Here’s the thing - I barely knew my cousins when I lived up in Scotland, but over the last few months I’ve got to know them a lot better - and yet I’m still both overjoyed and completely surprised at what they are like.
Perhaps I need to back up a bit - my names Patty - Patricia Pickering, and I’m very pleased to meet you. I’m eight years old, and I moved down here last spring after Mummy had decided she wanted to live nearer Aunt Jennifer and Uncle John. I grew up in Scotland, in a town called Linlithgow, where I went to the Low Port Primary School. Daddy worked for a company in Edinburgh, and Mummy worked in the library.
Daddy... I really miss Daddy sometimes, he always smiled and liked to play with me, but there was a bad accident one day, and Mummy told me he wasn’t going to be coming back. I cried a lot, and felt really bad for a long time - so did Mummy, which is why I guess she decided to come this far south.
So one day, we packed up, drove for an eternity, and I found myself in Holderness, leaving all my friends behind. I wasn’t worried though - if it made Mummy happy, it made me happy, and I was excited to meet Jenny and Cassie for the first time in years.
When I saw them, I was surprised at how big they were - Cassie was a good two inches taller than me, and Jenny taller still, but they made me feel really at home, and introduced me to all their friends - and all their games.
It was the games that really surprised me. Mummy had told me about some of the things that had happened to them, and especially how Cassie had done something incredibly brave. I was curious about all of their adventures, so the first day I met them again I asked them.
I don’t think I expected what they told me - but then everything changed, as Aunt Jennifer gave birth to the cutest twins - David and June. Suddenly, I had gone from fearing I was going to be the youngest to becoming a big cousin - and with Danny, that made three!
Oh yeah - there’s Danny, who’s the boy of Aunt Connie and Uncle Dave. There’s also Aunt Cassie, but she doesn’t have any kids. She lives with someone called Jo, and she seems to be very happy.
Anyway - we then spent the weekend with Cassie’s friend Suzie and her family. We went to her grandparent’s place - a real live Manor House! Where I grew up, we had a Royal Palace, but it’s a ruin - I used to play in the Peel which surrounds it. But this was a real big house, with a real Lord and Lady - and lots of rooms where we could play hide and seek, dress up - and tie up games.
This was their big secret, the way they said they stayed calm when all the scary things happened to them - and there must be something in our blood, because I found I loved them as well!
I met the rest of her friend Suzie’s family as well - including Angela, who taught us to walk round in dresses while tied up, and Cassie’s friends from school. That was nice of her - one of the things I was not really looking forward to was trying to make new friends, but they said they would look after me.
I also met Suzie’s brother Bobby - and I soon found out that he liked Cousin Cassie a lot. An awful lot - so I decided there and then I needed to tease her about it as often as possible. Which I love doing, and keep doing.
Then came school - and it took me a little while, but I eventually made a few friends in my class. One in particular became a very good friend. Her name’s Rachel, and she moved to the area a few weeks before I did. I didn’t tell her our family secrets, but we sat together in the class and got to know each other very well.
I also liked my teachers - they made me feel right at home, and the teaching was fun. So was spending time with Cassie and Suzie - even if I could not tell Mummy at first about the games we played. I was too scared to, you see - even though both Cassie and Suzie said it would be better to.
Then there was that very strange night. It started normally enough - Jenny and Cassie were coming to stay with me at my house, while Aunt Jennifer went off somewhere. We were going to have tea, and - well, let’s just say that I found out Mummy had a few secrets of her own. After that, she let us play if we wanted - which made the next few weeks after that a bit better, when Aunt Jennifer, Aunt Cassie and Aunt Connie all seemed to be very upset over something. Mummy would not tell me what - only that they needed time to get over things.
I’m glad they did, in time for this huge party at Suzie’s Grandparents place that Mummy and I were invited to, with all the others. I had never worn such a beautiful dress, or seen so many people in so much finery. That would have been enough to scare me - but then I found out that Bobby had ‘arranged’ for his little cousin Tommy to dance with me.
He looked almost as scared as I was- and even more so when Bobby very casually mentioned there was a private party in the manor house at the same time, and we’d be tied up and gagged by them while we danced!
I don’t know what was more terrifying - wondering if Tommy would do a good tight job, or the dance. You see, I now knew I liked to be tied up nice and tightly - I loved the way it made me feel helpless, like a princess in some of my books - but I also loved the idea of being helped to move as well.
I needn’t have worried - Bobby and the others made sure he did a great job, and it was a magical, wonderful - almost Disney like experience, as if I was Belle and Tommy - well, he wasn’t a beast, but he did nearly stand on my feet...
Anyway, then it was the summer holidays, and Mummy said we were going to spend a week with Cassie and the others on a trip. She hadn’t been able to get more than a week off, so I wondered what we were going to do.
Where on earth do I start? How about the bet we made, that we would spend as much of the trip tied up and gagged as possible? Or meeting their other granny at the farm she grew up on, and finding out she had donated to the three of us all the clothes she used to wear when she was our age?
Or how we went to that country fair, tied up and aged in the old clothes, but wearing capes so that nobody could tell? Well, nobody except Bobby and Suzie, as we met them at the same fair - turned out Cousin Cassie had done something like this with him before, and she hadn’t told me!
Or the caravan ride, with the three of us trussed up and gagged in the caravan itself? That was something I’d never done before, but I loved every single rocking, bumping, slightly hurting minute of it!
Or the Lake District, with the mountains bigger than the hills round Linlithgow? The boat trip with their American friends and their mothers? The fantastic game we played the next day in the old clothes, where I played the bratty sister who got kidnapped first....
Actually, that reminds me - I suppose I can be a little bit bratty, but it’s just I have so much fun playing these games, that I never want them to stop! I know, I know - we can’t play them in public too much, but I just want to do it as often as possible - and I want to have someone to play with!
Still, the holidays had to end sometime, and right now I’m walking to the school gates, in my uniform with my rucksack on, as the new year starts. When I go in, the first person I see is Rachel, her brown hair in pigtails, as she waves to me and says “Hey Patty - I saw your picture in the paper!!”
Oh yeah - that big party had a photographer at it, and we had seen pictures of all three of us everywhere we went. So I walked up, hugged her and said “Yeah - but I wasn’t the real star.”
I looked over to see Cassie with her friends, and as we waved to each other I said “Still, it was a great summer. What did you get up to?”
“Not a lot - Mum and Dad had to work most of it. Of course, there was the thief who robbed Mum and me...”
“What did you say,” I exclaimed as I took her off into a corner.
“Yeah - it was a really weird afternoon. Dad was away for a few days, so Mum took me to the cinema to see Despicable Me 2. We had just got back in when she appeared with this man behind her, and said we were going to play a game. She hadn’t even taken off her grey fabric boots, but I looked at her and said ‘What sort of game?’
“Well, he made us sit next to each other on the couch, and said we were going to play a game of robbers and escape. He was going to stop us from being able to move for a little while, and then when he left we had to try to escape and raise the alarm. I had on my pick cardigan over the blue denim dress - the one with the faded heart on it - my jeans and black furry boots.
“I asked Mum if this was all right, and she just nodded and smiled, saying she would go first. He took her hands behind her back, did something with some rope he took from a rucksack he had on his back, then walked to me and knelt down. He then did the same to me - took my hands behind my back and tied my wrists together with some soft cord.”
“Oh my,” I said as we sat on a bench, “Were you scared?”
“Not really no - Mum was smiling, so I let him tie my arms to my tummy, and then her did the same to Mum, making sure her grey top and t-shirt stayed on. Then he tied her ankles together, and her legs below her knees, before he slipped my boots off my feet and did the same to me.
“Well, he left us alone for a while, while Mummy said he was going to pretend to take some of her jewellery and some money. When he came back, he had two of Mum’s scarves in his hands - one of which he pulled into my mouth and tied round my head, the other of which he tied a knot in and then tied round Mum’s head. It tasted funny, but then he left us and said ‘Now you can try to escape’.”
“So what happened then?”
“Well, we tried wriggling round for a while, but I could not get free, and neither could Mum. That was when a policeman came in, looked at us and freed us, and Mum told him it wasn’t a game - someone had really forced her to let him tie us up and steal her earrings and things! Can you believe it?”
“You’d be surprised,” I said quietly as the bell rang.
So we had a new teacher - Mrs Williams - and two new assistants. One of them was a man, who we called Mister James, but he said to call him Billy if the teacher wasn’t watching. I liked Billy, and he helped me a lot with art and science.
When it came to the lunch break, I said to Rachel “Hey - would you like to come round on Saturday? We can play a few games, watch a DVD or something...”
“Hey - I’d love to if Mum and Dad let me. She’s still a little upset.”
“I understand - but tell her we’ll pick you up and bring you back, all right?”
“Well, I’ll ask her,” Rachel said, as we went back in.
I then proceeded to forget about it - until at tea that night, when I said “Mummy - can Rachel come round on Saturday?”
Mummy looked at me across the table, and said “This Saturday? Well, I suppose so, but...”
She put her knife and fork down, and said “your Uncle John has asked if I will help with something. In fact, I was going to tell you that Jenny and Cassie, as well as Suzie and Alicia, are going to spend the day here with Angela watching you. Now, I know what you lot are like when you get together - what will Rachel think?”
“We’ll be good, I promise,” I said as I looked at her, so Mum laughed and said “all right - I can go and get her with you, then leave you here when your Uncle brings the others.”
“Great,” I said as I took a bite of my fish fingers, “I’m sure we’ll have a great time!”
When I went to school the next day, I told Rachel mum had agreed, but that my cousins were going to be there as well. She looked across the playground at Cassie, who was talking to her friends, and said “I feel a bit funny if she‘s there - after all, those pictures in the paper made her look so posh.”
“She’s not really,” I said with a laugh, “trust me, she and Jenny are as normal as you and me. So, did you read the book for today?”
Rachel nodded as we joined the rest of our class to go in, talking about what had happened in the story. It was lunchtime before I got a chance to find Cassie and talk to her.
“Hey,” she said as I came over, “how does it feel to be back at school?”
“Not bad,” I said as we sat down, “So Mummy says you’re all coming round Saturday?”
“Yeah - don’t know what’s going on, but I thought we might dress up and have a game...”
“Sounds fun,” I said with a smile, “but one problem - I’ve asked Rachel to come round as well.”
Cassie looked over at her, and said “Hmm - perhaps the dress up may have to wait for another time. What about games?”
“I’m not sure - apparently she and her mum were robbed over the holidays?”
“Really - who by?”
“Remember the man who came to my house the night you and Jenny stopped over?”
