The New Neighbours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There,” I said with a smile as I tied the last knot off, “that should keep you two snoops out of the way while we search through the office.”

 

“Ulllnfrgtwwfthsss,” Patty grumbled through her gag as she tried to twist her arms out of the way, but I had done far too good a job on her – and her partner Rachel.  Patty was wearing a blue cardigan over a white t-shirt, jeans and soft black boots, while Rachel had on a knee length denim skirt with a grey sweatshirt, with her feet covered in white socks.

 

Both of them were sitting in chairs from my desk and Jenny’s, with their arms over the back before their wrists had been crossed and tied tightly together with ropes.  They had then been tied down to the chair back, before I had wound rope around their chest, arms and the chair back, to lock them in place.  I was wearing a black leotard over grey tights, and had a scarf tied over my face to protect my identity as a thief.

 

Patty had her legs tied to the front legs, at her ankles and knees, while Rachel had her ankles tied tightly together and then to one of the front legs, with her own legs tied tightly together below her knees.  Both of them had a folded hankie in their mouths, with a rolled and knotted scarf tied between their lips.

 

“Whtrugggntdwfs,” Rachel mumbled as she looked at me through her glasses.

 

“That’s up to the boss – she’ll be back any minute,” I said in a – well, an attempt at deep, gravelly voice, which only made me sound like one of the Tweenies I used to watch.

 

The door to my room opened and Jenny looked in, a red bandana covering her mouth.

 

“I need you downstairs,” she said as she waved to me, so I looked at the captives, said “Don’t go anywhere now,” and left them to try and free each other.  I hadn’t covered their hands, so if they wanted to they could shuffle their chairs back to back and try to untie their wrists – but that was up to them.

 

“What’s up,” I said as I pulled the scarf off my face.

 

“Family conference – the snoops will have to look after themselves for a little while,” she said as she walked down the stairs.  She had on a black sweater and leggings, as we went into the kitchen to find Mum and Dad waiting for us.  David and June were sitting in their high chairs, looking at a bowl of mashed carrot with as much love as I possibly did.

 

“Will they be all right upstairs,” Mum said as we sat down.

 

“Oh yeah – no extra chest ropes or tape,” I said as I looked at them, “so what’s happening?”

 

“Well,” Dad said, but before he could start to talk we heard a large lorry pulling up outside.  “It’s easier if you come with me,” he said as we all walked to the front room and looked out.

 

A large blue lorry had parked across the road, and as we watched four workmen came round and opened the back.  Jenny and I watched as two of the men pulled out a ramp, and we watched as a large couch was carried out.

 

“Well, I guess that means the new neighbours are coming,” Jenny said with a smile, “do you know anything about them?”

 

I saw Mum and Dad look at each other, before Dad said “Oh yes, I know them very well indeed – and I hope you will as well.  Much as I hate to say it, you need to go and free Patty and Rachel, and then I can tell all of you about them.”

 

“I’ll do it,” Jenny said as she turned and left the room, while I watched the men carry out a smaller wooden bed.  I could see a pink flower decoration on the headboard as it went into the house.

 

“So I guess that means there’s one girl,” I said as I looked at Mum.

 

“That’s right – her name’s Lisa, and she’s about the same age as you now – she’s eleven isn’t she John?”

 

I saw Dad nod his head and say “That’s right – she’s got a younger brother called Charlie, who’s nine.”

 

“Who’s nine,” Patty said as she and Rachel came in, followed by Jenny, who tossed a knee length blue skirt at me and said “You’d better put this on.”

 

As I slipped it on, Dad said “Right – our new neighbours are the Williamson family.  Mark, the father, is an accountant, and a very very old friend of mine.  I’ve known him since we were in primary school together.  We kept in touch over the years, and he’s now a very successful accountant, with quite a list of clients – including the parents of some friends of yours.”

 

“Oh,” Jenny said as we watched them carrying large boxes into the house, “does he do the accounts for Cathy’s mothers?”

 

“I don’t think so,” Dad said with a smile, “he’s more likely to deal with Alexander and Desmond.”

 

“Oh my,” I said as I looked at Dad, “you mean he knows the Holderness family?”

 

“Well, in a professional capacity,” he said with a smile.  “But as I say, we’re old friends – he was with us the day you had that man come and play with you at Patty’s place, to sort out some business matters.”

 

“What about Mrs Williamson?”

 

“Yvonne?  I’ve known her for a few years,” Mum said with a smile, “We meet at business functions and the like.  But you know her already, Cassie.”

 

“I do,” I said with a quizzical face, and then it hit me.  “Mrs Williamson?  The head of the infants at my school?”

 

Now I had her in my mind – she was a nice woman, with shoulder length blonde hair, who I saw in school assemblies. 

 

“That’s her – neither you or Jenny had her as a teacher, which is probably just as well.  Anyway, they were with us that Saturday, and she told me then they were thinking of buying this house.”

 

“And here they are,” Dad said as a large car pulled into the driveway of the house.  As we watched through the window, I got my first look at Mr Williamson as he got out of the car.

 

He was a tall man, dressed in a grey pullover and white shirt, dark trousers and shoes.  He had short brown hair, and looked nice.  Then I saw Mrs Williamson, in a black jersey dress with white sides that came to her knees, a pair of black leather boots and a black leather jacket.

 

Then the rest of the family got out of the car.  “That’s Lisa,” Mum said as I saw a blonde haired girl climb out, with a white Alice band in her hair.  She was wearing a long green t-shirt over a pair of green leggings, white socks and trainers.

 

The boy, Charlie, had his father’s dark hair, but he had it cut a little longer.  He had on a short sleeved shirt over a black top, jeans and trainers.

 

“Come on,” Dad said as he looked at us, “put your shoes on and we’ll go to meet them.”  We went out into the hallway, slipping on what shoes we could find as Dad and Mum went out, and I heard Dad shout “Mark – welcome to the neighbourhood.”

 

Jenny and I took the twins out of their highchairs and carried them to the doorway.  As we went out, we saw Mum and Dad embracing Mr and Mrs Williamson, while Lisa and Charlie stood a little back, out of the way of the workmen, and looked at us.

 

“Thanks, John,” Mr Williamson said as he looked at us, “and this must be the family.  Let me guess – you’re Cassie, and this is Jenny, right?”

 

“How did you know,” I said as he shook our hands.

 

“Well, I could say you look a lot like your father, who looks a lot like his sister, and Jenny looks  like her mother – but honestly, your father never fails to get the photos out when we meet.  And these must be the twins.”

