Looking For A New England - part 1
So I’m a typical bright and perky kid, right? Good friends, a loving mother and aunt, no worries right? Just your everyday thirteen year old kid, trying to grow up in Maine without totally losing it?
Well, I guess I am in many ways. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the kids at my high school also played games like Cindy, Jannifer and the rest of us do. They just keep it under wraps - but ever since I found that box of photos a couple of years ago, I’ve been on a whirlwind discovery trip, finding out things about my family an fiends I never knew about, never mind the psychos who seemed to want to break in and... Well, you get the picture.
After one particular harrowing weekend, where a real nut job from my mum’s past caught up with her and my aunt, and dragged, me, Cindy and her mother into it, I was invited to spend the Summer in the UK with a penfriend’s family. Her name’s Alicia and we’ve written to each other for a couple of years. Mum agreed, so last June I flew on my own to London to be met by her family.
Turned out she was actually related to a real life Lord, so we ended up at her grandparent’s house - a huge place in the middle of the countryside somewhere. Then, a few days after that, her cousin Suzie joined us, and a few days after that - I found out I’m not the only one whose family go through crazy things.
In one day, not only did I meet a cute little tyke called Cassie Craig and her big sister Jenny, I discovered they liked to play tie-up games too. They were good at it too - and wouldn’t you know it, within an hour we had a real life burglar walking in on us.
He was cute, though - very calm, very polite, and even though he trussed us up tighter than one of Aunt Veronica’s thanksgiving turkeys you got the feeling he really did not want to do it. He was good though - real good, as he left us totally unable to move. I hate to admit it, but he impressed me - I learned a few things that day.
Suzie seemed to love it, but Alicia just got very quiet. She insisted I start to teach how to tie someone up, and for weeks I taught her, and she practised - mainly on Suzie. I actually felt sorry for her, so I taught her a few tricks as well, and I know she played with little Cassie as well.
I suppose, if I had been a little more like Alice, I would have seen something was brewing inside Alicia, but God’s honest truth? IT was only when Jenny and Cassie came to a ‘little dinner party’, as Suzie called it, and they were planning to stay over that it all exploded like a Fourth of July fireworks display.
That morning, Alicia had said she wanted to play a trick on Jenny. She’d ask her to tie me up, Alicia would tie her up, and we would see who the better tier was. Now Jenny was good - real good, almost as good as Natalie, so I was worried, but I agreed. So we trooped upstairs, in our finery, the two little ones were tied up, Jenny did me, Alicia did Jenny, and...
Have you ever looked out on the horizon and seen a storm coming? It looks so calm and peaceful, but gradually a black lien seems to form, and before you know it the wind is howling round you and blowing you over? That’s what happened then - Alicia just went completely off line and tore into Jenny, into Cassie - she just let out everything she must have been bottling up for ages, and we had to just lie there and take it.
After that - well, things got better, a lot better very quickly. Alicia and Jenny had words, and after that we all got on like a house on fire. Turned out both Alicia and Jenny’s family had a long history of playing tie-up games, and for getting themselves into trouble. As the end of my trip came closer, we spent a lot of time together - including one memorable night at their house, where some crooks tried to extort something from Jenny’s aunts. The last thing they expected was to have six by then reasonable escape artists on their hands...
What I missed most about been away, however, was my family and friends. I kept in touch with them, by phone and video call, except for a week when they all disappeared off to a cabin in the woods somewhere. I heard all about that week later, but what I wanted to do by the time August came to an end was go home, see my family, and see my friends...
Instead, I got the shock of my life. I went out for a dinner with Alicia, Jenny and her family, but when we got back to Alicia’s house we were told to change into our pyjamas and wait. Next thing, her dad had taped our wrists, gagged us, and we were been taken who knows where.
Seriously - we didn’t know! It was darker than a night in the woods, and before we knew it we were lying on mattresses, in a basement, and trying to get some sleep. Next morning was when the real fun began, as one by one, two by two all of Alicia’s friends were brought in and deposited in the room, until by the time the last person came down there were twelve of us in the room.
