“Yeah, I really enjoyed Alicia’s party – it was a good night.”
Cassie Craig was sitting on my bed, with her wrists tied together behind her back, and her ankles crossed and tied together, the rope sitting over her white socks as she wriggled round. That was all I’d done to her, which was unusual, but it was just the two of us, sitting and talking.
Oh, I nearly forgot – hi, I’m Lisa, Lisa Williamson. I live across the road from Cassie and her family with my family – little brother Charlie, Mum and Dad. We used to live way across town, but moved here last year – and that was when the tie-up games really started in earnest.
Not that it was something new to me – Charlie and I had been playing games like this for a couple of years before, starting with the day we peeked in on Mum and Dad playing a game. Charlie’s a couple of years younger than me, but he was hooked on the idea of keeping a girl hostage – and guess who was volunteered.
What really helped was that we soon discovered how much Mum and Dad like to play these games as well, and I really liked been tied up, while Charlie really liked tying up – so eventually, every day if it wasn’t a school day (and sometimes even if it was) I and sometimes Mum as well would end up tied up or gagged in some way.
Dad would sometimes tie us up as well, and I have to admit, I loved every second of it – even if I didn’t know how to tie a knot, I loved wriggling round or just lying still like that.
Then we moved here, and I met Cassie and her sister Jenny, and the rest of her family. And that was when the fun started – because within a week of moving in, she, her cousin Patty and their friends Suzie and Rachel were here when a gang of masked men burst in and held us hostage!
I knew they were real, and Cassie and Suzie did as well, but we pretended it was a game at Dad’s suggestion, and I had to admit, I was a lot calmer because of that – especially when the leader of the gang turned up. Apparently, Cassie had met him twice before, and he was nice, spoke in a soft Geordie accent, and he put us totally at our ease - even if we spent the night fully bound and gagged in our beds.
After that, Cassie taught me how to tie someone up, with help from her family and friends – and what friends! Suzie, for example, is the granddaughter of Lord Holderness, and through her we got to know all her family and their friends – especially a lovely American lady called Sarah.
So what else happened after that? I was invited to a sleepover at Suzie’s big new house, me and all their friends were kidnapped just before New Year by the boys they knew and held hostage overnight in the cellar of the house, we got invited to a big wedding at the Manor House, all sorts of wonderful things, and life was fantastic.
And then there was that really horrible day and night, when it didn’t seem like a game anymore. Jenny, Cassie’s sister, and Cassie had come over to stay the night, and Dad had gone to work – he runs a big group of accountants – when a group of men just burst into the house, tied all four of us and Mum with zip ties, gagged us and then bundled us into a van, before we were driven to an empty warehouse outside of town.
When we got there, they really tied us up, and they were really cruel to us. They said they were going to hurt us if we didn’t keep quiet, didn’t treat us nice, we had nothing to eat and drink – unless you count the water they put in dog bowls and suggested we drink it from there.
Jenny, though – Jenny was the bravest girl I had ever seen. She said we had to hide our fear somehow, show them we were not going to be intimated, and then she said they had made a big mistake – because she knew someone who would come to our rescue and make sure we would not get hurt.
She inspired all of us – and then when they left us with a box that had a counter ticking down, unable to move, unable to speak, she kept reassuring us until the miracle happened.
They’d taken us hostage to force Dad to do something for them, but he’d somehow got free and asked Sarah and her husband Brian to help. He came into the room we were in, and somehow stopped the counter. I was really scared, and so were Mum and Charlie, but he untied us and took us out to where a friend of ours was waiting, before he went back to the warehouse – and then brought Sarah and Dad out!! He’d come to rescue us!!!
But I could see even in the dark he was frightened as well – very frightened, as he hugged and kissed each of us, and we went home. Sarah and Brian’s friend – Kayla, I think her name was – checked us all and then stayed the night, as we tried to get some sleep.
The next day Sarah came and sat with me and Charlie, holding our hands as she asked us to talk about what happened. I still don’t know how she did it, but it was like all the fear and all the tears just flowed away as we talked, with Mum there as well – and we slept for a while after that. When we woke up, we felt a lot better – and Mum and Dad have been friends with Sarah and Brian ever since.
So we kept going after that, playing games, attending parties, right up until Alicia Bowden’s party last week. Now Cassie and I were sitting, just talking, about boys and what school was going to be like – both of us were going to different schools after the summer, in fact both of us were going to the same school Alicia, Jenny and her friends went to.
“So anyway,” Cassie said as she wriggled on the bed, “how’s Charlie spending the holidays? I thought he’d be here tormenting both of us.”
“I’m not sure,” I said as I sipped my drink, and then let Cassie drink hers through her straw, “he seems to be sneaking out most of the time recently.”
“Charlie sneaking out? He’s not going to see Rachel is he?”
We both giggled as Cassie said that. Charlie has this real soft spot for Patty’s friend Rachel, even if he wants to deny it.
“Nah – Mum or Dad would drive him if that was the case, and he’s not doing that. No, he’s sneaking out for a few hours at a time, and I have no idea where he’s going – just that he comes back a few hours later.”
“I suppose that means he leaves you alone,” Cassie said, “but I wonder where he’s going off to?”
“Like I say, no idea.”
“But aren’t you curious? Whatever it is, it’s so important to him he even stops tying you up?”
I stopped and looked at Cassie for a moment. She had a point, but still I didn’t like the idea of spying on Charlie.
“When’s he likely to slip out?”
I looked at the clock, which showed it was twelve. “After lunch, “I say.
“Right – why don’t we slip out after him, and see where he goes to? I really want to know what’s taking such an important part in his life!”
Now I was curious as well, so I nodded as Mum called up “Lunch in fifteen minutes.” I untied Cassie and watched as she slipped her trainers on, while I put on my black Ugg boots over my jeans, and then pulled a sweatshirt on. Operation “Follow Charlie” was a Go!
After we had finished lunch, mum chased us out of the kitchen in order to clear up, and said “Go outside for a little while.” So we went into the back garden, until after a few minutes Cassie said “there he goes.”
We watched Charlie as he slipped out through the garage, and we followed behind, letting him get a way ahead of us before we went through the garage and followed him onto the main road. He had turned right, so we went down after him, trying to keep out of sight.
He didn’t seem to see us, as he crossed the road and want through a gap in the fence. There was a field on the other side of the fence, and as we went over I saw him walk down a dirt track through the field, towards a small forest on the other side.
“Any idea where that goes,” I whispered, before we both scuttled back as Charlie turned round. I look over very carefully as he turned back and kept walking to the tress, and then took a path that ran into them.
“Come on,” I said as Cassie and I followed, and went into the forest, Charlie a little way in front of us. He stopped and turned again as we both dived to hide behind trees, then kept going as we followed, until he turned left in a fork on the path.
We both followed as he walked on, through the trees with the birds singing, until he left the forest by a gate and turned left again. We walked quickly forward to catch him up, and found ourselves on a road, Charlie walking down before he turned left again.
It was only when we took that left turn that I realised we were back on our road!
“He must have seen us,” Cassie said as we walked towards my front door.
“Now what might have given you that idea?”
I groaned as we turned round and saw Charlie behind us, pointing a toy pistol in our direction.
“Oh I don’t know – this,” I said with a smile as Cassie giggled.
“All right – inside. I can see I need to keep you two from following me.”
We nodded and walked into the house, Charlie closing the door behind us. Mum was upstairs, so he took two chairs from the dining table and set them at the corner.
