For Disclaimers, or lack of them, see Part 1

Thanks again to my beta reader, Barbara Davies. Read her work at her page: Barbara Davies


By Midgit

Part 3

Breathe, just breathe.

Jo bolted upright, once again clutching her chest against the sharp pain that manifested itself right next to her heart.


A sleep-tousled blonde head peeked up from beneath the quilt beside her.

"You dreaming again?" asked Harry, looking up at her friend's dark profile, barely seen in the darkness.

For the first time since she was a child, the darkness had disturbed Jo, resulting in her leaving the landing light on and asking her friend to sleep with her in her bed, rather than in the guestroom.

"Yeah," was all that Jo could manage as she held the flat of her hand against her own wildly beating heart.

"Same thing?" asked Harry, pulling herself to a sitting position and peering around Jo to see the illuminated numbers on the radio alarm. 01.37

Jo nodded.

"Same woman?" Harry waited while her friend composed herself.

Jo swallowed hard, her eyes tightly shut. "I'm going mad, aren't I?" she said, burying her face in her hands.

"I think maybe you're very tired," Harry said softly, "and the photos in the gallery affected you in some way. The tired mind can play strange tricks on you sometimes."

Jo suddenly threw the quilt back and leaped out of bed. "Where are you going?" Harry asked, pulling the quilt around herself.

"To have a chat with Mother."

"Um. Jo?" Harry began, but Jo was already heading out of the bedroom, pulling on a robe as she went.

By the time Harry reached the lounge, Jo had turned on the gas fire and was arguing with her Mother's chauffeur.

"I really don't care, Jon. I want to talk to her and I want to talk to her now."

Harry reached out a tentative hand and rested it on Jo's shoulder. "It's really late, Jo," she said quietly.

The tall woman ignored her. "What?" she barked into the phone. "Then I'll come over there; which would you prefer?"

Harry moved away from the angry woman, realising she was being ignored, and watched Jo as she sat on the sofa, the phone still hard against her ear.

"Mother?" Jo's eyes were closed, a look of something approaching pain on her face. "Yes, I know." She was obviously fending off an irate woman. "Well, it'll only take a moment. I need a phone number."

Harry wordlessly handed Jo a pad of notepaper; the tall woman took it and the pen that was also handed to her.

"Charles DeBurgh. Never mind that; do you have the number?"

Jo scribbled something down and put the phone down without wishing her mother a good night.

She punched in the numbers her mother had given her and waited while the phone rang. It was answered.

"Charles, Joanna Holbrook-Sutherland. I need to see you......... Yes, I do know what the time is.......... No, not in the morning. Now. I need an address.... " Jo took a deep breath. "Charles, how long did my mother promise you in the gallery?" Another pause, and the faintest of smiles graced the beautiful face. "Did she now? That long? I could have you out of there on Monday. Now then, give me an address." Jo once again scribbled something on the notepad. "I'll be there shortly."

After slamming the phone down, she passed a dumbstruck Harry and went back to her bedroom. She pulled on some underwear and jeans and a sweater, and then sat on the bed pulling a pair of sturdy ankle boots on.

"D'you want me to come with you?" asked Harry, amazed at how quickly her friend could dress.

"It's up to you. If you want to come, you had better be quick. I'll get the car out. Meet you downstairs."

Harry quickly dressed and ran down the stairs. Jo was waiting outside the front door in the Merc.

Harry shivered in the cold winter night. She eased into the passenger side of the convertible, reaching forward as she did so to make sure the heat was turned up to its highest setting.

Jo had pulled out of the courtyard and onto the main road before Harry had a chance to secure her seatbelt.

The streets were mostly quiet. The exceptionally cold weather and the late hour combined to keep most people in. A few cars were about, taking people home from nightclubs and maybe workers home after a long day.

The occasional police car passed them as they made their way through the damp and freezing streets.

Harry marvelled at Jo's knowledge of the streets, not knowing the part of London they were entering at all.