 

“Oh my goodness,” Mrs Williamson said as she looked at them, “they have got so big.  Teeth?”

 

“Just starting to come through – just as we started to get a full night’s sleep,” Mum said with a laugh.  She looked at Lisa and Charlie, and then said to me “Go on – introduce yourselves.”

 

“Hi,” I said as I walked to them, “I’m Cassie, and that’s my big sister Jenny.  You’re Lisa, right?”

 

“That’s right,” Lisa said with a smile, “and this is Charlie.  He’s not normally this shy- what’s up bro?”

 

“Nothing,” he said, but I followed his line of sight as he looked at Rachel.  She was looking at him as well, before quickly turning her head away.

 

“That’s Rachel, she’s a friend of my cousin Patty – the dark haired one,” I said as I looked at Charlie.  I could see a little blush in his cheeks as he nodded, and walked over to introduce himself to them.

 

“Look, why don’t you come over and have a coffee while they finish unloading,” Mum said as she took Mrs Williamson by the arm, “and we can tell you a bit more about that area.”

 

“Sounds good – coming Mark,” she said as she looked at Mr Williamson.

 

“We’ll be along in a minute, I’m going to give John the tour before we make it our home,” he said with a smile, his soft accent sounding so calming.  It sounded a lot like Great Uncle Jethro, but not quite as deep.

 

 

“All right, your loss,” I said as we walked back into the house, Charlie talking to the dynamic duo as we did so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week later, Mum and I walked across the road, Mum carrying a large cake under a cover as we did so.  We were wearing short sleeved dresses, mum with her tights on while I was wearing knee length socks.  Patty and Rachel were with me as well, while Dad came after us, having left Jenny with a pile of homework and the twins sleeping.

 

“Come in,” Mrs Williamson said as she opened the door, letting us all come into their house.  She had on a grey round necked dress and a pair of slippers on her feet.  As we went into the front room, Mr Williamson stood up and said “Jennifer, you should not have...”

 

“Oh come on – a welcoming gift for the new neighbours,” Mum said as she set it down.

 

“I’ll go and make some coffee,” Mrs Williamson said as Lisa and Charlie came in.  Charlie had on a white t-shirt with a comic cover on it, but his cheeks blushed red as he said “Hello Rachel.”

 

“Hello Charlie,” Rachel said as she put her hands behind her back and blushed.  Patty and I looked at each other and laughed as Rachel put her hands behind her back, the tiered skirt of her denim dress swinging as she did so.

 

Patty was in a black knee length skirt, and a short sleeved blouse – at the insistence of Aunt Jessie, from the way she described it.  As Mrs Williamson set a tray of coffee cups down, she took a knife and cut five slices off the cake, handing one to each of us on a paper napkin.

 

As I looked round the room, it looked perfectly normal, but there was something about the way Mr and Mrs Williamson were looking at the kids, and they were looking at them – almost as if they had been doing something before we came over, and didn’t want us to know about it. 

 

Why?  Because I caught a look between Lisa and Charlie very similar to the look Jenny and I sometimes share when we’ve....  I stood and looked at them for a moment, before Mrs Williamson said “Lisa, why don’t you take the girls upstairs and show them your room.”

 

“You can see mine as well, if you want,” Charlie said.

 

“I’d like that,” Rachel said as she took Charlie’s hand and they left the room, running up the stairs as we walked up after them.

 

“Your brother really likes my friend,” Patty said as we walked up the stairs.  Lisa nodded and said “Yeah, he seems to,” as we stopped outside a door.

 

“This is my room,” I said as she showed us in.  It looked a lot like my room, and I could see the bed I had seen carried in earlier against the window.  There was a desk, and a bookcase.

 

“Oh – do you like Nancy Drew books as well,” Patty said as she looked at the books lined up, “Cassie has a lot of them as well.”

 

“Oh,” Lisa said as she looked at me and blushed, “I love reading them and...”

 

“And...”

 

I looked at Patty and shook my head – something else had caught my eye.  Sitting in the corner was a raggedy Ann doll – only the arms had been pulled behind the body, and there was a band of twine around her waist and chest.  Her legs were also tied above the cloth shoes and where the knees would be, and there was a slip of cloth tied over the mouth.

 

Lisa blushed, stammered and said “I.....  I caannn....”

 

“Oh good,” Patty said as she saw the doll, “you like to play tie-up games as well?”

 

“You too?”  The look of relief and joy was clear on Lisa’s face, as she sat on her bed with the biggest smile possible.  “That’s wonderful – I’ve always wanted someone else to talk to about it – and now I have you two!  How long have you been playing them?”

 

“For a while,” I said as I sat in the chair, “What about you?”

 

“For a couple of years,” Lisa said as she swung her legs to and fro.

 

“Sounds a lot like Cassie here,” Patty said as she played with the doll, “What’s her name?”

 

“That’s JoJo,” Lisa said as she looked at the doll.  “I like to see if I can tie her up the same way Charlie ties me.”

 

“You let your little brother tie you up?”

 

Lisa looked at me, and said “Sometimes – sometimes it’s Mummy and Daddy who tie us both up, sometimes Daddy and Charlie tie me and Mummy up.  We like to play family games – do you?”

 

“All the time,” Patty said with a giggle.

 

I twisted round in the chair to look at Lisa, and said “So why don’t you show me how good you are – tie me up.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Lisa said as she looked at me, “I don’t know how to.”

 

“Let me guess – little brother won’t let you practice on him?”

 

Lisa blushed, then said “Partly, but mainly I like being tied up.  I’ve never really had the need to tie someone up – and it’s not as if I have anyone other than JoJo to practice with.”

 

I nodded at that, thinking back to when Jenny and I first started to play our games.  “Well, do you think he might show us how he ties you up?”

 

“Yeah, why not,” Lisa said as she jumped off the bed, “Come on, let’s see what he’s up to.”

 

“Hang on,” Patty said as she suddenly realised something, “Where’s Rachel?”

 

“She went to his room,” Lisa said, “let’s go and join them.”

 

We went out of Lisa’s room and down the corridor, waiting for her to open the door and then walking in.  Charlie looked at us, stammering as he stood up from where he had been kneeling in front of Rachel.

 

“Oh hi guys,” she said as she swung her rope tied ankles to and fro on the bed.  She also had her hands behind her back, presumably tied together as well.

 

“err....  Well, there we are Rachel, all nicely secured, how does it feel?”

 

Rachel wriggled a little, and then said “It feels nice, Charlie – thank you for showing me how you do this.”