“Sit down, hands on your heads,” he said, and as we did so he fetched a bag of supplies from the hall cupboard.
“You first,” he said as he opened the bag and took out some ropes, standing behind Cassie and taking her arms through the gaps in the back of the chair, before he tied her wrists together and then to the chair back itself. At least, I presume that’s what he did, because that’s what he did to me right afterwards.
He then tied some rope around my waist, and around Cassie’s, before he crossed and tied her ankles together and secured them to the table leg in front of me, stretching her legs out. He did the same to me – and I realised he did this in an attempt to stop us moving together and trying to escape.
He then slapped a strip of duct tape over our mouths – that was it, just duct tape – and went out again. I tried to move my arms, but he had been as skilled and tight as usual, even if he had not tied us fully. I figured I could get out of it – and I knew for certain Cassie could – but I was still fuming at the way he had tricked us.
A few minutes later, Mum came in, took one look at us and burst out laughing. “Did Charlie do this to you,” she asked, and we both nodded as she untied us and removed the tape from our mouths.
“Come on,” she said, “you can help me start to get dinner ready.”
When Charlie finally got back, Mum looked at him and said “what are the rules about leaving the girls when you play the games?”
“Sorry Mum,” he said as he looked at us, “it won’t happen again.”
“Where did you go anyway?”
“Just playing outside – honestly,” he said with a smile.
“All right – just don’t let it happen again.”
As Charlie nodded and went to his room, Cassie said “I need to head home – thanks, Mrs Williamson.”
As I walked her to the door, however, she said “Tomorrow – meet me at the entrance to the forest, one o’clock. We’re going to find out what he’s up to!”
Not that the next day led us to the answer either. Cassie and I slipped out after lunch, and hid as we watched Charlie go down the dirt path again. This time we let him get just far enough in front of us that we could see him, and followed him into the trees, watching as he turned right at the fork we turned left at yesterday, and then go on through the trees. We moved as fast as we could, but he was quicker and soon disappeared out of sight.
Eventually we came to another choice in the path. Cassie looked at me and said “Right?”
“Right,” I said, so we turned right – and walked in a great big circle until we found ourselves back in the field we had entered the trees from!
“He did it to us again, didn’t he,” I said as we walked back to my house.
“Never fear,” Cassie said, “tomorrow, you come over to my place, and we set off earlier – I think we might solve this then.”
So day three of operation “Follow Charlie” dawned, and I went round to Cassie’s house, wearing an olive green sweatshirt and dark grey joggers. Cassie had put on a brown hoodie and jeans, so we both felt we were ready for the task that lay ahead – especially after the bacon sandwich that Cassie’s mum made for us!
So it was that we found ourselves, at about twelve, hiding in the bushes near the second fork in the road.
“Are you sure he’s going to come this way,” Cassie whispered to me as we looked round.
“We are talking about Charlie here,” I said quietly, “Mister Dependable. The only thing that might stop him is if Dad needed his help with something – and when I asked Dad what he was doing today, he said he would be working all day at his office.”
“Well, if that’s the case, we’d better – duck and cover!”
She pushed me down as we saw Charlie walking along the path, whistling to himself as he kicked some stones along the path. He was in a checked shirt and shorts, and not paying much attention to anything – otherwise, I’m sure he would have seen us again as he passed, and then turned left in the fork in the road,
“Let’s go,” Cassie said as we climbed out from behind the bush, and walked down the path, as quietly as we could. Charlie didn’t turn round once, as he left the forest and climbed over a fence.
We hung back a little and then went to the gap in the trees, stopping as we both looked round.
“Where are we,” I said as we looked left and right.
“I think we’re on the other side of Holderness,” Cassie eventually said, “that looks like Louise’s house over there – I was with Patty when she drove there with her mother one day – and I’m fairly sure that is Fiona’s place on the hill over there.”
I guess that was possible – Holderness is actually not that big a town, and it is in the country, with quite a lot of farms around the perimeter.
“If that is Louise’s place,” Cassie went on, “then that is one heck of a short cut – going by road you have to go round the ring road.”
“There he is,” I said as I looked directly in front of us. There was a large farmhouse on the other side of the fence, with a field that had cows and a couple of horses roaming around between the yard and us. There was a barn there as well, and between the house and barn Charlie was playing with a boy who looked as if he was the same age as him. He had short dark hair, and was wearing a pair of denim dungarees with a red t-shirt underneath.
“So he’s found a new friend,” I said as I looked over, “but why on earth did he want to keep it a secret?”
“Gee, I don’t know – perhaps we should ask him.”
We both spun round at the sound of the voice, to see two boys standing behind us. One of them I recognised – Brian Hampton, Colin’s cousin, with his red hair and wearing a blue polo shirt and grey shorts.
I’d never seen the other boy before, so I looked carefully at him. He seemed to be about twelve as well, and was wearing a grey t-shirt and brown trousers. He had light brown hair that went down to his neck, the most clear blue eyes, and a smile that seemed to draw me in to him…
“Fancy meeting you two here,” Brian said as I suddenly noticed the toy gun he was pointing at both of us. “Any particular reason you were snooping round here?”
“I could ask you the same question, Brian Hampton,” Cassie said with her arms folded, “what are you doing here?”
“Walking with my friend,” Brian said with a smile. “But I’m forgetting my manners – Eric, this is Lisa Williamson and Cassie Craig. Lisa, Cassie, this is Eric Cottrell, a friend of mine from school.”
“Pleased to meet you,” he said in a West Country accent that sent a little tingle down me.
“Eric, do you have a clean handkerchief I could borrow?”
“Sure,” he said as he took one out of his pocket, “why?”
“Thanks,” Brian said as he took one from his own pocket, and then handed Eric the toy pistol, “I need to take these two trespassers prisoner.”
“Great,” Cassie said as she rolled her eyes, but she allowed Brian to use one of the hankies to bind her wrists behind her back, and then he used the second one on me.
“What are you doing,” Eric said as he stood and watched.
“Don’t worry, they’re used to this,” he said as he made us walk in front of him, through a gate and across the field before we came into the farmyard. As we got closer to the other two, Eric called out “hey – look who we found spying on you.”
The other boy took one look at Cassie and me, and bolted into the house, closing the door behind him. Charlie looked at us, shook his head and said “Honestly – I try to keep a promise to a friend, and then you find out...”
“Don’t worry about it,” Eric said quietly, “Frank is incredibly shy, and he really hates when strangers appear unannounced.”
“My younger brother – I think Charlie’s the first real friend he’s made around here.”
“He asked me not to tell anyone else we were friends, because he didn’t want them coming round and scaring him,” Charlie said as he looked at us. “Kinda like what you just saw. Congrats, sis.”
“Sis – so this is your big sister Charlie,” Eric said as he looked at me. I giggled, and Cassie just stared at me for a moment.
“Come on,” he said as he walked to the door, “you might as well meet him now.” He opened the door and showed us in, our hands still tied behind our backs, Charlie and Brian coming behind us.
“Frank,” he called out, and then looked in the front room. “Come on in,” he said, and as we all walked in we saw Frank sitting on the couch, staring at me and Cassie.
“Frank, this is Lisa Williamson and Cassie Craig. Lisa is Charlie’s big sister.”
“Pleased to meet you,” he said in a voice little more than a whisper.
“Hey,” Cassie said, “it’s all right, we don’t bite. How come we haven’t seen you around town?”
