“Hey Colin - what’s up?”
“I just wanted to check we still were on with the plans for Saturday - you sure the two girls are going to go along with it?”
“Are you kidding - Cassie and Jenny? They’ll love what we have planned.”
“Yeah, I know they will - I just hope they don’t get upset with how we’re going to kick things off.”
“Colin, by the time those two are picked up on Saturday night, they will have had one of the best days of their lives - guaranteed. They won’t know what hit them.”
“All right then - I’ll see you on Saturday morning then. You’ll pick me up first?”
“I’ll be there at eleven - be ready.”
So there I was, sitting at the dining table trying to finish off the story I had to write for school, and wondering how I was going to explain how the prince turned up at the last minute, and Gran washing the dishes, when the door opened and Patty skipped in, wearing a black t-shirt over some blue leggings and a pair of trainers.
“Hey Cas,” she said as she jumped into a chair and looked at me, “Ready for fun time with Bobby?”
Gran looked round and smiled at Patty, before saying “Where’s your mother, dear?”
“Uncle John left with her in the car - I think they went to get Aunt Jennifer and the babies.”
Mum had been in hospital all week, and today they were finally bringing David and June home with them. The last week had been a bit of a blur - it had been a week off school, but Gran had us going from shop to shop, while Uncle Dave had been putting together two cots in what was now their bedroom with Dad.
And now, finally, they were coming home! Looking up at the clock, I was hoping and praying they would get back before I had to get ready - Bobby was coming to pick me up at 12, and Colin was coming as well to collect Jenny. She was upstairs in her room, struggling with the complexities of French grammar.
“I’m sure they’ll be back before you go,” Gran said as if she knew what I was thinking, putting a glass of squash in front of me and Patty. “How much more do you have to do?”
I scribbled down the last few lines, stating that the prince had been hiding in wait for the dastardly dragon to leave before rescuing the fair maiden, and put my pen down. “Done,” I said with a smile, as Patty drank her juice.
“Right then - both of you in the front room for a little while. I have some things to get done in here, and some baking to do.”
I nodded and half-dragged Patty to the room with me. I was still in my pyjamas - I needed to have a shower and change later - and a pair of thick bed socks. “Want to watch something,” I said as I switched on the television. We scanned through the channels and eventually found Nickelodeon, as the Penguins of Madagascar came on.
“It’s cool living a few streets away,” Patty said as she curled up on the couch, “It means I get to walk round myself if Mum lets me, and it doesn’t take too long.”
“Yeah,” I said as we watched the cartoon, “Have you had a chance to meet any of your new classmates yet?”
“Not really - I’ve seen some kids my age around town, but I don’t know who they will be yet. It’s going to be cool going to the same school as you though - I’ll get to see you at breaks and things.”
I was tempted to give her a quick lesson on the etiquette of the playground at my school, how Year 4 and Year 6 tended not to mix, but I thought better of it, settling instead for poking her in the ribs with my toe and saying “You’ll have to wear the uniform of course - hope you like yellow.”
“Better than the white and grey I had to wear at my old school,” Patty said, and then she fell silent for a few minutes.
“You’re going to miss them, aren’t you?”
She nodded, and I could see a little tear in her eye, but then she cheered up and said “But I get to tease you and the others as well. When’s Lord Bobby coming round?”
“He’s not a lord,” I said quietly, “and he’s picking us up at noon.”
“Any idea what you’re going to be doing,” she said as she looked at me. “Or is it going to be a lot of surprise hugging and kissing. I know he likes doing that to you.”
“I do,” Patty said as she got onto her knees and started singing
“Cassie and Bobby, sitting on a tree,
First comes love, then comes marriage,
Then they ride awaaaaaaahhhhhhahahhhahaaahhhhhh.....”
The last part came courtesy of my fingers, as I jumped towards her and launched a tickle attack on her bare feet and ribs. She tried to squirm out of the way, but size and age was on my side, as she wriggled under me and tried to slide off the couch.
“What’s going on,” Jenny said as she came in, and then saw me tickling Patty. “Oh, all right then - I’d tell you to carry on, but Dad just pulled into the garage. He wants you to set up the laptop for a Skype call.”
“GOT IT,” I called out as I went to the cupboard and pulled out the laptop bag, starting it up as the door opened and Mum came in, wearing a pair of stretch pants and a baggy white jumper. “Hello Cassie,” she said as she walked in and sat down, sighing as she did so, “Have you been behaving yourself?”
“Of course she has,” Dad said as he carried a car seat in, little David fast asleep in it with his head to one side. He was wrapped in a blue blanket, and the little cap on his head covering his fine dark hair. “You’re always a good girl, aren’t you Cassie?”
“Now I know that’s not true,” Mum said with a smile, “but I’m glad to be home to make sure she is.” Aunt Jessica came in next, carrying June in her car seat. She was awake, looking round at the new surroundings as Aunt Jessica laid her on the floor, then looked at Patty.
“Talking of good girls, have you been teasing your cousin again?”
“Who me,” Patty said as she looked at the adults, eyes wide and innocent - so wide and innocent I had to stop myself laughing as the laptop was ready, and Dad set up the Skype call.
“There they are,” I heard Granny Carter say, and as Dad moved the screen so we all could see I saw her and Granddad Carter sitting on the porch in their house.
“Hi Mum,” Mum said, “How’s the weather where you are?”
“Cooling down,” Granddad Carter said, “but never mind that now - where are they?”
“Well,” Dad said as he unbuckled June from her seat and put her in Mum’s arms, “This is June.” Mum held her so that Granny Carter could see, and I saw her start to cry as she said “Oh... She looks so beautiful. Hello June - I’m your grandmother. You’ve got my name, you know.”
June seemed to look at the screen for a moment, before she smiled and gurgled a little. “And where’s little David,” Granddad said, so Dad unbuckled him from his seat and put him in Mum’s other arm.
“Awww,” Granddad said as he looked at the little blue bundle, “I wonder if he knows what he’s let himself in for, the only boy in a family of girls.”
“We’ll look after him, Granddad,” Jenny said as she looked at the screen. Granny looked at her, and said “Why are you still in your nightdress?”
“She’s going on a date with her boyfriend,” Patty squeaked out, which earned her a nudge in the ribs from Jenny and a smile from me - swiftly followed by my own nudge as she said “And Cassie is going on one as well.”
“Oh my,” Granddad Carter said, “Maybe I need to talk to the boys in question.”
I looked at him, but I could see he was smiling as Gran came into the room. “Hello, Miranda,” Granny Carter said, “Taking care of my daughters?”
“I always look after my family,” Miranda said with a smile. “How are you?”
“We’re good - and before we forget, happy 65th Birthday for next Saturday. Got anything special planned?”
“I’m taking the girls into London for a day out with Lucinda and her family - we’ll take in a show and then have a meal at her place. Of course, that leaves the morning...”
Jenny and I glanced at each other. We had a plan for that morning, involving breakfast in bed for her with a little help from Aunt Cassie, but we weren’t about to spoil that surprise for her. For one thing, we hadn’t told Patty yet - and we weren’t going to. I wasn’t sure she could keep a secret yet.