 

“Oh come on,” Lisa said with a laugh as she walked behind Rachel and looked at her wrists, “No way is that you finished – what’s wrong, got a crush on her?”

 

“I think he has,” Patty whispered as I saw how red both of them were getting in their cheeks, before Lisa said “It’s all right, Charlie – they know.  They play this sort of game as well.”

 

“You do?”  He looked at Rachel, and said “You as well?”

 

Rachel nodded as Lisa dragged a plastic box out from under Charlie’s bed.  “I promised the girls you’d show them how you tie me up – so come on Charlie.  Do the full job on me?”

 

“Well, if you insist,” Charlie said as he opened the box.  I expected him to find more rope, but instead he took out two sponges and a roll of duct tape.  “You’d better hold these then.”

 

We watched as he taped his sister’s fists into silver balls, then pulled a pair of socks over her arms and taped them to the sleeves of her top.   I couldn’t believe it when I saw this – it brought back memories of our weekend game!  Lisa had on a grey sweatshirt, a grey pleated skirt and grey tights, so that white provided a big contrast.

 

“Where did you learn to cover the hands like that,” I said as I watched Charlie unravel some rope.

 

“What – the socks?  Dad taught us that a few weeks ago – he’d been away on a three day business trip and said he had thought about it during a particularly boring meeting.  It stops Lisa using her hands to try and get free – so we use it if she really wants to stay tied.”

 

“As opposed to wanting to escape,” Lisa said as Charlie crossed her wrists behind her back and tied them together, before securing them to her back with rope around her waist.

 

“We do that as well,” Patty said as she watched.  “It keeps the wrists fixed to the back.”

 

“Dad taught me how to tie someone up about three years ago,” Charlie said as he found a longer length of rope.  He then wound it round her stomach, and her arms, in a very familiar double figure of eight pattern.

 

“He taught us another trick after that trip,” Charlie said as he found more rope.  “I used to wrap duct tape around Lisa’s head, but then I had to tie a scarf over her hair to protect it.  Dad said he had heard about a different tape, a white one, which did not stick to hair, so he bought a roll home – and it’s great.”

 

Now I was getting curious – that was when we told Jay Edwards and his men to use white tape instead of duct tape, to preserve our hair.  It surely could not be...

 

“Hey – you need to do the other two bands of rope as well, you know?”

 

“I know, I know,” Charlie said as we watched him tie the rope around Lisa’s upper arms and shoulders, using two small lengths under her arms to tighten it.  But then, to my shock and the delight of the other two, he wound a second length of rope around Lisa below her chest, pulling her arms even more into her sides and using two more small lengths of rope to tighten them.

 

“Oh wow – you do that as well,” Patty said, and Rachel was silent, blushing even more – but I was curious and concerned.

 

Lisa was giggling as she moved round, and I could see those ropes rubbing her where they had rubbed against me.  “Is that such a good idea,” I said quietly, “It looks awfully uncomfortable...”

 

“Why not?  I do it all the time – in fact, it was Lisa who prompted to do it – what, over a year ago now?”

 

I listened to the sound of laughter coming from downstairs, and then to Lisa giggling to herself as she wriggled round.  She must have seen my confusion, because she said “Charlie, who don’t you take Patty and Rachel to get a drink – come back in half an hour?”

 

“Yeah” I said quietly, “go and have a drink.”  Charlie shrugged his shoulders, then said “come on” as he took Patty and Rachel out.  Once the door closed, I looked at Lisa and said “How did you...”

 

She giggled again, and said “Can you keep a secret?”

 

“You have no idea,” I said as I looked at her.

 

“Well...  One night, I woke up and needed to go to the toilet.  On my way back, I heard Mummy and Daddy talking, and I peeked in the door of their bedroom.  Mummy was sitting on the edge of the bed, smiling as Daddy tied her arms and hands.  He had already secured her wrists to her waist, and I watched as he wrapped lengths of rope above and below her chest, then tightened them.

 

“It looked nice, with Mum’s nightdress stretched over her body, so a couple of days after that I got Charlie to tie me that way.  It felt really funny at first, that rope pressing down and rubbing against me, but...  Are you all right, Cassie?”

 

I must have been looking funny, and I realised I was biting my lip as well, as I said “Sorry – go on, what happened next?”

 

“Well, like I said, it felt funny – uncomfortable, and yet there was something I could not put my finger on.  I told him to do it again the next time, and those feelings just continued – but somehow I just wanted to feel it again and again, so I told Charlie to keep doing it.  It was as if my mind was saying no, but I just had to – can you understand that?”

 

“Actually, yes,” I said quietly, “A while back it was done to me for the first time, and I was as confused as heck – still am sometimes.  How does it feel now?”

 

“I kind of like it now – I got Charlie to tie me without the band below once, and it just did not feel right.  I actually missed that extra level of security, so I got him to put it back on.”

 

As she talked, I flashed back to that discussion on the Saturday and how I felt, how Suzie felt, and how Mum felt.  In one way, I felt as if I really knew her, but in another...

 

“What did your parents say when they found out what Charlie was doing?”

 

“Oh they were furious,” Lisa said as she wriggled round and giggled again.  “They absolutely made no bones about it that Charlie was not to do it again.”

 

“Let me guess – you got him to do it anyway?”

 

Lisa nodded, and said “Three times, and three times we went ahead and did it anyway.  Then we did it once more, and this time they caught us doing it.”

 

“How long were you grounded for?”

 

“I wasn’t – Mummy sat me down and we had a long talk about why I might have liked it, and what it was doing to me.  Eventually, she said she would not forbid it anymore.  ‘Better your brother or me does it than someone else,’ she said ‘but nobody else – understand.’  I guess she just saw it as part of me growing up.”

 

I looked at Lisa as she smiled back at me.  It was just part of a normal tie-up for her, and she liked it.  Truth to tell, so did I – but it was just another funny coincidence between her and Jay Edwards. 

 

“Lisa?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Have you ever being held hostage by a robber?”

 

She looked at me for a moment, then said “Yeah – about four months ago, this guy came in with Mummy and said she had invited him to play a tie-up game with both of us, while Daddy and Charlie were out.  I found out later he was a real robber, but he made it a game.

 

I nodded – the same guy had visited us when we were at Aunt Jessie’s.

 

“Why do you ask?”

 

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I said with a smile as I looked at her.  She smiled and said “I guess it’s just something all 11 year old girls like without understanding it, right?”

