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Okay – this is going to be a personal thing, mainly because there are a few things I’ve not really been able to get off my chest.  But – well, I’m also acutely aware that I have a few people waiting for stories, so I want to give an explanation here.  Not an apology, really, but an explanation.

 

In the real world, the one in which I make the money to pay the bills, I was forced during a departmental restructuring some years back into a position I actively told people I did not want.  It was one of those Hobson’s choice situations, and I won’t go into the details – sufficient to say I have been struggling to do a job that in theory I have the capability to do well, but in practice...

 

Anyway, I’ve struggled with this, as well as a lack of support and co-workers – bit difficult to feel a part of a team of two, when the other person is in the US.  But I’ve also found it more and more difficult to do the job to my manager’s satisfaction.  In many ways, for the last couple of years it’s my writing that has kept me semi-sane, and I need to thank each and every one of you for your encouragement on that.

 

What has also been going on is that I have become more and more aware of the fact something wasn’t quite right with me, in terms of the way I approach work and other things.  Those of you who have caught the silly mistakes I make?  That was part of it.  So I had some assessments done, and the bottom line (apart from the fact I’m way overweight and need to lose a few stone?)

 

I have a form of dyslexia called Dyslexic Processing Syndrome – which is plain English, means I don’t process things mentally as quickly as others.  For example, I’m useless at video games because my brain can’t process what’s happening quickly enough.  Another example – I suffer from what could be described as extreme shyness, and apparently that may be due to the fact I need more time to process what people are saying, and what they mean.  I’m not an idiot – anything but – but I get flustered if things change quickly for no warning, and need time to process things – time I have not been getting.

 

What it means for my everyday job I have no idea, but for here, if you’ve been waiting for a story, the big reason is I’ve not got the handle I need on it yet, and other priorities have come in.  I can only apologise, and say I will get round to them, but I can’t say when at this stage.

 

And the mistakes?  Likely to continue for a while, but I’m working on that too.

 

There – I feel better now.  Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

  • Mood: Sunny Mood
  • Watching: NCIS

Activity


Sunday 27th September
10 am local time
Baromba International Airport, Mogola


The name had been devised in the colonial days to welcome visitors, but the airport three miles outside the city limits of the Mogolan capital was more like a small city airport in the US.  There was a terminal building, and a runway, but much of the air traffic that went through the area was freight rather than commercial.

Even with that, however, the airport was busy – just not with commercial flights.  One or two people were flying to neighboring states and countries, but the security staff outnumbered them, so that the terminal looked more like a paramilitary staging area.

What scared most of the residents of Baromba away, however, was the presence of so many Orientals.  They seemed to be everywhere – walking through the terminal, checking flights, and standing guard alongside their African colleagues.

The airfield itself was large – it had been designed with heavy military aircraft in mind, and there were two blocks of buildings.  On one side was the main terminal, with one or two gates and a few planes coming in and out.  On the other side of the field were several aircraft hangers – and at this point in time, six large aircraft with red stars painted on the tail.

This section of the airfield was fenced off, and if anything even more strongly guarded with armed Chinese army personnel.  There was a large chain mail fence running around the edge of the airport, and gates from the public area to the secure section.

“Nice,” Charlotte said as she looked through the field binoculars from a hill overlooking the airport, “I can see why they did not want anyone round here?”

“Indeed,” Margaretha said as she lay next to her, “which is what makes your friend’s plan the most feasible way forward.  But how did they manage to get a team here so quickly?”

“Where the need is, we will meet it,” Charlotte said quietly as she took out a radio.  “Silent Death, this is Little Mother.  Are we ready to move?”

A mile from the main compound was situated a set of Nissan huts, with three lorries parked outside.  The brown haired white skinned woman looked out from the drivers’ seat of one of them as two men climbed in the back.

“Little Mother, we are ready to move out on the mark.  The usual workers have been – replaced.”

“Excellent – mark.”

“Hǎo ba - ràng wǒmen bānchū,” she said over her shoulder as the first truck moved off, and she fastened the black scarf over her face.  As they drove off, she thought about a meeting in the early hours of the morning…


Helen watched carefully as the car came to a halt, and then gave the signal that had been pre-determined.  She moved slowly out, as the blonde photographer got out of the car.

“You are Blondie?”

“I am – it is an honour to meet you,” she said with a low bow.  “I have the supplies you require.”

Helen nodded, signaling as two men came out and began to unload the boxes.

“There was no problem in retrieving them?”

“None - the explosives came in via the South African diplomatic pouch.” Margaretha explained, “I picked them up from a dead drop.”

“So no one knows you work for the Sisters still?”

“No they don’t.” the tall Swedish photographer smiled.

“Well I’m sure that’s the way you prefer it.” Helen started glancing round. “You probably ought to head back to your hotel you know?”

“And miss the fun?”

“It might be better.” Helen looked serious, “if things go wrong this could get very messy.”

“Okay maybe on reflection I might be better off watching the fireworks from a distance then.”

“It would be best,” Helen said as she bowed.  “For the Heart and the Strength.”

“For the Heart and the Strength,” Margaretha said as she bowed and returned to the car, heading off as Helen turned and walked in.

“We have all we need?”

“We do,” the older Chinese man said, “we are preparing the packages as we speak.  What of our mode of entry?”

“We move out at 0700,” Helen said as she consulted her watch, “be prepared.”



The compound guard had seen the trucks approaching, on time as always, and raised the gate that guarded the road into the small group of huts.  To him, everything looked normal – he had no idea the drivers had been ambushed on their way, the dead bodies hidden in the dense grass on the side of the road.

As the first truck approached, he waved it and the other two through, watching, not feeling the blade that ended his life as Helen let him drop to the floor.  The Intel on the compound had been accurate – minimum security, certainly not enough to match the skilled crew she had brought.

And now they were on their way to the airport, only one objective on their minds…




“You see what I see,” Blondie said as she passed the glasses to Charlotte.

“Sure looks like it,” she said as she saw the three trucks approach along the road to the airstrip.  Taking her cell phone, she dialed a special number.

“Huntingdown’s.”

“Marina, it’s Charlotte – put me through please.”

A few moments later, she heard Catherine Lu saying “Charlotte – you have news for me?”

“Helen’s team is going in Catherine.” Charlotte said over the secure link. “Are you ready to feed what we are doing to the prosecutor and police in Beijing?”

“I am Charlotte. I’m hoping this will speed things up in the investigation.”

“Fingers crossed.”

“We are dealing though with powerful people so the evidence will need to be overwhelming.”

“I know, but I am hoping they move soon, we lost another girl in a skirmish today near the mine.” Charlotte swallowed, “I take each death very personally, and so do their sisters.”

“I know, well as you said fingers crossed this is a tipping point.”

“We can but hope so Catherine.”

“Here we go,” Margaretha said as she watched the trucks stop at the entrance gate.

“Where’s the usual driver,” the armed soldier said to the first driver.

“Stomach bug – this damned foreign food,” the driver replied in Cantonese.  

The guard laughed and waved them through, the trucks approaching the planes as he went back to his hut.  With his back turned, he didn’t notice the black clad figure slip from the last truck and approach the first plane.

The guard was having a cigarette – strictly against the rules, but he didn’t care.  So when the hand went over his mouth, it was already too late.

The man’s body went limp as Helen drew her knife from left to right across his throat.

Gently, silently, she eased it to the ground. For a minute she stood watching and listening in case she had been overheard.

Stealthily she moved closer to her target, her footfalls as light as a feather.

Quickly she ducked into the shadows as she heard an airport vehicle moving.  From her hiding place, she watched as the workers came out of the back of the trucks, carrying their bags as they made their way towards the six planes under armed guard.

“Move it,” the armed guards shouted as they approached the stacks of supplies and equipment, “these have to be loaded in the next two hours.”

Helen kept her own counsel as she slowly eased her way around and towards a small building behind the hangers.  Two armed soldiers were standing guard outside, their eyes fixed straight ahead as they guarded the door.  The first one of them knew of her presence was when the thin wire was wrapped around his throat, his eyes bulging as the other guard slowly sank to his knees, the small knife protruding from the throat.

Moving the two bodies out of the way, Helen removed her bow from her back and drew an arrow from the quiver at her side, smiling grimly as she moved swiftly round and entered the small building.


“Move it, move it!”

The guards were encouraging the work gangs to load the six planes as quickly as possible, focusing purely on the securing and loading of the supplies, not noticing inside the planes as several small packages were left in situ.

On the far side of the compound, several tankers of fuel were standing, waiting to fill the planes.  These too were under guard – although one by one the armed guards were seen to be walking to a small shelter to the side of the field, returning a few minutes later.  All seemed calm, all seemed right – and as other guards walked past, the men waved and smiled at them.




“Big Brain, this is Little Mother.  Come in please?”

“I am going to kill you for that,” Heather said as she sat with Shirley in the New York offices of Xavier International, watching the satellite feed on her laptop.  “We have visual – all looks normal.”

“As it should be – fifteen minutes to launch party.”

Shirley sipped her coffee before she said “Goddess grant you all victory.”

“Acknowledged.”



“… and I am telling you, the strip is ready.  We need those planes in the air today!”

The two officers were talking as they moved towards the hut, their conversation in muted tones.

“I understand, sir,” the younger officer said, “and I accept what we are doing is as per our orders.  What I question is the reason for those orders.”