I should have seen it there and then - twelve of us, six adults, six kids, and yet there were only five of us meant to be there. This voice then told us to free ourselves, and I inched over to the new kid - I knew her from somewhere, but how could it be when all my friends were in this country?
Anyway, turned out I was wrong - it was my cousin Natalie, and the fact she was there meant my mum and Aunt Veronica could not be faraway. That was also true - they had been two of the kidnappers that had brought all of us there! I can’t begin to tell you how that made me feel, especially as that was the first part of a wonderful day of surprises, of games - the perfect end to a strange and beautiful summer.
So we all came home, I caught up with the others, and behind the scenes Mum had extended an invitation to Alicia and her friends to come over. A couple of weeks back I called them when it was Jenny’s birthday and broke the news to them, and now - here we are, driving to Bangor on a glorious autumn afternoon in Aunt Veronica’s SUV to pick up six people, who if they were like me going to be exhausted when they get here.
“What time does the flight get in, Mum?”
I asked as I looked out on the freeway, watching the other cars passing us on the journey. It was a warm day, so I had on a blue Patriots t-shirt over a long sleeved white top, my favourite jeans and sneakers.
“It gets in at five,” she called back over her shoulder from the driver’s seat, Aunt Veronica sitting next to her. “By the time we get to your aunt’s place, they will be exhausted, so I think we’ll just have a drink and start the fun tomorrow.”
Aunt Veronica owns this huge house on the outskirts of town - she works as a realtor, with her own business, but as a kid she did some TV work, and invested her earnings wisely. Lady Holderness, Alicia’s grandmother, had said she could rat a house, but Aunt Veronica had insisted. “You opened your doors to my niece and to us,” I heard her say on the telephone a week ago, “so we’re going to do the same to you. This is our treat, and I will not take no for an answer.”
Aunt Veronica can be very persuasive at times, so eventually Lady Holderness had relented. As we went down I-95, I said “So what are we going to do?”
“Well, today’s Saturday. Tomorrow we will take them to Church, and I have invited Cindy and her mother to lunch afterwards - that will give you a chance to introduce your friends to them. Later tomorrow, all the others are coming round - I understand that a very special gift is coming over with them.”
I smiled as Mum said that - I knew what the gift was. They had filmed that day, and taken some very special photographs, Alicia’s grandmother must be bringing a copy of the film with her.
Eventually, we pulled into a parking lot and made our way to the arrivals lounge. “They are coming in via JFK,” Mum said as we looked at the Arrivals board, “so they should have cleared customs there. Mind you, we do have to bear in mind...”
I looked to the baggage claim area, and saw Alicia running towards me, her arms outstretched as she grabbed and hugged me, wrapping her arms round me as Mum and Aunt Veronica looked at each other.
“Hey there,” I eventually said as she let go, “Good flight?”
“It was great fun - Grandma paid for us to fly in Business Class, so we got a good meal, watched a few films, and - well, see for yourself!”
Alicia was wearing a pair of grey joggers and a t-shirt, and as I looked to the doors I saw Jenny coming through, dressed in a pair of cargo shorts and a sleeveless blouse. She waved at us as she was followed by the Twin Tornadoes, Cassie and Suzie. For once, they were walking slowly, rubbing their eyes as they looked round - guess a transatlantic flight, then a local hop, had left them tired. Cassie was in a pair of blue shorts and a matching t-shirt, while Suzie had on a floral print top and skirt combo.
With them came Lady Holderness, tall, thin, majestic in her cream jumper and cardigan, with grey slacks, a grey leather jacket over her arm, and Mrs Craig, Jenny and Cassie’s grandmother. She also looked a bit tired, as she pulled her black coat over her white jumper and trousers.
“Welcome to Maine,” Mum said as she walked over and hugged each of them. “Let’s get a trolley, pick up your cases and get you to the house.”
“Thank you, Amy,” Lady Holderness said, “It has been rather a tiring trip, and I think Cassandra and Suzanne are feeling the strain a bit.”
