Testing Times - Chapter 18 "Miss Perfect"

Testing Times - A Tommy & Tamara Story  



"Miss Perfect"

Monday 4th May (Continued)

"What are you doing here, mum?"

"I came to see you, of course. Come on, we're blocking the way."

Tammy and Sarah followed Tara Smart, now using her maiden name Tara Simpson, into the Castletown. Tammy caught the eye of the manager, Frances Ernesto, who directed them to a semi-private table at the back of the lounge.

"Any drinks ladies?"

"Latte please Frances?" "Mocha please." "Just a white coffee."

"Mum, you remember Sarah?"

"Oh, you have a shop?"


Tammy made an excuse to use the ladies, returning a few minutes later. She used the time to send her father a quick text message but asked him not to drive to the hotel.

She had barely sat down when Tara next spoke.

"How are you Tammy? Having any doubts?"


"About being a girl?" Sarah sat with her mouth open, Tammy decided to go on the offensive.

"Mum, what are you doing here? Does Dad know you're in town?"

"Why should he? Can't I come to see my child?"

"And insult me? I'd best remind you that I'm legally an adult and legally female."

"I didn't mean it that way."

"I hope not."

Tammy could see that Sarah was not comfortable, she'd not knowingly met Tara before, although they had spoken on the phone a few times. Right now it looked like Sarah wished she could be elsewhere. Frances delivered the coffees and this settled the atmosphere temporarily.

"What have you been up to, Tammy?"

"I've just finished a production of Macbeth and my A levels start next week."

"I see, when are you moving to England?"

"Why would I?"

"For university?"

"I'm staying here, studying at the local university. I also have a job lined up."

"I thought you would move south?"

"That's not been part of my plans for ages."

The table fell silent, Sarah decided she'd had enough.

"Thanks for the help this morning, Tammy."

"That's okay Sarah, you off?"

"Yes, I'll re-open for an hour and see how it goes."


Tammy let Sarah get out of earshot, the mocha barely touched.

"Now, you've successfully ruined our lunchtime. What are you really doing up here?"

"I'm frightened."

Tammy knew that Tara had been in court the previous week and, although she had been found guilty for being an accessory to fraud, she had not been jailed. He co-conspirator had been linked to acts of terrorism around London and threats against Tammy - his trial would take place later in the year.

"So you come here to escape? Thanks, thanks alot."


"When they come looking for you, and they will, they'll find me. I'm high profile after playing lead at the theatre, you've just put me, Dad and my friends at risk."

"They wouldn't hurt you."

"No? Attempted kidnappings, attempted murder, that's just in the past six months since you made that stupid mistake."

"I didn't know."

"You never knew, never had a clue what I was doing or how I was keeping. You never considered me, only yourself." Tammy was now crying; John and Tanya had that moment walked into the bar but came straight over.

"Come with me Tammy."

Tanya led her into the ladies.

"Is that your mum?"

"Yes. I'm convinced she's going to bring trouble here."

"Does your Dad know she's here?" Tammy nodded. "I think you'd best go home."

"I will, but I want to get some more information out of her."

"To what end, Tammy? This is the kind of distraction you don't need just before your exams."

"I guess so."

"Right, clean your face and make yourself presentable, then we're leaving. Where's your car?"

"Behind Sarah's shop."

The pair walked back to the lounge and collected John. Tammy said bye to Tara, put £10 on the bar to cover the drinks then the three walked out of the hotel.

"Thanks Tanya."

"Please, head home and let your parents know what's been said. It's their problem now."

"Sure, thank you Tanya."

"That's what friends are for."

Tuesday 5th May

Tammy pulled out of the driveway at Dunbankin' after ensuring the paddock gate was locked behind her. Her father had called a family meeting the previous evening to discuss security but any threat was speculative right now - all existing arrangements would remain unchanged.

She walked to the school office after breakfast to collect her dorm key, the Headmaster was with the secretary, Janet Adams.