“We do not question orders from the Supreme Council, lieutenant – we obey.  And where the hell have those guards got to?”

“I can…”

“No time – we need to check in with the colonel,” the older officer said as he and his companion walked into the building.  As the lieutenant closed the door, he suddenly stiffened, his body taut as he tried to process what had just happened.

“Lieutenant?”

The other officer turned to see him fall to the floor, his lifeless eyes staring out as the black clad woman aimed a second arrow at him.

“Silent Death – then the rumours are true?  Your master has turned his eye on us?”

“He – and others.  On whose orders have you established this stronghold?”

“Why should I answer you?”

“Because if you do, I will allow you to live long enough to see what is about to happen.  If not, you will not.  On whose orders have you established this stronghold?”

“On… On the orders of Colonel Dong Yun, Supreme Commander, Southern Autonomous Military District.”

“This is very south, even for him.  What is his interest here?”

“I do not know – I merely follow orders.”

“And the planes?  When they are loaded and fuelled, where are they to go?”

“To…  To a military camp the Mogolan government has allowed us to set up.”

“It is not a good idea to lie – where are they going,” Helen said as she pulled the bowstring further back.

“A mining complex under Colonel Dong – I swear, that is all I know.”

“Did you receive that information Mistress?”

“I did indeed,” a female voice said from nowhere, “and the honorable magistrate has heard it as well.  The other evidence?”

“Forgive me for one moment Mistress,” Helen said as she released the arrow, the tip travelling through the officer’s heart and killing him instantly.  “I have the information from their computers, and it has already been sent to our secure store.  You will have it within the hour.”

“You have done well – complete your mission.”

Helen nodded as she looked out of the window, watching as the Chinese crews retreated with the guards from the planes.



“And in five… four… three… two… one.”

Charlotte and Margaretha watched as the first of the planes exploded into a fireball, the guards turning and staring as the other planes followed suit.  At the same time, half of the support crews ran for the fence around the outer perimeter of the airstrip, while the other half turned on the guards, attacking them with knifes and machetes before they grabbed their weapons and opened fire on any who came to try and stop them.

In a watch tower, three soldiers realized what was happening, but before they could open fire their throats were cut, and the fell from the tower, the men using their guns to strafe the approach road from the other side of the airfield as vehicles tried to approach.

Helen ran out, firing arrows at other soldiers as one by one the other planes exploded, screams now coming from inside the huts around the area as the armed invaders opened fire inside them.  The other members had now started to cut an exit in the high fence, as Helen shouted “NOW!”

“Goddess, this is truly magnificent,” Margaretha said as the fuel tankers exploded, the fire spreading around the compound now as armed men stopped rescue and other vehicles from approaching, while Helen led the rest of her team to the fence, making sure they all escaped while signaling to the others to retreat and escape.

One or two fell to the gunfire from Chinese and Mogolan forces, Helen noting them as the last of her team escaped into the nearby brush.





“Well, that is one way to start a Sunday morning,” Shirley said as she and Heather watched the satellite pictures of the fireball.  “The files?”

“Safely transferred and encrypted copies stored safely.  It’s over to Catherine and her contacts for the next stage.  The word on Helen?”

“We’ll know in a few minutes.”



“Fancy some lunch,” Charlotte said as she and Margaretha walked to their jeep, “I know a great place a few miles outside the city.”

“Perhaps the hotel would be better – I’ve got a reservation for one thirty.  Give us both a chance to shower and freshen up?”

“Sounds good to me,” Charlotte said as they climbed in and set off across country.



11 am Local Time
SAIS Headquarters, Pretoria


“SIR!”

John Vosloo looked up as his assistant came in.

“Sir, General Botha is on his way – we’re getting reports of a massive explosion at the airport in Baromba.”

“What sort of explosion?”

“I’ll get a briefing together, but from what I heard in the room, half the airport is up in flames – the half apparently under extra security control.  The satellite pictures show people running from the security fence into the bush, but whatever was there has been destroyed.”

“Sir,” John said as he stood to attention, “I take it you have heard the news.”

“Indeed,” Hendrik Botha said as he looked at the lieutenant.  “Go and collect the briefing materials.”

“Sir,” Abel said as he saluted and left the room.

“Your contacts?”

“Yes,” John said with a grin, “the endgame is coming, Hennie – would it be wrong of me to admit I wish I was there?”

“Not at all – I just hope the news of what has happened does not make those at the mine panic before Liz and the others have moved into position.  Any word on that?”

“I understand they’re getting into position over the next twenty four hours – right now, we need to ensure the appropriate diplomatic messages are sent.”

“Quite – leave that with me,” Hendrik said as he turned.  “If you speak to them, pass on my congratulations.”

“Sir,” John said as General Botha closed the door, before he sat down.  “Thank them?  I’m going to buy them dinner after this…”




2.30 pm local time

“Nice little place, I must visit more often,” Charlotte said as she sat at the table with Margaretha, sipping on a beer.  She noticed something on the television, and beckoning a waiter over she asked “Where is the fire?”

“An airport some miles away – apparently terrorists have blown up a number of buildings and other facilities.”

“How awful – thank you,” Charlotte said as Margaretha sipped her drink.

“I think I will be heading down to Pretoria tomorrow,” she said with a smile, “will you join me?”

“Sadly, I have to be elsewhere.  Can I take a message to anyone?”

“Yes – tell Teacher I’ll see her in a few days, and tell them all good luck.”




7 pm local time
Hong Kong


“Any word yet,” Kylie said as she returned from the Royal Beach Club with Marina.

“I am expecting a call…”  Catherine stood up and raised a hand for silence as she picked up her cell phone.

“Mistress?”

“Helen – it is good to hear your voice.  I am informed you were most successful?”

“Indeed – at a cost.  Six of the Honoured Father’s servants did not make it out alive, but they gave their lives ensuring our safe departure.  We will be flying back in an hour, and arrive at the agreed time.”

“And you?”

“I am unharmed.  I trust the information arrived safely?”

“As always, you have performed your duties admirably.  Return now – you have earned your rest.  The Honoured Father and I thank you.”

“Thank you, Mistress.  May I request that you pass a message to my students?”

“Of course,” Catherine said as she looked at Marina and Kylie.

“Please, inform them I will be looking forward to our training session tomorrow evening.”

“With pleasure,” Catherine said as she ended the call.  “Helen is fine and on her way back – she looks forward to seeing your progress tomorrow.”

“Good,” Kylie said with a grin.  “Now, I must finish the assignment for tomorrow and print it off.”  She headed to her room as Marina and Catherine sat down.

“She is excelling so far in all areas,” Catherine said, “Susan will be very pleased.  With both of you.”
It Started with a Big Bang - part 1
In which Charlotte sends some friends to give a purtoechnic display...
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Saturday 10th October
7.45 pm
St Angela’s Assembly Hall


The hall was packed with guests, talking quietly amongst themselves as they waited for the start of the evening’s entertainment.

“I’m so glad this has proved to be a success,” Juliette said as she sat with Klaus and Sigi, “even if the girls could not get down this weekend.”

“Well, they have classes and assignments,” Klaus said, “but the school are recording this with Eve’s permission, so they will get to see it as well.”

“And the money all goes to a good cause,” Sandy said as she sat down with Heather.

“Ladies and Gentlemen.”

The attention of the audience was drawn to the stage, a leather seated stool set on there with a side table, a pitcher of water and a glass sitting next to it.

Grace Brand came out onto the stage, and said “I’d like to welcome you all, girls, parents and guests, to this very special evening in aid of both the Jamie Kirkham fund and the National MS Society.  It gives me very great pleasure to welcome to the stage the host for this evening – ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Eve Stone.”

The applause was loud and wild as Eve walked out, wearing a tight gold bustier dress which flowed to the stage floor, even with her heels on.  

“Thank you, thank you,” she said as she looked round the room, “all right, you’re making me think I’m Bono up here…”

Eventually, the applause stopped as Eve sat down.  

“Well now – first of all, may I thank Grace for her welcome.  I knew Grace back when she was a full time model, and now she’s helping bring bright new minds to their potential.  Grace, thank you for the welcome, and the invitation.”

There was a round of applause as Grace took her seat with Kate and Wilhelmina.

“I also want to say a word of thanks to the two patrons of the Jamie Kirkham fund, who persuaded me…”

“They didn’t need to do much, did they,” Cassandra called out from the audience.

“As I was saying before my daughter, who should remember I have the baby stories, so rudely interrupted,” Eve said with a laugh, “thank you, Abigail and Jeannie, for allowing me to get people to hear me ramble for a couple of hours.”

The two girls blushed at the applause as they sat with their mothers.

“I would also like to welcome His Grace the Duke of Lardarn, aka my annoying baby brother Tom, and his poor, and oh so long suffering wife, my sister-in-law Paula. Tom is here to ensure that I do not tell certain embarrassing stories relating to our childhood, and I would remind him that he has until the interval to make a substantial donation to the two charities, or else I will do so.”

“I’ve got my cheque book out,” a voice boomed out from the audience followed by howls of laughter.

“GOOD!...  Now who else here can I blackmail?” Eve covered her eyes and looked out beyond the lights.

“You can’t get me Eve, I wrote a book.” Kate Moss called out.

“That you did Kate my darling, but I bet between us we can come up with a few things you left out.”