“Why don’t you take the girls to the car, Heidi” Aunt Veronica said as she started to help Mrs Craig with the cases, “and we’ll follow in a few minutes.” I nodded, catching the car keys as she threw them to me.
“Come with me,” I said as I took Cassie and Suzie by the hand, “I’ll get you settled in.”
“Are we there yet,” Suzie said with a yawn as she looked round.
“Nearly - you’re at Bangor airport, and we have about an hour’s drive to get to Aunt Veronica’s house.”
“We’ve been on a big plane,” Cassie said sleepily, “and we watched cartoons all the way here. Then we had to wait of ran age while someone looked at our passpoots.”
“I know - it’s ridiculous,” I said as I opened the door. “Go on - get in.”
“It’s warmer than I thought it was going to be,” Jenny said as she sat down, “and this car is big - how many can it seat?”
“12 - luckily for you today,” I said as I helped Suzie to buckle her seat belt. “The wheel’s on the wrong side,” she said with a laugh as she looked over, then her eyes closed.
“First time I’ve ever seen both of them so tired,” I said as I looked at Alicia and Jenny.
“Rare, I grant you,” Alicia said with a smile as Mum and Aunt Veronica came back, pushing the trolley. As their grandmothers got in and sat down, they loaded the luggage in the back, and then climbed in the front as I sat down as well.
“Right,” Mum said as she started the engine and moved off, “Let’s get you home. You probably need some sleep - your body clock will be telling you it is after midnight.”
We left the car park, heading to a very special week...
It was starting to get dark by the time we reached Aunt Veronica’s house, and Mum and I had already arranged to stay there anyway - we would come back to here from church anyway, given who was coming. As we pulled up, Suzie opened her eyes and said “Nice house - not as big as Grandma’s but nice.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Aunt Veronica said as she got out of the car. “You lot go inside, and I’ll bring the cases in. There will be some snacks and drinks waiting in the kitchen, if my maid has done what I asked her to.”
As we went in, we saw the trays of snacks and drinks in the front room. Suzie and Cassie just threw themselves down on the recliner and sleepily took a drink, while Alicia and Jenny both hugged me.
“Hmmm,” Mum said as she came in with Mrs Craig and Lady Holderness, “Perhaps you had better take the two little ones up to their room, Heidi, and get them into bed. It has been a very long day for them.”
“I’ll give you a hand,” Alicia said as we helped Cassie and Suzie up the stairs, and laid them on a pair of cot beds that we had set up earlier in the one of the spare bedrooms. As we closed the door, Alicia looked at the one next to it,
“Is there someone in there? I thought I heard moaning.”
“Nobody you need to worry about,” I said as I showed Alicia another room. “You and Jenny will sleep here,” I said as I showed her the room with the two cot beds. “I will be next door, in my own room, and our elders will be upstairs on the third floor.”
“You mean the second floor?”
“No I - oh never mind.” I watched as Alicia yawned. “Maybe you need some sleep as well. You wait here and I’ll go and fetch your bags.”
I went downstairs, but by the time I returned with Jenny Alicia had crashed out, lying on her side as she slept.
“See you in the morning, Heidi” Jenny said with a yawn as she lay down. I closed the door and went back downstairs.
“They all fell asleep, didn't they,” Mrs Craig said as I came back into the room. I nodded and picked up my glass, sitting between Mum and Aunt Veronica.
“Yeah - they should sleep a while, but I’m going to go to bed as well - just in case. Good night, everyone.”
I left the adults talking as I went up the stairs. Stopping at the door next to Cassie and Jenny, I looked in and smiled, before closing it and going to my own bed, changing first into white cotton pyjamas. Putting my head down, I soon went off to sleep...
I woke up with a start when I heard muffled giggling in the corridor. Looking out, I saw what could only be Cassie and Suzie walking to the staircase. Rubbing my eyes, I looked at the clock.
“Four thirty? I thought they would be...” Then I remembered when I came back, and for three days I went to sleep and got up early. Jet lag - and these two fireballs must be wide awake.
I pulled on some bedsocks and followed them to the stairs, watching as they climbed up to the third floor. I really, really hoped they would not wake up any of the adults, but to my relief they kept climbing, heading for the attic.