 

I nodded at that, but there was something nagging away at my mind.  The way Charlie said his dad had taught him to tie up someone...  Jay Edwards was very reluctant to allow his men to tie our arms like that after the lunch on the Saturday, but eventually he gave in to me.

 

Then there was the way he covered his sister’s hands, as well, and that comment about the tape they started using after their dad went on his business trip...  As Charlie brought the girls back in, I said “Charlie, when was your father away?”

 

“Hmm – it was in the middle of September, why?”

 

About the time we were held hostage by Jay Edwards.  I shook my head and tried not think about it as Charlie said “Time to keep you quiet, sis – open wide now.”

 

“Talk to you later,” Lisa said as she opened her mouth, the three of us watching as he pushed a folded red scarf into her mouth, then tied a knotted length of towel between her teeth.  I watched, counting off the steps as he wrapped the nice white tape around her mouth, and then tied a folded grey scarf over the whole tape.

 

“Wow – you really do a good job,” Patty said as he knelt and tied Lisa’s ankles and legs together, then said “There we go – better, Lisa?”

 

“Mshbtr,” she said as she winked at me.

 

“Will you tie me up the same way?”

 

I was surprised to hear myself saying that, and then not quite as surprised to hear Patty and Rachel say in chorus “Us too!”

 

“All right then,” Charlie said as he produced some more sponge balls from the box, “You’d better grab these first.”

 

As Charlie covered our hands, and then started to tie my wrists together behind my back, I tried not to think of how this felt – or how it felt the first time.  And yet, the suspicions just would not go away.  Mister Williamson was about the same height as Jay Edwards, and looked to be the same sort of body shape, but his voice was so different – not high pitched and northern like Suzie’s grandmother, but rich, deep and mellow like Great Uncle Jethro’s.

 

And he really seemed nice – but then so did Jay.  As I felt the ropes under my chest, and bit my lip, I wondered if it really was just a coincidence...

 

I was distracted by Rachel mumbling “Fnku” as Charlie taped round her head with the white tape, and then started to gag the smiling Patty.  Lisa nudged me in the ribs – I hadn’t even realised I had been gagged as well, so lost in thought as I was, so I shrugged to her question of “fnnssntt” and twisted my body round, feeling that pressure on my chest and trying once again to figure out if it was a good or a bad thing.

 

As he tied the blue scarf over Patty’s mouth, he said “Right – now who is going to be first to be tickled?”

 

Lisa and I looked at each toher, and started to jump for the door, while Patty and Rachel jumped to the other side of the room.  We hopped from room to room, as Lisa showed me her parent’s bed and the office her father used at home, and then we went back to her room.  She pressed a button on a CD player, and we both started dancing on the spot to One Direction.

 

As we did so, we were laughing and joking, but my mind kept going back to Jay watching us as we played musical statues, those blue eyes twinkling as he watched us.  Mister Williamson had blue eyes as well, but then so does Dad and Jenny – as do Alicia and Bobby.  So that should mean nothing, right?

 

Patty and Rachel joined us a little while later, Rachel’s cheeks red as Patty nudged her and said “Urrllkhmdntu?”   Rachel just nodded and hid her face as Charlie came in, sitting on the bed with his legs crossed as we jumped about to the music.

 

 

 

“Well, what have you been up to, you little terrors?”

 

We stopped dancing and looked to the door of Lisa’s room as there was a knock on the door, and her father came in.  “It’s time for the girls to go back, and…”  He stopped as he saw the four of us standing there.  As he looked at Lisa, he nodded as if he had seen it all before, but seeing the three of us tied in the same way made him frown a little.

 

“Charlie,” he said quietly, “Did Cassie, Patty and Rachel ask you to do this to them?”

 

“Yes Sir,” Charlie said as he looked us.  I was worried that he was going to end up in trouble as he looked at us, before Mr Williamson said to us “Did you ask Charlie to plat tie up games with you?”

 

We all nodded as he looked at us, and then said “And did you ask him to tie those ropes around your arms?”

 

I nodded and said “eddmstrwlmmsn.”

 

“Hang on,” he said as he untied my red scarf, unwrapped the tape and gently removed the gag.  As he did so, I looked at his eyes and mouth.  They did look an awfully lot like Jay, but again that was all I ever saw of him.

 

As the cloth came out of my mouth, I nodded and said “It’s all right Mister Williamson – we all asked him to do it after he did it to Lisa.  I hope we have not caused him to be in trouble.”

 

“Well, that’s all right,” he said, “but Charlie should still have told me or his mother first.  That is the rule, right Charlie?”

 

“Yes Dad,” Charlie said, but he grinned as he said this, and we grinned in return.  “All right – look, untie the girls and then come down.  I can keep John and Jennifer talking for a few more minutes.”  He looked at all of us and then walked out of the door, closing it as Charlie started to untie me.

 

A few minutes later, we came down the stairs as Mum and Dad came out with Lisa’s parents.  “We’ve been talking about upstairs – I’m glad they have someone they can play their games with now, but ask permission first, all right?”

 

 

“Yes Mum, yes Dad,” Lisa and Charlie said in unison.  “I am really sorry if they went too far, girls.  They really should have checked with us first.”

 

“It’s all right,” I said with a smile, “I guess it’s all part of growing up.  Perhaps I can come over and teach Lisa how to tie someone up - let her start to get her own back.”

 

“I think she might like that,” her mum said as Lisa beamed at me.  “Add to her escape skills.  In fact, why don’t you come and have a sleepover next Saturday.”

 

“Oh come on DAD,” Charlie said quietly, “an all girl time?”

 

“Don’t worry – we’ll sort something out for you,” Mister Williamson said quietly, “but yeah – why don’t you?  You can bring another friend if you want.”

 

I nodded and said “Thank you,” and then I saw him smile at me and shake his head a little –just like Jay did that day!

 

“Well, we can sort It out during the week,” Mrs Williamson said, “but for now, they have school tomorrow, and I know you do as well, Patricia Pickering.”

 

“Yes, Mrs Williamson,” she said as we left them, waving to them across the street before they closed the door.

 

 

 

That night, as I sat in my bed before going to sleep, I tried to figure out what was going on.  They were a really nice family, and I liked Lisa a lot.  Charlie reminded me a lot of Colin’s cousin Brian, and I knew they would get on.

 

He certainly got on with Patty and Rachel – especially Rachel.  I had to laugh as I remembered how red she looked when we first went into the room, and the way he blushed too.  Another budding romance?

