Good Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louise and Freddie

 

“Hey – morning sleepy head.”

 

I opened my eyes slowly to see Freddie standing there, grinning from ear to ear.

 

“What time is it,” I said as I looked at my darling brother.

 

“About eight,” Freddie said with a grin, “come on – Mom’s making Eggs Benedict.”

 

Since Mum and Dad had got married, we’d slowly been taking on some of Mum and Freddie’s customs, such as Sunday brunch rather than breakfast and lunch, but this was their first Easter with us, and I had thought they’d appreciate the fact there was a long weekend with Dad at home, free to do absolutely nothing.

 

“Come on Louise – this looks good,” Dad called up, so as Freddie disappeared downstairs in his pyjamas, I got out of bed, put a dressing gown on, and followed him into the dining room.

 

“Morning sleepy head,” Mum said from the cooker as I sat at the table, taking the glass of Orange Juice that Dad passed to me.

 

“Morning Mum – so what’s this Eggs Cumberbatch anyway?”

 

“Eggs Benedict – you had it when we went to the states on holiday, remember?”

 

Then I remembered – especially when I watched Mum put the sliced ham and poached eggs on the muffins, and then spoon the cheesy sauce over it.

 

“Freddie and I have these every Good Friday,” Mum said as she put a plate in front of each of us.

 

“Smells good,” Dad said, and I have to say he was right.  It did smell good – and it tasted good too.

 

“So what are we going to do with the rest of the day,” Freddie said as he looked at Mum and Dad.

 

“Well, we’re meeting up at the church at ten thirty for a service,” Dad said, “and after that...”

 

The telephone ringing interrupted his train of thought, as I went to answer it.

 

“Hello, Hobson home?”

 

“Three H in a row – nice.”

 

“Hey Fiona – what are you up to this morning?”

 

“Just finishing breakfast – you?”

 

“Same here, then we’re getting ready and going to the church.”

 

“I’ll see you there then – walking over?”

 

“Yup – the Cottrells are meeting us on the road.”

 

“Sounds good – what are you going to wear?”

 

“Walking shoes – see you in a little while.”

 

 

“Hey,” Freddie said as he stood in the doorway, “nearly ready?”

 

“I just need to put my skirt and shoes on,” I said as I stood there.  I’d already put on a short sleeved blouse and a pair of grey leggings, while on the bed was a long white skirt and a matching jacket.

 

“I was wondering if you were up to a little challenge – Dad’s saying the same thing to Mom, but I thought you might like it as well.”

 

“And that is?”

 

“Have your knees tied under your skirt, and see if anyone notices anything?”

 

“Another of your traditions?”

 

“Something like that – what do you say?”

 

“This is a Walk of Witness, Freddie – we can’t do anything that can be seen?”

 

“Your skirt comes down to your thighs, right?”

 

Nodding, I realised what he was saying, and then said “all right – let’s do this.  We’ll see if Fiona notices.”

 

“Or Frank Cottrell?”

 

“Or indeed Frank Cottrell,” I said quietly as Freddie knelt in front of me, and tied the rope around my leg above my left knee, then around my right knee, leaving a few inches of rope between the two.  I laughed as I walked a little, with small steps, and then picked up my skirt and stepped into it, pulling it up and fastening it so that the hem came a few inches below my knees.

 

Sitting on the bed, I slipped on a pair of white shoes with little heels, while Freddie went back into his room and put on his jacket.  I slipped my own on, and then walked down the stairs, to see Mum and Dad waiting for us.  Dad was wearing a suit, white shirt and tie, while Mum had on a primrose yellow sun dress with a black blazer and skirt.

 

She also had the biggest grin on her face, as she looked at me and said “did Freddie issue the challenge?”

 

“Yeah – what are you doing,” I said, because her own dress only came down to her knees.

 

“Secret,” Mum said with a giggle as she walked to the door, Dad smiling as we walked down the path and towards the main road.

 

Unless it was absolutely bucketing with rain, the people on our side of town somehow have the tradition of walking to the church for the Good Friday service, so as we went down Freddie walked beside me – just in case I tripped of course.

 

Or at least that was his excuse – as for me, I was wondering why Mum was giggling so much as she walked along.

 

Now don’t get me wrong – I was glad she was happy, but I did wonder why she was laughing so much – as did Freddie, but he just looked the other way as I giggled myself.

 

“Hey – looking good Lou!”

 

I smiled as Fiona Kerr and her mother joined us.  Fiona was wearing a white blouse and blue skirt, with a matching jacket and heels, while her mum was wearing a green coat dress and shoes.  Both of them also had on new hats – Mum and I had passed on that this year, but they looked good in theirs.

 

“Looking good,” Mum said as she and Mrs Kerr hugged.

 

“Feeling good – shall we?”

 

“You all right,” Fiona said as she walked with me and Freddie.

 

“Just a little stiff around the knees,” I whispered as she looked at me.

 

“Oh?  OH – I heard about Cassie and her friends doing that once.”

 

“Yeah – it’s kinda fun actually,” I said as Mum started giggling again.

 

“Is your mum all right?”

 

“I think she’s just very happy for some reason,” I said as we joined more of our neighbours walking to the church – and then met up with the Cottrells.

 

They were waiting at the bottom of the lane that led to their farm – Mrs Cottrell was wearing a grey coat over a red dress and shoes, while Mr Cottrell and the boys were all wearing shirts and ties, Mr Cottrell in a suit while Mark, Eric and Frank were in blazers.

 

Frank blushed as he looked at me, and then walked over, while Eric stayed with his parents.  As for Mark, he was with Mary Holmes, who babysits with us from time to time.  She was wearing a blue denim dress and short black boots with dark tights, as she walked with her arm in Mark’s.

 

“Makes you want to be sick sometimes, doesn’t it,” Frank said quietly as we walked along.

 

“Oh I think it’s very romantic,” I said with a smile.

 

“Would you like me to hold your hand?”

 

“Yes – I’d like that very much,” I said as I took Frank’s hand, and gave it a little squeeze, looking at him and smiling as he smiled back.

 

“After the service,” Mr Cottrell said, “we’d like to invite you all back to our place for lunch, and then we can go and get our cars to head up to the Manor House together.”

 

“If it’s all right with you, I’ll head back to my place and get our car,” Dad said, “and then join you at the farmhouse.”

 

“I’ll do the same,” Mrs Kerr said, “if you don’t mind looking after the kids for a little while?”

 

“Not a problem – I’m sure the boys and Mary can keep them entertained until we have lunch.  If that’s all right with you boys?”

 

“Not a problem,” Mark said with a smile, “not a problem at all.”

 

The crowd was now growing quite large, as we approached the parish church.  Outside, Father Morgan was standing with the wooden cross, which we all touched before we went into the church and took our seats.

 

“What happens now,” Freddie said as he sat between me and Fiona – and I couldn’t help noticing both of them were holding hands as well.

 

To answer the question, the main door to the church opened, and we all stood, watching as the choir carried the cross in, and placed it at the front of the altar.  On either side of the altar were several buckets with flowers in, and I noticed something I hadn’t before – the cross was covered in green foam, like that they use in flower arranging.

 

“Let us sing our first hymn,” Father Morgan said, “There is a Green Hill Far Away...”

 

 

 

 

“The time has come for us to Dress the Cross,” Father Morgan said as we all sat down, “to signify that from the death of Jesus comes new life for all.  Children first, if you please?”

 

I nudged Freddie as we moved out from our pew, and each took one of the flowers, some of the women from the choir helping us to push the stalk of our flowers into the green foam, and then returning to our pews as others came forward.  Slowly, the dark green cross became covered on flowers of all different colours, the adults placing them higher up until finally Father Morgan placed the last flower himself.

 

“Let us now join together in our last song,” he said as he turned and looked at us, “and then go forth in silent thought.”

 

“I thought the dressing of the tree took place on Easter Sunday,” Frank said as we walked out.

 

“True,” Dad said, “but the church does not have an Easter Sunday service – they do a sunrise thing instead, so we do it today instead.”

 

“Oh – that makes sense, I think,” Frank giggled as we walked back down the road.

 

“We’ll meet you at the farmhouse in a little while,” Dad said as he and Mrs Kerr walked in one direction, and Mum walked with us in the other, giving a little giggle as she did so.

 

“Are you all right, Gail,” Mrs Cottrell asked, Mum nodding as she whispered into Franks’ Mum’s ear.  “Oh?  OH!” she said, and then giggled herself as we walked along.

 

“What on earth are they laughing about now,” Freddie asked as he walked with the rest of us.

 

“None of your business,” Mary whispered, “if they want to tell you, they’ll tell you.”

 

We soon arrived at the Cottrell farm, Trojan neighing at us from his stable as we walked to the front door.

 

“Could you give me a hand preparing lunch,” Mrs Cottrell said to Mary, who nodded as we went into the front room with Freddie, Frank and Eric.  Mark and his father said they had some chores to do, and went to get changed.

 

As I sat down, my skirt rose up a little, and Fiona laughed out loud when she saw the rope around my knees.

 

“So THAT’S why you were walking so funny?  I gotta admit, you covered it well.”

 

“Nice job Freddie,” Eric said as he looked at me.

 

“Yes it is,” Frank said with a smile, “but I think I can do better.”

 

He left the room for a minute, and then returned with some lengths of rope, one of which he quickly doubled over and used to bind my ankles tightly together.

 

“Hey – what are you playing at,” I giggled as he then folded my skirt back and tied my legs together below my knees, before he untied the other rope.

 

“Exactly what Freddie is doing to Fiona,” he said with a grin, as I turned my head and realised Fiona had her arms behind her back, and Freddie was standing behind her.

 

“Oh come on guys, can’t a girl get a break?”

 

“Not today, no,” Frank giggled as he guided my arms behind my back, and I felt the rope holding my wrists together as Freddie tied rope around Fiona’s arms and stomach, and then knelt in front of her.  I didn’t resist – to be honest, I quite liked the fact Frank was confident enough with me now to do this, as he tugged the rope tight, and then wrapped it round my waist.

 

Fiona

 

“Well,” I thought to myself as I watched Frank Cottrell wrapping rope around Louise’s arms and tummy, “looks like we’re going to be staying here a little while.”

 

At least I had got to take my hat off before this started – Mum and I like to wear the hats for the Good Friday service, given we never go on the early Easter Sunday one.  On this side of Holderness, the Easter Sunday service itself is a big open air one where all the churches come together, and Mum and I tend to avoid it.

 

Not that I had expected this would be a day any different from any other holiday, though.  I woke up early, came and had breakfast with mum, and then went to change before I called Louise up.  I was looking out of the window, smiling when I heard her say “Hello, Hobson home?”

 

“Three H in a row,” I said with a grin as I drank my milk, “nice.”

 

“Hey Fiona – what are you up to this morning?”

 

“Just finishing breakfast – you?”

 

“Same here,” I heard her say, “then we’re getting ready and going to the church.”

 

“I’ll see you there then – walking over?”

 

“Yup – the Cottrells are meeting us on the road.”

 

“Sounds good – what are you going to wear?”

 

“Walking shoes – see you in a little while.”

 

I put the phone down, and then sat to put my shoes on as Mum came in.

 

“Were you talking to Louise,” she said as she slipped her own shoes on.

 

“Yeah – they’ll meet us on the road.  Mum, why does everyone walk to the church on this one day?”

 

“Symbolism I think – it’s like the people walking to Calvary,” she said as she put her jacket on.  “Come on – jacket and hat on, and we’ll go to meet them.”

 

I nodded as I did just that, taking care to make sure it was just right.  I’m sure Mum thought I was doing it for her but...

 

Can you keep a secret?

 

I wanted Louise’s new step brother, Freddie, to see it and like what I was wearing.  He’s cute in a funny kind of way – it might be his accent, but I like being around him.  When we met on the way to the church, I could see him smiling at me, and I felt really giggly.

 

Anyway, we walked down the road, meeting up with the Cottrells and then going to the service, before we came back to the farmhouse.  I knew Louise had a real soft spot for young Frank, and Mark’s girlfriend Mary was with us as well.  Mary has been a babysitter for me a few times, and I liked her.

 

And now?  Well, right now Freddie had folded my skirt back and was tying my legs together below my knees, and when he looked up and smiled at me I felt as if little goosebumps were forming on my skin.

 

“Do you have to be so cruel to two innocent little girls,” I said in a mocking tone, Louise rolling her eyes as she looked at me.  She wasn’t fooling me for an instant, however – she was enjoying this as much as I was.

 

“What can we use to keep them quiet,” Frank said as he looked at Eric.

 

“Give me a minute,” he said as he went out, returning with – and I kid you not – two Scout kerchiefs.

 

“No, please,” Louise said in a mock scaredy cat voice, “you can’t, youmusssnnmmmm.”