“Wow,” I heard Cassie say as I walked up behind them, “This must be a great place to play games.”
“It is,” I said as I looked at them, “this is where Cindy first played tie-up games with me.”
“Who’s Cindy,” Suzie said as she turned and looked at me, “and why is it still dark at nine forty-five?”
“It’s quarter to five - you forgot we’re five hours behind you in the UK,” I said as I turned on the light, and showed them the attic. It had various boxes stacked up one side, and a number of cot beds neatly folded at the other end.
“Do you still play up here as well,” Suzie cooed as she looked round.
“From time to time - look, why don’t we go downstairs and get something to drink.”
“All right, but we need to get something from our room first. I want to get out of these clothes - can we put some pyjamas on?”
I nodded and we went down both flights of stairs, and I stood in the doorway as Cassie and Suzie changed out of their travel clothes into two pairs of short pyjamas - Cassie in blue and Suzie in white.
As they left the room and closed the door, there was a loud grunt from the next room along.
“What was that,” Cassie said as she walked along and opened the door. “Oh boy,” she said as she looked in, “What’s going on in here?”
I shrug my shoulders as Cassie and Suzie go in, and see who is lying on the bed. “You remember Natalie, my cousin,” I say as I look in, “well, she’s here too, but she won’t be joining us.”
Natalie was lying on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chest and held in place by the rope that ran around her neck and under her thighs, She was dressed in a white long sleeved top, a long skirt and was bare footed, with a rope bracelet around her left ankle,
Her arms were arranged like a box behind her back, with her wrists tied to the opposite elbow and her forearms tied together. Her ankles were also tied tightly together, and as Cassie lifted her skirt slightly she could see the rope around her legs below her knees. Her arms were held to her sides with rope that went round her chest, while another rope ran from her ankles to her forearms.
Her mouth was covered in white tape, which was wrapped round her head and held her hair firmly to the back of her neck, and a black sleep mask was over her eyes. A pair of ear plugs meant she heard nothing.
“Some time back, Nats and others helped us to deal with some things that had happened. Ever since then. She’s been trying to find a time when she can experience what we did - and that’s this weekend.”
I took the two girls by the hand and closed the door on Nats as she squirmed round.
“She’ll join us later tonight, but not until then. Please don’t tell Alicia or Jenny - this is her choice, all right?”
They nodded and put their fingers to their lips as I led them downstairs, and into the kitchen. As we came in, we saw Maria, Veronica’s maid, coming in from the outside door.
“Oh good morning Miss Heidi,” she said as she took her coat off, “You are up early. Are these two of Miss Veronica’s guests?”
“They are, Maria - the red haired girl is Suzie, and the little minx is Cassie. The others are still sleeping, but I believe these two are awake for a while.”
“Nice to meet you, girls,” Maria said as she hung her coat up and brushed down her light grey coat dress. “If you take them through to the main room, Miss Heidi, I will bring some milk and pastries through.”
“Thanks, Maria,” I said as I took Cassie and Suzie into the front room. It was still a bit early for the television, so I dug out a copy of high School Musical and stuck that into the DVD player.
“Oh I haven’t seen this in a while,” Cassie said as we sat down to watch, nibbling on the pastries that Maria brought in and then drinking the milk. The film passed soon enough, and as it finished the door opened and we saw Alicia and Jenny come in, rubbing their eyes.
“How long have you two been up,” Alicia said as she yawned and stretched.
“Long enough to...” Cassie started to say, but then stopped herself. “To see the film,” she eventually said.
“Well, Cassie,” Jenny said as she rubbed her eyes, “Granny and Lady Holderness are getting up as well. Heidi, your aunt said breakfast would be ready by eight thirty, but we all need to be washed and ready to go to church when we eat.”
“Which means,” I said as I stood up, “we need to start taking turns in the bathroom now. Come on you two - I’ll show you where the bathroom is.”
