coat on and grabbed her bag.
“Are you going out?” Juliette called.
“We are Mom.”
“Do you have money for taxi’s?”
“We do Juliette.”
“Okay both of you have fun and I’ll see you later.” Juliette hugged them both at the apartment door.
"Wie gut ist Ihr Walzer-Prinzessin?" The Marshall asked Carina.
"Nicht allzu schlecht, besser als mein Deutsch sicherlich" Carina replied.
"Okay good," the man switched to English.
"We have to maintain our place in the figure." Ingemar whispered in her ear.
"Okay, I think I get that."
"By the Beautiful Blue Danube is the traditional music for the first waltz." Ingrid whispered to her sister.
"Strauss…what else for a waltz?" Cari laughed.
"We have three days basically to learn this and make it look perfect." Ingrid spoke again.
"The Polonaise, the Polka, the Waltz, the bow?" Cari shook her head.
"Don't worry, Aunt Sigi says she'll help us."
"I think I'm gonna need all the help I can get."
"We aren't too bad together." Carina smiled at her partner as they twirled in a classic Viennese waltz.
"You make me look better than I am." Ingemar concentrated on maintaining the required posture for the dance.
"I just wish I was as good at the other bits."
"Well we have more practice time to get them."
"Yep,” Carina said as they turned, “so are you a student?"
"I'm studying Chemical Engineering at Uppsala."
"And you just left me way, way behind." Cari laughed, "I'm a historian and woefully lacking in any scientific knowledge."
"You are at Yale I believe?"
"I am." Cari came to a halt as the music ended.
"Well how bad were we?" Ingrid asked.
"You guys looked pretty good to me." Carina tried to listen to the instructions being shouted. "Damn I wish my German was better."
"Don't worry he wasn't criticizing us." Ingemar whispered.
"Well that at least is good to know."
"Meine Damen und Herren können Sie jetzt eine Pause nutzen."
"Okay that I understood."
The partners broke off and started to talk in small groups. "Hey Blair, Hey Giovanna,” Carina spotted two friendly faces approaching, "Are you guys finding this as hard as I am?"
"I am." Blair nodded, “luckily Franz speaks great English and can translate.”
"I wish I danced as well as all of you, I think my cousin Alberto is going to disown me as a partner." Giovanna looked pained. "I've spiked him twice."
"Not good." Ingrid hugged the young Italian.
"So who did you guys draw in the partners’ lottery?" Blair asked.
"Ingy got Markus the tall one, and I got Ingemar the shorter one."
"How is their dancing?"
"Pretty decent, at least we think so." Ingrid nodded at her sister.
5 pm CET
"So Markus is showing the girls some of the
collections at the Hofburg after practice?" Juliette asked as she looked
out of the window onto the courtyard.
"He is, It's good of him to show everyone round
his home city." Klaus smiled.
"So where are Sigi and Dieter?"
"They have a suite at the Imperial Riding School
"Oh where you'd booked us in."
"Yes." Klaus hugged her, "but I'm glad we chose this arrangement instead."
“So who will be in the box with us – Sigi and Dieter I hope?”
“Indeed – and I hope you do not mind, but I invited Guy and Valeria to come. They are staying at the Imperial Riding School as well. There is another couple – and I ask you to be brave when I tell you, as I only received confirmation today.”
“This is the part I’m not going to like, isn’t it? Right – who is it?”
Klaus took a deep breath himself, and said “Aunt Natalia and Uncle Wilhelm.”
“Oh lovely- the Count and Countess Buchenwald. They liked me almost as much as your father.”
“In which case,” Klaus said as he looked at Juliette, “it will give Sigi and I great pleasure to prove them wrong.”
“Well, with Guy and Valeria there, I will endure,” Juliette said with a smile.
5.30 pm CET
The Hofburg Palace
“This is beautiful.” Carina whispered as she stared out of the window at the glories of Vienna’s baroque inner city.
“The Hofburg is probably the largest palace complex in the world, in the olden days as relatives we’d have probably been invited to stay with the Imperial Family.” Ingrid said proudly.
“Here?” Carina asked more than slightly in awe.
“No at the Belvedere Palace, darling, for many years the Hofburg was really a huge office block, the Imperial family preferred not to live here.” Klaus explained.
“Will we get the chance to explore it?” Carina asked.
“Do you have a month off school?” Ingrid laughed.
“It’s that big?” Carina enquired.
“It’s that big.” Juliette smiled.
“There are so many collections and museums Cari.” Ingrid spoke, “Without all the other attractions in the city.”
“I am definitely coming back.” Cari spoke to herself.
"Sigi and Dieter have invited us to join them for
dinner tonight at the Imperial Riding School."
"Are we dressed well enough?"
"For midweek, I think so." Ingrid paused.
"People will think we are Americans."
"Hey! I am American." Cari laughed.
"Well you won't be acting then."
“Oh it’s going to be like THAT is it,” Carina laughed as they walked down the corridors.
“These are going to be a very interesting few days,” Klaus whispered as they followed the teenagers…
1 pm EST
“All right, Doc,” Pepsi said as she sat with her friends, “what’s so important that you wanted to meet separately?”
“You know we have the meet this Friday?”
“Yeah – Jo’s the favourite for her race.”
“Word is the opponent from Sacred Heart may try some underhand tactics – I think the Nuns need to be reminded what happens when they threaten us.”
“Oh no, Doc – I don’t want anything to do with this,” Pepsi said as she stood up. “On the other hand, I won’t tell anyone you suggested it.”
As Pepsi walked off, joining Ama and Jeannie, Nikki and Becca came over.
“Hey, what’s up,” Nikki said as she sat down.
“Can you two spare a couple of hours tonight? I want to do a little Nun baiting.”
“Oh? What have you got in mind?”
“Their mascot? That’s old school.”
“And yet so simple – meet me at nine outside the gates…”
Doc’s cell phone went off, a frown crossing her face as she looked.
“Caroline wants to see me after school, and she won’t say why. Wonder what’s up?”
“Good afternoon, Mom,” Ama said as she and Doc came in, “Anna said you wished to talk to her.”
“I do indeed – would you mind giving us a few minutes Ama, while you get changed?”
“Of course – before I forget, Soccer practice starts tomorrow, so I will be late home.”
“Not a problem,” she said as Ama headed for her room. “Come and sit with me a moment Anna,” Caroline then said as she headed for the couches.
“Sure, Caroline – what’s up?”
“Listen, I heard that you have been – well, going back on your promise to me.”
“Who’s been talking,” Anna said in a quiet, calm voice.
“Juliette for one, and a few others. Look, I’m disappointed, but that’s not why I asked you to call round.”
“It isn’t?” Doc was taken aback as Caroline sat back and looked at her.
“As you know, I work primarily in security, which means I hear things that may not be public knowledge. One thing I heard recently concerned the bank managers we tested for security leaks last December.”
“Oh? I thought that had been passed on to your clients.”
“Oh the information was,” Caroline said as she leaned forward, “but somewhere down the line, that information got into the hands of a group of criminals known as The Pussycat Gang. I take it you’ve heard of them?”
Anna looked at Caroline, eyes wide, but in fear or excitement she couldn’t tell.
“I swear Caroline, I didn’t tell anyone…”
“No I know you didn’t – I talked to Janice Carter about what happened, and she said they were checking known prostitutes in the areas this guy visited. We were not known prostitutes, and I’m satisfied we had nothing to do with it. But – and it’s a big but – if anyone does come to talk to you about it, refer them to me.”
“Su…. Sure thing, Caroline. I’ll spread the word around the others.”
“Thanks – and one other thing.”
“If you’re going to tell me to…”
“Be careful – Stevens is only the nice side of a very dark world out there. If you ever, EVER need help, call me, no matter what time day or night, and I’ll help you. You have my guarantee on that.
“Now,” she said as she stood up, “Want a soda?”
8 pm CET
The Imperial Riding School Hotel
The flowing melodies of Strauss waltzes played in Carina’s head as she ate the truly wonderful Wiener schnitzel served in the hotel restaurant. One day she’d bring Annie here and they’d have the fun of exploring this wonderful city together. She dreamed of bringing little Judith in summer, walking her in a stroller through the parks, taking her to the museums, exposing her to European culture at an early age.
She guessed that her Mom’s fear of running into Klaus and Renate had been the reasons she’d never been taken to either Vienna or Munich when she was younger. Though she acknowledged that the cities she had spent lots of time in, London, Paris, Milan were the fashion capitals where her Mother had been working, there was still that regret she had never been here.
“This is excellent.” Juliette smiled as she ate her food.
“Mmmmm, it is,” her daughter agreed.
“You had a far away look on your face a moment ago.” Sigi spoke, “as the English say, a penny for them?”
“Oh I was dreaming of bringing Annie and Judith here to Vienna.”
“I think Annie has a rival in my sister’s affection.” Ingrid laughed, “And it’s not a person, it’s a city.”
Carina blushed as her family laughed gently.
“Well it is a magical place.” Klaus smiled.
“It has infinitely more charm than Frankfurt.” Dieter spoke, “But Frankfurt is all about making money, not romance.”
“Well I didn’t fall in love with either Rome or Venice and they are both romantic cities.” Carina thought aloud, “This is just feeling so perfect though.”
“Well over Easter you should come to Munich darling niece.” Sigi smiled.
“If Missy doesn’t have me booked solid, I’d like that.” Carina smiled contentedly.
