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Quick - there are four famous damsels in distress, but you can only save one! Who will it be? 

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“There you are,” Vanessa said as they came in.  “What have you been doing?”

“Research on behalf of Janice – I think we have some information for you,” Shirley said quietly.

“Really?  Perhaps you can all tell us what you have found over dinner.”

“I have something to add to that as well.”

Vanessa and Alex turned to see a dusty looking Sigi and Winston come in with Dieter and the girls.

“I hate to ask,” Ingrid said with a giggle, “but what have you been doing, Aunt Sigi?”

“Discovering an eighty-plus year old cache of whiskey and brandy,” Sigi said as she accepted a drink.

“Oh my,” Vanessa said quietly, “then it was true?  Capone’s liquor was hidden in the barn?”

“It was – there was a hidden door in a wardrobe of one of the rooms.  Tom you may wish to see it when we return tonight, and decide who to inform.”

“This does seem to have been a day for discoveries,” Curt said as he handed Winston a drink.  “Why don’t we eat and then we can discuss all we’ve discovered.”

“Pepsi, why are you dusty as well,” April asked with a raised eyebrow.

“We helped – I’ll tell you both about it later,” Pepsi said with a smile.


“The Flaherty brothers? May they know some peace now at least,” Gus said as they sat round the dinner table.  “But what were they doing down there?”

“I think – and at the moment it’s only think – Black Jack knew of the tunnel and lured them down there to sort this out.  As to who killed them – well, they were shot, but by a gun a woman would carry.”

"Your thoughts Curt?" asked Adam as they sat eating.

"This is very old school, the Flaherty's had a code of honour that you don't find very often today, an insult to a woman member of the family was something that had to be paid for in some form."

"There were still vestiges of that kind of thinking back home when I was a girl." Katherine nodded. "Call it a vendetta, or a feud, but people took that kind of thing more than just seriously." She thought as she remembered something. "There was a house my Grandfather would walk across the street to avoid passing, simply because the man who lived there had once got the sister of a friend of his in trouble, and that was 45 years earlier."

"If we are to solve this then that's the kind of mentality we need to understand." Curt nodded to Katherine.

"So why chose to come out and have such a public confrontation Curt?"

"That's easy Tom, they wanted to shame and embarrass Richmond."

"So they didn't necessarily come looking for a fight?"

"No - men like that, they wanted a fight they'd do it quietly, probably from ambush. They came to make a noise that would hurt the Richmond's in front of their high-class friends."

"And if I know my family, which I do." Nessa looked solemn, "They would not have reacted well to such a public disturbance."

"That was my thought." Joanne spoke. "I think maybe the Flahertys considered the Richmonds had gone soft, that maybe they were no longer 'real Irish'."

"That's an intriguing idea." Tom Callaghan held his fork in the air while he thought. "So we really need to find out just how the scene went down in the party?"

“We may be able to throw a little light on that,” Shirley said quietly.  “I’ll explain after dinner.”

“This Irish connection, though – just how much bad blood would there have been between them over that?”

“We covered that in a history class,” Ally said.  “As I understand it, when Eire got independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, some who fought were angry at the division of the country, and wanted to keep fighting.”

“Not quite – when the settlement happened, many felt they lost on the declaration of the Irish Republic, and so they formed the Irish Republican Army.  Between 1922 and 1923, the two sides fought for control of the new Ireland – the Free State supported by London, and in the end victorious.”

“That’s right Katherine,” Ally said, “and it also allowed Northern Ireland to be created.  Anyway, that sense of betrayal led to a bloody conflict, and a lifetime of resentment.”

“It was late ’23 when Jack Richmond came out to join the family over here – the Flaherty boys followed a year later.  And then came the engagement party – and, now we have a fair idea of what happened to the Flaherty boys.”

“I take it there’s nothing back from NY yet, Janice?”

“They say it will be tomorrow, but they’ll call as soon as they have checked the archives.”

As the pudding was served, Tom said “So there is a booze cache over our heads, Sigi?”

“Oh yes, very much so,” Sigi said quietly.

“What’s wrong, darling,” Dieter said.

“We found something,” Winston said, “but I’d like to wait until after dinner please.  I think it may tie into whatever Shirley has found out.”

“Very well then,” Vanessa said, “let us postpone further discussion until after dinner is finished.”










"I'll be surprised if there aren't other hidden passageways that we haven't even thought of yet." Alex said as he sipped his port, "I'm starting to think that when the 'Old Fella' built this estate he had security in mind and had lots of hidden exits built in."

"We have several at Furstenheim," Klaus nodded, "My ancestor Frederick the Fourth was I guess paranoid about his privacy, and when he had the place remodeled in the early 18th century, he too had lots of passages and secret doors built in."

"In his case though I think it was to prevent his wife knowing when he slipped out to see his mistresses." Sigi laughed.

"Well for whatever reason they are here and were obviously used." Adam spoke.

“For many purposes,” Shirley said.  “The fact a tunnel runs from the Beach Shack to the Cellar certainly gives credence to the fact a lot of liquor was smuggled in.”

“And the one from the Widow’s cottage to the Chapel?”

“There used to a boat house down there, right?”

“Ah – an escape route,” Alex said quietly.

“So, Shirley, what do you have to share,” Vanessa said as she sat down.

“At the time of the engagement party, Vanessa, your visitor book shows a Bartholomew Rhymaes and Gladys Pugh visited.  Rhymaes wrote and published a series of diaries of his experiences as a young man, and I own a complete set.  I had a copy of the pages covering this visit sent over to me when his name was pointed out.   What I have here,” she said as Susan passed her a tablet, “is his recollection of the night of the engagement party.  Jayes, the man he mentions, is his personal manservant.”


“How does it look Jayes,” I said as I looked at myself in the mirror.

“If I may sir – a small adjustment.  One should always aim for the perfect butterfly shape,” Jayes said as he adjusted my bow tie, and then helped me to put on the jacket.

There was a knock on the door, and Gladys came in, a vision in grey silk with a beaded dress matched by her gloves and pearls.

“My my, you do scrub up well, Mister Rhymaes,” she said as she looked at me.

“Why thank you, Miss Pugh,” I said as I offered my arm.  “What part do you play tonight, Jayes?”

“I have been asked to assist with the drinks tonight, Sir, so I shall be available if I am required.”

“Excellent – shall we go and celebrate with Miss Richmond, Gladys?”

“Why yes, yes we shall,” she said as Jayes held the door and we started to head out, arm in arm.

As we came down the marble staircase, other guests were coming into the hallway.  I recognized many of the bright young things of the Manhattan set, as well as some of the richest men in the city.

“Kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it,” Annie Xavier said as she came down behind us, wearing an ivory silk sleeveless dress.

“Slightly different from the life of a club hostess,” Gladys said with a smile.

“I was lucky enough to be able to improve myself,” Annie said as she returned the smile.  “After all, we must all stick together in our circle of friends, mustn’t we?”

Gladys looked at her, and then gave one of her beautiful smiles.  “Of course we must,” she said, as I looked at both of them, not having the foggiest of what just happened.

“Did I miss something,” I said as we walked in.

“Barty, sometimes I wonder if you deliberately fail to see the obvious,” Gladys said as Jayes approached with a tray of glasses.

I looked over to see Annabel, her long white dress flowing as she wore a dazzling set of emerald jewellery on her neck and chest.

“The Richmond Emeralds,” Jane Huntingdown said behind us, “a gift from a friend.”


“That was the first public appearance of the Emeralds,” Vanessa said, “Great Aunt Annabel had them mounted in New York by one of the finest jewelers”

“The next part deals with his impressions of the band and the guests,” Shirley said, “and you may find them of interest later.  But I want to go to, if you like, the main event of the evening.”

I watched from the side of the room with Gladys as Old Man Richmond came onto the stage, the bandmaster watching as he took the microphone.

“Friends, can I crave a moment of your time,” he said as Alex came over and stood with us.  I saw Jayes standing with the other servants, amused to see Annie Xavier with them.

“I want to take a moment to thank you all for coming to our home,” Richmond said with genuine pride in his voice, “and for taking us into your society as well.  I especially wish to thank you for your kindness and good wishes to Alex and Annabel.

“And we are here tonight to do something which makes me very proud and also very humble – to announce the engagement of Annabel to Arthur Rockland.  Arthur has done everything in the right way, and I am so pleased to say that I have given my permission for the engagement to be made public.”

I, Gladys and many others applauded that announcement, and I could see both her brother and her uncle clapping with enthusiasm as well.  Her mother could not have looked prouder, as Annabel and Rocky kissed.

After that the applause started to die down – only it didn’t stop.  One pair of hands was still clapping, slowly, loudly, and it was coming from the entrance to the ballroom.

All eyes and heads turned to see three red headed men standing there, most definitely not dressed for the occasion.  One glance at Jayes with both eyebrows raised was enough to tell me his views on the matter.

“Nice little speech Richmond,” the tallest of the three men said, “wonder if you’ll extend the same courtesy to my sister Nelly.”

“Flaherty,” Old Man Richmond said as Jane came over to stand with us.  “What do you want?”

“Who are they,” I whispered.

“Annabel told me about them,” he whispered back, “old enemies from the old country.”

“What the hell are you doing here,” Uncle Jack said as he came and stood in front of them.

“Why we wanted to offer our congratulations to your little niece,” Flaherty said, “and to ask you if you are going to do the right thing by Nell.”

“What do you mean, do the right thing?”

“You should know, Jack Richmond – you screwed us in ’23, and you’re screwing the Flaherty family again now.”

There was a dark murmuring around the room as Old Man Richmond walked forward and joined his brother.

“Jack, what have you been doing?”

“On the soil of our homeland, nothing…”

“Is there something specific you wish to discuss gentlemen,” Rocky said as he came forward as well, the three men looking at him.”

“Our beef ain’t with you son,” Flaherty said, “it’s with Jack here.”

“Fine,” Jack said, his face growing redder than a beetroot, “then let’s talk it out, like gentlemen.”

“You’re no gentleman Richmond – you’re a traitor to the country and the cause.”

“No man calls my family traitors,” Richmond Senior growled, but I was surprised to see Jayes step forward.

“If I may intercede for a moment, gentlemen, it strikes me that the ladies Richmond have no part to play in this conversation.  May I suggest we take it to a more secluded and discrete location, where you may give full voice to the grievance?”

“What did fancy boy here just say?”

“He said let’s take this outside,” Jack growled.

“Suits us,” Flaherty said.

“May I suggest the Chapel, gentlemen?  The peace of the presence of the Almighty may help soothe fevered minds”

“You always talk so funny boy?”

“Forgive me Sir,” Jayes said with an inclination of the head, “I was always taught to be calm and polite in all circumstances.”

“Jayes may speak in a funny way,” Richmond said, “but he speaks truth.  Let’s take this out to the Chapel.”  He then turned to the bandleader and said “Play something people can dance to – we’ll return shortly.”

As he and Jack watched the Flaherty men turn, Richmond turned to Jayes and said “come with us – we need witnesses.”

“May I suggest two other independent witnesses, Sir – Mister Rhymaes and Mrs. Xavier?   I think Miss Pugh should stay here with Doctor Huntingdown to help your daughter if the need arises.”

“Good thinking Jayes,” Richmond said, “that way if court proceedings come, we have our witnesses.  Rhymaes, Mrs. Xavier, would you come with us please?”

“I’ll be back soon,” I whispered as I kissed Gladys, and followed Jayes and Annie out of the house, across the brazier lit drive and into the chapel.

“Right,” Jack said as Jayes closed the chapel doors.  “Just what is it you think I have done, Flaherty – apart from seeking the best peace our country could get.”

“Nelly’s pregnant – and she says you did it.”

“That’s not possible, Flaherty.”

“Why not, Richmond?”

Annie, Jayes and I watched Jack Richmond as he seemed to whisper something, and then said “It just isn’t – believe me on that.”

“Not enough man to admit you were a man, you yellow bellied coward…”

“Nobody calls a Richmond a coward,” Old Man Richmond said as Jayes stepped forward.  “Gentlemen, if I may offer a suggestion?”

“What?”

“I merely wished to point out that, as a duly appointed official of The Agency, I asked Mister Rhymaes and Mrs. Xavier here as members in good standing to sit in witness of my attempts to negotiate a resolution to this disagreement.”

I stared at Jayes, wondering if he had finally lost his marbles, and then at Annie, but she looked at me and simply nodded.

Old Man Richmond looked at me and said “Any idea what he’s talking about Rhymaes?”

“It’s all right Thomas,” Jack said, “I understand.  The offer is most gratefully accepted, but not here.  I have a place we can talk.”

“Jack…”

“Tommy,” Jack Richmond said as he put his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “I’ll sort this out.  Go and be with Annabel and Shelagh.  This is her night, and tell them I love them.”

Her father looked at them, then nodded as he left the chapel.  Jack went to the side and pressed on a panel, opening a passage before he picked up one of the torches burning on the wall.

“Down here,” he said, the Flaherty men going in front and me, Annie and Jayes taking up the rear.

“Jayes,” I whispered, “what in the name of creation have you got us into?”

“My apologies, Sir, Madam,” he said as he nodded to each of us, “but it seemed best that Mister Richmond be kept out of this.  It is my experience that the Irish temperament can lead to unexpected expressions of a passionate and violent nature.  By invoking the Agency, an organization both sides recognize, I hope to avoid such situations.”