The clock showed eight thirty as we all trooped into the kitchen, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Cassie and Suzie were wearing pinafore dresses over white jumpers - Cassie was in blue and Suzie in green - with white socks and flat shoes. Alicia was wearing a powder blue trouser suit over a white top, and Jenny a brown jumper and knee length skirt. She had a pair of thick tights on, and both were wearing flat shoes as well.
“Good morning girls, “Lady Holderness said as she looked over from the breakfast table, “come and have something to eat that is hot - it is a bit cold outside.”
We sat at the table as Maria handed out bacon and eggs, as well as hash browns. I looked over at Mum, who was sitting drinking her coffee, and said “Where’s Aunt Veronica?”
She simply raised her eyes up, and nodded. I returned the nod. And started to cut into my bacon as Aunt Veronica came in. She was adjusting a scarf that she had tied over the shoulders of her coat dress.
“Good morning girls,” she said as she grabbed a muffin and coffee, “I hope you all slept well?”
“Yes,” we all replied as she sat down. Mum was wearing a white jumper and grey slacks while Lady Holderness was in a blue and cream floral print dress with a shawl tied over her shoulders.
The last to come in was Mrs Craig, who was pulling on a grey jacket to match her skirt, with a camisole top underneath. “It’s cold outside,” she said as she hugged Jenny and Cassie, and then sat at the table herself.
“Well, the car will be warm,” Amy said as she looked at her watch, “Better eat up, everyone, we want to be there a little early to give you a chance to meet a few people.”
It was about ten thirty when we pulled into the car park of First Church Christ the Apostle, and we all trooped out and walked across to the entrance. As we got closer, I saw Cindy and her mother Dorothy waiting at the doorway. Cindy’s my best friend - we’ve known each other for years, and started playing tie-up games a few years ago. We then discovered her father was a former corked accountant, and the name I knew her under of Cindy Elsworth was not her real one, but she kept it. We’ve been through a lot together - kidnappings, long weekends, slumber parties, you name it, we’ve done it, and in that time she’s become a very different person.
Not that you would know it on a Sunday - she was wearing a high collared blouse under a light blue pinafore dress which came to below her knees, white socks and black shoes. She’s only a little smaller than me, with shoulder length black hair, but you would no know it - I had on small heels, after all.
Next to her was her mother Dorothy - when we first met she was what we call a cold fish, always trying to make sure Cindy did not do anything wrong. Over time, she softened up and allowed Cindy to grow up, but she could still strike fear into anyone who did not know her. She was wearing a blue velvet jacket and long skirt, with baggy black leather boots visible underneath, and a black jumper underneath.
“Hi there,” she said with a smile as we came closer, “You must be Heidi’s friends from England. I’m Dorothy, and this is my daughter Cindy.”
“Hi,” Cindy said, and I could see Cassie waving in reply at least. “Let’s go in,” Amy said as we headed for the doors, “We can make proper introductions back at Veronica’s place after lunch.”
The service that day was thankfully short, given the way Cassie and Suzie fidgeted before the time came for us to go to our classes. As we left, we bumped into another friend of mine.
Jannifer is a red headed girl, who is one of my gang for want of a better word, and also goes to the same church as us. She had a white long sleeved blouse on, a scarf wrapped round her neck and stuck into the front, and a mid-length white skirt on.
“Hey Heidi, Cindy,” she said as we joined her, “Are these your English friends?”
“Yeah - Alicia, Jenny, Suzie and Cassie, this is Jannifer. They’re coming into our class with us.”
“Really,” Jannifer said as she looked at Cassie and Suzie, “Aren’t they a little - young for our group?”
“Yeah, but they don’t know anybody else here.”
Jannifer smiled and called out “Margo! Britney! Wait up a minute!”
Two girls in front of us stopped and turned round. they were identical twins, both with their red hair pulled back in pigtails, and wearing white blouses, pleated skirts and short boots with white socks. The only difference was one had blue pleats in the skirt, and the other red.
“Margo, Britney, this is Cassie and Suzie - they’re friends of Heidi who are staying with her. Why don’t you take them to your class and sit with them.”
“Sure, Sis,” Margo said, taking Cassie by the hand and saying “Come with me.” Her blue pleated skirt moved with her as Britney took Suzie’s hand and walked behind them.