“Shit,” Nikki said under her breath, “the FBI is looking for us?”
“Not us as such,” Doc said as she looked round, “but if anyone asks you, call Caroline. Hold that torch steady, Becca?”
The three girls were clad in black leather jackets, jumpers and jeans, Becca holding the light as Doc forced the lock on the window facing the back alley.
“How do you know this is the right way in anyway,” Nikki hissed as she lifted the sash window.
“Inside Info – right inside, both of you,” Doc said as she held the window open, the other two girls slipping in before she closed it to. Shining the torch around, she smiled as she walked to the door, opened it and looked up and down the corridor.
“Let’s go – this way,” she said as she walked slowly down the corridor, counting off doors until she opened one and they slipped inside.
“There she is,” Doc said as she looked to the corner of the room, “Le Fleur, the Sacred Heart mascot.”
“She looks so small,” Becca said as she looked at the albino rabbit.
“Got the box?”
Nikki opened the wicker basket as Doc carefully lifted the rabbit out, and placed her in the basket, before closing the hutch and walking to the room door.
“All clear,” she said, “let’s go.”
They made their way along the corridor again, and out of the window, the three girls walking as calmly as they could onto the main street and down the sidewalk.
“Right,” Doc said as they got to the subway. “You still all right to keep her Nikki?”
“You bet – wait until they find out in the morning…”
Upper West Side
Susan and Clint’s Apartment
“Thanks,” Dominique said as Clint handed her a mug of coffee, “that was a wonderful meal.”
“Well, you need to come round more often,” Susan said as she eased herself into a seat.
"Are you coming to Madison Square Garden Friday
night?" Dominique asked Susan.
"Clint and I are coming, it's the very least we
should do but go cheer for Annie and her girls."
"There was a piece in The Times this morning
previewing it as an event, they recommend ear plugs." Clint smiled.
"I've read that as well, a couple of thousand screaming schoolgirls, plus parents, friends and alumnae, I'm guessing it gets pretty loud in there." Dominique smiled. “Be going some to beat the Wembley Roar, but you never know.”
"I'm dropping into Saks tomorrow to buy some bits in St Angela's colors, want me to pick you anything up Dom?" Susan asked.
"No I'm good, Ama brought school scarves, and a
hoodie home for me from the school shop."
"I take it she's getting in the spirit of the
event?" asked Clint.
"Big time…I have to admit though its lovely to
see her so caught up in all this, when I think where she was last year…"
"I know," Susan hugged her friend, "It's nice with all the bad things we do that at least we restored their lives to a lot of children."
“I saw Charlotte’s report on the South African home – half the girls went back and are getting ready to either learn or return home.”
“Speaking of which, I hear Shirley has decided to defer Maisha going to a school for a while and have her home schooled more instead?”
“Yeah – she’s learning things here, and Sandy has put together a group to teach her in the UK, while she learns other skills.”
“She’s a quick study certainly – Lily told me she’d managed to pick up lock picking in no time at all.”
“I can believe it – and she has the inner strength for our line of work. Did you see what Charlotte say the girls call her and Ama?”
“Their Strength and Their Heart – yeah, that does fit, doesn’t it?”
Wednesday 11th February
10 am CET
“You know you must wear a tiara for the ball Carina?”
“I’d heard, but I need to go and…”
Sigrid reached into her large handbag. “Ingrid will wear her mothers, and I’d be so honoured if you would wear mine.” She pulled the diamond-decorated circlet from her bag.
“Oh Aunt Sigi, that would be wonderful.” Carina wiped away a tear.
“Try it on.” Juliette smiled as she helped arrange her daughters’ hair.
“Oh dear Goddess.” Carina looked in the mirror at her own reflection, the light from the chandelier bouncing off the jewels.
“You will look so beautiful.” Sigi too wiped away a tear.
“A fairytale Princess.” Ju dabbed her moist eyes.
“Pose please.” Sigi pointed her mobile phone at her niece. “Annie asked me to take pictures of everything.”
“I wish she was here.”
“Well,” Juliette smiled, “she has commitments too, but at least we can show her the pictures.”
“Oh we are going to have to do something special when I get back to make up for this,” Carina said as she took the tiara off, and handed it back.
“Right – you two, off to rehearsal and lessons, and when you get back tonight we practice the curtsey.”
"Okay you hold your poesy against Karen's as you
walk down the length of the floor, you nod to each other, then you peel off to
stand at the side, and I come up behind you." Ingrid reminded her sister.
Carina looked along the length of the opera
house. "That is such a damn long walk."
"And remember to smile." Ingrid reminded
"It's worse than doing catwalk."
"Just think, you reach the mark, you nod to
Karen, and then peel off."
"Okay I've got it…I hope."
"And remember we curtsey three times before the
“Alle Rechte, begleitet nehmen Ihre Partner, und nehmen Sie Ihre Positionen. In drei, zwei, eins...”
Carina held Ingemar’s hand as they stepped off, walking down the floor in their positions, her hand against that of Karen De la Croix’s before she turned and took position, Ingrid coming behind her.
“Thank goodness, my feet ache,” Ingrid said as a break was called.
"The formal dances are basically just huge
formation dances." Ingemar smiled, "You can get away with tiny
mistakes because there are so many people dancing at once."
"And aren't I thankful for that." Cari
nodded. "My Mom is going to love watching the ballet perform their
"While we stand at the side and get even more
nervous watching professionals dance." Ingrid nodded at her sister.
"Dad is going to film both of us, and he'll get
the DVD of the TV coverage."
"It will give you something to show Judith before her turn."
"You know that's the first time I'd thought of that, yes I suppose one day she'll do all this."
“Also you can show Abby and Angel – I think they may come next year,” Giovanna said.
“Ah yes – which may also be why Guy and Valeria are here. I know they’re laying plans already.”
"After all the cultural bits and the formal
dances, we do get to have a proper ball, the oldies can come down from the
boxes and dance, and we can all relax." Ingemar briefed Carina again.
"And you don't know how much I'm looking forward to that."
“For the next rehearsal later today,” Ingrid said, “there is a tradition – we wear white blouses and black skirts, the men wear suits. We also use fans – it’ll be fun. I have the items in the bag here.”
8.30 am EST
Ama and the other girls stood outside, their heads to one side as they admired the new artwork.
"So why are the front doors painted green and
white this morning," Ama asked.
"The girls from NYGPS did it last night." Jo
shook her head, "That's their school colours."
"As if we didn't have enough to worry about with
the Nuns." Ally shook her head.
"Are you and Nell even talking ahead of the big
event?" Abby asked with a smile on her face.
"What do you think? … Mom is getting a bit pissy because of the hostility."
“Well, we’d better head in and see if anything else has happened,” Jo said as they went through the gates.
"Miss Kelly can I have a word please." Miss
Tennant came into Annie's classroom as the last student was leaving.
"Certainly Principal what can I do for you?"
"My opposite number at Anselma rang to say their
mascot had been snatched last night. You keep your ears to the ground, was it
"Not that I heard, most likely to have been the
girls from Holy Cross, our girls are far more worried about another
"I know," Wilhelmina Tennant sat down at a
desk. "I just hope we don't get a rash of these things this week."
"You mean tit for tat kidnappings?"
"Exactly…it's been such a peaceful year so
"I know, compared to last year all the girls have
been positive little saints."
"Well no Judy McNally as head girl." Miss
Tennant shook her head, "but I hope we aren't going to see too much
"I'll warn the head girls and get them to spread the word." Annie nodded.
“It might be a bit late, Wilhelmina.”
“Oh wonderful,” Miss Tennant said as she looked at Kate, “why?”
“Cordelia has gone missing.”
Wilhelmina rubbed her eyes, and said “Right – Tell the classes I wish to see them on the hall before lunch, and arrange a teleconference of the local heads for two please – we’re nipping this in the bud now.
“Oh – and ask the head girls to come and see Miss Kelly – now.”
4 pm CET
"Do you want me to redo your ponytail Ingy?"
"Please Cari, then I'll fix yours."
The two girls were standing by the side, both wearing white long sleeved blouses and black skirts, with heels, when they saw Markus and Ingemar arrive – wearing dark suits, white shirts, correctly shined shoes, and…
"Boys those ties are horrendous."
"And we chose them just to please you."
"Where the hell did you find them?" Cari
shook her head at the offending garish objects.
"We spotted them in a souvenir shop."
Ingemar laughed, "And we thought just right for today."
"Later we are ceremonially burning them, and putting them out of their misery." Ingrid shielded her eyes. "They are just so damn bright."
“Escorts, Princesses, positions for the presentations please.” One of the Marshal’s called out in English.
As they walked over, the girls were each handed a fan to take the place of the poesy.
“Keep them open and touching at all times!”
“Here they come,” Sigi said as he watched from the box, along with Dieter, Klaus and Juliette, “and they look as nervous as I did.”
“I remember our mother scolding you for not being appropriately stiff and formal,” Klaus said, “but I also remember the look of pride in their faces on the night itself.”
They watched as Carina and Karen De la Croix nodded to each other, turned and walked along the back of the line, Ingemar moving Carina to the front before stepping to one side and allowing Ingrid to move in behind her.
“She looks petrified,” Juliette said as she looked down.
“To be honest, my dear, they all do.”
Juliette turned and smiled as she saw Guy and Valeria behind them. “When did you arrive,” she said as they hugged her.
