Looking For a New England - Part 3
It was seven by the time we got to the house, and as we walked up to the front door Maria opened it to let us in. She was joining in the fun, her usual grey dress replaced by a long white shroud that covered her body, and a fake bolt through her neck.
“This way,” she said as we heard the music coming from inside the room, while Aunt Veronica came out to join us. “There you are,” she said as she walked to us, her Elvira outfit holding her legs together as if she was hobbled, “come in, come in - the party is just starting.”
We walked into the room, and saw a number of the local girls and our friends standing round and talking. “That’s Chloe and Andrea over there,” I said as I pointed to two girls in the corner. Andrea was wearing a long black Goth dress, with pale makeup, while Chloe was dressed as a French aristocrat who had just come from the guillotine - a very different style from her usual chunky sweaters and tights.
“Ah, Heidi, mon ami,” she said as she came over, “These must be your friends from England, no? Welcome - I am Chloe, and this is my friend Andrea.”
“Very nice to meet you,” Jenny said as I say Natalie on the other side of the room. She had come as a cave girl, which suited her barefoot style down to the ground. “I’ll be back in a minute,” I said as I left the group, “I’m sure aunt Veronica will be starting the games soon.”
I walked over and picked up a glass of punch. “Hey Nats,” I said as I approached her, “How are you feeling?”
“Great,” Natalie said as she looked at the others. “I heard about last night - how are the others doing?”
“Better - I’m amazed at how brave Cindy was though. As for the others - well, it’s still a game to Cassie and Suzie.” I took a sip from my cup, then said “What did you think of the weekend?”
“Different - but I needed the time out,” Natalie said with a rueful smile. “I can understand why you lot found it so helpful.” She looked as if she wanted to say more, but Aunt Veronica interrupted to say “We’re ready to start the games now, and n the first is an all time classic - ducking for apples. Line up in front of the two tubs, and we’ll begin.”
I saw both Miranda and Lucinda smile as two lines were formed. Cassie had taken off her Pumpkin to reveal an orange bodysuit, and her wrists had been released at the same time.
“Now remember, hands behind your back and try to get an apple with your teeth,” Aunt Veronica said as Chloe and Andrea stood behind each of the tubs. One by one, the girls came forward and started to try and catch an apple in their mouths.
As Margo and Britney came forward, they both held their hands behind their back and plunged their heads in, emerging as one with an apple in their mouths. “Esseeee,” they both mumbled as they walked off, the red and black makeup starting to run down their faces as they joined the other successful players.
Aunt Veronica smiled at me and Cindy as she said “Right - for the next game we need to go into the next room, where Maria has some things set up for you to try and eat.”
“It’s the treacle scone game, isn’t it,” Cindy whispered as the assorted costumed guests made their way out. “Remember the first time I came here and we played this game?”
I sure did - that was the night that Cindy was first tied up, and as I thought about that night I realized just how much had happened in the time since then. It hardly seemed like a year ago, what with all the adventures we had had since then, but it was.
We were last in, watching as one by one the girls had their hands tied behind their backs with ribbons, and Chloe and Andrea put blindfolds on the first two to take part. From the ceiling dangled all sorts of scones and sweets, as Aunt veronica guided the first two into the centre of the room, spun them round and said “Right - first one to bite into something wins!”
I always loved this game, and I love seeing the others taking part. When it came to Suzie and Cassie, they went for it with all guns blazing, as did Alicia and Jenny. The real surprise came, however, when it was the turn of Margo and Britney. There was a look in their eyes, just before the blindfolds went on, that I recognized from one other time. Taking Nats and Cindy to one side, I whispered “Did you see the way Jannifer’s sisters looked at each other there.”
Cindy nodded, and said “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Hide and Seek?”
They both nodded, so I slipped over and had a quick word with Aunt Veronica. She nodded as the last couple of girls took their turn, then said “Right, girls - the party food is ready. Follow my faithful monster maid, if you please.”
“Not you four,” I said as I stopped Cassie, Suzie, Margo and Britney. “You come with us - we want you to do something else. Don’t worry - we’ll get you the food later.”
“What’s up,” Cassie said as Aunt Veronica closed the door.
“We’re going to play a game of hide and seek,” she said with a smile, “and we want you four to be it. To play the game, however, means you cannot warn the others where you are, so we may need to stop you from moving and talking for a while. Up for it?”
I knew Cassie and Suzie would be, but the big question was, what about the other two? They looked at each other, before saying “What do you mean, unable to move or talk?”
