We Girls – Chapter Two
“What the hell was that about?” Tania asked, her hands on her hips, her eyes flashing.
“They want to force Peter to return to England,” Kate said sounding weary.
“No way!” Suzanne, one of the smallest and youngest, exclaimed, distressed. “Who’s gonna teach me healing?”
“Let them damn well try!” Tania added, flinging an arm around Peter’s shoulder as if to protect him. Everyone knew he was off limits but she wasn’t interested in him. It was just her way of baiting Kate.
Extracting Peter from Tania’s grip in return for a kiss, Kate said, “You need to prepare the concert. I suggest you go with Clara and practice.” Clara was the best of their singers, apart from Peter, and led the choir.
“What about you?” Tania challenged, apparently still game for a fight.
“How good is your English?” Kate asked.
“‘Cause we need to talk to Viktor.”
Kate was right. They should inform Viktor. He was Peter’s singing teacher and mentor. He’d travelled from England with Peter and had opted to stay in Luzern with his long-lost love Beth.
“Oh,” Tania muttered, crestfallen. Peter chuckled inwardly. Viktor spoke fluent German and was pretty good at the dialect too, but Tania seemed to have forgotten.
An hour later Viktor opened the door dressed as usual like a Russian spy with his round Cossack cap, his long leather coat and his beard. That he really was Russian didn’t help. “You’re eager,” he said ushering them in. Responding to Peter’s evident incomprehension, he added, “Your singing lesson isn’t till tomorrow.”
“Are my lessons that daunting?” Viktor pursued, unable to suppress a grin.
Next to him was Beth in her wheelchair. She looked much like an older Kate with her hair cropped short, her high cheek bones, her arched eyebrows and that same intelligent smile. “Stop teasing the poor girl,” she said, taking hold of Peter’s hand and pulling him towards the sitting room.
Peter had to smile at being called a girl.
“Let’s have a cup of tea,” she continued, “and you girls can tell us why you came.” Peter wheeled Beth into the sitting room while Viktor slung an arm round Kate’s shoulders and followed.
A plate of biscuits and an array of tea things were set out on a low table in the middle of a circle of armchairs. Peter pushed Beth to her space between two armchairs. Viktor took the chair next to her while Kate joined Peter on the settee.
The maid, who entered carrying the teapot, halted, staring, mouth half-open, at Peter. “Thank you, Tricia,” Beth said, raising her voice to get the girl’s attention. “Put it on the table.”
Visibly startled, the maid tore her eyes from Peter and set the teapot next to the cups and saucers. Once she’d left, Beth said, “How embarrassing. I’m sorry about that. She’s new.”
“Poor girl,” Kate said, with a grin. “She was completely smitten.”
Peter grimaced, twisting his fingers through his hair, a habit he copied from a girl in the choir. “The few who realise I am anything other than a girl seem to get sucked in…”
“Like insects to a naked bulb,” Viktor. “Except they don’t fizzle up when they get too close.”
Beth spluttered and placed a restraining hand on Victor’s arm. “I imagine you didn’t come to talk about fizzling up my maid.”
“No,” Peter began. “Although, it does have to do with overblown reactions.”
Once tea had been served, Kate described the bailiff’s visit.
“What I don’t understand,” Peter added, “is why Christina and John said nothing. I just got a parcel from them.”
“Parcels take time,” Beth said. “They must have posted it before.”
Peter nodded. She was probably right, but it didn’t explain why they hadn’t warned him. “My birth mother might have wanted my downfall, but I can’t see her going to court and winning back guardianship. She’d only have to open her mouth for anyone to realise she was nuts.”
“Sounds like the work of Priscilla’s aunt, if you ask me” Viktor said.
Peter agreed. If anyone was capable of ruining his life, it was her. Not only did she have the necessary clout, but she had the will. The woman had already attempted to oust Peter’s adopted father as headmaster and heap disgrace on him. She hated Peter for what had happened to Priscilla. That the girl had been unhinged and attempted to kill Peter didn’t deter her, on the contrary. She’d taken up her niece’s crusade to rid the world of people like Peter.
“You could always stay with us,” Beth suggested. “No one would dare search here.”
It was a generous offer, but he didn’t want to get in the way. Beth and Viktor had only recently got back together. At the same time, the thought of not being with Kate and the Lost Girls pained him. “Thanks,” he said. “But I wouldn’t want to bother you.”
“We’d be delighted to have you,” Beth insisted.
Kate frowned. “As long as you steer clear of Tricia.”
Viktor chuckled. “We’ll have to keep Peter locked up.”
Peter winced. “Maybe I’d be better off returning to England.”