“Cheque book please.” Kate held out a hand and laughed.

“That’s the way ladies and gentlemen, keep those contributions flowing, and my lips will be zippered.” Eve pretended to fasten her mouth.

“I trust my contributions make me exempt?” Stephen shouted out. “And remember I’m your husband…the father of your daughter.”

“Oh you poor deluded man.” Eve shook her head as the audience laughed again. “That just makes you the best person to talk about my love.”

“Oh God save us all,” Stephen said as he took his head in his hands, and Jack put his hand on his old friend’s shoulder.

“People ask me what it’s like being married to the world’s most famous photographer of nudes?”  Eve smiled and blew a kiss to Stephen before she continued “The answer is simple, it means I cannot possibly be a prude, thanks to my darlings pictures most people know my body in better detail then I do…most disconcerting.” Eve paused, “Especially when complete strangers come up to me at parties and tell me how cute the tattoo on my right buttock is…”

There was some laughter before she said “…And for those of you who haven’t seen it, go buy one of Stephen’s books, because I can assure you with the difficulty they had zipping me into this gown there is no way I’m taking it off to show you.”

“Oh, you tease…”

“I heard that Jack Linklater - Alright who else is here?” Eve looked round. “Ah I can see Ru Paul out there.”

“Hi”, the famous drag artiste waved.

“Oh and of course where Ru is, the wonderful Michelle Visage is never far away…Why don’t you both stand up and take a bow please.”

The two artistes stood and bowed as they accepted the applause.

“Now where was it you and I met Ru? The National Cat Show?”

“No, it was the Westchester Kennel Club show,” Ru shouted back.

“Oh silly me,” Eve giggled, “I should have remembered Ru has never been interested in pussies.”

As enormous applause broke out, Eve added, “and how could I possibly have forgotten that Michelle was named Best Bitch in Show?”

Eve walked to the other side of the stage as the audience roared with laughter.

“Now what victims…I mean friends, are sitting over here?”  Looking out, she smiled and said “Oh I didn’t see you Lesley, you turn sideways and you still disappear you know?”

“That joke is OLD Eve.” Twiggy shouted back.

“Yes but so are both of us unfortunately.” Eve shook her head. “You know Les and I used to room together on shoots sometimes, she was so small and light that you know some days it looked like she’d never even slept in her bed…so strange…” Eve walked away as the crowd laughed again.

“Of course, we also have the younger generation – young talent like Jeannie and Abigail, and quite a few young ladies who have passed through these doors.”  

Eve then stopped and smiled.  “Ladies and gentlemen, here in the front we have one of the nicest, loveliest, and most talented people in the fashion industry, the Creative Director of Vogue…Grace Coddington.”

The redheaded veteran stood up and turned round, waving to the room.

“In her book Grace wrote about how they used to compile ‘TopTen Model’ lists back in the sixties, and how she would always seem to appear at either number nine or ten. Well what she doesn’t reveal was that if she was nine, then I was ten, or I was nine, she was ten…We called each other the afterthoughts.”

“That’s true!” Grace called out as the audience shared the joke.

“Another thing Grace and I had in common was that the late Eileen Ford was never exactly over-impressed with either of us.” Eve stood hands on hips at mid stage. “She thought Grace’s eyebrows were a problem and actually attacked them with a pair of tweezers, and was then less than complimentary about Grace’s waist.

“In my case the problem was that she thought I didn’t look naturally classy enough to do high fashion. No one had slipped her the information that I was a Dukes daughter it seemed.”

The room laughed again as she said “I got my revenge a couple of years later when I was acting as an informal lady in waiting to an old school friend from Benenden, on a visit to New York, her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. The look on Eileen’s face when she recognized me?”

Eve sipped a glass of water and sat on the stool as the audience laughed.

“Now, turning to another matter ladies and gentlemen, the idea for this evening came basically from the insatiable appetite of young Jeannie Brewster for stories of how modeling was as a profession way back when. Jeannie laughed so much at my stories that she thought other people might appreciate them, which is why you find yourself corralled in here tonight…with the exits blocked to prevent escape. Don’t blame me, just blame Young Jeans.”

“That’s right, blame the girl in the wheelchair,” Jeannie shouted out.

“One of the things we did as young models that amazed Jeannie was that we had to carry huge holdalls to any shoot because we were expected not only to do our own makeup, but also supply our own shoes and other accessories. You never knew what you might need when you turned up for a job, so those things weighed POUNDS!”

As the room whispered, she continued “There’s a Sherlock Holmes quote about how he could tell someone was a teacher, from the way one shoulder was higher than the other.  Well, you know it’s a sure fire way of spotting older models, we all usually have one arm longer than the other from hauling round those damn bags or boxes…See,” Eve smiled as some famous old time models stood up in the crowd and illustrated the point.

“You know,” Eve said after she took another sip, “another story Jeannie finds fascinating, though I only heard it second-hand, relates to the position most French Models, or Mannequins as they were called back then, found themselves in…As amazing as it might seem today French modeling back then was basically regulated by the long standing prostitution laws.”

Eve stared out as the crowd gasped.

“Up till around 1960 it was illegal for agencies to set up to manage models and in return take a percentage of their earnings. Under the law agents were treated as pimps…”

“And they still should be,” a couple of voices shouted out, drawing laughter from the audience.

“Be that as it may,” Grace giggled, “And I might name a few names later…What that meant was that all the top French models were salaried employees of an individual fashion house, drawing a wage, just the same as a seamstress, or a vendeuse.

“Each house had its own stable of models, or Cabine as they were called, and girls except by a stroke of luck modeled the collection each day, and were photographed in their employers clothes for advertising and for the magazines.

“The BIG money for models was all going to outsiders, usually American and British girls who were hired by the big glossy magazines to come in and wear the highlights of the shows and be photographed for all the top International publications. This situation was of course both unfair and eventually had to change.

“The irony is that when it did, the agents profession started to fill up with men who did think of models as little more then sex for hire. Agencies went from being a cottage industry run by women and gay men, to a nightmare of sex and drugs…Oh and that is when I arrived.”

There was a screen at the side of the stage, on which a picture of a young Eve Stone appeared.  “That’s me – little Eve Gaunt.  Fresh out of the poshest of English girls boarding Schools, innocent as the new day’s dew, and wanting to make my mark in the world.

“So naturally, I made my way to the centre of the known universe – London.  Now, this was back in the late 60s, and London was really, really swinging in every way imaginable.

“But there I was, in London, and eventually I ran into another pair of Celts – two young women who had entered the fashion publishing world.  And they’re here tonight – Mary Thomas and Fiona McKenzie.  Stand up and take a bow, ladies.”

Mary helped Fiona to stand as they both turned and waved to the audience.

“Anyway let’s see who else in the audience I know dirt on that they might not want revealed and who might make big contributions. I see one face and I’ll not identify him by name, but back in the seventies he said he was going to make big money and take me away from Stephen…He didn’t tempt me away from my husband, but he certainly made big money, it was…one eighth of an inch too big on each side…”

Eve milked the laughter, “So in return for my silence I’m expecting a nice big contribution, and not in stuff you made yourself.”

“Stand up please Jerry Hall,” Eve led the applause as the tall Texan stood up. “Most people know in her early days as a struggling young model, Jerry shared an apartment in Paris with Grace Jones…and we used to call them beauty and the beast.”

“My favourite story though relates to this poor little poodle they owned, it was totally cute, but congenitally stupid, they called it Ford. Anyway Jerry was trying to teach Ford to come and stay, to fetch, and give her his paw, you know the usual puppy tricks, or basic boyfriend training depending on your point of view…”

“Well this dumb dog cannot get the hang of any of it, till suddenly Grace burst into the apartment, in the sort of temper that only Grace can achieve, and shouted out at the top of her lungs CRAP! before running into her bedroom.”

“Jerry looked at Ford, Ford looked suspiciously at what was beside him on the carpet, and Jerry finally asks…now why do y’all obey her and not me?”

As the room roared with laughter, Eve said “now, if we’re going to talk about Grace Coddington at Vogue, let’s go over to Complete Style, where Mary and Fiona held supreme, and the model turned writer, Juliette Huntingdown.  Stand up and take a bow, Ju.”

Juliette whispered “Oh goddess,” as she stood and smiled.

“Now, you all know that Juliette was discovered by Mary Thomas and appeared on the cover of Complete Style.  Then she went and spent a couple of years in Paris, where she earned a degree and exploded onto the scene at the Yves St Laurent show that year.

“What you may not know, is that just after that show, a video was released of a song where not just Juliette, but other models here today, played along.  Who would like to see that video?”

The audience clapped and cheered as the lights were dimmed, and they saw the video.

“Now,” Eve said as the lights went back up, “you’ll have recognized Ju in the dancers, and you may even have recognized Grace, but there, in the front row, one Alice McKinnon, then a well known model, now the CEO of APCO, and one heck of a designer.  She looks so innocent there, doesn’t she?”

“Looks can be deceiving,” Karen Boyd shouted out.

“True, true – which brings us to the Bass guitarist,” Eve said as a close up appeared.  “Who would have thought then that this young punk would be best known as the wife of a pig farmer – even if he is a very well titled pig farmer.

“But the one I really want to show you is one of the backing singers,” Eve said as Abby stared at the screen.

“Mom?”