“I don’t like going out,” Frank said, but at least he stood up and came over to join us.
“Honestly, they’re not that bad,” Charlie said with a laugh as Frank walked round and looked at us. “Why have you got your hands tied together behind your back,” he finally said as he looked at us.
“It’s a game – one Charlie likes to play a lot,” I said as I glanced at brother dearest. “Isn’t that right, Charlie?”
“Yeah – yeah that’s right,” Charlie said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“You play a game where you tie each other up?”
“Yeah – you see…”
“Frank, Eric – who’s in there with you?”
The woman had a Northern accent, as Brian quickly untied our wrists and gave Eric back his hankie. She then came in, a friendly faced woman with long black hair covered by a scarf, wearing a set of dungarees and an old blouse underneath.
“And who do we have here,” she said as she looked at them, “Apart from Charlie and Brian that is?”
“This is Charlie’s sister, Lisa, and Brian’s friend Cassie,” Eric said quickly, “they were passing by and we asked them to come in.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you both,” she said, “have a seat and I’ll bring some snacks and drinks in.”
“Eric’s in my class at school,” Brian said as we sat down in the leather seats, “I’ve got to know him since they arrived in town last September.”
“This used to be my Grandpa’s farm,” Eric said, “but when he died, Dad came back to help run the place.”
“Oh so you’re a farming family?”
“Yes, and no,” he said as he looked at me. “Dad actually works for a financial firm, but we run the farm as well.”
“Here we go,” Eric’s mum said as she carried in a tray of drinks and cookies, “so where do you know Brian from, girls?”
“His cousin goes out with my sister,” Cassie said, “and we have some other mutual friends as well.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here – with the chores, the boys don’t get out too often, so friends coming round is something I’d encourage.”
So we sat and told her about our families, and the friends we had, as we drank and ate. Apparently they had lived in the north until last year, when their dad inherited the farm, so he had come home.
“So he grew up here? Maybe he knows your dad Cassie?”
“My dad grew up here with my aunts Cassie and Connie.”
“I’ll have to ask him when he gets home,” their mum said.
A little while later, we were about to go when we saw a familiar face passing in front of the front of the farmhouse.
“Louise? What brings you down here,” I called out. She seemed surprised to see us, as we came down to her.
“What are you two doing here,” she said as she greeted us.
“Long story – do you know the family?”
“No, no – I was just passing by,” she said as she looked past us. You’d almost think she was looking for someone.
“Can I help you girls?”
We suddenly turned to see a tall, sandy brown haired boy standing behind us, pushing a bike in his hands. A boy all three of us recognised.
“Hang on – I saw you three at Alicia’s party didn’t I?”
“Hi Mark,” Eric said as he came out with Brian and Charlie, “the girls just dropped in to meet Frank.”
“Oh – well, that must have been interesting,” he said, as he pushed his bike to the door. “Come on then – we’ve got the chickens to clean out before dinner.”
“Work calls,” Eric said with a smile. “Nice to meet you girls.”
“Come on,” Charlie said, “I’ll walk you back.”
The walk back was a bit quieter, as Brian and Charlie talked, and Cassie and I just enjoyed the walk. It was only when we got back to her house, and we were in my bedroom, that Cassie looked at me.
“You like him don’t you?”
“Eric Cottrell – you could hardly keep your eyes off him from the moment we met.”
“Oh come on Cas,” I said as I sat on her bed, “don’t be ridiculous.”
“Okay – describe him.”
“As tall as Brian, deep blue eyes, cute smile, nice hair…”
“See – you’ve fallen for him already. And you’re blushing, so don’t lie to me Lisa Williamson – you like him!”
“All right, all right, I think he’s cute,” I said with a smile. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Me? Nothing – but don’t let Patty find out or you’ll never hear the end of it.”
She had a point with that – so I decided I wasn’t going to say anything.
“So do you think they can be brought into the gang?”
“To play our games? Possibly – I mean, his big brother saw what happened at the party, and didn’t bat an eyelid. I’m not sure about Frank though.”
“Yeah – unless we sic Patty and Rachel onto him.”
We both started laughing, before Cassie said “oh no – let’s not do to that to the poor boy. Not yet anyway. Still – reckon they may want to join in?”
“We can but ask,” I said with a smile before I got up. “I gotta head back – see you tomorrow?”
“Sure,” Cassie said as I went back to my house.
As we sat at the dinner table, Dad looked over and said “And where did you two get to today? Your mum says you were out all day.”
“I was round at Cassie’s all day,” I said quickly, looking at Charlie to see if he would give me away. He didn’t, just saying “I was out in the woods all day, looking for things.”
Mum and Dad looked at each other, and nothing more was said, but I wondered why I had lied. Was I really too scared to admit I had met this boy, and had a bit of a crush on him?
As we went to bed that night, Charlie knocked on my door and said “Lisa?”
“Thanks – I won’t say anything if you won’t.”
I nodded in agreement, and nothing else was said – then. As always seems to be the case, however, things changed soon after.
Three days later, actually, and it started at breakfast when Dad said “Charlie, I need you to come with me this morning and get some new shoes – I’ll drop you off afterwards before Gran gets here.”
Mum and Dad had been invited to a dinner, which usually meant they wouldn’t be back until the next morning, so Granny Williamson was coming to babysit today. When I saw the look on Charlie’s face, however, it was clear he’d forgotten.
“Today? Can’t it wait?”
“Afraid not,” Mum said, “because you’ll need them when we go on holiday in a week’s time. Now eat up and get changed both of you.”
A few minutes later, I was putting on some socks in my room when Charlie came in.
“Lisa, I need to ask a slightly huge favour.”
“You’re asking me for a favour? This must be serious,” I said as I put on my sleeveless pink jerkin, over my white jumper and jeans. “What’s up?”
“I promised Frank I’d let him borrow my copy of Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Fire, but now I’ve got to go into town with Dad. I don’t suppose you could take it round to him, could you?”
“Well, I don’t know, I mean…”
“All right,” I said with a shrug of my shoulders, trying not to smile, “let me have it and I’ll take it round today.”
“Thanks Sis – I owe you one,” he said as Mum called up “Lisa, Cassie’s here!”
“Tell her to come up,” I said as I sat down and pulled my sneakers on. Cassie soon appeared, in a blue t-shirt, blue leggings and trainers.
“So what are you up to today,” she asked as he sat on the bed.
“I’ll tell you in a minute,” I said as Charlie put the book on the bed, said “thanks” and then ran down at the sound of Dad calling him.
“Harry Potter? I thought you read them all.”
“I have – he asked if I’d take it round to Frank later.”
“Oh yeah,” Cassie said with a smile. “And if Eric is there, that’s just a happy coincidence, right?”
“All right, all right, don’t start today,” I said with a smile, before Mum called up and asked us to help her in the front room.
So it was after eleven by the time Cassie and I finally got of the house, and walked down the road, the book safely under my arm. We’d got about – oh, ten steps before we heard a familiar voice saying “Where are you two going?”
“Oh boy,” Cassie said as she turned round to see Patty standing there, wearing a blue top with white spots, matching leggings and a denim skirt, looking at us through her glasses.
Louise was with her, wearing a white short sleeved blouse and a knee length grey denim skirt with trainers.
“Hey Patty,” Cassie said, “where were you heading?”