Beth waved a reprimanding finger at Viktor. “I’d rather find a new maid than force you to return to that nightmare,” she said.
“Seriously though, what about the concert?” Kate asked. “You’ll hardly go unnoticed. You’ve got several solos.”
“Surely that bloke will be too busy getting his search warrant,” Viktor chipped in.
Peter was about to express his scepticism when a tiny voice in his head whispered, Peter? He didn’t recognise it at first. Peter, can you hear me?
Yup. She sounded relieved. I wasn’t sure this would work.
That horrible man came back with the police and they’re searching the house.
Worse. There are several priests and they’re rummaging through our healing stuff.
Peter was afraid they were looking for proof of occult practices. Since the Lost Girls escaped the convent, the church had sought a pretext to get back at them. The ill-treatment of the girls at the hands of the nuns had caused such an uproar the clergy weren’t ready to forgive. That’s dreadful. I need to alert people here. Let me know what else happens.
“Are you alright, Peter?” Beth asked. “You’ve gone dreadfully pale.”
Peter drew in a deep breath. “We have a problem.” He shook his head. “Several of them.” He related what Suzanne had told him.
“How on earth do you know that?” Beth asked, turning her wheelchair to face him. “Do you have a secret telephone?”
Owning a telephone was not given to everyone. His father had had one installed because of his work, but Fi’s mum had readily done without.
“Or have you mastered telepathy?” Beth pursued, grinning.
Telepathy? No. Talking mind-to-mind was not telepathy. But this was no time to explain. Peter and Kate invariably avoided the subject. Experience had shown doing so was far safer.
Kate glanced at Peter, then said, “We have developed a limited form of communication mind-to-mind as a consequence of the way we do healing.”
Beth’s eyes lit up. “I’d really like to learn.”
Peter shot a warning look at Kate, before saying, “Talking about it properly would require peace of mind. At the moment, we’re sick with worry.”
“Of course,” Beth said, contrite.
Having steered her back to the raid, they discussed how to react. Beth had an appointment so it was agreed Viktor would drop her off before accompanying Kate to negotiate with the police and try to get the priests off the property. Peter wanted to go with them, but Viktor was categoric. It was too dangerous. “Catching you would be exactly what they want,” he said. “You’re going to have to sit this one out.”
“I’ll keep you posted,” Kate said as she pulled on her coat and kissed him on the cheek.
“You can use the bedroom at the end of the corridor,” Beth said indicating where she meant. “Or you can stay in the sitting room till we get back.”
“No cavorting with the maid,” Kate said with a grin. Peter blushed. He’d completely forgotten Tricia. Luckily Kate’s attention was elsewhere as she helped Beth pull on her jacket.
Once they were gone, Peter returned to the sitting room, meaning to contact Suzanne and inform her help was on its way. He’d barely settled in an armchair and closed his eyes than a timid knock came at the door. The maid peered in. “I need to clear away the tea things,” she said, stepping into the room. “If that’s alright.”
Tricia stacked the cups and saucers on a tray, but was in no hurry to leave. Dressed in a traditional maid’s uniform with a lace pinafore, her unblemished face made her look like a porcelain doll. That she wore her hair in plaits only accentuated the impression of youthfulness. Peter guessed she must be sixteen. Taking a step closer, the girl said, “You’re a boy, aren’t you?”
“What makes you say that?” he asked, getting up and taking a cautious step back. There was none of the antagonism he’d felt with Priscilla, but he was wary.
“I can feel it,” she replied, glancing sideways at him from under her lashes. “Why do you dress up?”
The question was blunt and made him feel exposed and vulnerable. He had no wish to reply and resorted to shaking his head. A feeling of foreboding stole over him.
Tricia seemed oblivious to his horror. She extended a hand and ran her fingers through his hair making him cringe. “I could help you get dressed,” she said, her voice taking on a strange compelling tone as she took a step closer, so close he could feel her breath on his cheek.
He was reminded of Andrew’s stories of his uncle. The man had forced his nephew to dress as a girl for his own perverted pleasure. Could Tricia somehow be similar? He glanced up at her. Her eyes glistened with excitement and her cheeks were flushed as she licked her lips. When she reached out to grab him, Peter ducked and stepped away. He was tempted to use one of Kate’s moves, sweeping sideways with his foot, knocking the girl’s legs from under her. He had visions of her screaming as she crashed headlong onto the low table, scattering cups and saucers everywhere.
Instead he said with all the authority he could muster, “You don’t want to do this.” He held up a warning hand. “You will lose your job … and your reputation. You might even get arrested.”
She faltered, her hands sinking to her sides, defeated, and tears welled in her eyes. A stifled shriek escaped her lips and she turned and fled, muttering “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Read Chapter One