Cassie nodded - that was the night I told Mummy about the games we played, after - well, I’ll tell that story another time.
“So he went there as well,” Cassie said as she looked at me. “Do you think she might like our games?”
“We’ll have to find out - eventually. Any idea why your dad needs Mummy’s help?”
“None - but still, I’m sure we’ll have fun anyway.”
“Come on Patty - we need to be in the car now if we’re going to pick up Rachel in time.”
“Coming Mummy,” I said as I ran down the stairs. I had put on a pair of green leggings with a nice floral print, my blue smock top and a pair of flat shoes, as I grabbed my fleece and ran out, jumping into the back of our small car. Mummy and I needed to do a little food shopping, and we were going to pick Rachel up on the way back. She only lives ten minutes walk away, but it’s on the way to and from the supermarket.
Mummy had on a grey jogging suit and trainers - but I knew she was going to change when we got back, so I helped her pick the food, put the bags in the back of the car, and then we drove round to Rachel’s house.
I watched from the window as Mummy walked up to the front door, and then Rachel ran down the path, waving at me. She was wearing a pair of black jeans, with her feet in those black furry boots she had told me about, and a blue jumper.
“Hey Patty,” she said as she jumped into the car next to me, and put on her seatbelt, “Ready to have some fun?”
“I hope so,” I said as Mummy got behind the wheel of the car. “When we get to our house, Rachel,” she said over her shoulder, “I need Patty’s help to put things away, and then you can watch a DVD before the others get there while I get changed. All right?”
“Yes, Mrs Pickering,” Rachel said, in a way that made me poke her in the ribs as we set off. It only took us a few minutes to get home, and we both helped Mummy to put the shopping away before she gave us both a drink of squash and a muffin.
“So what are we going to watch,” Rachel said as I showed her into the front room.
“How about this,” I said as I showed her a DVD I had borrowed from Cassie - a Disney film called That Darn Cat.
“That looks fun,” she said, so I put it on and we started to watch as Mummy went upstairs. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film - it involves a young girl who ends up stumbling into some sort of crime ring while trying to find her cat - but there’s one scene I wanted to get Rachel’s reaction to.
It happens near the end, when the main character is tied to a chair and gagged with a scarf, while the criminals try to do something else. As it came on, I watched Rachel, who fidgeted a little in the chair before saying “she has her hands behind the chair - I wonder if she thinks it is a game as well?”
“I don’t think so, but she is acting, “I said with a smile. “Rachel - when the man left you, and you thought you were playing with your mummy, were you scared?”
“Not really no,” Rachel said quietly. “I mean, I know now he was a bad man, but at the time I actually enjoyed it. Why - has something similar happened to you?”
I was going to answer when I heard Mummy coming down the stairs, and saying “Hey John - you two go into the living room.” I looked up to see Cassie and Suzie walk in, with big beaming smiles on their faces.
“Hey trouble,” Cassie said as she came in. “Rachel, this is my friend Suzie. Suzie, this is Rachel.”
Suzie was wearing a pair of green bib shorts, with a white t-shirt underneath, short socks and trainers, while cousin Cassie was wearing a knee length denim skirt, a black top with sleeves that came to just above her elbows, and a pair of flat shoes with ankle socks.
“Nice to meet you, Suzie,” Rachel said as the door opened and the older generation came in - Jenny and Suzie’s cousin Alicia. Jenny was wearing a pair of white trousers, and a UCLA sweatshirt with trainers, while Alicia had on a white blouse, knee length black skirt and short leather boots.
Mummy came in after them, dressed in a light blue blouse and black trousers. “I need to go with your Uncle John,” she said as she looked at me. “Angela will be here in a little while - can I leave you alone for the time being?”
“Don’t worry, Aunt Jessie,” Jenny said as she looked at us, “I don’t think they’ll give us any trouble.”
Mummy looked at us, and then said “all right then - oh, here’s Angela now.”
“Sorry I’m late,” I heard Alicia’s older sister say, “Dad had to pick up a few things before he headed there. Are they all in the front room?”
“They are - see you later girls,” I heard Mummy call out, and then the door shut. I looked out of the window to see her walking down the path with Uncle John, before turning to look at Angela.
Angela’s a few years older than even Jenny - Mummy says she goes to the local sixth form college - and was wearing a black waistcoat over a white collarless blouse, brown leggings and knee length leather boots.
“Right,” she said as she looked at us, “I think I need to sort some lunch out. I take it you two have some homework to get on with after that?”
“That’s the problem with big sisters,” Alicia said as she ran her head through her dark hair, “They’ve done what we’re doing now. Our bags are outside, O lady and mistress.”
“Good,” Angela said with a warm smile, “then I’ll get some sandwiches and drinks sorted out. Is that That Darn Cat?”
“It is,” I said with a smile, “Can we finish watching it?”
“Sure,” Angela said as she turned and walked to the kitchen, “I’ll call you when the food is ready.”
“She looks nice,” Rachel whispered to me as Cassie and Suzie sat next to her, “if a little posh.”
“What, like Cassie is?”
“I’m not posh,” Cassie said to me, “you know that’s true?”
“Of course, Your Ladyship,” I said, “Of course you are not posh, even if the heir to Holderness Manor is your special friend...”
“Ooooo,” Rachel said as she looked at Cassie, “so you are going out with Bobby Holderness?”
“That’s my brother, the beau of the ball,” Suzie said with a laugh, encouraging Cassie to jump on her and start to tickle her ribs.
“HEeeyyyynoooffaiiirirrr,” Cassie squealed out as Alicia and Jenny looked at each other. “Enough, you two,” Jenny finally said, “or...”
“Or what,” Cassie said as she winked at me, but I shook my head slightly - I still wasn’t sure about Rachel, or how she would cope.
So we went back to watching the film, and then a couple of cartoons before Angela called us all into the kitchen, and we sat down to eat the sandwiches and other food she had prepared for us. It was a big lunch, but we were all hungry, so we soon made short work of it.
As I wolfed down the last biscuit, Alicia said “right - we’ll clear the table off, and you three can clear off and let us get on with our homework. If we get it done quickly, then we can come back in and join you.”
“They speak sense,” Angela said as she stood up. “I need to sort a few things out for my course while I’m here, so do you think you can keep quiet in the front room?”
“You may have to make us,” Suzie said, but I gave her a swift kick on the chin and she said “What?” I looked over at Rachel, who was looking at her, and then she said “Oh - sorry.”
“Get going,” Angela said, so the four of us made our way out of the room and into the front room as Jenny followed us, grabbed their bags and said “Play nice now,” before she went back to the kitchen.
“Patty,” Rachel said as she looked at us, “have you lot been robbed by a man who tied you up as well.”
I looked at Cassie and Suzie, who looked at Rachel in turn and said “Well.... Yeah, we’ve been tied up and gagged by robbers.”
“Wow,” Rachel said as she looked at me, and I nodded to show I had been as well. “What was it like?”
“Which time,” Suzie said as she sat down, “The first time, with the very polite man, the time with the gang, the time when we visited the states, the time...”
I watched as Rachel sat down, her mouth wide open. “What the... Patty, have you...”
“Truthfully - only once by a robber,” I said as I sat next to her. “In fact, I think it was the same man who robbed you and your mum - it certainly sounded like him.”
“Oh my,” Rachel said as she looked at us. “Patty...”
“Were you excited as well when he tied you up?”
“Not just her,” Cassie said as she sat forward, “me and Jenny as well. But yeah - she was excited. She always gets excited when someone ties her up, isn’t that right Cuz?”
I was going to say something at that point, about how much she enjoyed it when she was tied up, when the door to the room opened, and a man came in. He was wearing a black jumper, trousers and shoes, and had a pair of black leather gloves on his hands as well as a stocking pulled over his head.
He looked at the four of us, and said “What the...” before Rachel let out the biggest scream I had ever heard.
“What’s going on,” I heard Angela say and as the man stood to one side as she, Alicia and Jenny came running in. “What’s the matter,” Angela said before they turned and saw the man looking at them - only now he had a gun in his hand, and was pointing it at us.
“None of you make a move,” he said as he pointed the gun at all of us, his hand shaking slightly, but I was shaking inside as well - shaking with excitement.
It had to be a game Uncle John had set up - after all, I recognised the man as soon as he spoke!
“I mean it,” he said as he grabbed me and turned me round, holding me against him with his gloved hand over my mouth - nobody moves, or this little one gets hurt.” He pulled me back out of the door, and closed the door to the sound of Cassie saying to Rachel “It’s all right - I want you to take deep breaths, I’m sure Patty isn’t going to be hurt...”
Well, when he took me out into the corridor he turned me round, squatted in front of me and said “Patty? Don’t tell me you live here?”
“Of course I do, Bil... Mister James. What are you doing here?”
I could see him staring at me, with a funny look that reminded me a bit of when mummy told me about daddy, and then he said “your mum asked me to come and surprise you today - play a game with you. She told me you like to play girl detectives - is that right?”
I nodded and said “I love to - are you going to play that game with all of us?”
“A game like that.” Billy said quietly, “but you have to play along, and you have to pretend that you don’t know me. Can you do that?”
“You know I can - I always like it when you help me.”
“That’s good Patty,” he said as he stroked my hair back, “so you don’t know me, and you mustn’t mention my name, all right?”
I nodded as he hand gagged me again, opened the door and carried me back in. I could see Patty and Suzie were sitting wither side of Rachel, who was looking at us, while Alicia and Jenny were standing by the fireplace. IT was Angela, eyes blazing as she looked at Billy, who said “What the hell do you think you’re playing at, bursting in and threatening us with a gun?”
“Are you in charge here,” he said as he pushed me over to the other three, and I knelt in front of Rachel. “It’s all right,” I said to her with a smile on my face, “We’re just going to play a game, that’s all?”
Cassie looked at me, then at Billy, and I could see that look in her eyes I see sometimes in Mummy when I ask her for something she doesn’t think I need. She then looked at Suzie, who nodded and said “all right - as this is a game, let’s all play along. We can play this together, Rachel, all right?”
“All.... All right,” she said as she tried to smile. I looked at Angela, who was still looking at Billy with thunder in her eyes.
That’s a phrase Mummy used to say of Daddy when he was upset - he had thunder in his eyes.
“Look,” Billy finally said, “all I want to do is take the money and valuables in this house. I want you all to sit here and keep quiet - give me your mobile phones.”
“Why,” Alicia said as she looked at him, “are you afraid we might be texting?”
“No, I don’t want you calling the police,” Billy said as he waved the gun at them, “now just give me your phones - all of you!”