“Your place actually,” Patty said. “Louise came over on a play date, Rachel’s in town with her mum, and Fiona went off for the day with her parents. So we thought we’d come round and have some fun at your place.”
I knew what she meant by “fun” as Cassie said “Well, we can go there later, but right now Lisa and I need to run an errand.”
“Oh? Where are you going?”
I decided to tell a half truth, and said “Charlie asked if I’d drop a book off with a friend of his, at the Cottrell farm.”
“I’ll come with you,” Louise said without a moment’s hesitation. Cassie and I looked at each other, then at the blushing Louise.
“Oh yeah,” Patty said as she looked at Louise. “I think I want to see this place for myself – why don’t we all go?”
“All right then,” I said with a shrug, so we made our way through the woods and into the farmyard. The chickens were running around, which made Patty jump a little, before I knocked on the front door.
“Oh hello Lisa,” Mrs Cottrell said as she opened the door. She was wearing an old Fair isle jumper and jeans. “What can I do for you?”
“Charlie asked if I would bring this over for Frank,” I said as I showed her the book.
“Oh – well, Frank is out with Mark for the day at his uncle’s, but Eric is here. Look – why don’t you come in? I was about to do some sandwiches, and I can make some for all of you as well.”
“Thank you,” I said as we went into the front room. Eric was there, wearing a short sleeved checked shirt and jeans, but he looked up as we came in and smiled.
“Hey,” he said, “I didn’t know you were coming round today.”
“Charlie asked me to bring something round for Frank,” I said as we came in. “Oh – this is Cassie’s cousin Patty, and our friend Louise.”
“Hey,” Eric said as he looked at Louise. “I’ve seen you around – you live just down the road don’t you?”
“That’s right,” Louise said quietly, “nice to meet you.”
“Well sit down,” he said, “Mum’s fixing some sandwiches.” He looked at the book and said “Oh yeah – he’s working his way through them.”
“Your mum said Frank and Mark were at your uncle’s place?”
“Yeah – he lives in London, so Dad took them in this morning and he’ll bring them back tonight.”
“So this is your farm?”
“My dad’s” Eric said, “but we all help out. Why?”
“I’ve never seen chickens running around loose before.”
“Oh they’re all right. Honestly.”
We sat and talked while Mrs Cottrell brought in sandwiches and glasses of milk, me enjoying everything Eric said and did, oblivious to what Patty may have been looking at it.
Eventually, I looked at my watch and said “I think we need to get on our way. I didn’t realise it was after two. Thank you for the milk and sandwiches, Mrs Cottrell.”
“You’re welcome,” she said, “and please, feel free to…”
That was when the door to the main room opened, and we all stared at the people who walked in, while I gripped the seat cushion with my hands.
There were four people, dressed in boiler suits, and wearing gloves and ski masks over their heads so only their lips and eyes showed. I could see one of them was a woman, but I could also see the guns in their hands, and for a moment I was back in that warehouse with those horrible men again.
Then one of the men spoke, and I recognised the voice – the soft Geordie voice that said “Well, this is an unfortunate surprise. We have got to stop meeting like this, young Cassie.”
I looked over at Cassie, who was showing no fear whatsoever, and that made me feel better as she said “Not again Mr Edwards.”
“I really am sorry about this – I had promised I would never do this again, but we just keep crossing paths. With regret, it means we must once again…”
“Play the hostage game,” Patty said as she jumped up and down. “It’s all right,” she said as she looked at Louise, who was staring straight ahead, “This is the man who played that weekend game with all of us.”
None of the others had said anything, but then the woman said in a Scottish accent “Jay, do you know these girls?”
“Unfortunately yes – Mrs McPhee, may I present Cassie Craig, Lisa Williamson and Patty Pickering – and you are?”
“Louise Hobson,” she said quietly.
“Louise – very pleased to meet you all,” she said, her voice so calm, so reassuring I was starting to feel better already.
“As I was saying, with regret, I will need to keep you hostage here with Mrs Cottrell and her son. Isn’t that right, Mrs Cottrell?”
I suddenly realised Eric and his mother had said nothing, but now she slowly nodded her head and said “Yes, it’s a game, and we’re going to play along, all right Eric.”
I smiled at Eric, who slowly nodded as well and said “All right – please, don’t hurt us.”
“None of us are going to hurt you so long as you behave,” Jay said. “Cassie, would you come with me for a moment please?”
“Sure,” Cassie said as she went out with Jay, and Mrs McPhee looked at us.
“All right,” she said, “we’re going to be staying a while, as if we are holding all of you hostage. Once this young man’s father comes home, we’ll talk to him, and then he will play along as well. It’ll be fun, all right?”
“Don’t worry Louise,” Patty said as she hugged her friend, “it is just a big game, and we’ll have lots of fun, all right?”
Louise nodded as Jay brought Cassie in. “Now, while we check nobody else is home, I want you all to give my friend your mobile phones. You, check the main phone and internet are disconnected.”
One of the other two men nodded as he, Jay and Mrs McPhee left the room, and we handed our mobile phones over to him, watching as he placed them to one side.
“It’s a very realistic game,” Eric whispered to me.
“Yeah – Patty likes it that way,” I whispered back as the other three returned.
“Now then,” Jay said, “this is a hostage game, so we need to make sure none of you can move about for a while. So we’re going to tie you up, and I am going to need your help.” He then pointed at Eric, who started shaking and said “Do I have to?”
“Yes you do – come here please Eric.”
“How do you know my name?”
He looked at me and Louise, and then stood up, saying “what do you want me to do?”
“My friend here is going to tie your mother up, and you are going to tie the girls up.”
“But I don’t know how to do that!”
“That’s all right,” Patty shouted out, “Cassie can teach you!”
“Thank you Patty,” I heard Cassie mumble under her breath.
“All right,” Jay said with a smile, “you tie Patty up, and Eric can copy you on one of the others.”
Cassie stood up and took two lengths of rope. She handed on to Eric, and then watched as one of the other masked men crossed and tied Mrs Cottrell’s wrists together in front of her.
“Double the rope like this Eric,” she said, “and then copy on Lisa what I do to Patty.”
I watched as Cassie put Patty’s wrists together in front of her. “No, behind me,” she said as she looked at Cassie.
“Maybe later,” Mrs McPhee said, “for now, do what we say.”
“All right,” Patty mumbled as I held my wrists out and watched Eric as he copied Cassie, tying my wrists together in front of me. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he kept saying.
“It’s all right,” I said quietly as I felt him wrap the rope around my wrists, and then his hands on mine. It was a funny feeling – but a nice one. Even nicer than when Charlie does this.
He then copied Cassie and the masked man as he tied my ankles together, and then my legs below my knees, his hands on my legs as he did so. It was exciting, and strange, and nice, and all sorts of funny feelings, as I sat back and watched Cassie tie Louise up, and then Eric. She made him sit next to me, and we rubbed shoulders as he watched her tie her legs together.
“This is strange,” he said as he wriggled his wrists, “what are we going to do all afternoon?”
“Well,” Mrs McPhee said as Jay tied Cassie up, “do you have a board game?”
“We have trivial pursuit?”
“Well, we can play that for an hour,” she said as she found the box, set it up and we played the game for a while.
Eventually, however, Patty said “I need the toilet.”
“All right,” Mrs McPhee said as she untied her, “and after that?”
She looked at us, and said “I want to be really tied up.”