 

Her cries partially silenced by the rolled up scarf that Frank pulled between her lips, I suffered the same fate, Freddie pulling the scarf into my own mouth.  Not the most effective gag in the world – but this was just a little game for all of us, so I played along and tried to struggle a little in the ropes as the three boys stood and looked at us.

 

“Eric, can you and the others go out to the greenhouse and get some tomatoes for me please?”

 

“Yeah, Mum,” Eric called back as he turned the television on.  “Back in a few minutes,” he said as the three of them headed out, leaving us to twist round as the music videos played in the background.

 

Scttscrfsss?”

 

Eknwweknwww,” Louise said as she looked at me, and then started to work her jaw and tongue, slowly pushing the scarf out.  Taking a deep breath, she looked at me and said “want to see if we can get out before they get back?”

 

I nodded and turned my back to her, watching as she dropped down to her knees and then picked at the knot holding my wrists to my back.   Once she had that undone, she then worked on the knot on the rope holding my wrists together, loosening them enough that I was able to get my hands free, and then sitting back up so that I could untie her wrists and arms.

 

“That’s better,” she said as she shook her arms and then turned so she could release me arms, “Frank is definitely getting better at that.”

 

Prblllrngnnfrmmrk,” I mumbled as my arms were freed, and I untie the scarf from my mouth.  “I didn’t know they were scouts though?”

 

“Yeah – remind me to ask Bobby about that later today,” Louise said as she removed the now slightly damp scarf from round her neck.  Reaching down, she untied her ankles, but when she went to untie her knees I said “Hold on a minute.”

 

“What?”

 

I pulled my feet up onto the seat and untied my own ankles, and then stood up, watching as the skirt just covered the band of rope.  Looking at me, Louise nodded and stood up, the skirt easily covering her own legs.

 

“Shall we,” I said as we shuffled to the door – only to stop as Mary opened it and looked at us.

 

“Roped knees?”

 

We both nodded as she said “Okay – you may want to remove them before we go anywhere.  We’re sitting down for lunch – want to come through?”

 

We both nodded as we walked to the dining room, Mum smiling at me as Louise’s parents were sitting next to each other.

 

“Boys,” Mrs Cottrell shouted out of the window, “Lunch is ready!”   She walked back to the table, giggling a little as she did so.

 

“Are you all right Linda?”

 

“Yes yes,” she said to Mum as she sat down, “just something that made me laugh.”

 

Mary was shaking her head as Mark and his father came in.  “This is a wonderful spread,” Mr Cottrell said as they sat down.  “Tomatoes?”

 

“Coming,” Mrs Cottrell said as she looked to the door, before the boys came in, Eric carrying a dish with tomatoes in.

 

“Sorry – wanted to wash them first,” he said as he put them down, and we started to pass round the plates of meat and bowls of salad items while Mr Cottrell sliced a loaf of wholemeal bread.

 

It smelt of warm yeast, and the butter melted slightly on it as I spread some on a slice.

 

“You managed to free yourselves then,” Freddie whispered to me as he handed me a bowl of lettuce.

 

“Yeah – not a bad job though,” I said with a giggle.

 

“I try my best – I bet Eric felt a little out of it though.”

 

“Give him time – I’m sure Lisa will be at the Manor house later.”

 

“Any idea where she is this morning?”

 

“Nope – but I’m sure we’ll find out later.”

 

It was a wonderful lunch, and it was nice that Freddie took really good care of me, passing me more food if I wanted it.  Frank was being just as attentive to Louise I noticed.

 

“So where is your brother today, Mary?”

 

“Eddie?  Well after he dropped me off here, he was going round to see Angela I think, and spend the day with her family.  I guess we’ll meet up again later.”

 

“Is this the first time you’ve been invited up to the Manor House,” Louise’s dad said to Mr Cottrell.

 

“No – we were invited to a birthday party there over the Christmas holidays,” Mr Cottrell replied, “we know the Craig family quite well, and Mark Williamson is my boss.”

 

“They should all be there as well,” I said as some apple pie, freshly baked, was handed round.  “Lord Holderness does seem to like having a lot of younger people around.”

 

“Well, he has a fairly large extended family of his own,” Mr Hobson said, “but yes, and given we are part of that extended family now, even in a roundabout way.”

 

“I presume Abe and Becca will be observing Seder later?”

 

“Yeah – we’ll see them tomorrow, but Sam and his family are seeing it through with them as well.”

 

“Guess they won’t be at the manor house then,” I whispered to Louise.

 

“Guess not – pity.”

 

“Cathy is going to be there as well, as their guest,” Mary said, which threw me for a minute, until I remembered Cathy was also going out with Samuel.

 

“Well, that is a real sign of her affection,” my mum said, “she’s not Jewish, is she?”

 

“No – she doesn’t really have any form of religion,” Mary said, “I guess the fact she has two mums doesn’t fit well with a lot of the established churches.”

 

“Their loss,” Mrs Cottrell said, “definitely their loss.”

 

 

 

 

“Right – everyone ready?”

 

Lunch had been over for a while, and both Louise and I had taken the chance to untie our knees and go to the bathroom before we gathered in the hallway.

 

“Mark, have you fed Trojan?”

 

“Yes – and refilled his water trough.   The chickens are back in their pen as well.”

 

“Good – just checking.  Everyone in the cars – I’ll lock the house up.”

 

As I got in with Mum, Freddie and Louise joined their parents, and the Cottrells piled into their large people carrier – and AWAY WE WENT!

 

Well, not quite the Wacky Races, but we drove round town and out towards Holderness Manor, going up the tree lined road that led to the front door.  As we pulled up, I saw the front door open, and the housekeeper to Lord and Lady Holderness come out.

 

“Welcome,” she said as she smiled at us, “Her Ladyship is in the main hall, if you would like to join her, while Miss Suzanne and Master Robert are in the library should any of you wish to join them first.”

 

“On you go,” Mum said to me, “We’ll see you later.”

 

Louise and I went with Freddie, Eric and Frank while Mark went with Mary alongside the adults, them heading down the hallway while we went through the big wooden door that led to the library.

 

“Hey there,” Bobby Holderness said as we came in, “I’m so glad you could all make it here today.”

 

“Thanks for inviting us,” I said, “so who else is...”

 

That was when we saw who was sitting on the floor, and we knew the fun was just beginning as Bobby said “open wide...”

 

 

 

Mary

 

“So this is getting serious between you and Master Cottrell, is it?”

 

“If you mean serious like you and Angie, no – but I do think of him a lot,” I said as Eddie drove me over to the Cottrell farm.  I’d accepted Mark’s invitation to spend the morning with him and the rest of his family, while Eddie himself was going from there to join his fiancée and the rest of her family.  We’d all been invited to the Manor House for the evening later, but we weren’t expected there much before three o’clock.

 

“I like Mark,” Eddie said as we drove along the road, “he’s a sensible lad.”

 

“Shouldn’t it be Mum and Dad having this talk to me,” I said with a smile.

 

“Oh they will – I just wanted you to know how I felt,” Eddie said with a grin as we pulled up outside the farmhouse.  As I got out of the car, Mark came to the door, looking at me as he said “Hi – that is a very nice dress.”

 

“Thanks,” I said with a blush.  I hadn’t really been sure what to wear, so I had on a short sleeved blue denim dress, with some dark tights and black ankle boots.

 

“Come away in,” he said as I waved to Eddie, “we’ll be ready to head off in a few minutes.”

 

“Thanks,” I said as I came in, to see Frank and Eric running up the stairs, and then we both went into the kitchen where Mr and Mrs Cottrell were sitting.

 

“Hello Mary,” Mrs Cottrell said as she stood up, “would you like some tea, it’s freshly brewed.”

 

“Thank you,” I said as I sat down, “so what’s going to happen this morning?”

 

“Well, apparently there is a tradition round here that the families walk to the church for the service,” Mark said, “so we’ll meet up with the Kerrs and the Hobsons at the main road, and walk there with them.  We’re going to invite them back here for lunch, and then we thought we’d head up together to the Manor House.”

 

“Sounds like a plan,” I said as I took the mug of tea, “and how do we keep Louise and Fiona happy between the service and lunch.”

 

“I think we can count on the boys and Freddie to help with that,” Mark said with a smile.

 

“Help with what,” Eric said as he and Frank came in.

 

“Keep Louise and Fiona occupied before lunch today.”

 

“No problem, right Frank?”

 

Frank smiled and nodded.  I know he’s really shy, but he seemed to have got used to me being around now.

 

“We need to get going if we are going to meet the others,” Mr Cottrell said as he stood up, and put his jacket on, “let’s go.”

 

We filed out of the house, waiting as Mr Cottrell closed and locked the door, and then walked down to the end of the road – just in time to meet the Hobson and Kerr families as they walked down the road.

 

As they got closer, I saw that Louise Hobson was walking slightly strangely, as if she could not move her legs properly – and as they joined us, I guessed that she really could not, given the big grin on her face.  Well, it seems to be a universal truth that when two or more of this extended group of friends meet, one or more shall end up bound in some way – but I was grateful she had enough sense to make it discrete.

 

The service was nice – if a little mixed up – but afterwards we walked back together to the Cottrell farm, Mark going over and patting Trojan’s nose as the front door was unlocked.

 

“Can you give me a hand with Lunch, Mary,” Mrs Cottrell said as we went in, the younger generation heading for the front room.

 

“Sure,” I said, “what do you want me to do?”

 

“Help me with a pot of tea first – let’s all go into the kitchen.”

 

“Mark and I need to see to the animals first – we’ll change and join you later,” Mr Cottrell said as I went with Mrs Kerr, and Mr and Mrs Hobson, into the large kitchen.

 

As they sat at the table, Mrs Hobson let out a giggle and gripped her husband’s hand.

 

“Are you all right, Gail,” Mrs Kerr said as she looked at her friend.

 

“Oh yes,” she replied, “sorry, just something rubbing me up the right way.”

 

“Oh my lord,” Mrs Cottrell said, “you really did it?”

 

“I did,” Mrs Hobson said, “have done all day.  You?”

 

“I may in a little while.  What about you, Claire?”

 

“I’ve something different going on,” Mrs Kerr said, as she smiled – and that was when I finally noticed a very low humming sound.

 

Now, I’m not naive – I know there are some things adults do not even the likes of me and the girls get up to, but as the three mothers looked at me I said “Uh-uh – Mum would have a fit.”

 

“You’ll keep our secret though?”

 

“With the tornadoes around?  No problem at all!”

 

“Thanks – we’re not the only ones doing this,” Mrs Hobson said.  “Linda, want to get ready?”

 

“Can you three sort out the meats and things then?”

 

“No problem,” Mrs Hobson said as we stood up.  “On you go.”

 

The three of us soon had meats and salads sorted out as Mrs Cottrell came back in, giggling slightly as she walked.

 

“Right – help me take these through,” she said as I looked at Mr Hobson.

 

“I know, I know – I just go with the flow,” he said as he stood up and helped as well.

 

As we laid the plates and bowls down, Mrs Cottrell looked round and then went “Ah – knew I forgot something.”  Going to the door, she called out “Eric, can you and the others go out to the greenhouse and get some tomatoes for me please?”

 

“Yeah Mum,” I heard her son call back in reply, and then we went back to the kitchen and brought more things through, the older women giggling a little as they did so.

 

“I take it you’ve never...”

 

“No Mrs Kerr – I think my mum would have a fit if she found out.”

 

She smiled as we laid out the cutlery, while Mrs Cottrell brought through some bread on a board, the steam still rising from it.

 

“Right – I’ll see where the rest of my family have got to; can one of you find Louise and Fiona for me?”

 

“I’ll take care of that,” I said as I walked to the front room, opening the door to see Louise and Fiona walking rather stiffly towards me.  That, and the assortment of ropes on the couch and floor, told me all that I needed to know.

 

“Roped knees?”

 

I watched as they both nodded, and said “Okay – you may want to remove them before we go anywhere.  We’re sitting down for lunch – want to come through?”

 

 

 

 

Stepping out of Mr Cottrell’s car at Holderness Manor, I strangely felt right at home.  I know that sounds strange, but over the last year or two this has been a big part of my life as well, because I’m friends with both Jenny and Alicia.  As we went in, Louise and Fiona ran to the library with Freddie, Eric and Frank, while Mark and I went through to the main dining room with the others.

 

“There you are,” Lady Holderness said as we came in.  “Welcome – please, come and have some tea.”  She was sitting with Lord Holderness at one of a number of round tables, His Lordship leaning on his stick and smiling as Mark and I made our way over to another table.  Big Brother Eddie was sitting there with Angela and Alicia, both of them wearing short sleeved floral print summer dresses.

 

“Hey,” Alicia said as I sat down, “how was the morning with Mark?”

 

“It was fun – interesting service, nice walk, good lunch,” I said with a smile as Mrs Bridges brought over some tea.  “What have you two been up to?”

 

“Oh not muuuuch,” Angela said as I heard her mobile phone go off, and she tried to find it in her handbag, Eddie watching as she did so.  “Hello?