 

And yeah, their parents were great , loving and understanding.  And yet – I could not shake those other thoughts from my head.  The way our hands were wrapped – and our mouths – learned so soon after the weekend.  The fact Mister Williamson and Jay were about the same height and shape, and they both had blue eyes and a lovely smile.

 

On the other hand, the voice was totally different – totally.  Nobody could speak both ways, could they?

 

It was worrying, it was perplexing – I could be right, but I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong and I upset Lisa and Charlie.  But if I’m right…

 

 

As I finally lay down to sleep, I decided I would see if Suzie could come next weekend.  Maybe she would see the same thing as me, maybe not – but I wanted her to meet Lisa and Charlie anyway.  Then maybe they could meet Alicia…

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hello Alexander – what brings you over here?”

 

It was the following Saturday, and all week I had been trying not to think about Mister Williamson – and now he was in the front room, shaking hands with Suzie’s father.

 

“I brought Suzie over – I understand she’s staying at your house tonight?”

 

“Suzie?”

 

“My daughter – here she is.  Suzie, this is Mark Williamson.  Mark, my daughter Suzie.”

 

“A pleasure to meet you, young lady,” he said as he held his hand out, smiling as Suzie shook it.  She was wearing a white smock top with a green long sleeved top and green leggings, and she had a pair of grey Ugg boots with a silver pattern on the back on her feet.

 

I had put on a blue denim dress over a brown jumper, while Patty and Rachel were in the kitchen – Patty in a grey sweat short and joggers, Rachel wearing a blue pinafore dress over a white roll neck sweater.  The three of us all had flat shoes on.

 

“Anyway,” Alexander said, “I need to get back.  I understand I’m to take Charlie back with me?”

 

“He’s going to spend the night with Bobby and Tommy,” Suzie whispered to me.  “Tommy came down to see the game, and Bobby has to do his Shirt of Hurt thing in a few weeks time.”

 

“Right – let’s get you girls over to our house and get your party started,” Mister Williamson said as we picked up our overnight bags and headed to their house.  As we went in, Lisa came out, wearing a pink sweat shirt and blue jeans, and said “Hi Cassie.”

 

“Hi Lisa,” I said as I put my bag down.  “This is my friend Suzie Holderness.  Suzie, this is Lisa Williamson.”

 

“Very pleased to meet you,” Suzie said as she held her hand out, only to be enveloped in a great big bear hug.  “Come on in,” she said as we went into the front room, “I’ve got a DVD ready to watch.”

 

“Which one?”

 

“Entangled,” she said as we sat down, while Mrs Williamson brought in a tray with drinks and snacks.

 

“Thanks Mum,” Lisa said as her father lest the room.  I heard him say “I’ll be in the office” as we settled back to watch the film.

 

We sat on the floor, talking and trading stories of some of the games we had played in the past.  Lisa cooed when we told her about the two polite thieves, while Suzie was amazed that the same robber had visited her and us.  And with all the going on, the film was keeping us amused as well.

 

“So your brother is the next Lord Holderness – I saw his picture in the paper a couple of weeks ago,” Lisa said as the wicked witch tried to trap Rapunzel, “he won a medal or something didn’t he?”

 

“Yeah,” Suzie said as she looked at Patty and Rachel.  “We were playing a game at the house we’re moving to when a gang of robbers was spotted by Bobby and his friend Colin.  They got caught thanks to them”

 

We watched the film until the end, before Mrs Williamson came in and said “all right girls – take your bags up to Lisa’s room, and then you need to wash up for dinner.  We eat in an hour.”

 

 

 

“Something smells good,” Mister Williamson said as he came into the dining room, looking at us as we sat round the table.  Mrs Williamson was in the kitchen, which was separated from the table by a partition, putting some food into serving dishes.

 

“I hope you’re all hungry,” she said as she brought a try of pork steaks in, “I’ve made enough for...”

 

The front door bell rang at that point, and Mister Williamson stood up.  “Probably just a salesman, I’ll get rid of him,” he said as he put his napkin on the table, and went out of the room.  Mrs Williamson went back into the kitchen, brought through a big bowl of mashed potatoes, and then went back to collect more vegetables.

 

“Yvonne?”

 

We turned to see Mister Williamson standing in the doorway, with a man holding him on his shoulder.  The man was wearing a blue set of overalls, and had a balaclava pulled over his head, as well as leather gloves on his hands.

 

“MUM!”  Lisa’s shout made me look at the kitchen, as three more men stood behind Mrs Williamson, all dressed the same way.

 

“All right, everyone,” the man with Lisa’s dad said, “Just keep quiet and stay calm.  We’re going to be staying for a little while, and Mister Williamson here is going to come with one of use to do a little business, aren’t you Mister Williamson.”

 

“What is the meaning of this,” he said as he stared at the men.

 

“Oh don’t worry – we’ll play a little game of hostage with the kids and your wife while you’re away, and if everyone plays along, we’ll be just fine, won’t we kids?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Patty said as she and Rachel high fived each other, “we love playing this game.”

 

I looked at Suzie and Lisa, and we all had the same thought – this was no game.  “Here we go again,” Suzie whispered as I said to Lisa “We need to play along, for their sakes.”

 

Mister Williamson looked at his wife, then us, before eh said “All right  - if I do as you say, you won’t hurt them?”

 

“You have our word – get your coat.  You three – they were going to have dinner, so make sure they are all sitting comfortably.”

 

The men nodded as one stayed with Mrs Williamson, while the other two took off the rucksacks from their backs and pulled out coils of rope.  “Hands on your heads, girls,” one of them said as we were tied to the chair backs with the rope around our waists and tummies, before they used shorter lengths of rope to tie our ankles together.

 

We watched as Lisa’s mum was also tied to a chair, her legs tied to the front legs, before Mr Williamson came back in.

 

“I’m really sorry, Yvonne, girls – just play the game with these men, and do everything the masked men tell you to do.  I will be back as soon as I can, and I promise I will do everything in my power to keep your safe.”  HE walked over and kissed his wife, as well as Lisa’s head, before one of the other men took him by the arm and said “Come on – we have work to do.”

 

We watched as they left, and the man who was the gang leader said “Go on – eat.”  Mrs Williamson slowly picked up the plate of steaks, took one and handed it round, as Patty and Rachel started laughing and playing along.  I was worried however – and not just because this had happened again.

 

My biggest worry was that none of the three men left with us, or the one who left, looked or sounded like Jay – and if that was the case, who were they?