Angela stared at him, then took her phone out of her pocket and threw it on the chair. “Just do as he says, girls,” she said as she looked at us, “then he can get out of here quicker.” I watched as Jenny, Alicia and Suzie tossed their phones over as well, before Billy picked them up and put them in his pocket.
“Right,” he said as he pointed the gun at all of us, “You lot just sit in here, nice and quiet, and don’t move while I search the house.”
“Don’t worry,” Jenny said as she looked at us, “We’ll do what you say, right?”
“Yes, I will,” Rachel said quietly, and Suzie gave her a big hug. She was playing along so well - it seemed as if she was getting into the spirit of it already!
“Good, good,” Billy said as he looked at me. “Now, remember, don’t move...”
“We won’t be able to move if you tie us up - after all....”
“PATTY!!!” I had expected it to be Alicia or Angela that said something, but it was Suzie and Cassie as they looked at me.
“What - if we’re girl detectives, like when we were on holiday, don’t the bad guys have to tie us up to stop us raising the alarm?”
“I’m not going to do that,” Billy stammered, “I’ll take you upstairs and lock you in a room instead. That way you can’t raise the alarm, and I can be out of here quickly. Come on - you first little one.”
He took my arm and made me stand up, walking me to the door, but as I got there I hissed “Do you want me to tell them why you’re doing this, sir?”
“If we’re playing girl detectives you have to do what the bad guys do - unless you want me to call you by your name...”
He looked at me, and his eyes were wide open, as if he was scared I was going to tell them he was a demon.
“We can call from the window if you lock us in a room - you did that, didn’t you Cassie?”
Cassie was sitting with Rachel, holding her hand as she looked at me. “Patty, just let him lock us in a room, this one time. Please?”
“If you won’t I will, so I think you need to tie us all up - there’s rope in the hall cupboard.”
I looked at the others, a big smile on my face, but I could see they were all playing along, Suzie whispering to Rachel as Alicia and Jenny stood with Angela. Billy looked at them and said “All right - you,” he said pointing at Jenny, “go and find this rope, and the rest of you - sit down and put your hands on your head.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Jenny mumbled to me as she walked past, and returned a few minutes later with some lengths of skipping rope, putting them on the table before she sat between Cassie and Alicia.
I heard her say “I don’t think she really knows,” as Billy put the gun down on the table, picked up one length of rope, then looked at Angela before saying “Oldest first - put your hands out in front of you.”
I watched with eager eyes, but as he tied Angela’s wrists together in front of her, I could see he was doing a really, really bad job of it! He only wrapped the rope around them and tied it off where she could reach it with her fingers, never mind her teeth, then did the same to her ankles. She wriggled them round a little, then nodded to Alicia as he started to do the same to her.
Jenny looked at me as he tied her up, as if daring me to say something, but I kept quiet as he made his way down. Rachel was still sobbing a little as he pulled her hands together, so he said “Look, this is a game, it’ll be over soon.”
It may be a game, but as he tied my wrists and ankles I lifted my hands up and looked at them. “There,” he finally said as he stood up and looked at us, “now stay there.”
“Don’t worry,” Angela said, “We’re not going anywhere, are we?” She looked at us, and we all shook our heads, but I was still disappointed.
“You know we can get out of this in two seconds,” I said to Cassie as we wriggled round.
“I know,” Cassie said as she looked at me, wriggling her wrists as well, “but this is a game, Patty, so play along.”
“Yeah - but the man tied us up tighter that night, and he tied you up tighter as well, didn’t he Rachel?”
Rachel nodded as she looked down, before saying “But there are more of us here, I don’t want to get us in trouble...”
Billy had gone to another room, but when I saw him coming back I called out “Hey Mister!”
“What is it now,” he said as he came back into the front room.
“This is rubbish,” I said as I pulled my wrist apart, and the rope fell off. “My cousin Cassie can tie better than you - she should teach you what to do to keep us really quiet and out of the way.”
“I just want you to stay there, lass - please don’t...”
“Hey, you’re the one robbing us,” I said as I untied Cassie, who was staring at me open mouthed, “you should at least do a good job of keeping us out of the way.”
“Tell me I’m not seeing or hearing this,” Alicia said to Jenny as I untied my ankles, then freed Cassie before saying “Get the box - let’s teach the robber how to do it properly.”
“This - sounds sickeningly familiar,” Jenny said as Cassie looked at me, then said “I promise I won’t call for help - I just need to get some more rope and things.”
“I’ll take you - the rest of you stay here,” Billy said as he took Cassie by the arm, leading her out of the room. As they went up the stairs, Angela looked at me and said “Patty, I think the game may be going a little too far. Let’s just let him play and then go...”
“Oh come on - don’t you want the game to be played properly? Rachel - would you like to play?”
Rachel looked at Suzie, who said “I tell you what - if we’re going to do this, you take care of Rachel, and Cassie can take care of me. You’re not going to hurt her, are you?”
I shook my head and beamed as Cassie brought the box down, Billy following her wide eyed as she opened it and took out silver tape and two pairs of socks.
“All right,” Suzie said, “Cassie, you untie me and Patty will untie Rachel - then we do the works.”
“The works? What’s that?”
She looked at Billy, shaking her head as if to say “Why am I doing this,” before actually saying “We’re going to show you how other robbers have made sure we can’t move or speak. Rachel, Patty will take care of you - be brave now.”
“I’ll be brave if the rest of you are,” she said as she looked at me and Cassie. “All right then,” Cassie said, “I want you two to make fists in front of you.”
As Suzie did so, Cassie took the silver tape and wrapped it round her hands, then handed it to me as she picked up a pair of socks. “We first need to make sure we can’t use our hands,” she said in a loud teacher voice, so as I taped Rachel’s hands into silver balls, she looked wide eyed at Cassie, who was pulling a pair of socks over Suzie’s hands.
“Can you give me the tape back for a moment, Patty,” Cassie said as she looked at me. I handed her the tape, and pulled a pair of socks over Rachel’s hands as she taped the top of the socks to Suzie’s arms. I did the same for Rachel, and then said “There - think you can use your hands for anything now?”
“I don’t think she can,” Angela said as she watched us at work. I thought there was a little bit of approval in her voice, but it was difficult to tell as we helped the other two to shuffle forward.
“Now,” Cassie said to my friend as he watched, we can secure their wrists behind their back, so that they cannot move them.” She gently pulled Suzie’s wrists behind her, crossing them before taking a length of rope and tying them tightly together.
I did the same, and as I cinched the rope between Rachel’s arms I said “This is exciting isn’t it?”
“I’m scared as well as excited,” Rachel whispered as I passed some rope around her waist, and tied it between her body and arms to lock her wrists in place. “Doing this stops us moving our wrists,” Cassie said out loud.
“You sound like your Aunt Cassie,” Suzie giggled as she tried to move her arms. “How does it feel to you, Rachel,” she then said as she looked at my friend.
“Like when the man tied up my mum and me,” she said as she tried to move them. “Is this all they do?”
“Nope,” I said as I took more rope, “Let’s do this right.”
Rachel stared ahead, wide eyed as Cassie and I tied her and Suzie’s arms to their bodies, with bands of rope around their tummies and their shoulders. “I really can’t move now,” she said eventually, “and you’re really good at this.”
“Must be all the practice,” Cassie mumbled as she tied off the last knot, and Billy stared at both of them.
“Yeah - that’s really tight. No way you’re using a phone now. So can I get on with robbing the place?”
“Oh dear me no,” I said with a smile, “First you have to tie the legs, but before you do that I think we need to stop them calling out for help.”
“Patty,” Suzie said as she looked at me, “I don’t think Rachel will...”
“No, it’s all right,” Rachel said with a little smile, “if the robber has to do it, he has to do it right. I’ll be good, I promise.”
“See,” I beamed at everyone, “Rachel wants it, so let’s do it - do it all.”
Now it was Angela’s turn to say something to me. “Patty, dear, I really do think if he ties us up like that, that will be enough. I think you should just let him tie her legs...”
I felt a little down at that - Angela was in charge, after all - so I was glad when Cassie said “It’s all right, Angela - but we’re going to need more materials. Mister Robber, I need to get some more things from upstairs - will you come with me and make sure I don’t do anything to cause trouble?”
Billy just stared at us, then said “all right,” and took Cassie’s hand as they walked out once more into the hallway. “What do you mean, do it all,” Rachel said as she looked at me.
“Don’t worry,” I said with a big smile, “we do this all the time. It’ll be fun!”
Cassie came back with the rest of the supplies, and handed me a small cotton wad as she held another. “Now, Rachel,” she said as I knelt beside her, “Do what Suzie does. Open your mouth wide, and breathe through your nose, all right?”
She nodded, her eyes wide open as I pushed the cloth in, and then used a knotted length of towelling between her lips to keep it in place. “Tfllssrllfne,” she mumbled, then when she heard me peeling the special white tape from the roll, she stared at it as if it was the scariest thing in the world.
“Mfrsts - wtshmrshl,” Suzie mumbled, and as Cassie wound the tape tightly round her mouth and head she nodded to show Rachel it would be all right. As I did the same to Rachel, Cassie leaned over and whispered as she picked up a scarf “Patty, you know I like playing these games, but this might be one of the times when we sit still and just let the robber do what he has to do.”
“But where’s the fun in that,” I said as I folded a blue scarf into a wide band. Cassie shook her head, and said “so that’s what it's like,” looking at Jenny and Alicia, who were both nodding slowly.
“Does it run in your family,” Alicia whispered to Jenny, and she just shook her head, saying “I need to find out from Aunt Jessie.” As for Cassie and me, we tied the scarf bands over the mouths of Rachel and Suzie, then knelt in front of them and tied their ankles tightly together, then their legs below their knees.
“There you go,” I said with a big beaming smile as I looked at Billy, “Simple when you know how. Neither of you can raise the alarm now, can you?”
Suzie shook her head and looked at Cassie, while Rachel was just wriggling round, staring straight ahead and saying nothing.
“All... All right,” Billy said quietly, “but what about the others?”
“We’ll untie them, and tie one of them up each,” I said with a smile. “I’ll take Alicia, Cassie you can take your sister, and you can tie up our babysitter. That’ll be fun, won’t it?”
“Fun - right,” Billy said, but he had no choice in the matter - Cassie and I had already started to untie the others, so they moved and knelt in a line so that they could watch the others as we went behind them.
“Seriously, Patty,” Jenny said to me as I knelt behind Alicia, “We need to have a chat about when’s the right time to play games and when’s the wrong time.”
“Oh don’t be a party pooper - Rachel’s enjoying it.”
