Copyright© 2012 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
I sent the girls to wash themselves and dress. I decided that this time they would wear dresses and put out one for each of them. Once that was done, I did each of them a slightly different hairstyle. And gave them a squirt of cologne and sent them to play quietly and without getting dirty.
Then I showered and dried my hair before dressing in a dress and jacket and putting on some makeup, jewellery and smellies. Simon changed into a different suit and, I waited as Julie and Jacquie dressed themselves up to the nines—thankfully, Julie seems to have lost the urge to look as if she’s going off to work—as a hooker, so toned it down quite a bit—Simon would have asked her to change if she hadn’t. Jacquie had a limited wardrobe but looked tidy enough. I collected Catherine. She and Puddin’ and little Fiona would be looked after by the babysitting service at the hotel, so we could have an evening without worrying about little ones.
The bus arrived just as Tom was unwrapping his curry, we said goodbyes and he went to eat while we went off to Southsea. The journey was short but nice that someone else was driving, and we’d have the same driver to take us home.
Jacquie stayed close to me as we walked into the hotel, she was astonished at the way the staff were so obsequious to us, especially Simon; until I explained that his family were the major shareholder in the place. She was gobsmacked and just kept muttering, “It’s a different universe let alone world.”
It took me back to the first time I came here—I was almost in a trance as well, as I entered the Cameron’s very own palace—at least it felt like that. In just three years I seem to have become used to it. Now perhaps I should be surprised at my taking this bastion of capitalism for granted.
In the green room we were met by Henry, Monica was still upstairs in their suite ‘powdering her nose,’ as he put it. Stella whispered to me, “Hope she’s got enough powder,” which is a little unfair—Monica has a bit of a nose but it isn’t a huge thing, although Stella takes every opportunity to mock her over it, especially behind her back. I refuse to encourage her.
We introduced Jacquie to Henry, who was utterly charming to her, pledging his support for her during this period of pressure. He then flirted outrageously with me, with Simon egging him on on the grounds that it would save him thousands a year if I ran off with his dad. When I pointed out how much it would cost to replace all I did in the house, he suggested I come back for weekends.
After a fuss of the children, including Julie, who is really blossoming since her surgery, he and Si went off for a counsel of war while Stella and I handed the babies over to the babysitting service. I also handed over a bag full of jars of homemade baby food, which the kids love.
“I can’t believe your family own all this,” Jacquie observed to Stella.
“They don’t own all of it.”
“Oh,” said Jacquie blushing as if she’d made a mistake.
“They own about eighty per cent and the bank owns the other twenty per cent.”
“But you own the bank, don’t you?”
“Not quite, about eighty per cent.”
“Stop teasing her, Stella, they as good as own it.” Stella made faces at me. “Why don’t you show her round while we wait for Monica and the boys to come back?” Stella nodded and she and Jacquie went off to view the pool and the gym plus the other goodies like the salon, conference suite, mini cinema and dance floor.
They just got back after Monica and I exchanged pleasantries and Monica gave each of the children a present from France—the girls each got a piece of jewellery and Danny a French football shirt. They all seemed happy with what they had.
“Where’s mine?” called Stella.
“Here,” Monica handed her a small package which when she opened it had a set of very risqué lingerie inside. She chortled and blushed at the same time. Simon was given a French beret, and we all laughed at that.
“What’s Cathy got?” he demanded and Monica dived into her bag once more, then handed me a package. It felt soft and was obviously clothing. I hoped it wasn’t sexy underwear like Stella got—Simon might like it, but most of these things are so uncomfortable to wear.
I carefully opened the package and inside, much to my relief, was a green object—un maillot vert. This made the others chuckle, but I was quite pleased with my present, a green jersey with HTC on it—a copy of Cav’s jersey which we’d seen him retain and win in Paris. Danny reminded me of that wonderful afternoon and that he’d saved me from having my bag snatched.
Simon took his place alongside me and told me Jason had an angle and that Henry had an appointment to see the Chief Constable the next morning—the head copper was coming to the hotel for a breakfast meeting—and Henry was optimistic that it would go well.
We ordered and because none of us were driving, we could have some wine with our meal. I had a prawn cocktail starter—haven’t had one since I was a kid and thought they were the height of sophistication. For main course I ordered Dover sole with new potatoes and salad and for sweet, I would see if I could squeeze anything else down—usually ice cream or sorbet.
I’d just finished my starter when my mobile rang and seeing as it was James, I excused myself and went to take it out in the corridor. “I’ve got a name for you,” he said and sounded rather pleased with himself.
“Who is it?”
“My source, who is pretty reliable, suggested a certain Reg Burford, who was part of the team who investigated the original case.”
“The assistant Chief Constable?”
“The very same,” he chuckled, “isn’t he the guy who came to see you?”
“Yes, a fat twit with loads of silver braid on his hat.”
“Sounds like the type—I had to reward my source.”
“A ton of what?”
“A ton, you know, a hundred—it’ll be down as entertainment expenses.”
I sighed, there seemed to be no honour among thieves or the people we employ to catch them, but it explained the visitation the other day. If we were able to overturn the conviction, then the team who investigated it would be discredited and he’d have a lot to lose at his level of pension.
I discreetly passed on this information to Henry after the meal and he nodded and smiled—“That sort of gen can be very useful.”
“What was the new angle that Jason had uncovered?” I asked in return.
“Jacquie was questioned without a parent or chaperone being present and there was no tape available for the initial interviews.”
“She was groomed?” I gasped, meaning she was primed to give the answers they required for an easy prosecution, which at five years old would be easy to do.
“Shall we say, it is quite possible and the missing tapes mean somebody doesn’t want us exploring those possibilities.”
I felt things were coming together and although we had a long way to go, it looked positive. Henry’s meeting tomorrow would be crucial, we had to stop Burford getting Jacquie recalled to prison because then she’d be beyond our protection. The next few days would be critical and we’d have to keep her away from any chance of encounter with the police.
I went to the toilet and returning I saw a police car parked in the car park. I motioned to Henry that I had a bad feeling about it. He sent for his chauffer and I called Jacquie. I explained what I thought was happening. She burst into tears and I had to call Julie to come and look after her. In the end we sent the two of them off via the rear entrance of the hotel, to go to a safe place which Henry had used before.
I said I’d arrange some clean clothing for them tomorrow and Julie smiled, she was off on another adventure and it was I who’d have to call her in sick tomorrow.
Sure enough, we were stopped as we left the hotel and they searched the minibus and the house. They had a warrant for Jacquie. I called for Henry to speak with Jason to get the warrant rescinded. The police were miffed and suggested they’d arrest us for obstructing them. I was about to go off on one when Simon shut me up and told them that she’d gone off to see family somewhere in the midlands as far as we knew. They didn’t believe us but neither did they have enough bottle to arrest him.
The next twenty four hours were indeed going to be critical.
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