Thursday 14th May
“Jo, Suzie, have you got a minute?”
The two seniors stopped and waited as their fellow head girl joined them.
“I need a favour,” she said quietly, “a cousin of mine has turned up from out of town, and is staying with me for a few weeks. I know the prom is meant to be for Angels only, but would you mind if I got a ticket for her as well? My brother will be her partner.”
“Well, I guess we can stretch a point,” Suzie said as she looked at Jo, “where’s she from?”
“Philly – and thanks. I’ll tell Sharon when I get home.”
“I think that’s the first time she’s asked for anything in four years here,” Suzie said as Kathy walked off.
“Yeah – must be a really good friend,” Jo said as they headed to their class.
“Do you know what is really bothering me at the moment,” Pepsi said as she walked to the English class with Ama.
“No – what is?”
“The fact that although she has every right to after this year, Jeannie is not crowing it over us about the fact her boyfriend is here and ours isn’t.”
“Why would she? After all, she was patient enough with us – as were you, young lady.”
“I know,” Ama said with a smile, “but I am happy for her and for all of you. Even Anna – she and Chet really seem to have hit it off.”
“Were my ears burning,” Jeannie said as she came up behind them.
“Yes they probably were,” Doc said as they sat down.
“Settle down girls – before we begin, I know the school year has finished by then, but I wish to hand out these programs for Shakespeare in Central Park this summer. As we will be studying Macbeth next year, I urge you to go and see the production at some point in June.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Have you seen the Post?” Heather said as Carina came into the room.
Heather handed her the paper without a word, watching as Carina read the report.
"Crap!" Carina dropped the newspaper on the table and looked at Heather. "While we were a handful of blocks away, she was doing another."
"This body was rather more burned by the fire then the previous one." Heather pulled up the crime scene photos that Jan had provided.
"Can you show me the neck Heather?" Cari asked as she cradled Judith in her arms and looked over her friends shoulder.
"I can try." Heather started to enlarge and improve the picture.
"Okay I can see now...Right to left, that's her work."
"I've tried matching to older crimes." Heather looked at another screen she pulled up, "I can find elements of similar crimes in Detroit, Omaha, Philadelphia, Boston, and here in the city, but the closest remains your Christmas Eve killing Cari."
"What about internationally?"
"I've not run my trawl program yet...do you want me to?"
"It will take three or four hours for the computer to scan all those crime reports."
"Well shall we take these two little ones out for a walk in their strollers then? Maybe eat some lunch before we come back?"
"Just give me 10 minutes to set all the parameters for the search, and I think Jennifer and I will like that." Heather smiled as she started typing.
“Hey,” Annie said as she walked into Susan’s office, looking to where Penny was sitting, “got time for a sub and a chat?”
“Yeah, I could do with a break from reviewing staffing memos anyway,” Penny said as she laid a sheaf of paper to one side, and joined Annie at the coffee table. “Whatcha got?”
“Beef and mustard on rye, or chicken salad on wholemeal?”
“I’ll take the beef,” Penny said as Annie handed her the wrapper, and took a bottle of lemon tea.
“So what brings you to visit me,” she said as she unscrewed the top, “apart from treating me to lunch?”
“Well, I have a free period after lunch today, and I was in the area…”
“St Angela’s is a fifteen minute drive from here, Annie – what gives?”
Annie put her sandwich down and wiped her mouth. “Well, it is a rather indelicate question, Penny, so please hear me out, and promise the other Penny will keep quiet for a minute.”
“Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this,” Penny said as she sat back.
“Did you hear about the murder in the Bronx on Sunday morning?”
“I read something about it, why?”
“Then there was this in today’s paper,” Annie said as she handed Penny the paper. Looking at it, she frowned for a moment, and then said “I knew I wasn’t going to like this. What do you need to tell me Annie?”
“Well, the crimes are rather too similar to a murder on Christmas Eve, 2013 – the night Judith was conceived.”
“The… Is this the work of The Beast?”
“No – Cari was with me after the party on Sunday, and with someone else last night. But she is scared it may get linked with what she did back then, so she’s looking into them herself, unofficially.”
“And she’s worried it might be me who’s responsible?”
Annie nodded, waiting to see what Penny would do.
“Well,” Penny said as she held the bottle of iced tea in her right hand and took a drink, “I can see why you might think that, but I assure you it’s not me. First, not my style – I’m more a fists and kick lady. Second, I was with Maddie and the others at Shirley’s place after the party, and you can check the security tapes to see if I left. Finally…”
“You’re right handed.”
“Yup – not what I was going to say, but I am. Why?”