“Thanks, Jannifer,” Heidi said as we walked to a different room, “They may be a little jet lagged, but they are usually little balls of energy. Your sisters should be able to cope with that.”
“No problem - hey, are we still on for tonight?”
“Sure - you and Alice come round about six. We should be ready by then.”
The time after the service passed with a slowness that only rivalled that of Calculus class, but eventually we were able to meet up again. “We will follow you to Veronica’s house,” Dorothy said as she unlocked her car.
“See you there,” Mum said as we climbed in and drove off.
“An interesting service,” Mrs Craig said as she looked out of the window. “Your preacher does seem to like to preach Christian Social Responsibility.”
“Yeah,” Aunt Veronica said, “we do tend to mix politics and religion a lot round here. Sorry if it got a little heavy.”
As we drove past the mall, Cassie looked at the billboard outside the multiplex. “Wow - you got the new Disney film already? I don’t think we get to see it until Christmas!”
“Well, maybe we can go one night,” Lady Holderness said as we drove on, “but today our hosts have guests for lunch. Afterwards, perhaps you will have time to have a look round the house.”
I stole a look at Suzie and Cassie, who just smiled and continued to look out of the window. At least so far, one secret was going to stay secret....
When we got back, Veronica went to see how Maria was getting on with lunch. “I’ll bring you some chips and soda,” Mum said as she followed her, and we went into the front room.
“Why would we want chips - it’s not that long until lunch,” Suzie said as she sat next to Lady Holderness and Alicia.
“I believe Amy is referring to crisps, Suzanne,” Mrs Craig said as she sat down. “You need to remember they have different names for things here.”
“Oh - yeah,” Suzie said as Mum brought in two big bowls of potato chips and some sodas, leaving them on the table. “Would you like to come through for some coffee,” she said to the two grandmothers, who nodded as they stood up and left us alone.
“So, did you say that Jannifer is coming round later,” Jenny said as we all grabbed a bottle.
“Yeah - I invited her and Alice, another friend, to come round and watch the film of that day,” I said with a smile.
“They play games as well,” Cassie said as she grabbed a handful of chips.
“They do indeed - we might even persuade them to join us while we watch the film.”
“What about Nats - will she come down as well?”
I looked at Suzie, who went a little red, but Alicia did not seem to notice. “I’d like to see Natalie again - I only got a little time to talk to her that day. It would be good to catch up with her and get to know her better.”
“Well, perhaps we can later,” I said as the door opened and Cindy came in. “Thank goodness that’s over,” she said as she grabbed a bottle of Coke and threw herself down on the recliner next to me, “I thought it would never end, Mum’s gone to join the others in the kitchen - is that Lemon Chicken I can smell?”
“Sure is - and now you’re here, I wanted to say something about Wednesday.”
“Wednesday - it’s the 31st, isn’t it?” Jenny sat forward as she said this. “Halloween - what are you going to be doing?”
“Well, it’s a school night, so a big party is out, but I was wondering if you’d like to come over to my house, and we can go Trick and Treating round the neighbourhood. We can then have a get together at my place - watch some scary movies, tell tales - maybe even tell the others about the Holderness Shadow.”
“The Hoderwha who?” Cindy said as she sat up. “Sounds scary - is it a ghost story?”
“Yes - and no,” I said with an enigmatic smile. “So, what sort of adventures have you had since I came back?”
“Oh not much,” Alicia said, “We introduced Suzie’s brother to the games, and I think he has a crush on someone in this room.” I looked over at Suzie, who glanced at Cassie, who was blushing slightly. “We had the birthday party, of course - but you’ll see that later.”
“See it? How?”
“We brought you a special DVD, with not only the day, but the party as well, for you to watch.”
“OH yeah,” Jenny said after she swallowed a mouthful of Coke, “Remember the creeps who tried to tie us up, and we kept getting free?”
I remembered that night - the four masked men, the fear in their parent’s eyes, and the complete desperation in the eyes of the leader of the gang as Suzie and Cassie ran them ragged.