 

“Lesley – no, no it’s not a bad time, what can I do for you?”

 

Both Alicia and I looked at Angela as she grinned, and then at Eddie.

 

“What?”

 

“Don’t come the innocent big bro,” I whispered, “what’s going on?”

 

“I assure you I’m doing nothing,” Eddie said as Angela giggled again.

 

“Mum’s been giggling all morning as well,” Alicia said quietly, “almost as if something was really pleasing her.”

 

“Oh lord – your mum as well?”

 

“I think they all are – watch for the signs.”

 

“And how would you know Alicia Bowden?”

 

“The more interesting question,” Alicia said as she looked at me, “is how you would know, Mary Holmes.”

 

Well, thereby hangs a tale – one involving a date with Mark, and I’m not going to say more than that.  I just smiled and said “I’ll tell you mine of you tell me yours.”

 

“Now girls,” Angela said as she looked at us, “what are you talking aBOOOUUUUUTTT.”  She yelped as her phone pinged, making us both look at each other.

 

“Why don’t we go for a walk in the grounds,” Eddie said as he helped Angela to stand up, and they went into the garden.

 

“Am I missing something,” Mark said as he looked at us.

 

“We could follow them,” Alicia said, “without them hearing us?”

 

“Hey,” Martin said as he sat down, giving Alicia a little kiss, “what’s up?”

 

“Perfect timing,” Alicia said as she stood up, “Why don’t you two come as well?”

 

We went into the kitchen, as Alicia said “We’re going to follow Eddie and Angela – but we need to be stopped from calling out.  Can you help boys?”

 

“Of course – got what we need?”

 

“I’ll get it,” Alicia said as she left the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with a bag.

 

“Where did you get that?” 

 

“Library – the younger generation are having a great time in there,” she said as she handed me a pair of socks.  We both pulled them up over our hands and arms, and then stood still as Mark and Martin crossed and bound our wrists together behind our backs.

 

As they wrapped rope around our waists, holding our wrists firmly against our backs, Mark looked over my shoulder at Martin and said “should we?”

 

“I think we should,” he said as they took a long length of rope each, and wrapped it around our bodies, pulling our arms into our sides as it sat under our chests.  I smiled as the rope went around my shoulders as well, sitting on my chest as it was pulled tighter – and looking at Alicia, I could see she was enjoying it as well.

 

As it was pulled tighter, and then the knot secured behind me as my wrists were pulled up, I looked at the other material on the table.  “Don’t secure our legs in any way,” I said, “but bring something in case we want to stop.”

 

“I’ve got them,” Mark said as he put some more ropes into a bag, and then picked up two small silk squares, handing one to Martin.

 

“Just something nice and simple,” Martin said as he pushed the cloth into Alicia’s mouth, and I felt the silk on my tongue as Mark gagged me in the same way.  I then watched as he tore a long strip of white tape from a roll, and smoothed it firmly down over my mouth as Martin tape gagged his girlfriend.

 

“Right then,” Mark said as he looked at us, “Shall we?”

 

We both nodded as Martin opened the door that led out to the large lawns, and we headed out.

 

“Now which way do you think they may have gone,” Mark said as we looked round.

 

We looked at each other as Alicia said “Dwnnbthlkpssblee?”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“I think she said down by the lakeside – I know the way,” Martin said as we started to walk to the line of trees at the bottom of the lawn.  I guess the times they had been here, it had been too dark or too cold to go to the lake, so Mark looked round as we went along the tree lined path, and emerged on the lake.

 

Well there was someone there – though not who we were expecting, and not quite how we expected them...

 

 

 

Alicia and Angela

 

“Morning sleepy head.”

 

I nodded and grunted something I meant to sound like “Thanks, Angie” as I went to the fridge and got out the orange juice, before I poured myself a glass.  It had been a bit of a restless night – I had spent far too long sitting up and watching something on the laptop, so that when my alarm went off I had found myself lying on my stomach, face in the duvet cover, and sprawled all over the bed.

 

Not the most ladylike way to wake up, I can assure you, but at least nobody else was around when I was sleeping.  The screen was still on, though, so I looked at the frozen shot of the Opernball, and then dragged myself off to the bathroom.

 

Angie was sitting at the breakfast table, her course book propped up in front of her as she made some notes on a pad beside her, taking sips from a mug of coffee as she did so.

 

“So how long until the exams start,” I said as I sat down and had my drink.

 

“Four weeks yesterday – and this is the only time I’ve got today to cram some revision in, so I’m taking every moment I can.”

 

Angie was wearing a grey vest top and shorts, and beavered away for about another quarter hour before we both heard Mum coming down the stairs with Andrew.

 

“Oh good, you’re both up,” she said as Andrew walked beside her.  “Can one of you get Andrew into his seat while I sort some breakfast for him?”

 

“If you do that, Ali,” Angie said, “I can put my books away – revision time just ran out.”

 

Fank you,” Andrew said as I lifted him into his chair, and then put some milk into a cup for him to drink.  While I did this, Angie took her books away, and then came back to help Mum sort out the breakfast dishes.

 

“How was Aunt Susan,” she said as she sat back down.

 

“Oh she’s fine – she’ll see you all later,” Mum said as she broke some eggs into a bowl.  “Your grandparents having this thing today makes it easier for her as well, given Mister and Mrs Boyle have today and tomorrow off as well.”

 

“They do,” I said, “why?”

 

“It’s Passover today as well,” Angie said as she looked at me, “so they are celebrating that.”

 

For some reason, Mum started singing “Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset...”  It took me a couple of minutes to figure out why – Martin is slowly educating me on musicals as well.

 

“Good morning,” Dad said as he came in and sat at the table.  “Scrambled eggs?”

 

“If that’s all right with everyone,” Mum said, all of us nodding as I handed Andrew a slice of toast to chew on.

 

“Oh by the way – Eddie will be here for nine,” Dad said, “he called last night.”

 

“And you didn’t tell me?”

 

“You didn’t get in until late – how was Lesley anyway?”

 

“Doing well,” Angie said as she smiled.  When it comes to Eddie Holmes...

 

“So what are our plans for this morning,” I said as Mum put a plate of eggs and toast in front of me.

 

“I thought you had an appointment with Martin?”

 

I blushed at that – I hadn’t forgotten, and I hadn’t forgotten that Angela and Eddie were coming with us.  Martin and his parents were leading what’s called a Folk Communion at the local Methodist chapel, and he’d asked if I would come and help with the singing.

 

“So you both need to eat up, wash and get ready,” Dad said, “Eddie is coming round to pick you up at about nine thirty.”

 

 

When I came down the stairs, fastening the thin gold belt around the waist of my short sleeved dress, I saw Mum playing with Andrew in the front room.

 

“Will you all be going straight up to the manor house after lunch,” she said as she looked at us.

 

“I think so,” Angie said as she came in, “even though I have no idea where we’re going to have lunch.”

 

“Eddie’s treat right?”

 

“Right,” Angie said as she slipped on her shoes – just in time for the front doorbell to ring.

 

I watched as she went to see who was there, and then saw the smile on her face as she said “Hey – Mary get dropped off all right?”

 

“She did,” Eddie said as he came in, “so are you both ready?”

 

“As ready as we’ll ever be,” she said as she gave him a kiss, “we’ll see you later Mum.”

 

“Have fun,” Mum called out as we went out to Eddie’s car.

 

“So what exactly is a Folk Communion,” Angie asked as we drove off.

 

“Just like a normal communion – but a lot less formal,” I said.  “So instead of the incense and formal chanting, we sing to guitars.  Instead of going to the altar, the bread is passed around – things like that.”

 

“Well, it sounds a pleasant way of passing an hour or two,” Eddie said with a laugh.  “So, let’s get to it.”

 

 

Holderness Methodist Church is in a modern building, with a glass front, about a mile from the town centre.  As Eddie parked the car and turned the engine off, we got out and walked through to the main chapel.

 

“Hey – there you are,” Martin said as he walked over and hugged me. It felt good to have his arms round me, and a glance at Angie told me she knew what that was.

 

“Hello Alicia,” Martin’s mother said as she looked over from where the circle of chairs met the low stage, “why don’t you come over here and we’ll run through the songs for today.”

 

“Kitchen’s through there if you two want to grab a coffee,” Martin said as Angie and Eddie disappeared, and Martin’s Dad started to play the first tune.

 

 

 

 

 

The congregation was slowly filing in, chattering to each other as they sat down while I sat with Martin and his parents.  I smiled as Rachel Rigg came in with her parents, along with Patty Pickering and her mother.  They sat in the outer circle of the chairs, as the minister came in from the side.

 

“Good morning everyone,” she said as she looked round the room, “and welcome to our Good Friday Folk Communion.  I want to give a special welcome to James and Bonita, Martin and Alicia, who will be leading us in our worship this morning.  We start with a classic hymn to a new setting – There is A Green Hill Far Away.”

 

Martin’s parents started to play on the violin and guitar as Martin and I started to sing, the congregation joining in with the verses as they got used to the new tune.

 

It was a beautiful and strangely moving service, as we sang along, and some of the congregation read the story of the crucifixion, before we all passed round the bread and the wine.  As we did this, Martin picked up his mother’s guitar and started playing while his mother and I sang a lovely song about Mary and the women at the cross.

 

When the service ended, Patty and Rachel came over to say hello.

 

“So are you coming to the Manor House later as well,” I said as I looked at them.

 

“Yeah,” Patty said with a grin, “we’re coming up with Cassie and the others later.  That was really good singing, Alicia.”

 

“Why thank you,” I said as I blushed slightly.

 

“She’s right,” Eddie said as he brought me over a cup of coffee, “you sounded wonderful up there.”

 

Now I really was blushing, as Martin put his hand on my shoulder.

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

“Happy, actually – that was a beautiful service.”

 

“Good – well, when you’re ready, Eddie and I are going to take you for lunch.”

 

“Let me finish my coffee first,” I said as I took a sip, “and I’ll be with you.”

 

“Take your time – Angela had to go to the ladies room first.”

 

 

 

“So where exactly are we going for lunch,” I asked as we walked out to Eddie’s car.

 

“Oh wherever it is, I’m sure it’ll be great,” Angie said as she held onto Eddie’s arm.  Something was certainly amusing her – and for a few minutes, I thought I knew what it was.

 

Still, there was no sign of anything under her skirt – and I soon had something else to think about, as Eddie opened the back doors of his car – and Martin took two white ribbons from his trouser pocket.

 

“Please be seated ladies,” Eddie said, “strap in, and then put your hands in front of yourselves.”

 

“Great – surprise lunch,” Angie said, but we both got in, put our seatbelts on, and then watched as our boyfriends tied our wrists together in front of us with the ribbons.

 

And let me tell you, it sounded so good to say Boyfriend...

 

Once they had done that, Eddie opened the glove compartment, and took out two white scarves as well as a roll of white medical tape.

 

“Stuff gags?”

 

“Blindfolds – and gags,” Martin said as he took one of the scarves, folded it into a band, and then tied it over my eyes.  I heard Angie giggling beside me – and the giggling was muffled, before I felt the tape over my own mouth.

 

“Right then – let’s go and have some lunch,” I heard Martin say as doors closed, an engine started, and we moved off.

 

I wasn’t sure how long we drove for, but eventually Eddie stopped the car, and then drove a short distance on.

 

Wrhrhrwww,” I mumbled as the car finally stopped, and I heard the car door open, and then someone release my seat belt.

 

“Come with me,” Eddie said as I was helped out, and walked along some sort of path, with twigs under my feet, before I was sat down.  I felt something go around my waist, and then the blindfold and gag were removed.

 

“Oh my goodness,” Angie said as we looked round, “do you know how long it has been since I was out here?”

 

“According to your father, too long,” Eddie said as he opened the basket, and laid out the lunch, “so Martin and I decided to bring you both here.”

 

“Is this the private picnic area,” I said as I looked round from my seat – it was a little difficult to get up, given the wide silk sash which was tied round my waist, holding me to the chair back, “I hardly recognise the place.”

 

“Well it has been a few years,” Angela said, and then her cell phone went off, making her grunt as she struggled to retain control.

 

“Sis?  What’s wrong?”

 

“Give... Give me a minute,” she said, as she calmed herself down.  “Let’s just say...”  She smiled a little, and said “Remember when you and Jenny babysat the kids at Fiona’s place?”

 

“Yeah,” I said, and then I grinned.

 

“No – not that, but something similar,” Angie said, “so forgive me if IIIIII.”

 

“Sorry, let me take care of that,” Eddie said as he took out his phone, and then Angie relaxed.

 

“Thanks, might have been difficult to have lunch,” she said with a sigh, “so, what have we got?”

 

“Cold chicken, salads, and a couple of bottles of Buck’s Fizz,” Martin said, “shall I pour?”

 

“Please,” I said as I looked at Angela, who was blushing like mad.