“No, we don’t need that,” Mrs Cottrell said, but Jay looked at us, and then said “All right – we’ll untie you all, and then we’ll do that, but you will be untied for dinner, all right?”
“Please,” Mrs Cottrell said, but Mrs McPhee said “Don’t worry – I’ll do it, and I’ll keep an eye on all of you. Now, let’s untie you and you can go to the toilet if you need.”
A few minutes later, as I came back in, I saw Mrs McPhee hand some sponge balls to Patty, Mrs Cottrell, and then to me. “Make a fist while holding these,” she said as she picked three rolls of white tape from the bag, “and we’ll do all three of you at the same time.”
So she stood in front of Eric’s mum, Eric in front of me, and then Cassie in front of Patty, as we gripped the sponges, and they wrapped the white tape around our wrists.
“Turn round now, and cross your wrists behind your back,” Mrs McPhee said, her soft voice so calming and nice as we all did so. I felt Eric tremble as he touched my arm, so I said “It’s all right, it’s part of the game Eric. Just do what they say.”
I tried not to smile as I felt the rope around my wrists, as Eric did a good job of tying them together, and then passing the rope around my waist so that my wrists were against my back.
“Now copy me,” Cassie said behind me, as Eric started to tie some rope around my lower arms and stomach. I looked over at Mrs McPhee, who was wrapping rope around his mother’s arms above and below her chest, and hoped Patty would be content with this for now.
I looked at her, and she nodded as we were made to sit down, and then our ankles and legs secured as before. “Now,” Mrs McPhee said as Louise came in with Jay,” Take a cloth each, and put it in their mouths.”
I shivered as I watched Eric push the cloth into my mouth, and then copied Cassie by tying a knotted length of towel between my lips. “Fknu,” I mumbled as he tied the strip round, looking at the other three as they got the same treatment, and then back at Eric as he put his hands on my shoulders.
“Are you sure you’re all right,” he said, and I nodded as Mrs McPhee said “now, use the tape and wrap it round their heads.”
“Plssennn,” Mrs Cottrell said, but she was first, Cassie and Eric copying as we all fell silent.
We watched as Cassie then tied and gagged Eric, and Mrs McPhee took care of Louise, before she bound Cassie. Jay then came in, and said “Mrs McPhee will look after you, but Mum needs to rest.” He picked her up and carried her out of the room, while Mrs McPhee said “Right – what would you like to play a game of?”
“Espppy,” Patty said, Cassie and me rolling our eyes.
“Hey,” Mrs McPhee said as she looked at both of us, “you two are stars for keeping the others calm. Keep up the good work.”
We both blushed at that as Mrs McPhee said “I know – we can play one of these DVD games. You grunt the number of the answer you want to give.”
She set up the player and found one of those games where you have to answer questions about clips and so on, before setting us up and starting it. I nudged Eric in the side with my arm and said “rulrrt” to him.
He turned and nodded to me, and I could swear he was blushing as he did so.
The game was actually a lot of fun, as we ran a close run contest – and even Louise and Eric were playing along by the time Jay came back down and joined in. Seriously, it was like a normal day at home – except we were hostages.
“Whrssmmm” Eric said as he looked at Jay.
“Your mother is fine,” Jay said, “she’s on her bed, and you’ll see her later. Don’t worry Son – you’re all doing just fine.”
Eric nodded as Jay looked at his watch. “It’s time,” he said as he stood up. “Just keep nice and quiet kids – Eric’s dad is on his way home, and we want to give him a big surprise.”
We all nodded and waited until we heard a car pull up outside, and then the front door open and close. “Linda, Eric, where are…”
Mr Cottrell stooped in the doorway, eyes wide as he looked at us.
“What on earth…” he stammered as he saw all five of us sitting there, tightly bound and with white tape round our mouths, as Eric said “msreeddd.”
“Good afternoon Mr Cottrell,” Jay said as he stepped in front of us. “My name is Jay Edwards – perhaps you have heard of me?”
“Jay… But I’m just a farmer, surely you can see that?”
“Indeed – a farmer who has very good taste in antique furniture, and who is also a highly placed stockbroker,” Jay said with a smile. “As you can see, we have your son and his friends safely secured, and your wife is upstairs. I strongly advise you continue to play the game, understood?”
He looked at us all, before saying “Have they hurt you Eric?”
I smiled as he shook his head, while Mrs McPhee said “They haven’t been hurt Mr Cottrell. Just do as we say, and everyone will be just fine.”
“I want to see my wife.”
“Of course – Mrs McPhee, keep them company while we talk?”
As he went off with Jay Edwards, she turned the television to the Disney Channel, and we started to watch Phineas and Ferb. Mrs Cottrell looked in, with one of the other two masked men behind her, and asked if we were all right, before she was taken into the kitchen.
As we sat there, I started thinking about this situation. There was no doubting that as kidnappers go, Jay Edwards was one of the nicest outside of the likes of Angela I had ever met – he even stopped in for a few minutes and sat with us as we watched the television.
It was Mrs McPhee I found the most comforting though – even though we had never met, it was almost as if she knew exactly what to do or say to make me less scared. Cassie was also amazing in that respect, and so was Patty if truth be told.
I felt something nudging against me, and I turned my head to see Eric looking at me, almost smiling under the tape. I smiled back as well and nudged him, the two of us giggling as we were watched.
“I think you can remove the tape now,” Jay eventually said as the program finished, so Mrs McPhee went round each of us, unwinding the tape and then removing the cleave gags and the cloths.
“I need to go to the toilet,” Eric said, so he was untied and then taken by the other masked man.
“Now,” Mrs McPhee said, “you are going to be staying here tonight, but we’ll make it like a slumber party and sleepover. You’ll need to let your parents know however.”
“I’ll do it first,” Cassie said as she looked at us, “just tell them you’re staying with one of us. We’ve done it before, and I don’t think they’ll object. It also means they won’t worry about us.”
The others nodded as Mrs McPhee said “Which phone is yours Cassie?”
“The blue one,” she said, all of us watching as the masked woman found a number and dialled it, before putting the phone to Cassie’s cheek.
“Mum? Listen, is it all right if I sleep over at Lisa’s place tonight? We really got into a game and we want to see it through to the end.
“Yeah, I’ll be careful. Thanks Mum – I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She nodded to show Mrs McPhee she was finished, before she looked at me and said “You next.”
“The black iPhone,” I said, and as I licked my lips she put the phone to my ear.
“Granny? Hi it’s Lisa. Listen, I know you’ve come to watch us, but is it all right if I sleep over with Cassie Craig tonight?
“Yeah, that’s right my friend from across the road. We went to see a film and she’s asked me round for tea.
“All right, I’ll wait for you to call back.” As the call ended, Jay stood up and went to check something.
“She just needs to call my dad first, but he’ll say yes,” I said as we waited for my phone to ring again. It only took a couple of minutes, before it rang.
“Hi Granny? That’s great – I’ll see you in the morning.”
Nodding, I watched as Mrs McPhee collected the other two phones, and Patty and Louise made their calls. Patty said she was staying with Cassie, while Louise said she was staying with Patty.
“That’s better,” Mrs McPhee said as she put the phones back, and started to untie Louise. “Now, you go with this man here, and get ready for dinner, and the others will join you and Eric shortly.”
We all watched as Louise slowly walked out of the room and up the stairs, before Mrs McPhee turned and looked at us.
“You are all incredibly brave girls, to make this a game for her.
“It worked for me last time,” Patty said with a smile, “so I imagined it would work for her as well.”