“Just over an hour ago,” Valeria said as she removed her sable coat, “we checked in and then came to see how things were progressing.” She sat and looked along the line, smiling as she said “now this does bring back a few memories.”
“Klaus, good to see you again,” Guy said as they shook hands, “so you have something to warm an old man on this cold day?”
“I think you will find this most agreeable,” Klaus said as he poured some schnapps into glasses and handed them round. As he did so, one of the staff came over and handed him a note.
“Thank you,” Klaus said as he read it, “I will meet them when they arrive.”
“When who arrives,” Guy said as he sipped his drink.
“The Count and Countess Buchenwald – my aunt and uncle.”
“Natalia and Wilhelm are coming? Are they aware of Carina being here?”
“I know they are aware of the situation, and that Carina and Juliette are here. I would imagine they have a view on the matter.”
“I would imagine they do,” Guy said with a smile, “it would appear it is a good thing we arrived before them.”
“I for one am glad,” Juliette said as she downed her drink, and shivered. “I may need the support.”
“I see – you fear they may not like what has happened?”
“Well they never hid their dislike of me before – so unless they have changed?”
“It is possible,” Valeria said with a little smile.
"They are supposed to come down the steps in
perfect straight lines and in perfect sync." Sigi looked through her
opera glasses. "They are way out in places."
"Well better that it goes wrong today then on the
night." Klaus observed.
"We were better than these girls are."
"My year we were horrible," Valeria smiled,
"funny thing is though we were perfect on ball night."
"Is Abigail coming next year?" Sigi asked.
"I hope so, Diana skipped Vienna for the glamour of the Crillon Ball, but I'm hoping I can talk her and Guy into this."
“It is under consideration – I understand Mandy and Will are also considering,” Guy said as he looked down. “I see they are taking a break – shall we join them?”
“Why not,” Klaus said as they made their way down, the two girls looking up as they approached.
"Don't tell me, Karen and I were totally out of
step coming down the stairs." Carina grimaced, "It was my fault, I
was half a step behind her."
"You were better coming down the length of the
hall." Sigi pointed out.
"I caught up, but then I messed up the nod."
"Not as bad as some." Klaus smiled.
"Ingy was perfect I bet."
"Not totally darling." Juliette smiled. "But yes a bit better."
“And it is all relative,” Sigi said as she nodded to where Blair was standing with Pussy and Frieda, practicing her curtsey and walk.
"The good thing is Ingy and I are in the same
dance groups, the bad bit is her being behind me I can't watch her to rectify
"If you stood behind me I'd hide you
"Ingrid when I was coming down those stairs you
don't know how I wished I could have hidden."
"I was hidden by a girl called Manuela Eisner von
Hellersbrugge, She was as tall as Abigail…"
"And Mother spent the whole parade asking where Sigi was." Klaus laughed.
“Ah – we are been shepherded away,” Valeria said, “We’ll return to the box.”
As they walked back, Markus and Ingemar walked the girls back to their marks outside, as the music started again and they paraded in.
“That is better,” Sigi said as she watched, Valeria nodding in agreement as Ingrid stood behind Carina.
"Remember Princesses no fidgeting, no looking
round, pay attention, but above all do not touch your faces, nothing looks
worse then makeup on white gloves."
"We know." Carina and Ingrid answered the female marshal together as they stood in their places at the end of the Polonaise and parade.
“Excellent – she truly looks like her mother standing there.”
Juliette was about to say something in response, and then she realized who was talking as Klaus said “Uncle, Aunt – thank you for coming.”
“Klaus, Sigrid, it is good to see you,” Countess Natalia Buchenwald said as they kissed her on both cheeks. She was still a tall beauty despite her years, hints of grey in her blonde hair.
“Aunt, may I present Guy, Duc de Grechy, and Countess Valeria de Ros. They are here as my invited guests as well.”
“An honour,” Guy said as he kissed her hand, “Will your husband be joining us?”
“He was delayed at the hotel, but will be along presently” she said as Juliette stood up. “Countess – it has been a long time.”
Natalia looked at her for a moment. “Miss Huntingdown – it has indeed been a long time.”
“Aunt Natalia,” Sigi said, “the young lady in front of Ingrid is Carina.”
“Indeed,” the older woman said as she looked through her opera glasses, “I look forward to making her acquaintance.”
“Now we’re in trouble,” Ingrid whispered as the marshals walked down the line.
“Great Aunt Natalia has arrived.”
"Changing the subject, I booked a makeup artist
and hairdresser to meet us all at my brothers apartment." Sigrid said
quickly, "So we should at least look wonderful in those ways."
"Can I suggest I'll get in some bread and cheese,
and sausage, oh you know the sort of thing and we prepare lunch for about
one?" Juliette asked.
"Sounds good, I'll bring some wine." Valeria
continued, "And no not mine, I thought some good honest Rheinwein to match
"Perfect." Guy said, “Will you join us Countess?”
“We will come,” she replied quietly.
“Come where,” a small grey haired man said as he appeared.
“We will go to Klaus’ apartment tomorrow for lunch, as the girls are prepared for the evening, Wilhelm,” Natalia said as she looked on.
“My goodness, is this Juliette Huntingdown? You have accompanied your daughter after all then.”
“I have – and it is good to see you as well, Count,” Juliette said as she nodded stiffly.
“May I say you look even more charming now than you did the last time I…”
“Wilhelm, join me will you?”
“Uncle is coming round to the idea,” Sigi whispered, ”of Carina as his niece, but Aunty…”
“I know – and I am grateful for that,” Juliette replied as she saw Guy and Valeria exchange a glance. “Ah – the polka.”
“How much longer does this go on?”
“Until late tonight – and then we gather tomorrow.”
1 pm EST
"So while we were snatching their mascot, they
were snatching Cordelia." Nikki shook her head. "So what do we
"We swap hostages I guess." Doc looked up
from the message on the screen.
"Can you send them a message Doc?" Becca
"Yeah I can be just as sneaky as any Nun in hiding a message source."
"Well how does the contract look Mags?"
"Pretty good according to my uncle, there are a
couple of things he's ringing about to clarify, but we should be signing
"Actually yes, according to Uncle Henry, Jeans
was probably right, at the very least this pays for my higher education.
Grandma won't have to."
"I take it she pays your fees here?" Abby
"Yeah they'd be a bit much on Dad's salary as a
professor. She also pays my brothers tuition at their schools, it will be nice
not to have to rely on her."
"Did you read the piece on the show in Women's
"The one predicting a big future for the girl
with the amazing red hair? Yes I did." Maggie laughed. "Are you sure
Missy didn't bribe someone?"
"No!" Abby laughed, "Even she doesn't
have that much influence."
"Praise in the trade press is always the
best." Jeannie pulled her chair up. "They know just what they are
"Well Uncle Henry was impressed by it, he said it
was probably worth thousands to me."
"He's right." Jeannie smiled.
"So what does Uncle Henry do Mags?" asked Abby.
"He's a corporate lawyer at Manbank."
"That's good, no lawyer fees for family I hope." Jeannie giggled.
“Right,” Jo said as she sat down, “I need you all to put feelers out, find out who it was that snatched Le Fleur from Sacred Heart last night.”
“You’re kidding – I thought Cordelia got taken?”
“They both did, and I don’t think any of the seniors did it. We learned from last year.”
“Which means it’s one of the younger years.”
“What is,” Pepsi said as she sat down.
“Someone stole the Sacred Heart mascot last night when ours was taken. I want the word spread that whoever did it has until tomorrow to own up – or the three of us are going to start imposing sanctions.”
The Teachers Lounge
"All that pent-up inter-school hostility has
exploded again." Tom Rogers from the Physics department spoke as he
entered the Teachers Lounge.
"I've heard the various heads and principals are
discussing it in a phone conference today." Annie spoke up from the
armchair she was relaxing in.
"It was going so peacefully." Kate Hardisty
"You knew it couldn't last." Alicia Harper the head track and field coach said as she grabbed a coffee.
“Question is,” Kate, said as she sat down, “who did it? I don’t think any of the seniors would?”
“Who knows? Whoever it is though, better watch out – Jo Smith wants a clean meet on Friday, with no shenanigans – and so do we.”
The Inn on The Park
"Private school girls like to project they are
sophisticated young ladies, but at heart most of them are still kids who are
proud of their schools and hate their rivals." Diana mused as she drank
"I know, but why do they need bring the rivalry home?"
Kelly Rochermann moaned. "My girls are unbearable this week."
"You mean you aren't siding with Ally?"
Tonia smiled, "That shows a distinct lack of old school spirit Kel."
"Don't pick on poor Kelly,' Elaine Colman said
with a pained expression, "I have just the same situation in my
"Remember what we used to say back when we were in school," Liz van Roon-Lodge spoke, "Mixed families are contrary to the rules of nature."
“Most families did not have the Gorgon,” Elaine said.
“True – but that doesn’t explain your choice Kelly.”
“Nothing can explain that save the streak of masochism that runs through me,” Kelly muttered as she finished her wine, and called the waiter over.
“Well, at least it’s over by Saturday morning, and things can return to normal.”
“Have you heard from Juliette?”
“I did – they have a rehearsal tonight for the opening and presentation. Apparently Sigi has lined up two partners to accompany Carina and Ingrid – Count Markus von Feinstein and Prince Ingemar Hallestrom from Sweden.”