 

“Last time I saw that look,” I said quietly, “was at the weekend away, in our mums and aunts.”

 

“Yeah – same reason,” Angela finally said as she took a drink. 

 

“And that reason is?”

 

Angela just smiled and shook her head as Martin passed me a plate of food.

 

“I’ve never been here before,” he said as he looked round, “private picnic ground, you said?”

 

“Yeah – Grandfather allows people to pay a small fee to one of his charities every year, in return for which they get the access code for the summer.  It’s not quite summer yet, so we get to be the first this year.”

 

“So where’s the Manor house from here?”

 

Turning round, as much as she could, Angela pointed to some trees and said “the lake is on the other side of them.  You could walk, but there’s no clear path through.”

 

“So we shall drive,” Eddie said as he sipped his drink, “and we shall not go until we have finished this picnic lunch my mother prepared for me.”

 

“Does Mary know you’re eating out?”

 

“I would imagine right now, Mary and Mark will be sitting down to a Cottrell lunch.  Ever had one of those?”

 

I had, actually, so I knew she would be all right as a flock of sparrows flew overhead.

 

“That time of year again,” Martin said with a smile, “when the air is filled with birdsong and the call to mating.”

 

“Martin,” I said quietly, “I love you, but for goodness sake, remember we don’t all wax poetical at these sorts of things.”

 

“True, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said quietly as he sipped his drink.

 

Eventually, however, we finished lunch, and as Eddie packed the bag up Martin untied both of us from the chair.  Walking back to the car, I saw Angela giggle, and wondered what exactly it was Eddie had done.

 

 

 

 

It didn’t take us long to drive to the hall, but by the time we had got there Mum and Dad had arrived with Andrew, and were standing with Grandma and Grandfather in the main hall of the manor house. 

 

“How was lunch,” Mum said as we came in.

 

“Interesting – we’ll tell you about it later,” I said as we went and sat at a table, our parents and grandparents sitting at another one with Martin’s parents.

 

A few minutes later, Mr and Mrs Cottrell arrived with Mark and Mary, who both walked over to join us.

 

“Hey,” I said as Mary sat down, “how was the morning with Mark?”

 

“It was fun – interesting service, nice walk, good lunch,” she said with a smile as Mrs Bridges brought over some tea for them.  “What have you two been up to?”

 

“Oh not muuuuch...”

 

I could see Angela’s eyebrows rising as her mobile phone rang, and she looked in her handbag for it – and could see the grin on Eddie’s face as well.

 

“Hello?  Lesley – no, no it’s not a bad time, what can I do for you?”

 

We both looked at Angela as she grinned, and then at Eddie.

 

“What?”

 

“Don’t come the innocent big bro,” Mary whispered, “what’s going on?”

 

“I assure you I’m doing nothing,” Eddie said as Angela giggled again.

 

“Mum’s been giggling all morning as well by the look of things,” I said quietly, “almost as if something was really pleasing her.”

 

“Oh lord – your mum as well?”

 

I realised Mary knew something as well – and I had fairly good idea what, so I said cautiously “I think they all are – watch for the signs.”

 

“And how would you know Alicia Bowden?”

 

“The more interesting question,” I said as I looked at Mary, “is how you would know, Mary Holmes.”

 

She just blushed and said “I’ll tell you mine of you tell me yours,” as Angela ended the call.

 

“Now girls,” Angela said as she looked at us, “what are you talking aBOOOUUUUUTTT.”  She yelped as her phone pinged, making us both look at each other.

 

“Why don’t we go for a walk in the grounds,” Eddie said as he helped Angela to stand up, and they went into the garden.

 

“Am I missing something,” Mark said as he looked at us.

 

“We could follow them,” I said, “without them hearing us?”

 

“Hey,” Martin said as he came from where his parents were sitting and sat down, giving me a little kiss, “what’s up?”

 

“Perfect timing,” I said as I stood up, “Why don’t you two come as well?”

 

We went into the kitchen, as I said “We’re going to follow Eddie and Angela – but we need to be stopped from calling out.  Can you help boys?”

 

“Of course – got what we need?”

 

“I’ll get it,” I said as I left the kitchen, and made my way to the library.  Why the library?  Because that was where I had seen my wonderful cousin Robert heading when I came in, and as I knocked on the door I could hear that at least two other people were having fun in there.

 

“Hey,” Bobby said as he opened the door, “what can I do for you, O cousin of mine?”

 

“I need supplies for two, if you can spare them.”

 

“Come in,” he said as he opened the door, and I saw Louise, Fiona and Suzie sitting on the floor.

 

“Having fun,” I said as I looked at them, all three nodding as Bobby put some material in a bag for me.

 

“There you go – what’s this for?  I thought the main...”

 

“Ix-nay on the Prise-suray,” I said to Bobby as I left and closed the door to the library behind me.

 

“Hey – where is everyone?”

 

I looked up to see Patty and Rachel standing there, as Mr Bridges welcomed the Craigs to the Manor house.

 

“Well, Louise and Fiona are in there with Suzie,” I said as I looked to the Library door, “why don’t you go and say hello to them.”

 

As they went into the Library, Mrs Craig and Cassie took the twins into the main hall.

 

“I’ll catch up with you later,” I whispered to Cassie as we walked through, “Where’s Jenny?”

 

“No idea – she’s coming later with Colin,” Cassie said as I went straight to the kitchen, bag in hand.

 

“Where did you get that?” 

 

“Library – the younger generation are having a great time in there,” I said as I handed Mary a pair of socks and started to pull one over my own hands.

 

A few minutes later, suitable bound and silenced, complete with the extra band, Mark looked at both of us and said “Right then, shall we?”

 

We all stepped outside and made our way down to the path that leads to the lake

 

We both nodded as Martin opened the door that led out to the large lawns, and we headed out.

 

“Now which way do you think they may have gone,” Mark said as we looked round.

 

We looked at each other as I said “Dwnnbthlkpssblee?”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“I think she said down by the lakeside – I know the way,” Martin said as we started to walk to the line of trees at the bottom of the lawn.  I guess the times they had been here, it had been too dark or too cold to go to the lake, so Mark looked round as we went along the tree lined path, and emerged on the lake.

 

And when we emerged, the people already there were taken completely by surprise, as the young man said “Err – there’s a perfectly good explanation for this...”

 

 

 

Patty

 

“Good morning sleepy head,” Mum said as I came into the kitchen, “and where is Rachel?”

 

“She’ll be down in a minute – she’s just in the toilet,” I said as I sat down and poured myself some cereal.  Rach had stayed over, because her parents were going to a service out of town last night and weren’t due back until later, but we were going to join them at their church for the morning service, have lunch with them and then head to this big party up at Wissenden Hall.

 

“There you go – good morning Rachel,” Mum said as she handed me a glass of orange juice, and Rachel came in, rubbing her eyes as she said “good morning Mrs Pickering – can I have some fruit juice as well please?”

 

“Of course you can,” Mum said as I passed the cereal over to her, and she poured some into a bowl for herself.  As she walked over, I noticed that Mum seemed to be a bit stiff in the way she walked.

 

“Are you all right Mum?”

 

“Yes, yes – just breaking in my new shoes,” she said as she looked at me.  She was wearing an open necked blouse and brown trousers with the new shoes, so I just shrugged and got on with the important business of eating.

 

She sat down and had some toast and coffee, before she looked at the clock.  “Okay – you have thirty minutes to get washed and dressed before we need to head off.  Hurry up now!”

 

We both ran upstairs and had a shower, before getting changed.  I put on a pair of grey trousers and a short sleeved blouse, while Rachel had this grey jersey dress with black shoes.

 

Anyway, we finished dressing, both put our glasses on, and headed downstairs where Mum was waiting by the front door.

 

“Okay – coats on girls,” she said as she opened the door, and then giggled, “we need to be on our way.”

 

As we ran out to Mum’s VW, I looked back and saw her lock the door, giggling again before she used the remote to unlock the car doors, and we clambered into the back.

 

The church Rachel and her parents go to, from the way she described it, was an old building, but when we got to this modern glass fronted one she looked at me and said “Surprise.”

 

Even when we went in, there weren’t any pews, but the seats were organised in two circles around the stage – and on that stage were Alicia with her boyfriend and his family.

 

“Hello Jessica.”

 

“Kerry, Clive,” Mum said as she hugged Rachel’s parents, “thank you for the invitation today.  How was the event last night?”

 

“Long and boring,” Mister Rigg said as he hugged Rachel, “but it was one of those things we have to be seen to attend.  Anyway, this morning should be more

relaxing.”

 

Rachel had told me it was called a Folk Communion – well, there were a lot of folk around, so I guess that was a good name for it.  We sat in the outer circle as the service began, the music led by Martin’s family and Alicia.

 

She really does have a very good singing voice as well, so when the service was over we walked over to say hello.

 

 

“So are you coming to the Manor House later as well,” Alicia said as she looked at us.

 

“Yeah,” Patty said with a grin, “we’re coming up with Cassie and the others later.  That was really good singing, Alicia.”

 

“Why thank you,” she said as she blushed slightly, before Mum called us over to join her.  A few minutes later, we got back into the Beetle and drove over to Rachel’s house.

 

When we walked into the front room, Mister Rigg said “Well, I’ll start cooking lunch.  I’m sure the four of you will find a way to amuse yourselves.”

 

“Your father cooks?”

 

“My father is a chef,” Rachel said, “of course he cooks.  So what are we going to do, Mum?”

 

“Mum?”

 

“Sorry,” Mrs Rigg said as she looked at us, giggling, “we were just discussing something, and weren’t listening.”

 

“Honestly, Mum,” I said, “when you start talking, a robber could come in and you would not notice until it was too late.”

 

“Oh I think I’d notice,” Mum said with a smile, as Rachel and I looked at each other – before we disappeared from the room for a minute.

 

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

 

“I don’t know – are you thinking that soup smells nice?”

 

It was all I could do not to give Rachel a slap up the head before she grinned and said “yeah – but nothing heavy, all right?”

 

 

 

A few minutes later, we came back in to hear Rachel’s mum say “Well, all right – but don’t tell Clive.”

 

“All right ladies,” I said from under the scarf I had tied over my face, “this is a robbery.  Both of you, put your hands up.”

 

“Oh my,” Mrs Rigg said as she looked at both of us, holding water pistols and our faces covered by the scarves, “we’d better do as they say, Jessica.”

 

“Please, don’t hurt us,” Mum said as I grinned under the wool.

 

“Hands together in front of you,” I said to her, and as she did so I took some rope and started to tie her wrists tightly together, and then pulled them down and used the other end of the rope to tie her ankles together.

 

“Take care of the other woman,” I said as I passed Rachel the second length of rope, watching as she bound her mother’s wrists and ankles.  Mrs Rigg was wearing a blue coat dress with a brown leather belt round her waist, so Rachel took very good care to make sure she was comfortable.

 

“Please,” Mrs Rigg said with a giggle, as Mum tried not to laugh, “just take what you want and go.”

 

“We will – once we keep you quiet,” I said as I held up two of Mrs Rigg’s headscarves.  Folding them into bands, we stood behind our mothers and tied them over their mouths – not really effective gags, but they would get the job done.

 

“Right, let’s go and have a look around,” Rachel said as we left them on the chairs, and went out of the room.

 

“Your mum doesn’t mind,” I whispered to Rachel as we went up the stairs.

 

“Not really – if it’s kept simple,” Rachel said as we went to her room, “after that last time with the big house, it helps her understand what happened.”

 

“I can get that,” I said as we sat and talked for a  little while, before there was a knock on the door.

 

“Lunch is ready,” Mrs Rigg said as she looked in.  “We managed to free ourselves fairly easily in the end.”

 

“Okay mum – no hard feelings?”

 

“No – none at all,” Mrs Rigg said, as we all went downstairs and had some soup and salads.

 

 

 

As we finished the main meal, the telephone rang, Mister Rigg going to answer it.  When he came back, he said “that was John Craig – they’re going to head up in half an hour or so?”

 

“Gives us enough time to wash up before we need to head off if we’re arriving at the same time,” Mrs Rigg said as she stood up.

 

“Let me help you, please...”

 

“Oh no Jessica,” Rachel’s dad said with a smile, “you and the girls go into the front room and we’ll join you shortly.”

 

As we went in, I said “What have the others been doing this morning?”

 

“Various things,” Mum said with a smile as we sat down.  “We’ll be on our way soon, so don’t worry?”

 

I watched her as she wriggled in the seat, smiling until she saw I was looking at her, and then stopping.  It wasn’t too long before I was with Mum in my car, and Rachel with her parents, and we were driving up the familiar road to Holderness Manor.

 

When we arrived, we saw Cousin Cassie getting out of her parent’s SUV, and then taking one of the car seats from her mother.

 

“Hey there,” I said as we walked up, “where’s Jenny?”

 

“Coming later I think – Colin called for her earlier this morning,” Cassie said as Mister Bridges stood in the open doorway to greet us.