“Oh come on Cassie,” Patty said as she looked at us, “I’m not that stupid. I know this is a real robbery, I know these are real criminals. Mum eventually told me what really happened that weekend.” She then smiled and said “Having said which, you are both very nice and kind people, Mrs McPhee. If I am going to be held hostage, I’m glad it’s by Jay and you and the others.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment – and thank you,” Mrs McPhee said. “How do you feel Lisa?”
“Not nearly as scared as I did when you walked in,” I said – truthfully as well. “Thank you for being so gentle with us.”
“You’re welcome,” she said as Louise walked past us. “Your turn Patty.”
“While I’m very glad to meet you girls, I’m really sorry it had to be this way,” Mr Cottrell said as we sat round the dinner table, eating the chicken and vegetables that we had been given. We five were all tied tightly to the chair with rope around our waists, and our ankles and legs tied together, but our arms and hands were free as we ate.
“Do you grow these on the farm,” I said as I looked at Eric, smiling as I did so.
“Yeah – we raise the chickens as well,” he said as he smiled back, and I saw his parents looking at each other.
“Well, there’s apple pie and ice cream for afters,” Mrs Cottrell said as she looked at the four masked intruders.
“You’ll enjoy that,” Mrs McPhee said as she watched us all.
“Now, as Cassie will tell you, after dinner Mr Cottrell will go with one of my friends to take care of a little business for us,” Jay said quietly as the plates were cleared away, “and you will stay here with us. So long as nothing goes wrong, tomorrow morning you’ll be able to tell your friends all about what happened.”
“Will we be tied and gagged like before?”
“I am afraid you will be, but just watch how the girls behave,” he said as he looked at us, “and follow their lead. That pie does smell good.”
“Thanks, I guess,” Mrs Cottrell said as she took the pie from the oven, and then set it on the table, before cutting slices and handing them round on plates, as well as a large tub of ice cream.
“What will you to do to them after I go,” Mr Cottrell said as he looked at Jay.
“They can watch television for a while, and then they will get ready for bed, where we will make them comfortable. I am afraid, Mrs Cottrell, we must impose on you to find something for the four girls to wear.”
“They… They can borrow some of Eric and Frank’s pyjamas,” she said, “but why must you do that?”
“It’s part of the game,” Mrs McPhee said, “to be the hostage all night, unable to raise the alarm. Isn’t that right Cassie?”
“It’s all right Mrs Cottrell,” Cassie said, “we can cope, and I know you and Eric can as well.”
“You’re all very brave,” Mrs Cottrell said, “so we will be as well. Won’t we Eric?”
I smiled as he nodded, and I saw him smile back at me – that made me feel better too.
“Right,” Jay said as the plates were cleared away, “we’ll go through to the main room with the children now. Your father will come with us until the dishes are washed and cleared away.”
We all nodded as our wrists were secured behind our back with zip ties, and then we were released from the chairs, Mr Cottrell coming with us as we sat down and watched TV again.
Half an hour later, Mrs Cottrell came in, and we watched Mr Cottrell as he got ready to go out. “Please, don’t hurt them,” he said as he put his jacket on.
“Just do what we ask you to do, and they’ll be fine,” Jay said as one of the masked men took Mr Cottrell’s arm. He looked at all of us, and said “keep safe” as he was taken out, and we heard the car drive off.
“Now then,” Mrs McPhee said as she helped Eric’s mother to stand, “I want you to come with me and change into your night clothes, and then we can begin to get the children ready.”
“They are perfectly safe with me,” Jay said as she went upstairs, returning twenty minutes later wearing a pale blue long nightdress and a matching gown over it.
“Patty, Louise, will you come with me now please,” Mrs McPhee said, the two of them going upstairs with her. When they came back down, Patty was wearing a pair of blue long pyjamas, with a picture of a Transformer on the top, while Louise was wearing a pair of checked shorts and a blue t-shirt.
“You two now,” Mrs McPhee said as she took me and Cassie upstairs. At the bathroom door, she cut our wrists free and we went in, finding two sets of what looked like Eric’s pyjamas there.
“Well, fancy meeting you here,” Cassie said with a smile as she started to strip off.
“This is just so different from last time,” I said as I stripped off and washed, then picked up a pair of blue pyjama bottoms and pulled them on, before putting the long sleeved top over my head and pulling it down.
“Not nearly as scary, right?”
“No, not nearly,” I laughed as I watched Cassie out on the top and bottoms – it was like she was putting on a black blouse and pants. We knocked and came out, Mrs McPhee taking us back to the front room and then taking Eric out.
“They suit you,” he said as he looked at me, and I blushed a little bit.
He came down soon after, in a red t-shirt and shorts, before Mrs Cottrell went with Mrs McPhee to the kitchen and brought through some glasses of milk and cookies.
Eventually, however, the inevitable happened as Jay stood up. “Time to go to bed,” he said, “Show me your youngest son’s room first, Mrs Cottrell.”
We went up the stairs in single file, and went into what was obviously Frank’s room from the pictures and books. As we lined up against the wall, we watched as Jay and Mrs McPhee started to bind Patty and Louise, covering their bunched hands in white tape before tying their wrists together behind their backs, and their arms to their bodies with rope around their waists and their tummies.
“Now, are you two ready,” Jay said as he held two folded cloths in his gloved hands. They nodded and opened their mouths as he pushed them in, then tied a knotted length of towel between their lips, before wrapping the white tape tightly round their heads.
“Remember to lie on your side or stomach,” Mrs McPhee said as they sat on Frank’s bed and watched as their ankles and legs were tied together, “and breath in and out through your noses.”
They both nodded as they lay facing each other on the bed, and Mrs McPhee picked up a book. “I’ll stay until they settle,” she said as Jay and the other man took us into Eric’s room.
“All right,” Jay said, “I’m going to need your help again young man. You copy me this time.”
“You do me Eric,” I blurted out, Cassie raising an eyebrow and then nodding. So I stood still as Eric copied Jay and tied me up.
It just felt so good, his hands holding me and then binding me. I mean, I’ve seen how Cassie feels when Bobby ties her up, or Rachel when Charlie does it – and as Eric tied my arms to my side, I had to admit I understood it for the first time. As he then gagged me, his hands on my lips, I wondered if we could be friends like Cassie and Bobby? I made a promise to myself then to ask Cassie how to do that as we sat on the bed, and allowed him and Jay to tie our legs, before we lay down facing each other, and Jay tied our ankles to the bottom of the bed.
“Sleep well girls,” he said as he turned the light off, the room dim as we looked at each other.
“Hrelllksu,” Cassie said as the door closed.
She nodded as we both slowly drifted off to sleep…
“LINDA!!! ERIC!!! GIRLS!!! WHERE ARE YOU?”
I opened my eyes to see Cassie looking at me, and as I rolled over to face the door I saw it open and Mr Cottrell standing there, his eyes wide and his clothes dishevelled.
“There are two girls in here as well,” a policeman behind him said, and as they moved on a policewoman came in and looked at us.
“Don’t move girls,” she said as she unravelled the tape from my mouth, and then untied the cloth and removed the rest of the gag.
“We’re all right – Patty and Louise?”
“The two younger girls,” she said as she ungagged Cassie, “they’re a bit stiff, but all right. You two?”