“Are you sure,” Angela said as she watched Suzie shuffle over and nudge Rachel, then start to gag talk to her. “Hey - be careful,” she then said over her shoulder as Billy started to tape her balled up hands.
“Sorry,” he said as he watched us, and copied everything we did, so that within a few minutes the three older members of our group were just as securely bound and gagged as Rachel and Suzie. They shuffled back, looking at each other and shrugging their heads as Cassie handed me the tape.
“You take care of my arms,” Cassie said with that enthusiasm I love so much, “and he can tie my legs and gag me. Then he can take care of you, and,” she said as she looked at Billy, “make sure it’s really tight - she can be a real handful.”
“I don’t think you girls are going anywhere,” Billy said as he winked at me, and we got to work on Cassie. She had her hair hanging down in a pigtail today, and I thought it was really cute the way he lifted it out of the way as he wrapped the tape around her head.
Finally, there was just me, and Billy said “Do you want to take your glasses off first?”
“Oh yeah,” I said as I took them off, and left them on the sideboard, then allowed him to tie me up. It felt wonderful to have my hands scrunched up like that, and I only had to remind him to keep the ropes tighter a couple of times, so that when he finished I was sitting next to Rachel, nodding and laughing as he stood up.
“Right,” he eventually said as he looked at the clock on the mantelpiece, “I’m going to have a look round the house - don’t move!”
We nodded as he left the room, but I didn’t want to just sit there - I wanted to watch him while he pretended to find and take our stuff. So I pushed myself up onto the seat of the couch the four of us were sitting on, and looked at the others.
Rachel was staring at me, open mouthed, while Angela was shaking her head and saying “nnnnpteee” to me.
I looked at her as she did this, but said “tsfffnn,” as I pushed myself up onto my feet, and started to jump towards the door. As I looked down the corridor, I heard Cassie say “hbbb” and the sound of her pushing herself up, as I hopped to where the door to the back room was open.
“Hllbbll,” I called out as I hopped into the room, to see that he had found Mummy’s hiding place for the emergency cash fund. He turned round and stared at me, as I hopped into the room and looked up at him, smiling under the gag.
“Patty,” he whispered, “I thought I told you to stay where you were... OH great, your friend came along too.”
I turned my head to see Cassie hopping in behind me, saying “thshpngn” as she looked round. Billy put the money in his pocket, looked at both of us and said “I told you to stay in the room,” picking us up under each of his arms and carrying us back into the front room. He set us down on the floor, next to Rachel and Suzie, and said “now this time, stay there,” before he left the room again.
Well, did you think I was going to let him spoil the game? Cassie saw me get to my feet again, and said “Plsspteee, rshl?”
I looked at Rachel, who was still wriggling a little, and said “ustwfhr” before I hopped to the door. I didn’t hear or see Jenny nodding at Suzie and Cassie, as they pushed themselves up and hopped after me.
As we went into the corridor, I saw Billy heading to the kitchen, so we all hopped after him, me singing a song and the others joining in.
As we hopped into the kitchen in a line, Billy turned and watched, his mouth open under the stocking over his head as we jumped onto the chairs round the kitchen table and watched him, our legs swinging over the edge of the seat.
“Whtudng, mstrbbr,” Suzie said as she tilted her head and looked at him. I had to laugh inside as Billy shook his head, and said “What are you three, acrobats or something?”
“Jimnsts,” Cassie said and then we started to sing again.
“For the love of,” he said as he looked at all of us. I could see the drawers and cupboards were open, so he must have had a good look for things. He really did play the part well, even though I knew there was nothing here.
“Right,” he said as he looked at the three of us, “I want you back in the front room, and this time I want you to stay there!”
He was almost crying as he made us hop in single file back into the room, but as we came in I saw Jenny and Alicia sitting either side of Rachel, showing her how to push herself up the couch and sit on it, while Angela had already settled herself in one of the armchairs.
“Wllwsstfff,” she said as Billy stared at her, and I think he really wanted to burst out laughing and end the game there and then.
“I... Look, just long as you stay here while I search upstairs, you can play ring a ring a roses for all I care,” he finally said as he made the three of us sit on the floor, looking at Rachel. She had a look in her eyes I recognised now, so that even though she didn’t try to speak I knew she was beginning to see why I enjoyed this so much.
Billy wiped his hand over his head, then said “Look, I’ll only be a little while longer, and then I’ll be gone. Please, just stay here, all right?” We all nodded as I watched him go out and start to climb the staircase.
Well, I looked at Cassie, Cassie looked at me, and the others knew what was coming next. “Frgdsskbcrfl,” Jenny said as the three of us got onto our feet, and hopped towards the door, before I heard Jenny say “llrtrshl, pshlkedd.”
“What the...” Billy said as he saw me standing at the bottom of the stairs. “You three, get back into that room!!”
“Nnnn,” I said as I shook my head, and then sat down on the step, starting to push myself up the stairs as Cassie and Suzie watched. “Fine,” he finally said, “I can see you’re going to follow me anyway. Just don’t get in my way!”
He started to walk up the rest of the stairs, as the three of us followed him up, then hopped into my room as he started to look round.
“IS this your room,” he said as he looked at me, and I groaned - just how stupid did he want to pretend to be? He had a look through my drawers as Cassie started to sing a song we had been learning for a school production.
“Hiknthsn,” Suzie said as she started to join in.
By now we were in Mummy’s room, and the three of us were sitting on the bed, watching him as he searched for Mummy’s jewellery, and put what he found into his bag. I thought for a moment I could hear him crying, but he kept looking through the cupboards as I joined in - I remembered the chorus from watching the film with Mummy.
Tppns, tppns, tppnsabg
Billy made his way to the office, the three of us standing up and following him as he forced open the locked boxes Mummy kept in there and had a look inside them.
Lstn, lstn, shscllntu
Tppns, rppns, tppnsebg.”
I watched Billy as he stood with his hands on Mummy’s desk, and didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Eventually, he turned round and said “Girls, that was wonderful. I really, really wish I could see you sing that for your mummies and daddies - but right now I need you to come back downstairs with me. I need to have you all in the same room before I go - will you do that for me?”
We nodded and jumped up, going in front of him as he carried his bag in his hand, and then hearing him gasp as we slid ourselves down the stairs. Cassie went first, then watched as we both headed down after her.
“Right,” he said quietly, “go and join the others in the front room, and sit down.”
As we hopped in, Rachel looked up and said “Idntblfuddtht.” She was now sitting between Alicia and Jenny on my couch, as Angela looked at us.
“Rullrt,” she mumbled as Billy helped us to sit down. “Don’t worry, they’re fine,” Billy said as he walked round the room, checking the ropes to make sure they had not been undone or come loose.
Well, no way were they coming undone - Cassie had seen to that, and also we had our hands taped - DUH! Anyway, once we had sat down, he looked at the clock.
“My god, is it that late,” he said quietly, before picking up his bag. “Now, please, nobody move for thirty minutes, and I’ll call someone to let them know you are here, all right?”
“Lllrtt - bybblll” I called out as he turned and started to almost run for the door. I heard it open, and then a voice I recognised instantly said “What the...”
I jumped up and hopped to the door, the others just watching me, as I headed to the doorway. I saw Billy standing there, saying nothing and staring at the smartly dressed man standing in the door.
“Hllncljn,” I said as I smiled under the tape, “fnksfrthgm.”
I looked at Billy, who was still standing there, but then he opened his hand and there was a clang as the bag he was holding dropped to the floor. “No,” I heard him whisper, “No - I can’t do this, I’m sorry....” and he dropped to the floor on his knees.
I could also hear something I was not expecting at all - he was crying. I could see his shoulders moving up and down as Uncle John walked past him and looked at the rest of us in the room.
“Hello girls,” he said quietly, “I’m going to ask you all to stay in here for a few minutes - especially you, Patty. Don’t worry, I’ll come in soon.” With that, he moved me into the room and closed the door.
“Udbtcmfr,” Cassie said as she looked at me, but I shook my head and stayed where I was, listening at the doorway.
“All right, Billy, you’d better tell me what’s going on here.”
“I’m sorry, Mister Craig, I’m so so sorry, I didn’t want to do this, I didn’t know...”
“You didn’t want to break into my sister-in-law’s house, tie up her daughter, my kids and her friends, and try to steal her things? Billy James, do you realise just how much trouble you are in?”
“I know, I know - but please, don’t turn me in. I don’t think my mum and dad could stand the shame - here, here’s everything, but please don’t do this to me...”
“Billy - look, I don’t understand why you did this, after everything I’ve done. Getting you the place at the school, helping out with your youth work... All right, look, why don’t you start at the beginning and tell me why you did this?”
I could hear Billy sobbing again, as Uncle John said “Please, Billy, the last thing I want to do is call the police, but I need to know why?”
“Whhhh... Well, you know that there is a plan to bring the local theatre group to the school next month?”
That was news to me, but I kept quiet as I listened to Uncle John saying he had heard.
“Well, Mrs Holmes had given me the deposit to take to give the theatre group tomorrow. I promised her I’d take good care of it, and left it in my locker in the staff room. Like an idiot however, I left my locker door unlocked, and when I went to collect my bag to head for home yesterday - yester......”
“Go on, Billy.”
“I... Oh god... I got home, opened the bag and the sealed envelope was gone. I knew I had put it in there, but it had disappeared. Well, I knew I would get accused of stealing it, but I was petrified. I even thought of calling Donny, but I was too ashamed of what had happened, so I sat up all night, trying to think of a plan to somehow get the money and pay the deposit.”
“All right, Billy, I can see why you were upset - but why didn’t you just call Mrs Holmes and tell her the envelope had been taken.”
“I know I should have, but the longer I stayed awake, the more desperate I got - and then.... Mister Craig, please, I’m sorry, I panicked. I knew I was in trouble and I just, I just..... Ohhnnnnnnnn............”
I had not heard that sort of sound since Daddy died, and I was beginning to wonder what was going to happen as the crying continued. Looking round the room, I could see Rachel cuddling with Suzie and Cassie, but the others could hear the sound as well, and looked at me as I shrugged my shoulders.
“Billy,” I then heard Uncle John say, “look at me. I had a call from the school while I was in my meeting - you didn’t lose the money.”
“I... I didn’t?”
“No - turns out one of the other teaching assistants had been suspected of some petty theft, and was confronted by the police today. When they raided her home, they found an envelope, addressed to the theatre group, with all the money inside.”
“They... Then I... Oh my god, I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry, I’ve let you down, I’ve... What will the girls think of me? What will Patty think of me?”
“Patty? She recognised you?”