11 pm CET
"So how has school been?" Carina typed in
"War has broken out while you are away."
Abigail typed back.
"I thought things had been too quiet, so what's
"Mascot kidnappings, NYGPS daubed the front doors
of the school, all kinds of shit."
"They didn't get Cordelia did they?"
"Yeah at the exact same time Le Fleur was being
"Well at least we got theirs…who dunnit?"
"I'm guessing Doc and some of her cohorts, but no
one has owned up."
"Well if she's sensible she'll negotiate a
hostage swap and get Cordelia back without anyone knowing anything."
"Let’s hope so - The Tennant is on the warpath
"She was probably thinking she was getting a
quiet year after me and Judy graduated."
"Hey Heather, how's my little Angel?" Cari
typed as Heather logged in.
"Sleeping, but she has another tooth coming, How
"You'd love it, wall to wall museums and
"I know it's on my must visit one day list."
"Well I'm bringing Annie and Judith here for
"Oh do I get a say in that?" Annie appeared.
"No, you'll love it though."
"Should we leave you two alone in here?"
"Why what do you think we'd say?"
"The sort of things I say to a certain man in
London." Abby teased.
"I was just reading Cari's private e-mails to me." Annie typed, "And I just need to tell her that I love her with all my heart too."
“Okay, enough of that, you two,” Abby typed. “How was practice?”
“Good – Sigi found two good escorts for us.”
“Oh – and they are?”
“Ingemar is related to Swedish royalty, and Markus is a friend of a friend. Both good dancers, and both very engaged.”
“So no need for me to be jealous?”
“Pussy and Frieda are on watch, so don’t you worry, lover.”
“Hey folks,” Jo said as she joined the conversation, “Abby bring you up to speed Cari?”
“Yeah – do you think it was Doc?”
“Wouldn’t surprise me – but I think she’ll sort that one out. I just want to get this meet over with now.”
“I can imagine,” Cari typed. “If it helps, we had four hours with the equivalent of a Marine Gunny on dancing, etiquette and technique.”
“A bit – but is it as bad as a day with Diana?”
“Jo – NOTHING can match a day with Diana!”
9 pm EST
Off 52nd Street
“Why the devil did you chose to this place to make the exchange Doc?” Nikki shivered as the cold wind blew down the alleyway.
“I chose it because it’s dark, out of the way, and no one will see us doing our business.”
“What if we get mugged?” Becca looked round nervously.
“Anyone tries anything I use this.” Doc pulled the 9mm from her leather jackets’ pocket.
“SHIT!” Becca screamed, “Is that real?”
“Of course it is, it’s loaded too.”
“Doc this is getting way too serious.” Becca looked pained.
“Relax, Becca – it won’t come to that,” Doc said as she looked round. “Okay girls that’s the signal, pull your masks on.” She then said as she watched the flashlight from the end of the ally doing the dot, dot, dot signal they’d agreed upon, pulling the black nylon down over her head.
“Bring Le Fleur along Nikki.” Becca said as she and Nikki pulled their stocking masks on.
Slowly the two parties of girls walked towards each other, the ski masked Nuns from one side, the Angels from the other.
“Do you have Cordelia?” Doc asked as they met in the middle of the alley.
“We do.” One of the nuns spoke, “And I see you’ve kept your side of the deal.”
“Okay, you give us Le Fleur, we give you back Cordelia.”
“On the count of three.”
“One.” Said the Nun.
“Two.” Said Doc.
“Three.” They said together.
Quickly Nicky exchanged with her counterpart. “Welcome home Cordelia,” she whispered.
“A pleasure doing business ladies.” Doc smiled under her mask, “See you at the Garden Friday night.”
Quickly both groups withdrew pulling their masks off as they reached the street.
“Okay Cordelia, time to take you home.” Nikki smiled as they headed for the subway.
As they approached the entrance, Doc took a cell phone from her pocket, and looked at the caller ID.
“Angelic Escorts, how may I help you?
“Ah yes Mister Burton – our apologies. I will meet you tomorrow night at eight at the Altamont.
“I look forward to it as well – good evening.”
“Potential one, Nikki,” Doc said as she put the phone away, “I need to satisfy myself about him first.”
Thursday 12th February
12.30 pm CET
“Pass me the Bratwurst, will you Sigi,” Juliette said as she stood at the kitchen table.
“Here you go,” Sigi said as she passed the sausage over, and then sliced the breads.
“Very – and not just for Carina tonight,” Juliette said as she heard the door to the apartment open, and watched Sigi walk through.
“We’re back,” she heard Carina call out.
"Did you enjoy your walk?" Sigi asked as the
girls came in the door.
"Yes, you were right it did help us relax a
bit." Ingrid spoke as she threw her coat over the back of a chair.
"It was a sound piece of advice from my Mother on
the day of my debut here."
"We found a coffee shop and stopped." Carina
hung her parka up.
"I sneaked a peek at your dress Cari,"
Valeria looked up from the magazine she was reading, "It's even more
beautiful then the New York one."
"Alice surpassed herself." Juliette brought some platters of cold cuts through from the kitchen.
“Ah good you are back,” Klaus said as he entered with Dieter and Guy. “The others will be here soon, and then we can eat.”
“I’m not sure I can eat,” Carina said, “although it does look tempting…”
“You need to – once you’re dressed, that’s it until after midnight, so best have something now,”
“Allow me,” Guy said as he opened a bottle of wine and poured some into two glasses, handing them to the girls. “All we need now are the remaining guests…”
“The Count and Countess Buchenwald,” the servant said as Natalia and Wilhelm walked in, looking round as Klaus came forward.
“Welcome,” he said, “allow me to take your coats and hang them for you.”
“Thank you,” Wilhelm said as his wife looked round. “You have made this old place presentable,” she finally said as she looked at the two girls.
“Great Aunt Natalia, it is my pleasure to introduce you to my sister, Carina,” Ingrid said as she looked over.
“It is an honour to make your acquaintance, your ladyship,” Carina said as she made a small curtsey.
“Yes, it is,” Natalia said as Juliette visibly reddened. “I am pleased to finally meet you as well.”
“Would you care for a drink, Aunt,” Sigi said as she poured some wine.
“A very acceptable choice,” Natalia said, “May I ask who chose it?”
“That would be me,” Valeria said as she stood up.
“Ah, I would expect such exquisite taste from you, Countess. So, young Carina, what is your current position?”
“I am in my freshman year at Yale, studying history.”
“And are you in a relationship at the moment?”
“I am, but my partner is otherwise engaged this week, or else I am sure they would be here as well.”
Inside, Carina could hear the Beast screaming, begging to let her show this opinionated uber-snob the truth of what her name meant to far too many people, but she silenced her and said “May I offer you some food, your ladyship?”
“Thank you,” Natalia said as they headed for the buffet.
“Endure,” Klaus whispered as he put his hand on Juliette’s shoulder, “She actually seems to be impressed.”
“She’s not the only one,” Juliette said. She had seen the warning signs, but Carina had managed to curb and contain her for the moment.
“So Juliette,” Wilhelm said as he came alongside, “I have seen many good things of you. You seem to have made a great success of your career and your business dealings.”
“I have been lucky in some things, and knew what I was doing in others,” Juliette said with a smile.
“Your daughter is a true beauty – my regret is that the way you and Klaus parted was so painful for both of you.”
“Of course I knew child,” Wilhelm said, “but you stood against two immovable objects in Klaus’ father and aunt. I have learned to cope with many of her faults, and keep quiet about the others, but their attitude to you – I regret that most of all.”
"Thank you." Juliette for a moment was taken
completely aback, "That is so nice of you to say."
"They had an awful scene you know,” Wilhelm said
quietly, “my brother-in-law threatened to disinherit Klaus and leave everything
to the Bavarian government."
"Oh?" Juliette was at a loss for words.
"Klaus put up a fight for you, but eventually
they ground him down."
"I was so angry."
"Well his father had no clue you were
"Nor did I, but do you believe that would have made
"Probably not, but it might have stiffened Klaus'
"But then he'd never have Ingrid, and she is so
"She is," the older gentleman smiled.
“I fear I may have misjudged you, Wilhelm.”
“No, I fear you did not – but I do know Natalia misjudged you.”
"I guess my family just didn't measure up in
"Nonsense, your family were good solid New
England merchants when mine were still Swabian swineherds, we weren't ennobled
to the 19th Century, so I at least concede superiority to the
Juliette laughed, "Well that's very nice of you to say."
“I understand you are a mother as well, Carina?”
“Indeed – Judith is six months old now,” Carina said as she sat with Natalia, “would you care to see a picture of her?”
As she handed Natalia the photo, the older woman took a look and smiled. “A beautiful child – and the father?”
“Aunt, we have never asked, and it is Carina’s choice if she wishes to tell.”
“But surely he should know?”
“He does – he left town the night he found out and never came back. I have no desire to speak of him again,” Carina said as she looked directly at Natalia, “and I ask you to respect that position. My mother brought me up herself, and she will help me raise Judith.”
Valeria, Juliette and Sigi all watched Natalia as she sat there.
“You have our spirit in you, Carina – you are truly Klaus’ daughter.”
Juliette sighed and relaxed as Natalia turned to her. “So who has designed her gown for tonight?”
“An old friend, Alice MacKinnon. She has taken inspiration from opera balls of the past, and it is a unique dress.”
“And she has designed your dress as well?”
“She has, Countess.”