“We’re fine, but stiff,” Cassie said as she worked her jaw, “you need to make sure that…”
“Oh god Andrew,” we heard Mrs Cottrell say, and the policewoman smiled. “Let’s get everyone free and downstairs, and then we’ll talk to you all about what happened, all right?”
We both nodded as she started to untie our legs.
As we went into the front room, we saw Eric and Mrs Cottrell sitting there, her arms around him.
“Are you girls all right,” she said as she looked at us.
“We’re fine,” I said, “it’s not the first time we’ve met him. How are you?”
“I’m all right,” Eric said as he looked at me, “I was more worried I had hurt you.”
“You didn’t” I said with a smile as Cassie nudged me.
“Hey – how are you?”
“We’re fine,” Mrs Cottrell said as Patty and Louise came in, and we all sat down.
“Where’s your dad,” Louise said to Eric.
“Talking to the police – apparently they’ve already…”
“Oh – hi Dad,” Louise said as her father came in, knelt down and hugged her, before he looked at her.
“What happened? The police called and said you were held hostage, and…”
“It’s all right Dad – it was a game for me and Patty, isn’t that right Patty?”
“That’s right Mr Hobson,” Cassie said, “we treated it as a game.”
“We had to call you and say it was a sleepover to stop the alarm being raised – I’m really sorry I lied to you Dad.”
“You didn’t have a choice,” he said as he kissed her forehead. “I’m just glad you’re all right.” He suddenly looked over and said “sorry, I’m Jack Hobson, Louise’s dad.”
“Linda Cottrell – and this is my husband Andrew.”
He stood up and shook Mr Cottrell’s hand. “I can only imagine what this was like for you.”
“Hi Dad,” Cassie said as Mr Craig hugged her, and I hugged Mum and Dad.
“You have got to stop doing this, young lady – who was it?”
Cassie made a strange face and said “Jay Edwards?”
“Again! What is it with you and him?”
“What on earth were you doing here anyway,” Mum said as she kissed my forehead.
Mrs Pickering came in and picked Patty off the floor as the police officer came in.
“We need to talk to Mrs Cottrell and the children,” he said quietly, “before you take them home. A paramedic also needs to check them over, but I don’t think they’ve been harmed physically. Apparently three of the girls have met this man before?”
“Sadly, yes,” Cassie’s dad said, “can we stay with them?”
He nodded as Mr Cottrell said “Let me get some drinks for all of you.”
“Mr Cottrell, how are you,” I asked.
“As sore as the rest of you,” he said with a sigh. “Drinks first.”
When I walked into the front room, Granny Williamson and Charlie were sitting waiting for me.
“Thank god you’re all right,” Granny said as she gave me a hug, and I looked at Charlie.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked you to…”
“Mum, thanks for sticking around,” Dad said as he hugged Granny, “you helped a great deal.”
“Come on Mark,” she said in her soft West Country voice, “I wanted to be sure she was fine. But I do need to get going.”
“I’ll see you out,” Mum said as Granny hugged and kissed me again. Dad looked at both of us and said “sit down, both of you – we need to have a talk.”
Charlie and I looked at each other and nodded as we heard Mum saying goodbye to Granny, and then closing the door. As she came back in, she sat down and looked at us.
“We had a chat with Mr and Mrs Cottrell before we brought Lisa home,” Dad said, “so we know you’ve been going round there for the last couple of weeks Charlie. We also know now that you’d been round there before yesterday Lisa. The question we have to ask you is, why didn’t you tell me or your mother where you were?”
We looked at each other, before Charlie said “I’m sorry Dad – I met Frank, their youngest son, when I was exploring in the woods, and we became friends, but he’s incredibly shy, and he made me promise not to tell anyone that we were friends.”
“And you agreed because,” Mum said as she sat back.
“Well, when I say incredibly shy, I mean he runs away if he sees someone he doesn’t know – he did when you first met him, didn’t he Lisa?”
“That’s right Dad – he ran straight into the house when Cassie and I went there with Eric and Brian…”
I suddenly blushed as I looked at Mum and Dad. “And you met him because?”
“Well, Cassie and I wanted to know where Charlie was sneaking off to, so we followed him to the farmhouse, only Brian Hampton and Eric surprised us as well. The two of us became friend with Eric and Frank, but we wanted to protect Frank as well.”
“I see,” Dad said, “so yesterday?”
“Yesterday, Charlie asked if I would take a book round to Frank, but I didn’t tell you because we were keeping it a secret – for Frank’s sake. Cassie came with me, and then Patty and Louise joined us. We got there, stayed for a sandwich, and – well, you heard me tell the policeman what happened after that.”
Mum and Dad looked at both of us, before Dad said “Well, having met Frank today, I can see just how shy he is. So I understand why you did it, but in future you need to tell us if you are visiting again, all right?”
“Right, I’ll start tea,” Mum said as she left us, Dad following.
“Thanks,” Charlie said, “and I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“It’s all right, I survived,” I said as I hugged Charlie.
“Where are we going, Dad,” Charlie said as he sat next to me in the back of the car. It had been five days since the incident, and we were a few days away from a surprise holiday to the US. Mum and Dad had told us about it the day before – a two week trip to New England.
“Well,” Dad said, “I know you don’t read the papers, so you may not have heard that the firm that Mr Cottrell worked for has collapsed, and he has had to look for a new job. Fortunately, he did not have to look very far for one.”
“Oh,” I said, “where did he get a new job?”
“Working for me,” Dad said as I realised we were heading to the Cottrell farm. As we stopped outside, Mr and Mrs Cottrell came to the front door.
“Hello Mark,” Mr Cottrell said as he shook Dad’s hand, “thanks for coming round for lunch today.”
“Thank you for inviting us,” Dad said as we went in. Mark, Frank and Eric were all sitting in the front room, Eric smiling as I came in.
“Why don’t we go through and eat,” Mrs Cottrell said, “and then the boys can take you somewhere while we talk.”
Lunch was delicious – sausages and mash with onion gravy, and sponge pudding. After we had eaten, Charlie and Frank went out into the yard, while Mark and Eric took me to Eric’s room.
As soon as the two of us went in, however, Mark said “Sorry guys, I have to go somewhere – have fun.” He ran off, Eric smiling as he said “He’s probably gone to see Mary.”
“I heard they were going out,” I said as I sat down, Eric sitting next to me.
“Yeah – he’s lucky,” Eric said. We sat in silence for a minute, before he said “Lisa, about the other day…”
“Yeah,” I said as I looked at him.
“Well… I… I just wanted to say I thought you were incredibly brave.”
“Thank you,” I said with a smile, “you were brave as well.”
“Not really – I was scared witless, but I realised…”
He turned and smiled as he said “I realised if you could be brave, so could I.”
I smiled as well as he said “Want to know something? They were so gentle and kind, I forgot I was a hostage and just relaxed.”
“Yeah – that happened the first time I met him,” I said.
“Can I tie your wrists together – in front of you?”
I nodded and watched as he took a skipping rope and held my hands, looking at me and smiling as he wrapped the rope around my wrists and tied them together. It was simple, but I could see he was really good at tying knots.
“You’re good,” I said as he picked up a second rope and tied my ankles together.
“Well, I have to tie bundles here – I was just so nervous that night that…”
“It’s all right,” I said as I moved my arms and legs, “I understand.” No way was I getting out of these without help. He then produced a pack of cards and said “want to play Go Fish?”
We played cards for an hour or so, and then he said “Lisa, I’d like to play again someday, if that’s possible?”