We emerged in a round room, the passage carrying on to the other side, and Jack Richmond went into a side room, returning with a bottle and four glasses.

“Let us drink before we settle – what do you say my man?”

“Thank you, Sir, but it would be improper of me to do so.  I must also decline for the other witnesses.”

“As ye wish,” Jack said as he poured four drinks, the men taking a glass each as they raised them and drained them in one.  It was like watching a strange variation of a game at the club, but Jayes merely smiled as he said “Mister Flaherty, state your complaint.”

“You,” the taller brother said as he looked at Jack Richmond, “have deflowered our sister.  What are you going to do about it?”

“And how is this miracle supposed to have happened?”

“Are ye an idiot, Black Jack?”

“Oh no – but I swear by the Holy Father it cannot be me who has done this.”

“And I say you have.”

“Mister Richmond,” Jayes said, “what makes you so certain you cannot have committed this act.”

“I will not say,” Richmond replied with a scowl, “but be assured it cannot be me.”

“I will not.”

“This is getting a little fruity,” I whispered to Annie.  “And since when have you been a member in good standing?”

“I could ask you the same question, Mister Rhymaes,” Annie whispered back, “but in my case, my late husband was a member, and Jayes persuaded me to sign up.”

“Have I heard of you?”

“You might say I move like a ghost, Mister Rhymaes.”

Well, you could have knocked me down with a copy of the NY Post at that.  I was saved by Jayes saying, “Perhaps, Mister Flaherty, if Mister Richmond were to tell me why he is certain, you would accept my judgment of the veracity of his statement?”

“I would,” Flaherty said, as Jack Richmond whispered into Jayes’ ear.  I could see what he heard disturbed him slightly, but his face did not reveal anything else, as he turned to the brothers and said “I ask you to accept when I say his explanation makes it clear he cannot be responsible for your sister’s condition.”

The two other men looked at their brother, who nodded and said, “I accept your judgment as an official of the Agency.  But if not you, then who?”

“I don’t know,” Jack said as he poured more drinks, “but I’m truly sorry.  If I can do anything…”

“Let’s drink her health,” Flaherty said as they raised their glasses again and drained them.  “Ah – where did you get that, Black Jack?”

“The guy who rents the barn by the shore – Vecchio – he does business with Capone up Chicago way.  He usually does right by us.”

“Perhaps we can now leave you to your discussion, gentlemen.  Mister Rhymaes, Mrs. Xavier, if we may return?”

“Hold fast,” Jack said as he took a torch from the wall and walked to the burning fire, “Ye’ll need a light for the tunnel.”

“Most thoughtful,” Jayes said as he took the torch, and we left them to return to the chapel.  

“That went well, if I may say so Sir,” Jayes said, but a minute later we heard a scream – a female scream, and then three shots.

“I fear the worst sir,” Jayes said as we hurried back, to see Black Jack holding a woman, the smoking pistol still in her hand.

Looking to his line of sight, I saw the three men sitting against the wall, a wound in each of their foreheads, and large knifes on the floor near their hands.

“My god Shelagh,” Jack Richmond said, “what have you done?”

“I saved your life, Jack,” Shelagh Richmond said quietly, “and took revenge for the insult they paid to me and to my family tonight.”

“But you’ve killed them,” Jack whispered.

“May I, madam,” Jayes said as he took the gun from Mrs. Richmond’s hand and placed it on the table.  “Mrs. Xavier, may I impose on you to escort Mrs. Richmond back to the house, and call her husband to sit with her.  Discretely, please.”

“No problem,” Annie said as she took Mrs. Richmond by the arm, saying, “come with me” as they walked down the corridor.

“Mister Richmond,” Jayes said quietly, “I must ask you to do a very brave thing, to preserve the name of the Richmond family.”

Jack Richmond looked to him, and slowly nodded his head.  “I’ll disappear – the tunnel comes out at a boat house.  I’ll go over the bay and head back to the mother land.”

“First, we must move these men to this side room – there to rest in peace,” Jayes said, “If we can do the honours?”

It wasn’t a pleasant task, but we moved them into the room, and watched as Jack Richmond closed the door.  “I misjudged you – and you,” he said as he looked at us, “good luck tae both of you.”

“And to you, Mister Richmond,” Jayes said as he shook Richmond’s hand, and then watched him walk down the other half of the corridor.

“Jayes, what in the name of God happened here tonight?”

“We saw a man wronged and a woman take charge,” Jayes said quietly, “and hell hath no fury like a woman wronged.  Come Sir – we must return and ensure Mrs. Richmond is safe.”


Shirley stopped and looked up as the room sat in silence.

“So Black Jack took the blame to save the family name – disappearing into the mists while we continued to be accepted into society,” Vanessa said as she looked at Alex and Sandy.  “I suggest nobody outside this room passes this information on.”

She looked at Juliette, Diana and the other members of their family, Jo and Curt, Adam and Tom, and the others, all of them nodding.

“What about George and Allison?  They went to look after the children.”

“No – not yet,” Vanessa said, “We need to deal with this ourselves first.”

“I suddenly have a great respect for the man,” Alex said quietly, “but how can we know this is true.”

“Because I have Shelagh’s confession.”

The room turned as Winston took an envelope from his pocket.  “When we opened the whiskey store, I found this envelope.  It is dated 1935, and contains the statement of Shelagh Richmond of the events of that night.  It matches that account – she slipped into the boat house entrance of the passage, and heard the men talking.  Jack demanded an apology to his brother and the family, and Flaherty refused.  She saw them draw knives, and – well, the rest you know.”

“According to the diary,” Shirley continued, “The next morning, your great grandfather swore them to secrecy over what had happened.”

“That mention of an Agency and a ghost – were Rhymaes and your ancestor spies Shirley?”

“Well, you will forgive me if I do not confirm or deny that – but my family has certainly helped my government in the past,” Shirley said quietly.

“We need to wait until the morning, have some level of confirmation from the NYPD,” Tom said, “but if it looks like they are the Flaherty boys, then the mystery is solved.  Question is, do we make it public?”

“No – not yet,” Alex said.  “I have a plan, but we need to do this in the right way.  I ask you to leave it with me for now.”

The room nodded as Alex said “and as for the other find – so we want to call in the FTA on this?”

“I might get into trouble for this,” Tom said, “but no – let’s see what’s up there in the cold light of day.”

"Can I say that for one I'd like to see the treasures that Vecchio hid from Capone." Valeria spoke. "If the Cognac is good it should be very drinkable.”

"The whiskey shouldn't be too bad either." Ken spoke.

"Well with the vintage wine I found in the cellar, I can't see us needing to buy drink in too often when the saints and Sinners congregate." Alex's laugh boomed out.

“All right,” Adam said, “Winston, you and I will liberate a barrel of each tomorrow.  Neither of us are drinking tomorrow anyway, so you can all sample it.  Everyone, we did good work today.”

“One thing, Shirley – does that diary say why Jack could not have been the father?”

“No, I’m afraid not,” Shirley said.

“What about the Agency records?”

“That does,” Shirley whispered in reply to Juliette, “Jack Richmond was injured in the Irish Civil War – very badly and personally injured.”

“Oh,” Juliette whispered, “I see.”

“Right, everyone,” Sandy said, “let’s have some music and a drink – it’s been a long and exciting day, and I want to relax.”

“Amen to that,” Vanessa said quietly, “Amen to that.”

Monday 6th April
10.30 am
Curragh Park


The morning sun found the park filled with the sounds of people talking and playing as they enjoyed the last part of the weekend.  Two of the younger women were taking a leisurely walk in their summer dresses, wide brimmed hats shading their heads from the spring sunshine.

“It’s a beautiful morning,” Doc said as she and Nell walked down one of the estate roads, a distance from the other lodges.

“It’s been a wonderful – if different weekend,” Nell said as she looked round, holding her large hat on her head.  “Back to the grindstone tomorrow though.”

“Yeah,” Doc said as they turned and walked along another road.  “When did she say she would be here?”

“I think that’s her now,” Nell said as they saw a Lotus parked on the estate drive.  As they approached, the driver’s door opened and Kerry Hull stepped out of the car.  But this was a very different Kerry Hull.  Her long red hair was tightly curled, as it fell over her shoulders, and her makeup was impeccable, her eyebrows shaped, her lips full and red.

Her looks and her hair were not the only thing that had changed.  She had lost weight, and was wearing a pair of black skintight satin pants, with a white silk blouse on her upper body, the ends at the front tied under her chest to reveal her midriff.  She removed the large dark glasses and looked at both of them.

“That’s a different look – weekend theme party?”

“Yeah – celebrating the past glories of this place,” Doc said as they stopped in front of her.

"I like the tan Kerry, it's wonderful what a few days in Miami can do." Nell spoke.

"How did you? ... Oh,” Kerry said quietly, “can I take it that is why I got summoned out here, and why HE has jammed up my answer phone?"

"It's safe to say that." Doc answered, looking serious as she folded her arms.

"Well I've done what you said and haven't spoken to him yet."

"Good," answered Nell. "Kerry there is one question I need to ask before we start...Are you in love with Ed Mitchell?"

"Good Grief, of course I'm not." Kerry raised an eyebrow.  “What on earth gave you that idea?”

"Well Saturday night he told his wife you were and they had the hugest of arguments."

"Well he was a very silly boy then," Kerry said as she smiled.

"So you were just out for what you could get Kerry?" asked Doc.

"Well Angel,” Kerry said as she looked at the young girl, “it was you who brought the whore out in me."

"I know...and for that I'm sorry."

"Why be sorry Angel,” Kerry whispered, “I adore the new me."

“Nevertheless,” Nell said quietly, “you are about to find yourself in a divorce court as the other woman, if you don’t cut the ties PDQ.”

“Why should I?  He treats me very well…”

“With her money,” Doc said quietly.  “She’s ordered an audit on her accounts and frozen him out.  If she comes after you, you will have a lot of explaining to do.”

“You make a fair argument, Angel,” Kerry said with a smile.  “All right – I’ll drop him like the hot potato, and beat a dignified retreat.  Another two months and I’m out of school anyway – and then watch me.”

“Well, until then lay low – and stay away from him, Kerry.  The last thing you need right now is a lawsuit around your neck.”

“There are worse things, you know Nell.”

“Yes, we do,” Doc said quietly.  

“Well, seeing I’m out here, I may take a drive into Southampton, have a look round, and see what I can see.

“A tip then – don’t go near the Long Island Hotel.  Reports are he’s in there drowning his sorrows.”

“I think I understand.”

“Thank you for coming all the way out here, Kerry – and good luck.”

“You’ve changed Angel – become soft.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Doc said with a smile. “But get one thing straight.  If the shit hits you, and my name is mentioned, I will deny ever meeting you, and leave you out to dry.  I trust we understand each other?”

“Oh I think we do,” Kerry said as she put her glasses back on.  “You opened my eyes – thank you.”

The two girls watched as she got behind the wheel of her car and drove off.  “What have I done,” Doc said as she shook her head.

“Created your very own Creature,” Nell said, “and we’re going to have to live with that for the rest of our lives.”



As Kerry drove off the estate, she passed Allison driving back in.  “A redhead?  Could that be her,” she thought as she tried to see the licence plate, and then saw Doc and Nell walking to the house.

“Curiouser and curiouser…”





"I don't think it will take Kerry long to find another sugar daddy." Angel said as she shook her head.

"How much do you think she took him for?" asked Nell.

"Well that Lotus didn't come cheap for starters....nor the diamond earrings."

"So how do you think Ed will take it?"

"Very badly...wouldn't you?"

"Yes." Nell shook her head. "To think we created that gold digger."

"No,” Nell said quietly, “that girl was always in Kerry, we just released her."

As they approached the house, they saw Juliette standing in the doorway.

“Nell, Ally was looking for you – she went down to the Beach Shack.”

“Gotcha – see you later Juliette,” Nell said as she headed across the lawn.

“We’re in the library,” Juliette said as she and Doc headed across the hallway.  As they went into the library, she saw Caroline, Shirley and Diana sitting there.

"Well?" asked Juliette as she closed the door.

"It's not good. Kerry has become a very tough young lady, if he's got no money to spend on her she's dropping him." Doc didn't smile as she spoke.

"Will she keep a low profile?" asked Caroline.

"I think so, a messy involvement is not going to help her hook a new man eager to keep her in the style she wants to become accustomed to."

"You know I almost feel sorry for the poor bastard." Shirley shook her head.

"I feel guilty, I blackmailed her into whoring..."

"You didn't blackmail her into staying one though Anna." Caroline nodded.

"So how do we smooth things out to keep the scandal as low key as possible?" Juliette asked.

"In that Kerry was very much my creation, I'd like to say that Mrs. Mitchell should be reimbursed from my trust fund." Doc looked downwards. "It's unfair to her not to get her money back as the results of my actions."

"So you don't favor squeezing Kerry to return some of the 'presents' she received'?" asked Juliette.

"What's the point, we hurt Kerry she knows too much about how Angelic Escorts functioned, better to leave her alone to seek out her own destiny."

"Doc darling you have a point there." Diana murmured.

"And well since none of you were involved with Angelic Escorts it's only right I make up the losses." Doc looked round.

“A noble sentiment,” Juliette said, “but we are family, and we share the load.  Or at least, in this case I do.  I will take half the share, and you the other half.”

“Are you sure Juliette?”

“Doc, Anna is an old friend.  I will not see her go wanting because of this.  Ed, on the other hand – I will reserve judgment on that.”

“Do I take that to mean he may join the list?”