“Ah, I see some of you have recognized her,” Eve said as Diana closed her eyes.  “Now those of you who know the Countess de Ros may not be aware of how good a singer she is.  Or, indeed, of how good a dancer Juliette is.

“So their challenge is to see if we raise enough to stop me telling the story of Juliette, Diana, the boat on the Seine and what really happened one night as they circled Sacre Coeur…”

“Non, non, I will contribute,” Diana said as she raised her hand, while Juliette chuckled.

“Well, since I am being accused of extortion already,  maybe this might be the time to talk about some of my Gaunt ancestors, people like John the Slasher, Richard the Disembowler and Henry Blacktooth - to name just some of the quieter and more respectable ones.”

Eve smiled and restarted, “it’s true to this very day many Irish catholic and nationalist mothers warn their children that if they misbehave then the Gaunt's will get them. It’s not easy growing up in a country where the deeds of one’s ancestors have so blackened and stigmatised the family name…I guess the equivalent over here is if you’ve grown up in the Estevez/Sheen or in the Kardashian’s family.”

“Or if you are a Bush!” someone shouted from the crowd.

“Please, no politics,” Eve turned and smiled, “save that for the floor of the House of Representatives Congressman.” Eve paused, “Oh I forget you don’t say or do anything in congress do any of you politicians?…Apologies.”

“Well said,” Tom Morse said with a smile.


“You probably know my daughter is a very successful actress,” Eve stood up while Cassandra took the applause. “What you might not know though is I did a few small acting jobs myself. Indeed for a while I decided to try giving up modeling and try my luck in Hollywood.”

“Unfortunately…” Eve looked at Stephen, “my dear husband’s work proceeded me. What effect did that have you might ask? Well if I tell you some of the names of characters I was asked to audition for…”

“It wasn’t that bad – was it?”

“Let me see - there was a western in which they wanted me to play an outlaw called Belle Starkers…  Another was a horror film in which I’d have played a psychopathic serial killer and burlesque dancer called Jack the Stripper.”
Eve looked at the crowd, “and those believe it or not were the more high brow parts…The worst was being asked to play a Russian spy called Nika Sovalot.

“Even in Britain they thought I could only do silly films as I called them, I was I admit tempted though by the chance to play ‘The Phantom Knicker Nicker’ in a riveting tale about a woman with a compulsion to steal other women’s underwear.

“The one thing I did do, which was a lot of fun, was do a couple of television specials with Benny Hill.  Benny was a lovely and very talented man, even if his humour was of the time – but there was one famous scene where I had to play the innocent miner’s daughter in a Raymond of the Mounties type skit, where Benny as Fred Scuttlebutt was the Mountie.  Can we have a look at that please – and as we do, pay very close attention to the lumberjacks.”

The room watched the comedy sketch before it froze at the end, and Eve said “Ladies and Gentlemen, Jane Leeves – and she is here tonight with Peri Gilpin.  Please welcome them both.”

As the applause died down, Eve looked round.  "There is someone here in the second row, I'd like to stand up please. You all know Lauren Hutton of course?"
Eve paused while the blonde American took her applause.

"Lauren was probably the most influential model of my generation, not just because with that gap between her teeth, and what she calls her banana beak nose, she made people realise models did not need to look totally perfect. But also because she really was the first major model to realize how stupid and carefree the rest of us had been.

“Lauren taught us all that we needed to manage and care for our incomes, that modeling didn't last for ever, and that you needed to save and find things to do with your life after the glamour.  And for that, I and everyone else in the room thanks you, Lauren."

Eve led the applause as Lauren sat down.

"Now sitting next to Lauren, and we are so lucky she agreed to fly in from Germany just for this, is the woman who during my whole career was my personal idol.  The Countess Vera Gottliebe Anna von Lehndorff-Steinort as a name may not mean a lot to you. The fact that she survived a Nazi concentration camp, is probably of more interest, I hope most of you over a certain age have seen her sprawled on a floor as David Hemming's photographed her in the film Blow-Up. She survived some of Vogue’s most famous treks into the unknown as a model, but she was, and always will be best known as the immortal, the goddess herself, Veruschka"

Everyone stood to applaud the veteran German Supermodel, who shyly waved back to the audience.

“While we’re on the subject of films, who here has seen Zoolander?”

There was a general groan around the audience as Eve said “a film that did for modeling what Happy Gilmour did for golf.  What we really need is something like Rush – hey O darling daughter, mention that to the powers that be?”

“Got it Mom,” Cassandra called out as the audience clapped.

“Now I heard someone in the audience ask what was the worst modeling job I ever did, and the answer to that is easy.” Eve smiled ruefully.  “And believe me, I have had some doosies…

“If Jack Linklater will stand up please since he’s the co-star in this story,” Eve paused while Jack took to his feet. “Do you remember Siberia Jack in 1980?” Eve asked with a smile.

“Oy!” Jack shook his head.

“I think Jack still has the nightmares.” Eve laughed.

“You know I damn well do!”

“Well let’s start at Moscow Airport. I’d done shoots behind what was then the Iron Curtain before and I was aware that the body searches as you went through customs could be a bit…shall we say thorough.   As in they checked everywhere - and I mean EVERYWHERE.

“Anyway, it was my luck always to get either a guy who thought he was God’s gift to the female race, or a raging bull dyke. Either way let me say they searched parts of your anatomy that even my husband has never touched.

“Any way I’m getting felt up by this guy, not only did he think he was God’s gift to women, his idea of women was the stereotypical Russian woman – so his hands are rough.  As he’s feeling me down, I can tell he’s enjoying it – and naturally, there are no other women in the room with me, him – and Jack with his security guard.

“He was big, broad shouldered, dark haired, and would have given Schwarzenegger a run for his money.  The thing was, he was more interested in Jack’s bag - and I can see Jack in the corner of my eye looking a trifle insulted the male heart throb doing his check hadn’t bothered even to pat him down.”

“Bitch!” Jack shouted as the audience laughed.

“Anyway, we eventually got through and enjoyed the finest that Brezhnev’s Russia had to offer.  I think that was when I learned to hate black bread and lentils, but love Vodka.  Some things they did do well – but Gods above it was a dark place.

“Skipping on a couple of days or so, we arrived by train at this remote destination, east of the Urals, and deep in the mosquito belt. Now I don’t know if any of you have ever encountered mosquitoes quite like they have in summer in that part of the world, I swear they are as big as birds, yet somehow they manage to find their way into the most annoying places on the body to bite you.

“I’ll tell you how bad it was, Jack for maybe the only time in his life was touching a nude woman as he rubbed mosquito repellant on my body…and I know for sure it’s the only time a woman has touched him as I returned the favour.”

“It was a necessary evil, darlings,” Jack said with a sad face.

“We were there to photograph a shoot featuring Russian sable coats. Now I don’t know how many of you are pro-fur, and how many are anti, but if you’d been in close proximities with real life, nasty little bloody ermines as I have, you’d maybe agree the only thing they are good for is making coats. I still have a bite mark in a place that only Jack and my husband know.”

Eve looked pained as the audience laughed.

“The idea was I had my photo taken in the midst of these creatures, to show natural beauty.  The brilliant brain that came up with this, however, had forgotten more than the vicious natures of what are effectively overgrown rats.  They had forgotten they were living animals, and as such they did what all wild animals do

“So forget the bites, the scratches, things like that.  The real issue was walking trough a sea of…”

Eve stopped as everyone burst out laughing, while Eve said “and I still sometimes smell them!”

“Now what were some of the better shoots…the one in the UAE where the local Emir tried to buy me from my husband was interesting. The one in the all male maximum-security prison was nice as well, because whatever the prisoners had done on the outside, while I was there they treated me like a perfect lady, falling over themselves to look after me.”

Sitting down and taking a drink, Eve said “I guess my favourite shoot though of all time was one I did for a retrospective of clothes designed by the great Balenciaga. It was in Barcelona, which is one of my favourite cities anyway, and it was a chance to wear and show off in those fabulous outfits. It was four days of what was probably the closest I’ll ever get to heaven.”

“Now, you’ll notice I am talking mainly about photographic assignments, and it’s not because I hated doing catwalk, it’s just that catwalk is a bit like doing catalogue shoots, everything is done in such a hurry that you rarely if ever got a chance to relax and enjoy it.

“I look at old snippets of film of myself in shows and half the time I don’t even remember being there, yet show me a still photograph and I can usually recall every single detail. I guess it’s just one of those things.

“The one exception though on catwalk was walking an Yves Saint-Laurent show, I remember them closely. Part of that was I guess because I so loved Yves as a person, but also because I guess of all designers working while I was a model he was my favourite creator. I still have a wardrobe full of vintage YSL that I have promised to a museum in Dublin on my death for their clothes section.”

Eve paused while the audience clapped.

“As I look round this room I see so many colleagues who I love, and I know everyone of them is praying I don’t tell a story about when they fell on a catwalk. They can all breath again though, because I’ll only tell a fall story of my own.”

“Phew!” Lauren Hutton called out, as Alice also breathed a sigh of relief.

“Lauren - do you remember me and the Nina Ricci wedding dress?”

“Oh how could I forget?”

“This was back in the days when shows traditionally ended with a wedding dress. Gerard Pipart was the designer for the Ricci brand at the time, and this dress was beautiful. But the silk it was made from was so damn heavy, it weighed pounds, and was so tight in places I could not wear underwear without spoiling it.