“Whoever did this is left handed – Carina’s seen the pics. I’m sorry Penny, but we had to know.”
“I understand why – anything we can do to help?”
“No – she’s working with someone more than capable,” Annie said as she relaxed. “So how long until Susan’s back?”
“Another month at least – her mum and aunt fly back Saturday.”
Inn on the Park
As Janice walked up to the front entrance, she was surprised to see Gale Callaghan standing, puffing on a cigarette.
“I didn’t know you smoked Gale?” Janice said as she walked up and kissed her boss’s wife on the cheek.
“I keep meaning to give it up,” Gale said as she stubbed it out, “but I’m a cops wife, it helps me keep calm on those days when I know Tom might walk out the door and never come home.”
“It’s one advantage of having Adam both as my partner and lover, he’s with me both at work and at home.”
“Doesn’t your Mom worry?”
“Some I guess, but she hides it well.”
“Are we the first arrivals?”
“Well the girls said meet out here, so I guess we are.”
“I’ve lived in this city for three years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten here,” Gale said as she looked round.
“It’s a good place to eat – we usually grab a booth and start chatting.”
“Hey,” Juliette said as she came over, “Glad you could make it Gale. It’s a lovely day, so I thought we’d wait until some of the others get here and then get an outside table.”
“Sounds good to me – where’s Carina today?”
“She went to see Heather – Jennifer and Judith get on well together.”
“Sandy rang to say she has to call off for today,” Diana said as she joined them, “the project she is working on has taken more of her time today than she planned.”
"So where is this project?" Gale asked.
"Out in Yonkers...and the woman keeps changing Sandy's recommendations, frankly I think Sandy will be glad when it’s over." Juliette waved as she saw Kelly and Tonia approaching,
"Hey you two." Gale glanced at the chic outfits both women were wearing. "Those are really nice suits."
"Thank you." Kelly smiled, “they were from Donna's collection at fashion week.”
"Shall we go in?" Ju asked.
"Let's find a place on the terrace." Tonia waved as she saw Rachel McNally running along the sidewalk towards them.
"Oh Good, I was afraid I was late." Rachel stood for a moment to catch her breath.
"No we are just going in darling." Diana smiled.
"So you were a deb too Gale?" asked Rachel.
"Yes I came out at the Ak-Sar-Ben ball in Omaha." Gale sipped her wine. "Omaha isn't New York, but it's a pretty big deal in our part of the world."
"Looks like you and I Jan were the only non-debs." Juliette smiled.
"You didn't miss anything really." Pussy pondered.
"Little sister didn't enjoy her deb year." Liz spoke, "Now I adored mine."
"Will you put a girl through it even if you hated it?" asked Diana.
"I guess so, if Frieda and I are lucky enough to have a daughter, I suppose family considerations will outweigh my own opinions."
"Oh before I forget Cari asked if you could pick up some literature at the clinic for her and Annie to look at."
"I can, so which one wants a baby?" Pussy asked.
"I think Annie, I'm not sure the world is ready for a second Carina pregnancy." Juliette laughed.
"Oh all that damn chili!" Diana looked pained.
"I heard Ken and Karen drove home yesterday." Rachel changed the subject. "Little John is so adorable."
"Let us just hope he doesn't grow as tall as his father." Janice poured herself another glass of wine.
"Ken is something of a stork." Ju nodded.
"So what are plans for this afternoon?" asked Tonia.
"I'm spending some of my husband’s meager salary on some new clothes, I'm almost embarrassed to be seen with you all." Gale smiled as she applied a fresh coat of her deep red lipstick.
"Go to APCO, get them to phone Alice, I'm sure you'll get the same discount we all do." Diana tidied herself.
"Oh is that the secret, you all get discounts?"
"Well it certainly helps Gale darling." Liz stood up. "Alright Pattycake and I need run...Ciao all."
"Liz!" her sister grated her teeth.
"Those two are never going to change, poor Puss she will always be the butt of Liz's jokes." Kelly shook her head.
"Juliette do you have Alice's number? I might phone her now." asked Gale.
"617 555 4210." Juliette watched as Gale jotted it down, her diary held in her right hand as she scribbled.
"Well I must rush, I need be on a construction site in 10 minutes." Tonia looked at her watch.
"You better change quickly darling." Diana replied as they both stood up.
"Alright we will see you all soon." Janice and Juliette both waved as they left.
The Richmond Mansion
“Well there were a couple of killings in Switzerland last year that have a certain resemblance.” Heather looked at the printout.
“Close to where Ingy was?”
“Let me see, Geneva and Lausanne.”