“Natalia,” Valeria said as she stood up, “May I speak with you for a moment?”
“Before you do,” Klaus said, “A toast – to the two most beautiful women in this room today – Carina and Ingrid.”
As they raised their glasses, the servant came in and whispered into Sigi’s ear.
“You must excuse me for a moment, the hairdresser and make-up artist are here,” she said as she left, and Valeria led Natalia into a corner.
"You ought to talk family trees to Valeria, she's quite an enthusiast.”
"The countess is? Well of course in theory her family is far grander then all of us." Wilhelm looked closely. "She's still a very handsome woman you know, do she and the Duke..?”
"They have an understanding."
"Pity…Oh well one can admire still."
“But you and the Countess are married,” Juliette said in mock surprise.
“Ah, but I am a man as well, and can still admire,” Wilhelm said with a twinkle in his eye.
He picked up some sausage and put it on a slice of rye bread as Klaus and Guy came over.
“Has Wilhelm been boring you, Juliette?”
“No, quite the opposite – he has been fascinating.”
“Carina, Ingrid, come – it is time.”
“If you will excuse us,” the two girls said as they walked to their bedroom, “we need to get ready to get ready.”
“What is Valeria talking to my aunt about,” Klaus said as they looked over.
“I am sure it is only of good things,” Guy said, “and how she should not be quite so cold towards Juliette. After all, we can see she is warming to Carina.”
Juliette nodded as she nibbled on her food. This was going to be a long day.
8.30 am EST
“There you go Cordelia,” Nikki said as she slipped the mascot back into her home, “All back safe and sound.”
“Well, that solves one mystery.”
She turned quickly to see Jo standing there, leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded.
“Ah – I guess you’re wondering…”
“She’s back – and I presume Le Fleur was safely returned?”
Nikki nodded as Jo said “Good – you, Becca and Doc, report to the head girls at lunchtime today.”
As she turned to go, she said “and good job – I won’t tell Tennant who did it if you all show up.”
"Well Cordelia is back." Annie Kelly informed her colleagues as she entered the teacher’s lounge.
"We'd heard, the girls must have exchanged last night." Ingrid Mueller looked up from reading a newspaper.
“No word on who did it?”
“Look to see who’s cleaning up after lunch is my advice,” Kate said, “that should give it away.”
3 pm CET
Ingrid watched as the makeup girl worked on Carina.
They had had instruction from a model at rehearsals on doing their own makeup,
but she was glad her aunt had booked a professional to come in and do it.
Carina watched as the hairdresser worked on Ingrid,
arranging her long hair into an updo that looked somehow both elaborate and
simple at the same time. Slowly she mounted the tiara on Ingrid's head,
checking that everything stayed in place, that the pins were all secure.
"You are both going to look so beautiful."
Juliette stood and watched.
"They will." Sigi sighed.
"You will be the belles of the ball." Valeria looked happy.
“There,” the make-up artist said, “ready to swap?”
“Ready,” the hairdresser said as they moved over.
“When do they have to be there, Klaus?”
“The car is coming to collect them at five,” Klaus said,” so they need to be ready before that, for the photographs to send to the others.”
“Well – may we see?”
“You may,” Juliette said as she opened the door and Carina walked slowly in, smiling as the light from the chandelier caught the tiara sitting on her hair.
Alice’s design was sleeveless, save for the small caps that sat at the top of the dress around the arms, and had a straight bust with a subtle floral lace motif that could barely be seen. The waist was gathered in, and then flowed gently to just above the floor, her white shoes visible underneath. Apart from the tiara, her only jewelry was the pearls her mother had given her for Christmas, and a pair of simple pearl earrings.
“Oh my,” Valeria said as she and Natalia looked on, “You are a true beauty today my dear.”
“I must agree,” Natalia said as Ingrid came in. Her gown was strapless, the white silk elegantly falling to the floor, the silver tiara perched on her head and a pearl necklace around her neck.
“Do you think they will pass inspection, Aunt,” Sigi said as she stood in the doorway.
“Very much so,” Natalia said.
“Your car is…” Klaus stood for a moment, speechless as he looked at both his daughters.
“I need to send this to your partner,” Sigi said as she took her cell phone out, “stand still for a moment please.”
“I am sure she will be proud of you as well,” Natalia said quietly, both Carina and Juliette looking at her.
“I felt it best and prudent to tell her,” Valeria said, “it will save embarrassment later.”
Before Juliette could say anything, Klaus said “Girls, you must go now. Come – your escorts will meet you at the Opernhaus, and we will see you both later tonight.”
12.30 pm EST
The Seniors Room, St Angela’s
“Come in,” Jo said as there was a knock on the door, and Nikki opened the door, followed by Doc and Becca.
“You wanted to see us,” Anna said as she looked at Jo, Katherine and Suzanne sitting at a table.
“Yeah, we did,” Katherine said. “I understand Jo found you safely returning Cordelia earlier today, Nicola?”
“That’s right,” Nikki said.
“Well,” Suzanne said as she sat back, “the obvious question is how you came to have Cordelia. Would any of the three of you care to offer an explanation?”
The three girls looked at each other and shook their heads.
“I checked with Sacred Heart,” Jo said, “and they confirmed that La Fleur was returned safely this morning, so no real harm has been done. On the other hand, someone must be seen to be paying the price.
“You will all spend recess next week helping in the school office, as a voluntary move. Otherwise, we go to Miss Tennant. The choice is yours.”
Doc looked at the other two, and said “Thank you – we accept the terms.”
“Good – it means you can get the new website finalized. Right – go and eat lunch.”
As the three girls left, Kate Hardisty and Annie looked in.
“I hope so yes. Doc and friends will be working on the school website next week during recess, under your supervision.”
“Good,” Kate said as Annie looked at her cell phone.
“Oh sorry,” she smiled, “I just got a message. Will you excuse us a moment? I need to discuss final training with Jo.”
As the others left, Annie showed Jo the photograph of Carina and Ingrid.
“Oh my goddess,” Jo whispered, “they look fantastic.”
“I’ll forward it to the others – see what they say…”
6 pm CET
“Here they are,” Markus said as he and Ingemar watched Carina and Ingrid walk in, the liveried doormen bowing as they entered.
“Well, here it is,” Markus said as he took Ingrid’s gloved hand, and handed her a small posy of red flowers.
“Nervous?” Ingemar said as he looked at Carina, smiling as she slowly nodded.
"Do you want one last practice Cari?"
"Please - just to see if I can dance in this
Carefully Carina followed him up to one of the opera
houses' rehearsal rooms they'd used the day before.
"See we aren't the only ones," he whispered
in her ear as they saw other couples in the room practicing the various formal
Carina relaxed - at least there were others as nervous
"Shall we try the waltz?" her escort asked.
"Okay," Carina let him hold her.
"Now, one two three, one two three," he
called the time as he twirled her round in a tight area.
"How does it feel to you?"
"I think we've got it down pretty well. Want to
"Please." Cari felt herself relaxing a little and smiling as they practiced the Polka moves and the curtseys.
Eventually, they followed the others to form the lines.
“Junge Damen und Herren alles unten für die Eröffnung Generalprobe,” Cari heard the announcement from the Marshals.
“One last time, but this time in our ball clothes before they open the doors.” Ingrid whispered.
“I know, and this time I’m going to be perfect, “ she promised herself as she adjusted her own glasses, pulled her gloves up, and straightened Ingemar’s white tie.
“Alright we know just how to do this,” he told her as they took their positions.
“Yep final rehearsal and we get it just right,” she whispered just as she nearly fell catching her heel on her dress.
Ingemar started laughing.
“Okay I’m allowed one little slip at this time.” She smiled back at him.
“Gentlemen,” Klaus said as he came in, adjusting his tie and the blue sash that hung diagonally across his suit, “I trust we are all ready?”
“We are,” Guy said, “but as always we must wait for the ladies to be ready.”
He turned to see Sigi enter, wearing a strapless silver grey silk dress with a scarf around her neck at the front, then back under her arms and secured at her waist. The skirt was split at one side, showing her silver heels as she adjusted her gloves.
Valeria was next to enter, wearing a red velvet gown with short sleeves and a square neck, and velvet opera gloves. With her was Natalia, in a dark green gown that had a raised collar at the back.
“So all we await is… Oh mein Gott, Sie sehen prächtig aus meiner Liebe.”
“Danke,” Juliette said as she walked in. Alice’s gown for her was a pale peacock blue, with a raised collar and capped sleeves, and a silver inlay design at the front and down the skirt. Her gloves were the same colour, as was the clutch bag she carried. A string of pearls was her only jewelry.
“My god,” Wilhelm said, “you have lost none of your beauty, my dear.”
Natalia simply nodded as Klaus handed round glasses of champagne.
“A drink before we leave,” he said as he raised his glass. “May tonight be special for all.”
“So when is the car coming to collect us,” Juliette said as she sipped her drink.
“Oh we are not going by car,” Klaus said, “as you will see soon.”
The line of cars was starting to deposit the attendees on the well-lit pavement outside the entrance to the opera house, the television cameras filming the people as they walked slowly in.
The crowds watching turned as they heard the two horse drawn carriages approach, the driver stopping the horses and climbing down to open the door of the carriage, then helping Juliette and Sigrid to disembark before Klaus and Dieter followed them. They waited for the other four to join them before as a group they walked up the steps and into the entrance.