“Anyway in rehearsal all had gone well, I’d walked the dress fine. But for the show we were wearing these 6-inch heels, and they were a razor sharp stiletto. Alright most models can cope with huge heels, it’s part of our job, but sometimes we have – well problems with them.

“So I get half way down the runway though and I feel one of the heels break, now I know I’m going to hit the deck, but something inside me said you can do this in a lady like manner…Could I hell!”

The audience burst out laughing as Eve took another drink.

“As I go down, the other shoe cuts through the silk like a hot knife through butter, and the dress falls apart at the front, giving the audience a view that I’m sure they didn’t expect they’d ever they’d see on a runway, and what was worse it happened right in front of the photographers.

“I don’t know how many of you are old enough to remember the newspaper coverage, let it just go though by saying I was never so embarrassed in my life.”

She waited for the laughter and applause to die down before she said “Well, on that bombshell, I think this is a good time for a break.  Refreshments are available in the refectory, and my eager assistants are waiting to take your donations.  We’ll restart in half an hour with your questions to me.”

Smiling, Eve walked off the stage to a round of applause, before the audience made their way to the refreshment area.



“Eve is in fine form up there.” John Hammond commented as he brought drinks over for Shirley, Juliette, and Klaus.

“I never realised she had such a fund of great stories and jokes.” Juliette laughed.

“Well she’s certainly entertaining me.” Shirley sipped her drink.

“I bet you have as many stories Ju my love?”

“Oh I have stories Klaus, I’m just not sure I’d ever be able to tell mine as well as she tells hers.”

“Did you have the privilege of shooting her, John?”

“Oh yes – I mean, Stephen will always have her as his muse, but she was a dream to work with.  Mind you, the time we were working in Lisbon…”

“I’d better get the cheque book out,” Shirley said as she nudged John.

“Changing the subject, how is the fund-raising going Grace?” John asked as the dean and Pippa Ashley joined them.

“Amazingly well, we’ve had some large cheques written, and I haven’t seen a single face without a smile on it.”

“Is Poppy enjoying herself Pippa? Asked Shirley.

“She is, It’s nice to see her and the others enjoying themselves as they work.”

“It was nice of them to volunteer to act as programme sellers, donation collectors, etc.” Juliette added.  As she looked round, she saw Pippa with Erica and the others, taking envelopes and selling programs while the older girls served refreshments.



“It’s going well Mom,” Cassandra said as she sat in Miss Tennant’s office, having a drink with her parents.

“That it is,” Stephen Stone said with a smile.  “So you still plan to discuss the other book?”

“Sure – don’t worry, I’ll be tasteful,” Eve said with a smile as she put her glass down.  “So, on to part two.”



“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome back Eve Stone.”

As Eve came back on stage, she smiled and took a seat, waiting for the applause to die down.

“Ladies and gentlemen, before I start the second half can I introduce another dear and precious friend. A big round of applause for Patti Hansen please.”

She smiled as the applause went round, before saying “Patti as you are no doubt aware is very happily married to Keith Richards of the Stones, and has been for a very long while.” Eve paused as though she was thinking, “Patti can I have your permission to tell some of my Keith jokes please, after all I’ve known him even longer then you have?”

“As long as they are clean.” Patti giggled back.

“You mean like Keith is nowadays?”

“YES!”

“Alright,” Eve turned to the rest of the audience. “You know by the way why Patti is here alone? It’s simply because the sun was still up when she had to leave and Keith couldn’t leave his coffin yet.”

The crowd roared its laughter as Eve took another drink.

“We’ve been trying to tell Keith for years he was dead, but he just won’t believe us.” Eve laughed, “despite the mountain of evidence.”

“It’s also not true that Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent have asked him to tour with The Zombies…though most people think it would be appropriate…And its also not true that Keith inspired ‘The Living Dead’.”

“And I better stop before one of those daggers Patti is looking at me hits. I’m sorry about the jokes Patti, but I know even Keith tells them on himself sometimes, and thank you for being such a great sport.”

The crowd stood to applaud the blonde American model.

“Also before I go on, I’d like to publicise an auction we are going to conduct. Before the show Jack took a group picture of all the models that are here tonight. The school art department is as we speak producing a limited edition of 20 posters, all on fine art paper. After the show we are all going to sign them, and each will in effect be a chronicle of modeling history running from Vera and Grace at one end to Abby and Jeannie at the other. Over 40 of us, and each a star in her own right.”

Eve looked round the room and said “each will then be put on E-Bay for sale, or sold at a follow up event. Can I urge everybody to bid highly for them, because you will never get as many of the stars of the model industry together in one place again.”

As the applause died down, Eve said “Alright some questions please?”

“Who in your opinion was the most beautiful model you ever saw?” a male voice called out.

“That is a question that could make me an awful lot of enemies in this room…very quickly.” Eve smiled, “but I do have an answer and it’s someone who sadly could not be with us tonight. I think at least among we older types most of us agree that for pure beauty Jean Shrimpton stood head and shoulders above us all.”

“What do you most envy among today’s models?” a female voice yelled.

“Other then the amount of money the top girls make nowadays?”

“Yes,” the voice shouted back above the laughter.

“I think that they are getting to work with such an amazing range of talented photographers who create such wonderful images, but equally I’m a little sad for them that they missed out on working with some of the greats I had the pleasure of being photographed by.”

“Did your husband mind you going on trips with other photographers?”

“Sometimes, but I think he trusted me to behave myself. The only real problem was that if I was modeling anything tight my chastity belt showed.” Eve smiled as she stood up and walked across to the other side of the stage.

“Next question please.” Eve held her hand up to quiet the laughter.

“Hi Eve.”

“Jeanne – ladies and gentlemen, Jeanne Beckman, host of the Beckman Report.  Good to see you Jeanne – what’s your question?”

“I wanted to ask you what your biggest regret was, the thing you wish you had done, but never got the chance to?”

"My biggest regret?”  Eve sat down and said “I regret that I never got to be a 'proper' debutante like my mother had been. I remember looking at her photo album when I was a child and dreaming of the day when I too would wear the long white gloves, and long white dress, the three feathers in my hair, and be presented at court...But as you probably know in the latter half of the sixties all that had gone out the window, and it was no longer the done thing.

"The nearest I ever got to it was when Cassie my daughter was presented at the Vienna Opernball, and she got to wear the gloves and dress, living out my lost dream.  So when I hear of Angel Fitzstuart and Abigail de Ros not only being presented at court, but also in Paris, Vienna and here in New York, I am both proud for them, and incredibly jealous of them."

"You looked beautiful in white at your wedding though Eve." Twiggy called out.

"Thank you Lesley, though don't I remember you saying on the day that the Virgin Mary must be having fits that I had the cheek to wear white?"

The audience laughed.

"In rebuttal can I say that Stephen and I had never had sex before we were married, and that Cass was a miracle baby being born fully formed at just five and a half months."

As the crowd roared with laughter, Eve added, "and if you believe that can I interest you in buying this bridge I own."

“Now, who shall we have a question from next?”

“What is the worst model joke you know?” Harriet shouted.

“It’s pretty terrible…do you really want to hear it?”

“Yes,” the audience shouted back.

“Okay you asked for it…what do you call a group of blonde Irish models on bicycles?”

Eve paused…”Dope peddlers.”

As the audience groaned, Eve pointed at Harriet, “hey she was the one who asked.  Talking of bicycles though brings back some memories…Will Mary Thomas please stand up?”

As Mary stood up to applause from the audience Eve started the story. “Back in the days when Mary was working in Complete Style’s Paris bureau, she came up with this idea of a spread featuring girls wearing the tight lycra cyclist shorts and tight tops the pro cyclists wear, and that we should photograph it at one of the stages of the Tour de France…”

The audience sat at attention.

“…Now things were going reasonably well as long as we were all posing standing up, but then of course Mary gets the bright idea that we should actually ride these expensive racing bikes we were using as props…BAD IDEA!” Eve rolled her eyes.

“We had thirty minutes before the riders were due to arrive…plenty of time Mary said…those are famous last words.”

“For starters Mary assumed that most of us could ride a bike. Stephen of course was not being helpful when he said a couple of the girls who will remain nameless were bikes…ridden by all.”

Eve took a sip of drink before continuing, “well anyway we are perched on these damn bikes, and we try and ride them through the finish line…well if you’ve seen the pushing and shoving and falls that accompany so called bunch sprints in cycle racing, you may think you’ve seen it all, but I’ll tell you you’ve not seen chaos till you’ve seen 6 fashion models trying to cycle over a line.

“We were PATHETIC!  And all the while we are trying to do it right, the race is approaching and the organisers, and in particular this one man with this cute little moustache were starting to have kittens.

“What no one had predicted was a tail wind, and a solo breakaway, and if you ever can find a picture, the poor winner was the only stage winner in history to fight out a finish weaving in and out of a group of models who had no right to be on bikes anyway.”

“May I ask a question, Miss Stone?”

“Now who asked that – ah, we have question from one of my little assistants.  It’s Anna, isn’t it?”

“That’s right – Miss Stone, many girls I know now combine modeling with studies or another career.  Do you think that’s the right way to go, and if so what alternative career should they avoid?”