“And what about you, Jennifer? How are you feeling?”
“Not as sore as I did a week ago - just tired and glad to be home.” Jenny nudged me and motioned with her head towards the door.
“We have to go and get ready, Granny - we’ll talk to you and Granddad soon.”
“Of course, you two have fun,” Granny Carter said as we left the room and headed up the stairs. “You get the shower first,” Jenny said as she went to her room, “and I’ll follow after you.”
I had no idea what Bobby had planned, so I found it very difficult to decide what I was going to wear. In the end, I found a blue cotton flared skirt, which came to just below my knees, a white blouse and a white wool cardigan, and put those on. I then pulled on a pair of white knee length socks and my school shoes, before tying a white ribbon in my hair to hold the fringe back.
“I hope this is all right,” I heard myself saying, only to be surprised by Mum saying “I’m sure it will be.”
I turned to see her standing in the doorway, looking at me. “You’ve started to grow a bit,” she said as she looked at me, “that skirt used to go a little longer than that.” I smiled and said “Mum, I’ve got a funny feeling in my stomach, all fluttery and strange. Am I falling ill or something?”
“No,” she said as she sat down on the bed and I sat next to her, “It means you’re growing up. It’s funny - two new babies in the house, and suddenly my other two babies are starting to look like little ladies in their own right.”
I smiled at that, as Jenny came into the room. She was wearing a black slip dress over a white jumper, a pair of dark tights and flat black shoes. “It’s nearly twelve,” she said as she looked at the two of us, “Ready?”
“She wanted to discuss her views on what should happen to us today - I showed her the virtue of silence.”
“That sounds ominous,” Mum said as we went to Jenny’s room. Patty was indeed learning that lesson - she looked at us from her position, lying on the bed, a big smile on her face as her lips were closed over one of Jenny’s old school ties. Her wrists and ankles were tied together with skipping ropes, and she was wriggling happily round.
“I need to talk to Jess about this before she finds out,” Mum said quietly as the doorbell rang. We heard Dad say “ah, good afternoon boys - I’ll just fetch them,” as we left the room and started to walk down the stairs.
Bobby and Colin were standing in the hallway, looking more nervous than I had ever seen them. Bobby was wearing a blue v-necked jumper, white shirt and grey trousers, while Colin had on a zipped hooded top over a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
“Hi Cassie, Jenny,” they said as we came down, “Ready for the day?”
We both nodded as Dad said, in a serious tone, “Now remember Boys - you are to treat them as ladies, and show them all the respect you can, or you will have me to answer to, understand?”
“Yes, Mister Craig,” Colin said, “We understand.”
“Good - on you go, and I’ll see you all later tonight.” He held the door open for us, but still ruffled our hair as we headed down the path to where Mr Bridges was waiting by the car. He held the door open as we climbed in, and then shut it as we settled into the seats.
“So where are we going,” Jenny said as Bobby and Colin looked at each other.
“It’s going to be a surprise,” Bobby said as he held up two sleep masks. “Put these on your eyes, and then hold your hands out.”
We looked at each other, before I said “All right” and took the mask, putting it over my own eyes as Jenny did the same. I held my hands out, expecting to get a surprise, and I did - I felt a pair of handcuffs being fastened around them, and then something sticky smoothed over my mouth.
“All right Mr Bridges,” I heard Bobby say, “First destination.”
“Whrstht,” I heard Jenny mumble, and I realised she too must have been cuffed and gagged. “You’ll see,” Colin said with a laugh, “You’ll see...”
I didn’t have a choice - Io just had to sit back and wait to see what the boys were up to. Jenny had told me all about their first date, while we were driving to visit Mum during the week. The disco had been a good one, with a lot of music she like dancing to, and Colin had stayed with her throughout the night, talking to her and getting her drinks as he introduced her to some of his friends.
As far as I imagined the first date I’d go on with a boy, however, having my wrists cuffed, my mouth taped and my eyes covered over was not exactly the way I had expected it to start. Yeah, I know - it’s Bobby Holderness, and I should have expected something like this to happen, but not right at the start!
Mind you, he did say first destination - which suggests more than one thing is going to happen today. Also, Jenny’s in the same position as me - so who knows what she must be thinking right now.
“We’re going to start,” Bobby said as we drove along, “with a little picnic lunch - and I know the perfect place to go for it. I think you’re going to like it - but for now, sit back and enjoy the ride.”
Lunch - well, I was a little hungry, and if it was one of Mrs Bridges’ ‘Little picnic lunches’ then there would be plenty for all. The only thing was where we were going - especially as the blindfold was going to make it impossible to see where we were!
Eventually, the car came to a stop, and Bobby said “Wait here for a minute” as the car door opened.
I turned my head in the direction of where Jenny’s voice was coming from and said “np - wndrwhsthpng?”
“My apologies for the delay,” Colin said as the car door opened again, “Bobby will come for you in a moment Cassie, so sit there.”
“Very funny,” was what I was thinking, but anyway I did as I was told as I heard Jenny moving, and then the seat belt around my body being released. “Come with me, and watch your step,” Bobby said as I was helped to step out of the car, and I heard the crunch of twigs and leaves as I was walked somewhere, and then helped to sit down.
“Let me move your legs,” Bobby said, and I felt something soft been tied around my ankles, holding them together before they were pulled to one side. I could tell they were been held against something - just as I could tell my waist was pulled against the back of what I was sitting in.
“Now, close your eyes,” Bobby said, and as I did so I felt the cuffs being removed from my wrists, the tape pulled away from my mouth, and the blindfold coming off.
“You can open them now,” Colin said, and as I did so I realised that I was sitting in a little clearing in a forest, with Jenny sitting opposite me. We were both sat in camper chairs, and as I looked down I saw the silk ribbon around my ankles, and also the one around my waist.
“Sorry about the unusual start to the day,” Colin said as he pushed Jenny’s chair under the picnic table we were at, and then sat between us, “but we want today to be a day of surprises.”
“It’s all right,” Jenny said as Bobby pushed my chair under the table, and sat in the one remaining empty one, “I was just surprised at what happened. Where are we?”
“This,” Colin said as Mr Bridges laid a red and white checked cloth on the picnic table, and started to unpack the food and drink, “is a place I come to all the time with Mum and Dad in the summer. We found it one day when we were walking in the hills - you need to access it by a private road, and only a few get the key to open the gate.”
“And your dad is one of them?”
“Yup,” Colin said as Mr Bridges poured some lemonade into four glasses and handed them round. “I figured it was a great place for a picnic lunch to start our day with.”
I looked round - it was a very quiet, very peaceful place, with tall oak trees encircling the area. There was a place for a barbecue at one side, and a number of picnic tables like the one we were sitting at around.
“What are the odds of anyone coming here as well - they may wonder about two young girls tied to chairs,” Jenny said as Bobby handed her a plate with some cold chicken, sandwiches and pieces of cucumber and celery on.
“Highly unlikely,” Colin said with a smile, “given Dad arranged for the code to be changed as soon as we came in, and an hour’s delay for that to be communicated. I reckon we have a couple of hours.”