“Those are both close to her old school.”
“One in London that included setting a fire I can see.” Heather read more. “Some grizzly ones in Southern Germany.”
“My Great Aunts territory.”
“Oh dear goddess I wasn’t aware how many others there are out there just like me.” Carina read some of the reports. “I recognize so much in all these killings, I can empathize with the women who have done this.”
“But not with their victims?”
“Only the tiniest bit…sorry…I know that makes me a monster, but it’s who I am Heather.”
“I know Cari, I know.”
“Well it doesn’t help rule out any suspects knowing all this, it just probably creates more.”
“When do you see Natalya again?”
“She’s hosting dinner tonight for us – we might get a chance to talk then. On which note, I need to get Judith back and start getting ready.” She hugged Heather and said “Thanks for everything Heather.”
“Just take care, Cari – Natalya and you at least have an understanding, but this doesn’t seem to be anyone we know. It could get messy.”
“I always do,” Cari said as she picked Judith up, and carried her out.
Heather went back into the front room, looking as Jennifer played with a soft toy.
“Want some juice Jennifer?”
The little girl looked up and said “yes,” Heather smiling as she picked her up and carried her into the kitchen. Sitting her in the high chair, she made some squash into a cup and handed it to her, before she went to the coffee maker.
The back door opened as a very hot, sweaty Sandy came in, wearing a light blue tracksuit.
“How was your run lover?” Heather kissed Sandy as she flopped onto a barstool.
“Well you were the one decided you need be fitter for racing.”
“I know…it will pay off in the longer term.”
“Probably.” Heather smiled.
“So what have you found to keep yourself occupied today lover?”
“Oh the usual, school runs, babysitting Jennifer…oh Cari did drop over again with Judith and we took them out for a walk.”
“That sounds nice.”
“So how is the Yonkers project looking?”
“Better than it was, but I still think that damn woman has picked an awful colour scheme.”
“Well if she won’t listen to a professional opinion then that’s her own problem.”
“I know.” Sandy said as she opened a can of Red Bull from the fridge.
APCO, 5th Avenue
"So what do you do for fun Mrs. Callaghan?" Betsy asked as she wrapped up the box with the new suit in.
"Me? I ride, I belong to a riding club and we exercise our horses in the park."
"Well I grew up on a ranch north of Omaha, I was probably riding before I was walking."
"What about your husband?"
"Who Tom? He’s a city boy, can't stand horses. He’s always complaining about my riding crops, or helmet, or some tack, cluttering up the apartment."
"Well every hobby needs its own paraphernalia."
"I know." Gale took her credit card as Betsy handed it back. "Thank you for the lovely service."
"Well friends of the boss are always welcome."
“All right girls, let’s be seeing you.”
Mary Thomas stood back and watched as Jo, Maggie and Ally came out in their prom dresses.
“Okay girls I can see why you chose these dresses.” Mary said as she walked round them. “I think you are right though - some tiny alterations to make them absolutely perfect.”
Methodically Mary worked on each girl, pinning and marking the places she’d alter.
“Why did you never design yourself Mary?” Jo asked.
“Oh I tried for a couple of years love, but I was always better at seeing the faults in other people’s work than in my own.”
“So you drifted into journalism instead?”
“Ai, Fiona got me a job working at Complete Style as a very junior assistant, and I just worked hard and fit in I guess.”
“And instead you became the scourge of the models,” Jo said, making Ally laugh.
“Can you stand still please Ally?” Mary asked with a mouthful of pins as she adjusted the length of Ally’s red gown. “You are all wearing the height of shoe you’ll be wearing by the way.”
“Yes Mary.” All three girls answered in unison.
“Okay just checking.” Mary stood up and looked at them one last time.
“Right – that’s perfect. I’ll get them done and sent to your houses.”
“Thanks, Mary,” Maggie said as they went off to get changed, while Alexis Bronheimer walked in.
“Mary, Juliette is wondering if you have had a chance to review the APCO shoot yet?”
“I’ve got the portfolio on my desk to do now – tell her I’ll tell her if there are any problems later today or tomorrow.”
Mary looked at the young girl, and said “how are you finding the work?”
“I’m enjoying it, but the review is coming up. I just hope I’ve done enough to prove I am worthy of working for her.”
“I think you’ve done your best lass- just let Ju and Janine talk things over, all right.”
The des Moines Residence
“This is what we both need, Kathy, a night out,” Sharon Kennedy said as she pulled on her top and sat at the dressing table.
"Cuz...” Kathy looked over from her bed and said “you really should ring your dad and let him know you are alright?"