“It’s great fun,” Cassie said with a laugh. “You get your wrists and ankles tied together, a scarf in your mouth, and you have to pretend you really can’t move.”
I was so grateful Cassie said that, given just how she likes to be tied up - it would be unfair to inflict that on the other two if this was their first time, and I had a sneaking suspicion it was.
Eventually, Margo said “Will it hurt?” Aunt Veronica smiled and handed her a length of parachute cord. “It won’t hurt if we do it properly,” she said with a smile, “see how it feels?” The twins nodded as the felt the rope, before Suzie said “Here - let me show you.” She turned round and put her hands behind her back, crossing her wrists as Andrea took the length and wrapped it round her arms.
“You’re good at this,” Suzie said as Andrea cinched the ropes, while Cassie did the same and Chloe started to bind her wrists. “You have done this before, have you not?” Chloe said as Cassie looked at her over her shoulders.
“Many times - in fact, I had my wrists tied under my costume tonight.”
“You did,” Margo said as she looked at the two younger girls. “I wish I had the courage to do that in public. IS it really comfortable?”
“nice and snug,” Cassie said as she nodded. “Go on - it won’t hurt?”
Britney and Margo looked at each other, and then stood with their hands behind their back as Andrea and Chloe did their worst. When they had finished, Aunt Veronica stood behind each of them and gave them a simple cleave gag,. Using some head squares rolled into bands.
“Wcnstlttlklkts,” Margo mumbled as the cloth went into her mouth. “Of course you can - you have to pretend you can’t say anything,” Andrea said as Aunt Veronica opened the door. “Right - we’ll take you upstairs,” she said, but as they walked out I stopped Andrea and Chloe and whispered into their ears.
“Are you sure,” Andrea said as she looked at me. I nodded, and said “Trust me - they’ll thank you for it. Just make sure it’s not obvious.”
“As you wish,” Chloe said as they followed the quartet up the stairs. I made my way to the dining room, finding Alicia and Heidi talking with Natalie.
“Where are the kids,” Natalie said as she looked at me.
“Getting ready for the next game,” I said as I grabbed a pumpkin tart from Maria as she went past. “I think you’ll like it.”
“Oh yeah,” Jenny said as she looked at me, “and just what have you got planned?”
“A game of hide and seek - and those four are the captives. Don’t worry - I asked Chloe and Andrea to make sure they were well secured, separately from Margo and Britney.”
“I’m not worried about them,” Alicia said quietly, “I’d be worried about Chloe and Andrea. I heard the two of them talking this morning, and saying they were itching to prove they weren’t just little kids. I got the distinct feeling some of your friends have been treating them with kid gloves.”
“Well, it’s understandable - I don’t think they quite believe how good I say they are.”
I could see Jenny wanted to say something else, but she was stopped by Aunt Veronica coming in. “I have some distressing news,” she said as she winked at Lucinda and Miranda. “Four of our guests have disappeared, and I think they are been held somewhere in the house. I need you all to look for them - a special prize for each girl who finds one of them.”
The girls looked at each other and started to run out of the room, leaving the four of us with Aunt Veronica and Maria as well as a room of food.
“Well, that should take them a little while,” Aunt Veronica said as she poured herself a glass of juice, “I left the twins nice and secure in two separate bedrooms, and I saw Chloe and Andrea take Cassie and Suzie up to the attic.” She paused and looked at us for a moment. “Why - what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I hope,” I say as there was a shout of excitement and the door opened. A group of three, a Native American princess, a ghoul and a mummy brought Margo back in, a smile on her gagged lips as she walked with them.
“We found her hopping round upstairs,” the mummy said, “so we untied her legs and brought her down.
“Very well done, girls - I’ll give you your prize later,” Aunt Veronica said as she untied Margo’s wrists and ungagged her. “That was fun,” she said as the cloth was removed from her mouth, “Can we do that again?”
“Maybe later,” Jannifer said as she watched her younger sister take a glass of juice and a tart. “How come you never played with them at home, Jannifer,” Alice said as she looked at Margo as well.
“Mum and Dad won’t allow those games at home,” Jannifer said with a rueful smile, “otherwise I might have kept them out of my hair a bit more often.”
“You’re beginning to sound like Bobby,” Alicia said with a smile as we listened to the sound of the other girls running around upstairs. Eventually the door opened as a green faced Martian and a girl in a white ghost outfit brought Britney with them.