Before long they arrived in a long street and Jo drove down it slowly, leaning over the steering wheel to see the numbers on the doors.

"There it is," she said and pulled up against the kerb.

She was out of the car and scanning the names below the six or so bells for the correct name. She rang one of them and waited.

"Yes?" the mechanical voice said.

She leaned close to the intercom. "Joanna," was all she said.

There was a buzz, and she pushed the door open. Harry trudged along behind her, beginning to doubt her desire to follow her friend on this ridiculous chase across London.

Charles DeBurgh was waiting by the open door of his apartment. He was wearing only a pair of red pyjama bottoms, and holding a glass with an unidentifiable substance in.

He stood aside and allowed the two women to enter.

"I don't know why I agreed to this," he said, gesturing towards the lounge. "Has this got anything to do with the exhibition?"

Harry looked towards Jo when no answer was forthcoming. The tall woman was standing just inside the doorway, looking around her as if wondering where she was and how she got there.

The blonde woman took hold of Jo's arm, "Jo, are you ok?"

"What the hell am I doing?" she asked, turning away from Harry and facing a bemused photographer.

"Shit! I hope you haven't dragged me out of bed because you're fucking well PMSing." Charles turned away from the two women and stalked into his lounge, slumping down on the sofa and taking a long draught of the drink he held in his hand.

The two women followed him into the room, Harry sitting in one of the plump armchairs and Jo wandering aimlessly around the room.

"One of the pictures in the exhibition..." Jo began, but faltered.

"Well?" said Charles, his patience obviously waning.

Jo closed her eyes. "I can't get her face out of my mind." There it was. Simple. To the point.

Charles was quiet for a long moment, taking in the pale face of the woman standing before him. Then he stood abruptly. "Come with me."

He led them to what they assumed was his office. There was a computer and a number of filing cabinets. From one he took a number of folders. He handed them to Jo. "That's all the photographs I had at the gallery."

Jo sat on the small sofa that was in the room and placed the folders on the cushion next to her. With shaking hands she took out the photos. All were 6x4 colour prints.. There were three folders, and Jo carefully looked at each photo before placing it back in the folder.

Charles waggled his empty glass at them and left the room. Harry sat on the chair in front of the computer table.

The blonde watched Jo as she went through the pictures, one by one. Then her attention shifted. She surveyed the rest of the small room, then her gaze fell on the small clock sitting beside the computer. 02.47. Was she really sitting in a virtual stranger's flat, in the small hours of the morning, chasing after.... a what? What were they doing here? Chasing a dream? And not even her dream. The dream of this woman, who she loved. Like a sister? No, no sister would do the things to a sibling that she had in mind for Jo. But Jo didn't want that with her, and she would abide by her friend's decision.

A gasp brought her out of her musings.

Jo was looking at a photo, holding it in shaking hands. "They're green," she whispered.

Harry moved the folders away from Jo's side and sat next to her friend, peering at the picture still held carefully in her hands.

Jo turned towards Harry. "Her eyes are green, the same as in my dream. How did I know that?"

Harry took the photograph from Jo, and looked long and hard at the face staring back at her. "I thought you didn't see much of her in the dream."

"I didn't." Jo took a handful of her own hair in both hands and pulled sharply. She took in a deep breath. "This is crazy. What am I going to say to Charles? He's going to think I'm some crazy woman."

There was no answer from her friend who was studying the photo with quiet deliberation.

"You think I'm crazy, don't you?"

Harry didn't look up. For a start, she didn't know how to answer Jo. Yes, she had, on the drive to Charles' flat, decided that her best friend had finally lost her marbles. All the nights of partying, enjoying the attentions of beautiful women, had finally taken their toll. But it was the broken sound of Jo's voice that silenced her.

She handed the photo back. "I'm going to talk to Charles. Take a moment to think."

Jo nodded, her shoulders slumped.

Harry found Charles sitting in his lounge, nursing another glass of whatever he was drinking.