"Good morning Headmaster, Mrs Adams."

"Hello Miss Smart, very well done, Mrs McIntosh and myself thoroughly enjoyed your performance."

"Thank you, Sir. It was fun."

"I'm glad to hear it. I hope you're finding time for revision?"

"Yes Sir." Dr McIntosh turned and walked into his study.

Janet handed Tammy her key, "I have your clean laundry here, the staff didn't think it was a good idea to leave it outside your room." Her laundry bag was on Janet's desk.

Tammy walked the laundry up to her room and hung the tennis dress, placing the smalls in a drawer. She'd left the door open, one of the lower sixth looked in - confused.

"Excuse me Miss Smart, are you moving back in?" As Tammy was a prefect, even fellow sixth formers were expected to use formal names.

"No Charles, I think the school is planning to show this room to any prospective female students so it has to look as if it's used. I'll be here a few times before the end of term. Shouldn't you head down to assembly?" It wasn't quite true but was enough to avoid questions.

She checked the room was tidy and gave her hair a brush before she locked the door, dropping the keys into her bag, then went to find the photographer.

She was met in reception by Joanne who was looking concerned. "I just called Chris to check where he was and he tells me he's off the job."


"Oh indeed, I hope I'm not wasting my time this morning, Tammy. What's it with Chris?"

"I had a concern and mentioned it to a friend."

"I hope your concern was valid as you could ruin the career of someone with a misplaced word."

"I wasn't comfortable with him."

John had arrived. "Where's the photographer, Joanne?"

"Ask Miss Perfect."

Tammy shrugged, this was an argument she couldn't win. "I'm going up to the common room to get a coffee." She didn't get far as Janet Adams was escorting a woman.

"Miss Smart, this is Mrs Walsh, apparently your original photographer couldn't make it."

"Thank you Mrs Adams, please come with me Mrs Walsh."

"Please call me Florence." They'd reached the conference room doorway. "It's Tammy, and I'd like to introduce my partner in crime John and Joanne who's doing our make-up."

"Good morning. I was asked to be here at short notice and I'm not aware what has already been done."

The three filled in as far as possible.

"I see, it sounds like the dorm room scenes have been covered, we might possibly redo the tennis court as the light is very good today, otherwise it's the 'girl around school' shots."

"What would you like me to wear?"

"What you have on now is fine, sixth formers don't wear uniforms, do they?"

"No, I wonder what we'll do with the clothes from last Friday?"

"Did you have a choice of clothes, then?"

"There were several sets, they're all in my room."

Tammy could hear the bell for first period. "If we wait a minute, the hallways will be clear, and we can get up there easier."

Florence, however, had a different idea. "Joanne, could you do John's make-up, I'd like a word with Tammy."


The pair into the secretary's office, which was empty.

"Hilary called me on Friday afternoon, after your conversation with her."

"I see, who do you work for?"

"As far as this job is concerned, I'm employed by Caithness Marine. The police are paying a visit to Mr Cutter this morning, it would seem that your's is not the first complaint."

"Is that public yet?"

"No, but it might be by the afternoon."

"Okay, but I hate keeping things from Joanne, I'm seeing her on Thursday for a wax."

"Okay, let's get you back in there. Don't worry about the other clothes."

The morning went quickly, with Tammy paying visits to most parts of the school. Each set of shots were done first without John and then with John, although other sixth formers were also used. Unfortunately Angela wasn't a willing subject.

"Miss Small, it's only a few photos."

"I'm sorry, I'm not up to it."

Angela went to walk away but Joanne was stood in the door of the music room.

"Excuse me young lady, afraid of a little fun?"

"No, I'm busy."

Joanne moved out of the way and allowed Angela past. "What's that about Tammy?"

"Don't know Joanne, don't know."

"Okay everyone, I think that's enough. Mr Hibbert, please don't forget to give your face a clean."