“She was in a bedroom,” they said as they removed the scarf from Britney’s mouth. “That was fun,” she said as she worked her jaw, “can we do that at home some time, Jannifer?”
I looked at Jannifer, then at Aunt Veronica, who said “Look - why don’t the three of you come to dinner on Friday, and you can play then?” Jannifer blushed and nodded as Britney ran over to join her sister.
“Thanks, Miss Cabot,” Jannifer said as the door to the room opened again. One by one the other girls started to return, but there was no sign of Cassie or Suzie. Slightly more worrying, I could not see Chloe or Andrea anywhere.
“What do you think’s happened,” Jenny whispered into my ear when the door opened, and I expected to see either Chloe or Andrea come in. Instead, I could see Alice’s jaw drop as both Suzie and Cassie came in, calmly walking to the table and getting a drink and a snack each.
“Wh…” Jenny said as she looked at them. “Shouldn’t you be waiting for others to find you?”
“Oh we got bored with that - so we came to get a drink,” Cassie said with a big smile.”
“Yeah - the other two girls tied us up, but we decided to show them how it should be done,” Jenny said before the two of them headed towards Britney and Margo.
“They decided - oh dear lord,” I said as I looked at Aunt Veronica. “You don’t think they…” Aunt Veronica must have had the same thought, remembering that summer afternoon in the UK, as she said “you girls go and find them, we’ll play some more games down here.”
As one, Jenny, Alicia, Jannifer, Alice, Natalie, Cindy and myself left the room while Aunt Veronica said “Who wants to play Spooky Chairs?” We walked slowly up the stairs, and checked all the bedrooms, bathrooms and cupboards, but there was no sign of Chloe or Andrea.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” I said as I led the way up to the attic. As we climbed the staircase, we could hear muffled calls from the other side of the door that led to the roof space. Putting my finger to my lips, I slowly opened the door and looked in.
There were Chloe and Andrea, struggling on the floor as they turned their heads in the direction of the noise. Their faces were covered by large shawls which had been pulled over their heads and tied behind them.
Jenny went over and untied the scarves, letting the two older girls blink in the light from the bulb above us. Their mouths and cheeks were wrapped in microfoam tape, and we could see they had their mouths very well stuffed underneath.
Their wrists were crossed and tightly bound together in the smalls of their backs, with rope around their waists, and their hands taped over with the white tape. Their arms were tightly drawn into their sides with bands of rope, which had been pulled together behind their backs, while their ankles, knees and thighs were lashed together and where possible cinched. Finally, their ankles had been drawn back and secure to their chest ropes.
“Well now,” I said as I knelt next to Chloe and Andrea, “they really did a number on you didn’t they?” Chloe nodded and said “mnddeeeee” as she looked at me.
“Let me guess - you have a cloth in your mouth, a knotted length of something between your lips, a scarf around your mouth and then the tape, correct?”
Andrea nodded as she looked at her friend. Whewdddthlrnt,” she mumbled as she rolled over onto her side.
“Practice,” was all Jenny could say before she did something I had hoped she would do eventually - laugh. A great, wonderful laugh that spread over all of us, even Chloe and Andrea as they rolled around on the floor.
Eventually, I wiped my eyes and said “Do you two want to be freed now? Aunt Veronica is going to wonder what has happened to you.” Both Chloe and Andrea nodded, and as Alicia and Jenny got to work on the ropes I unwound the tape from their mouths, revealing the silk scarves that had been tied over their lips. Removing them revealed the knotted cloth strips, and then finally the folded handkerchiefs that had been pushed into their mouths.
“Mon dieu,” Chloe said as she worked her mouth, “To be so skilled and strong when they are so young… And yet they were so gentle with it as well.”
“I agree,” Andrea said as she got onto her feet, “They could have a lot to teach us.” I looked at Jenny and Alicia, who simply shrugged their shoulders as we all went downstairs.
“There you are,” Maria finally said as we came down, looking at some of the girls leaving, “Miss Veronica is looking for you in the lounge.”
“Thanks, Maria,” I said as we made our way into the lounge. We were just in time to see the two grandmothers binding the legs of Cassie, Jenny, Margo and Britney as they sat next to each other on the floor. Jannifer was pushing a balled up sock into Britney’s mouth, while Alice was smoothing a length of brown plaster over Margo’s closed lips.
“Ah there you are,” Aunt Veronica said as Jannifer stared at her sisters. “They agreed to be like this while Lucinda tells us a story - one I believe you have heard Heidi.” All four had their hands behind their back, and ropes around their waists and arms, while their ankles were tied together in front of them.