As they walked in, the last thing Juliette expected to hear was a call of “JU!!! YOU MADE IT!!!”
“Hello Pus… Patricia,” Juliette said, “you know most of the others, but may I present Count and Countess Buchenwald, the aunt and uncle of Klaus and Sigrid. Natalia, Wilhelm, May I present Patricia van Roon.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Pussy said as she bowed to them. “Perhaps we can meet up later in the night?”
“I look forward to it,” Klaus said as Pussy went to talk to Frieda.
“Such a pleasant young woman,” Natalia said, “who is the girl she is talking to?”
“Her wife – shall we head up to our box?”
They stood there, in lines of four, gentlemen on the outside and ladies on the inside. The men were all dressed in white tie and tails, their white gloves pristine and neat. The ladies in white, opera gloves on, tiaras poised on their carefully arranged hair, and small posies in their hands.
“This is worse than the debs Ball in New York,” Carina whispered to Ingemar as they watched two of the marshal’s walk onto the stage. The young man was also in tails, while the woman wore a long sleeveless blue dress with matching opera gloves.
“It is nearly time,” the woman said, “and some nerves are expected. Just remember all we told you, all we taught you, and all will be well.
“Before you go onto the floor, however, we have one more dance to teach you. We ask you to follow us, ladies and gentlemen, and do exactly what we do. Understand?”
“Another dance,” Ingrid said, but then she, Carina and everyone smiled as they heard Pharrell Williams start singing.
It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here you can take a break
“Oh now this we can dance to,” Carina said as the group followed the lead of the marshals, barely aware they were matching them move for move, arm for arm, wave for wave.
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
By the time the song has finished, the whole room was laughing and dancing.
“There now – that is the smile we want, and now we are ready. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the evening.”
The chief marshals took up their positions, a nod of the head, and the doors opened to allow the line to move off.
“Just like the catwalk,” Carina kept whispering as the doors to the opera house floor opened and the music began…
Aunt Sigrid had warned Carina it was a moment she
would never forget, but to enter that huge auditorium with the boxes and the
margins of the room crammed to capacity was more than just unforgettable.
She could hear the Wiener Philharmoniker playing as
she concentrated on holding her poesy against Karen’s; she tried to make sure
she followed Marina walking in front of her precisely in a line. For a moment
she was tempted to look down and check if she was in step as she descended the
stairs, her heart beating fast inside the bodice of her dress, but she
remembered the instructions about keeping her chin up…and smiling.
"Well I made it to the bottom of the
stairs," Cari thought to herself as she started the long slow walk to the
other end of the floor.
"Don't lose contact with Karen." she kept
repeating in her brain as they passed in front of couples that had already
finished the ordeal and were standing in their places.
"Okay we are getting there." the thought
passed in and out of her brain. "Fifteen yards…ten yards…God why does my
hand hurt holding it up like this…five yards…there…now turn your head, nod,
smile, and turn right."
"Well I think Karen and I nailed that," she relaxed as Ingemar led her down the side to their allotted place, letting go of her hand as she stood in front, aware of Ingrid taking her place directly behind her, taking a huge breath and relaxing, at least part one of the ordeal was over.
They continued to watch, smiling with her poesy in front, as the other couples walked down and past, forming the line to her left.
She could see Blair and Giovanna opposite and a bit closer to the doors, both nodding to her as the last couples turned and made their way behind, the music stopping as the last girl slipped into place.
From their box, Juliette and Sigi were filming and taking photographs, Klaus the proud father as he watched.
“Oh my, what’s happening now,” Juliette said as some ballet dancers came on.
“The Weiner StaatsBallett – I understand they are performing some of The Magic Flute tonight to entertain all,” Valeria said, Juliette sitting and watching entranced as the dancing began.
"You did wonderfully." Ingrid whispered in
her sister’s ear as they stood, smiling, watching the ballet perform.
"Did I? Really?"
"Yes, and you'll do just as well in the
"I'm not sure you are right, but thanks for the sisterly support." Cari whispered back.
As the ballet ended, to applause around the large hall, Klaus said “and now, the waltz.”
As the hauntingly beautiful strains of the Blue Danube
started, Cari started counting beats going down into her deep formal curtsey at
the same time as every other girl, waiting for his bow, and coming up and
taking her position as Ingemar's dance partner.
The music briefly stopped and as it restarted she and
her partner started to dance, just as the applause started from the boxes and
began to echo.
"One two three," Ingemar smiled.
"I know." Cari whispered back as they
twirled moving slowly to her right down the inner line.
“There is nothing to match this for a sight,” Valeria said as the others watched from the box.
“Indeed – beauty and precision in one,” Natalia said, Sigi nodding as she watched, the pride clear in her eyes as she watched Ingrid and Carina.
"Okay the end is coming," she reminded herself mentally as she prepared to go. Down with every other girl in white into their curtseys, holding the pose for what to Carina seemed an eternity, and the men all did a formal bow bending at the waist.
As they returned to their positions, Guy said “Ah – a truly inspired choice.”
“Who,” Dieter said as a blonde haired woman came into the floor. “Ah – Fraulein Katherine Jenkins.”
“And a wonderful choice of music as well,” Sigi said as she began to sing a Schubert song.
"The Polka next," Ingemar reminded her in a
"Two curtseys at the start." Carina whispered to herself as they moved to take their spots, perfectly in sync with all the people round them. For a second she panicked, but no her poesy was still there in her left hand.
Lines of four, lines of eight, she felt Georg's hand close to hers at just the right moment, groups of 32, the practice was working out, Carina felt at ease now as they did the formal steps.
"Now my curtsey at the end," she counted beats to the end of the music then once again went down and held the curtsey as the conductor took his applause, rising at his signal.
“It looks as if they are dispersing now,” Juliette said as the couples moved out.
“At midnight everyone gets on the floor and does the quadrille.” Sigi smiled.
“Should I have practiced?” Juliette asked quickly.
“No most people are not very good, just follow us in the steps.” Klaus leaned forward. “Then they play a gallop and that is huge fun.”
“That I can do.”
“Wow.” Carina came into the box. “I need a drink dad.”
“And you Ingemar?”
“Please, your highness.”
“We are on first name terms here son – Klaus will do fine.”
He handed glasses to the young couple, and then to Ingrid and Markus as they entered.
“Wow I thought we could hold a ball in New York, but this is a whole different thing.” Carina sat down to sip her drink.
“Something to eat as well,” Carina said as she looked at the buffet behind her, “I didn’t realize how hungry I was.”
She slipped off her gloves and accepted the food from Ingemar, eating the finger food with gusto.
"So you have to be back at Yale first thing
Monday for class?"
"I do dearest auntie." Carina sipped her
champagne, "And other then the odd diversion such as walking a show in
Fashion Week, I can put my debut behind me, and start concentrating, on Judith,
Annie and my studies."
"And that sigh of relief in my daughters voice is
echoed by me Sigi. It will be great to get back to normal."
"Or what passes for normal with you." Sigrid
"Well I am flying over on Thursday with Papa to
see Missy Auerbach on Friday." Ingrid had begun to look tired.
"To negotiate a modeling contract?" her
Great Aunt asked, "I'm not sure I approve."
"Well for now just to listen," Klaus
interrupted her, "But if my daughter wishes to model like her mother then
I'll not stand in her way."
"Thank You Papa."
“Well, it is your decision Klaus,” Natalia said as she was watched by Carina, “but I am not sure it is a career for a lady of your standing.”
Juliette turned slowly, but Carina shook her head and whispered “no.”
“Ah – midnight approaches. Let us go and take part.”
“I see the appeal of the gallop does not attract you, my dear.”
“To be honest,” Carina said as she sat with Natalia, watching from the box, “I need the rest.”
"So what has been the hardest thing Carina?"
"The Waltz…In America we use up a lot of floor
space, the turns here are a lot tighter."
"And the other formal dances?"
"Surprisingly they are easier in a way, I just
have to remember the formations."
"They are a throwback to the formality of Imperial
"I know, I looked at some paintings online, other
then substituting men in white tie for uniforms we actually look quite similar
"You are a historian…" the older lady smiled
just for a second.
"With my heart and soul." Carina smiled at even the flash of approval.
“And have you looked much into our family history?”
“Sigi and Ingrid have taught me much of it – and Valeria is a walking encyclopedia of European Great Houses. There are some – interesting characters in our ancestry.”
“Indeed – very powerful people as well,” Natalia said.
“There you are – Ingrid is looking for you downstairs,” Klaus said as he appeared.
“Then I will go to find her,” Carina said as she stood up and walked out, Klaus taking her place.
“You seem to be getting on well with her – I’m pleased.”
"Well do you approve of the fact your daughter is
a Lesbian Klaus?" His aunt asked.
"I approve that she has found the most gentle
person to love, Annie is a wonderful person, and as Carina herself says if
Annie was a man she'd be in love with a man, she didn't fall in love with a
gender, my daughter fell in love with a person. A person who one day I will
probably be immensely proud to claim as my daughter-in-law."
"I see she didn't dare…"
"Aunt she was invited and only a prior commitment to her students kept her away,” He checked his watch and said “as we speak, she is preparing to lead a team of athletes in a cross-city meeting which she has every chance of winning.”
Natalia looked at her nephew and nodded slowly. “If you will excuse me, I must powder my nose,” she said as she stood up and left the box, nodding to Juliette and Sigi as they came in.