Then I heard the crying start again, louder than before, and even Cassie looked at me. I was beginning to feel a little upset - was this a game after all?
“It’s all right Billy,” I heard Uncle John say, “Look, the money has been recovered, you are in the clear, and no harm has been done. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes in their lives - it’s what they learn from them that is important.”
“Then... Do you forgive me?”
“Well - listen, I won’t call the police, but you must promise me that you don’t try anything like this ever again. If you ever find yourself in any sort of trouble, and you can’t call your family, you call me, all right?”
There was a bit of silence, and then Billy said “All right - but what about the girls?”
“Yes - you told them you were playing a game, right?”
“Yeah, but Patty - and the two toher younger ones - they followed me around, they sang, they...”
“Billy, I know exactly what they are like - but we need to bring this to an end quickly. Patty’s mum is going to be coming here in an hour, with my wife, and the last thing we need to do is have them find you here. So, follow my lead, all right?”
I heard footsteps, and quickly hopped back to the others as the door opened. Uncle John appeared, with his hand on Billy’s shoulder, and said “Are you girls all right?”
“Wrffndd,” Cassie said as she looked at him.
“Good,” he said as he winked at us. “It looks as if I caught the nasty robber before he could get away with your mum’s nice things. Patty, so I need to hand him over to the police.” He winked at me as he said this, and I smiled back at him under the tape. It was a game after all!
“Now, I need to go and call the police, and hand him over, and then I’ll call you lot. Angela, would you mind watching them for just a few more minutes?”
“Fcrsmstrcrg,” Angela said as she looked at me, and then the others. Uncle John smiled and said “Good - I need a few minutes,” and then he walked Billy out of the room.
I heard Billy say “I can’t thank you enough Mister Craig, please, say sorry to the girls for me,” and then the front door closing. Uncle John came back in, and said “Right, I think that’s the end of this game. Sorry you were taken by surprise like that girls - especially you,” he said as he looked at Rachel. “I’m Patty’s Uncle John - Cassie and Jenny are my daughters. What’s your name?”
“Rshl,” she mumbled.
“All right Rachel,” Uncle John said as he untied the scarf, peeled the tape away, and then removed the rest of her gag. “You’ll have to forgive Patty and the other girls - they like to play these sorts of games, but they should have told me you were having a friend round before I agreed to set this up. Remember that next time, Cassie and Jenny - and you, Patty?”
“Wwwl,” the three of us mumbled as Angela and Alicia looked at each other, then at us. “Still, no harm has been done - are you all right Rachel?”
“I think so,” she said quietly, “It just took me by surprise, that’s all. It wasn’t exactly how I expected the afternoon with Patty to be.”
“Btssfn, rt,” I mumbled as I looked at her. Uncle John looked at me before Rachel said “Oh yeah - once I got over the fear, it was fantastic fun. You have got to show me how to do this!”
“Hrwgggn,” Alicia said as she let her head fall back, and I heard her starting to laugh under the tape and scarves. “This just feels so safe,” Rachel continued as she tried to wriggle her fingers, “and it doesn’t hurt at all. How on earth do you do it?”
“I guess you have a new playmate, Patty,” Uncle John said as he patted my head, and then removed my gag. Once I had worked my jaw, I said “Do you think your mum will let you sleep over, Rachel?”
“I can ask her, but I don’t think she’ll mind.”
“Whoa whoa - you’d better ask your mother first Patty,” Uncle John said as he untied Angela, and she started to remove her gag before untying Jenny and Alicia. “You’d better use my phone, once you have been untied.”
“Do we have to be,” Rachel said as she wriggled round.
“You do, Rachel,” Uncle John said. “I know that being tied up can be fun, but you still need to eat and go to the toilet, so we do need to free you. I’m sure the others would agree.”
“Oh yes, we agree,” Alicia said as she started to untie Suzie, and Jenny went to work on Cassie. Angela walked over to Uncle John, and said “Can I have a quick word, Mister Craig?”
“Yeah - I thought you might want to,” Uncle John said as he looked at me. “Let’s go into the kitchen and fix some drinks, all right?”
Angela looked at all of us, and then followed Uncle John into the kitchen as we waited to be released. One by one our mouths were freed, and one by one we stood up and rubbed our arms. That was when Cassie took me to one side.
“Patty - you have got to learn that sometimes we need to stay in one place when we’re tied up and unable to speak. I know it’s... Oh god, this is so weird...”
“What is, cuz?”
“I had the same talk given to me last year - Patty, sometimes we may end up in situations where it’s going to be the wrong thing to do to hop around after the people who have done it to us. I don’t know what Dad had arranged for today, but for a while I thought this was one of those times - and then you hopped off...”
“I know - but it was part of the game, wasn’t it?”
Cassie looked at me, before saying “Patty, I really hope you never find out the way I did why we have to stay with each other sometimes. Just for now, believe me - sometimes it’s just as much fun to stay together all right?”
“What is,” Rachel said as she came over and hugged me. Cassie looked at her, and then said “Nothing really - I’m just sorry Patty did not introduce you gently to the games we play.”
“That’s all right,” Rachel said with a smile, “Now I know it was a game, it wasn’t that scary at all.”
“Drinks,” Angela said as she brought a tray in. “Cassie, can you and Suzie clear all this mess away. Patty, your uncle wants you in the kitchen.”
I went through to hear Uncle John say “Yeah, I know - hang on, Patty’s here. Do you have something to ask your mum, Patty?”
I took the phone and said “Hi Mummy - I was wondering if Rachel could stay over tonight?”
I heard Mummy saying “Well, that depends on her mother, but is she agrees then I’m fine with it. Have you had a fun day so far?”
“Great fun,” I said as I winked at Uncle John, and then I had a great idea. “Mummy, is Suzie’s mummy still at the house with you and Aunt Jennifer?”
“Yes, she is - why?”
“Can Cassie and Suzie sleep over as well - PLEASE...”
There was silence for a minute, before Mummy said “Put Uncle John back on, sweetheart.” I handed the phone back to Uncle John, who nodded and then said “All right - can you ask Jennifer to bring Cassie’s stuff with her when she drives you back, and let Susan know so that she can bring some things over later. I’ll call Kerry myself. I’ll see you in a little while.”
As he ended the call, he looked at me and said “I’m going to call Rachel’s mum now. Why don’t you go through and join the others.”
I nodded, and then gave Uncle John the biggest hug I could.
“Hey - what was that for?”
“For setting up the game with Billy today - it was fantastic.”
He looked at me in a funny way, then said “Patty, you must keep it a secret that Bi... Mister James was here today, all right? He agreed to do this for me, but the other teachers may not look at it the same way you do. You understand, don’t you?”
I nodded, and then ran in to join the others. As I sat down and took a drink, Angela said “Once we’re finished, we need to clear all these things away - Patty, you stay and talk with Rachel, all right?”
I nodded as I heard Uncle John say “Mrs Rigg? This is John Craig, Patty Pickering’s uncle. I was just wondering if you would allow Rachel to sleep over with her tonight - she’s had such a great time today she wants to stay for a while longer...”
“Patty?” I turned from Uncle John to see Alicia and Jenny looking at me.
“Oh come on,” I said as I let my shoulders drop, “first Cassie, now you? I’m telling you, it was a great big game organised by Uncle John - ask him.”
“That’s not what we were going to ask you,” Jenny said with a little smile, “but you really need to sit down and talk to Rachel for a minute or two. I think you have to do some explaining to her.”
I nodded and realised they were right. I left them in the kitchen as Uncle John called out “tell Rachel she can stay tonight” and went back into the front room. “Rachel, want to come upstairs with me for a minute,” I said, and she followed me up to my room.”
“You have got to teach me how to do that - and how did you learn anyway?”
I looked at her, and said “It’s kind of a family thing - we’ve been robbed a couple of times, and my cousins have been in some fairly hairy situations.”
“Really? What sort of things?”
“Well,” I said as I sat on the bed and swung my legs round, and Rachel sat on the floor, “for one thing, the man who tied you and your mum up tied me, my mum and my cousins up as well.”
“Wow,” Rachel said as she looked at me, “Did you think it was a game as well?”
“At first - but Mum told me later, and we had a long chat about things then. But before that, there were quite a few games.”
“Oooo,” Rachel whistled as she crossed her legs. “And do you really know Lord Holderness?”
“Of course I do - Suzie’s his granddaughter,” I said with a smile. “We’re all friends. Of course, the others know them better than I do, but Angela taught me a lot as well.”
“Oh - is she a teacher?”
“No,” I laughed, “but she is their oldest granddaughter. Look, Rachel, I’m glad you enjoyed the game today, but I’m really sorry I wasn’t able to warn you about it. I got taken by surprise as well.”
“Hey, I like surprises,” she said with a smile, “but you have got to teach me how to...”
“Patty? Can you and Rachel come down please?”
“We’d better go down - Uncle John wants me,” I said as we went back down the stairs. He was standing there with Angela and Alicia.
“The girls have tidied up in the front room,” he said as he looked at us, “so I want you to go and wash up in the kitchen. Angela, your father will be here for you once he’s collected your mother from the shopping centre.”
“Understood, Mister Craig,” Angela said as she looked at us. “Well, on you go - I’ll put a DVD on when you come back in.”
“Dad,” Jenny called through, “Colin just texted me to ask if I can meet him at the cinema later. Is that all right?”
“I’ll let your mother know,” he called back, before leaving us to go wherever he was going. Rachel and I went and washed up the glasses, plates and things, then I showed her where to put them before we joined the others to watch something I’d never seen before - a funny cartoon about a mouse secret agent...
“Oh come on - it’s just a lime lolly!”
“Oh my god - I haven’t seen that in years!”
I turned to see Alicia and Angela’s dad standing in the doorway, his arms folded, and Mummy and Aunt Jenny standing behind him.
“Come on, you two,” he said with a smile, “Andy won’t wait for his tea forever. Thanks again for having them over Jessica.”
“Oh, no problem,” Mummy said as she came in and hugged me.”So I’ve got a sleepover tonight now, eh? I’d better find some sleeping bags and things.”
“So I have to drop you off in town now, do I?” Aunt Jenny said, but she was smiling as she said it. “Cassie, your Aunt Jessie has your overnight things. You behave yourself, all right?”
I nodded and beamed my best smile at Aunt Jenny. “Thank you for letting Cassie stay overnight with me,” I said as I swung slightly from side to side.
“It’s all right Patty - I guess the four of you can keep Jess busy,” Aunt Jenny said as she hugged Cassie. “Right - come on, or you’ll be late.”