“Let us say he is on our radar,” Juliette said quietly.  “Anna, you have done the right thing today, and that will be remembered.”

Doc smiled as there was a knock on the door.

“Sorry,” Heather said as she came in,” Am I interrupting?”

“No I think we’re done – Anna, has she gone back to the city?”

“No, she said she was going into Southampton, why?”

“Let me have her number – I wish to have a quick word with her as well.”

Anna nodded as she took out her cell phone.

“I got some information from the archives,” Heather said, “Special Branch reports relating to Jack Richmond and the Flaherty’s.  Turned out Richmond actually saved their lives – he helped them get out of Dublin at personal cost to himself.”

“Funny way they had of showing their gratitude,” Caroline said quietly.  “I have one other question.”

“How did Shelagh’s confession end up with the whisky and brandy?  She wrote it a year after the event, and entrusted it to the one man she could trust not to say anything – Jimmy Vecchio.  My best guess is she asked him to hold on to it, but when Capone went after him – well, he hid it with the liquor.”

“But who got the Flaherty sister pregnant?”

“We’ll probably never know – some mysteries should remain a mystery.”  Juliette took out her cell phone and dialed a number.

“Kerry?  This is Juliette Huntingdown speaking.  I believe you know a friend of mine – Anna Mitchell.

“Good – I would like to see you for five minutes, today.  Where may I find you?

“No, just me – you’ve caused her enough pain.

“All right – 1 pm, at the town hall.  I will see you there.”

As she ended the call, Mary looked in and said “they’re here.”

“Excellent – excuse me a moment,” Juliette said as she came out and greeted the new arrivals.

“Girls thanks for coming out today,” she said as Janine stood with Mary.  “I’d like you to meet your clients for today.”

She turned and smiled as Paulie came in with Vanessa.

“What’s going on,” Vanessa said as she looked at the two women.

“My way of saying thank you,” Juliette said.  “You go with these two lovely ladies, and Mary will join you later.”

“Once I take you down to the Widow’s Cottage,” Mary said to Janine.  “Marina is there just now.”

“What are they going to do to me,” Vanessa said quietly.

“Complete the job of reviving Nessa Richmond – go to it, girls.  I’ll be back later – once I’ve run a small errand.”
Racing Curragh - Part 10
The after dinner discussion clears up one mystery - and on the Monday morning, steps are taken to clear up another mess.
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Welcome back – please, sit down, take the weight off your feet, have some tea.  I was just having a conversation with an old friend, and fixing up to call on her in her home at some point.

I guess that’s one of the reasons I like to do home visits for security consultations and the like – I want to meet people and help them, as opposed to my younger days, when I wanted to meet people and take their valuables.  That did not mean I did not get to know them as well – take, for example, the Chelsea housewife I met in the early eighties.

It was at the height of the Sloane ranger movement, and this particular ground floor flat belonged to a scion of that movement.  She was in her PR job that morning, so I decided to break in and relieve her debt burden somewhat.  Entering the flat was easy enough, as I slipped into the front door as someone else came out, and then picked the lock.

What I had not figured on was the fact she was a bit more organised than your usual Hooray Henrietta, and that there was a housekeeper in residence.  She was in her early thirties, and wore a mustard coloured jumper and slacks with a red apron over her front.  Her blonde hair was pulled back into a pigtail, but as she looked at me I think I was more surprised than she was.

“Hi,” I said eventually across the kitchen, “I’m afraid I’m here to rob your employer.  Are you going to cause me any trouble?”

She looked at me for a few moments, and then shook her head as she said “Why would I?  You’re armed, aren’t you?”

Well, I wasn’t, but I smiled and said “I’m not going to deny that.  Are those biscuits I smell cooking?”

She nodded as I walked into the kitchen.  “Well, it would be a pity if they burned.  If you promise not to raise the alarm, I’ll let you get them out of the oven and start cooling before I tie you up.”

“Thanks,” she said as I pulled the cord of the kitchen phone free from the wall, and then sat down.  We had a very pleasant chat about the weather, politics, a whole range of topics as she took the biscuits out, and then poured me a cup of tea as we sat and talked some more.

Pleasant as that was, though, time was marching on, so when she eventually said “I guess you’re going to have to stop me raising the alarm, aren’t you?”

“Sadly, yes,” I said with a  smile, “but I think I’ll take care of you where you are sitting.  Do you have any duct tape in here?”

“Under the sink,” she said, so I found the roll of duct tape and then taped her wrists to the chair back, before I wound it around her stomach and her upper arms to hold her to the chair.

I then knelt down in front of her and taped her ankles and legs to the front legs of the chair, before I tore a strip off and held it in my gloved hands.

“Naturally,” I said quietly, “you would not tell me where her valuables or safe are?”

“Naturally, I would not mention the wardrobe in her room and the middle drawer.”

“I did not think you would – now please, purse your lips.”  

As she did so, I smoothed several strips of tape over her mouth, and then left her there while I stole her employer’s valuables – but left her handbag and purse untouched.

Coming back in, I checked the tape was holding firm, and then left with a promise to call the police after a short interval – a promise I kept.  After all, I always keep my promises, as you well know.


Yeah, it was a short and sweet encounter, but sometimes I have been known to gain entry to a house by other means, up to and including knocking on the front door.  You would be amazed how many housewives even today are willing to trust someone who says they are there for a survey or something.  Not the old cliché about a meter reading or something – but back then...

This again would have been in the early eighties, and I was walking past a row of very nice looking houses when I noticed a delivery to this one house.  The woman who answered the door was wearing a white cardigan over a long cream dress that had a blue china–type pattern printed on it, and blue zipped leather boots.  I could see she was taking delivery of some very nice antique furniture, and – well, something inside me said that I should see what else I could find in her house.

So I allowed her some time to collect herself, and then walked up to the front door, using the metal knocker to announce my presence.  I was wearing a blue blazer over a white jumper, dark trousers, a cloth cap and dark glasses.  I know, I know – very fashionable, but it was what I had on at the time.

“Yes, can I help you,” she said as she came to the door, and I saw the blue bead necklace around her neck.  Her dark brown hair was cut in a bob to frame her face as she looked at me.

“Sorry to disturb you,” I said quietly, “but I’ve been doing a door to door survey in the area, and I was wondering if you would have time to answer a few questions?”

“Oh, about what?”

“Crime in the local area,” I said with a smile.  “I understand if you don’t have time, but if you can spare a few minutes?”

“Crime?  Of course, please come in,” she said as she held the door open, and I went in, not quite believing my luck as she closed the door behind me.  “May I offer you some tea, Mister...”

“Smith,” I said, “and tea would be lovely, thank you.”  She showed me into the front room, and I admired a collection of snuff boxes on her mantelpiece before she carried a tray in.

“So, Mister Smith,” she said as she poured the tea, and handed me a cup, “what questions do you have to ask?”

“Well,” I said as I sipped my tea, and said “thank you for this by the way – are you concerned about the increase in opportunistic robberies in the local area?”

“Of course I am,” she said as she sipped her tea, “after all, it’s getting to the stage where someone can just walk in off the street and steal your things.”

“Uninvited, of course?”

“Of course,” she said with a smile.  “That’s why I take security very seriously.”

“I am so glad to hear it with these valuable antiques in here,” I said with a smile, “but I wonder if you think you would be duped by someone pretending to be a delivery person, or a plumber – or a survey taker?”

“Why no, I don’t think I would...”  She then stopped and looked at me, putting her teacup down as she said “oh – oh dear.”

“Indeed,” I said as I reached into my pocket and drew out a roll of black electrical tape.  “Please, lie face down and put your hands behind your back – I promise you, I will be gentle.”

“I guess I walked into that one, didn’t I,” she said, but she did as I asked, while I crossed and taped her wrists together behind her back, and then taped her ankles together, as well as her legs above her knees and over her skirt, as well as a band of tape around her stomach to secure her arms to her sides.

“Now,” I said as I took a clean hanky from my pocket and folded it, “open wide please.”

“Do you have to gag me?”

“I’m going to search your house – would you leave me to raise the alarm if you were me?”

Shaking her head, she allowed me to gag her, the tape covering her lips, before I found quite a lot of nice valuables and left her struggling on the couch.



I always found it easier to get entry to houses if I was able to help someone - a trick I learned very early on in about 1973.  I was walking down Totting Bec when I saw this young lady struggling with the boxes she was carrying.  She was wearing a brown dress with short puffed sleeves to her elbows, and knee length black patent leather boots that laced up the front.

“thanks,” she said as she smiled, her light brown hair framing her face, “you couldn’t give me a hand back to my flat could you?  It’s just around the corner.”

“But of course – a gentleman never refuses the request of a damsel in distress,” I said as we walked round the corner, and she opened the door to a ground floor flat.  I carried the boxes in and laid them down on a coffee table as she said “thanks – how can I reward you?”

“Well, a cold drink won’t go amiss,” I said, so we went into the kitchen and she got me a bottle of coke from the fridge, opening it before she handed it to me.

“Nice flat,” I said as I looked round, “but you need to get that fastening on the kitchen window fixed.”

“Oh,” she said as she looked at the window, with the flaking blue paint and old metal fastener, “why?”

“A cat burglar would be able to open that without any difficulty, and steal what you have.”

“Oh come on,” she said as she laughed, “and what would he do?”

“Something like this,” I said as I put the bottle down, and walked behind her, putting my hand over her mouth as I said “Hush now – just do as I say, and you won’t get hurt.  Nod if you understand.”

That took her by surprise, but as she slowly nodded I said “Good – now, I need to tie you up to keep you out of the way while I look round.  Have you got some washing line or some string?”

“Ruserrsss,” she said as she leaned back and looked up at me.

“Oh I am serious – you see, I am a cat burglar.”

Her eyes widened for a moment, and then said “llbqweet” as I removed my hand.

“there’s some washing line in the drawer there – are you really a cat burglar?”

“Sorry, but I am,” I said as I found the rope, and picked up a pair of scissors as well.  “Now, why don’t you come into your front room and I’ll make sure you’re comfortable.”

We went into the front room, and I cut a length of cord from the line, using it to tie her wrists together in front of her as she sat on a leather couch.  I then cut a second length of rope off and tied her ankles tightly together, the rope squeaking as it rubbed against the leather, and then used the rest of the rope to secure her ankles to her wrists.

“Now then,” I said as I smiled, “purse your lips for me.”

An old fashioned term, but not then, as I took a strip of sticking plaster from my pocket and stuck it over her mouth stretching from ear to ear.  I then did a quick search of the flat, and walked back out again.  I figured it would not take her long to get free, and then – well, I would not be in the area for a while after that anyway.



I hadn’t actually finished my apprenticeship at that point, so I was a little cocky.  Actually, no – I was VERY cocky, so a couple of years later I had learned to be a bit more considerate and prepared.

This was in the autumn, in the midlands, and it was starting to grow dark as I forced the kitchen window of the smart little Barrett Box and got into the kitchen.  It was nice and neat, so I left as little mess as possible as I went into the front room, and then up the open staircase to the bedrooms.

The woman of the house certainly had some nice pieces, and I soon had them safely stowed away.  I was about to leave when I saw the light go on downstairs, and heard someone moving about.

Now these houses – there was no way to sneak down the stairs and get out of the door if someone was in the front room, so I had to find something I could use if I had to.  The medicine cabinet in the bathroom provided what I needed, and as I tried to make my way down stairs I could see I was going to need it.

Sitting in a chair watching the television was a tall woman, thin, with her blonde hair held in a ponytail by a patterned scarf.  She was wearing a grey sleeveless mini dress that had white buttons up the front, and a pair of brown sandals – and as I reached the bottom of the stairs, she looked up and saw me.

“Hello,” I said quietly, “I just stole your valuables, and I’m afraid I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm before I get the chance to make a getaway.”

She just stared at me, as I walked over and guided her hands behind her back, using the roll of plaster I had found in the medicine cabinet to tape her wrists together behind her back.

“Oh god, you’re not joking are you,” she whispered as I taped her ankles side by side.

“No I’m not joking – I have stolen your valuables, and now I’m going to make my getaway, as soon as I make sure you find it difficult to raise the alarm.”  I untied the scarf from her hair, shaking it to get any stray hairs out before I rolled it into a tight band and tied it between her lips, the scarf sitting between her teeth before I covered her lips with the brown plaster.

Now, if that had been it, I would have been fine – made my getaway, no problem.  What I wasn’t expecting was for the door to open, and the exact twin of the girl I had just taped and gagged to come in.  She was wearing a short sleeved cream minidress with a pink floral motif, and red sandshoes.

“Hey, Sis,” she said as she closed the door and turned round, “I was just passing and ohmygodwhotheheckareyouandwhathaveyoudonetomysister?”

“The same thing I need to do to you, my dear, so that I can make my escape with her valuables,” I said quietly.  There was a wooden rocking chair on the other side of the room, so I took her by the arm and walked her over to it, not giving her a chance to object before I taped her wrists to the arms of the chair, and her ankles together.

“He really is a burglar sis,” she said as she looked over, her sister nodding as I looked in the kitchen for a moment, and came back with a white tea towel which I had folded into a band.

“Open wide,” I said as I used it to keep the twin sister quiet, and then got out of there as quietly and as quickly as I could, given the circumstances.



Even when you have planned, things can still go slightly wrong.  A year or two later, which was still about the time of the Silver Jubilee, certain items I had arranged to be shipped to me from some jobs in the north to a safe house I had were delivered by accident to the wrong address – which meant I had to go and collect them.  