“Very sneaky,” Jenny said as she picked up a celery stick, and Colin blushed as Bobby passed me some food. “Must be one of the things I’m beginning to like about you.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Colin said, making us all laugh as we started to eat the picnic. After I swallowed some chicken, I said “By the way Jenny - what did you do to Patty?”
“In my room?” Jenny looked at me and took a drink, and when I nodded I said “Crossed her wrists behind her back and tied them together with one old rope, same with her ankles, then a third one from wrist to ankles. A hankie in her mouth, and one of the old ties. Simple, but I didn’t have time for much else.”
“You know the chances are good she’ll get out of that with little trouble, after Angie’s tutorial last week,” Bobby said as he looked at us.
“Oh, it’s Angie now - does she know you call her that?”
“Only when she’s not here,” Bobby said with a smile. “Now that she’s the oldest of three, the transformation of her into my grandmother is gathering pace.”
“Oh come on,” I said as I put my glass down and tried a bread roll, “she’ll never be like your grandmother. Not really.”
“Not really, no,” Bobby admitted, “but she is learning some of the things that Grandma does - I think there’s going to be some more responsibility on her plate before too long.”
“Well, look at it this way,” Jenny said, “She is the oldest of you by a few years, so she has to, right?”
“Right,” Colin said, “Just as you have to now that the new twins are home. After all, you’re the really big sister now, Jen.”
Jen? JEN???? When did Jenny allow anyone to call her that - but there she was, not batting an eyelid as Colin passed her some more food. “Oh its Jen now is it? This must be serious,” I said with a smile, earning me a hard stare from Jenny and a laugh from Bobby.
“That’s one of the things I like about you, Cas - the fact you love to take the Mickey out of everyone. I thought that the first time I saw you.”
“Oh yeah - the day they taught you how to tie up a girl properly,” Colin said with a smile. “That must have smarted, being taught by girls.”
“One of whom is sitting right next to you, and might not agree to anything else you want to do today is she gets upset,” Jenny said as she looked at Colin, and for a moment I saw Granny in her face. Colin looked back at her, and said “I was about to add, and doing a remarkably good job of it - after all, he taught me as well, remember?”
“Better,” Jenny said as I burst out laughing. “What?” she then said as she looked at me.
“Nothing - nothing,” I said as I looked at Bobby, who was also smirking. He picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth before he said “Do you want to know what else we’re going to be doing today?”
“We could stay here all day,” Jenny said as she put her glass down.
“Tempting, but that would spoil everything else that is going to happen,” Colin said with a smile. “We’re going to take you to the cinema next.”
“Oh god,” Jenny said with a groan, “not Star Trek, please...”
“No - already seen it,” Bobby said with a smile, “We thought you girls might like to see Epic.”
Now that sounded more promising - I had seen a trailer for that film before, and it looked as if it could be fun. Jenny nodded in agreement, as Colin said “and we have a little gift for the two of you to wear during the performance.”
“Oh presents - I like presents. What are they?”
“I’ll fetch them,” Bobby said as he walked back to the car, while Colin got up and started to pack up the picnic basket. “I might actually like this film,” Jenny said to me as we watched him, “it even has a female who gets to be in charge.”
“I wonder what the present is,” I said as Bobby returned with a black plastic bag. I thought it was going to be a bag of chocolate or something, so I was as surprised as Jenny when he produced instead....
“Ponchos? Different - and not what I expected from you.”
“Oh I don’t know,” Bobby said as he showed us the two crocheted white ponchos, “I think they have a certain something. They’ll keep you warm - and they’ll stop anyone seeing the way your arms are going to be.”
“Oh,” Jenny said, but this time it was more suspicious, “Just what are you planning Bobby Holderness.”
“A little dare - it’s something Alicia told me about that Heidi and her friends did once. Of course, if you’re both too scared...”
He really was learning how to push Jenny’s buttons - she looked straight at him and said “I’m not scared - bring it on, whatever it is.”
“Let’s untie them first,” Bobby said to Colin, and we waited as they untied our waists and ankles from the chair. We stood up and nodded to each other - then jumped towards the boys and hugged them tightly.
“Whoa - that’s nice, but what’s it for,” Bobby said as I held him close.
“For a lovely lunch,” I said as I saw Jenny give Colin a little peck on his cheek, so I did the same to Bobby - worth it just to see his blush and Mr Bridges shake his head as he packed the chairs away.
“Wow - my pleasure,” he said as he went into the bag again. “Now then, girls, turn your backs to us and put your hands together, palm to palm, behind your backs please.”
“Because I dare you to come to the cinema with both of us, with your arms tied and your legs tied above your knees.”
“But what if someone sees us?”
“That’s why we brought the ponchos - or are you really chicken?”
“No,” I said as I turned my back to Bobby and put my hands together behind my back, “Do your worst.”
I looked over my shoulder as Bobby took some thin cord and tied my wrist together behind my back; passing it round several times before he took the ends between my arms and tied it tightly. Jenny smiled as she allowed Colin to do the same.
Rather than tying my wrists to my back by passing rope around my waist, Bobby started to tie some rope around my arms below my elbows, and then around my tummy. I was wondering why he was doing that, until I realised two things.
The first was that, although I could move my wrist a little, my arms were locked against my back.
The second was, as I watched Colin do the same to Jenny, and then put the poncho over her, you could not tell unless you looked really hard that her arms were tied behind her back. You could just about see the rope around her wrists if the poncho moved one way, but unless you looked there it seemed perfectly normal.
“The car is ready, Master Robert,” Mr Bridges said, so the boys walked us to the open doors, and helped us to sit in. As Mr Bridges closed the door, they lifted the hems of our skirts back and tied our legs together above our knees, leaving a few inches of rope between them.
“That should allow you to walk - albeit a little stiffly,” Bobby said as we were strapped in and they put on their own seat belts. “The skirt will hide the ropes. Apparently Heidi, Cindy and the others went to their cinema like this.”
“It does hide the ropes very well,” Jenny said as I looked at the poncho over my own body. “Did they enjoy it as well?”
“Apparently they did - although they did one other thing. I’ll tell you about that when we get to the multiplex.”
We could now see where we were as we drove to where the leisure centre was, and parked just across from the entrance to the cinema.
“I will go and collect the tickets.” Mr Bridges said as Bobby and Colin unbuckled and then knelt in front of us.
“Yes,” I said with my head to one side, and then I was taken completely by surprise as Bobby kissed me! He actually kissed me!! ON MY MOUTH!!! I let out a little gasp - which allowed him to push a handkerchief into my mouth, and then cover my mouth with tape.
I heard Jenny gasp as well, and looking over I had to do a double take - it looked as if she was perfectly normal. It took a few looks for me to realise her lips were covered in clear tape, smoothed down so well you could hardly tell - and suddenly I knew what was pressing down on my skin.
“Ready,” Bobby said as the car door opened, “Let’s go.”
Right at that second in time, I could have been walking into a gym class naked, and I would not have cared. I was so taken back by the kiss, and the way it made me feel, that I walked in a daze into the cinema lobby, past the sweet shop and the popcorn, and into the theatre.