“See you tomorrow,” Jenny said as she walked out of the room, Alicia and Angela soon following with their father. “Right,” Mummy said as she came in, “I need to go and change out of these clothes. Can you cope by yourself for a few minutes?”
“Of course we can, Mum,” I said with an exasperated look, as she slowly walked up the stairs. “I’ll phone out later for Pizza,” she called back down as I heard her door closing.
“I put things back,” Cassie said as she sat down, “After all, you should tidy up after a game, RIGHT?”
“I know we should,” I said as I sat with Rachel. “So,” she said as she took off her glasses, wiped them with a cloth and put them back on again, “Are all your games that exciting?”
“Some of them are - the ones that are games,” Suzie said, “and even when it’s real, we make it a game so that it becomes fun. Like when we were held hostage at your Aunt Cassie’s house.”
“That was a really frightening time at the end, though,” Cassie said, and I saw her shiver a little. “But it turned out all right in the end. Have you seen much of her at school this year?”
“No - she stayed on in my old year. I have a Mrs Manaconga now.”
“That sounds like an exotic name!”
“I think she’s from New Zealand. Never mind that, however - do you know what all the girls in my class keep asking me?”
I saw her look at Cassie, and then say “Who’s this girl your brother has got eyes for?”
Cassie blushed as we burst out into fits of giggles, before the door bell rang. “Can you get that, please,” I heard Mummy call down, so I went to answer it, and found Rachel’s mum standing outside with a rucksack. She was a bit older than Mummy, with grey streaks in her brown hair, and was wearing a brown leather jacket over a t-shirt and jeans.
“OH hello Patricia,” she said as she looked at me, “Can I speak to your mother please?”
“Hi Kerry,” Mum said as she came down the stairs, pulling down the blue sweatshirt over her joggers, “Is that Rachel’s overnight bag?”
“Yes,” Mrs Rigg said as she handed it over. “I need to collect her at ten tomorrow for Chapel, so I have packed her clothes for that in there as well. Thanks for inviting her to stay the night.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Mummy said as she took the rucksack, “I think she’s had so much fun here today, she wants it to carry on.”
“True,” Rachel’s mum said with a smile, “and it gives her father and me a quiet night as well. Tell her I’ll see her tomorrow.”
“I will,” Mummy said as we watched Mrs Rigg walk down the garden path, then closed the door and went into the front room. “Your mum dropped this off,” she said as she handed Rachel the bag, and as she opened it she took out a Raggedy Ann doll.
“Who’s that,” Suzie said as she looked at the doll, wearing a white petticoat dress.
“This is Bobbi,” Rachel said as she hugged the doll, “I need her to help me sleep at night. Don’t you have one?”
The three of us looked at each other - I think we were all remembering when we spent the night with Suzie’s other grandmother, and raided the toy box there, and what happened when we went to bed that night.
“Not here,” Suzie said, “but I think we don’t need to worry about - Mum!”
I hadn’t even heard the doorbell ring, but there was Suzie’s mum, her red curly hair under a beret, and with her was her older brother Bobby. Rachel turned a bright crimson as he said “Hi everyone - what’s happening?”
“Hey Bobby,” Cassie said as she got up and walked over, taking him by the arm as she said “I’ll tell you in the kitchen.”
“Right,” Mrs Holderness said as she looked at the two of them. “Suzie, here’s your overnight bag - remember we’re going to see Granny Jacobs for lunch tomorrow.”
“Lovely - she does the best Sunday Roast,” Suzie said, then she looked at her mum and said “Apart from you, that is Mummy.”
“Better,” Mrs Holderness said with a smile. “Your cousin needs to say the same thing.”
“Tommy?” I looked up suddenly at Suzie. “You didn’t say your cousin was in town.”
“I didn’t know,” Suzie said as she looked at her mother.
“Just for the weekend -it was going to be a surprise, but... Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. Bobby?”
I watched as Bobby appeared again, gave Cassie a hug and then looked at me in a funny way, before saying “See you tomorrow, squirt” and leaving the four of us alone.
“Right,” Mummy said as she looked at us, “Pizza party, I think. Anything people don’t like?”
“No pepperoni please,” Suzie called out, but with that one proviso Mummy went off to order the food, while we sat in a circle.
“All right, so what are we going to play first,” Cassie said as she looked at us.
“Can we tie each other up again? I want to learn how you did that - it was wonderful.” I looked at Rachel, before saying “Perhaps after tea - but right now, we could do some gagged singing.”
“Oh that sounds like fun,” Rachel said as she clapped her hands, “how does that work.”
“I’ll find the musical,” I said as I went to the DVD collection. “Have you ever seen High School Musical, Rach?”
She shook her head, so I got it out while Cassie and Suzie rolled four red and white scarves from the collection into bands, and tied knots in the middle of them.
“We tie one of these into our mouths,” Cassie said as she handed Rachel one, “and then when the songs start, we all join in. It sounds really funny - remember at Pippa’s house?”
“That was Mamma Mia,” Suzie said as she nodded, “and a little different. Start the film, Patty, and we’ll get ready.”
“Ohho - gagged karaoke is it? Aren’t you meant to ask permission first Patty?”
I looked up to see Mum standing in the doorway, so I said “Sorry, Mum, is it all right” with my head lowered.
“Fcrstsswthrt,” I heard her say, and as I looked up I saw she had pushed a washcloth into her mouth, and was heading for her favourite seat. I grinned as I started the film, and then pulled one of the knotted scarves into my own mouth, tying it round my head and grinning over the cloth at the others as the music started.
We managed to get two-thirds of the way through the film, singing along - well, mmphign along more like - before the door bell rang and Mummy stood up, taking the now very wet cloth out of her mouth.
“I’m going to need a drink after that,” she said as she went to the door, “you girls keep watching the film - I’ll bring the food through at the end.”
“Uggttmmee,” I mumbled back as the four of us watched the screen, Rachel tightly gripping Bobbi in her arms as she joined in.
As the film came to an end, Mummy brought through the pizzas and snacks, and - well, I guess we were all really hungry, because she had to say “Hey, hey - there’s plenty for everybody. Take your time or you’ll get bad tummy aches.”
“Sorry Aunt Jessie,” Cassie said before she grabbed a slice of pizza and nudged me in the ribs. Mummy poured us all some drinks, and then sat down with her own pizza. She loves the Meat Supreme, but I find the sausage a bit too icky for me.
“So Rachel - have you enjoyed yourself today,” Aunt Jessie said as she looked at my friend. She nodded and said “Yeah - I really enjoyed it when they tied us all up. Can you teach me to do that?”
Mummy looked at us for a moment, then said “I really need to have a word with your Uncle John.” She must have seen the look on our faces, because she then said “Well, I don’t mind you practising on each other, and I’m sure they can teach you a few things, but I need to keep an eye on you, all right?”
I knew there was no arguing with Mummy on that one, so I said “all right - but we’ll eat and clear up first.”
“I like your dolly,” Suzie said as she sat next to Rachel, “Have you had her long?”
“As long as I can remember - she’s always come to bed with me,” Rachel said as she cuddled the doll, “Don’t you have someone like that.”
“Well, I’ve got Stitch,” I said with a smile, “I missed him a bit when we were on holiday, but I had other things on my mind.”
“Oh - like what?”
“Like been taped and tape gagged every night in bed,” Cassie said with a laugh, earning a dig in the ribs from both me and Suzie for that. Rachel shook her head and said “I never knew you were that much into this, Patty - how did you learn to hop around anyway?”
“We’ll teach you later - it’s real easy,” Suzie said with a smile. “Mind you, going upstairs...”
“Not unless I’m there to watch you,” Mummy said as she picked up her drink. “Maybe later you can all watch a DVD your Uncle John gave me - I think Rachel may like watching it.”
I wondered what that was, but kept quiet for the moment - my Hawaiian pizza needed to be eaten...
It was starting to get a little dark as we picked up all the boxes, and carried them into the kitchen, waiting until Mummy held open a bag for us to put them into. “Right then,” she said as she tied the bag up, “do any of you need to go to the toilet?”
We all shook our heads, as Mummy looked at us. “All right then - if you’re going to play games, then make sure your wrist and ankles are covered. I need to wash up in here, so you can have a little time to yourself, all right?”
We nodded and ran back into the front room, where Rachel said “So how do I learn to do what you lot do?”
“We need a couple of willing volunteers,” Cassie said with a smile, “and I think my darling cousin is due a little payback. Patty, you and Suzie put some socks over your hands, and then stand in front of us with your wrists crossed behind your back. Rachel, you copy what I do to Suzie on Patty, all right?”
“Ok,” Rachel said with a big smile, “but why do you put socks on your hands?”
“Well, partly it protects our wrists,” I said with a big smile, “but mainly it stops us using our fingers to try and untie ourselves or each other.”
“OH,” Rachel said as she took a length of cord from Cassie, and doubled it over as she did, “that actually makes sense.”
“Unless, you’re my Aunt Cassie,” my cousin said as I felt Rachel pulling my crossed wrists together behind my back with rope, “in which case she uses her fingernails to tear the sock. Pull it back against the loop, Rachel - that makes it nice and snugly tight.”
“Like this, “I heard my friend say, and then I nodded as I felt my wrists being held tightly together, and the rope going between them. I then saw her arms reaching round me and wrapping rope around my waist, as my wrists were held against my back.
“We pass the rope between our arms and backs, because then it makes it very difficult to move our wrists,” Cassie said as Suzie looked behind me. “Nice job for a first timer,” she said, which made Rachel giggle a little.
“Anyway, Rachel,” Suzie said as she watched Cassie tie some rope around her elbows and tummy, locking her arm to her side, “Do you read Nancy Drew books as well?”
“I’ve got a couple, but my mum has a full set of those old Enid Blyton books - you know, Famous Five, Secret Seven, all that lot...”
“Oh yeah - I love Five Get into Trouble,” I say as I feel my own arms restricted. “Mind you, it’s not the best.”
“Oh,” Rachel said as she turned her head and looked at me, “What one do you think is best?”
“I prefer the Secret Seven Mystery.”
“Don’t worry,” Cassie said as she helped Suzie to sit down, “she’ll soon grow out of it. Now then Rachel, we need to tie their ankles together, then their legs below their knees. We do it the same way as the wrists, but we don’t cross the ankles, or else we won’t be able to move later.”
Rachel nodded, and soon both Suzie and I had out legs well secured. Cassie walked over and checked the knots, then said “Very well done Rachel - it’s your turn now.”
“Can I do something else before you do that,” Rachel said as she picked up Bobbi. “Can I make sure she can’t move either - or talk?”