"Why? Like he cares for me and the kids...all that grief for that rotten bitch."
"Look I know you didn't like her, but he doesn't deserve to be put through this crap. You all went through hell that night, and he needs all of you."
"I'll tell him when I think I've punished him enough, to tell the truth I'm rather enjoying myself."
"That is sick."
"It might be, but it's nice to be striking out. Feels good." she paused as she applied fresh lipstick. "I took shit from her and he looked the other way, now it's payback time."
Kathy shook her head as she stood up, and put on her jacket. “Well, if you’re gonna do this damned stupid thing, I’d better make sure you don’t get hurt. Come on – I know a bar you’ll like.”
Sharon smiled as she stood up, and put on her own denim jacket. “Good – I want to relax while I’m here.”
She looked in a large brown shoulder bag, and took out a red purse. “Right – let’s go.”
The Astoria Waldorf
The party in the private dining room was enjoying the evening, Wilhelm and Natalya acting as hosts to their family as well as Guy, Valeria and Diana.
“So what do you think of New York, Aunt Natalya,” Ingrid asked as the soup plates were cleared.
“An interesting place,” Natalya said as she picked up her wine, “The poem on the Statue of Liberty – Give me your poor, your huddled masses. I can see how that has led to such a cosmopolitan mixture of cultures and places.”
“Well, I like it,” Carina said, “it is my home, after all, and as enchanted as I am with Vienna and other cities, it will always be my home.”
“I feel the same way about my home,” Ingrid said.
“And so you both should,” Klaus said as he sipped his wine, “we must never forget where we came from, or we cannot appreciate where we are going.”
“A mistake I made,” Valeria said, “living for far too long in the past and letting it control me, rather than learning from it.”
“But we brought you out,” Guy said, “and I for one am grateful for it.”
“Valeria,” Carina said, “I was wondering the other day about the Furstenheim family line. I know it can be traced back to the Holy Roman Empire, but I was wondering if you knew just how widespread it was.”
“Do you mean in terms of how large the family is, or in terms of where they are located,” Valeria asked.
“Which gives the more interesting answer?”
“Spoken like a true student,” Wilhelm said.
“Well,” Valeria said, “the main line has always resided in or around Furstenheim or Munich. Sigrid is actually one of the few who has made her permanent home outside that area. But there are two cadet branches.”
“There are? I did not know that,” Natalya said as she looked at Valeria.
“I have heard of one of them,” Guy said, “they established themselves in Holland in the 18th century, but I thought that had virtually died out.”
“So is my understanding,” Valeria said, “one or two may have emigrated elsewhere, but I have no recollection of a record of that.”
“Would you know what name they took?”
“I will see if I can recall it later – but as I say, there were two cadet branches. In 1892, Princess Gerda von Furstenheim married a distant relative of mine, Count Sergei Boronov.”
Diana and Juliette exchanged a glance as Carina said “So she married and moved to Russia?”
“Precisely – but they fled before the Bolshevik revolution, and nobody knows what happened to them. Beyond those two groups, and the recent addition of yourself Carina, I believe all the branches are accounted for.”
“Now that is fascinating,” Natalya said as she looked at Carina. “There would be no way to know for certain without tracing the family tree of those people then,”
“I regret to say not – a fascinating exercise possibly, but working forward from one person is always more difficult.”
The main courses arrived, leaving Natalya and Carina deep in thought…
"Did my 17th century ancestress - the one they called the 'Blood Princess' - have any descendants" Carina asked.
"Officially no." Valeria looked up from her meal, “but there were rumors that she had two daughters by peasant boys.”
"I personally think it's a legend made to help scare the tourists." Ingrid looked up, "and to inspire horror movies and writers."
"Did you ever see 'Maidens of Blood' Cari darling?" Klaus shook his head. "Truly the worst movie ever made."
"No I discount all stories about her having two daughters who passed on her insanity to further generations.” Wilhelm lifted his fork to his mouth and ate, Natalya raising an eyebrow in Carina’s direction.
The Huntingdown Apartment
“This is ridiculous – nothing is making sense in this.”
“We need fresh eyes looking at this problem.” Annie said as she stretched and yawned. “These reports don’t create a pattern, it’s like she took bits from each that she liked to create an overall package.”
“Well given Aunt Natalya’s thoughts I guess that makes some sense.” Carina carried Judith in her arms as she paced. “If it it’s a newb she obviously did some research and reading and is doing the things that caught her fancy. If on the other hand it’s a returner they have had the chance to learn and absorb fresh ideas since their previous outings.”