 

Walking into the entrance hall, I saw Alicia coming out of the library with a bag.

 

“Hey – where is everyone?”

 

She looked up to see us standing there, as the Craigs, Mum and Rachel’s parents came in.

 

“Well,” Alicia said with a big smile, “Louise and Fiona are in there with Suzie.”  She looked to the library door, and said “why don’t you go and say hello to them.”

 

We nodded and went straight in – to see first Bobby Holderness, as well as Freddie Hobson, Frank and Eric Cottrell standing there.

 

“Well now, look who’s arrived,” Bobby said with a smile, “say hello, girls.”

 

Hlllgrls.”

 

We looked down then to see Louise, Fiona and Suzie all sitting cross legged on the floor.  Louise had a white skirt over grey leggings and a blouse, Fiona a blouse and skirt, while Suzie was wearing a pink short sleeved dress.  But all three had their arms behind their backs, with ropes around their waists, tummies and shoulders, their ankles pinned together with more rope, and white tape over their mouths.

 

“Open wide,” Freddie said as he held two sponge balls in his hands, “we have instructions to keep all the youngsters in one place until everyone is here.”

 

“He’s right,” Bobby said as I felt him pulling my arms behind my back, and starting to bind my wrists together with the rope, “and you know how we like to make sure we do what we’re told, don’t you?”

 

“I suppose Cassie knows all about this?”

 

“No,” Bobby said as I felt the rope go between my wrists, “where is she?”

 

“Helping her mummmwfthtwns,” Rachel said as Freddie pushed the sponge into her mouth.

 

“Well, we’ll get her in a few minutes,” Bobby said as I felt the rope around my arms and stomach, and then the sponge filling my mouth, “once we have you nice and comfy...”

 

And so we were made nice and comfy, arms snugly tied, legs secured, gagged – while I watched Bobby slip out of the library...

 

 

Suzie

 

“There you are,” Mum said as I came into the drawing room, “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to get up.”

 

Well, it wasn’t that late – but as I watched Mum feeding Lucy, I figured arguing with her was probably not the best move.  So I made my way into the dining room, where Dad and Bobby were already having their breakfast.

 

“Hey Suzie,” Dad said as I sat down, “fancy a lie-in?”

 

“It’s not even nine o’clock yet,” I said as I helped myself to some Cheerios.  “I’ve got enough time to get changed before we join everyone at Holderness Church.”

 

“Especially if you eat that quickly,” Mum said as she came in.

 

“Where’s the newest member of our family?”

 

“Having a post-breakfast nap.  So, best of behaviour from both of you today, all right?”

 

“Now mum,” Bobby said as he finished his mug of tea, “when have we ever not been on our best behaviour at the Manor House?”

 

Dad merely smiled and shook his head as Mrs Boyle brought in some plates with scrambled eggs and salmon.  She was wearing a light blue dress, and seemed a little more nervous than usual.

 

“How are the preparations for tonight going, Rebecca?”

 

“Well, I think I have everything ready to begin cooking,” she said, “but with Sam and my parents coming, it should be all right.”

 

At any other time, Mister and Mrs Boyle would be coming up to the manor house to help out, but it was Passover today, so they technically had the rest of today and tomorrow off – and Mrs Boyle’s family were coming to spend the day with them and share a special meal tonight.

 

Cathy Harmer was also coming to join them - she and Samuel, Mrs Boyle’s brother, are really sweet on each other, and she was going to meet his parents for the first time.

 

“All right then,” Dad said as he stood up and wiped his chin, “I want to be ready to go by ten, so that we’re at the church on time.”  He walked over behind Mum, and I heard him say “You sure you’re going to be able to do this?”

 

Mum nodded as she looked at me, and then back at Dad.  “Oh – yeah,” he said quietly as he went upstairs, both Bobby and me looking at Mum as she smiled.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Nothing, nothing,” Bobby said as we grinned at each other, and finished our breakfast.

 

 

A little while later, I was sitting in my room when my mobile phone went off.  Unusual in itself, given I only use it for emergencies as a rule – but this time it was one Cassandra Paulette Craig, best friend and number one girl for my big brother.

 

“Hey Cassie,” I said as I answered the call, “you on your way to the church?”

 

“Just getting changed – listen, what are you wearing?

 

“My new pink dress.  You?”

 

“I got a new dress last week – cornflower blue, short sleeves, so I’m putting that on.  Just wanted to make sure we weren’t wearing the same thing.”

 

“Seen Lisa yet this morning?”

 

“She’s just waving now from the car.  We’ll see her there – and don’t worry, she’s got a green dress on.”

 

“Excellent.  Right, I’ll see you in a little while.”

 

“See you there,” I say as I ended the call, and then sat down to put my shoes on.  Standing up, I went out of my room and down the stairs to find Mrs Boyle talking to an older couple.  The man was tall, with greying hair, and had a little black skull cap on, while he wore a dark suit and tie with his white shirt.  Next to him was a brown haired woman in a blue dress, with a dark blue cardigan on, but if you took her glasses off she looked enough like Mrs Boyle to know this was her mother.

 

“Ah – Mister Holderness,” Mrs Boyle said as Dad came out of the kitchen, “may I introduce my grandparents.  This is Alexander Holderness, my employer.”

 

“A pleasure,” Dad said as he shook their hands.  “We are honoured that you were able to join Rebecca and Abraham for this special day.  May I ask where Samuel is?”

 

“He stepped outside for a moment,” Mrs Boyle said as Samuel came in with Cathy.  Cathy was wearing a white blouse with a small lace collar, a long pleated skirt with a floral print and a white lace hem, and black ankle boots.

 

Grandmomma, Grandpoppa, this is Cathy,” Samuel said as they shook her hand.

 

“It is a real pleasure to meet you,” Cathy said.

 

“And to meet you,” his mother said as she took her by the arm, “why don’t we three woman go through and have some coffee.”

 

“Isaac,” Mister Boyle said as he came from the main room, “Welcome to my place of work.  Why don’t you and Samuel come with me, and I’ll give you both the grand tour.”

 

As they walked off, Mum came down and placed Lucy in the car seat, as Dad picked up the changing bag.

 

“Right – into the car, and let’s get going,” Dad called out as Bobby carried Lucy out, and we climbed into the back, Mum sitting between us.  That was a moment when I realised something – when we were sitting down, Mum and I seemed to be the same height.

 

“All right, let’s get to the church on time,” Dad said as we set off down the driveway.

 

 

When we parked outside the church, I saw Aunt Anne and Uncle Simon getting out of the car with Andrew.  “Hello,” I said as I got out, “where are Angela and Alicia?”

 

“Alicia is helping out with a service at Rachel Rigg’s church, so Angela and Eddie have gone with her,” Uncle Simon said as he locked the car.  “Shall we?”

 

As we went into the church, I saw Cassie and her family sitting in two pews, and then I blushed as I saw Brian Hampton sitting with his uncle and aunt.  Brian smiled back, which made me blush more, and earned me a dig in the ribs from Brian.

 

The service itself was mercifully short, but as we headed out to the cars I heard Mister Hampton say “Simon, can you do us a favour?”

 

“Sure,” Uncle Simon said, “what is it?”

 

“Well, can you give Brian a lift to the Manor House?  I need to go and pick something up from home, and it would be a big help to us.”

 

“Sure – get in,” he said, and I stopped myself from having a little giggle as we went up to the house.  I’d noticed something else – both Aunt Annie and Mum seemed to be giggling a lot today, and I was wondering why.

 

I never found out as we got to the Manor House, and we were greeted by Grandma and Grandfather.

 

“Listen,” Grandma said with a little laugh as we came in, “Lunch is going to be a little while, so why don’t you come and have a drink for the moment.”

 

We went through to the large dining room, where Mister and Mrs Bridges had laid out some drinks.

 

“Robert,” Grandfather said as I went to get a drink, “a word please.”

 

As he took Big Brother into a corner, I took my drink and looked out of the window.

 

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes it is,” I said to Brian as he stood next to me.  “Want to go for a walk after lunch?”

 

“If we’re allowed to,” I said quietly, “why?”

 

“I just want to go for a walk with you,” Brian said with a smile as Mister Boyle said “Lunch is served.”

 

Lunch was actually some steak with all the trimmings, as we talked about our plans for the weekends – but the real fun began after lunch, when Bobby said “Brian – got a few minutes?”

 

I watched them walk out of the room before I heard Grandma, Mum and Aunt Anne laughing.

 

“What on earth...”

 

Shaking my head, I made my excuses and then walked to the downstairs toilet, because I really needed to.  So when I stepped out, the last thing I expected was to be grabbed from behind, and as I started to say “wha...” for a sponge ball to be pushed into my mouth, or feel a hand over my mouth as I was pulled backwards into the library.

 

“Right – let’s make a start.”

 

I saw Bobby walk in front of me, a strip of the special white tape in his hands, and as soon as the hand over my mouth was taken away he pressed and smoothed the tape over my lips.

 

“We’ve been asked to keep you and some of the others entertained in here,” Bobby said as Brian pulled my wrists behind my back, crossed them and started to tie them together. 

 

Hgrrttt,” I said, but my lips under the tape made a smile as Brian secured my arms to my side, as well as my wrists to my back, and I was made to sit down on the floor with my legs crossed, while Bobby tied my ankles tightly together.

 

“Right then,” Bobby said as he passed a toy radio to Brian, “you go up to the playroom, let me know when the others arrive.”

 

“Roger that,” Brian said, before he gave me a little kiss on the cheek and went out of the room.

 

“He really does like you doesn’t he,” Bobby said, smiling as I nodded and wondered who would be next to join me.

 

That was a question I soon got answered, as Bobby listened to his radio, and then grinned at me as the door to the library opened.

 

“Hey there,” Bobby said as the group came in, “I’m so glad you could all make it here today.”

 

I looked up to see Louise and Fiona standing there, along with Freddie, Frank and Eric.

 

“Thanks for inviting us,” Fiona said, “so who else is...”   She then saw me sitting on the floor, mumbling “Srrprss” as Bobby said “open wide...”

 

 

Nfffmmssufgtssntt,” Louise mumbled ten minutes later, as Eric tied her crossed ankles together, while Freddie took care of Fiona.

 

“So what’s going on,” Frank said as he stood with my darling brother.

 

“We’ve been asked to keep the girls in here – I’m not quite sure why, Grandmother wouldn’t tell me, just that we have to keep them in here.”

 

Louise and Fiona both looked at me, but I just shrugged my shoulders as we settled in.  I really had no idea what was going on – and I wasn’t sure if Bobby was hiding something from me.

 

So when there was a knock on the door, and Bobby opened the door, saying “hey, what can I do for you, O cousin of mine?” I wondered who it was.

 

“I need supplies for two, if you can spare them.”

 

I recognised Alicia’s voice as Bobby said “Come in,” allowing Alicia to come in and see us while he loaded some ropes, cloth and tapes into a bag.

 

“Having fun,” she said as she looked at us, all of us nodding as Bobby handed the bag over.

 

“There you go – what’s this for?  I thought the main...”

 

“Ix-nay on the Prise-suray,” Alicia whispered as she left and closed the door to the library behind her.  What surprise?

 

Any thoughts about what was going on were pushed to the side as the library door opened again, and we saw Patty and Rachel come in.

 

 “Well now, look who’s arrived,” Bobby said with a smile, “say hello, girls.”

 

Hlllgrls.”

 

As they looked at us, Freddie picked up two sponge balls and said “Open wide - we have instructions to keep all the youngsters in one place until everyone is here.”

 

“He’s right,” Bobby said as he pulled Patty’s arms behind her back, and started to tie her wrists together, “and you know how we like to make sure we do what we’re told, don’t you?”

 

“I suppose Cassie knows all about this?”

 

“No,” Bobby said as he worked on Patty, “where is she?”

 

“Helping her mummmwfthtwns,” Rachel said as Freddie pushed the sponge into her mouth.

 

“Well, we’ll get her in a few minutes, once we have you nice and comfy...”

 

Ten minutes later, there were five of us sitting cross legged and squirming around as Bobby left the library.

 

“Wonder when he’s going to tell us what’s going on,” Frank said as he looked at Freddie.

 

“Honestly,” Freddie said, “if I have learned one thing about the Holderness parties, it’s to expect the unexpected.”

 

“Really?  Just what else could...

 

The library door opened up, and when I looked up I expected to see Bobby coming back in with Cassie, probably already half bound and gagged.

 

Well, I was half right – the girl who came in was indeed tape gagged, and her wrists were tied behind her back, but it wasn’t Cassie – unless she changed her mind and put on Lisa’s green dress.

 

“Hey there,” Charlie said as he came in and closed the door, “Bobby asked me to make sure Big Sis here joined you girls.”

 

Hllthrr,” Lisa mumbled through the tape covering her mouth, and I could see that she had something filling her mouth as Charlie took more rope, and made sure her arms stayed secure to her body.