“Yeah, I remember them.”
“We were kidnapped by them - and we met their boss.”
My jaw literally dropped as I heard this. “Wh... Are you all right?”
“Yeah - but it got really scary for a while. Aunt Cassie turned out to be a real golden asset.”
The door opened before I could ask any more, and Maria came into the room. “Please, come with me,” she said, “Lunch is ready.” We all followed her out - but I had more questions to ask the girls...
Lunch was fantastic - Maria is a great cook, and as we went back into the front room we were literally stuffed to the gills. We sat down, Mum and the others holding coffee cups, as Mum said “What would you like to do this afternoon?”
“I think they want to sleep,” Cindy said, and as I looked over I saw Cassie and Suzie fast asleep, their heads resting on the arms of the seat.
“They did get up rather early,” I said as I looked at them. “Why don’t we go up to my room and talk - you can show Dorothy the album then, Lady Holderness.”
“Please, call me Lucinda,” Lady Holderness said, “and call Jenny’s grandmother Miranda. I don’t want to stand on formality all week. Miranda, you go and get the album.”
As Mrs... Sorry, Miranda stood up, we left the room as well, and made our way up to my bedroom. Once inside, Cindy turned and said “Is it true Heidi was so tightly tied she could hardly move?”
“All true,” Jenny said as she sat down, “We all were - hogtied, multiple gagged, and our heads fixed in position.”
“But he was a gentleman,” I said as I sat on my bed. “That’s what they call them right - The Gentlemen Robbers?”
“That’s them,” Alicia said, “polite and ruthless. Reminds me still of one of those old British crime movies. So what’s happening now?”
I looked at my watch. “Too late for the mall anyway - I know, why don’t you show Cindy how good you two are?”
“A special? Feel up for it, Cindy?”
Cindy put her hand through her dark hair. “Why not? If Heidi gets the ropes, I’m up for it. What do you want me to do?”
It was an education again to see the two girls at work. Jenny guided Cindy’s hands behind her back and crossed her wrist before tying them together, and then secured them to her waist, making sure she cinched the rope between her arms and her back. As she did this, Alicia tied one end of a length of rope around Cindy’s right elbow and wound it round her stomach and arms, forming a harness that kept her arms locked into her side.
“This is different,” Cindy said as Jenny started to wrap duct tape around her hands, “Nice, but different. Normally we get the chest ropes, but you seem to have found a more snug method.”
“They’re not finished yet,” I said as Jenny helped my friend to sit on the bed, and they started to tie her ankles and legs together. Three lengths - one at the ankles, one below the knees and one over her skirt. The lower two were tightly cinched, while the one over her skirt drew it tightly around her upper legs.
“It’s like a cocoon,” Cindy said as she looked down her body, “so what next?”
“I think one of your special gags, Alicia?”
Alicia nodded as she picked up a square of cloth, folded it and placed it in front of Cindy’s mouth. She smiled and opened wide as Alicia pushed it in, and Jenny used a thin scarf I wear around my wrists as a simple cleave gag.
“Dsnntsmsmtbfd,” Cindy mumbled, but here eyes widened when Alicia took an old headscarf of mine and tied it over her hair, before Jenny ripped the end off a roll of duct tape.
The look in Cindy’s eyes as Jenny wrapped the tape around her head was a joy to behold - and when Alicia covered the whole thing with one of my woollen scarves, I had to stop myself from laughing out loud.
“Sffnnnnn,” Cindy said, then when she realised just how effectively she was gagged her eyes shot up. She wriggled around a little in the ropes, then said “cmvvukn.”
“We know,” Jenny said as she sat down, “We like to be able to move about - you should see Cassie and Suzie once they get started.” Cindy looked at me, and I just nodded. “You’ll find out later,” I said as the doorbell rang, and I heard Alice say “Sorry - we wanted to come early. Are they upstairs?”
“Come on up,” I called down the stairs, and a few moments later Jannifer and Alice came in. Alice was another friend from school, who had joined my little gang at the same time as Jannifer. She was the smallest of us, with short dark hair and glasses, and today had chosen to wear a red jumper and knee length skirt with matching tights. She was also one of the most likely of us to try something new.