Now, remember this was a dummy address, so I had to be prepared for anything.  I had a brown leather satchel with me, containing certain items which I may have to use if there was a problem, and I held it in my gloved hand as I knocked on the door f the terraced house next door.

It was opened by a tall thin girl, and she obviously had some Indian heritage about her judging by the skin tone.  She was wearing a long sleeved white blouse with a wide collar, and a purple crochet mini skirt with brown wedge shoes.

“Hello,” she said as she looked at me, her long brown hair falling over her shoulders, “can I help you?”

“Yeah,” I said quietly, “I understand a parcel was delivered to you by accident instead of to me.  I was wondering if I could claim it?”

“Oh you must be Mr Jacobs,” she said as she opened the door, “please, come in.  The parcel is in the front room.”

As I went in, I saw another girl there who obviously her sister.  She had the same build and similar facial features, and had her hair pulled back in a ponytail.  She was wearing a pale blue minidress with puffed short sleeves, and a pair of knee length white leather lace up boots.

“Is this it,” the first girl said as she showed me the parcel on the table.  I looked at it and nodded, but then I noticed the magazine the second girl was reading.

“A detective magazine?  Do you like that sort of thing?”

“I like reading the stories,” she said as he looked at me, “Nikki does as well.”

“Now Shari,” the first girl said, “Mister Jacobs does not need to know this.”

“Oh it’s all right,” I said, “what do you find most exciting about them?”

“Well – I do wonder what it would be like to be held captive like that.”

“SHARI!”

“It’s all right,” I said quietly, “look, I do some prep work for these mags.  If you wanted, I could show you what it feels like?”

“You could?  How?”

“Do you have any rope in the house?”

“We have some – why?”

“Well, if you’re ready to try a risk...”

“I don’t believe I’m agreeing to this,” Nikki said, but she left the room for a minute, returning with several lengths of rope.  “You might as well do it to both of us – like a real burglar would.”

“All right then – please, both of you, kneel in front of the couch and put your hands behind your back.”

As they did so, I started with Shari, crossing her wrists and tying them together, before I secured her ankles together.  I heard the squeak as she rubbed her legs together as I secure the wrists and ankles of Nikki.

“Now,” I said as I helped them to sit back to back, and secured their legs together below their knees, “the burglar would tie you both together with the rest of the rope, and then use scarves to gag you.  Where do you keep your scarves?”

“In the hall cupboard,” Nikki said as I used the last of the rope to secure them together around their waists, and then fetched two long chiffon scarves.   I used them as cleave gags for both women, and said “Is anyone home soon?”

“Nbuttffftnmmns” Shari said as she nodded and looked at me.

“All right, well when they find you, remember to tell them it was a game, but the friend got called away,” I said as I picked up my parcel.  They both nodded as I left them to enjoy the feeling of entrapment, and made my way out with my parcel.




Even today, from time to time I get asked to play the part of a doorstep caller.  I had a visitor to the shop – a Muslim gentlemen – who had bought some valuables, and then made an unusual request.

“I understand, Mister Jacobs,” he said as I processed his purchases, “you have a – shall we say, colourful past?”

I looked at him and said “Mostly rumour, I assure you.  Why do you ask?”

“My wife – she does not believe that it is possible to be surprised by a man on the doorstep who will rob her.  As a security expert, what would you suggest as a way to teach her the truth of this?”

“Testimony from others, or a visit from an expert,” I said as I handed him his receipt.

“Would you be willing to pay a visit – as an expert?”

“Are you asking what I believe you are asking Sir?”

“If you would, say at ten this Saturday morning, I would be home by eleven, and I would be grateful.”

I looked at him, and then said “if I do what you are suggesting, there must be no police – this is a private matter between you, your wife and me.”

“I agree – can you do it?”

Well, Saturday morning, ten am, and I stood outside the front door of the house in question.  I was wearing a brown leather jacket, and brown trousers as well as leather gloves, and a woollen hat over my head.  I knocked on the door, looked round, and then pulled the hat down, the balaclava leaving only my lips and eyes showing.

The door was opened by a young woman, her head covered in a black scarf wearing a white blouse with blue horizontal stripes, a long blue skirt with white polka dots, and black lace up shoes.

“Yes, can I Hlppuuuu,” she said as I pushed her gently back inside, holding her against the wall as I covered her mouth with my hand, her eyes wide as she looked at me.

“Not a word – do as I say and you won’t get hurt, understand?”

She nodded as she continued to stare at me, then shook her head as I asked if anyone else was in the house.

“Good – I’m going to take my hand away, and I want you to turn around and put your hands behind your back.  Understand?”

She nodded again, so I took my hand away and watched as she turned round, before I held her wrists crossed behind her back and took a length of cord from my jacket pocket, which I used to secure her wrists tightly together.  I then took a second length and used it to secure her arms to her sides just below her elbows.

“All right,” I said quietly, “you walk in front of me, into your front room, and sit down.  Not a word, understand?”

She nodded as she walked in front of me – and I felt a little guilty for scaring her so much, but her husband wanted her to learn the lesson.  In the room, she sat in a chair as I went and closed the curtains, and then knelt in front of her, taking more cord from my pocket and using it to secure her ankles tightly together, and then her legs above her knees, gathering skirts around her legs as I did so.

“Now don’t move,” I said as I went back into the hallway, and returned with a long white scarf – which I used as a detective gag over her mouth, tying it over the scarf that covered her hair to keep her quiet.

“I’m just going to look around,” I said as I stepped out, and she sat there, too scared to move until her husband let himself quietly in.  He nodded to me as I slipped out - and I truly pray she learned the lesson.

It’s nice to keep in practice from time to time – more tea?
When The Cat Knocks
More memories from John Jacobs...
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Ask a question about me, or my stories, or my characters, and I'll try to answer...
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Yeah, Steve told me about what he did that afternoon, and it made me think about one of the visits I’d made before we headed over here.  I’d picked up a few things about planning from him, and this particular home near me had caught my eye a few weeks ago, when I saw the mum bringing in some very expensive looking items from her car.

I found out she ran a fashion boutique in town, and she lived with her eleven and ten year old daughters – no man about the house, which was a help to someone like me.  So I decided to pay them a visit on the Sunday before we flew out.  I spent the time learning their names – the mum was Tammy, and her daughters Nikki and Anna.

So I drove round to their house on the Sunday, parking my car a few streets away and walking along the street.  I had a black leather biker’s jacket over a roll neck sweater, tight leggings and knee length leather boots, with a small grey rucksack on my back, containing everything I thought I’d need.

I could see the house with the Mercedes parked outside, and smiled as I slipped up the side, stopping to pull the stocking down over my head and tuck it into the neck of my jumper, and then my gloves, before I tried the back door.  Saying a silent prayer of thanks that it was open, I slipped in and closed the door silently behind me.

I could hear the television on in a downstairs room, but I wanted to try and find the mother and make sure she understood what was going on before we got going, so I slowly made my way along and looked in.  The two girls were sitting watching television, their legs kicking up and down on the couch.

Eleven year old Nikki was wearing a pink and grey striped hoodie, with the hem of a yellow top sticking out from underneath, a blue denim skirt and blue leggings with white polka dots, while her ten year old sister Anna was wearing a green and grey short sleeved smock top which had a pleated button strip and a tie belt around her waist.   The tartan print top came to just above her knees, and she was wearing a pair of jeans underneath.  Both girls were barefoot, with long light brown hair.

I contemplated for a moment whether or not I should start with them, given their mother wasn’t in the room with them, but then I watched Anna say “When is mum’s ‘alone time’ in her bedroom over – I’m getting bored and I want her to come down.”

Nikki looked over at what I presume was a clock and said “about another forty five minutes – I’m sure she’ll make up to us for having to wait.”

Well, now I was intrigued, so I decided to leave them alone, and made my way up the stairs, taking care not to raise the alarm and make any noise.  I made my way along the upstairs hallway to where I thought the master bedroom would be, and quietly opened the door to look in.

Mum was there all right – but not asleep or resting as I had expected.  Well, she was resting, but – let me just describe her and you make up your own mind.

She had her light blonde hair pulled back, and was wearing a crimson top with elbow length sleeves and a darker red patch on her left shoulder.  The legs of her faded blue jeans were tucked into a pair of black leather boots with a short heel – and her ankles were tied tightly together with rope, as were her legs above and below her knees.  A band of rope held her arms to her sides, and her hands were behind her back, held together palm to palm with the rope that went from them to her ankles, slackening as she kicked her legs to and fro.

She looked up as I closed the door, and said “hmgddd” through the folded scarf that was tied over her mouth.  As I looked at the ropes, I had to admit she’d done a very good job of tying herself up – the question was, why?

“Htthrllrru,” she said as she wriggled round, and I could see she was worried, so I said “calm down, I’m not going to hurt you – although you will hurt yourself if you keep doing that.”

I reached down and untied the scarf, allowing her to gasp and say “Oh god – just rob me, but please don’t let them find me like this!”

“Take a deep breath,” I said, “and tell me why you did this to yourself.”

“You’ll think I’m a weirdo…”

“Hello – stocking mask on and intending to rob you?  Why did you do this to yourself?”

“Well – promise you won’t tell anyone?”

I nodded as she said “I’ve always liked being tied up – ever since I was a kid, and my former husband used to do it all the time.  But after the divorce, we moved here, and I haven’t really had a chance to make many friends – never mind one who can do this.  So I tell the girls to leave me alone for a while, and…”  She wriggled round and gave a sad little smile.

“Well, you’re very good at it,” I said quietly, “but why don’t you play with the girls?”

“No – they’ll think their mum’s not right, and they’ve had enough hurt.  I don’t think they’ll like it.”

“You’ll never know if you don’t ask,” I said as I looked at her, “but I am going to rob you, and I am going to…”

I stopped for a moment, and then said “I usually ask the mums to say this is a game, to get the kids to play along and make it less scary.” I untied her ankles from her wrists, letting her put her legs down while I untied her wrists, crossed them and re-secured them properly, taking the rope around and between her arms.

“Oh that does feel nice,” she said.

“It’s Tammy, right,” I said as I tied the rope off, and then helped her to sit up, taking some rope around her waist to hold her wrists against her back.

“Yeah – how did you… Never mind, stupid question.  What are you going to do?”

“Tie you up properly,” I said as I doubled over the rope I had taken from my bag, “but I want you to tell the girls that this is a secret surprise that a neighbour dreamed up.  I agreed to pretend to break in, tie all three of you up and gag you, and then rob you.  It’s all a big game, of course, and if you do that they might end up liking it.”

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Tammy said as I pulled her arms into her sides, wrapping the rope above and below her chest and tying it off behind her back.  

“There – how does that feel,” I said as I looked at her.

“Very very nice – I know I could never do this myself, but it does feel good.”  She watched as I untied her legs and ankles, and said “I’m going to remove your boots – then you’ll be the same as the girls.”

“Well, I’m wearing tights, but I know what you mean,” she said as I unzipped her boots and slipped them off, then crossed and tied her ankles tightly together.  I then secured her legs together below her knees, making sure I cinched it by taking the rope between her legs as well.

“You’re not going to tie my legs above my knees?”

“No – I am going to hogtie you, and trust me you don’t need it.  Now, will you play along and see how the girls like it?”

“I will,” Tammy said.

“Good, lie on your stomach, head towards the door.”  I waited until she had done that, and then pulled her ankles back, securing them to her chest ropes and then watching as she wriggled round.

“Oh that is good,” she said as I opened the door, and whispered “Call them upstairs, and remember what we agreed.”

She nodded and called out “Nikki?  Anna?  Can you come up to mummy’s room please?”

“Coming,” I heard them call, and I stood to the side of the door as they came in.

“Hey mum, what’s…  Mum, what happened!”

“It’s all right,” Tammy said as she smiled, “This is a very special surprise, I was just waiting for our neighbour to sneak in and start with me.”

“Hi,” I said as I closed the door, and the two girls looked at me, “listen to what your mum’s going to say.”

“Girls,” Tammy said, “this lady said she sometimes does these games with the other families in the area.  She pretends to be a robber who ties up the families, stops them speaking, and then lets them try to free each other while she pretends to rob the place.  She’s already started with me, and now it’s your turn.”

“Does it hurt mummy,” Anna said as she looked at her.

“No – it’s actually quite nice, but you won’t find out if you don’t try.”

The two girls looked at each other, and I could see they were worried, so I said “let’s take it one stage at a time, girls.  Why don’t you stand in front of your mum, and let me tie your wrists together first.”

The girls nodded as I took their hands behind their back, and tied their wrists while their mum explained that I was going to do this to stop them from raising the alarm and keep them in one place.

“It feels funny,” Nikki said as I tied the rope between her wrists, “but it doesn’t hurt.  What next?”

I tied the rope around their waists to keep them secure, and then tied the rope around their arms and chest, keeping them tightly in place as they wriggled round.

“See?  It’s not so bad, is it?”

“No, it isn’t,” Anna said.  “How does it feel to you mum?”

“Honestly?  It feels secure and safe,” she said as I helped the girls to lie down beside her, one on each side, and then secured their ankles and legs before I hogtied them.

“So do you think you can move now,” I said as I stood back, watching the family wriggle round.

“No – and is it meant to be exciting as well?  Because I feel all tingly,” Nikki said as she looked at her mother.