 

Jstrrffd?”

 

Lisa nodded as she sat next to us, and then watched as Charlie secured her legs as well.  He then stood with the others, watching as Bobby brought Cassie in.

 

“Great – at least I ate before I came here,” she said before she too was bound and gagged, and we were sitting in a line.

 

 

“Now then,” Bobby said as he sat in front of us, “I imagine you would like to know what is going on, wouldn’t you?”

 

Ufknsss,” I mumbled as I looked at my darling brother.

 

“Well, we’re going to leave you in here,” he said as he looked at the others, “once you have managed to get yourselves free, then you need to come as a group into the main hall.  See you later.”

 

Motioning to the others, Bobby stood up and left us alone in the room, looking at each other.

 

Prreppp?”

 

Preep,” Cassie said as she turned her back to me, Patty and Rachel turned their backs to each other, and Lisa shuffled over to help Louise and Fiona.  One thing was uppermost in our minds, as we got to work.

 

What the heck was this surprise?

 

 

 

Jenny

 

“Cassie, have you finished in the bathroom yet?”

 

“I’m done,” Cassie called down the stairs as I finished my cup of tea, and then ran up to get washed and changed.  I was in a little bit of a rush, it was true – but I had a very good reason. 

 

Normally I would be going with the rest of the family to the church service, but not today.  Last night Colin and I had been talking on the phone, and then Aunt Cassie had rang me – so I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, if you want to put it that way.

 

So I went and showered, and then dried myself off, before I put on a white blouse and a black trouser suit, as well as a pair of black ankle boots.  I even took a few minutes to put some lipstick on, before there was a knock on the door, and I heard Dad call up “Jenny?  Colin’s here.”

 

“Thanks Dad,” I said as I slung a handbag over my shoulder and came down the stairs, as Mum looked out from the kitchen.

 

“You’ll be all right making your own way up to the Manor House when you’re finished,” Dad said as I went out.

 

“I’ve got it in hand, Mister Craig,” Colin said as he took my arm.  “So, how are you this morning?”

 

“The better for seeing you,” I said as I gave him a kiss on the cheek.  “I take it Bobby is going with his parents?”

 

“Oh yes,” Colin said, “Mary has gone with Mark and Cathy is spending the day at Wissenden Hall – word is Sam’s grandparents are visiting as well.”

 

Oy vey – if you’ll forgive the phrase,” I said with a giggle.  “So how are we going to get to Aunt Cassie’s house?”

 

“By Taxi – I got it to wait,” Colin said as he opened the rear door of the waiting cab.  “Shouldn’t take us long to get there.”

 

 

 

“Hey there,” Doctor Frost said as she opened the front door to the house, “come away in, and I’ll make you both a coffee.”

 

“Thanks,” I said as I walked in, and then looked at – well, I guess she really is Aunt Jo, but I still think of her at times as the teacher and not Aunt Cassie’s wife.  We made our way into the front room and sat down as she made her way to the kitchen, and then brought two mugs through.

 

She was wearing a long white skirt and a short sleeved smock top, with a wide brown leather belt around her waist, and sighed as she sat herself down.

 

“Hey,” Aunt Cassie said as she came in and slowly sat down,” thanks for calling round.”

 

“No problem – although I don’t quite understand why you wanted us to call here this morning,” I said as I sipped my coffee.  Unusually for her, Aunt Cassie was wearing a long skirted dress, with short sleeves and a thin black leather belt.

 

“Well, we want you and Colin to run a little errand for us – but the place you need to go to is Ahhhhh.”

 

“Aunt Cassie.”

 

“Sorry,” Aunt Jo said, “What Cassie is trying to say is...”

 

“Sorry Aunt Jo – are you and Aunt Cassie wearing something else under your skirt or dress?”

 

My aunts looked at each other and nodded as I said “and the other adults?”

 

“Yes – but don’t tell Cassie or the others,” Aunt Jo said.  “Now, we need you to pick up a cake from the bakers after eleven, and then head straight up to the Manor House from there.  I’ll give you the money for it.”

 

“Okay,” Colin said, “what am I... Oh.  Now I get it.”

 

“I thought you might – and sorry Jenny,” Aunt Cassie said.  “Anyway, if you can do that for us, you get to have some time together on your own up there before the rest of us arrive.”

 

“Sounds good to me,” I said, “Got any chocolate biscuits?”

 

“Okay, I get it now,” Colin said as he shook his head, “age restrictions and all that.”

 

Shaking my head, I watched as Aunt Cassie brought through the plate of biscuits, and then sat down.

 

“So what are the rest of your gang doing this morning,” Aunt Jo asked.

 

“Alicia is helping out at a church service, Mary has gone to spend the day with the Cottrells, and Cathy...”

 

“Cathy is up at Wissenden Hall – she’s meeting the rest of Sam’s family,” Martin said as he picked up a biscuit.”

 

“Oh so Cathy and her mums are going to miss out on the fun?”

 

“What fun?”

 

My two aunts looked at each other, and then said “Well, if you can promise to keep a secret...”

 

 

 

 

 

“Order for Craig?  Yeah – hang on a minute.”

 

Colin and I waited at the counter as the assistant went out back, and then returned with three boxes.

 

“Are you going to be all right carrying them?”

 

“If you don’t mind us waiting here while I call a taxi, we’ll be fine,” I said as Colin took his mobile phone out.

 

“No problem – I’ll tie these together,” the assistant said as I watched her use some ribbon to secure them.  We waited inside for a few minutes before the taxi arrived, then I held the door open as Colin placed the boxes in the middle of the back seat, and we sat either side.

 

“Holderness Manor,” I said as the car set off, and we sat back, holding hands on top of the boxes.

 

It was about five to eleven when we arrived at the Manor House, to be greeted by Mrs Bridges at the door.  “Ah good – thank you for bringing this up,”

 

“No problem,” I said as Colin carefully lifted the boxes out of the car and handed them over.

 

“Come on in and have something to drink,” she said as she carried them inside, so Colin and I followed her in, and then to the kitchen.

 

As we sat at the table, we watched Mrs Bridges put the boxes down, and then say “Listen – I need to do something to say thank you for bringing this here today.  Why don’t I fix both of you a little picnic, and you can go down and enjoy it down by the lake.”

 

“That sounds wonderful – thank you Mrs Bridges,” I said as she handed us each a mug of coffee.

 

 

 

“You’ve got to admit, it is a nice day for a picnic,” Colin said as we made our way down the path, and through the trees that sat between the manor house and the lake.  He was carrying the picnic basket, as well as a bag with some other things  in it, while I had a rug that Mrs Bridges had let us borrow under one arm.

 

“Yeah – it turned out nice today,” I said with a smile as we passed the small white cross, and eventually came onto the lawn by the side of the lake.  Walking a bit further on, I then laid the blanket down on the ground and sat while Colin opened the basket, and handed me a plate and glass.

 

“According to Mrs Bridges, nobody is meant to be coming down here, so we have the whole area to ourselves until we need to head back up,” Colin said.  “Care for some pie and salad?”

 

“Why thank you,” I said with a smile as he put some food on the plate, and we sat, and ate, and talked.  The sun was above us, and some ducks were swimming gently on the lake as we watched them.

 

“So do you think Sam and Cathy are getting serious,” Colin said as he sipped some apple juice.

 

“Yeah – why else would she agree to spend the day up there instead of coming here,” I said as I lay back and looked up into the sky.  “After all, this is an important day in the year for Sam and his family.”

 

“That’s true,” Colin said as he leaned over and gently kissed me on my lips.

 

“Hmmm – that was nice,” I said with a smile, “what else were you planning to do?”

 

“Well, we did bring some things with us – what do you say?”

 

I smiled and nodded, getting onto my knees and putting my hands behind my back, while Colin took some rope from the other bag and crossed my wrists.  I let out a little sigh as he tied my wrists tightly together, making sure he passed the rope between my arms as well, and then flexed my fingers as he took some more rope out of the bag.

 

“So, my wonderful and lovely captive, what exactly am I going to do with you?”

 

“Oh I don’t know – it’s not as if I can stop you now,” I giggled as he passed the rope around my body, and I felt it tighten under my chest, my arms gently forced into my side.

 

“Well, Mrs Bridges did say nobody was going to come down here – how adventurous are you feeling?”

 

I smiled and then leaned back to let Colin kiss me, before saying “I trust you – just promise me you’ll let me lie still when we’re done.”

 

“I’ll put a cushion on my lap – you can rest your head there while I read.”

 

“Sounds good,” I said with a smile, as Colin took the rope over the top of my chest now, and I felt the two bands pressing on me as he made several more passes and then tied it off.  He then took another length of rope around my waist, pinning my wrists against my back as well as...

 

Well, anyway, I liked what he did, as I opened my mouth and let him push a folded cloth in, and then a knotted thin scarf to keep that in place.  I giggled as he tore the end of a roll of medical tape free, and then wrapped it around my head, before he helped me to lie down on the blanket.

 

I crossed my ankles and watched as he tied them together, and then secured my legs below the knees, wriggling round a little to get comfortable before he pulled my ankles back, and tied them to my chest ropes.  Sitting himself down, he put a cushion on his lap, and helped me to move up and rest my head on there before taking a copy of the book we had been reading together out and finding a place to start.

 

"Here we are,” he said as he looked at me, ‘When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'me.’"

 

As he read, I slowly closed my eyes, allowing myself to relax as Colin kept reading, not realizing what was happening as I slowly drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

“Ah – er, I guess you might be wondering what is going on here.”

 

Colin’s sudden comment made me open my eyes and look at him.

 

“Jenny, I think you had better roll over – we have company.”

 

I rolled over and lifted my head, then I swear I knew I was going bright red as I saw Mary and Alicia standing there with Mark Cottrell and Martin.  Mary was wearing a blue denim dress, dark tights and ankle boots, while Alicia was wearing a short sleeved summer dress with a thin belt.

 

I could see them looking at us, their eyes wide open over the white tape covering their mouths, and then they started giggling as Martin said “Oops – if you’d prefer, we can...”

 

“Ah, what’s the point – come and join us.  We’ve got another bottle of something in here and we can all have a drink.”

 

“Well, that sounds fun,” Mark said, “but perhaps...”

 

“Oh – oh yeah,” Colin said as he removed some ropes, and I was able to sit up while he ungagged me.

 

“Yeah – well, what can I say,” I said when I could while Alicia and Mary were helped to sit beside me, Colin moving while Mark and Martin secured their ankles and legs before removing their gags.

 

“I don’t think there is a lot you can say,” Alicia finally giggled, “except to tell us you liked it.”

 

“That obvious?”

 

“You didn’t see my darling brother and Angela pass this way did you,” Mary said as Mark held a cup of juice to her lips, and she took a drink.

 

“Nope – although I did doze for a while there.  Did they come past Colin?”

 

“I’m afraid not – and listen, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything about...”

 

“Hey – if we’re right, all our mothers and aunts are probably enjoying something similar right now.”

 

“Yeah I know – Aunt Cassie kind of gave the game away.”

 

“Well, some of them have something else going on.”

 

“I guessed that too – what made you realise?”

 

“Angie,” Alicia said, “there’s something making her very happy.”

 

I laughed and shook my head as I said “remember the weekend Alicia?”

 

“Oh yeah – I think they’re keeping Cassie and the others out of the way for that reason.”

 

“So, let’s sit here for a while, and then head back – Lady Holderness told me what is planned, and we need to be back for that.”

 

­“Oh yeah,” I said as I looked at Mary, “and what exactly is planned?”

 

“A Battle Royale in a way – you’ll find out later.”

 

Alicia was looking at both of us, and then at the boys, before she said “do you think we dare?”

 

“No way,” I said, “I’m not sure we could keep quiet about it anyway.”

 

“Probably not,” Colin said, “but maybe another night?”

 

 

 

Cassie

 

“I’m done,” I shouted down to Jenny as I ran from the bathroom to my room, and started to dry myself off. 

 

I heard Jenny running the shower as I started to get dressed in my new dress.  It was cornflower blue, with short sleeves and a knee length skirt, but unlike a lot of my older dresses it didn’t have a round neck or a collar, but a little v-necked opening instead.

 

As I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought I looked really cute, and I also thought Bobby would like it – but then the age old problem of dresses clashing came to mind.  One that would only be answered by a quick phone call.

 

 “Hey Cassie,” I heard Suzie Holderness say as I looked out of the window, and saw Jenny get into a taxi with Colin Hampton, “you on your way to the church?”

 

“Just getting changed – listen, what are you wearing?

 

“My new pink dress.  You?”

 

“I got a new dress last week – cornflower blue, short sleeves, so I’m putting that on.  Just wanted to make sure we weren’t wearing the same thing.”

 

“Seen Lisa yet this morning?”

 

Out of the window, I could see Lisa getting into her car with Charlie and her parents.  She looked up at me, smiled and waved before she got in and closed the door.