As Natalia stepped out, she was surprised to see Carina standing there, smiling as she stood with her arms folded.
“Carina,” she said as she washed and dried her hands, “is there something you wish to ask of me?”
“Actually,” Carina said as she closed and locked the main door, “there is.”
“Very well,” Natalia said with a sigh, “what is it you wish to know?”
"How do you control her Great-aunt?" Carina
looked intently at her relative.
"Oh you know whom…her…the monster…the
"I have no idea of what you are talking about
Carina,” Natalia said, “and now let me out please."
"Uh Uh, not until she shows herself."
"I have no clue."
"Oh you do Great-aunt, you know very well what I
am talking about."
Natalia’s eyes narrowed as she whispered "You
little lesbian slut…"
"Ah there she is…I thought I was a freak, but now
I'm betting a lot of her female descendants have her within themselves."
"And you know this..?"
"Because,” Carina said as she looked at her great aunt, “she's in me as well…let me guess just before puberty…right?"
"I still admit nothing little bitch."
"Oh every word you say confirms it," Carina
giggled, "Let me also guess Great Uncle Willy doesn't know, right?"
Natalia smiled – a different, nastier smile, and said "I
"Let me guess...”
Carina walked round and her I said “on a large estate you found someone
early who liked to be abused?"
"One of the stable boys."
"Your riding crop?"
"Yes, and you?"
Carina smiled again and said "Oh I'm far
“Well then, let me guess as well - your Annie is a submissive?"
"Uhh Uhh, another bitch, just like me."
“One day, then, we must compare notes. For the record, Sigi does not have the capacity within her, and I do not believe Ingrid has either. What of you?”
“I have friends who know – including Mom – and help me control her. Annie does as well.” Carina walked up and looked into Natalia’s eyes. “If, however, I hear of you doing anything to harm or hurt the relationship between Klaus and Mom, you will discover just how much the Beast within me wishes to hurt you. And trust me – you will not enjoy the experience.”
Natalia nodded slowly and smiled. “I believe you – and welcome you into the family. I think you and I are going to be very good friends.”
“I doubt it – but we will understand each other. Now, shall we return and be pleasant?”
Carina turned and unlocked the door, watching as Natalia collected herself and left first.
"I am out of practice." Juliette laughed as
she danced with Klaus.
"Nonsense,” he said as they twirled round, “you
"No not dancing, but trying to hold a conversation
in three different languages at once."
"Ah now I understand, well you aren't doing too
"I'm just glad that our little party here tonight
all speak English so well, it makes life a whole lot easier."
Klaus laughed at that, before he said "I see
you've run into some old acquaintances darling."
"Yeah there are a few fashion people here, also
some others I've met over the years, I don't feel too much the outsider."
"You also know a few people here from back in New
"Yeah, it's lovely seeing friendly faces like
Puss and Frieda here."
"Frieda was telling me that they are thinking of
trying for a baby."
"She told me as well," Juliette smiled,
"I think motherhood would suit them both very well."
"So do you think that maybe one day Annie and
"Give Judith a sibling? I think it's possible, I
overheard them whispering about it one night, I think Annie would like to be a
birth mother, so maybe?"
"Well another grandchild would suit both of us I think." Klaus smiled.
As the music ended, Juliette made a curtsey and Klaus bowed, before they headed back to the box.
As they walked up, they passed the four friends talking in a little huddle, before they went on the dance floor as a pop song played.
"I'm just not looking forward to seeing the
video, Aunt Puss says she got my every step, and I know I made mistakes."
Blair shook her head as she danced with Cari, Ingrid, and Giovanna.
"Well I was worse," the Italian shook her
"I bet none of you were as bad as you
think." Carina observed, "I think we look and we all looked pretty
good out there.”
"I wish I had your confidence Carina," Blair
spoke quietly, "Anyway where are we doing our late lunch?"
"How about the Cafe Mozart?" Ingrid asked.
"Sounds good to me." Giovanna smiled,
"It's central and the coffee is pretty damn potent, might be just the pick
me up we need."
"I already asked Mom to get some real Turkish
coffee to serve at home." Carina danced happily. "There are mornings
I think we would both prefer it to our usual blend."
"I like the strudel," Blair laughed, "I swear I find a good Viennese bakery back home I am going to get so fat eating it."
“Me too – but then Judith helps me work it out,” Carina giggled.
“Right, so we meet at two for lunch?”
“Sounds good – we’re not flying back until Saturday, so relaxing tomorrow sounds great.”
8 pm EST
The Altamont Hotel
“Good evening Tricia,” Angle said as she eased herself onto her usual seat, “I trust it went well last night?”
“Very well thank you,” Tricia said as she passed the young woman her usual Martini. “So are you meeting a client tonight?”
“A potential one,” Angel said as she sipped her drink. She was wearing a white low cut dress with gold trim, and gold heeled sandals, the cut of the dress leaving little to the imagination. “I want to talk to him before I put him on the books. Something about him just does not seem right.”
“So who is he?”
“Do I have the pleasure of addressing Angel?”
Both girls looked to see the smartly dressed man standing beside them.
“That depends on who is asking,” Angel purred.
“My name is Dick Burton – we’ve spoken on the phone.”
“Ah yes, Mister Burton,” Angel said as she looked him up and down, “May I offer you a drink?”
“No, but thank you – is there somewhere more private we can talk?”
“Let us go to the booth over there,” Angel said quietly, “and we can talk there.” She nodded to Tricia before slipping off the bar stool and walking over, Burton watching as her bottom moved under the short skirt.
“So Mister Burton?”
“Please, call me Dick.”
“So MISTER Burton,” Angel said as she leaned back, “Why are you interested in my agency?”
“Well, I understand you recommend escorts for those who require a partner for the evening?”
“That is correct – provided their credentials are bona fide and they appear to pose no danger to the ladies I represent. If all is well, we recommend them to the gentlemen concerned, who pay a fee for the introduction.”
“It all seems fair and reasonable,” Burton said, “but what if the man wishes to be more – intimate with the lady during the evening?”
“That is a private matter between the client and the escort – I have no part to play in that,” Angel whispered before taking a drink.
“But you arrange the meeting – surely you expect more?”
“No, Mister Burton, I run a legal agency to provide escorts, that is all.”
“And you have regular customers? It would help me if I could talk to one or two of them.”
“I regret that is not possible, Mister Burton, our records are confidential and protected by Data Privacy legislation.”
“I see,” the man said as he sat back. “Would it be possible to talk with one of your – ladies?”
“That will depend on the lady and the reason,” Angel said. Something was not right, and she could not put her finger on what it was.
“I see from your web site there is a young lady called Genevieve, who has been seen a lot recently with one of the candidates for the race for the vacant House of Representatives seat. Perhaps I could talk to her?”
Angel stared at the man, and said quietly “Mister Burton, I do not believe that my agency can meet your needs, no matter how simple they are or how much you are willing to pay. I would like you to leave now.”
“Oh? And I thought we were getting to know each other really well, Angel – or should I say Anna?”
Angel looked over to Tricia and nodded before saying “I have no idea why you think my name is Anna, Mister Burton, but this conversation is over. If you do not leave now, hotel security will come and escort you from the bar.”
“And as they escort me out, I will tell them that a fifteen year old girl is running a hooker agency from their bar,” Burton stood up, and said “I’ll call again Angel, and then I hope you will be ready to listen.”
He walked off, Angel sitting for a few moments before returning to the bar
“Hey, you all right?”
“Give me another drink Tricia – I need it.”
Friday 13th February
1 am CET
"This is nice Dad." Carina smiled as she
danced slowly in her father’s arms. "Mozart and the best male dancer in
"How much champagne have you had?" Klaus
"Well one of the better dancers."
“I accept that,” Klaus said, before continuing "Are
you glad you came darling?"
"Yes, it's been wonderful, and I think even Great Aunt Natalia hasn't spoiled it."
"Good. She is a difficult person, but she seemed genuinely to understand you."
Carina smiled as she looked up at the older woman,
watching her through her opera glasses.
"I think your mother has discovered she likes
"Oh I know she has," Carina laughed as she
looked at her father, "He's another old roué like Guy, Mom swears he
pinched her ass earlier."
"No," Klaus laughed, "That was me as I
passed by, I'll have to tell her."
"You dirty old Daddy." Carina giggled as the made their way round the hall.
As the gallop ended the announcer said “Meine Damen und Herren, nehmen Sie bitte Ihre Partner für die Boomps -A- Gänseblümchen-Tanz.”
“Come,” Guy said as he offered his hand to Juliette, and Klaus to Carina, “we shall teach you.”
As the orchestra started, Guy said “Hands, knees and…”
He held his hands in front of him for Juliette to clap hers against, they slapped their hands on their knees, before they turned side to side and they hit each other with their bottoms, then danced for eight.
“Repeat, and then kick, step, kick, step and turn,” Klaus said to Carina, “and again…”
“They dance this at the most prestigious ball in the world?”
“We do the birdie dance at three,” Klaus said as they kept going, swapping partners so that Klaus and Juliette could be together.
“He’s joking right?”
“I am not entirely sure,” Guy said as he danced with Carina.
5 am CET
"Oh they finally got you home eh?" Juliette
watched as the girls came in and removed their fur coats.
"We had Wurst from one of the street vendors, and
some coffee, then like good gentleman they delivered us safely home in a
taxi." Ingrid yawned as she finished talking.