“Anna,” Eve said with a smile, “I was in that first generation of models for whom modeling wasn’t something you just did before you married a rich, and preferably titled gentleman. Girls from the preceding generation such as Anne Gunning, Bronwen Pugh, Jean Dawnay, and Fiona Campbell-Walter, had all made what my mother called ‘frightfully good matches’.

“Now I’m not naming names, but for a lot of girls this was a calculated move designed to keep themselves in luxury, either courtesy of their husbands…or their divorce settlements.”

Eve let the laughter subside.

“But to answer your question I do think it’s important to think beyond merely modeling. Very few models really make a fortune to retire on. Fewer still make the transition to work in television or movies.

“So as I’ve always at least told other girls - get an education, and at least get some alternative career established in your mind. I look round this room and I am so proud of some of my friends. Karen Boyd is a doctor. Juliette Huntingdown is a great writer. Alice is a very successful businesswoman. Young Caroline, her mother must be so proud up in heaven that she built a successful business before she even started modeling.

“So yes Anna always have a backup plan as a model and if you can mix modeling and a real career, then for God’s sake do so.”

Eve smiled as Anna nodded, and then said “right, who’s next?”

“What do you think would surprise most people about working as a model?”

“Well, the thing that I think would really surprise everyone is that modeling is now a dog eat dog world.  No, it worse – it’s that modeling is a cat eat cat world. A girl who doesn’t have claws, and isn’t prepared to use them, just isn’t going to make it. Every model quickly learns that if she does not produce the goods, then there are ten girls waiting behind her who will.

“Does that mean you can’t be a nice girl and make it big?...Not at all, but even someone as sweet and nice as Abby de Ros, sometimes has to bare her teeth to protect herself, and her career.

“To be a top girl you above all need to have the desire to make it, preferably backed up by the looks and body required. Now as Abby herself will admit she got her big chance by being photographed by Antonio Bell when some other girl didn’t show up. She seized her opportunity. How did I become my darling Stephen’s muse, then his wife? By making sure he noticed me at an open casting call, and to my shame using my claws almost literally to fight off another girl I thought might beat me out.”

“I heard about that – she still has the scars?”

“Not really – she did fine for herself in the end.  But models have a singular vision, and you need that focus to make it.  After all, any other job that has you standing round for hours doing nothing, you’d quit immediately.”

“Amen,” a number of voices called out as Eve took another sip.

“Now, can I talk for a minute about model agents and bookers? What is a good agent? What is a bad one?”

Eve paused and looked round.

“Someone once told me that a bad agent is someone who stabs a rival in the back…whilst a good agent is someone who stabs someone in the chest and smiles at them while he or she does it…which of course leads me to the one and only Missy Auerbach, who for many years more then either of us probably care to acknowledge was my North American booker.”

Missy stood up and waved while the crowd applauded and laughed.

“Now Missy is probably THE best agent in this business, she not only stabs and smiles, but invites you out to dinner later while she’s doing so.  Having said which, she only picks the best places to dine and die.”

The laughter continued for a moment as Missy put her hand to her chest and adopted a shocked expression.

“Having said that, the stories of the lengths Missy will go to are legendary.  You know of the appearance she made on the Graham Norton show to sign Jeannie Brewster, and many of you have heard of what led to what’s now known as the Jameson contract.  On which note – Caroline, can I just say sealed bids is an idea whose time has come!”

Caroline smiled and shook her head as Eve continued “but there is a side to Missy not a lot of people see.  Couple of years back, and again naming no names, there was a model who found she was in trouble – a business deal had gone south in a bad way.  Missy personally took charge of the situation, did the best that she could, got as much money back as she could, and set up a lawyer to handle the rest.

“In many ways, Missy is the best friend a model can have outside other models – and I’m not the only one who says that.  Other agents too – so we wish her well in her new role as head of Norstar.”

There was a great round of applause as Eve sat on the stool.

“Maggie – for those who don’t know her, Maggie Fife, one of the next generation.  What’s your question?”

“What was the biggest difference between the girls of the fifties and early sixties compared to my generation?”

“Well I guess it was the change in class of the model, before my time, most models were like me, nice upper class, or upper middle class girls like Grace Coddington. The whole profession changed when they started letting in common little oiks like Lesley.”

“Ere ‘oo are you callin’ common?” Twiggy yelled out before laughing.

“There are still of course an awful lot of very posh girls in the profession, as I can tell as I look round the room, Duchesses, Princesses, Countesses, Baronesses, plus those whose parents simply had a title. But modeling as a profession is a lot more wide open now then it once was, back in the days when agencies before they took on a girl checked her entry in Debrett’s Peerage, Burke’s Landed Gentry, or the Almanach de Gotha.”

“There’s Jeannie for example – I don’t think, with all the will in the world, anyone would call you someone from a privileged background.  There’s Joanne Smith – lovely girl, down to earth, but the face of Fitzstuart Woolens and Big Box.  Maggie and Marnie, who did the infamous calendar from last year – and Anna, come to think of it.

“I for one am glad of that – and that the barriers are coming down.  It should be about talents and looks, not how rich you are.”

Looking over the room, Eve pointed to the back and said “Caroline – your question?”

“Who was the best photographer you ever posed for?”

“Oh God, another trap question,” Eve smiled. “Logic of course says I should say my husband.”

The audience clapped as Stephen took a bow.

“But both Stephen and I have a photographer who we admire above all others and that is the late great Richard Avedon.”

Again Eve paused as the audience applauded.

“I had the pleasure of working with Dick on numerous occasions and each shoot produced at least one image that truly took my breath away for its sheer beauty, or for its amazing content. I do think though his greatest work was probably with Vera, and with Polly Mellen styling the shoots, and I’d like them both to stand and for you to applaud.”

Both the model, and the venerable editor took to their feet as the whole audience gave them a prolonged ovation.

“Now, the special tribute edition of Complete Style has Stephen trying to emulate Richard with Jeannie in the place of Vera – it should prove interesting.  Next question.”

“Who was the photographer you’d have most liked to have been photographed by, but never were?”

“Oh that one is EASY!” Eve laughed, “I grew up looking at the marvelous pictures from John French. John’s work with that Hasselblad of his was what really got me interested in both fashion and modeling.”

Eve paused to sip her water. “The funny thing of course is that John never actually snapped a photograph, he directed shoots, posed the model, composed the scenes, but it was actually always his assistants who pressed the button as and when John told them.

“Now some say how can he be a photographer when he didn’t actually take the shot, but John’s genius was in working with his models and creating fabulous photographs that to this day still amaze me.

“Of course he was also arguably the greatest developer of other photographers, when you consider Lord Snowden, David Bailey, and Terry Donovan all worked for him as assistants, and I was snapped by all three of them, so in a way maybe I did have a link to John.”



“Now, one final question?”

“What is the thing you are most proud of that nobody thinks about when they think of you?”

“Oh – deep philosophical question.  Actually, there is one thing, but I need to precede this with a parental advisory.  If any parents do not wish their daughters – or sons – to hear this, or are of a sensitive disposition, you should go and get an early drink.  Cassandra will lead the way…”

“Very funny mum,” Cassandra said as nobody removed themselves.

“Right – 1992.  Who remembers a little coffee table book Madonna brought out at the time called Sex?”

There were a few murmurs around the room as Eve said, “so what I’m going to tell tonight is the true story behind a little book Stephen and I put out at the same time – Fetish.

“It was actually based on a very simple premise – Steve at the time had been looking at the work coming out of Japan, and at the same time there was a renewed interest in the work of photographers like Irving Klaw and John Willie.  When Madonna’s box hit the headlines, my darling Steve wanted to do a series of shots showing the artistic side of all this - and guess who he wanted to shoot for it?”

Pointing to herself, Eve waited for the laughter to die down before she said “so began possibly the strangest research period Steve and I ever entered into – looking at some of the things the Japanese were doing, and looking at some of the things that have been written and said about Willie and Klaw.  Le’s just say my eyes were really opened – and all the time we were doing this, we had to keep it secret from a certain very inquisitive teenager.”

The room looked at Cassandra, who remained silent as Eve said “now, both Klaw and Willie had died many years before, but as part of our research Steve and I spent a day talking to the artist Eric Stanton.  A very unusual but talented man – so here’s a secret.  In one of his Blunder Broad stories, I have a small supporting part – but if anyone finds it, you are a very naughty boy.

“Or girl.”

The room laughed again as Eve said “We also visited a few interesting places, both in New York and in Dublin.  First rule of thumb when it comes to things of a fetish nature – the more religiously restricted the country, the more likely you are to find what you want somewhere.

“So after that education, we selected the poses and started to plan the shoot – which brought the next problem.  Nowadays, leather clothes are relatively easy to find, and it wasn’t too difficult then – but we also had to learn how to bind someone, or hire someone to do so.  Like I said, I trust Steve, but nobody else, so we visited a few bondage clubs in the city and took some lessons.  Nothing serious, but enough to look realistic.”

Looking round the room, Eve said “there then followed the most – interesting two weeks of my life.  We started by recreating some Willie photos, me clothed, and tied as best Steve could.  I have to see, his comment was it was the easiest time he had ever had in keeping me still – for which he was suitably chastised…”

“Still got the scars,” Stephen said out loud.

“Then we moved up a notch.  I went for the classic look – white blouse, tight black pencil skirt, high heels, and played the dominatrix with a good friend, who shall remain nameless, and wore the leather pants and hood.