 

“She’s just waving now from the car.  We’ll see her there – and don’t worry, she’s got a green dress on.”

 

“Excellent.  Right, I’ll see you in a little while.”

 

“See you later,” I said as I ended the call, just in time for Mum to call up “Cassie, come and have a drink.”

 

“Coming Mum,” I called out as I went down to the kitchen, and took the glass of milk from her.

 

“That dress really does suit you,” Mum said as she looked at me.  She was wearing a long skirt and blouse, while the twins had on shorts and tops in blue and pink.

 

“Thanks,” I said with a smile, “I think Bobby will like it as well.”

 

Mum shook her head as she sat down, and said “I have to remind myself sometimes when you both were as little as these two.”

 

“We’re still kids Mum,” I said as I put my glass down.

 

“Not for very much longer,” she said with a little smile as she took the lidded cups from the twins.

 

“So where did Jenny go with Colin?”

 

“Your aunt wants them to run an errand for them,” Dad said as he came in, “while they take care of some other things.  Right then – get your coat on, we need to head off.”

 

“Got it,” I said as I went to get my coat from the hangar, and then we went out to the car.

 

 

 

It was quite a nice service, and I was glad to see Lisa and Charlie there as well as Suzie with her family.  Dad had already told me that Alicia was helping out at the service Patty and Rachel were going to, so we were going to meet up with all of them at the manor house after we had lunch at Granny’s house.  She was coming up to the manor house a little while later - not that she didn’t want to come, but she had to meet Aunt Cassie and Aunt Connie before they came up.

 

So we had a lovely lunch, and then we piled into the car and made our way up to the Manor House, arriving just behind Patty and Aunt Jessie, who had come with Rachel and her parents. 

 

As Dad parked the car, I noticed both their mums were walking a little stiffly – something I’d noticed about Mum as well.  I figured they were just a bit cold – Mum had shivered once or twice as well – so when she said “Can you take David in for me Cassie,” I was glad to be able to help.

 

As we went in to be greeted by Mr Bridges, I saw Patty and Rachel disappear into the library as Alicia came out, carrying a bag in her hand.

 

“Hi Alicia,” I said as she passed by.

 

 

“I’ll catch up with you later,” she whispered to me as we walked through, “Where’s Jenny?”

 

“No idea – she’s coming later with Colin,” I said as she headed to the kitchen, and I put David next to June where Andrew was sitting.

 

“Hello Cassie,” Bobby’s mum said, “how are you today?”

 

“I’m good thanks,” I said as I went to look at Lucy, “how’s the new baby?”

 

“Eating, sleeping, burping – all the usual stuff,” she said with a smile.

 

“Would you happen to know where Suzie is?”

 

“Suzie,” she said before she made a little gasp, “I think she’s around somewhere.  Maybe Bobby knows.”

 

Well, that set an alarm bell running in my mind – especially when I could see Mr and Mrs Williamson talking to Dad, but no sign of either Lisa or Charlie.

 

“Or, for that matter, Patty, Rachel, Louise, Fiona – or the other boys I had expected to be there.  Lots of parents, very few of the kids.  Even Alicia had disappeared.

 

“Hey.”

 

I smiled as a pair of hands was put over my eyes, and said “Hey Bobby – I hear you are the man who knows things.”

 

“Don’t get me started on Pirates of Penzance,” Bobby said with a groan, “bad enough I have to sing that...”

 

He then stopped as he looked at me, and realized he might have said something he did not really want to say.

 

“Subject for later,” Bobby said with a smile, “right now, Cassie’s looking for you.  She’s in the library.”

 

“The library?  I saw Patty and Rachel go in...  All right, Bobby – what’s going on?”

 

“Come and have a look,” he said as he took me by the arm and walked me down the corridor.  As we went in, I was not in the least surprised to see two lines of friends.  Standing round the room were Freddie, the Cottrell boys, Brian Hampton and Charlie Williamson.

 

Sitting in a line on the floor, again to absolutely no surprise on my part, were Suzie, Liza, Patty, Rachel, Louise and Fiona, all with their arms behind their backs, and bands of rope around their stomachs and shoulders.  They also had their legs crossed in front of them, and their ankles tied together, and white tape over their mouths.

 

I felt Bobby pull my own hands behind my back, and as I felt the rope wrapped round my wrists I smiled, before saying “Great – at least I ate before I came here.”

 

There was no point in putting up a fight – and as Bobby wrapped rope around my arms and body, I allowed myself a little shiver at the touch of his hands.

 

Well, a few minutes later, there I was, sitting with the others, mouth taped over as Bobby looked at us.

 

 “Now then, I imagine you would like to know what is going on, wouldn’t you?

 

Ufknsss,” Suzie mumbled as she looked at her brother.

 

“Well, we’re going to leave you in here,” he said as he looked at us, “once you have managed to get yourselves free, then you need to come as a group into the main hall.  See you later.”

 

Motioning to the others, Bobby stood up and left us alone in the room, looking at each other.

 

Prreppp?”

 

Preep,” I said as she turned my back to Cassie, Patty and Rachel turned their backs to each other, and Lisa shuffled over to help Louise and Fiona.  We were meant to free each other, otherwise there was no way Bobby and the others would have left our hands uncovered, so we took our time to pick at the knots around our wrists.

 

Eventually, I managed to free Suzie’s wrists enough to allow her to shake them free, and then she turned round and started to untie mine.  Looking over, I could see that Rachel was untying Patty, while the other three were making good progress as well.

 

“That’s better,” Suzie said as we finally stood up as a group, and coiled the ropes neatly.  “Now, we need to find out what my brother was talking about.”

 

“Have you been here since you arrived,” I asked Suzie.

 

“Since just after lunch.” 

 

“So the boys were left alone with our mums and aunts?”

 

“In the company of our dads, yeah – oh no, you don’t think...”

 

“Only one way to find out,” Lisa said as she opened the library door, and we made our way down to the main hall.

 

Well, there was someone waiting there for us – just not who we were expecting.

 

Angela

 

Eddie and I had been walking for a couple of hours, just talking about exams and things – he’d finally turned off that damned thing, after a while.  We’d meant to go and sit by the lake, but when we got there we saw a certain Colin Hampton sitting on a rug, looking out over the lake with Jenny Craig lying on the rug, her head on his lap and everything else very securely tied.

 

I noticed something else, so we decided to give them a wide berth and walked around the edge of the lawn, Colin not noticing as we did so, his reading carrying over the space.

 

So we had gone round and walked around the lake, only to find when we returned that they had been joined by Alicia and Mary, all three of them sitting with Martin, Colin and Mark.

 

“Well, well,” Eddie said as we came over, “so you all decided to take in the air.”

 

I had to stop myself laughing when Jenny looked round, and panicked as she said “oh crap – did you...”

 

“Yes we did,” Eddie said, “but we won’t say anything.  You three need to get untied anyway – we need to be up at the house in a little while.”

 

“Oh – so you know what’s been planned?”

 

“I do,” I said, “but you need to be ready as well, so gather the ropes up, and let’s walk up together.”

 

It took a few minutes for the boys to untie all three of them and then put the ropes into the bag, and then for Colin to pack his basket away, before the eight of us made our way back up to the house.

 

As we crossed the lawn, I looked through the windows to the large hole, and saw Mum disappearing from the room with Dad – and nobody else left inside.  So we went into the kitchen, where my grandmother was waiting.

 

“Ah good – there you are,” she said with a smile.  “I need to go and make my own preparations, so Angela will explain what you three need to do now.”

 

“Why – where is everyone else?”

 

“You’ll see,” Grandmother said as I looked at the other three.

 

“First up – we need to cover your hands.”

 

“Tape and socks?”

 

I patted the box on the table as the boys reached in and took out sponges, a roll of duct tape and three pairs of sports socks.  Eddie and I then watched as Martin, Colin and Mark made their hands into silver balled fists, covered them with the socks, and then taped the socks to their arms.

 

Then it was rope time, as they crossed their respective girlfriend’s wrists behind their backs and started to bind them tightly together.

 

“I think, given I’m here, we’ll allow the extra ropes,” I say as the three of them bound their wrists to their back with ropes around their waist, and then started to bind their arms to their bodies, the ropes sitting above and below their chests.

 

“And what are you going to be doing while we’re like this sis,” Alicia said as she looked at me.

 

“Angela will join you later – once she’s passed on a message,” Eddie said as all three were tightly secured, and then looked at me.

 

“So here’s the deal,” I said quietly, “our respective mothers and relatives have all been taken to different rooms in the house, and are going to be tightly bound and gagged.”

 

“Including Rachel’s mother?”

 

“Actually, she insisted on it.  You three are going to be taken to join them – Mary, you get to go with Mrs Cottrell.  The youngsters are all in the library, trying to free themselves.  Once they’re out, they will come and see me, and then be told to find them.  When they do, the boys will be waiting and they will join you.”

 

“Hang on,” Alicia said, “is Aunt Susan in any fit state to do this?”

 

“Aunt Susan has something different happening to her – and now, open wide.”

 

All three of them had a folded cloth put in their mouths, and then a knotted strip of towelling tied between their teeth, before white medical tape was wrapped tightly round their heads.  Finally, the folded scarf was tied tightly over their mouths, before Eddie whispered into the boys’ ears where they were to go.

 

I watched and waved as they were taken away, before I realised Eddie had two sponges in his hands as well.

 

“And what will you older men be doing while this is happening?” I said as I watched him turn my hands into balled fists.

 

“Your dad wants to talk to all of us about something – in private,” Eddie said as he taped the socks to my arms, and then crossed my wrists behind my back.  “Now,” he said as he started to bind them together, “I presume I had better leave the device off – just in case?”

 

“Tempting – but yes, that would be better,” I said as he passed the rope around and between my arms, and then around my waist.  “Now – are you ready for the next stage?”

 

I smiled and nodded as he wrapped the rope around my upper body, framing my chest before he tied it off, and then walked with me into the main hall.  Sitting me down on a chair, he knelt down and crossed my ankles, before he tightly bound them together, and then my legs below my knees.

 

As he stood up, we both heard footsteps walking down the corridor, and then the doors opened as Eddie stood behind me, his hand on my shoulder.

 

“Angela,” Suzie said as she came in, followed by Lisa, Cassie, Patty, Rachel, Louise and Fiona, “where is everyone?”

 

“Well, I’m glad you asked that,” I said with a smile...

 

 

 

Cassie

 

“Well, I’m glad you asked that.”

 

We were all taken by surprise by finding Angela sitting there, a full job on her upper body and legs as Eddie stood behind her, and nobody else there.

 

“Here’s the deal,” Eddie said quietly, “Your mothers have been taken captive by various evil villains, and they are hidden around the house.  You need to find and free them, without being captured yourselves.  Of course, if you are captured, you may end up like them – and then you will have to try and free each other.”

 

“The fiends,” Lisa said with a grin, “and what’s going to happen to you?”

 

“You’ll see,” Eddie said as he pushed a folded cloth into Angela’s mouth, “if I was you, I’d start looking, before someone comes and finds you.”

 

“Right,” I said as we turned and walked out of the room.  I listened at the drawing room door, and could hear my dad talking to some of the others.

 

“Dads are in there – and I guess the babies are as well,” I said with a sigh, as we walked down and stood outside the library door.

 

Lisa very slowly opened the door and looked inside, before she looked back and said “Well, I know where...”

 

I recognised Charlie’s hand as he placed it over Lisa’s mouth and pulled her into the library, leaving the rest of us outside.

 

 

Lisa

 

 

It had been a busy day so far – church, lunch, visit to hall, spending half the afternoon not very tightly gagged and bound – usual stuff.

 

So when Angela Bowden had said our mothers had been taken captive, I wasn’t too surprised to find Mum lying on the rug in the middle of the library at Holderness Manor, very securely tied.  Her arms were folded behind her back, and her hands covered in white socks, while her forearms were tied tightly together and then secured to the bands of rope around her arms and chest.

 

Her ankles were crossed, secured together and then tied to her chest ropes, while there was more rope around her legs below her knees.  Finally, a band of white tape was around her mouth and head, and from the way she was mumbling as she looked at me her mouth was filled with something as well.

 

Probably a sponge – because that was what Charlie had squashed up in his hand and was holding in front of my mouth.  “All right, I guess I’m captured,” I said as I opened my mouth, and felt the compressed sponge expand in my mouth, pressing my tongue down before he took the tape and wrapped it tightly round my mouth.

 

I knew the routine from there – the sponges in my hands, the tape, then the socks, and the tape around my arms, before he folded my arms behind my back and tied them together around my forearms.  He then tied my arms tightly to my sides, around my stomach and my shoulders, before securing my forearms to the bands behind my back, and making me sit down.

 

Gsswwrhrrfrwwhl,” Mum mumbled as I watched Charlie bind my ankles and legs, and then make me lie on the rug next to mum, before he completed the hogtie, my ankles resting on my bottom as he tied them to my chest ropes.