“A ghost story,” Alice said as she sat down, “I’d love to hear it - but I’m scared I might call out at the wrong moment.” I watched as Jannifer, Cindy and Natalie all nodded in agreement, before saying “Well, we can tie you up and gag you as well if you want.”
“Please,” Jannifer said as the four of them turned and crossed their wrist behind their backs. I looked at Jenny and Alicia, who just nodded as they picked up more lengths of rope and got to work.
Fifteen minutes later, there were two rows of bound and very tightly gagged girls sitting on the floor, one a line of ten year olds nudging each other and giggling, the other a line of twelve and thirteen year olds looking at their younger sisters and friends.
“Jenny, your sister is truly gifted,” Chloe said a she sat down next to her, “Where did you learn such skills, such techniques?”
“A long story - which I’ll tell you later,” I heard Jenny say as Lucinda started her tale. ““The legend of the Holderness Shadow is said to date back to the time of the first Baronet. It was the year 1820, and Bartholomew Holderness was riding with his brother Horatio on the estate when they found signs of poachers...”
I had heard the tale before, as had Suzie and Cassie, but it was still fascinating to watch the reactions of the others as they listened, gasping as they heard of Bartholomew and Horatio Holderness for the first time. As I glanced to my side, however, I was surprised to see that Chloe was paying rapt attention as well, especially when Lucinda talked about the man who had shot and killed the brother.
There was a light of attention in her eye, as she listened to every detail of the events that she told of, until it came to the most recent event.
“When we were all in that room, and the lights went out, I saw a shade in the corner of the room, looking at me and all of us there. I watched as he walked in front of that horrible woman, and stood there, just looking down at her. The colour paled from her face - even in the dark I could see that - and then the lights came back on, and our rescuers appeared”
“Dtthrllhpn,” Cindy mumbled as she looked at Alicia and Jenny. Both of them nodded as Aunt Veronica said “And now it’s my turn...”
“Are you all right, Chloe,” I whispered to my French friend as she sat next to me.
“Hmm - oh, I am fine Heidi. It is just so strange a story to hear - and it reminds me of another tale.”
“One you can share here?”
“No - it is a very personal family legend. Perhaps one day.” She said as she sat back. I could tell something had intrigued her, but decided to press it no further.
“Andrea,” I said instead turning to my other side, “why was Anne Duncombe at your house last night when Cindy came round?”
Andrea looked at me and said “It was a bit strange - we had just finished Dinner when she knocked on the door. She wanted to talk to Mum about some of the things that happened while we were away - when you were in the UK. Having said that, when Cindy banged on the door and told us what was happening, it was almost as if Anne was not surprised at all. She just up and went while we calmed Cindy down.
Another thing to wonder about - Anne barely knows Coral Blackwood, at least not as well as Mum and Aunt Veronica do, I shelved that one for another day as I saw Cassie’s eyes start to close.
“Aunt Veronica,” I said as I looked at her, “I think it might be time for them to leave.”
“Hmmm - ah, I see what you mean Heidi. Yes, it is getting late, and you all still have school tomorrow. Perhaps we should end there.” She stood up and started to untie Margo.
“Dntwnnbntd,” she mumbled as her eyes started to droop. “We’d better,” Jannifer said as she was untied and her gag removed.
“Do not bother with Cassie and Jenny,” Miranda said as she stretched and stood up, “We can put them to bed as they are.” She and Lucinda lifted the two younger grills as if they weighed nothing and carried them out of the room, Maria following behind them.
“Come on,” I said as Jannifer helped Britney and Margo to stand, and they went to call their mother. “We’ll run you home.”
Alice and Cindy nodded as I followed them and Mum. It had been a good day - but the week was not over yet...
Thursday, 12 pm
I had not had much of a chance to talk to the girls about yesterday - especially Jannifer and Cindy, but the lunch recess gave the three of us a chance to get together.
“How are your adorable brats this morning,” I said to Jannifer as she sat down on the bench opposite me.
“Incorrigible - I hope you realize you’ve opened a hornet’s nest with those two now. They want to know if I can tie them up after school today - but I’m petrified of what Mum and Dad are going to say.”
“Have you thought of actually asking them if it’s all right to play these games? I know Cassie and Jenny hid it for a while, but when they found out there was no problem.”
“Yeah, well - their dad is probably not one of the local detectives in the police force, is he?”