“I have to admit, I like the idea of dominating someone like that, for the purposes of the book – but then came the really strange stuff.  Because then, came me, in a leather catsuit, trussed like a Thanksgiving Turkey, and lying on my stomach on a mat as Steve fastened this large red ball in my mouth with straps round my head.

“The front of the catsuit was held together by a zip, but what they don’t tell you is that when you tie someone like I was tied, the way your chest gets forced out, the zip is going to give – and Steve had me wriggling round and moaning like a kitten.  So as I’m doing this, the zip slowly works its way down, and my chest spills out.

“Which of course is the moment Cass walks in after a school trip…”

The entire room burst into laughter as Eve looked round, and both her husband and daughter blushed.

“The book was a success, which is a great way for me to point out that Steven’s latest book of portraits, with words by one Juliette Huntingdown, is coming out in November.  I encourage you all to pre-order it.  And Fetish?  I’m told it’s a collector’s item now – but we don’t have a copy.  If you do – keep it to yourself, all right?”

As the room laughed again, Eve smiled and said, “Well, I am afraid time and my energy has run out.  I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to me rambling on.”

The room stood and applauded her as she blushed and picked her glass of water up.

“Thank You all so much,” Eve said, bowing as the applause continued before she sat down. Raising her glass in salute to the audience, she said “can I end as my great friend the late Dave Allen always ended his shows - with the words. ‘Thank you, goodnight, and may your God go with you’.”

Standing as Stephen and Cassandra joined her on stage, Eve hugged both of them before they waved and headed off to the office.
A Night with Eve Stone
A little light relief before we move onwards...
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EuroHELLLPPPP!!! You've seen the 'songs; - which deserves the trophy?
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No deviants said Song 9
“Didn’t I tell you how fantastic that place was for Brunch, mom?”

“Yes, dear you did,” Eleanor Braddock said as she followed her daughter Elle out into the warm Seattle sunshine.  It was early summer, and even the wettest of states was enjoying a seasonal dry spell.  She had come to spend the weekend with her daughter, and also to have a chance to get away from some of the pressures of the office.

Eleanor had ash blonde hair cut to frame her face, and was wearing a black and white striped short sleeved dress, the round neckline hidden by the triple row of beads she wore around her neck, the hem coming to just above her knee.  A white watch and bracelet were on her left wrist, in which she also held her pink leather purse, and a pair of leopard skin mules enclosed her feet.

Elle had longer chestnut brown hair, which fell in soft curls down the front and shoulders of her combat print blouse.  A silver and jewelled necklace hung round her neck, while her leather skirt came to above her knees.  The black heels she wore had gold clasps, and her taupe bag hung across her chest and down one side.

“Right then,” Elle said as they walked down the main road, “I just need to pop into the bookstore and pick something up, before we...”

Her words were stopped as the two masked men ran out of the store, firing into the building and not seeing either woman until they literally bumped into them.

“What the fuck?”  One of them said as a grey van pulled up, the tyres screeching as it came to a sudden halt and the side door opening.

“Shit – get them in here as well,” someone inside said as both Eleanor and Elle were pushed into the van, the two armed men jumping in behind them as the door closed and the van drove off.

“Who the fuck are they?”

“No fucking idea – you two, on your stomachs, hands behind your backs NOW!!”

“Mum,” Elle whispered as her wrists were held together, while one of the men found a roll of duct tape and used it to secure her wrists and ankles together.

“Please, just let us go, we wontnmmmggddd,” Eleanor whimpered as one of the men slapped several layers of tape over her mouth, and then her world went black as a strip was pressed down over her eyes.  She tried to reach out, and found her daughter’s fingers, giving them a squeeze as the van sped to the destination...




“What the hell are we going to do with them?  We didn’t mean to take hostages!”

“I know – but we had no choice.”

“Yes we fucking well did – we could have fucking got into the van and not pushed them in with us.”

“You told us to push them in!!”

“All right, all right – I need time to think.  Get them down to the basement and find something to keep them there with.”

Eleanor grunted as she was lifted up and carried, then dropped on what felt like a leather covered chair.  A few minutes later, she heard a soft thud beside her.

“Llll?”

“Mmm – whtrthgnggtdtsss?”

“Edntknn...”

“Shut up – we’re going to take the tape off your eyes and mouths, but if you raise your voices or try and call for help, it goes back on, understand?”

Both women nodded and then yelped as the tape was ripped away.  Looking round, they realised they were sitting in what looked like a teenager’s den in a basement – the light coming from thin glass windows at the top of the walls.  In front of them stood two young men, wearing stockings that they had pulled down over their heads.

“Please,” Eleanor said as she tried to move her wrists, “I know you don’t want to do this, so just let me and my daughter go...”

“Can’t do that lady,” one of the young men said, “so just keep calm and we’ll work something out.”

The other man walked to a stool, Elle squirming as he picked up her handbag and rummaged through it.  “Heh – student,” he said as he looked at her university pass, “and a cute looking one too.”

“Hey – that’s personal,” Elle called out, as the first man walked behind her and removed her necklace.  “So are these,” he said as he also pulled her rings off her fingers, “so tough – we’re keeping them.”

“Look, take our purses and jewels, and let us go – we’ll say you dropped us off on a road, and there won’t be any talk of kidnapping...”

“Well, we have kidnapped you,” the second man said as he looked through Eleanor’s purse, “Mrs Braddock, so just shut up and do as you’re told.”  Looking round the cellar, he found several coils of rope, bringing them over and saying “we’ll tie their legs together, and then get them something to drink before we tie them together.”

“Please, don’t so this,” Elle whimpered as they knelt in front of the two women, and used a length of rope to secure their legs together above and below their knees.  They then cut the tape from their ankles, removing their shoes before they secured their ankles together, making sure they took the rope between their legs as well.

As Elle tried to move her legs, the ropes rubbed on her bare flesh, making her feel rather strange – and then she noticed the way the two young men were looking at her.

“What?”

“Nothing,” one of them said as he went behind and cut her wrists free, before she was handed a bottle of water.  “Here – have a drink.”

“Thanks, I think,” she said as she watched her mother’s wrists been cut free, before she was handed a bottle of water as well.  They both took a long, cool drink as they watched their captors sorting more ropes out.

“They can’t be that much older than me Mom,” Elle whispered as she took another drink.

“I know – let’s just hope they don’t hurt us,” Eleanor whispered back before they walked over.

“Both of you, on the floor, back to back.”

“You’ll need to help us,” Eleanor said, and then regretted that as they were both lifted and dropped to the floor, the two masked men sitting behind them as their arms were taken behind their backs, and their wrists secured together, the thin rope biting into their arms as they pulled it tighter.

“Hey – that hurts,” Elle complained – and then she was silenced as a rolled up bandana was pulled into her mouth, forcing her tongue down as it was tied round her head.

“You too mummy,” Eleanor heard before a black scarf was pulled between her lips, and then they were forced to sit back to back, ropes securing them together around their waists and their shoulders.

Elle gripped her mother’s fingers again as the two men looked at them.

“You take the first watch – I’m going to go and get some things sorted out,” the young man said as his companion sat in a chair, watching the two women sitting on the floor, his eyes fixed on Elle’s chest as he tried not to look...



“Well?”

Both women raised their heads as an older man came down, his grey hair visible under the stocking as he carried two bags and two drink cups with him.

“No trouble – what’s happening out there?”

“We’re good so far – but we need to decide what we’re going to do with these two.  We might be able to get out of here tomorrow, if the road blocks have been lifted.”

“We’ll have to keep them overnight then – I can scrounge a change of clothes for them, and we can secure them down here.”

“All right then – I picked up some supplies to use on them as well.  Untie the youngster first, and let her get changed.”

The young man knelt next to Eleanor and Elle, releasing them from each other and untying Elle’s legs before he helped her to stand up.  “Come with me,” he said as he marched her to the staircase.

As they went up, Elle realised they were in an ordinary suburban house, the man taking her up a staircase and then into a bathroom.  Untying her wrists, he said “get undressed and clean yourself up – I’ll be back in a few minutes.  Don’t forget we’ve got your mum downstairs, so no funny stuff.”

Elle nodded as he closed the door, and then reached round, untying the gag and letting the wet cloth drop to the floor before she sat on the toilet, burying her head in her hands and letting the tears flow.  Eventually, however, she got up, stripped and stood under the shower, letting the warm water wash over her and cleanse her body.

She didn’t hear the door open and close, but when she got out she saw her clothes had been taken, and a pink vest top and shorts left instead.  Drying herself off with a towel, she slipped the clothes on, and then opened the door to see the young man standing outside, a length of rope in his hands.

“Turn round and cross your wrists,” he said, Elle nodding as she felt him wrap the rope around and between her arms, holding her wrists firmly together as he tied the ends off and made sure the knot was out of reach of her fingers.

“Don’t we get to eat?”

“Yeah – let’s go,” he said as he took her by the arm and walked her down the stairs.  She passed her mother as she was taken up the stairs, and then back into the cellar.

“Sit down,” the older man said as Elle was pushed onto the leather couch, watching as the younger man crossed and secured her ankles together with white rope, before taking a sandwich from the brown bag and holding it to her mouth.  She took a bite, chewing and swallowing before she said “so what happens now?  Our family will be looking for us – as will the police.”