"Can I?" Harry said, pointing towards the small bar.

"Be my guest," said Charles, but there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice.

Harry poured herself a whisky and sat back down on the sofa, facing Charles.

"This isn't like Jo at all." Harry watched him, waiting for the caustic reply she was sure was coming.


"Yeah, really." She paused, gathering her thoughts. "I've never seen her like this before. Jo is the youngest of Lord and Lady Collingford's children. They have never pushed her. And she has no ambition." Harry searched for the right words. "She's a ..... free spirit. That's the best way I know to describe her. She's never had a worry in her life. Anything she's ever wanted, her parents have bought her. The biggest decision she makes is which restaurant to visit on which night."

Charles looked at her vacantly. "And you're telling me this..... for some reason?"

"I'm trying to explain how out of character this is for her. Something has shaken her so badly she feels she needs to chase around London, in the small hours, just to try to get to the bottom of it." Harry looked at the man, feeling she was battering her head against a brick wall. However strange her friend's actions were to her, she would still defend Jo to the last.

Charles looked up, and Harry followed his gaze, finding Jo standing in the doorway.

She walked across the room towards Charles, the picture in her hands. "Can you tell me who this is?" she asked

Charles couldn't take his eyes from the troubled, blue gaze. He reached out and took the photo. Tearing his eyes from Jo's, he looked down at the face on the photo.

"Rocky," he said.

A muted chuckle from Harry was quickly arrested when the blonde saw the confusion on Jo's face.

"Rocky?" the tall woman said.

"I should imagine that wasn't her real name."

"Rocky." Jo said again, feeling the name, deciding something was wrong. "You've spoken to her?"

Charles shrugged. "Briefly. She's not terribly talkative. Very nervous of strangers."

"How did you manage to get her to pose for this then?" asked Jo, taking the picture from Charles. She stared at it. `Rocky'? Even though she didn't know the girl's name, she instinctively knew that wasn't it.

Charles laughed; not a nice laugh, Jo decided. "She didn't pose. I got that after waiting for hours for her. It became something of a challenge."

"She didn't want her picture taken then?" Harry asked.

"Not likely." Charles drained his glass and rose to get a refill.

"But you took it anyway," said Jo.

Charles turned from the bar, his glass now full. "Look at that face, Jo. I had to capture that. "

"So it was like some kind of game for you. A hunt?"

Another shrug from the photographer. "You could call it that, I suppose. I waited for three days before I got that shot."

"Where?" Jo asked, her stomach clenching; she was getting close.

"Where what?" Charles was looking smug now, remembering outwitting the girl who had been so elusive.

"Where did you finally... shoot her?" Jo now had her eyes closed, the events of the past few hours catching up with her.

"Oh, it was around Whitechapel somewhere. There's a regular soup run down there most evenings. I just waited for her to make an appearance."

Jo nodded and turned troubled blue eyes on her friend. "Harry?"

Harry stood and moved to Jo's side.

"Can I keep this?" Jo asked, waving the photo at the man.

"Be my guest." Charles put his empty glass on the bar and ushered the women out of the lounge. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going back to bed."

Just as he was about to close the door to his apartment after seeing them out, Jo stopped him. "Charles, I'm sorry, I don't..."

"Whatever," said Charles, and shut the door.

As they got to the Merc gleaming dully in the streetlight, Harry put her hand out. "I'm driving."

"Harry, there's no need." Jo protested.

"I think I'd feel better." Harry was unmoving, holding her hand out until Jo placed in it the keys with the small remote control for the alarm attached. After disarming the alarm, the two women climbed in, Jo still clutching the photograph in her hands. "Home then?" asked Harry quietly.

Jo nodded. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I don't understand this."

"Me neither."

"Who do you think she is?" Jo was looking at the picture, squinting at it in the artificial light. Jo gave a brief chuckle as a thought occurred to her, "And why do I care?"

Part 4

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