“No - he does something in banking. But your dad is going to kick up a stink just because of his job?” I picked up a French fry and stuck it in my mouth as I watched Jannifer playing with her food.
“Do you remember a year or two back, that big scandal about a modeling ring that was kidnapping young girls?”
I nodded - I remember hearing the story at the time, how Police had been led to four houses across the country and rescued a number of young girls who had gone missing.
“Well, Dad was one of the team that moved on the house in Maine. I guess it shook him up a bit, so I’m keeping it quiet for the moment.” I nodded in understanding - I could imagine how that would affect someone.
Cindy came and sat next to us - but this was not the casual, relaxed Cindy we knew. She was dressed in a long sleeved blouse under a petticoat dress, and she looked at us as if to dare us to pass comment.
“Washing machine broke down,” Jannifer said, accepting the bet.
“Nope - I’m going out with Mum after school. We’re taking Jenny and Cassie and their grandmother to the Church to meet some of the ministry team, and then off to dinner after. Apparently she arranged it with Miranda last night, while we were - otherwise occupied upstairs. Where have they gone today anyway?”
“Cascade Park, I think,” I said as I bit into my burger, “and then they persuaded Lucinda to allow them to do one of the SK tours. I think their grandmothers felt they needed some fresh air after the last couple of days. I’m sleeping over at Aunt Veronica’s tonight anyway - so I’ll keep Alicia and Suzie company.”
“Do you always have to dress like that for church?”
“Only when we’re meeting the minister - I think Mum wants to keep on the right side of him for some reason,” Cindy said as she stuck a fork into her salad bowl. “I don’t want to talk about it just now - it’s going to be a boring night anyway.”
Thursday, 7 pm
I watched Natalie as she sat cross-legged on the floor, looking at me and Alicia. Suzie was sitting in her pajamas, reading a book they had bought today with Lucinda, while Aunt Veronica and Maria were clearing away the dinner plates.
“Well,” Lucinda said as she looked at us, “If you are truly unable to find anything to do, then perhaps you would appreciate a challenge?”
I was in a pair of my old dungarees and a white t-shirt, with some sport socks on my feet, while Alicia was wearing a pair of purple and blue leggings and a matching t-shirt. “What did you have in mind, Grandma,” she said as she looked over at Lucinda.
“Let me get Suzie off to bed first - she’s exhausted after the last few days,” she said as she stood up and took Suzie by the hand. The younger Holderness yawned and waved to us as we went off, and Natalie stretched her legs out from under her gypsy skirt.
“What sort of challenge does she have in mind,” she said as she looked at me and Alicia. We just smiled - we had been on the receiving end of a challenge from Lady Holderness before, and we were looking forward to it.
“Right,” she eventually said as she came back, three pairs of sports socks in her hands, “I want you to put these on your hands, and then lie down and cross your wrists behind your back.”
“Simple start, right,” Natalie said as she pulled the socks and then lay down, crossing her wrists behind the tie dyed top she was wearing. The look on her face when Lucinda quickly and tightly tied her wrist was a pleasure to see, as she whispered “Sorry - won’t make fun of you again.”
“Thank you,” Lucinda said as she went to Alicia and I’ swiftly binding our wrists before going back alone and lashing our ankles tightly together, side by side. After that, we rolled over and sat up as she lashed our wrist against the small of the back; the way I know the others liked it.
As she started to tie our legs together below our knees, Aunt Veronica and Maria came in. “I asked Maria to stay for a while,” she said as she sat down, “and it looks like it was a good idea. A little challenge, Lucinda?”
“Something different,” she said as she bent Alicia’s knees and then passed some rope around her arms and chest, pulling them tightly into her sides as she wound the rope round and tied it in front of her. She then passed the rope under Alicia’s knees, leaving her looking as if she was a ball as she tied the ropes back to her chest.
As she worked her way down the line, we all ended up the same way, before she helped us to shuffle into a circle and tied our arms to each other, my left one to Natalie and my right one to Alicia.
“Very nice,” Veronica said as she stood up and inspected us, “I wonder if Dorothy is having as much fun?”
“I do not know, Miss Veronica,” Maria said as she looked on interested, “but Miss Natalie looks as if she is enjoying it.”
“I am,” Natalie said as she tried to move her legs, “So what is the idea, get free?”
“Eventually yes - but first you need to be quiet. Open your mouths girls.”