"Thanks, Florence, I forgot on Friday." Joanne and Tammy giggled. "You two could have reminded me!"

John went off to his dorm while Tammy led the way back to the conference room. It was clear that Joanne was saying something to the photographer but Tammy was more concerned with stopping boys running in the hallways as the lunch bell had gone.

Having seen the two ladies off the premises, she went into the hall for lunch; her face could wait a little while longer. When John appeared at the sixth form table he hadn't managed to remove all of the eye liner, Tammy decided to keep quiet.

Tammy checked her phone during lunch, there were a couple of messages:

Hilary: New photographer today, Florence Walsh. Fully cleared.

Dad: Mum's leaving today. Surgery phoned, give them a call

She made her excuses and walked up to her room to clean Joanne's make-up off her face, there was a knock at the door.

"I though I heard you in there, Tammy."

"Come in John, close the door."

"Is that allowed?"

"Sod that."

"Okay, but I don't want anything getting back to Tanya."

"As if? Anyway, grab a face wipe and take a look in the mirror."

"Oh, why didn't you say something at lunch?"

"And draw attention to it? Boys won't notice things like that unless it's pointed out."

"True, anyway what's the thing with Chris Cutter?"

"What do you mean?"

"There's a story on Facebook that his home and studio are being searched."


"My guess is that you know more than you're saying."

"John, I don't know the background and I only heard this morning that the police were involved. I'd never met the guy before last Friday but wasn't happy with some of the things we were doing and how he spoke to me."

"So you had the secret police deal with him?"

"No, I spoke to the person who had employed him."

"Sorry Tammy, I made assumptions."

"That's okay, are you up for the self-defence class today?"

"We don't have the outfits yet, and missed last week's class."

"Okay, let's go into town - can you see if Tanya's free? I'll find Angela."

Tammy finished sorting her face then phoned the surgery.

"Hello, it's Tamara Smart, I had a message to call?"

"Yes, you were supposed to come in for a blood test?"

"Sorry, I forgot. When can I do it?"

"We're now running a Well Woman clinic on Wednesday mornings, just turn up."

"I'll see you then."

Tammy went to the common room looking for Angela but no-one there knew where she was. Tammy could have searched the school but was she even still on the premises? She sent a quick text:

Going to the sports store to get ju-jitsu robes for tonight. Want me to get you a set?

By the time Tammy reached her car she hadn't had a response. John's car was missing so she guessed he'd gone to collect his fiancée.

They met up in the sports shop, Tanya was telling John she didn't have any money with her. Tammy wasn't sure whether to believe it but John just re-assured her that he would pay for her outfit.

"I did buy a car last week though."

Tammy's phone pinged.

Don't need robes as not doing the class

Fifteen minutes later they were sorted, although Tammy decided to buy herself a new bikini and matching wrap.

"How's the building work going?"

"They are tiling the swimming pool today, hopefully, John."

"Good, when's the pool party?" Tanya knew her priorities.

"Don't know yet. Look, I need to get home and do some revision. See you tonight?"



"Dad, what happened about Mum?"

"I called Dave Brown yesterday evening, he's still staying with Elsie, to let him know. It seems she was needed for an interview in London so had to leave first thing today."

"Why did she come up here?"

"I don't know, and I'm guessing she had no idea about the trouble she indirectly caused because of her indiscretion."

"She seemed to think I would have changed my mind about ... being me."

"I hate to say this, but she barely knew you for the past few years so I can only imagine it's her own insecurity that's being questioned, not any insecurities that you may have."

"So the question to me was really one for herself?"


"I'm afraid for her, but I can't do anything to help her."

"You cannot put yourself at risk, Tammy, Dave Brown said that much to me."

"I know, but I just hope nothing happens to her."

"So do I. Anyway, what's this about a school photographer? Elsie called me."

"He took my photos on Friday but we had a different photographer today."

"I understand you weren't happy with him?"

"He said some things that I wasn't comfortable with."