I just could not shake that picture of Bobby leaning over and placing his lips on mine, and then pushing the hankie into my mouth with a big smile on my face. I wanted to do so many things - punch him in the arm, say something funny, even blow a raspberry - but none of that was possible, as he put his arm round me and walked me past the man collecting the tickets, and into the cinema.
He had even bought special tickets for us - the really big, comfy seats with nice soft backs, so that we were not too uncomfortable with our arms pressed behind our back. As soon as we sat down, the lights went down and the ads started - but my mind was still in the car, enjoying that feeling before I remembered a conversation I had with Granny and Aunt Connie last Thursday...
We were sitting in the front room, with Aunt Connie holding Daniel when she said “So, you are spending the day with Bobby on Saturday - first date at the tender age of eleven.”
“Now Connie,” Granny had said as she looked over, “You weren’t much older the first time either.”
“Well that wasn’t a real date was it,” Aunt Connie said as she looked at Granny. “And it was the Regimental Family Day - hardly a romantic day out.”
“Tell me what happened, Aunt Connie,” I said as I put my book down and looked at them both.”
“He was one of my classmates - Larry Boscombe was his name - curly brown hair, thin, nice smile.”
“His father was the Regimental Sergeant Major,” Granny continued, “and Connie had such a cute little crush on him.”
“MUMMM! Anyway, every year in June the Regiment had this family picnic, and when I was about to turn twelve he asked if I would go with him. For some unfathomable reason, I said yes, and I put on a lovely candy striped linen jacket and skirt with a white top and white shoes.
“It rained is what happened - the ground turned into a mud bath, my shoes were ruined, and as for Larry - well, he just started laughing at me, especially once I fell onto my bottom in a piddle of mud.”
I suddenly got a picture in my mind of Aunt Connie in a muddy outfit, looking at a boy and getting madder. “So what happened,” I asked.
“Your father happened,” Granny said with a smile. “That same day happened to be the first time your father took your mother out on a date. She had seen the forecast, so was wearing an old pair of trousers, wellies and a rain jacket. I have to say, your father was less than pleased with young Larry - he helped Connie up, left her with Jennifer and offered to take Larry for a walk to explain what good manners meant.”
“Well, that was nice of him,” I said with a smile, “what did Dad do?”
“I never really found out,” Connie said with a smile. “All I know is this - Dad had a word with John sometime later, and he had a cut lip. I also know that when I saw Larry at school on the Monday, he had a black eye and was very apologetic for the way he had treated me.”
Granny said nothing, but I could see the twinkle in her eye, and I knew then that she knew a lot more about what had happened. I decided to wait until later to ask her, more interested in the other question in my mind.
“What about you Granny - how old were you?”
“Same age as you - this was before Lucinda and I both fell for your Great Uncle Bill and had our little disagreement,” Granny said with a smile, “his name was Harry, and he looked like a young Cliff Richards. In fact, that was where he took me - to the cinema to see a film called Serious Trouble, the first one he appeared in.”
I looked wide eyed at Granny as she sat back, her eyes somewhere else. “Thing was, the film had a certificate which meant we should not have gone in to see it, so I had to make myself look older. I ‘borrowed’ one of my mother’s dresses, put on far too much makeup and a pair of shoes with stiletto heels, and walked with him to the cinema. The old dear in the ticket booth did not notice, and we got in to see it.”
“My mother the rebel,” Aunt Connie said with a chuckle. “Go on - tell her the rest.”
“When we came out,” Granny said with a chuckle, “the first person we ran into was Dad - he had come to find out when a film he was taking Mum to was starting. He took one look at me, at Harry, and then turned and walked off. When I got home, however, I got the tongue lashing of my life, and I was banned from going out for a month.”
“Ouch,” Aunt Connie said with a note of sympathy. “I can imagine what that was like.”
“It wasn’t so bad - Lucinda came round a lot, and we helped Mum around the farmhouse. As for Harry - well, my dad had a word with his dad, and we never went out again.
“Don’t let that put you off though - Bobby is a much more sensible young man, and I’m sure he won’t pull any stunts...”
“Hey Cassie - the film’s about to start.”
I shook my head and looked at Bobby, then nodded as I turned to look at the big screen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jenny leaning with her head against Colin’s shoulder, and after a while I did the same. It was more comfy that way for my arms as well, as the story began.
Now, I have to confess at this point that I don’t remember that much about the film itself - my mind kept going back to the back of the car, and the kiss, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think about it. I remember it involved a girl who had to save a magical kingdom, and talking animals, but I guess I may have to wait for the DVD to see it and remember it - because the thought in my mind was how Bobby and Colin were going to surprise us next.
I was grateful for one thing however - the fact they had not bought any popcorn or drinks. I think I would have killed them if they had eaten or drunk anything with Jenny and me unable to do so as well, so full marks to them for doing that.
I was so contented I did not realise for a while that Bobby had put his arm around me and was holding me, but when I did I looked up at him and smiled - which was returned by a smile from him before I tried to concentrate once again on the story unfolding before us.
Eventually, however, the film came to an end, and as the names started to roll up the screen Bobby said “I think we should leave before the lights come up.” I nodded and looked at Jenny, who nodded as well as we were helped to our feet and walked out of the cinema.
Of course, I was so taken up in what was happening I was not paying much attention to what was happening around me - so the cry of “Hey Cassie - what was the film like” took me completely by surprise.
I looked over to see Hazel and Claire standing there, waiting as their parents were buying snacks. At that point, I was going to panic as they came over and looked at Jenny and me in our ponchos.
“Oh, er - hi girls,” Bobby said quickly. “I’m sorry, but Cas and Jen are - well, stunned into silence by the film.” They looked at him, then closely at Jenny and me, before giggling and saying “So we see - well, tell us all about it on Monday.” They ran off to join their parents, while Bobby and Colin walked us out, where Mr Bridges was waiting by the car.
“That,” Bobby said, “was lucky.” Reaching up, he removed the tape from my mouth and pulled the hanky out, before saying “Did you enjoy the film?”
“The film?” I said quietly as we were strapped into the seat. “Oh - it was fun,” I said as I looked at Jenny.
“Do you know just how red you look at the moment, Sis,” she said.
“About as red as you, I think,” I said in reply, and as the car moved off we burst out laughing.
“Well, so far so good,” Colin said as he opened a panel in the seat next to him, and took out a can of drink. “Ready for this?”
“You bet,” Jenny said as he unbuckled himself and sat next to her, holding a straw in the can for her.
“What about you Cassie,” Bobby said as he looked at me.
“Not yet - but can you answer me a question?”
“When you kissed me - what did you think?”
“I was thinking,” Bobby said as he looked at me, “How cute you looked when you opened your eyes, and then I was thinking that I liked it. I hope you don’t have a problem with that.”
“No,” I said quietly, “I don’t think I do. Can I have that drink now?”
Bobby nodded and took another can out, coming and sitting next to me as we both drank from the cans.
“So,” Jenny eventually said as Colin wiped a trace of drink from her chin, “Where are we going now?”