“I have an idea for you darling,” Annie said as she stood up, “what about fiction? There is some pretty graphic torture and sadism literature out there. You’ve been checking real crimes, maybe it’s time to consider that this is someone putting fantasies they’ve written about online into practice.”
“Oh Annie, kick me for being stupid, I never even thought of that.” Carina shook her head.
“Well we could spend half the night reading kinky porn, or we could make love and get Heather to do it for us tomorrow…I know which I prefer doing.” Annie kissed her former student by way of demonstrating her preference.
”Well if you put it that way.” Cari giggled. “Little one here is ready for her sleep, just let me put her in her crib.”
“I’ll be waiting,” Annie said as she walked towards the bed.
Friday 15th May
The Richmond Mansion
“Hey Carina, I don’t think we will get out today for a walk, this rain looks well set.” Heather looked up at the dark grey overhead clouds as she helped Cari bring the baby in from the car.
“I know, but what I have in mind to discuss probably means we have to stay inside anyway.”
“That sounds intriguing.” Heather said as she took Judith out of her rainsuit, while Cari took her coat off.
“Annie came up with an idea in bed last night…”
“I’ll bet she did.” Heather giggled.
“Not that sort of idea.” Cari laughed and blushed. “She reasoned what if our girl is putting into practice things she’s read about in online fiction?”
“Mmmm now that is smart thinking, life imitating art. I should have thought of that myself.”
“Well I thought we could maybe Google things and see what that produces.”
“Cari we need a far better search tool then Google…”
“And it just so happens you have one?”
“Now what gave you that idea…?” Heather laughed as she booted up her computer,
“Past experience – hello Jennifer, what are you drawing?”
“Yes,” Jennifer said as she scribbled on a piece of paper with some pencils.
“My search engine reaches parts of the Internet Google isn’t even aware exists. Not just the dark web, but all shades of it.”
“I’ll make coffee while you work…want one?”
“Please Cari, and make it strong I get the feeling some of this will churn even your stomach.”
“I’ll make sure it’s really strong,” Cari said. “But it would have to be something to shock me.”
Heather looked at the young woman, and shook her head as she typed in the search terms based on the crime scene report.
FBI Field Office
“Jan,” Adam said as he looked up, “have you seen these two murder reports from the last week?”
“I’ve seen them,” Jan said, “Whoever this is, she makes the Pussycats look like Sunday school teachers.”
“I agree – at first I thought it was one of them gone rogue, but this goes to a new level of viciousness.”
“What is,” Tom said as he came back from the coffee machine.
“These sex murders – the two victims were tortured, and then had their throats cut before their apartments were set on fire."
“Let me see that,” Tom said as he picked up the file, and looked through it.
“Something wrong, Tom?”
“Hmmm. No, nothing, mind if I borrow this for a little while?”
“Knock yourself out,” Adam said as he looked at Tom, then at Janice as he walked into his office, closing the door behind him.
“What was that all about?”
“Search me,” Janice said as she looked at the closed door.
The Richmond Mansion
Carina stared at the screen, hardly believing what she was reading.
“Pardon me, but some of this is absolutely foul, and as a practitioner of the black art, I’m not sure half of it is even possible.” She said as she shook her head.
“This is downright disgusting…”
“It’s not medically possible, she would have long since killed him.” Carina looked horrified, “I never ever thought I’d hear myself utter these words, but there are some real sick bastards out there.”
“Well other than learning the depths of depravity that our minds can create, are you seeing anything that sets a bell ringing in your head Cari?”
“There are several stories in which virtually every element is present, Can you find out who the writers were, and get locations Heather?”
“With my housework, etc, it might take me a few hours, but yeah I can probably trace these back to their source,”
“Good and hopefully something in the names and locations might mean something to one of us.”
“I need to cleanse my mind – have you any idea what Jo and the other girls are planning?”
“Nope – she’s keeping things very close to her chest. Have you heard anything?”
“Only that she got ahold of the Alumni list for some reason…”
The Huntingdown Apartment
The doorman looked up to see a slim brunette, wearing a red leather jacket over a grey v-necked jumper and grey slacks, looking at him.
“I’m here to meet Miss Juliette Huntingdown,” she said as she fidgeted with her shoulder bag.
“You must be Miss Bronheimer,” he said with a smile, “go right up.”
“Thanks,” Alexis said as she walked to the lift and got in, nervously humming to herself as the lift took her up, and she stepped out. Walking down the corridor, she stopped and knocked on one door.
“Hi Alexis." Janine greeted her colleague as she opened the door to Juliette's apartment.