“It can be fun as well, if a little scary,” Tammy said quietly as I searched the room, putting jewellery into a bag as they talked to each other.  A few minutes later, I stood at the end of the bed and said “Now, this bad old robber has to make sure you cannot raise the alarm.  Now, you all need to open your mouths nice and wide, and do what I tell you, okay?”

“Mum?”

“Yes, Nikki?”

“Please can we play this game again soon?  Maybe she can come again?”

“Well, I only come once, but you can play with each other,” I said as I took three cloths from my bag and folded them.

“All right, we’ll play this again,” Tammy said, Anna nodding as she opened her mouth and I pushed the folded cloth in, doing the same for the two girls as they closed their lips over the stuffing.  I then took from my bag a roll of white medical tape, and wrapped it round their heads, covering their mouths as they tried talking to each other.

“Now, I’m going to look round, so give yourselves ten minutes and start trying to get free,” I said as I looked at them, all three nodding as Tammy said “Fnku” through her gag.  I left them alone, helped myself to the cash from Tammy’s purse, and then made my escape, making sure I was well away before they started to try to escape.

I called the police to make sure they were rescued – which is what happened.  I know because when Steve showed me the Games Player Board, the two girls had become regulars, describing the games they played with their mum, taking turns as the victim and the robbers.

********************************************************************************

Pepper Holt was a reasonably well known actress, who also happened to be co-owner of one of those insurance companies you hear about on the television in the afternoon.  As you can imagine, I had been planning this one for some time, preferably when she was at home and her husband, the other director of the company, was at work.

Anyway, a window of opportunity presented itself, one Saturday when I was watching the house and I saw him drive off – and I knew Pepper and their eight year old daughter were still at home.  Making one of those snap decisions I have sometimes come to regret, I got out of the car, grabbed my rucksack and made my way across the road, putting on my gloves as I looked in the downstairs window.  There did not appear to be anybody in the room, so I managed to open the front door and slip in, before pulling the stocking down over my head.

There was no sight or sound of anybody downstairs, but when I looked into the kitchen I saw there was a conservatory at the back, and Pepper was sitting there with little Primrose Holt on a swing chair.  Primrose was wearing a sleeveless summer dress, a light blue background with a floral print top and a fringed skirt, with a pair of white Jelly sandals – and she also had a large pink cotton scarf tied like a bandana round her neck, the point reaching down to her waist at the front.

As for Pepper, she was wearing a blue two layered sleeveless smock top, the blue lace over a white underbody, held up by white straps over her shoulders.  She was also wearing a pair of white pants, and brown sandals, while a purple scarf with coloured stripes hung loosely round her neck.

They were reading a book, so I decided to leave them to that for a few minutes, as I searched downstairs.  Pepper’s purse was very full – until I took the notes – and I also found some rings and other jewellery, but I knew the real pickings would be in the safe I found in the study – and for that, I would need to play the game.

So I went back to the kitchen door, and waited until I heard Pepper say “let’s have a drink” and watched her come into the kitchen.  I walked in as quickly as I could, hand gagged her from behind, and said “Don’t struggle – I promise you I won’t hurt you or Primrose if you play along with the game I’m going to take you through.”

She nodded as I removed my hand, and said “You’re him aren’t you – the Games Player.”

“That’s right,” I said, “so will you do what I tell you, to make it less scary for your daughter?”

“All right,” she said, “what are you going to do?”

“You’ll see,” I said as I pulled her scarf up and over her mouth, “just nod when I say so, all right?”

As I pulled her scarf tightly over her mouth, she grunted and nodded as I tied it to her head, and then took her by the arm and led her into the conservatory with the drink.

“Hello Primrose,” I said as she looked at me, “Mummy would like you to play a special game with her and me, once you have had your drink.”

“Is that right, mummy,” she said as she looked at Pepper, who nodded and said “Thstrhhtprmrs – jstagmmfrbbrs.”

“All right,” she said as she sipped her drink, “what are you going to do?”

“Well, I am the bad robber who has broken in and wants mummy to open her safe, but she won’t do it – until I find you and tell her to open it while I stop you from stopping her.”

“And when she does?”

“I’m going to make sure you and mummy are really comfortable and close together.  Now, are you going to play?”

“All right – what happens now?”

“Well. Mummy is going to watch while I tape your wrists and arms,” I said as I took out a roll of wide black tape, “but I also need to keep you quiet.  Which will it be first?”

“QUIET” Primrose said, so I untied the scarf from round her neck, folded it into a band and tied it over her mouth, keeping her long brown hair out of the way.  I then crossed her wrists in front of her and taped them tightly together, before I wrapped some tape around her forearms and body to keep them in place.

“All right, mummy,” I said as I held Primrose by the shoulders, “let’s go through to your office, and I want you to open and empty the safe contents into this bag here.”

“Rullrrttmswt,” Pepper said, Primrose nodding as we walked through and she opened the safe up, both of us watching as she loaded her jewellery and other valuables into the bag.

“Is that everything,” I said as she closed the bag, Pepper nodding as Primrose giggled.

“Good – now, let’s go to mummy’s room, and then I’ll show you what we’re going to do.”

“Thssfnmmee,” Primrose giggled under her over the mouth gag as she tried to move her hands, the tape crinkling as she did so.

“Right,” I said as we went in, “I want mummy to sit on the bed, with her legs apart, and then you Primrose get to sit in front of her as she gives you a great big hug.”

“Cmnndrlnn,” Pepper said as she sat with her back against her headboard, and Primrose sat on the mattress in front of her, giggling as her mother wrapped her arms round her – and I wrapped tape around her forearms as they sat across her daughter’s stomach to keep them together.  I also wrapped tape around both of them, securing Pepper’s arms above her elbows to her daughter as I held their upper bodies together.

“Elkktthshss,” Primrose said as she cuddled into her mother, before I said “now, I’m going to take the gags down for a few minutes, but keep nice and quiet as you talk, all right?”

They both nodded as I pulled the scarves down, and then straightened the skirt of Primrose’s dress, before I taped her legs together below her knees, and then her ankles side by side.

“We’re really close together, like he promised, aren’t we mummy,” Primrose said as she watched me wrap the black tape around her ankles.

“Yes we are – and in a minute, he’ll tape my ankles together as well,” she said.

“That’s right,” I said as I crossed her ankles, lifting Primrose’s legs up so her heels sat on Pepper’s thighs, and then taped them tightly together, before one more band secured the young girl’s calves to her mother’s thighs.

“Now then,” I said, “I need to make sure you both stay really quiet, so I’m going to ask you both to open your mouths while I use the scarf to stop you talking clearly.  See how it works with mummy, Primrose.”

As Pepper opened her mouth wide, I pulled her scarf between her teeth, and watched as she said “wcntlkkrlffnneenw.”

“All right,” Primrose said as I cleave gagged her as well, and looked at both of them.

“Now then,” I said, “I’m going to pretend to go now – so enjoy your time together.”

“Fnksmstrrbbrrr” Primrose said as she wriggled her fingers at me, her mother nodding as I left them to enjoy the afternoon – and get the heck out of there.

********************************************************************************

It’s often in the simplest of things I find the sweetest of pictures.  Let me illustrate with a recent tale.  I had been looking into this family for some time, he was a moderately successful author, and had a lovely wife and a cute eight year old daughter.  The mum was about five ten, with long blonde hair, while her daughter had lighter blonde hair.

The day I had decided to visit, I knew daddy was away on an overnight trip to promote a new book, so I had plenty of time to visit late afternoon, and make sure they were found before it was too late.  I was parked outside their nice house when they pulled in from a shopping trip, and saw them get out.  Mum was wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and flat shoes, while their little girl was wearing a long duffel coat and black boots.

Anyway, I watched them go into the house, and allowed them some time to get settled, before I got out of the car, collected my bag and walked quickly up to the front door.  Putting a gloved hand on the door handle, I smiled as it opened and I slipped quickly inside.

I could hear music playing upstairs, so I took a moment to pull the stocking down over my head, and then walked slowly down the corridor, checking the rooms to make sure they were not in there, and then walked up the staircase.  As I was halfway up, I heard a door open, and lay flat, watching as the daughter ran past in a dressing gown and went into a room.

“Not that one then,” I said to myself as I stood up.  For this particular visit, I was wearing a black leather jacket and pants, with leather gloves as well, so I made as little noise as possible as I made my way along the corridor, and peeped into another bedroom.  The mum was sitting on the bed, her back to the door, as she pulled on a pair of black leather boots and zipped them up the inside of her legs, covering the bottom half of her black leggings.

As she stood up, her maroon dress fell down to her knees, held up by the thin spaghetti straps over her shoulders.  She walked over to the full length mirror in her wardrobe and looked at herself through her glasses, before she stopped and stared at the reflection.

The reflection that showed me standing in the doorway, smiling as I watched.  “Please,” I said as I came in and closed the door, “don’t scream – remember you have an eight year old girl just down the corridor.”

She put her hands on her head, and said “oh god – please, don’t…”

“No, I’m not going to do that,” I said as I walked towards her, “all I want are your valuables, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to spend some time unable to move or speak.  Just stay calm, and we’re going to have a good time.”

“What about Emily…”

I slipped off my rucksack and said “Look, I’m afraid she will be tied up with you, but if you pretend this is a game, it will help her to stay calm.  You never know, she might even enjoy it.”


“Enjoy it?  She’ll be terrified – I’m terrified…”

“Trust me, and help her to believe it’s a game, and you’ll be just fine.”  I looked at her, and said “were you going out?”

“A mother and daughter evening,” she said as the door opened, and eight year old Emily came in.  She was wearing an identical dress to her mother, which came over her knees, and a pair of brown leather boots with a floral print on the side.

“Hey mum – who is this?”

She looked at me, and said “this man is a friend from work – I asked him to come and play a special game with us before we go to the party.”

“Oh I like games,” Emily said, “why is he wearing a mask?”

“I’m a very bed man who has come to see what he can find in your home,” I said with a smile, “so I’m afraid you and mummy are going to have to be kept nice and safe in the same place.  Don’t worry, it will be fun.”

“Okay – mum, can you do my hair for me?”

“Of course I can,” she said as Emily walked over to her, and put her light blonde hair into two little pigtails on top of her head.

“Okay,” I said quietly, “why don’t you come over here and sit on the side of mummy’s bed, and then put your hands together in front of you.”

As they did so, I took a length of cord from my rucksack, and crossed her mother’s wrists in front of her, Emily watching as I took the rope around and between her wrists.  As I tied it off, she said “Will you do that to me as well?”

“That’s right, “I said, “don’t be scared, it won’t hurt.”

Once I had her wrists tied together in front of her, I took another length of rope and tied it round her waist, making sure it kept her wrists in front of her as she smiled at me.

“Right – Mum’s going to lie down on the bed, and I’m going to make sure she can’t move her wrists, and then you get to lie next to her, all right?”

Emily nodded as her mum lay on her back, her head resting on a pillow while I took her bound wrists above her head and tied them to the headboard.  As she tried to move, Emily said “you look nice like that mummy?”

“Thanks sweetheart,” she said as Emily lay down next to her and put her head on her mum’s chest, watching as I tied her ankles tightly together, the rope going between her legs, and then tied her legs together below her knees.

“Will you do that to me as well,” she said as she listened to the sound of her mum’s leather boots squeaking while she rubbed her legs together.

“I will – and it’s not uncomfortable is it?”

Her mum shook her head, and smiled – a real, genuine smile as I took some more cord and tied Emily’s ankles tightly together, and then her legs below her knees, folding her skirt up a little to do so before I folded it back down again.  I then took one last length of rope, and tied Emily’s ankles to her mother’s knees.

“All right then,” I said as I returned to my bag, “I want you both to close your eyes and pretend that you cannot see.”

“Let’s play this together,” her mum said as they both closed their eyes and talked quietly to each other, the only other sound the squeak of leather as I carefully searched the room and pocketed some very nice items of jewellery.

“Okay,” I said eventually, “the masked man has come to make sure you’re still unable to move, so you can open your eyes now.”

As they did so, they saw I had a wide roll of brown sticking plaster in my hand.  “You both need to stay nice and quiet now,” I said with a smile as I removed the mother’s glasses, “while you both stay here.  So give me a big smile, and then keep your lips together.”

I tore a long strip off, and smiled at Emily, laughing as she stuck her tongue out and then allowed me to smooth the fabric over her mouth.

“Just relax – someone will be along eventually,” I said quietly as I tore off a second strip.

“Thank you,” her mum said before I gagged her, and she rubbed her cheek on Emily’s head, the two of them watching as I left the room, and searched the rest of the house.

That smile though – it stays in the mind…

********************************************************************************

A year or two back, I was in Nottingham, preparing to visit the home of a local jeweller.  He actually lived in a town called Alfreton, but I was working in the city – well, you know how it can be.

I had to take special care on this one, as I happened to know his wife was pregnant.  That mean I would need to be prepared to take special care of her, to make sure the baby was not distressed, but I had an idea of how to do that.

Anyway, this was during the Easter holidays, so I was outside the house watching as Daddy dearest drove off.  From my research, I knew their eleven year old daughter Debbie was likely to be at home, and the signs were they were there for the morning, so I got out of the car and slipped on my leather gloves, before walking round the side of the house and quietly opening the back door.

I was wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and trainers that day, as well as the usual stocking pulled down over my head, and as I closed the door to I could certainly hear the sounds of talking, so I took a moment to decide where I was going to go first.  A question that was answered for me when I heard two people walking towards the kitchen, so I hid behind the door and slipped my gun out of my pocket.