“I thought you two might like a little private dinner,” Bobby said as we drove down the road, “somewhere nice and pleasant.”
“Oh, and where is that?”
“I’ll tell you when we get there,” Bobby said as he and Colin put the empty cans into a bag, “and we think you both have asked enough questions. We need to distract you.”
“Oh yeah,” Jenny said, “How?”
“Like this,” Bobby said as he started to tickle my ribs, making me squeal with laughter almost as much as Jenny as she was tickled by Colin.
That was all they did for the whole of the rest of the journey - make us laugh by tickling us and teasing us, so that the first we knew was when the car stopped and Mr Bridges opened the door. We got out, and found ourselves at the front door of Holderness Manor, Mrs Bridges waiting at the door.
“Welcome, Miss Jennifer, Miss Cassandra,” she said as we came in, “Dinner will be in a little while, if you will wait in the library?”
We went in and waited for the door to close, before the boys removed our ponchos and untied our arms and knees. “What did you have to promise to do to get your grandparents to agree to this,” Colin said as we all sat down.
“A lot,” was all Bobby said, “A lot.”
“Well,” Jenny said as she looked at Colin, “Whatever it was, it was worth it - I’m having a great day so far. What about you Cassie?
I shook my head and looked at Jenny. “Sorry,” I said as I blushed, “I was just thinking about...”
“Bobby’s kiss?” I looked at her and felt my cheeks grow even redder. “It’s all right,” she said with a big smile, “I was just as shocked when Colin kissed me after the disco.” She nudged me in the ribs and whispered “It’s a great feeling though - isn’t it?”
I could only nod in silence - I was far too embarrassed to speak, and I had also suddenly realised something. How on earth was I going to stop the twins from saying anything when we got back to school on Monday?
“So what exactly have you had to promise to do,” Jenny then said as Colin handed her a glass of pink lemonade.
“I’d like to know the answer to that as well,” Colin said as he looked at Bobby, “just in case I need to play some part in it at a future date.”
Bobby handed me a glass as well, before saying “Well, it involves a lot of boring filing for me, and a bit of helping Mr Bridges over the next few weekends. Not next weekend though - Suzie and I are going to our other grandmothers for an overnight stay.”
Suzie! That was someone else I had to worry about in terms of teasing - although I knew how to deal with her if the need arose. I took a sip from my glass and said “so what are we having for dinner?”
“Oh, just a little light supper,” Bobby said in a way that almost made me choke on my fizzy drink. “Sorry, sorry,” he then said as he handed me a tissue, “you’ll see in a minute. First, however, guess what we’re going to do to you.”
“Give me another kiss?” Colin looked at Jenny as she said this, and then leaned down and kissed her again. I looked at Bobby, and then was surprised, enthralled, and ecstatic as he kissed me again! ON THE LIPS AGAIN!!!
“That,” Colin eventually said, “and tie you up for dinner.” He held up the length of cord from earlier and said “this time, we do it properly. Hands behind your backs please girls, and cross your wrists.”
“And how are we expected to eat with our hands tied,” Jenny said with a hint of anger, but only a little - after all, we both stood and did exactly what they asked of us, looking at each other and smiling as I felt the rope going around my wrists.
“You’ll see,” Colin said as I watched him tightly binding my sister’s wrists together, and then passing the rope around her waist to hold them firmly against the bottom of her back. I could feel Bobby doing the same thing to me, and then he started to wrap some rope around my arms and chest, fixing them into my side before he added another band around my shoulders.
“They look lovely like this,” I heard Colin say, and looking over at Jenny I could see the bands of off white rope over the waist, tummy and shoulder straps of her dress. I could also see the great big smile on her face as she turned and said “Thank you” to Colin.
“You both need to sit down now,” Bobby said as we were helped to sit on the couch, then watch as out ankles were placed side by side and tightly tied together, the rope going between my legs as they sat over my socks. Bobby then tied my legs together below my knees, before folding my skirt back and tying another length above my knees.
“You do know it will be very difficult for us to eat if we are hogtied and gagged,” Jenny said with a laugh, but I had thought the same thing - the way they were going, the gag was next. Would we have to watch as they ate this time?”
“No gag - we are going to have dinner,” Colin said as he tied the last knot on Jenny’s legs and folded her skirt back. “Now, allow us to escort you to dinner.” He took Jenny’s arm and helped her to stand, and then they started to hop to the door as Bobby assisted me in the same way.
Opening the door, I gulped as I saw Alicia walking down the stairs. She stopped as we jumped out, and looked at us in the way she used to when we first met - before she burst out laughing and said “I’m sorry, you two - I just can’t help it. The sight of the four of you there...”
“I’d be very careful if I was you Alicia,” Bobby said with the sweetest of smiles on his face, “or I may just have to tell Jenny here about last Thursday.”
“Last Thursday?” Jenny looked at Alicia, who had gone a bright red, and said “So what happened last Thursday?”
“Oh. Ah. My goodness, is that the time?” Alicia looked at her watch, walked quickly to the coat rack and grabbed her coat, then ran out of the front door.
“Well,” Colin said as he looked at Bobby, “What did happen last Thursday?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Bobby said as they resumed the task of escorting us to the dining room. As we walked in, we saw that the table had been laid for a meal for four, two at each side, so we jumped over and waited for the boys to pull the chairs out, and then help us to sit down.
“So now are you going to untie our hands,” Jenny said as she turned her back to Colin and wriggled her fingers.
“Nope,” was his response as he took another coil of rope, and placed a cushion against her back - right before he passed the rope around her waist and secured her to the chair, her hands cushioned by the pillow, then took the ends under the chair and tied them to her ankles.
I got the same treatment, before Bobby pushed my chair in and sat next to me, Jenny opposite him and Colin opposite me. They picked up a napkin each, folded it and laid it across our laps, as Mrs Bridges came in and laid four bowls of cold tomato soup in front of us.
“Now then,” Bobby said as he picked up my soup spoon, carefully put some soup on and held it in front of my mouth.
“You... You’re serious. You’re about to feed me?”
“We are.” I looked over at Colin who was holding a spoon in front of Jenny’s mouth. We looked at each other, shrugged and opened our mouths, allowing them to pour the soup into our mouths before taking a mouthful of their won.
“So you’re going to do everything for us,” Jenny said with a big smile as Colin put some more soup on her spoon.
“Of course,” he said quietly, “After all, we are the hosts.”
“So if I told you to do forward rolls from one end of the room to the other, you would do it?”
Now, there was no way I expected Bobby to do that, let alone Colin, but - they put the spoons down, wiped our chins, stood up and went to one end of the room, before doing a series of forward rolls, covering the whole length of the room before standing up and walking back, then feeding us again!
“Satisfied,” Bobby said as he looked at me, and I slowly nodded, enjoying every bit of attention he was giving me.
As the soup bowls were cleared away, they held a glass to our lips and allowed us to drink some of the grape juice that was in them, before the main course was served - cold salmon and salad. At least it wasn’t hot food - I did not want to run the risk of them accidentally burning or scolding me.