Alexis walked in, taking off her jacket as she did so. Looking at Janine, she whispered "Why did she want me to come here?"
"She'll tell you." Janine said as she ushered her into the drawing room.
"Wow,” Alexis said as she looked round the room, “you have an amazing apartment Miss... Sorry Juliette."
"Thank you Alexis,” Juliette said as she indicated the couch across the coffee table from her, “I thought it was the best place to hold our little chat."
"Okay." Alexis looked round as Janine gave her a glass of wine.
"Now how have things been going Alexis?"
"I think I’m doing alright Juliette,” Alexis said nervously. “I mean, I know I made a few mistakes, but I got them sorted out - I think."
"You did." Juliette glanced at her notes.
"Well I hope I did." Alexis looked downwards nervously.
"Are you enjoying the work?"
"Oh immensely." Alexis smiled broadly.
"Even the long and odd hours, and the different locations?"
"Well I knew that was what was involved going in."
"Now Janine has written me a detailed report, and I've read it closely." Juliette paused. "She has brought a couple of things to my attention..."
"Oh!" Alexis fidgeted.
"A couple of them are complimentary, another few were things I needed to think upon.”
"I hope they weren't too bad." Alexis whispered as she looked at Janine.
"Juliette asked me for complete honesty." Janine replied.
"Oh, so you won't be keeping me on?" Alexis looked downcast.
Sitting back, Juliette looked at the young woman before she said "What gave you that idea?"
"Oh,” Alexis said quietly as she looked at both of them, “I thought...ummmm"
"If I was reassigning you I'd have done it at the office Alexis...Bringing you into my home, I am welcoming you into my extended family."
"You mean I got it?"
"Of course you did." Janine laughed and hugged her assistant all at once.
“Not that there are not things you need to change and do differently,” Janine said as she took another sheath of papers from the table, “but that’s part of the learning process. Get Janine to tell you about the time she almost lost the entire lead feature of the issue.”
“What’s important is you learn from the mistakes and move in,” Janine said.
“Now, fair warning – the assistant of my associate Catherine Lo is coming in four weeks to spend some time in the city, working on contracts with me for Huntingdown Silks. She will also spend time in the office, so the three of you need to work as a unit on that one. You and Janine need to start coordinating with her now.”
“You’ll like Marina – she’s a fun person,” Janine said with a smile.
“We’ll work up a development plan for you as well, but for now, take this contract and read it, then sign and return to HR.” Sitting back down, Juliette said “by the way, Alexis, you never told me what you do in your spare time.”
“Oh – well, I practice my writing. Short stories, meditations – maybe one day I’ll get published, but I’m a long way off that yet.”
“Well, trust me – practice makes perfect.”
“Nobody home baby,” Carina said as she took Judith out of her rain suit. “Would you like a drink and a little snack, yes you would wouldn’t you?”
Judith laughed and smiled as Carina picked her up and rubbed her tummy with her head, and then walked to the kitchen. As she passed the phone, it started to ring, so she picked it up and said “Huntingdown residence.”
"Cari I found another site that might interest you?" Heather spoke.
"Oh," Carina cradled the phone against her shoulder as she put her daughter into her high chair.
"It's a site for a group that call themselves Daughters of the Ripper. It's a combination of sickos and genuine Ripper enthusiasts trying to work out who he was."
"And I'll be interested why?"
"I'm not going to say - just go look at some of the names and aliases of members...I e-mailed you the link."
"Okay I'll get online Heather."
"Phone me back as soon as you've looked."
Putting the phone down, Cari made sure her daughter was secured in, and then fetched a bottle and a biscuit, handing the latter to her and putting the former on the tray, before she fetched her laptop.
“Now then,” she said as she started the coffee maker, and then booted up her machine, “let’s see what Aunt Heather has found for Mommy, shall we?”
She soon found the e-mail and opened the link, squirming slightly at the front page before she looked on the forums.
“Original that isn’t,” she muttered, and then one name in particular caught her eye. She rubbed her chin for a moment, and then clicked on the red text, a profile coming up.
“Oh merciful goddess,” she whispered, before she picked the phone back up.
“It’s a joke, right?”
“I wish it was Cari – and she’s not the only one. The girls are coming for coffee – keep looking – I’ll talk to you later.”
Upper West Side
Susan and Clint’s Apartment
“It’s good of you to invite us over, Susan,” Adam said as he escorted Jan and Kathleen in. “Who else is coming tonight?”
“Well you know Penny and Charlotte of course,” Susan said as they came into the lounge, “and Shirley and Sandy will be here soon with their partners.”