“Then you’d better hope they don’t find us,” the older man said as Elle was fed, and allowed to take a drink.  The older man then walked behind her, doubling over a long length of rope, before she felt him wrap it round her arms and body, pulling them into her side below her chest and forcing it out as the rope went above and below her breasts.

The two bands of rope rubbed on her, making her feel very strange as they were pulled tighter and tighter, and the rope passed under her arms and around the back of her neck.  The gloved fingers of the older man brushed over her breasts as he did this, tiny little shocks running through her body in response to his touch.

As the bands were pulled still tighter, and he secured them behind her back, Elle struggled to understand why she was feeling the way she did.  It was different, it was not that unpleasant – but she as a hostage.  She was afraid – but the ropes rubbing on her made her feel different...

The older man knelt down and bound her legs together below her knees, and then around her thighs, before he said “Lie face down.”  Elle managed somehow to lie on the couch, her feet hanging off the armrest as he took another length of rope and fed it under her waist, using it to secure her wrists against her back, but she wondered why he left two lengths lying across her legs.

“Roll over.”

With some difficulty, Elle managed to roll onto her back, looking at the older man as he said “I think you need a reward for doing as you’re told.”

Reaching under her legs, she saw him push the ends of rope up between her legs, just above her knees, and wondered what he was doing – an answer coming as he pulled them sharply up, pressing the rope on her body between her legs as he secured the ends between her breasts, drawing the two bands together.

“OH god, what have you done,” she moaned as the rope rubbed on her – and then she saw the folded scarf in his hand.

“Open wide.”

Nodding, she allowed him to push the cloth into her mouth, pressing her tongue down and filling the space behind her teeth, before he tore the backing paper from a wide strip of white tape and smoothed it down over her lips, the tape conforming to the contours of her face.

“Oh no – are you all right Elle?”

The young woman looked to see her mother being escorted down the stairs to the cellar.   Eleanor was wearing a pair of white silk pyjamas, her eyes wide as she saw the way her daughter had been bound.

“Don’t worry Mommy – you’re going to get exactly the same treatment,” the older man said as Eleanor was made to stand in front of her daughter, Elle too frightened to move as she watched the older man bind her mother’s arms to her side in the same way as she had been tied.  

As Eleanor’s chest was forced out by the ropes, the buttons holding the pyjama top in place strained, Elle’s eyes full of tears as she watched her mother being humiliated in this way – and then the rope around her waist, and taken through her legs, making Eleanor gasp as the silk was forced against her crotch and the ropes tightened around her chest.

One of the younger men threw a cushion down on the floor and Eleanor was made to sit, the rope tightening on her as she watched them bind her ankles and legs together.

“Hmgssmmtfflslss” Elle mumbled, Eleanor nodding as the scarf was stuffed into her own mouth, and then the white tape pressed into place, the contours of her lips visible as she was made to lie on her stomach, her head on the pillow as her ankles were pulled back and secured to the crotch rope.  The younger woman was barely aware of her being rolled over and her legs bent as well, until the pressure increased on her crotch as they were tied in place.

The sensations she was feeling were driving her crazy, and as she looked at her mother she could see Eleanor was struggling with the same feelings.

“Maybe we can...”

“No – leave them be.  We have things to do upstairs.”

The two women watched as the lights were turned off, the cellar plunged into darkness, the only noise their moans as they shifted round, unsure of whether or not they should...




“Hmsswtggddd,” Eleanor mumbled as she slowly opened her eyes, and saw the sunlight shining through the thin windows.  She looked at her daughter, who was still sleeping, the damp patch between her legs visible as she lay still.

Several times during the night both of them had found themselves unable to stop their bodies reacting, until eventually they had fallen asleep, exhausted in body and spirit.  Eleanor tried to stretch her tired legs, and then yelped as she remembered her position.

“The police will be here as quickly as they can,” she heard a woman say as the door to the cellar opened, “whoever broke in, it looks like all they did was eat some of the food and take some of our clothes.”

“So I see,” a male voice called out, “you don’t own a leather skirt like that, do you?”

“I think you’d know if...  Holy shit!”

“Plsshlpsss,” Eleanor moaned as Elle opened her eyes, and saw the dark haired woman standing on the stairs leading from the cellar.

“Cath?”

“George, you’d better get down here – there’s two women trussed up in the cellar.”

“What do you mean the...”  A red haired man came down, looked at the two hostages, and said quietly “What the hell happened here?”

“Hgdddplshlpsss,” Elle moaned as she started shaking again...




“Well,” the detective said, “looks like they saw the house was empty, broke in and held you both hostage here.  It’s pure luck the owners came home today.”

“Thanks,” Eleanor said as she sat in a track suit, “and I’m really sorry about the pyjamas...”

“You didn’t have a choice, from what I could see,” the woman said as Elle sipped her drink.  “But who would do this?”

“If you ever catch them, I have a message for them.”

“And that is?”

All three watched as Eleanor and Elle looked at each other, and then raised their middle fingers.

“Quite right – come on, let’s get you both home.”
The Salute
Be careful where you walk...
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Song 9

Based on Poupee de cire, poupee de son (Luxembourg, 1965 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6xGnA…)

I'm a girl in ropes,
A girl in scarves
My love is expressed in my sounds
Roped girl, scarf girl

Do I whimper, do I moan,
When my mouth is filled?
No, I get pleasure from the sound of my moans
Roped girl, scarf girl

My eyes sparkle with joy
When I cannot move or break free
I'm happiest when I cannot move or crawl
My voice muffled to the quiet whisper or call

And when I look at my master
Laughing as he plays
I sigh and squirm and excite
Roped girl, scarf girl

They cannot know the rush of joy
When you bring me on
And my body screams in release
Roped girl, scarf girl

My eyes sparkle with joy
When I cannot move or break free
I'm happiest when I cannot move or crawl
My voice muffled to the quiet whisper or call

And then, I arch my back and sigh
Shaking, pleasured and right
As I know your love so good, so right and true
Why would i wish for another life?

I'm only a girl in rope
Only a girl in scarves
As I struggle and then call
Roped girl, scarf girl

But each day I long for this joy
Roped girl, scarf girl
And I know no greater life
Roped girl, scarf girl

Song 10

Based on Non ho l'età (Italy, 1964 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utd9cH…)

Please let me go
Please cut me free from these ropes
I never asked to be held hostage by you

I only serve the people
Give them money
They look on in fear
As you tied me up
And they all got to leave...

Please let me go
I will not tell
Or speak
With the tape stuck there
I cannot now...

Please let me go
Please cut me free from these ropes
I never asked to be held hostage by you

Oh my god
Oh my god
I can see
As you stroke on my cheek
You know how I feel, like this

I feel your touch
A gentle love
I wish
I could have known
Who you are

Please take me now
Hold me trussed in your arms
I want to be in your care the whole time

One day soon
One day soon
Come for me
Make me like this again
And let me show my love for you...
EuroHELLLPPPP! 2015 - Phase 5
The last two songs for this year..  See the full collection at the site tomorrow.
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KP-Presents's Profile Picture
KP-Presents
Kev Pickering
United Kingdom
Writer of "detective magazine" fiction which I publish with other works at www.kppresents.com. The text boxes you see here contain extracts from some of my stories. Click on the link and look for the category mentioned in the description for the full text. For quick updates to my site, try my blog at kppresents.blogspot.com/

I am always open to story ideas or collaboration requests - :iconrequestsopen: :iconcollabsask:

Current Residence: UK
Favourite genre of music: Classic Rock, sixties female
MP3 player of choice: I don't own one
Favourite cartoon character: DangerMouse
Personal Quote: It's the quiet, unobivous ones you have to watch
Interests

Shoutbox

Torpedo585R:icontorpedo585r:
Ta mate! Hope I can stay longer this time round ;)
Sat Nov 23, 2013, 4:45 AM
Nobody

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:iconmistermistoffelees:
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner May 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
And thanks for the nest Invasions fave, too!... :D
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:iconmistermistoffelees:
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the Invasions fave, Mr. KP!... :D
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:iconcreated-by-caz:
Created-By-Caz Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the fave!
Reply
:iconsaebasan:
saebasan Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
Two comments today.  First off, you are one darn prolific writer.  You are literally posting material here faster than I can read it.  Wow.

Second, do you by any chance maintain some sort of index or outline of your stories, in particular which ones go together and in which order?  I am one of those AR types that have to read things in order, from the beginning and just trying to figure out where to start is giving me headaches.  :)

Cheers and thanks for all the reading material!
Reply
:iconkp-presents:
KP-Presents Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
Well thanks.

Now indices - hmmmm

Some of the stories are definitely following a sequence - and on my site at www.kppresents,com the likes of The Pussycat Bang, The Cat, Madame X, Heidi and others are in a reasonable order.  Other stories - easier if you ask me which ones...
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:iconmistermistoffelees:
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the Invasions fave, good sir!... :D
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:iconcarmag34:
carmag34 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015
thanks for fav :)
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:iconsilkenvixen:
Silkenvixen Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015
I hope you like your llama badge, I can't believe I haven't given you one yet!
Reply
:iconkp-presents:
KP-Presents Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015
Why thank you.
Reply
:icondevianartfan1989:
devianartfan1989 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015
hi, I read through all the stories on your site featuring an Indian family. They're all great ! I'd like you to read through some of my stories on TOTV, if you like any of them, I have some story ideas I can put in writing for your site. www.talesoftheveils.info/autho…
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