Bobby cut little pieces from the salmon and fed them to me with the salad, Colin feeding Jenny, as we talked about school, friends, and the experiences over the last year. It all seemed so surreal - it was about this time last year was when Jenny and I first visited the manor house, and met Alicia and Suzie for the first time.
Well the first time for me, at any rate. So much had happened since that time, so many adventures, so many new friends - I was one of the luckiest girls in the world, and I really felt it then.
The main course went, and was followed by my favourite - ice cream with chocolate sauce and bananas. Jenny got her favourite dessert as well - strawberries and cream.
It was delicious, especially when Bobby wiped a streak of the chocolate sauce away from my mouth, and - well, you can guess.
He kissed me again - this time on the cheek, but still another kiss. I felt giddy all other as I dimly heard Jenny say “Best be careful, Bobby - she may want to really be Lady Holderness one day.”
Bobby said nothing, instead saying “Thank you Mrs Bridges” as the last of the plates were cleared away. Colin stood up and looked out across the lawn, before turning and looking at us.
“It’s still nice outside - why don’t we go onto the lawn for a while?”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Jenny said as Bobby folded his napkin, and then stood up. “Why don’t you untie us and then we can all go out together?”
“Oh, I think it is a great idea,” Bobby said as he walked behind me, “But you’re not going to walk out. Colin?”
“Please open your mouth, Jennifer Alison Craig,” Colin said as I watched him stand behind Jenny, the folded napkin now in his hand as well.
She looked at me, I looked at her, and then we both nodded as we opened our mouths and allowed them to push the napkins in. As we watched, they walked to the side of the room and returned with more materials - starting with two red strips of silk which they tied between our lips.
I then heard the sound I love, the squelchy rippy sound of the soft tape as Bobby pulled the end free from the roll, stuck it to my cheek and started to wrap it tightly around my head. Jenny was getting the same treatment, before they both tore the tape free and smoothed it down at the side of our head.
Next was a white silk scarf, which they folded into a wide band and tied over our mouths, and kept the ends at the back of our necks, and then the finishing touch. They each took one of Bobby’s grandmother’s headscarves, folded it into a triangle and tied it over our heads, the point at the back of our necks as they knotted the other two corners together below our chins.
“Now then,” Bobby said as he knelt beside me and released me from the chair, “If you fine ladies would care to accompany us, your chariots await.”
“Whrwgng,” I mumbled as I was helped to stand up, Colin helping Bobby, and we hopped towards the door that led to the kitchen. As we went through, both of us were wondering what was going to happen next - and what did they mean by chariots?
“Well,” said Bobby as we hopped onto the walkway at the back of the house, “What do you think?”
“Whtdifnk,” Jenny said as we both looked at them, “Ifnkuralneeeeeeeee!”
Her squeal came as Colin lifted her up and sat her on the cushions and rugs that had been placed around one of the wheelbarrows - but it was no less loud than mine as I was lifted into a second one. Bobby took the handles of my ‘chariot’, Colin of Jenny - and then they started to run across the lawn, pushing us as we squealed and laughed at their efforts.
After a while, Bobby said “Now for the real fun,” and they turned, heading for the bottom of the lawn and the gap in the trees....
As we raced down towards the gap and the path, I tried to collect my thoughts about everything that had happened. This morning I was just a typical young girl, looking forward to a day out - and now I had no idea what I felt.
But it felt wonderful. My mind went back as we started to go down the tree lined path to that kiss at Christmas, when Bobby kissed me as he gave me the present - that had been nice, but this evening, when he kissed my cheek as I sat tied in the chair - it just felt much more natural and right.
And then there were the two kisses today - the one in the car and the one in the library. All the programs I’d watched on the television, all the books and stories I had read where the man kisses the woman - it just could not explain the way it felt to have a boy liked Bobby kissing me like that.
Bobby... Robert Desmond Holderness... Lord Robert Desmond Holderness... The thought made me feel warm as I kept saying that over and over to myself - even when the bumps in the path almost made me fall out of the wheelbarrow. I was in seventh heaven, and I did not want to come back down to earth, not ever.
Yeah, I know - it sounds silly now that I look at what I have written down, but I finally felt I could understand what they meant about love and kisses. I squealed out in excitement in the end as we emerged into the clearing by the lake, and they finally put the barrows down, taking a moment to catch their breath as we looked along the ground.
“I... I need to get some running exercise in,” Colin said as Bobby made me suit up, then took one of the rugs from the barrow and laid it on the ground.
“Oh I don’t know - you seemed to manage all right,” he said as he laid the rug down on the ground, and then lifted me out, sitting me on it as Colin did the same for Jenny.
“Fnks,” Jenny said as she was set down next to me, while the boys sat down next to us. We thought they were just going to sit with us, give us a chance to digest dinner and just relax.
Fat chance. The next thing we knew they had started to tickle us, making us wriggle round as we fell back onto the blankets and they knelt by our sides, their fingers going over our ribs and the back of our knees.
“NPLLLSSSTPPP!” I called out as I tried to wriggle out of the way, but Bobby just kept pulling me back and tickling me again. As he did so, the scarf slipped down my head and lay across my shoulders, moving with me as I desperately tried to get away from him.
Eventually, however, he did stop, and Jenny and I got a chance to catch our breath, panting through our noses as we looked at our beaus.
“Swhtthsbtlshe?” Jenny finally said as she looked at Bobby after she regained her composure.
“Oh I’m not sure I can say,” Bobby replied with a serious expression on his face, “not with the younger generation present.
“Dutfnkecntkpscrts?” I mumbled in protest as I nudged him in the ribs with my arms.
“Oh I know you can keep a secret - from everyone except Suzie,” he said, “and if Suzie finds out, then my life may not be worth living.”
“Bbbehldnrs,” Jenny said as she got onto her knees and turned to face him, “fudnttlsnw...”
“What? You’re going to tickle me? You could not even catch me if I untied your legs.”
“All right then,” Colin said as he started to untie Jenny’s legs, “We’ll have a race and see who wins.”
“You too,” Bobby said as he untied my legs, “First one to the edge of the trees and back - and no cheating.”
We lined up against the wheelbarrows as Bobby said “Ready... Steady... GO!”
We set off, racing across the ground - well, the other three did, I ran a little and then stopped, walked back and sat down on the rug to watch them. You see, there were a couple of things I knew that they did not.
One of which was how much better Jenny was at running then me - well, she is older than me. But there was something else - the fact that she was the school champion cross-country runner, and somehow had always neglected to tell them.
So instead I watched, panting through my nose as the boys reached the far side ahead of Jenny and turned to come back, looking at her as they passed her by. I laughed to myself at their confidence - which soon took a shattering and crippling blow as she raced past them, her fingers waving to them as she reached the rug first.
How the... What the... when did you get to be so fast,” Bobby said as he trailed in last, flopping down and sitting next to me.
“My girlfriend the winner!” Colin shouted out loud as he hugged Jenny, and I put my head against Bobby’s arm in sympathy. We sat there, silently, not noticing just how long the shadows were getting until I looked out over the water, and saw the shimmering red reflected on the still water.