“Something smells nice anyway,” Jan said as she sat down, “so what culinary delight are you treating us to tonight?”
“Alright, on the menu for tonight is Toad in the Hole, followed by Spotted Dick.”
Susan laughed at the expression on her American friends faces. “For those of you who don’t know what they are, Toad in the Hole is sausages cooked inside a Yorkshire Pudding, while Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding stuffed with currants.”
“Is Clint cooking those?” asked Adam.
“No, Mum and Aunt Maeve are cooking, Clint’s helping and learning.”
“Adam I remember both from my childhood.” Katherine patted him reassuringly on the leg, “trust me they are good.”
“Well if you say so…are the sausages pork?” Adam looked for a way out.
“Yes, but since I’ve seen you eat pork chops Adam Ball, you can’t plead Kosher to back out.” Jan laughed at her boyfriend.
“Look at it as an adventure.” Susan smiled as she handed out glasses of wine and then went to greet their other guests.
“I have to admit, I was scared stiff the first time I was offered them.” Charlotte remarked.
“You should have seen her face I said I was serving her Spotted Dick.” Penny giggled at the memory, “but she actually now makes it herself.”
“Clint is making two different custards in a bit to serve with it.” Maeve came in to fill up her wine glass.
“And knowing Adam is a custard fiend, I think we just talked him into trying it.” Janice replied.
“Alright, I know when I’m beaten.”
“Beaten at what, Adam,” Shirley asked as she and John came in.
“Susan was just describing the menu for tonight,” Penny said as Sandy and John Jacobs joined them, taking a glass of wine from Susan.
“Oh – and that would be?”
“Toad in the Hole and Spotted Dick?”
“With proper beef gravy?”
“Of course,” Maeve said as she nodded to Shirley.
“Good – it needs a proper gravy,” Sandy said. “I still remember when Shirley tried to make it one day, and got the recipe slightly wrong.”
“To be fair,” Shirley said, “it was a mistake to make it with Lincolnshire sausage – and to make the batter mix as if I was doing pancakes. But at least the mashed potato was all right that night.”
“Thanks to Mr. Marks and Mr. Spencer,” Sandy said with a smile. “God, when was that?”
“It would have been about – oh, 1989 I think.”
“Well it reminds me of school days.” John Hammond laughed to himself, “Though any food is usually better then what we ate at Eton.”
“I’ll guarantee Winchester was worse,” the other John said as he shook his head.
“I never knew you were a Wykehamist John?”
“Yes,” John smiled to himself, “Though I’m not sure the school counts me as one of its leading old boys, as Eton does you.”
“The last thing we need are two public school boys trying to be modest.” Shirley intervened.
“As an outsider can I say I think you’ve both had interesting lives.” Adam sipped his drink.
“Exactly,” Shirley said in a decisive tone, “so we will have no false modesty tonight.”
“She has spoken, we must obey,” John Hammond said as he held his hands up in surrender.
“Alright folks, as a starter this is my take on Welsh Rarebit.” Clint said as he came in, carrying plates of toast covered in melted cheese as everyone took their place at the table.
“Oh Lord this is good.” Sandy said as she tasted a slice, “a dash of Worcester sauce?”
“And?” Clint replied.
“Oregano certainly.” Shirley looked up.
“Just a hint of Dijon mustard.” Katherine finished a bit and reached for another.
“You got it.” Clint looked happily at everyone eating.
“What beer did you use Clint?”
“There’s a microbrewery nearby that does an excellent Dark Ale.”
“My compliments to the brewer,” John Jacobs said as they sat round and talked.
“Alright I don’t know if it’s the company, or the food, but this has to be one of the nicest meals I’ve had in years.” John Jacobs said as he leaned back in his chair.
“It’s just a pleasure to hear you all laugh so much.” Susan said as she sipped her brandy, “Especially you Mum.”
“Oh.” Rose blushed. “I’m just glad Maeve and me got a chance to thank all of you.”
“I definitely think we have to say a thank you to our cooks for tonight for such a lovely meal.” Shirley spoke.
“Indeed we do, Ladies and Gentlemen, Rose, Maeve and Clint.” John Hammond raised his glass.”
“Rose, Maeve and Clint!”
“So where is your new flat Rose?” Sandy asked.
“Well I’m saying it’s Enfield, but that’s only because Southgate sounds a bit posh.”
“That’s a nice area though.”
“It’s only three or four miles from Tottenham but compared to my old place it’s like another world.”
“And have you got a job lined up?”
“Thanks to Juliette, I’m going to be teaching sewing at the local university to fashion students…me of all people teaching at a university.” Rose shook her head.