 

 

“It’s all right, girls,” Mrs Williamsons said as she looked at us.  She must have seen the look on my face, never mind on Suzie’s face, as she said “Lisa’s dad is right – we’re all going to play this game together, and we’re all going to have some fun together, all right?”

 

“All right Mum,” Lisa said as she cut into the pork, but she kept making nervous glances at the two men in the room with us – one of the others had gone, presumably to unplug the phone and close the curtains of any rooms facing the street.  That’s what Jay’s gang did the two times they called on us – but despite the similarities, he was not here, so this could not be his gang.

 

“It’s all right, Lisa,” Suzie said with a smile.  “We’ve played games with men like this before – so I don’t think they really are going to hurt us, especially if your dad has agreed to it.”

 

She was right, but even so, I found myself thinking something very strange as I ate my dinner.  I may not particularly like Jay, but at least I knew him, and I knew he would not allow any harm to come to us.  This lot I did not know from Adam, as Aunt Cassie would put it – they reminded me much more of the Pearl than the Edwards gang at the moment, which meant I had no idea what was going to happen.

 

“Cassie?  What’s wrong?”

 

I blinked and saw Patty looking at me, so I said “Oh nothing – just remembering another game we played in the past.”  That was half true – I was thinking of that night at Aunt Cassie’s new house, when Jenny got hurt.  I was glad she wasn’t here this time – she and Colin had gone to see the new Hunger Games film.

 

 I put some mashed potato in my mouth and chewed on it as the third man came in, and started talking to the other two.  That was something else – why would Jay Edwards target his own family?  If Mister Williamson was him, there was surely no way he would force his wife and daughter to go through what we went through?

 


“Have you all had enough?”

 

I looked at Mrs Williamson and nodded as we passed the plates to her.  “Well, I would go and put these dishes near the sink, and bring you all some apple crumble and ice cream, but...”  She looked down at her legs, then at the three men.

 

“Allow us,” one of them said as he picked the plates up, while another one cleared away the vegetable dishes.  He then laid a cork mat in front of Mrs Williamson, while the other man carried in a steaming baking dish and laid it in on the mats.  He then went back to the kitchen, returning with a serving spoon and the ice cream while the second man brought in the bowls.

 

This was crazy – they could not be Jay’s gang, but they were helping as much as his did.  There could only be one explanation – there were more than one group of robbers that worked that way.  So if Mister Williamson was Jay Edwards, he was getting a taste of his own medicine!

 

I felt a bit bad for Lisa and her mother, but I was still worried about what was actually going to happen to us as the pudding was passed round.   I put a spoonful of crumble in my mouth, discovering there was cinnamon and raisins in the pudding.  Mum must have told Lisa’s mum what I liked as a pudding.

 

“So are we going to be tied up and gagged when we have eaten?”

 

I wanted to kick Patty, but with my ankles tied together that was next to impossible.  “Let’s just finish eating and then we’ll see what they want us to do,” Mrs Williamson said quietly as she looked at the men,

 

“Perhaps we can all play a game of something,” the man said as we finished eating.  “Now, Mrs Williamson, we’re going to untie you so that you can wash up the dishes, but the girls can stay at the table and finish their drinks before we get started.  No surprises, right?”

 

“So long as you assure me they won’t have anything done without me present, then yes.”

 

“You have our word,” he said as he untied her from the chair.  “Can I have some mile then Mummy,” Lisa said, and we all nodded to say we would have some as well.  She went into the kitchen, and then brought five glasses of milk back out, giving us each one before gathering up the plates and taking them through.

 

I watched her as she started to run some water into the sink, before saying to Lisa “I think they’re going to get us to change for bed and then tie us up.  They’ll probably gag us as well – and we may have to sleep like that.  Have you ever slept tied up Lisa?”

 

“No,” she said as she shook her head, “not in my bed anyway.  I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times, but not all night.  Have you?”

 

I nodded as Suzie said “It’s not that bad, so long as you remember to lie on your side or tummy and not your back.  We’ll be with you every step of the way to help you enjoy the game – all of us.  Isn’t that right, Patty and Rachel?”

 

“Oh yes,” Rachel said as she had the biggest smile on her face, “I loved it when it happened to us.  I actually had one of the best night’s sleep I can ever remember.”

 

“Well, that’s nice to hear – I always try to make it a pleasant experience for the families we call on.”

 

The voice was soft, high pitched, and sounded very much like Suzie’s Granny.  I saw Mrs Williamson stand straight up as she heard the voice, and turn to look at the man who was now standing in the room.  We did not hear him come in, but there he was – blue overalls, leather gloved hands, black balaclava over his head, a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his lips, and that soft Geordie accent....

 

It couldn’t be, and yet it was.

 

“Good evening, Mrs Williamson,” he said as he came closer.  “My name is Jay Edwards, and I lead this particular bunch of miscreants.”

 

“Jay,” the man standing behind Lisa said, “We didn’t think you were...”

 

“Of course I was coming, I just got held up,” he said with a smile.  He then looked at us, and said “Hello girls.  Look, I know you’re probably scared right now, but I need to ask you to stay seated for just a little while longer.  I need to have a quick word with my three associates – in the front room, please.”

 

“But Jay, what about...”

 

“I’m sure Mrs Williamson is not going to do anything to spoil the game, and the girls look secure enough.  It will only take five minutes – come on, all of you.”  As they went through, he said to Lisa’s mum “I’m trusting you now Mrs Williamson – please do not abuse that trust.”

 

She looked at him and said “Don’t worry – I’m not going to do anything.”   She then went back to washing the dishes as Jay said “I’ll be right back” and left us there.

 

“I knew it – it’s the man we played with last time.  His name is Jay, and he’s very good, isn’t he Cassie?”

 

“Oh yes,” I said to Patty, “he is very good at playing the game.”  It may sound strange – it does to me – but I was actually relieved to hear his voice.  It was almost as if I knew whatever happened now, everything was going to be all right.  There was no need to be afraid any more.

 

 

Somehow, the way he talked must have reassured Mrs Williamson as well.  Before he arrived, you could see how tense she was, but now she was visibly more relaxed, as she continued to wash the dishes.

 

I could hear – actually, we all could hear that Jay had raised his voice, but what he was actually saying was unclear.  After a few minutes, however, he came back in, the three men following him and standing by the wall as he sat at the end of the table.   He looked at us all for a few minutes, before he looked at Lisa and said “what’s your name?”

 

“My name’s Lisa,” she said as she looked at him, “What’s your name?”