I had expected Debbie and her mother, but what I saw instead was her mother and an older woman, in her late fifties, who I guessed was Debbie’s grandmother.  Her mum was wearing a grey wide jumper over a light blue denim blouse, jeans and tan knee length leather boots, as well as a sizable bump, while Granny was wearing a short sleeved top with a paisley pattern and a wrap effect neck, and light blue trousers, the legs tucked into a pair of black leather boots.

“We need to get going soon mum,” the younger woman said as she ran her hair through her long light brown hair, “Abby is…”

That was when she turned and saw me, smiling under the stocking as her mother turned and looked as well.  “I’m afraid you’ll need to call and cancel,” I said very quietly and calmly, “you’re going to be tied up with other matters this morning.”

“Oh god,” she said quietly, “who are you?”

“I’m your burglar for today, and I regret to say I’ll be tying you, you and your daughter up.  But we don’t want to scare young Debbie too much, so you need to pretend this is part of a game.  I won’t cause you any more discomfort than necessary, but I do need you to do this for your own sakes.”

“We need to do as he says, Carol,” the older woman said, “I think he means what he says.”

“He also has a gun,” Carol replied, “so we don’t have a choice, do we Mum?”

“Not really – but do as I ask, and it can be fun for you and your daughter.”  I looked at the older woman, and said “What’s your name?”

“It’s Coral.”

“All right, Coral,” I said quietly, “sit down on that chair, very slowly, and put your hands on your head.”

As she did so, I took my rucksack off, stood in front of Carol and said “Call your friend, tell her you can’t make it now, and you’ll call her later.”

While she did that, I took some cord out, guided Coral’s wrists behind her back, crossed them and tied them tightly together with the cord.  

“I know, and I’m sorry Abby, but Debbie’s unwell, and I can’t leave her like this,” I heard Carol say as I used more rope to tie her mother’s arms to her sides, under her chest.  “I’ll call you later on – bye.”

“Very good,” I said as she ended the call, “now put the phone down, and stand in front of me.”  I took some more cord out, and tied her wrists together in front of her, before taking the rope around her waist and tying it off behind her back.

“Stand up, please,” I said to Coral, and then to Carol “tell your daughter this is part of a surprise game, and you want her to play with you and granny.  Tell her it won’t hurt her, but she has to do what I say.”

“All right – just don’t hurt us,” she said as we walked in to see Debbie in the front room, reading while the radio was on.  The young girl was wearing a purple lace tunic top, with a slip visible underneath, black skinny leg jeans and purple socks with blue moccasins.  She looked at her mother and grandmother, with their arms tied, and said 2what’s going on Mum?”

“We’re going to play a game of robbers,” Carol said, “the bad man is a friend of mine, and he’s already stopped me and Granny from using our hands.  He’s going to stop you as well, okay?”

“So he’s going to tie us up like a real robber?”

“That’s right, but it’s a game…”

“No it’s not.”

I looked at Coral, who said “it’s wrong to lie to children.  Debbie, he’s a real robber, but he wants us to think of this as a game, so will you do that for us?”

Debbie looked at me, and said “are you a real robber?”

“Yes I am,” I said quietly, “does that frighten you?”

“A little – but do you promise you won’t hurt us?”

“I have to tie you all up, and stop you calling for help or the police, but that’s all.  If you treat it like a game, it won’t be as scary, I promise.”

Debbie nodded as she said “All right – what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to close the curtains across the windows,” I said as I looked over, “and then come and sit next to your granny.  I need to make sure your mum is comfortable, and unable to move.”

As Debbie walked over and pulled the curtains over the windows, I indicated that Coral should sit on the long couch, while I helped Carol to sit in a recliner chair.  Debbie came back and sat next to her grandmother while I tied her mother’s ankles tightly together with rope, and then her legs below her knees, the band sitting on top of her boots while I took the rope between her legs.

As she tried to move her legs, the rope squeaking on the leather, I helped her to sit forward and put a cushion in the small of her back, and then reclined the chair, putting a second pillow behind her head.

“Now then, young lady,” I said as I looked at Debbie, “hold this for me for a moment.”  I gave her a length of the cord to hold, then knelt down and tied her granny’s ankles tightly together, the rope going around and between her legs, before using a third length around her legs below her knees.

“Does seeing this frighten you,” I said as I looked at Debbie.

“A little – does it hurt?”

“No not really,” Coral said as she looked at her, “it’s just a little awkward, that’s all.”

Carol looked over and said “we’ll be all right honey – just do what the man tells you.”

“Now Debbie, cross your wrists in front of you in the same way your granny did.”  As she did so, I tied her wrists together, and then passed the rope around her waist to hold them in place.  

As I tied her ankles and legs together, she looked at me and said “why haven’t you tied my arms to my sides like mummy and granny?”

“I’m going to,” I said with a smile, “but in a minute.  Once I’ve tied this off, I’m going to get you to sit in front of your granny’s legs, all right?”

“Why – oh, I think I can guess,” she said as I helped her slide off the couch and wriggle round.  Kneeling next to her, I did indeed tie her forearms to her side at her stomach, and then tied the rope around Coral’s legs, so that her granddaughter was secured to her as well.

“Now then,” I said with a smile, “this is the point where I have to keep you all quiet.”  I took three bandanas out of my bag, rolled them into bands and tied knots in the middle, and said “Open wide now.”

“Tffllsfnne,” Debbie said as I tied the cloth into her mouth, the other two agreeing as I cleave gagged them, before saying “Just stay there – the radio is on, and I’ll be back to check you once I have searched the house.”

I left them talking – well, mumbling to each other while I searched the house and found several valuable items, which I placed in my bag.  Coming back down, I was amused to see that Debbie had managed to push the knot out of her mouth, and when she saw me she giggled, saying “Not good enough, mister burglar.”

“I can do better,” I said as I replaced the scarf, and then took my roll of white micropore tape out, wrapping it round her head to cover the cleave gag and keep it in place.  I did the same for Coral, but when I said to Carol “Will you behave and keep that in,” she nodded, so I put the tape away, and closed my rucksack.

“I’ll let someone know about your predicament,” I said as I left them, all three trying to free themselves from the ropes…

********************************************************************************

Recently, I had the chance to combine the way I used to work, back when I started, with the more considered approach I take now to my visits.  I had been planning for a while to visit the family of a bank manager in a nearby town – he had a very pretty wife and two daughters, aged ten and eleven.  Naturally, I had made sure I was not related, nor was Janna, in any way personal or business wise to the family.  In fact, I had planned to visit later this particular week, but as I dropped Janna off to head into the city to do some shopping, I saw them standing at the station entrance.

The mum, Elaine, was wearing a long ducky pink coat with a black scarf round her neck, blue jeans and knee length tan leather boots, her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail that hung over her shoulder.  She kissed her husband and waved him off, before she got back into her car and drove off, the two girls sitting in the back.

Well, I decided to seize the moment, and followed them back to their house on the outskirts of town.  The entrance was a gated one, so I parked a little way back up the road, collected my rucksack from the back, and walked to the house, climbing over the wall at the rear and making my way across the garden.

Pausing only to put on the stocking mask and my black leather gloves, I used a lock pick to open the old wooden back door, and slipped in, closing the door behind me.  I could see the coat hanging up on a coatstand in the hallway, so I took a moment to consider what I would do first.

“All right you two,” I then heard Elaine say, “if you are going to be fashion models, then I guess I need to make sure you look the part.”  I watched as she headed up the stairs, her v-necked blue jumper now visible, and sneaked along the corridor, looking into the front room.  There were her two daughters, walking around and looking out of the window.

Yvette was the older girl at eleven, and was wearing a green dress with a black waist and collar.  The dress had a mosaic pattern on it, and the sleeves came to a little way above her wrists.  She was also wearing a pair of black leggings, her light brown hair falling down her back.

Linda, the ten year old, was wearing a black dress with a faux leather top.  The sleeves came to her elbows.  The layered skirt came to her knees, but she was also wearing a pair of purple leggings and matching jelly sandals, her dark hair falling loosely as well.

Both girls turned at the same time, and looked at me as I said “so these are the two famous models I’ve been asked to help prepare for a shoot by their mother?”

“Who are you?  Are you a robber,” Linda asked.

“Not really – but your mother asked if I’d come today, when you told her you wanted to play his game.  I’m going to pretend to kidnap you and your makeup artist, and hold you all for ransom.  Would you both like to play that game?”

“Yes please,” Yvette said as I slipped my rucksack off.  “Good,” I said quietly, “then this is what I need you both to do for me…”

“All right, you two – I have my make up kit, and now I…”

As Elaine came in, she saw her two daughters standing in front of her, beaming broadly with their hands behind their backs.  She looked at them wondering what was going on until she felt my hand over her mouth, and heard me say “Well, well – it appears your makeup artist had arrived a little too early.  I guess she’ll have to come with both of you, won’t she?”

“Yes she will,” Yvette said as she and her sister nodded and smiled, Elaine looking at me and saying “whstggnnnn?”

“This is a game of kidnap, which you helped set up, remember?”

She looked at her daughters, and then slowly nodded as I said “Good – now, I am going to take my hand away, and I want you to very carefully set your make up case on the coffee table.  Then your two young charges are going to stand in front of you while you do their makeup, as you were going to.  Once that is done, I’m going to make sure you can’t raise the alarm while I send the ransom demand.”

“See,” Linda said as she turned round and showed her mother how I had already crossed and tied her wrists tightly together behind her back, “he’s already started with us, and it doesn’t hurt.”

As I took my hand away, she turned and looked at me before whispering “You’re him, aren’t you?”

“that’s right – so just keep pretending this is a game, and they won’t get scared, and then they won’t hurt themselves.”

Nodding, she turned around and said “all right, ladies – let’s just do as the masked man said.  Come and stand in front of me.”

The two girls walked quickly over and stood in front of their mother as she started to use blusher, eye shadow and lipstick on their faces, while I watched from the side, smiling as she kept talking to them and explaining what she was doing.

After a little while, they turned and smiled at me.  Elaine had done a very good job on them, as they said “Don’t we look beautiful.”

“You both look like super models,” I said with a smile as I took some more rope from my rucksack, “so now you get to walk round the living room while I start to make sure the makeup lady cannot get free.”  Walking over, I stood behind Elaine and moved her hands behind her back, crossing and securing her wrists together before I used a longer length of rope to tie her arms to her side, going as always above and below her chest, and then under her arms and around the back of her neck.

“All right models,” I then said quietly, “come back over here and stand in front of your mum for a minute.  I need to secure your arms to your sides, and then I want you both to sit on the floor, back to back.”

I used two lengths of rope in double figure of eights to secure their lower arms to their stomachs, and then helped them to sit on the floor, while I used another length of rope to tie their upper bodies together.  I then tied their ankles together as they stretched their legs out in front of themselves, as well as their legs below their knees.

“Mummy’s turn now,” I said as I went over to Elaine, and pulled the rope tightly round her ankles, the girls giggling as they heard the squeak of rope on leather.  I made sure the rope went between her legs, as I had done with the girls, and then tied her legs together below her knees as well, before going back to my rucksack and taking out three large headscarves, one black, one green, and one blue.

They watched as I rolled them into bands, and then tied a knot in the middle of each band, before using the blue one on Elaine, the knot sitting in her mouth as I tied the band around her head.

“Tsllrrtgrlsjststclm,” she mumbled as I used the other two scarves on Yvette and Linda, and then helped Elaine to lie down, a cushion under her head.

“Now, you need to wait here while I make the ransom demand – don’t go anywhere.”

I left them in the room while I searched the house, coming back and smiling as I found they had hardly moved.  “the good news is the ransom has been paid,” I said, “but the bad news is you must stay here until they come to collect you.  Be brave – it won’t be very long.”

And it wasn’t – I called the police ten minutes after leaving…
“As you know, the wills of both Great Aunt Annabel and Jane Huntingdown called for their personal papers to be destroyed,” Vanessa said as she led the way along the upper floor, “but there was one particular requests that applied to this house.  Jane maintained a research laboratory here, in Curragh Park.”

“A private research lab?”  Ken looked at the locked door and said “Why did she want it sealed?”

“I have no idea,” Vanessa said as she produced a key, “but the will stipulated it was to be sealed and only opened in a dire emergency.”

“I think this qualifies as one,” Adam said as Karen joined them.

“What are you boys playing at?”

“Work, I’m afraid darling – I’ll be back shortly.”

“Well, if I can help?”

“You can – I’ll be down in a few minutes to explain how,” Tom said as Vanessa unlocked the door.

"This may not exactly be state of the art today, but it was pretty high tech back in the fifties when Dr. Huntingdown used it." Vanessa opened the doors of the sealed laboratory.

Adam opened the door and climbed the staircase inside, looking round.  "As you say it's not totally up to date Vanessa, but I think Ken and I can find a few things out in here...Can a couple of you guys help us up please?"

"John would you mind continuing on as the photographer?"

"Not at all dear chap...Our very own long unsolved killings, you try stopping me from being involved."

"Let's treat this as far as possible just as we would a modern homicide." Tom spoke from the police perspective.  “Collect and catalog, and log all findings.”

“Tom, can you get the other side of the evidence gathering going?”

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Tom said as he descended to the drawing room with Vanessa.

“Alex,” he said as he came in, “do you have it?”

“I do,” Alex said as he handed the guest book to Tom.