“Well skills like you were trained in Rose need to be kept alive.” John Jacobs looked across the table, “I think it sounds like a round peg in a round hole.”
“Well I am looking forward to it.”
“I’m happy for you Rose,” Katherine looked down the table, “You can show us pictures of the new place when you come over for the christening.”
“As to who are to be April’s godparents?” Asked Shirley.
“Well after much soul searching, we’ve decided to ask Penny, Marina, Abigail and David.” Clint answered.
“And I’m glad to say they all accepted.” Susan smiled broadly.
“I hear Marina is doing very well in her new job,” Penny said.
“Indeed – I spoke with Catherine yesterday, and she is very impressed.”
“So you will return to the UK on Sunday, Maeve?”
“That’s right, then come out at the end of June for the christening. What about you John?”
“I fly back on Tuesday – I have some business to conclude here first. A rather nice piece of Shaker furniture that would suit a client. I need to arrange transport and so on.”
“So have you always worked in antiques John,” Kathleen asked.
“In one capacity or another, yes,” John said as Shirley and Sandy looked at each other. “After Winchester, I was apprenticed to a dealer, and learned the trade from the bottom up.”
Rose sipped her tea and looked at Susan for a moment, indicating the kitchen.
“Excuse me a moment – need to check the coffee machine,” Susan said as she stood up, Rose following her.
“You want to ask about Marina, right?”
“Yeah – has she, you know…”
“Turned over a new leaf? She has mum – she works as an assistant for a client of ours in Hong Kong now. She got a second chance as well.”
Rose nodded, and said “good – we all deserve second chances, don’t we?”
“Yeah we do mum,” Susan said as they hugged each other.
“Want a hand with the coffee?”
“Please John,” Susan said as she dried her eyes, “I’ll make some fresh tea for mum.”
The Richmond Mansion
“Mum’s keeping an eye on Judith,” Carina said as she slipped her coat off, “where’s Sandy and Jo?”
“Jo’s upstairs doing some work, and Sandy went to see Tonia to discuss a project. We’ve got the place to ourselves.”
“Good – I really don’t want them knowing about this yet,” Carina said as they went into the kitchen, and Heather put the coffee on.
“So, the Daughters of the Ripper?”
Carina nodded, before she said “I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that name as Mary Kelly, but still – her knowledge is amazing.”
“I guess that’s what happens when you’re the wife of a FBI AD, but I have to admit, when I saw Gale Callaghan’s name come up, I almost choked. She does seem to know the full gory details of the original crimes as well.”
“I guess the question is, could she be responsible for these crimes?”
“Well, they moved here from Nebraska, didn’t they? Maybe Jan knows what Tom was working on before he came here.”
“I’ll tell you what surprised me – seeing Maureen Gardiner as a recent joiner.”
“StudentOfAbelaine? I know – she asked a lot of questions about the psychology of a criminal, and some of the crimes of the past.”
“Last night we asked Valeria about possible descendants, but she wasn’t sure. Two possibilities, and then there is the legend of The Blood Princess – she may have sired two children, but nothing has even been proven.”
“So some avenues to explore?”
Heather nodded. “One other name cropped up – HellDaughter.”
“I missed the one, who was it?”
“Sharon Kennedy – and she is reported missing from Philadelphia. Apparently she has family in NY.”
“And we saw she has the right tendency when we called,” Carina said, “but would she be a killer?”
“Well, three to consider – want two more names?”
“Oh yes – when I ran the checks, many were just nut jobs, but two – the two that matched most closely – want the names?”
“Go on – nothing could shock me anymore.”
“Alexis Bronheimer and Emma Cromwell.”
Carina had a mug of coffee in her hand as Heather said that, but she slowly lowered it. “Emma Cromwell? As in soon to be wife of Madeline Moore Emma Cromwell.”
“Yup – she has a definite flair in her writing, and she is very detailed.”
“Well, we can rule her out of the NY killings –she was with Maddie and Penny all Saturday night, and she flew back with Maddie on Monday. A phone call should confirm she was there. Who’s this Alexis Bronheimer?”
“An English graduate – I can find out where she works now easily enough.”
Carina sat back. “So we have four possible contenders – can you work up profiles I can go through with Great Aunt Natalya?”
“Not before Monday – we’re away tomorrow. But you can talk with her about what you know.”
“We can also do some family trees for the four we know – dig a little way. Heather, thanks – I know this could not have been easy for you.”
“Wish I could have been more detailed, but…”
“Come on – let’s leave this now. Get Jo down and let’s watch a film.”