"They did nothing they can't tell their fiancés,
each gave us one little kiss on the cheek, and they saw us to the elevator
doors." Carina yawned as well.
"They are two very nice young men." Klaus
offered his two daughters a glass of orange juice.
"Very nice boys, they liked you guys as
well." Carina sipped her drink.
"They will pay us the customary thank you visit
this evening." Ingy yawned again.
"Well I'll help you undress, then into bed with
both of you." Juliette played mother hen.
"Sounds good." Ingrid took her gloves off.
"Dad this juice hit the spot." Carina put her glass down, and then removed her tiara. "This needs go in the safe."
“We’ll take care of it,” Juliette said as she took the tiara and laid it next to Juliette’s. “Come on – into bed both of you.”
As she walked them out, she turned and said “and then maybe we can have a little nap as well.”
Klaus grinned as he placed both tiaras in their boxes, and carried them to the safe.
8.30 am EST
Miss Tennant looked out across the main hall, and smiled.
"Remember the heats for the sprint events start
early, so as many of you as can get to the Garden early, I'm sure our team will
welcome the support." Miss Tennant finished her remarks, "Now I'll
wish everyone a good day, and the best of luck…Good Morning Girls."
"Thank you Miss Tennant."
"Well only one period after lunch, and getting
out early, I can approve of that." Jeannie spoke to her friends.
"When are you planning to get there Jeans?"
"Fairly early, try and avoid the crowds."
"Who's taking you?"
"Granddad, he's looking forward to it."
“I will come with Mom later,” Ama said, “once I have a chance to change.”
“What about you Doc?”
“Sorry, what,” Anna said as she looked round.
“When are you coming to the meet?”
“Oh Mom and I are coming about six,” Doc said, “excuse me.”
“What the hell is wrong with her,” Jeannie said as she looked over.
“I’m not sure – anyway, we have history to get to. Come on.”
2 pm CET
Café Mozart, Vienna
"Hey you two finally made it." Giovanna
stood up to greet her friends, "Blair's on her third slice of Apple
"Hey I worked up an appetite last night
dancing." Blair looked up.
"Four coffees please." Giovanna called out
as she signaled the waitress.
"So did you sleep well?" Carina asked.
"Like a log, but better when I got out of the
fireplace and climbed into bed." Blair laughed. "And don't blame me
for that joke, Aunt Pussy was telling it last night."
"You really are full of joy Blair." Ingrid smiled as the waitress brought her coffee.
"So what are you doing before re-crossing the
Atlantic Ingy?" Giovanna asked.
"Going home, catching up with my friends, walking
my dog, and just relaxing."
"Are you coming to Venice for Carnevale?"
"No,” Ingrid said as she sipped her drink, “that
I think I'll miss this year."
"Pity, you'd enjoy yourself."
"I need to think about my university
"Any ideas?" Blair looked up.
"A few, Papa and Aunt Sigi both studied in
"So did Aunt Puss and Aunt Frieda." Blair
"I'm leaning towards America though."
"Joining me at Yale sis?"
"No, and do not look disgusted when I say this
Cari,” Ingrid said carefully, “but - I'm thinking Princeton."
"I said don't look disgusted, but I want to major
in economics and Professor Krugman is there, I've read his books, I'd like to
take his classes."
"But Princeton?" Cari shook her head.
“Hey could be worse – could be Brown or William Smith.”
“No William Smith is fine – Jo’s got her place there
sewn up. Only problem is it’s WAY
upstate. So with my sister's depressing
news,” Carina said with a grin, “where are you going Giovanna?"
"Rome, I'm going to do a general arts course and
see how well I do."
"Leaning to staying in NYC and trying to see if
Cooper Union will take me in the School of Art."
"That's a tough school to get into, what's their
acceptance rate? Under ten percent of applicants?" Carina looked
"I know, my grades are good enough, and my
teachers thought my design work was good as well."
"So what do you want to do exactly?"
"Eventually head a design team at Torware."
"Well when you consider your family owns the
company…" Cari laughed.
"I know, but I think I have taste, I think I can
design beautiful products, far better cutlery then this for example."
Blair held up a fork.
"Well I'm impressed at your ambition Blair." Ingrid smiled at her friend.
“Yeah – definitely do better than this silver, but nothing beats this strudel.”
"Is Blair serious about doing Industrial design
sis?" Ingrid whispered.
"Why not, I guess it's in her blood, Old Jakob
van Roon was a silversmith in NYC when it was still New Amsterdam."
"He's the one brought all the land?"
"Yep," Carina laughed, "As the van Roon's put it, he's the one swindled the Indians."
“So when do you head back Cari?”
“Tomorrow – Mom and I take the 2 pm flight out. I want to see Judith again – and promise her I’m not running out all the time. Plus I have a rehearsal Sunday for the show next week.”
“And we fly over next Thursday, so we’ll see you then.”
“I go back with Aunt Pussy and Aunt Frieda on Monday – I can’t believe it’s all over now.”
“Yeah – life goes on,” Cari said with a smile.
3 pm EST
"Any last minute injuries Alicia?" Annie
asked Coach Harper as the team and support staff boarded the bus to go
"No we look set, just that nagging rib cage
problem of Letty's.'
"Yeah that doesn't help, our best high jumper and
she's in pain each time she jumps."
"Her doctor has prescribed some legal pain
medication, so fingers crossed Annie."
"Right is everyone here?" Coach Harper
started ticking off names as she walked down the aisle of the bus.
"Marian is in the girls room." someone
"Go fetch her Louise." the coach asked. The young girl jumped off, returning a few minutes later with Marian.
"Okay we got Marian - looks like we have everyone. Let’s go!"
The coach set off as the girls talked amongst themselves.
Madison Square Gardens
"Okay everyone help unload the bags." Annie
supervised while Coach Harper went to find which locker room the team would be
"Coach." Jo put her hand up.
"Don't you dare say we left something back at
"No nothing like that, but do we need go sign up
or something straight away."
"Coach Harper is finding that out as well."
"Okay thank you Coach." Jo retrieved her own
"Okay we dress in the visiting basketball team’s locker room." Coach Harper came out. "We dressed there five years ago when we last won, so hopefully that's a good omen."
She led the way down the corridors to the changing room, the team looking round as they put their bags on the benches.
“Right,” Annie said, “let’s make this a place for Angels to soar. Get to it girls!”
“Let’s do this Angels,” Jo said as she opened a kit bag and handed the contents out.
“There we go,” John said as he parked Jeannie’s chair in the spot reserved for her, “right at the front of the St Angela’s section.”
“Hey Jeans,” Ally Rochermann said as she sat behind her, “just in time for the athletes to come out.”
“I’ll get the snacks – your mum will be along in a little while,” John said as he went off, the lower bowl starting to fill with girls and supporters.
"Remember to get all your girls to sign the
sheets Alicia." Mary Hansen the meet organizer said as she looked into the
"Already done," Coach Harper said as she
handed the older woman the entry sheets.
"I see your girls have made themselves at home.”
Mrs. Hansen smiled at the Maroon and Gold banners and scarves decorating the
place. "So is this your year?"
"We hope so." Coach Harper crossed her fingers, "As always it's not down to the stars, and it’s about every single girl getting us as many points as they can."
“Well, ten minutes,” Mrs. Hansen said as she left the room.
"Okay Ladies it's time." Coach Harper watched, as everyone looked arms. Now she signaled as someone put the music on at full blast and everyone started to sing.
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
Everyone can see
As we walk on by
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
All of the people
around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
Living life is
fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
Nno we don't get depressed
Here's what we
call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong, oh-no
This is our family Jewel
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
“Now let’s win this,” Annie said as the team let out a loud WHOOP and made their way out of the changing room.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, welcome please the team from St Angela’s Academy!”
The small crowd of students cheered loudly as Alicia and Annie led the team out and to their allotted places, the next school getting an equally loud cheer.
“Right – sprint heats up first. Girls, warm up. Field event athletes, listen for your call!”
“First heat of the 60 meter sprint – quiet please.”
The cacophony ebbed for a moment as the starter raised his gun, and the young athletes raised themselves in the blocks.
The gun went off, and the crowd erupted as the girls raced down the centre of the hall – cheering on their favourites as they ran up the bank on the other side.
"Nice run Sheryl," Annie scribbled down the
times after the tall, muscular black girl easily won her heat of the 60 metres.
"Okay remember you have a 200 heat and then the
semi to come early on still, keep warm, keep hydrated."
She went to the seats and put on a tracksuit before accepting a bottle
of water from Jo.
"She was impressive." Coach Harper spoke.
"Yeah but its Yuma who we need to cross our
fingers for. If she gets through to the
final, it would be at least one point more then we calculated."
They both went silent as they watched the next heat.
"Okay second, she makes the semi at least."
"She must have been near her PB." Annie looked up at the scoreboard. "Hey she equaled it."
"And looking easy." Coach Harper grinned, "That’s promising."
Yuma returned to the seats, high fiving others as she took her place.
“Wow – it’s noisy already,” Caroline said as she and Ama made their way down the stairs, slipping into a row and sitting down as Pepsi and her parents followed them.
“How are we doing,” Pepsi said as she leaned over Ally’s shoulder.
“So far so good – our sprinters all made the semis, and the field events have just got underway. Any sign of Doc yet?”
“Nah – I saw Becca arriving with her parents, and I guess Doc and Nikki will be coming along later.”