“Three bodies in a hidden room?  What’s the story Tom?”

“That’s what we’re going to find out – Janice, do you want to sit down with the Guest Book and try and work out a list of who was here that night?" Tom asked.

"It won't include the servants though Tom."

"The Stewards book will though, it will record who sat down to eat in the Servants Hall that weekend." Vanessa spoke.

"Who'd of thunk it? Our very own Country House Murder Mystery." Paulie smiled at her friend.

"Well we have all the players, detectives, doctors, amateur sleuths, this might be fun Paulie." Nessa smiled as she hadn't in many years.

“All right – let’s have a look at the relevant pages of both books,”

"Curt,” Tom said as he and Jo walked in, “we'd like your help in this. You are as close as damn to being a criminal profiler and you are an expert criminologist, we'd like your insights please."

“Into what?”

“The mystery of the three skeletons,” Vanessa said with a smile.

“I’ll get Adam to bring you a file about the night in question – see if you two can see anything of interest.”

"Sure Tom,” Curt said, “I'll do what I can to help – want to help Jo?"

“Of course I will – give me a chance to see you at work,” Jo said as she looked at her boyfriend.

“I’ll get Adam to come down and let you have the file,” Tom said as he walked back out.

As Janice looked at the pages of the book, she paused and then said “Well well well…”

“Janice?”

She looked up to see Shirley looking at her.

"Shirley I have something to show you...look" Jan pointed to some entries in the large, leather-bound guestbook.

"Oh, I see Barty Rhymaes and Gladys were here that weekend...as was a Mrs. Xavier!" Shirley for once in her life was totally surprised.

"Your ancestor Shirley?"

"I'm guessing so, I never knew she'd been in the States."

"Well didn't you say old Barty was an avid diarist?"

"Yes he was...oh?  OH."

"Can you?"

"I'll ring home now and get them to fax over the relevant pages.  I’ll also ask Sandra to check the BA Archives – before they formed, they were the Agency, and it may be there is more in the records if his man was here as well.  Jan, is there a Jayes in the Steward’s Book for that time."

“There is indeed.”

“Well, two calls then.”

"Thanks Shirley." Jan smiled. "He may be our only eye witness to what happened that weekend."

"Girls would you like to help Dieter and I investigate this Capone Booze mystery further?" Sigi asked.

"Well it doesn't look like we can be of much help with the skeletons." Pepsi looked up, "So yeah, why not?"  The group, as well as Maisha, followed Sigi and Dieter to the Barn House…

“Now then,” Sigi said as she led the girls upstairs, “explain to me what you were thinking, Anna.”

“I paced out the wall length and the corridor length,” Anna said quietly, “and this corridor is about ten paces short – so there must be something hidden at this end of the corridor and not the other end.”

“Why this end?”

“The chimney stack is at the other end,” Doc said, “and that is where Tom tapped yesterday.”

Sigi tapped on the wall, and said “Fair enough – the question is, is there a secret door?”

“Not sure – let’s all feel along the wall, see if we can find a bump or a crack.”

The group of girls took up various positions along the wall, using their hands to feel over as much as they could, trying to find a crack or a button, but there didn’t seem to be anything.

“Intriguing,” Sigi eventually said, “there is something behind there, but nothing obvious as to – hold on…”

She went into one bedroom at the side, and then the other, before saying “give me a hand in here please girls.”  As they entered the bedroom on the left hand side, they saw the room extended a little further, and a wardrobe was sitting next to the door.

Opening the wardrobe doors, Sigi handed some boxes to the girls, and then tapped on the back of the wardrobe.

“Oldest trick in the book,” she said with a smile, “can one of you go down to the utility room and see if they have a crowbar or a hammer?”

“I’ll go,” Pepsi said as she left the room, returning with a crowbar.  

“Stand back girls,” Sigi said as she felt along the joint of the back with the side, and then eased the end of the crowbar in.  Taking several deep breaths, she tugged on the metal, letting out a scream as the back panel came away, moving to the right as she used her hands to push it along.

“My goodness – what is behind there,” Maisha said as she looked up.

“A staircase, but there’s a lot of old wood and rubble on it,” Sigi said as she looked up.  “Ama, would you please go to the beach shack and see if either Winston or Curt is there please?”

“Of course,” Ama said as she left the room.

“Fetch me the torch that is in the kitchen, please Nikki?”

As Nikki left the room, Doc and Maisha tried to peer past.

“Is it possible to get up there,” Maisha asked.

“For a small person, yes – and I hate to say it, but I think you’re all too tall, and I don’t know if it is safe.”

“Here you go,” Nikki said as she handed Sigi the torch.  “Right – stay here, and if I call for help, go and fetch it,” she said as she climbed up over the planks that ay across the first stone step, and slowly made her way up, clambering over wood and old books that had fallen down.

“Are you all right Sigi,” Doc called up as she saw the small adult climb more of the steps.

“So far, but – oh.  Oh my?”

“What is it?”

“Someone call for help?”

Doc turned to see House standing there with Pepsi.

“Yeah – can you clear some of these things away from the staircase?  Sigi is half way up.”

“Another hidden room?”  Winston ducked as he looked in the wardrobe and said “Are you all right up there, Lady von Manschen?”

“I am fine, Winston, but can you do as the girls ask please?  The stairs are sound, just cluttered, and I don’t think you would fit up here.”

“As you wish, but I'll come and join you anyway” he said as he started to pick up the pieces of wood, laying them carefully on the floor of the room as the girls stood to the side.  As he cleared the steps, he slowly made his way up, crouching as he finally came alongside Sigi.  She was looking through a grill in a door.

“Well?”

“Looks to me like the legends might be true,” Sigi said as she looked at House.  “Do you think you can break this door down?”

Nodding, House looked at the door, and then pushed himself back against the outer wall, using his foot to kick at the lock until it cracked and the door swung inwards.  Sigi walked in and shone the torch round.

Winston looked in after her, seeing the barrels as the torch light shone over them.

“Oh my,” he said quietly, “the Capone whisky?”

“Could be,” Sigi said.  Going to the door, she called down “go and fetch my husband please girls.”

“What’s this,” Winston said as he walked to one side of the room, and picked up an old envelope.  Opening it, he glanced down the contents, and then sat down.

“What is it?”

He handed the sheets of paper to Sigi, who sat and read them.  “Oh my,” she said quietly, “oh my…”

5 pm
Southampton Long Island Hotel


As she walked into the bar, Allison could see Ed Mitchell sitting at the counter.  She smiled as she walked over to him.

"That little bitch, that fucking little whore!"

Ed Mitchell was obviously already well and truly drunk when Allison sat down next to him.

"Hey if it aint my sympathetic ear...Barkeep a brandy for the lady."

"Just a small one please...So what happened Ed?"

“What, apart from my beloved wife freezing her assets and kicking me out of her house?  How about the little whore not answering my calls or my texts.”

“This would be the mysterious Kerry?”

“Yeah – I finally got a text from her, and she’s dumped me, turned out she didn't love me, turned out she loved what I could give her with my wife's money...Do you fuckin' believe that?”

“The world is a very cruel and strange place, Ed.  So many out only for themselves.”

“So what are they saying about me up there, bet the witches are planning their devil dolls already…”

“I do not think Anna would do that to you, even now Ed,” Allison said as she sipped her drink.

“Not her – I mean Huntingdown and her group.  She never really liked me, you know.”

“I know the feeling,” Allison said, “she’s a close friend of George’s ex.”

“Sandy Richmond?  Nice girl – nice kids too.  But nah – Juliette Huntingdown is the one that’s going to whisper into Anna’s ear, I know that already.  She smiles at you, but there is a look she has…”

“Oh come on, she’s not that bad.  I know her as a trustee of the Kirkham fund – she’s a little cold, I grant you, but…”

“A little!”  Ed threw his head back and laughed, before he said “there’s a reason she’s not had a man for a long time you know – not until the shining prince from her past came out of the mist.”

“Klaus?  You knew him?”

“Anna did – she, Mary, Juliette, Diana, they all go way back to her time in Paris.  Anyway, she came back, and nine months later – there’s the baby.”

“Funny that – how neither Juliette or Carina liked to talk about who the father of their children was.  I mean, we all know about Carina now…”

“DNA tests and all – but has anyone ever wondered who the dad of Carina’s kid is?  If you ask, they say he did a runner the moment he found out she was up the duff.”

“A lot of young boys would, Ed.”

“Yeah – and a lot of other people disappear in other ways.”

“You’re not suggesting…”

"All I'm saying is that it seems awfully coincidental that that limey art forger turns up dead so soon after he raped Juliette Huntingdown." Ed swigged back his whiskey.

"You mean he actually raped Juliette?" Allison was genuinely shocked.

"So my soon to be ex wife told me."

"Why didn't she report it to the police?"

"Because as in a lot of things that bitch Juliette doesn't like anyone looking closely at her real life." Ed signaled the barman for another drink. "From rumours I used to hear out of the Far East Huntingdowns does a lot of business that either is kept off the books, or the books are adapted to make it look kosher."

"You mean Juliette is crooked?"

"I can't say one way or another, but just take her friend Catherine Lo, I hear Cathy knows some very interesting people back home."

“Oh?  What sort of people?”

“Let’s just say she has connections in very high places, and knows the people who can make things simple or difficult,” Ed said.  

Allison could not believe what she was hearing.  Juliette Huntingdown, the oh so pure writer and model, had a dark side?  Could she really have – no, that was unthinkable.

Or was it?

“Ed, are you staying here again tonight?”

“Got nowhere else to go until Anna lets me get my things.”

“I have to go, but I’ll call again tomorrow.  I want to hear more of this.”

Allison got up and left, thinking over what she should do next.  Juliette had been a beacon of strength after that Kirkham business, especially with Carina being so nearly killed.  Could that have turned her into…

No – no speculation.  She took out her cell phone and sent a text, before heading back to Curragh Park.

5 pm
Curragh Park


"Now that's interesting."

“What is,” Jo said as she put her pencil down.

Curt looked up from reading Adam's notes. "Both Black Jack, and the Flaherty boys had fought on the IRA side in the First War of Irish Independence. But when the Treaty was signed, Black Jack was a Pro Treaty man, while the Flaherty's fought on the Republican side."

"Political divisions ran very deep at the time." Alex shook his head.

"I know...it gives another reason for the Flaherty's to want to have hurt Jack beyond the insult to the family honour with his messing with their sister."

“Is it possible he went back to the mother country?  I mean, things were quiet there, but still…”




“Funny.”

“What is,” Ken said as he looked at his wife, who was bent over a microscope.

"The bullets came from a very small calibre weapon." Karen looked up.

"Hardly sounds like the sort of thing old Black Jack or the Flaherty's would have carried." Adam spoke.

"More like a ladies weapon." Ken smiled. "Guys I think there was another participant that night."

“What about the bone fragments, Ken?”

“Well, I’d know better if we had a modern lab, but they are about eighty to eighty five years old.  What we would love to have is an account of what happened that night, but you say there isn’t really one?”

“Not that we’ve been able to find yet.”



“Shirley?”

“Well, we found the passage from his diaries that covers his visit to Curragh Park,” Shirley said as she sat down, “as well as some records from the archives.”

“and?”

“It starts with him, his fiancée Gladys Pugh, and the inestimable Jayes arriving at Curragh Park…”

“It was good of Miss Richmond to invite us to come for her engagement party,” I recall Gladys saying as we drove up the tree lined avenue to the front of Curragh Park.  

“Indeed Miss,” Jayes said from the rear of the car, “a most generous invitation.”

Gladys, Jayes and I were spending the spring in New York, while I took care of some business on behalf of Aunt Agnes, or as I tend to call her She Who Cannot Be Denied.  It was meant to have been a short two week trip, but somehow messages got confused, misunderstanding took place, and we had all decided (after consultation with Gladys’ sister) to stay an extra month.  I know Jayes in particular had been pained by this, but what can you do?

As it was, however, as we approached the main house it was clear the good Annabel Richmond’s family had invested wisely.  The grounds were vast, and as we pulled up in the jalopy we were greeted by a tall, thin man with a serious bent.

“Good afternoon,” I said as I jumped out, “Mister Rhymaes and Miss Pugh?”

“You are expected sir,” he said in that strange American accent, “Miss Richmond is with her family in the drawing room.  Your bags will be taken to your rooms, and your man may take refreshment in the servant’s dining room.”

“I will see that the luggage is correctly placed, Sir,” Jayes said, and he talked quietly to the footman as the butler showed us in.

“Barty!  You made it – how wonderful!”

Gladys showed her usual look of mild bemusement as Annabel Richmond came forward, a vision in pearl silk and chiffon, and hugged me.

“Good to see you as well, Annabel old sport,” I eventually gasped.  “This is my fiancé, Gladys Pugh.  Gladys, Annabel Richmond.”

“Pleasure,” Gladys said as she shook Annabel’s hand.

“Mom, Dad, this is the man I met in London two years ago.  Barty, Gladys, Thomas and Shelagh Richmond, aka mom and pops.”

Richmond Senior looked like a businessman, with his neat grey hair and suit, but as I shook his hand I felt a grip that showed he had power.  Mrs. Richmond was a red headed Irish beauty, and greeted Gladys with a kiss.

“So how did you bag Barty, Gladys?”

“Long story – I’ll tell you it later,” Gladys beamed as Jayes said “Your bags have been placed in the Blue Room, sir.”

“JAYES!!  How are you?”