“I’d like that very much,” I said with a smile. “You can come round to my house any time you want.”
“No I can’t” he said as he shook his head, “it’s an hour’s drive away.”
“Actually, its fifteen minutes walk.”
“What?” Eric looked at me as if I had grown a second head.
“Untie me and I’ll show you.”
Eric untied me, and then I grabbed his hand, taking him down the stairs and out of the house before we headed to the trees and along the path.
“Where on earth are we going,” he said as we walked along.
“Short cut – it’s how Charlie gets from our house to yours,” I said as we walked across the field, turned right and walked down the street. “And here we are – this is my house on the right hand side here.”
“Oh my goodness,” Eric said quietly, “I never realised we lived so close to each other.”
“Relatively speaking,” I said as I looked at our house with him. “So you see, you can come round any it…”
“Eric? Lisa? I thought you were at Eric’s house today?”
I turned round to see Cassie and Jenny standing there. Because I was visiting, I had on a summer dress that came to my knees, and shoes, while they wore jeans, sweatshirts and trainers.
“Oh, hi,” I said, “yeah, I was showing Eric how to get here, in case he wants to come round with Frank.”
“Yeah,” Cassie said, “I can see you brought him here.”
“Oh – well, we are here and…”
“And you’re holding his hand.”
We both suddenly looked down, then at each other as we turned bright red and let go of each other’s hand.
“Forgive my sister,” Jenny said, “I’m Jenny Craig - so you’re Mark Cottrell’s brother?”
“Yeah,” Eric said as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Anyway, we’d better get back,” I said as I looked at them, “see you later Cas?”
“Sure – and I won’t tell Patty,” she said as we walked back…
We got back just as Mum, Dad and Charlie were saying their goodbyes to Mr and Mrs Cottrell.
“Oh – and where did you two get to,” Dad said as he looked at us.
“I was showing Lisa round the farm,” Eric said as he looked at his parents.
“All right then,” his mum said, “we’ll see you soon, Mark and Yvonne.”
“I look forward to it,” Dad said as we got into the car and drove off.
When we sat down to tea that night, Mum and Dad had something else to tell us.
“It’s long past time we took a family holiday,” Dad said as we were eating, “so we’re going in a week’s time?”
“Where to,” Charlie said as he cut into his steak.”
He stopped as he looked at Mum and Dad. “Maine? As in The US?”
“That’s right,” Mum said, “and I hope you don’t mind, but Alicia and her Uncle Alexander will be coming out with us. Sarah and Brian have asked them to be godparents for their babies, so they are going over for the ceremony.”
“We’re going to America? That’s wonderful!” I said as I looked at them. “When?”
“I’ll tell you next week – for now, eat up and then think about what you might want to take.”
I was in my room the next morning when there was a knock on the front door. At first, I wasn’t worried about it, but then I heard Mum says “Charlie? Lisa? Will you both come down please?”
We both same down from out rooms, me in my shorts and t-shirt, Charlie in a pair of chinos and a shirt, but were taken completely by surprise when we saw Frank and Eric standing there.
“Hi,” Eric said, “Sorry to drop in unannounced, but Frank wanted to come and play with Charlie, and he was too scared to come on his own. So I said I’d come with him and show him the way.”
“I hope that’s all right,” Frank said quietly as he looked at Mum.
“It’s all right – we’re glad you came round, aren’t we Charlie?”
“Oh yeah – come on up, Frank,” Charlie said as he took Frank by the hand. “We’ll be in my room, mum.”
“Thank you,” Frank said as he went up with Charlie.
“Well, I’ll be back later to pick him up,” Eric said, but as he turned I said “Listen – you know how scared Frank can be. Maybe you should stay with him – we can play in my room if you want?”
“I’d like that,” Eric said as he took his mobile phone out, “just let me call my folks first, and let them know I’ll be here.”
Once he’d made the call, I went up to my room with him following, Mum shaking her head as she went back to the kitchen.
“Frank did a very brave thing,” I said as I closed the door and sat on the bed.
“Both of us really,” Eric said quietly. “How are you?”
“I’m fine – why do you ask?”
“Curious,” I he said as he looked at the rucksack. “Sorting some things out?”
“Yeah – we’re going on holiday in a few days to America.”
“Wow – that’s nice,” Eric said as he kicked his legs to and fro. “So, yesterday, when we played that game in my room?”
“Yeah,” I said as I went to my bookcase.
“I really liked playing that game, and I was wondering if you want to play it again, only…”
I turned and looked at Eric, saying “Only?”
“Only – I was wondering if I could do some more today.”
“Such as,” he said as he blushed, “tie you up really tightly, as tightly as we both were at the night-time. I mean, I understand if it would bring back bad memories, and if you would not want to, but…”
I took my box of supplies out from under my bed, and said “I would very much like you to tie me up like that, Eric.” I opened the box, took out some tape and two sponges, as well as a pair of old sports socks, and put them on the bed, holding the sponges in my fists as I said “Please, use the tape and the socks to cover my hands.”
Eric smiled as he covered my hands in the white tape, and then pulled the socks over my hands and arms.
“You can use the tape to secure the socks to my arms, “I said quietly, “and then you can start.”
So he did, taping the socks to my bare arms, and then crossing and tying my wrists tightly together behind my backs, then to me with rope around my waist.
“That’s not too tight, is it,” he said.
“No, that’s fine,” I said with a smile as he tied my arms to my sides, and then sat me down on the bed.
“Hey you two, Frank and I were wondering if…” Charlie stopped and looked at me and Eric, before he said “Well now – I see you’ve really joined the club.”
Eric blushed as Frank looked at me. “Coo – are you all right Lisa,” he said quietly.
“Don’t worry – Lisa and I and our friends play these games all the time. We’ll leave them to it,” he said as they left the room, and Eric knelt down, tying my ankles and then my legs together.
“That’s good,” I said as I wriggled about, and then sat on the bed. “So what are you going to do to me now, you foul fiend?”
“Tickle torture you,” he said as he started to tickle my sides, making me wriggle round and call out as he did so.
I turned to see Cassie standing in the doorway, a smile on her face as she looked at us. “Enjoying yourselves?”
“Yes, we are,” I said, “Why?”
“She came over and looked at the ropes, then at Eric. “Can you do the same to me?”
He looked at me, and I nodded as I said “Plenty of supplies in the box.”
I watched as Eric did as good a job on Cassie as he did one me, and then we were both sitting on the bed, watching as he took out some strips of towel, with knots tied in the middle, and two small hankies.
“It’s all right,” I said quietly, “you can do it,” and opened my mouth as he put one of the folded cloths in, and then pulled the knot between my teeth. Once he had Cassie as quiet, he wrapped the tape round our heads, and then helped us both to lie down, rolling us to face each other before he pulled my ankles back and tied them to my chest.
Cassie looked at him as he said “Jay Edwards did this to mum – you don’t mind if I do it to you?”
I tried moving my ankles and shook my head from side to side, watching as he did the same to Cassie.
I looked at Eric as he sat and started to read a book, and then back to Cassie.
It was like that for an hour, before Mum looked in, saw us and said “Eric, your mum called – you need to take Frank home. I’ll take care of the girls later.”
“See you when you get back, if not before,” Eric said as he looked at me, and I nodded in reply as he left the room.
Cassie raised an eyebrow, and I could see she was giggling, but I didn’t care. I had my Bobby now, and it felt fantastic.