I had to stop myself laughing, but Cassie nodded with a very serious face and said “OF course - there’s some packing string in here, and we can give her a little tape gag as well, if she promises not to try and take it off.”
“I thought tape would be enough - you really went over the top with that, Patty,” Rachel said as she looked at me. I raised an eyebrow as she found some string, and started to tie Bobbi’s cloth wrists together behind her back.
“Put some tape on our mouths for the moment, Cas - I need to show my friend something.”
Cassie nodded as she tore two strips off the white tape and pressed one over my mouth, then one over Suzie’s. We looked at each other and nodded, shuffling back on the couch as Rachel tied Bobbi’s legs together at the feet and half way up, then tied some string round her belly and arms.
“Now put this over her mouth,” Cassie said as she handed her a strip of the white tape, “then put a pair of socks over your hands, and I’ll get you ready as well.”
“Okay,” she said, and we both watched her sit the trussed and gagged doll on a seat, then allow Cassie to tie her tightly. “My goodness,” she said as the rope went round her tummy, “I thought Patty was tight, but you’re even better.”
“Tldu,” I mumbled as I worked on the tape with my chin, and then stopped for a moment while Cassie helped her to sit down and tied her ankles and legs together.
“Now, I won’t gag you for the moment,” Cassie said, but when Rachel pouted she said “because you need to be able to tell us if you feel unsafe at any point. What I want you to do now is copy the other two, all right?”
She nodded and watched us as we started to shuffle forwards, copying us on her seat until we were all sitting on the edge of the seat. I nodded and then slid forward, standing myself up as I did so, then Suzie followed suit. We watched Rachel as she slowly copied us, waving a little as she stood herself up and gained her balance.
“Oh my,” she finally said as she looked at us, “this is not as easy as it looks. So how do we walk - shuffle our feet or hop?”
“Uchs,” I said as I started to take short bunny hops to the room door, Suzie waited as Rachel copied me again, taking very small hops at first, then longer jumps as she gained in confidence. Cassie walked beside her, in case she overbalanced too much, while Suzie brought up the rear.
“THIS IS FUN!!!” Rachel called out as we hopped into the corridor, and then headed for the staircase. “Wtsh,” I said as I sat myself down on the second stair up, then put my feet on the first step and pushed myself up one.
“Are you going upstairs,” we heard Mummy call through from the kitchen.
“Yeah,” Cassie called back, “I’m not secured Aunty, so I can watch them going up.”
“Well, call when you’re coming back down, and I’ll wait at the bottom of the stairs,” Mummy called back as I carried on, watching Rachel as she gingerly followed me, gasping as she pushed herself up each step. Suzie came last, Cassie walking behind her until we all met at the top of the staircase.
I shuffled over on my bottom to the wall, and then pushed myself up, Rachel watching admiringly as I did so. “I’ll help you stand up,” Cassie said as she took Rachel by the arms and helped her to stand, while Suzie did what I had done.
“Is that what you did when those men held you hostage at your friend’s house,” Rachel said as she looked at Cassie.
“You mean at Pippa’s? Not quite - the men tied us up in Pippa’s bedroom, and I have to confess we had been playing some games before, but it’s how I hopped into her mother’s room and back again.”
“Wow,” Rachel said as she looked wide eyed at Cassie, “Is that the longest you’ve ever been tied up?”
“Nope,” Cassie said as she opened the door to me room and let us hop in, “that was when we spent the whole night bound and gagged very, very tightly. I hopped into Mum’s bed that night in the end.”
“Ysshsihrd - hgngnnn,” I said as I used my tongue to force the tape away from my mouth, Rachel watching open mouthed as I worked my jaw until the tape hung by my jaw, “I heard about that, Cas. I thought that was amazing.”
Suzie pushed the tape off her own mouth, then smiled as she looked at Rachel. “I think we’ve taken her by surprise,” she said as my friend stammered “Bbbbb - how did you do that?”
“First rule of stopping someone talking, Rachel,” Cassie said with a smile, “the television is wrong. IF you just have a strip - or several strips - of tape over your mouth, sooner or later you can work it free with your jaw or your tongue.”
“It tastes really funny,” I said with a smile, “but it happens eventually. I’m afraid that’s why I had to wind the tape round your mouth earlier - it stops that happening.”
Rachel nodded, then said “so how do we really keep you quiet.”
“Cas, there are two pairs of socks in the top drawer - let’s start with them.”
I watched as Cassie took two clean pairs of socks out of the drawer, then balled three of them up. “I’ll do all three of you at the same time - open wide and say Ah.”
We all allowed Cassie to push the socks into our mouths, although I had to stop giggling as Rachel said “Tsstsfnnee,” at her gag.
“give it a few minutes,” Cassie said as she found three old scarves in a box under my bed, “as it gets wetter, it shrinks a little and gets more comfortable.” She then rolled the scarves into bands and cleave gagged each of us, before she found a roll of blue tape under the bed.
“Oh,” she said as she looked at me, “so this is where it went?”
Okay, okay - I was busted, as I had ‘borrowed’ it a couple of weeks before. “Unlike the silver tape,” Cassie said as she looked at me, “this doesn’t pull at the hair, so it means you can’t push the cloth out when I wrap it round your head.
“Whtbbtu,” Rachel mumbled as she allowed Cassie to wrap the tape around her head.
“I’ll ask Aunt Jessie to sort me out downstairs - she’s better at this than you think,” Cassie said quietly, as she finished gagging both me and Suzie, then helped us to stand up. “Right then - let’s go back to the top of the stairs.”
As we hopped out of the room, Cassie went to the top of the stairs and said “Aunt Jessie - we’re coming down.”
“All right,” I heard Mummy call up, “Give me a minute.” I slid down the wall and shuffled over to the top step, before I heard her call up “All right - first one.”
“Cppm,” I mumbled as I slid down, one step at a time, stopping myself with my feet on the next step down as I did so. I could see Mummy waiting at the bottom of the stairs, smiling as she said “I see Cassie really sorted you upstairs.”
“Thtsrtmmeee,” I said as I got to the bottom stair, pushed myself up and hopped round to watch Rachel slowly make her way down, then Suzie after her as Cassie walked behind her. We all managed to make it safely down as Cassie said “Aunt Jessie, can you take care of me and then make us all lie on our tummies while we watch it?”
“Of course I can dear,” Mummy said as we hopped back into the front room, then watched as she quickly bound Cassie in the same way we were secured, before pushing the last sock into her mouth. Rachel giggled as she saw Cassie wave her sock covered hands behind her back, and then gasped as Mummy helped her to lie on her tummy on the floor, pulled her legs gently back and tied her ankles to her chest rope.
“All right,” she said as she looked at us, “Who wants to lie next to Cas?”
I hopped down and lay next to her, grinning as I was also tied with my ankles to my back, and then Mummy put a pillow under our heads to help us to look at the television. Cassie came next, then Suzie, so that we were like four little maids watching a show.
“One more thing,” Mummy said, and I looked on as she picked Bobbi up and placed her on Rachel, so that she was perched on her head. “If you move, she falls off,” Mummy said, “and then she’ll miss the show, all right?”
Rachel started to nod, and then felt Bobbi move, so she just lay there, watching as Mummy put a DVD into the player and started it.
“Hgddd,” Cassie and Suzie moaned in unison as I saw the girls being brought into some sort of basement. I recognised most of them, as Mummy said “The other girl, Rachel, is a friend of Cassie and Jenny’s called Heidi. That other girl coming in is her cousin Natalie. We met them while we were away this summer, remember Patty?”
I did remember - we played that wonderful detective game after we met them at the lake. So we watched, as they untied themselves and all the mums and grannies.
“Now, you know Cassie’s mum, but the other two women are her Aunt Connie and her Aunt Cassie, and that is her grandmother. The other woman with Suzie is her grandmother.”
“That’s right - ah here we go.”
We watched as the others gathered in a hall. “The two other women are Heidi and Natalie’s mothers - that’s right, isn’t it Cassie?”
Cassie nodded as we watched them leave the room, then they appeared in sports gear, tightly bound and gagged as they hopped down a corridor.
“Lkksffn,” Rachel said, and I had to nod in agreement. They all looked so happy, especially Cas - she had a sparkle in her eyes I’ve seen a few times now, but she seemed somehow a lot younger then.
“jstlku,” I heard her muttering as they went from room to room, either jumping round, or cleaning up, or - and then they hopped so quickly out of a room they almost fell over!
The next thing we saw was them shuffling out onto a large lawn, but now dressed in casual clothes. “knwwhtscmng,” Suzie said with a grin as we watched them running some races - well, hobbling was more like it, making me laugh at their antics.
But then I saw Cassie’s mum and aunts come out, followed by two other women - one with red hair like Suzie’s, the other with long dark hair. “Urmmm,” Rachel said as she looked at Suzie, who nodded.
“The other woman is Alicia’s mum,” Mummy said as we saw them run a relay race, and then break for lunch after a game of tag. The next time we saw then they were wearing their school uniforms - or in the case of Heidi and Natalie, I presume they were the sort of clothes they wore to their school.
“Whtsgngnn,” I said as they were led, one by one, into a room, and we saw them having to try to say something they heard from a set of earphones.
“Your mum told me about that,” Mummy said, “and personally I think it was a cruel and unusual punishment. Funny, but cruel.”
“Ntsfnnessths,” Cassie said as we saw them suddenly start to wriggle across the floor, securely bound and gagged in their uniforms. In a race. We all giggled out loud at that, before the scene changed again and we saw the girls in dresses, and smarter clothes, free but with their mouths gagged.
“wggttggrslfs,” Cassie said as we saw them walk outside, and one by one pick a relative, instructing their dads, mums, aunts and uncles as to how that person was to be tied and then tied themselves in the same way.
“Wshdbnthr,” I mumbled as I looked at Cassie. “Sddbbe,” she mumbled in return, as we saw them sitting there or lying together, and slowly drifting off in what looked like a warm sunny afternoon.
Finally, the scene changed to inside the building, and we saw the girls coming down in family groups, dressed in gowns and wearing long gloves, as well as ropes securely bound round them and layers of gags.
“There is no way that dress fits you now, Cassie,” Mummy said as she looked at my cousin, and I looked at her on the screen next to Jenny. I realised suddenly that she was a good two or three inches smaller there - and she looked a lot like me without my glasses, while Jenny had grown even more.
“Iknn,” Cassie said, and I could have sworn a little tear was running down her cheek.
“Don’t worry,” Mummy said as we watched the girls been escorted down the stairs, and then some family photos been taken, “growing up can be scary, but you come out the end a beautiful young woman - even you Patty.”