“Hi Heidi,” she said as she looked at us, “So these are you British friends - I’m Alice.” She hugged Alicia and Jenny, taking them completely by surprise, while Jannifer looked at Cindy sitting on the floor. “You guys are as good as Heidi said,” she eventually said as the door opened.
“Hey - what’s going on,” Cassie said as she and Suzie walked into the room, rubbing their eyes. “Not fair,” Suzie said as she looked at Cindy, “You started without us!”
“This is Cassie and Suzie,” I said as I sat down on the couch, “And believe me, they are as good as these two here.”
“These little ones,” Jannifer said as she looked at them, “I’d like to see that.”
“Was that a challenge,” Suzie said to Cassie. She simply nodded her head and said “I believe it was, Suzie, I believe it was.” I looked at Jenny, she looked at Alicia, and all three of us sat down on the bed.
“Aren’t you going to help them,” Alice said as the two girls started to sort out some ropes.
“Oh no,” I said with a big smile on my face, “I’m just going to sit back and enjoy this.” Cindy looked at us, and then settled herself down, getting the hint that this would be something worth watching.
“Have you got any socks, Heidi,” Suzie said as she laid some ropes on the bed. “Top drawer, knock yourselves out,” I said as Cassie took two pairs out and passed them to Alice and Jannifer. They looked at each other, and then slipped them other their hands as Cassie tore the end of a roll of white tape free.
We watched as the terrors got to work, crossing the wrists of our two friends behind their backs and lashing them tightly together with rope, before securing them to their waists. Before they had a chance to pass comment, the girls had balled up another pair of socks, and pushed them into the older girl’s mouths, before tying a scarf between their lips to hold it in place.
“Still wish you had challenged them,” I said with a smile as Cassie and Suzie bound their arms to their stomachs, in the same way as Cindy, and then sat them down back to back. As Cassie used a long length of rope to tie their upper bodies together, Suzie bound their legs, at the ankles and below their knees, making sure she cinched the coils in both places, while the girls looked over at us.
“I warned you,” I said as I saw Cassie pick up the roll of medical tape, “Still think they don’t know what they’re doing?”
“Lrrtidnnttttttt,” Jannifer said as Cassie would the tape round her head, while Suzie found two more of my scarves. Five more minutes, and they were as tightly bound as Cindy, looking at us with eyes that were wide open.
“That nap did us the world of good,” Cassie said as she looked at us, “Now we’re ready to play. Maybe Natalie can join in?”
I shot them a look, before saying “I’ll need to ask Aunt Veronica first. In the meantime, why don’t you two take care of Alicia and Jenny - then I’ll take care of you. I think these five could do with some time together to learn about each other.”
“It’s the only way, Jenny,” I said as I stood up and walked out of the room, leaving the girls as I went downstairs. At the bottom, I met Maria, carrying a tray with some food and drink on it.
“Miss Veronica has asked me to bring Miss Natalie some lunch,” she said as she stepped back to allow me to pass.
“OF course - I think we’ll bring her down later once the film begins,” I said as I watched her carrying the food up, and I returned to the main room.
“Are the others all right,” Mum said as I came into the room.
“Yeah - they’re learning how good Suzie and Cassie are,” I said as I looked at them. They were looking through a photo album, in which I recognised the photos of us doing the word test.
“We were considering the idea of having you all tied up when we show the film later,” Miranda said, “but letting you talk so that you can learn from each other.”
“Sounds fine - could I see you for a moment, Aunt Veronica?”
“Of course, Heidi,” she said as she stood up and followed me out of the room. “This morning,” I said as she closed the door, “Cassie and Suzie found Nats. They haven’t told the others, but I think she should join us later as well.”
Aunt Veronica nodded, saying “I was going to bring her down anyway.” Looking at her watch, she said “She has another hour or so to go anyway - how are you going to bring the others down?”
“I think they’re going to see how well they can move,” I said with a smile. “I’ll go and make the young terrors ready in a few minutes.”