 

“My name’s Jay,” he said in that Geordie accent – and it sounded so good to hear that at that moment.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you Lisa, and your mother – what’s her name.”

 

“Mummy.”

 

We all laughed at that as Mrs Williamson turned and said “My name’s Yvonne – where’s my husband?”

 

“He’s gone to take care of some business with one of my associates,” Jay said as he sat back, “but the other girls can tell you that.”  He looked at me and said “Hello again Cassie – I really did hope we would not meet again, but – well, here we are.  I see you have Suzie, Patty and Rachel here as well – Girls’ night in?”

 

“That’s right,” Patty said, “are we going to spend three days tied up again.”

 

“Not this time,” he said, “Hopefully just the night.  Look, I’m really sorry you have had to meet me again – if I had thought for one second you would be here, I would have called off this visit.  As it is, I guess we need to spend some time playing together again, so I hope you don’t mind.”

 

“No,” I said quietly, “I guess if we have to play this game with a masked man, I’d rather it was you.”

 

“That’s the spirit,” Jay said with a smile.  “So, did you enjoy your...”

 

His words were interrupted by the sound of a mobile phone ringing.  The man took it out of his pocket and said “Yeah?

 

“What do you mean he escaped?  What the hell did you think you were doing?

 

“Yeah, well you don’t know a thing – Jay is here.”

 

“Let me talk to him,” Jay said as he stood up and took the phone.  “This is Jay – what happened?

 

“I see,” he said as he looked at Lisa and her mother.  “No, you head to the office and wait there.  I’ll take care of everything – and when we meet later, we can have a little chat about procedures.”

 

Ending the call, he passed it back to the other man and walked into the kitchen.  “My apologies, Yvonne,” he said quietly, “but would you mind giving me your mobile phone, and then sitting at the table?  My men will finish the dishes for you.”

 

She nodded and went to her handbag, handing her the phone before she sat down.  Jay switched it on, did something to the screen at the front, and then smiled as he waited with the phone to his ear.

 

“Mister Williamson?

 

“No, this is not your wife.  My name is Jay Edwards – perhaps you have heard of me?

 

“That’s right – it was my men who interrupted your dinner earlier tonight, and one of my men you somehow managed to give the slip.  Now how on earth did you do that?

 

“No, I do not want a detailed explanation; I want you to listen to me.  I am at your house now, with your wife and the girls, who are all waiting to start the game.  My question to you is, are you planning to spoil that?

 

“Very wise, Mister Williamson.”  He looked at his watch and said “It is now seven.  If you have not arrived at your office by nine, then I may have to play a slightly different game.  I am sure you understand?”

 

I saw Mrs Williamson look worried before Jay smiled.

 

“That’s a good father.  I suggest you get moving.”

 

Ending the call, he put the mobile phone in the kitchen, and then came back in to look at all of us.

 

“There – your father, Lisa, had just forgotten for a moment about the game, and he wants you all to play along.”

 

“So how do we play this game,” Lisa said as she looked at him.

 

“Well, your mummy is going to go upstairs in a few minutes, and sort out your bedclothes so that you can get washed and changed.  No reason why you should not have your slumber party – but you will all be tied up and gagged for it.”

 

“Mummy as well?”

 

“Mummy as well,” Jay said with a smile.  “Now, we need to make sure you are all the same, so while Mummy is upstairs we’re going to take you into the front room, tape your wrists and ankles, and let you watch television before you go up.  All right?”

 

We all nodded as one of the men taped our wrists together in front of us, then untied us as we all walked through to the front room.  Jay came in with us, while another man walked Lisa’s mum upstairs.  I presumed the other two were dealing with the dishes, as we all sat down and Jay taped out ankles together, then turned the television on.

 

“Now,” he said as he picked up the remote in his gloved hands, “What channel is Nickelodeon on your system, Lisa?”  She told him the channel number and he changed it to show a film starting.

 

“I guess this is going to be a fun night after all,” Lisa said as she sat between me and Suzie on the couch, Patty and Rachel on the floor.  “Is this the man who...”

 

“It is,” I said quietly, “twice in my case, once for the others.  Trust me – if anyone can make this fun, it’s him.”

 

After about thirty minutes, the man brought Lisa’s mum back in.  I saw that she had changed into a pair of cream coloured silk pyjamas, and the legs of the pyjamas were tucked into a pair of white slipper socks.

 

“I thought she should get changed first, Jay,” the man said, “if that’s all right?”

 

“I agree,” Jay said as he stood up.  “Now, Cassie and Lisa, why don’t you come with me and Mrs Williamson – it’s time for you to get changed for the slumber party.  The rest of you can wait here with my friends.”

 

We waited as he cut the tape away from our ankles and then followed Mrs Williamson up the stairs.  One of the other men was waiting at the top of the stairs, and took Mrs Williamson into Lisa’s room as Jay cut the tape from our wrists.

 

“In you go,” he said as he opened the bathroom door, “Wash, brush your teeth, and put your sleeping clothes on.”

 

In the bathroom, Lisa looked at me and said “Thanks – I was scared out of my wits when they came in earlier, but you managed to stay so calm.  How?”

 

“Practice,” I said as I started to undress, “It’s not the first time Jay Edwards had held me and the others hostage.  At first, though, I was scared too – I did not know they were his men.”

 

“And Patty and Rachel?”

 

“Think it is all a big game,” I said before I washed my face.  “So we keep it that way.”

 

Mum had put my dusky pink pyjamas into my bag, which were folded on the dirty laundry box, so I out them on while Lisa put on a long blue nightdress. 

 

“Ready,” I said, and Lisa nodded as we left the bathroom, Jay Edwards smiling at us as we did so.

 

“Let’s go into your bedroom,” he said, before he told the man to go and fetch Suzie.  When we went in, we saw ropes, tape and other things on Lisa’s bed, and Mrs Williamson standing there.  She had a cream coloured silk scarf wrapped round her head, and I could tell just by looking at it she had been gagged already.

 

“Your mummy is going to tie you up, Lisa,” Jay said, “by copying what I do.  Now, both of you, hold these sponge balls for me while I cover your hands – I don’t want you hurting yourselves by trying to escape during the night.”

 

We gripped the sponges in our fists as he taped them over with silver duct tape, then covered out hands with two pairs of Lisa’s socks, pulling them up and taping the tops to the sleeves of out tops.  He then handed Mrs Williamson a length of rope, and as she nodded she copied him when he gently crossed my wrists behind my back, and started to tie them tightly together.  I know it sounds strange, but it just felt so safe as he bound my wrists tightly together, then secured them to my back with rope around my waist.  Mrs Williamson was doing a very good job of copying him – I guess her practice with the games was helping as well.