“Fnksaltmmm,” I said as the others giggled under their gags, but then I saw them as they sat round a huge table, and heard the way Lord Holderness spoke, and I felt so proud of what he said.
They then stood up, stood in a group and started singing, and this time I really did see a tear in Mummy’s eye. All too soon, however, the film ended - or so we thought, because we suddenly saw a sign that said “And now...”
I watched the events of Jenny’s last birthday unfold - I had heard the two of them talking about it, but never seen the events for myself as they played games, gave out presents, all in their dresses and all tied up tightly.
Mummy looked at me, then said “I’m not sure, Patty, I’m not sure.” I left it at that, before I heard Rachel say “dmmm” and Bobbi fell off her head onto the floor.
“all right,” Mummy eventually said as the scenes came to an end, “It’s getting late, and you have to be up in the morning Rachel. I’m going to untie you, and then all four of you - upstairs, washed, changed, teeth brushed and then come back down again, all right?”
Once we were all free of the ropes and gags, we jumped up and ran up the stairs, all of us trying to get into the bathroom at the same time and failing. Eventually we all ended up in my room, and as Rachel pulled a blue nightdress over her head she said “You have some amazing friends, Patty.”
“Why thank you,” Suzie said as she pulled her pink pyjama buttons up, then fastened her top up the front. Cassie had on a short sleeved top and shorts, while I was putting on my long green Hello Kitty top.
“Do you think I can come to one of those parties one day?”
“Well, we’ll have to see,” I said quietly, “because there is one thing you would need to do first.”
“Tell your mum and dad about what happened. Do you think they would understand?”
Rachel looked at us for a moment, and then she slowly shook her head. “No, they wouldn’t - my mum would be too scared after that man came to the house. I guess it has to be my secret - but can I come and play with you if I want to.”
“sure,” I said with a smile, “but only if Mummy is around or one of my aunts. That’s the rule.”
Rachel had the biggest smile I’d ever seen - even bigger than when Lady Cassie sees her Lord Bobby - and she hugged me tightly, saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you...”
“You’re welcome,” I said eventually, as Mummy called up “come on, girls - there’s milk and cookies down here for you.”
“YES!” we cried out as one, as we walked quickly down the stairs to find a tray of drinks and big chocolate biscuits laid out for us. “I’ll be back through in a minute,” I heard Mummy call through as we sat round the table and got stuck in.
Eventually she came in, wearing a blue dressing gown with fluffy slippers on her feet, and sat down with a steaming mug in her hands. “Have you girls enjoyed yourselves tonight?” she said with a smile, and we all nodded, our mouths too full of cookie to say anything else.
“Listen,” she said after she had taken a drink, “I don’t mind you girls sitting up in Patty’s room for a little while, but you need to keep the noise down and get off to sleep.”
“I don’t know if we can do that, Mummy,” I said as I looked at her, “not unless you stop us.”
Mummy looked at all of us, then said “Oh no - it’s one thing for Rachel to play along with you today, but to sleep like that? I don’t want you to do that tonight Patty.”
“Please Mummy,” I said as I looked at her with my best puppy dog eyes. She looked back at me, then shook her head and said “all right - but like you were on holiday. Nothing strict, nothing more than tape, all right?”
“You slept tied up and gagged while you are on holiday?”
“So Cassie told me,” Suzie said as she swallowed the last of her milk. “I’ve never done it myself, and I would not mind seeing what it is like.”
Mummy shook her head again, and said “All right - finish your supper, then up to bed. I’ll bring a roll of the white tape up.”
We nodded and did as we were told, Rachel picking up Bobbi as we trooped back up the stairs and into my room. Mummy followed us up a few minutes later, and in her hand was a large roll of the wide white tape that sticks to my skin like glue.
“Get into your beds, girls, and I’ll tape your wrists in front of you.”
Mummy had set up the camp beds on my floor, so I watched the thereof them lie down, while Mummy made them put their hands together in pray before she taped their wrists together, then their ankles. I saw Rachel mumbling something as Mummy came over and started to tape me up.
“What’s Rachel doing,” I said as she mumbled away.
“It’s called a catechism,” Mummy said as she taped my wrists together. “Rachel and her parents go to the Catholic chapel, and it’s something she does every night.”
“I didn’t know that,” I said as I looked at her. “no wonder she thinks her parents would not understand.”
“You’re learning so much, and growing up so fast,” Mummy said as she ruffled my hair. “But you’ll always be my special little girl, Patricia.”
“Do you think Daddy would have understood?”
Mummy had a sad little smile on her face, as she said “I would like to think he would have, yes. Now then - put those lips of yours together and smile.”
I did as she asked, feeling the cloth sticking to my skin, and then nodded to the others as she pressed a length of the tape over their mouths as well. “Good night girls,” she said as she turned off the light and closed the door.
By the nightlight, I could see Rachel cuddling Bobbi, a smile on her lips under the tape as her eyes slowly closed - and mine were not far behind...
“Good morning sleepy heads - it’s time to get up.”
I opened my eyes slowly to see Mummy standing in the doorway, looking at me in the bed. I tried to stretch and yawn - then I felt the tape stretching n my mouth, and I remembered that I had spent the night taped up.
So had the others - Suzie and Cassie were still asleep on two of the camp beds, while on the third one there was a now freed Bobbi.
“Rachel woke up a few minutes ago and tried to hop to the toilet,” Mummy said as she cut the tape away from my wrists. “Good thing I was on my way out of it. I’ll see you downstairs in a few minutes - let those two sleep for the moment.”
I nodded, stretched my arms up as I sat up, and then went to the toilet. As I looked at myself, or rather at my blurry reflection in the mirror, I wondered what I was going to do when I saw Billy in my class tomorrow.
Still, I had time to think about that later, as I peeled the tape off my mouth and put it in the bin, and then did what I had to do before I went downstairs. Rachel was already sitting at the breakfast table, drinking a glass of orange juice as Mummy sorted out some cereal.
“Here you go, Patty,” she said as she handed me another glass, and then looked upstairs as we all heard a bump, then someone jumping across the floor. “I’ll be right back,” she said as she left us alone in the kitchen, looking at each other.
“So,” I eventually said, “Ready to go to Chapel?”
“Once I get changed, yeah - Mum will be here soon,” Rachel said, “but I won’t say anything. It’s like you said last night - these games will be our little secret, right?”
“Right,” I said, and then I remembered something. “Hey - did you see the bunny in my room?”
“Yeah - did you win him at a fair?”
“Well, someone won him for me - we could always tie him up before you go as well.”
“Tie who up,” Cassie said as she came in and sat at the table.
“Well, if you want to,” Cassie said as she poured herself some juice. “Aunt Jessie says that Mum called earlier - we’re going back to my place for lunch.”
“Sounds good,” I said as Suzie came in and sat down as well. “So when can we play these games again,” Rachel said as Mummy came back and started to cook some sausages and bacon.
“Suzie, is your school off on Friday?”
Suzie looked over at Cassie and nodded. “Yeah - some sort of training day. Are you lot off as well?”
“We are - let me talk to Mum and see if we can all get together at my place then. We might even try on some of my Granny’s old clothes and pretend to be girl detectives again.”
“Oh that sounds fantastic!”
I smiled as I looked at Rachel, and then giggled as I looked at Cassie. That would be such a fun time...
“All right, girls,” Mummy said as she put our breakfast down in front of us, “Eat up, and then Rachel gets to shower and change first, all right?”
“Well, I’m happy with that if Lady Cassie is.”
I looked at my cousin as I said this, daring her to react as Suzie giggled. Cassie looked back at me, smiled and said “Of course I am happy for Rachel to go first, Patricia. After all, she is the guest here.”
I had expected her to have a go at me, so I said nothing else for a while, concentrating on scoffing down the bacon and sausage and eggs and hash browns instead. It was after Rachel had gone upstairs, and we were washing up, that the wet cloth down the back of my top told me how much she had appreciated what I had said.
“HEY,” I shouted out as I wriggled and let the cloth fall to the floor, “What was that for?”
“Guess,” Cassie said as she put her tongue out at me, and Suzie just sat back, laughing at the two of us...
“Thank you so much for looking after Rachel - I hope she hasn’t been a problem.”
“Not at all, Kerry - we were glad to have her.”
Rachel was standing with her mother in the hallway, looking very shy in her black velvet dress. It had a white bit at the front with a little ribbon bow tie, and she was also wearing white socks and black shoes. Her mum was wearing a white high collared blouse and a long skirt.
“Well, we’d better be on our way, say goodbye Rachel.”
“I’ll see you at school tomorrow,” Rachel said as she turned and walked out with her mum. I was also ready to go to church, in my jeans and sweatshirt, while Cassie and Suzie were getting ready upstairs.
“She seems a nice enough girl,” Mummy said as she closed the door, “I’m glad you have a friend like her.”
So was I. I watched as she went into the front room, sat down and pulled her black boots on, before saying “Do you mind if she comes round and plays with me from time to time?”
“No, of course I don’t,” Mummy said as she stood up, “provided you keep to the rules. Cassie, Suzie - we need to get going.”
“Coming Aunt Jessie,” I heard Cassie call out, and then she came down the stairs, in a white skirt that came down over her knees, and a short sleeved blouse. She was followed by Suzie in a blue gymslip dress over a white jumper, blue tights and black shoes, as opposed to Cassie’s black Ugg boots.
“Right,” Mummy said as she grabbed her bag and the keys, “Let’s get going.” We trooped out to the bug, as we call our car, and I felt as if it was going to be a very good day.
“All right, class,” Mrs Williams said as the bell for lunch rang, “make your way quietly out to the dining hall.” I put my book down and stood up, saying to Rachel “I’ll see you in there.” It had been a normal morning, but I was aware that Billy had been trying not to look at me. Which was a pity, as I wanted to say something to him.
Billy looked round at me, standing there with the sweetest smile on my face, and looked funny for a moment. “Oh - hello Patty,” he finally said, “Is there something I can do for you?”
I waited as Mrs Williams walked out of the room, before I said “I wanted to say thank you for Saturday.”
“Patty,” he said as he looked round, “I am really really sorry that happened. If I could take it back, I would, but...”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said with a big smile on my face, “You need to practice, that’s all.”
“Yeah - you need to practice tying someone up. Then next time I won’t need to teach you. Still, it was fun, and I just wanted to say thank you.”
I smiled and gave him a hug, then left him alone, happy that I had thanked him. Rachel had been waiting for me outside, and as we went to the dining room we found Cassie with her friend Pippa.
“Hey - Mum says we’re good for Friday if you want,” she said as we joined the queue. Daft question - of course I wanted!