“swhtbtlshe?” Jenny said as she looked at Bobby.
“Alicia? Oh all right - but you did not hear it from me,” he finally said as he looked over at Jenny. “There’s a boy in your year at school - not in your class, in one of the other ones. I think his name is Martin something...”
I could see Jenny was thinking hard, before she suddenly looked up. “Eknwhumn,” she said, and I could see the sparkle in her eyes in the dimming light.
“Yeah, well - last Thursday we all went to a choral recital, and Martin was one of the choir. One of the soloists in fact, - turns out he’s a good singer.
“Anyway, after the recital we were at a reception, and I noticed that Alicia had wondered off somewhere. Grandma and Granddad were talking to the organisers, and the others were busy, so I went off to see if I could find her.”
“Oh I found her all right,” Bobby said with a smile. “She was on the veranda that ran along the outside of the hall, sitting on the wall talking with Martin, and they did not even notice me as I stood watching them.
“So when they started holding hands as they talked I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. I honestly had no ideas he had a crush on anyone, much less a boy in her year.”
“Nvrdde,” Jenny said, and I could see she was laughing under the layers of gag.
“Anyway, I watched them for a while, and said nothing to anyone - until earlier today. I don’t think that Angela even knows - and I get the feeling Alicia wants it to stay that way for the moment. So I’m trusting you two not to say anything.”
“Hoom?” Jenny said as she looked at bobby with innocent eyes.
“Yes, you,” Colin said as he hugged her tight. “And you, Cassie - you know how shy Alicia really is, so keep it to yourself, all right?”
I nodded as we all turned and watched the lines of ducks swimming across the lake. The mausoleum was shining more brightly than before, and the red streaks were growing across the surface of the water. As I turned and looked behind me, I could see the shadows growing longer on the ground, and felt the slight chill in the air.
“Thssns,” I said as I looked at Bobby, “btwhnrwhdngbck?”
“Let’s watch the sunset from here,” Bobby said as he put his arm round me, “and then I have torches, and a cover to put over the barrows and stuff. Don’t worry - we big strong men will keep you safe.”
Jenny and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and tried hard not to laugh, instead crossing our legs as we watched the sun set over the lake, the white marble burning red as the sun slowly set on the horizon.
As the clearing went a dark grey, Bobby walked to the barrow and took out a tarpaulin and a pair of torches. Handing one to Colin, he switched the other one on and pulled the tarpaulin over the two barrows, first putting our rug back in as we stood up.
“Now then,” Bobby finally said as he took me by the arm, “allow me to take you for a moonlight walk through the forest.”
We had walked along this path so many times, but it was different tonight. It was getting colder, so I was glad I had my cardigan on, Even so, it sounded and felt so different, the moonlight filtering through the trees as the torch lit the way in front of us. It felt mysterious and strange and a little scary - and great fun. I wondered if we could come down here as a group of girls one night...
Eventually we came out onto the lawn, and we could see the lights shining out of the windows from the downstairs rooms. As we got closer, we could hear music playing, and we stopped outside the windows to look inside.
Alicia was sitting there with Angela, reading a book while Lord and Lady Holderness were talking to each other as some dance music was playing. The windows were slightly open, and the music was coming out onto the walkway as we stood there.
“Shall we?” Bobby said as he looked at me, and I nodded as he put his arm round me and started to dance in time to the music, Colin bowing to Jenny and joining in with us as we danced on the walkway. I lost myself in the music, with Bobby holding me in my arms as we turned around the stone.
In fact, we were all so lost in the moment that we did not realise that we had an audience, until he music stopped and we heard Lord Holderness saying “That reminds me - we must finalise the arrangements for the July Ball.”
“I think we already have the first two pairs for the competition,” Angela said as we all stopped and blushed.
“Robert,” Lord Holderness said as he looked at his watch, “I think it is time you took Cassandra and Jennifer home. I’ll find Mr Bridges, if you will meet him in the hallway in ten minutes.”
“Do you girls want to be untied,” Angela said. I looked at Jenny, and then shook my head - I wanted to stay this way as long as possible. “It is a bit cold, however - do you have something to put over yourselves?”
“I think these may be of use,” Lady Holderness said as she held up our ponchos. “Place them on your guests, boys, and then walk them round to the main door.”
I stood beside Jenny as the boys pulled the ponchos over our heads, and took off the headscarves, before we walked together round to the front of the house, where Mr Bridges was standing by the entrance to the manor house, the car door open. After helping us to sit in, and strapping us into place with the seat belts, they climbed in beside us and sat down.
As we moved off, Bobby turned to me and said “I hope you enjoyed today, Cassie - I wanted to make it really special.”
That was it - I had been on such a high of enjoyment and excitement that all I could do was look at him, and nod quietly as I felt a tear running down my cheek. It had been the most fantastic day of my life, and I had love every single second of it from the moment I had got into the car.
Looking over at Jenny, she was nodding as well as Colin whispered something into her ear. I could not tell if she felt the same way as me - heck it was almost impossible to talk at the moment - but the way her cheeks were blushing above the scarf I could tell she was happy about something.
I just wanted the day to go on and on, especially when Bobby put his hand on my leg and said “Thanks - for being such a wonderful guest” but the car stopped, and as the door opened I could see we were outside our front door.
I bent my head down to allow him to take the scarf off and start untying me, but to my surprise both Bobby and Colin said “No” in unison.
“You can keep them all,” Bobby said as he looked at me, “as a reminder of today. I don't think I’ll get to pull something like this off again for a while, but - well, perhaps we can go to the cinema or something - and actually share some popcorn that time?”
“dlvvtt,” I mumbled, and then felt myself start to blush again as he kissed me on the forehead, then stepped out of the car, walking to the front door and knocking quietly on it.
As it opened, I saw Granny at the door, looking towards the car and then saying “You’d better bring them in, then.” Bobby came back and unbuckled me, helping me to step out of the car and escorting me to the door as Colin did the same to Jenny.
“I’ll see you soon,” Colin said as he helped Jenny to step into the house, while Bobby just waved and said “Thanks,” before the two of them turned and returned to Mr Bridges. We stood and watched as they drove off, before Granny closed the door and looked at both of us.
“Your father is upstairs helping you mum with the twins,” she said as she lifted the ponchos off us, and then looked at the rope work. “I’ll untie you, and then you need to go upstairs and get washed and changed - You can have some supper when you come down.”
We nodded and turned round, waiting as Granny untied the ropes around our upper bodies, and then walked quietly to our rooms. When I got to mine, I looked at myself in the mirror, the white silk scarf covering my mouth and head. I wanted to treasure this moment forever - forever...
When I woke up on Sunday morning, I looked over to see the scarf lying across the back of my chair. Getting out of bed, I picked it up and put it against my face, remembering all that had happened the previous day.
There was a knock on my door, and Jenny came in. “How are you feeling,” she said as she sat on my bed and looked at me. “That was some day yesterday.”
“I know, “I said as I looked at her. “I think Bobby really likes me, don’t you?”
“You finally noticed, eh,” she replied with a smile. “It’s been obvious to me and Alicia for months, you know. The look on his face when he gave you that kiss...”