“Talk to you later, girls,” Alicia said before Lucinda pushed a handkerchief into her mouth, followed by one for me and Natalie. She then produced a wide roll of brown sticking plaster and smoothed it over our mouths, sealing our lips. I had tried this stuff before, but Natalie had never had it as a gag, so the sight one her head as she tried to move her lips must have been precious.
“Very nice, Lucinda,” Aunt Veronica said as she looked at us. She was wearing a blue silk jumper and jeans while Lucinda had on a pair of grey slacks and a silk blouse. “Would you be up for a challenge as well?”
“I s that a dare. Miss Cabot?” Alicia giggled, so I presumed she had seen a smile on her grandmother’s face.
“It is - Maria, will you fetch the ropes and do the honours please?”
Now, I need to explain something about Maria. She has been Aunt Veronica’s maid for a few years now, before I really knew her, but normally she kept very much to the background. She had a lot to thank my Aunt Veronica for - apparently, she had been a housekeeper to a family that has suffered in the crash in the 90’s, and Veronica had given her a job after that.
She also had an interesting history - in her younger days she had been something of a glamour model, in the days when that involved posing for the sort of magazines you now find on the top shelves. She had also done some bondage shots, which had proved useful from time to time to Aunt Veronica.
“Maria, will you do the honours for Lucinda and myself, then stay until we have finished? I’ll run you home after that,” Veronica said as Maria came back in.
“Of course, Miss Veronica,” Maria said as she placed the box on the table and removed several lengths of rope “If you will please both stand with your hands behind you?”
Twenty minute later Aunt Veronica and Lucinda were sitting back to back, their arms held against their backs behind themselves as coils of rope held their upper bodies together. They both had their ankles crossed and tied, and their legs secured together below their knees, while a length of rope ran from their chest binding to their ankles. As with us, they had wide strips of brown plaster stuck over their mouths, as Maria sat down and simply said “Miss Veronica says you may begin.”
Well, the three of us tried to move, but it was clear fairly quickly to me we were going nowhere. The ropes around our arms prevented us moving ourselves without making the others move, while the way our legs were secured to our chests meant we had no chance of standing up as a unit. Out one hope was that either Lucinda or Aunt Veronica would be able to free themselves.
Looking over at them, I could see the two of them trying to work on their wrist bindings with their fingers - made more difficult by the fact I had watched Maria tape their index and middle fingers and their third and pinky, together with tape as she bound their hands. Given the socks over our hands, held in place by the tight ropes around our wrists, we had no chance of untying each other that way, so instead we settle for shuffling ourselves round on the wooden floor, so that each of us could have a chance to see two masters of escape at work.
Even then, it took an hour before Veronica finally grunted and we watched the two of them bringing their hands round in front of themselves, and start to unwind the ropes around their chests. It was nearly ten by the time they freed themselves, and were unable to untie us.
“Come on, Natalie,” Veronica eventually said as she helped us all to our feet, “I’ll run you and Maria home. I think the two of you need to go to bed as well,” she said looking at me and Alicia, “I’ll see you both in the morning.”
“Come along girls,” Lucinda said as she took us by the shoulders, “We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow.” I nodded and yawned as we headed for the staircase.
Friday, 1 am
It was the muffled noises from downstairs that woke me up. At first I thought it was just Veronica and Lucinda talking, but as I looked at the alarm clock I realized there were more than two of them.
Getting out of bed, I put on my dressing gown and headed for the staircase, wondering what they were talking about and who they were. As I walked quietly down, I could see a light on in the kitchen.
Coming closer, I recognized Anne’s voice as she said “I genuinely have no idea what is going on here, Lady Holderness - all I know is we had a call saying they wanted you and only you.”
“Is this related to the other night,” I heard Lucinda say, and then a voice I had never heard before said “We believe it may be - but why after all these years?”
The kitchen door was open, and I could see Aunt Veronica and Lucinda standing with their backs to me, looking at something on the screen of a laptop. Anne was also there, and seated between them was a woman in dark clothing with shoulder length dark hair.
“Perhaps some people just never forget,” I heard Lucinda say as I crept in, looking between them. The computer screen showed a room, lit in some sort of strange light, but I could clearly see Cindy and Cassie, sitting back to back on the floor. They had been tightly bound together, and thick scarves were filling their mouths.
“What the…” I said without thinking, and blushed as the others turned to look at me. The dark haired woman looked like a younger version of Anne, with the same glint in her eye as she looked at me.
“Down, Sue,” Anne said as she looked at me. “Heidi, I’d like you to meet my sister, Sue Duncombe.”