“Passably well Miss Richmond.  Good afternoon Miss Huntingdown.”

Gladys and I turned to the door to see Jane Huntingdown come in.  When we met in London, she was bookish, but in her grey blouse and skirt, her hair down, she was a beauty in her own right.

Not on the same scale as Gladys, but – well, you know.

"It's Doctor Huntingdown now Barty, she received her PhD a few weeks ago."

"Well congratulations old thing."

”Hello Barty, Jayes – and this must be Gladys.  Welcome to Chez Richmond.”

“SHELAGH!”

“Oh boy,” Annabel said as a man mountain walked in.  Huge, with a full black beard, he looked at Gladys and me and said “Oh – your English friends.”

“Barty, Gladys, this is my Uncle Jack.  Uncle, Barty Rhymaes and Gladys Pugh.”

He looked at us and said “Right – just keep out of my way.”

“What do you want, Jack,” Richmond Mater said as they left the room.  “Drink, Mister Rhymaes, Miss Pugh,” her father said as we both nodded.



"Well Ken what can you tell me so far?" Tom asked as he came into the lab.

"It may have started as a knife fight, but each had a .22 calibre bullet put into their heads to finish them off."

"Anything about the clothing yet?"

"Frieda is running some tests."

"Frieda?"

"Yes, she's a physicist but she has a chemistry background, she's proving invaluable up there."

“So more soon?”

“I hope so.”




Shirley looked at the others, and said “The next entry is later that night, as they retire after dinner…”

“So, what do you think Jayes,” I said as I sat in the bedroom, removing the old tie and collar.

“A most eclectic household, sir.  As you are aware, I hold both Miss Richmond and Doctor Huntingdown in very high regard, and I was pleased to see that Miss Pugh was, to use the phrase, so in with them.”

“I agree Jayes – reluctant as I am to introduce Gladys to my past relationships, I am sure they have much in common with her.”

“Indeed, Sir,” Jayes said as he hung my jacket, and for a moment I could have sworn I saw him smile.

“So who else makes up the party this weekend?”

“Mister Rockland, Miss Richmond’s fiancée, arrives tomorrow, as does another friend of the ladies from London.”

“So what is Rockland into?”

“He is an importer and exporter of fine art and gems, sir.”

“How useful – and the other friend?”

“I have been unable to ascertain her name sir – only that she has been touring the country, and is stopping in before returning home.”

“And Saturday night is Annabel’s engagement party?”

“Correct, sir – the cream of New York society has apparently been invited, as has many of Miss Richmond’s friends.”

Nodding, I sipped on the W&S.  “A pity we are on holiday, Jayes – I sense there would be unique opportunities here.”

“Doubtless, Sir, but as you say we are en vacance.”

“Well, I think that is all for tonight,” I said as I replaced the glass.  “When is reveille?”

“Breakfast is served at eight, sir.”

“Very well, wake me at seven, Jayes.”

“Very good, sir.”




The next morning saw me descending for Breakfast at eight fifteen, Gladys kindly waiting for me in the hallway, a vision in a blue coatdress with white collar and cuffs.

“Barty, this is a wonderful place,” she said as she gave me a good morning kiss, “and Annabel and Jane are absolute dolls.”

“So you approve of them?”

“How could I not,” she said as we walked into the breakfast room.  Annabel’s parents were at the table, alongside her Uncle Jack.  He took one look at us and left, as we sat down.

“Please excuse him,” Shelagh said, “he means no insult.”

“None taken,” I said as the maid served coffee.  “Would you care for fruit or cereal, sir,” she said.

“Fruit I think,” I said, Gladys agreeing as Annabel came in with Jane.

“Barty, you must come for a walk with us this morning – and tell your man to come as well.”

“All right – if word cam be sent to Jayes to join us after breakfast?”

The maid nodded and left as the doorbell rang.

“Mister Arthur Rockland,” the butler said as he showed in a tall, very well built man with a shock of curly brown hair and a suit that was cut with style.

“Rocky,” Annabel said as she went up and gave him a kiss.  “You’re early.”

“Well, I gave Alex a lift down,” the man said as another, younger man came in.  He was obviously Annabel’s brother.  

“Good morning, mom, pop,” he said as he rubbed his hands.  “Any chance of some breakfast.”

"Barty, Gladys, meet Rocky Rockland, my fiancé." Annabel smiled proudly.

"Pleasure to meet you, old fruit," I said as I shook the big man’s hand, and then shook my hand.  His grip was like a vice.

"Rocky was one of the Seven Mules."

"The seven what?" Gladys asked a trifled bemused.

"Oh I always forget your Brits don't follow our kind of football." Annabel's laugh was as I remembered it, like tinkling bells. "The 1924 Notre Dame team coached by Knute Rockne were national champions. Grantland Rice wrote a famous piece in which he called the four backs, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The linemen, what I guess you call the scrum in rugby, were quickly nicknamed the Seven Mules by the press. Rocky was one of those guys."

“Oh, a sportsman – I read an account in the press,” Gladys said.  “Barty’s idea of sport doesn’t go much beyond the golf course or the tennis court.”

“Well, I play as well – perhaps we can have a game of tennis later?”

“Certainly,” I said, wondering already when I could get out of it when I was saved by the butler again.

“Miss Annabel, there is a Mrs Annie Xavier on the telephone for you.”

“Annie?  She must have arrived and want to know when to come.  Excuse me,”

As she went off, Gladys looked at me, and then at Jane.  “Annie Xavier?  I think I’ve heard of her – how did you meet?”

“In London,” Jane said as she sat down.  “Come on, Rocky, Alex – let’s eat.”



We had spent a pleasant morning walking through the park, but as we approached the house we saw a car outside, and a woman just about the same height as Gladys talking to the butler.

“Is that Annie,” Jane said as we looked at the woman, wearing a long grey coat with a white fur trim and a matching grey hat.  

“I do believe it is,” Annabel said as the woman turned and waved, her brunette hair peeking out from under the cap.  She waved and said in a clear London accent “COOEEEE!”

As we got closer, I said “Hang on – I know you.  You work at the Tontom Club.”

“I did,” she said as she extended her hand, “but I came into some money, and invested in a new business.  Annie Xavier – Mister Rhymaes, isn’t it?”

“Call me Barty – my fiancé Gladys,” I said as they hugged and kissed.

“Lunch is served in the dining room, Miss Richmond,” Jayes said as he somehow appeared from nowhere.  He noticed Annie standing there, and said “Mrs. Xavier – a pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Annie said, but the look they exchanged seemed to say something was hidden from me.

“Come on, all of you,” Annabel said as she headed for the door, “I’m starving!”

“So all the main players are in place – what else happened before the party?”

Flipping through the pages, Shirley said “Apparently a small dinner party was held that night – listen to this…”

Dinner had been most pleasant, and as the ladies went out I was talking to Old Man Richmond, Jayes assisting with the drinks as Rocky and Alex sat in their armchairs.

"I never was much of a believer in paper assets Rhymaes."

"You mean stocks and such things sir?"

"I do, keep your money in hard assets m'boy, jewellery, gold, those are always going to have value, but above all land. The land is always there, it'll always be an asset."

"Sound advice Sir," as indeed later events on Wall Street in October that year would prove, and I was glad I followed his advice.

The women came back in as Jack Richmond opened some champagne.

“A toast to Rocky and Annabel is called for,” he boomed out as the ladies passed the glasses around.

"Barty I've just had the most fascinating conversation with Jane." Gladys brought over glasses of champagne." "Do you know she's a specialist in crime?"

"A what?" I almost spilled old man Richmond's good fizz in shock.

"She's a modern day Sherlock Holmes, she uses science to solve murders and other crimes....Isn't that just fascinating?"

“Yes – most fascinating,” I sputtered.  

“A toast,” Richmond said, “to Annabel and Arthur!”

“ANNABEL AND ARTHUR!”

“So how’s business Annie,” Annabel said as she looked at her friend.

“Good – working with Rocky, I think we can form a good and strong alliance in both directions.”

“So you are in import as well, Mrs. Xavier?”

“I am, Mrs. Richmond – fine art and cloths for now.”

“Xavier Cloth – that’s where I heard the name!  Barty, the dressmaker is using her wares for my wedding dress.”

“Well that’s wonderful,” Annabel said, “I hope we get the invitations soon.”


“Good night, Barty,” Gladys said as we kissed and I watched her walk to the room, before I stepped in to find Jayes laying out my nightclothes.

“A very pleasant evening, Sir?”

“Very much so Jayes – I like Annie Xavier, she has made something of herself.”

“Indeed Sir,” Jayes said as he took my jacket.  “The servants are most complimentary about her as well – she went to see them this afternoon to talk to them.”

“Salt of the earth she is.”

"And what do you make of Mr. Rockland Sir?"

"Not necessarily the brightest spark in the room Jayes, but he seems a thoroughly decent sort to me, he's even offered to put me up for his club donchaknow?"

"That is good of him Sir."  He handed me the nightcap as I sat in the seat.

"A bit of a blow finding out what Jane does to earn a crust though."

"Indeed Sir, a trifle off-putting, but not something that will ever I think interfere in our lives."

"She’s some kind of superior detective Jayes, that could make things rather dicey one day you know.

"Oh I think we have nothing to fear from the doctor, though others might."

"Can I ask what you might know that I don't Jayes?"

"My lips are sworn to silence Sir."

I looked at him, and said “Jayes I will find out, you know.”

“If there is nothing else sir, the cigarette case is to your side.  I will bring your morning tea at eight, breakfast tomorrow is at nine.”

“Very well Jayes,” I said quietly, “you may go.”

Jayes bowed and slipped noiselessly out, leaving me with my thoughts.


“All right, briefing time.”

Tom looked at the others as they sat round the table.

"Do we all agree?" Ken asked.

The others all nodded.

"Alright Tom, these are the bare bones on our skeletons, if you'll pardon the pun. Three Caucasian males, age approximately 25 to 40 years old. One six feet five inches tall, the others six feet two and six feet one.”  Ken paused, "From tiny hair samples all had natural red hair, from the skeleton we can tell all had done some form of manual labour at some time of their lives."

"Larger then normal bones supported larger then normal muscles." Karen explained.

"They had all been in several fights I'd guess, nicks and fractures to the bones that had healed up, and all three had at some time been shot and the bullet wounds had had time to heal. Oh also maybe they boxed."

"How do you deduce that Ken?" asked Adam.

"The state of the skulls show they received punches to the head that are consistent with what we see from boxers skulls after their death."

"That sounds consistent with what little we know about the Flaherty boys as yet." Tom smiled. "Three very rough and tough boyos who could more then look after themselves."

“It also matches the profiles Jo and I drew up,” Curt said.  “The Flaherty brothers put family loyalty above all else, and would do anything to protect their sister.”

“What happened to her anyway,” Tom asked.

“Believe it or not, she went back to Ireland and married a farm worker over there.  We did an online search and traced her relatives to County Cork.”

“Which still does not explain where Jack Richmond went,” Adam said.  “John?”

“I looked at the photos we took of the knives.  The style and make match those used in New York in the late twenties and early thirties.”

“Frieda?”

“What I can get from the fibres suggests tweed and wool – again common to the time.  The dyes used that I could extract also date to the period.”

"I'll ask NYPD what they have on them and see if the descriptions match." Janice finished taking notes.  “Send them our findings as well.”

“We did good work today people,” Tom said, “Hopefully, one mystery is going to be cleared up.”



“I now need to turn to an entry taken from a report made by Jayes to the Agency in London, upon their return.

I had partaken of breakfast, and was about to take Mr. Rhymaes his morning tea when there was a knock on the door to the kitchen.  Mr. Wilson opened the door, and allowed in a man of Italian descent.

"Mr. Jayes can I introduce Mr. Jimmy Vecchio, he leases a barn here on the estate."

"It's thanks to him that I can serve such beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers and the like Mr. Jayes." Mrs. Dawson the cook smiled contentedly.

"I have to say I've seldom tasted better Mr. Vecchio." I said as I shook his hand and smiled.

"Jimmy also supplies our more liquid needs...if you get my drift Mr. Jayes?"

"I think I do, Mr. Wilson,” I replied to the Steward.  I had wondered how, in these times of constraint on the transport of liquor, the Richmond family managed to get so much.  A look at Mr. Vecchio was enough for me to know they had, as the Americans like to say, connections.


The discussion was interrupted by the gong for pre-dinner drinks.  “Oh boy, is that the time,” Juliette said.  “We’d better go and join the others.”
Racing Curragh - Part 9
As the forensic team get to work, and Allison meets with Ken, the question of what happened at Annabel Richmond's engagement party may be answered by reference to an old friend's diaries...
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KP-Presents
KP - Writer/Art Appreciator/Collector
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
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Ta mate! Hope I can stay longer this time round ;)
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:iconmistermistoffelees:
MisterMistoffelees Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Many thanks for the Invasions fave, KP!... :D
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carmag34 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
Thank you for the fav~
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Created-By-Caz Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the fave!
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vladen13 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014
From past Jetson future , thanks well for present faving! :) (Smile)
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LeggyLinda Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014
Mmm absolutely love your "Not A Robbery" stories.
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KP-Presents Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014
Why thank you - do feel free to peruse other of my stories
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:iconcreated-by-caz:
Created-By-Caz Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the fave, glad you enjoyed it!
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Driver651 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014
Thanks for the faves!
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bjmar00 Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014
Happy Birthday !!
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Lord-Storm Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014
Happy Birthday Kevin:party:
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