“Yeah,” I said dreamily, then saw her smirk and said “And what happened the first time Colin kissed you like that?”
“Surprise, then enjoyment,” she said before looking at me. “Of course, if you hadn’t reacted like a startled rabbit yesterday, you would have seen it as well.”
Jenny just nodded before saying “Of course, you know there’s a few people who will want to know everything - and I don’t just mean Hazel and Claire.”
That made me wake up a bit - I hadn’t realised that others would want to know what happened, and probably starting as soon as I went downstairs.
“I don’t mean Mum,” Jenny said as she went back to her room, and then it hit me who she was talking about....
“Well come on, Cas - spill it. I want to know everything you and Jenny got up to yesterday.”
Everything had been fine up to the point where we came home for lunch - and that was when Aunt Jessica and Patty came over. We took Patty up to Jenny’s room, and as soon as the door closed - that was when the questions started.
“Where did you go? What did you do? Did he...”
“Whoa!” Jenny said out loud. “Patty, Cassie and I are not going to tell you everything we did yesterday - they’re between us and the boys. We can tell you some things, but not everything.”
She looked down when she heard that, but then looked up again and said “I won’t tell anyone - promise!”
“Ready to start your new school tomorrow, Patricia?”
She looked at me as I said that - she hates hearing her full name almost as much as I do - and said very quietly “Yeah - what’s that got to do with it?”
“Well,” I said quietly, “it’s a new school - can be a scary thing, and having a big cousin to keep an eye on you could be useful. But I’d only feel safe doing that if you were able to keep a few secrets - and I’m not sure yet if you’re able to do that.”
“Oh I can I can I can,” Patty said as she jumped up and down.
“Well, you’ll have to prove it,” Jenny said with a smile as we heard Mum calling up, “after lunch.” I looked at Jenny and nodded - we were both wearing dark leggings and jumpers today, while Patty had on a denim skirt and blouse with flat shoes.
“So is your name Patricia Pickering?”
“Yssss,” Patty said as she nodded her head. She was sitting in a chair in Jenny’s room, lashed tightly to it with ropes holding her wrist to the side of the chair back, around her waist and tummy, and then holding her ankles to the front legs. Jenny’s white scarf was pulled tightly over her mouth, covering the white tape that we had smoothed over her lips.
“Do you solemnly swear to keep secret all that you hear now?”
“and do you accept the penalty that will be invoked if you do divulge any secrets?”
I showed her as I knelt down and started to tickle her bare feet. She squirmed round and giggled before saying” sSTPPP”
“Do you accept the penalty?”
“Very well then - when...”
“Cassie - Telephone.”
“You carry on,” I said as I left Patty to Jenny’s storytelling, and went downstairs to where Dad was holding the telephone for me.
“All right, Cassandra Paulette Craig - what have you done with the real Robert Holderness?”
“Suzie - what are you talking about?”
“He’s been walking round all day with a huge grin on his face and he even made my breakfast for me this morning - what did you do to him yesterday?”
“Errr - I’m taking this to my room,” I said as I looked at Dad, and ran up the stairs, closing the door to my room and lying on my bed.
“Well, I’m waiting,” Suzie said, so I started to tell her everything that happened the day before.
“Wow,” she said as I told her eventually about the drive home, “I did not know he had that in him. He really has got a crush on you, hasn’t he?”
“The feeling’s mutual,” I heard myself say, and then when Suzie gasped I added “But please, don’t tell him I said that.”
“Hey, your secret’s safe with me - you don’t have to worry about that. It’s the others you need to be worried about. What are you going to do about the twins?”
“No idea yet - I’ll cross that one tomorrow. So he’s really been nice to you today?”
“So far - although I don’t hear him at the moment. Hang on - I’ll just go and see what he’s up to...” I waited for a few moments, before she came back and said “That’s funny - he seems to have....”
“Suzie? Are you still there?”
“Suzie can’t continue this call right now,” I heard Bobby say in a ridiculous Scottish accent, “She’ll call you later.”
“BOBBY!!!” The line went dead, and I had to stop myself from laughing out loud - especially at the giggles I could hear coming from Jenny’s room. I put the phone down and lay on my back, looking up at the ceiling for a while, before going downstairs to return the phone.
As I did, I heard Granny say “Cassie - come in here a minute will you?”
I went in to find Granny sitting with Mum and Aunts Connie and Jessica. “Now then,” Mum said as I closed the door, “Your dad and Uncle Dave are out of the house - so tell us what happened yesterday?”
“Do I have to Mum?”
“Not everything,” Aunt Jessica said, “Just if you had a good time, and he and Colin treated you two nicely.”
“It was fun,” I said as I blushed, “especially when he kissed me.”
“He kissed you? Bobby Holderness kissed you?” Aunt Cassie jumped and walked round the room, saying “I’ll kill him, taking advantage of a defenceless young girl like...”
“How did you know I was helpless?”
“Guesswork,” Granny said as she looked at Aunt Jessica. “And how did you feel?”
“I... I felt...”
“Giddy as an aunt?”
I blushed and nodded as Granny laughed. “I remember the first time your father kissed me - the Young Farmer’s Dance. It was a moonlit night, and he nipped outside for a cigarette. We sat on the wall, looking along the fields, and the next thing I knew....”
“Was that you first kiss, Granny, your first real kiss?”
“Not really,” Granny said with a smile, “but it was the first special one. What about you, Jennifer?”
Mum blushed and said “That would be when your father took me to see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves at the local cinema. We were sitting in the back row, he put his arm round me and...”
My mind flashed back to the cinema yesterday, and I must have blushed even more, as Aunt Jessica said “Oh ho - fun in the cinema as well then.”
“No - he just hugged me there,” I said as they all looked at me.
“Well,” Aunt Jessica said as she looked at her watch, “I need to get Patty back - she needs an early night. Where is she anyway?”
I looked at Aunt Connie, who nodded and said “I’ll find her,” and left the room. “I notice she didn’t tell you about her first kiss,” Mum said as she looked to the door.
“Was it that lad who laughed at her?”
“Not exactly,” Granny said as she stood up, “But that’s a story for another day. Come and help me sort out some tea, Cassie, and then you need to get your bag together for tomorrow.
There was one more thing I needed to do - and as soon as I entered the playground at school the next morning, I made a beeline for my targets.
“Well well, how did you enjoy the movie,” Claire said as I went with them into a quiet corner of the playground.
“It was great,” I said quietly, “The whole day was great, but I need you two to keep stum about the fact you saw me. The last thing I need is people pointing at me and talking behind my back?”
“Yes, Your Ladyship,” they said in chorus as they curtseyed to me, and all right - that did make me laugh.
But then it hit me - Bobby one day would be Lord Holderness. Would I be Lady Holderness?
Shaking my head, I said “Enough - please, just keep it to yourself.”
“Oh we will - now,” Hazel said with a smile. “We only told Pippa. Anyway, it’s not us you need to worry about?”
“I know,” I said as I saw Patty in the playground with Aunt Jessica, “but I know how to keep her quiet...”