Four women stared at the shoes. Only one could afford them. Only one wanted them. Only one needed them.
The fourth woman would steal them.
Beryl Masterman glared at her competitors in the plush carpeted showroom of Sothebys on Oxford street
Her eyes were transfixed on the three women. Seething with rage at the sight of her great grandmother's former diamond studded heirlooms on ****** display in a gold gilded glass cased monstrosity.
Beryl was a beautiful woman possessed with delusions of grandeur. Her family's fortunes were lost when the ***** industry collapsed and the Chinese authorities nationalised their properties. Barely escaping with their lives they had made a valiant attempt to smuggle arms into the Congo in the hope of securing a lease on a diamond mine in the Transvaal.
This scheme too was fated to collapse but not before forty extremely precious diamonds were discretely sewn into the hem of Great Aunt Sarah's wedding dress.
It was a small step, no pun intended, to get a cobbler to purpose build a beautiful pair of diamond studded shoes. No one knows what price he was paid or if it covered the cost of his funeral two days after the shoes were handed over.
The Mastermans were a ruthless lot and each generation had an intelligent matriarch at the head of the family.
Beryl was trained in the ancient art of skullduggery, hand to hand combat,profiency in wrestling and was an expert with a rapier.
All her skills would be called upon in the events about to unfold.
Only once had Beryl come close to death. Making a mad dash across check point Charlie she had unleashed a full ammo clip when her sten gun misfired. The startled guard, a brute of a woman with the fists of a boxer cut Beryl's face with a nasty uppercut. This immediately caused her nose bone to destruct and the blood flowed unmercilessly.
Provoked by this savage attack Beryl lunged into a full tilt roundhouse and caught the guard on the side of the head causing instant death. Five other guards shocked at her reactions failed to act and Beryl made it to safety. This would go down in legend although it was the least of her exploits.
Hitting thirty eight now she still had the legs of a glamour model. Six foot six and a beer belly to match the bar flys in any American city. Yes, she was out of shape but once committed to a cause was known to get into fighting shape in rapid order.
It's true that her mishaped nose took away from her looks slightly but even at that men stopped in their tracks at the elegant gait. Men were known to duel at dawn for her affections. No one ever really captured her heart and had they known her scurrilous background they would have backed up the bus a mile before she boarded.
As Beryl cased the room and took note of the exits and fire escapes she noticed a small man looking at her. It might have been an innocent glance but nonetheless his body was found an hour later in the Gentlemans privy with his head shoved and smashed into a ******. The look of horror on his mutilated face was a sight the coroner to this day has never forgot.
Beryl was on a mission and it was essential to get those shoes. Her fake passport and identity were in her handbag and a hotel reservation booked in South America. Tonight she would steal the shoes and three women would lie dead in their hotel rooms.
One man would be given the task of solving the case. Detective Harry Horsefooder would need his full faculties to bear down on the culprit. As Beryl's plane took off that very night his body was found torn from limb to limb in the backroom of a cheap hotel. He never got a chance to fire his weapon. His eyes were gouged out and his wallet was missing.
Scotland Yard were now on the case. The trail would lead them all over the map of South America.
In a hotel in São Paulo Beryl lounged across her bed. Smoking a Cuban cigar she figured out her next move. Perhaps she would get the next flight to Cape Town. The shoes were going back to Africa either way.
Beryl gazed in the mirror and looked at her reflection. The belly was getting harder to lose. The make up not quite as good at camouflaging her broken nose. A couple of teeth were getting loose in her head but by God she was still beautiful.
A soft smile traced her countenance but even as she relaxed another woman was on her trail. An enemy from the past. The incident from Check point Charlie was about to reignite.
A KGB agent wanted to apprehend Beryl. She had orders to bring her back to Mother Russia. Belanka Stavros Lettrovnass was on a flight to Sao Paula.
Belanka looked at the photo of Beryl her handlers had given her.
'What a fat ugly looking *****' she thought.
Already she was underestimating Beryl and this would have fateful consequences for the KGB's best undercover operative.
Beryl averted her gaze from the mirror and sank back a Black Russian. Stretching her torso across her bed she thought to herself
'I will get the Masterman fortunes back. Or die trying'
Then she closed her eyes and slept the sleep of the just and righteous.