 

Looking at Mum, I saw her wriggle round, her skirt covering her legs to her knees, and sigh a little with what I presumed was resigned pleasure.  So I wriggled round as well, knowing now what was going to happen to the others.

 

 

 

Patty

 

“What the heck do we do now?”

 

I looked at Suzie and Cassie, who said, “let’s look upstairs,” and we made our way up the staircase.

 

We looked in the first door on the left, and saw nothing there, and then looked into the second room on the left – the playroom.  At first, I thought there was nothing, but then as we were about to leave I saw something wriggle behind the bean bag seats.

 

Rach, come in a minute,” I said, and Rachel followed me in – the two of us not realising a certain young man was waiting to close the door.

 

Rachel

 

I just could not believe it as I walked into the playroom – what I was seeing made no sense to me, and yet at the same time I was astounded and pleased all at the same time.

 

“Mum?”

 

There was my mother, lying on the floor, alongside Mrs Pickering – and both of them had been tied full job, with scarves folded into bands and tied over their mouths, ropes in all the best places, and her ankles pulled back and secured to the ropes round her chest.

 

Hnnn,” she said as she looked up at me and wriggled, the transistor radio playing from its position on a shelf on the wall, “ntuusswlll.”

 

“Mum?”

 

“Hello,” I heard a familiar voice say behind me, and I turned to see Tommy, Bobby Holderness’ cousin, standing there with Colin Hampton.

 

“Consider yourselves our prisoners,” he said as he held up some sponges, “and hold these for a moment.”

 

It was as if I had walked into Alice in Wonderland or something – both our mothers wriggling round on the floor, unable to do much more than moan or giggle in equal proportions, and they appeared to be having the time of their lives!

 

Their hands were also covered by white socks, which by this time is exactly what happened with Patty and me.

 

“Mum – you really went through with this?  What did Dad say?”

 

Gddqshn,” Mum mumbled as she shook her head, trying to stay as still as possible as the music played.  I saw Mrs Pickering close her eyes for a moment, but then she smiled with them as she watched Colin and Tommy secure our wrists behind our backs, and then tie the rope around our waists.

 

“May we,” Colin said as he looked at Mum, and as she nodded we felt the extra band of rope around our shoulders as well as around our tummies.

 

“We’re all getting the same then,” Patty said before Colin pushed the cloth into my mouth, and then tie the knotted towel strip between my lips, before the tape and the folded scarf completed the gag.

 

Ten minutes later, Patty and I were looking with squinted eyes at our mothers, as Colin placed our glasses on the shelf next to the radio.  One Direction was playing as I looked back along my bound body, my crossed ankles secured to the rope around my stomach, and my legs secured below my knees.

 

Wllwhthppnssnnw,” Patty said as she looked at Colin.

 

“I believe you heard the rules – try and escape,” he said as he and Tommy left the room.

 

Well, there was fat chance of that happening, as our mums stated to laugh into their gags, and we joined in...

 

 

 

Louise

 

“Right – why do I get the feeling we’re on a fool’s errand,” I said as the door to the playroom closed, trapping Patty and Rachel inside.

 

“Probably because we are,” Cassie said as we walked down past some of the bedrooms.  I knew some were used by Cassie, Bobby and the others when they stayed here, but some were guest bedrooms.

 

And it was as we were walking past one of those bedrooms that didn’t hear the door open, didn’t hear the footsteps, and didn’t know what was going on until a hand was clamped over my mouth and I was pulled back in.

 

“Hello,” Frank whispered into my ear as he gently closed the door behind me, “your mother and some others would like to say hello, Louise.”

 

Looking round the room, I saw Freddie and Mark Cottrell standing by the window, while on the bed were three very happy and hogtied women – Mum, Mrs Kerr, Mrs Cottrell and Mary Holmes.  They all had their hands covered in white socks which were taped to their arms, and then their upper bodies and their legs tied in the tightest way we knew – wrists crossed, ropes around waist, tummy and shoulders, ankles crossed and tied, and then pulled back to their bottoms, and secured to the chest ropes, and finally legs tied below their knees.

 

What was more, they all seemed very happy, as the fan in the corner sent a cool breeze over all three of them while they wriggled round.

 

Whrsssfnnee,” Mrs Kerr said as she looked at Freddie.

 

“Good question – one I think is about to be answered,” he said as he heard a knock on the door, and Fiona say “Louise, are you in there?”

 

“Invite her in,” Mark said, as Freddie walked over, opened the door and pulled Fiona in, closing the door behind them.

 

“Ah – here we go again,” she said as she came in, smiling at the three captives before we both held our hands out and gripped the sponges.

 

I heard Mary giggle as she looked at the other mums over her scarf band, showing me she was really happy to be here as our hands were covered, our wrists were tied, and folded cloths pushed into our mouths.

 

We were soon both lying on our tummies on the floor, our ankles tied to our chests, red scarves folded and tied over our mouths as we wriggled and giggled, our mums and Mary really joining in as the noise of the fan made the only other sound we heard...

 

 

Cassie

 

“Hang on – where did Louise go?”

 

We turned round as Fiona looked back down the corridor.  Louise had just – vanished.  Well, probably taken captive as well would be nearer the mark, but yeah – vanished.

 

“I’m not sure,” Suzie said, “but it does look as if we’re getting taken by someone.  When do you last remember seeing her?”

 

Fiona looked down the corridor, and then said “one of the doors on the left I think.  Let me go and check.”

 

As she went back down, Suzie and I moved on a little further.  We heard Fiona tap on a door, and say “Louise, are you in there,” before a door opened and closed.

 

“What would you bet that, if we both turn round, Fiona has gone,” I whispered to Suzie.

 

“Nothing – she has hasn’t she?”

 

We both turned and looked down, the corridor empty and quiet.

 

“Okay,” Suzie said as she looked at me, “we have two rooms left on this floor, one on the left, one on the right.  Which one do you want to look into, and which one shall I look into?”

 

“Let’s think this through,” I said, “who uses these rooms?”

 

“That one is my grandparents, the other a large spare bedroom.”

 

“Well, if I’m right about this, you go into your grandparents’ room.”

 

“And if you’re wrong?”

 

“We swap – ready?”

 

I nodded as I went to the right, and Suzie went to the left, and we walked in together.  As I came in, I knew I’d made the right choice – as Bobby closed the door, and I saw Mum, Jenny and Granny all lying on the floor.

 

They weren’t the only ones either – Aunt Jo and Aunt Cassie were lying there too, all of them tightly bound and gagged full job.  Aunt Connie was there too, but unlike the rest of the adults – and Jenny – she was sitting against the wall, just as tightly tied, just as tightly gagged, but not hogtied.

 

Fnleleee,” Jenny said with a giggle as she looked at me, “tmmfrrutjnsss.”

 

“Yeah – yeah I figured that,” I said as the CD player continued to play the music, and I saw Bobby hold out some sponges, “Family time, right?”

 

Rhttt,” Granny said as she wriggled round and nodded at me.

 

Suzie

 

“Yeah, we called that right,” I said as I walked in, and saw Granny, Aunt Anne, Alicia and Angela lying on the large king size bed.  They were tied very tightly, with ropes holding their crossed and bound ankles to their chest ropes, and white scarves tied tightly over their mouths.

 

“I guess this is what you meant,” I said as I looked at Angela, who nodded and then started to laugh, her sounds well muffled as she wriggled round.

 

“Your turn,” Martin said as he handed me the two sponges, and I listened to the CD of Pride and Prejudice that was playing while he tied me just as well and just as tightly as the others, Alicia watching and nodding when she wasn’t giggling or wriggling around.

 

Mum was sitting in a chair, tied tightly to it with her arms over the back, and her legs tied to the front legs of the chair, but she seemed just as happy, laughing and giggling with the others as I found myself on the floor, ropes hugging my chest in a  very nice way before I was fully gagged and hogtied.

 

Martin put a pillow under my head as I looked up at the others, then over to Mum, while he said “Well, good luck to all of you.  If nobody gets free, we’ll be back to collect you all together later.”

 

As he left the room, we all started to try and get free, knowing full well it was useless for everyone except Mum.  But she played along as well, laughing and giggling as it was blatantly obvious to all of us we weren’t going anywhere.

 

And then the door opened...

 

“Well, they don’t seem to have made much progress,” Dad said as he came in with Eddie, Colin and Uncle Simon.

 

“Not a lot, no – so who’s first?”

 

“By age I think,” Dad said as he and Eddie lifted Grandmother off the bed and carried her out of the room, Uncle Simon and Colin taking Aunt Anne between them.  Those of us who were left wriggled round even more, before they returned, Dad and Colin carrying Mum in her chair while Eddie and Uncle Simon carried Angela out, a little squeal coming from her gagged lips as they did that.

 

Finally, Dad came back and lifted me up, and as I was carried out I saw Mr Craig carrying Cassie out of the other room, as tightly secured and gagged as I was.  We were both taken along the corridor, down the stairs and into the large hall, before we were placed on the floor with the rest of our relatives.

 

Fnsmeettnguhr,” mum said as she squirmed in her seat and looked at Mrs Craig.

 

Plsntssntt,” she replied as all the mums and aunts, and even Angela, struggled to get free.  Cassie and I looked at each other as we joined in.

 

While this was going on, everyone else was being carried in, until we had the family groupings around the floor of the room.  Five groups – us, the Craigs, Lisa with her family, Louise and Fiona with their mothers, Mrs Cottrell and Mary, and finally Rachel and Patty with their mothers.

 

“Well, this is a wonderful collection of guests, isn’t it?”

 

We all looked up to see Grandfather standing there with our fathers and uncles.

 

“Are you having fun, Kerry,” Mr Rigg said as he looked at Rachel’s mother.  She looked back, nodded and then moaned as she tried to free herself.

 

“That’s good to know,” he said with a smile as he looked at the others.  “So, none of you have managed to work their way free yet?  Well, we’re going to give you a little more time – another thirty minutes.”

 

Hmggddd,” Mrs Cottrell said as she looked at Mark’s father.

 

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but we’re going to turn the fan up – cool you all down a little more,” he said as Mr Bridges turned up the speed of the ceiling fans, and they left the room.  A few seconds later, all the mums and aunts – even Angela – started in unison to try and free themselves even more, as they struggled and moaned.

 

Well, that was our cue, and as the fans spun over our heads we all struggled like crazy.  We knew there was no way we were going to get free, but we were going to give it the old college try, as Mrs Hobson sometimes said.

 

This went on for the next thirty minutes, before we were all finally released from our hogties and Uncle Simon brought his camera in.

 

“Right – some nice family portraits now,” he said as I was sat in front of Mum, while Alicia and Angela sat either side of me, and Aunt Anne and Grandmother stood behind them.  They were both struggling not to laugh, and to stand still, but eventually Uncle Simon managed to get the picture, before he moved on to the Craigs.

 

We watched as each of the families had their photos taken, before Grandfather said “Well, the time has come for everyone to go home.  On behalf of Lucinda and myself, thank you all for coming today, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your day.”

 

I watched Bobby as he untied my ankles and legs below my knees, while Dad untied Mum, and we were helped to walk out of the Manor House, Dad supporting Mum all the way, and we were sat in the car before Bobby and Dad got in.

 

We watched as the other families were helped out, and I noticed Dave Brown helping Patty’s mum to walk to Rachel’s car, as we drove off and left them behind.  I looked at Lucy, asleep in her car seat next to Dad, and wondered what she had been up to all day without us.

 

 

 

 

The hall seemed quiet when we arrived, the sun setting over the trees, and I realised they must all be in Mr and Mrs Boyle’s flat for the meal.  Dad went up and opened the door, before he came back and said “Bobby, do you mind taking Lucy and Suzie into the front room?  I’m going to take your mother upstairs to relax for a little while.  I think there’s a bottle for Lucy in the fridge if she gets hungry.”

 

“Got it Dad,” Bobby said as I watched him carry Lucy in, and then got out of the car and walked behind him, as Dad helped Mum out and locked the car.  We went into the front room, Bobby putting the car seat down as Lucy shifted in her sleep, and then turned the television on while Mum and Dad went upstairs.

 

“Right then,” he said as he looked at me, “what shall we watch?”

 

 

 

 

“Hey Cassie,” I said as I answered the call the next morning, “you recovered from yesterday?”

 

“Yeah,” Cassie said at the other end of the phone call, “what happened when you got home?”

 

“Bobby, Lucy and I went into the front room, and Mum and Dad went upstairs.  You?”

 

“Same thing – Colin and Jenny, and Mum and Dad, went upstairs, and I was left in the front room with a set of headphones on and a DVD on the player.  Wonder what happened with the others.”

 

“We can ask them on Monday when we go swimming – but they all seemed very happy.”

 

I heard Mum singing as she walked past, and then said “very happy indeed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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