"Why didn't you say anything to me?"

"It had been dealt with, I wasn't at risk."

"Well, your suspicions seem to have been correct. You do know there was no requirement for you to wear a school uniform on Friday?"

"He said it was in case the boarding was opened up to year 10s and 11s."

"That isn't the case and won't be for many years, the police may need a statement from you concerning that."

Tammy was feeling even less comfortable now. Some self defence lessons tonight might help.

Wednesday 6th May

Tammy was aching as she walked into Dr Abi Sutherland's room.

"What have you been up to?"

"Self-defence classes last night, I fell awkwardly a few times."

"Okay, please be careful as I don't like my patients ending up in A&E."


"So, how are you, otherwise?"


"How are you coping with the revision?"

"Probably not doing as much as I should but there's too much of everything else going on right now."

"Please find time to relax, stress is something to be avoided at exam time if possible." Tammy nodded. "Okay, what did Professor Roberts say to you?"

"He offered me the surgery, this October."

"That is quick, very quick."

"I don't know if I'll take it though?"

"Why not?"

"I'll be out of action for ages, and they're doing Guys & Dolls at the Mill."

"You can't think about others for something like this."

"I know, but it might be better to wait until next June."

"Please discuss that with Professor Roberts. Anyway, can you go through to the nurse as I need some bloods."

Tammy was out of the surgery a couple of minutes later, but had it really been necessary to take four vials of her red stuff? She made a note to return in four weeks, which the phlebotomist had requested.

She tried to speak to Angela back at home but her sister claimed to be busy revising. Tammy was concerned but Joan didn't seem to see it.

Thursday 7th May

It was difficult to avoid the news today, it was all over every media outlet. Where as most countries held elections on a Sunday, the United Kingdom uses a Thursday. This particular Thursday had been planned over nine months earlier but the result of the day could not be predicted, regardless how well the pollsters made their claims.

Tammy had two voting papers, one for the London-based United Kingdom Parliament and one for the Edinburgh based Scottish Parliament. Her polling station was Pennyland Primary School, about two miles from Dunbankin', Tammy was there just after nine.

One of the parliamentary candidates was at the polling station, Tammy recognised Mrs Veronica Salmond, Helen's mother, talking to a journalist. Looking at the ballot papers, when Tammy finally made it into a booth, she could see that Veronica Salmond was standing in the UK election for the Scottish Democracy Party. She giggled, remembering from her geography lessons that any country with the word Democratic or Democracy in their name was almost certainly not, did the same apply to political parties?

The journalist made an attempt to ask Tammy how she had voted. "It's a secret ballot, understand?" Tammy swiftly made for her car before anything could be said. She parked up a few minutes before ten and walked around to the salon, Joanne ushered her straight into the torture chamber.

"I'm sorry I was a bit short with you on Tuesday, Tammy."

"I didn't know it was going to end that way, and I had no intentions of ruining his life - although he seems to have done that all by himself."

"I was surprised with the school uniform."

"Where did the outfits come from?"

"A schools supplier in Inverness apparently, they're yours if you want them."

"I won't need the blazer! I'll leave them in my dorm for now but I'll ask Janet Adams to dispose of them in due course. Having said that, I should persuade Dad to build a tennis court so I could keep the tennis dress."

"Doesn't Elsie McPherson have a court?"

"Yes, I'd forgotten."

"Okay, get your skirt and tights off then hop up on the table. This may hurt a little."

"Please be gentle!"

Joanne seemed to be aware that Tammy had bought a bikini on Tuesday, her first, so was told she was getting a Brazilian, it was not a suggestion.

"Are you sure you have enough time?"

"Oh yes, I booked an hour for you just in case, I'll do your arms too. We'll have to get you on the IPL machine too in due course, how often do you have to shave?"

"Not often, but I'll have to have a think about it. I take it you're fully qualified now?"

"Oh yes, Miss Perfect, fully qualified."

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