 

“I cannot apologize enough for putting all of you through this again Cassie,” he said as he tied my arms to my tummy with the rope, “but at least it will only be for a little while.”

 

“I know,” I said quietly as I watched Lisa twisting round, “but I know you’re not going to hurt us, and I guess that makes it a little better.”

 

“I’m glad,” he said as he picked up some more rope, and handed a second length to Lisa’s mum.  I closed my eyes as the rope was pulled around my arms, just below my shoulders, and then tightened with two short lengths under my arms.

 

“Now, do you want the extra band?”

 

I looked at Lisa, who nodded in agreement, and then I said “I can’t stop you , can I?”

 

“No, I guess you can’t” he said with a smile, and I felt the ropes tightening under my chest, the rubbing starting again as I tried to move round.

 

“Now, we’re going to gag you, and then I’ll take you both downstairs,” he said as he folded two pieces of cotton.  “Open wide please.”

 

“Talk to you later,” Lisa said with a smile, as her mum pushed the cloth into her mouth.

 

“Before you do this,” I said as I looked at Jay, “Can I say something?”

 

“Of course you can.”

 

I swallowed, then said “I was scared earlier tonight, but when I heard your voice, I was actually relieved.  I had no idea what the men were going to do, but with you in charge – well, I know we’re going to be all right.”

 

“Well, it’s very nice of you to say that, Cassie.”

 

I smiled and said “Actually, and this is going to sound funny – I think you’re my favourite robber.  If I had a choice of who held me hostage, I’d pick you over everyone else.”

 

I could see in his eyes he was thinking that over,  before he said “Thank you – now open wide.”

 

I allowed him to push the cloth in, then a knotted length from a towel, the lovely tape round my mouth, and then a folded white scarf tied over it.  I stood and watched as Jay inspected Lisa, while she winked at me over her blue scarf.

 

“Very nicely done, Yvonne,” he said as he looked at her mother.  The door then opened and Suzie was shown in, wearing a pair of red pyjamas with white polka dots.

 

“Why don’t you two go downstairs now,” Jay said with a smile, “I’ll join you shortly.”  We nodded and went out of the room, seeing Patty and Rachel head into the bathroom.  Going down the stairs, we went into the front room and sat on the couch, holding our legs out as one of the masked men tied our ankles together, then our legs below our knees, lifting Lisa’s dress just enough to toe her legs before he folded it back down.

 

We were soon joined by Suzie, who had a red scarf around her head, and eventually by Patty and Rachel, who walked in with Jay.  They had left their glasses upstairs, and while Rachel had on a short sleeved purple nightdress with a picture of Jasmine on it, that just covered her knees, Patty had on a pair of blue pyjamas.

 

As Jay watched the men tie their legs, Lisa’s mum was brought in.  Her arms were pinned behind her back, and I could see the ropes around her waist and tummy, as well as above and below her chest.  As she sat in an armchair, the men bound her ankles as Jay looked at his watch.

 

“Eight thirty – I need to go and make sure your father has played the game,” he said as he looked at Lisa and her mother.  “Now, relax, and watch the television.”

 

He then looked at the three men and said “Look after them until you hear, and then make sure they are secure and comfortable in bed.  We’ll talk later.  Ladies, a pleasure – and Cassie?”

 

“Ysss?”

 

“You have been very brave again, well done.”

 

He left, the front door closing as we watched the catch-up action on The X Factor...

 

 

 

I dimly heard a phone ringing, and opened my eyes to see I had fallen asleep, my head resting on Lisa’s.

 

“Yeah?  Good – we’ll clear up here.”

 

The masked man ended the call and looked at us.  “Time for bed, girls,” he said as two of them lifted Patty and Rachel up, carrying the sleeping girls to the bedrooms.

 

A few minutes later, they came back down, one of them lifting Suzie in their arms as the other one lifted me up.  They carried us gently up the stairs, into Lisa’s room, and laid us on the bed, facing each other as we wriggled on our sides.  I looked down as they tied our ankles to the bottom of the bed, and then left us, turning the light off as they did so.

 

Through the open door, I could see two of them walking Mrs Williamson past, the other one carrying Lisa in his arms as she sleepily nodded at us.  I listened for a few minutes, and then watched them walk past, turning off the landing light as they went down the stairs.

 

I lay there, listening to Suzie’s breathing as my eyes slowly closed....

 

 

 

 

The sounds of heavy footsteps on the stairs woke me up, and as I looked to the door I saw it open in, the early sunlight coming through the covered windows casting a funny grey light on the man standing there.

 

“Two in here,” I heard the man standing there call out, and as he came closer I saw it was a policeman.  “All right, lass,” he said quietly as Suzie slowly started to stir, “we’ll have you free in no time.”

 

“Fnku,” I said as our legs were untied, and we were both helped to stand up as our gags were removed.  “I’ve found the two younger ones,” I heard a woman say as our hands were released and uncovered, before the policeman walked us out of the bedroom and down the stairs.

 

“Oh god,” I heard Mr Williamson say a she came in, “They really did tie you up all night?”  I looked at him as he sat with his arms round Lisa and her mother, both of them wearing dressing gowns as he hugged and kissed them.

 

What really scared me about him was the black bruising around his left eye, and the bandage he had wrapped round his head, a small blood stain at the side of it.  “It’s not as bad as it looks,” he said as he stood up and hugged both Suzie and me, “what’s worse is when I have to tell your parents what happened.”

 

“I think they’ll understand  - Jay Edwards has visited us before as well.”

 

“Has he,” Mister Williamson said as she looked at us.  “Well, Lisa said you two were a great help last night, and kept her calm – so thank you for that.”

 

“Where did you sleep,” Suzie said as she sat next to Lisa.

 

“They tied me to Mum’s bed, facing her.  IT wasn’t so bad after that, and then Dad came in and woke us up.”

 

“What happened,” I said as two more policemen walked into the kitchen.

 

“Well, I tried to escape to come back and rescue you lot,” he said with a sad smile, “but then I had a phone call from this Jay Edwards.  He made it very clear I had to go back or – well, I went back and did what they wanted me to.  They transferred a large sum from the company accounts, and then – well, I guess the masked man with me was a little more angry than the ones here.”

 

He pointed to his eye and said “I got beaten up, and then he hit me at the back of the head with his gun.  The police found me outside the offices at about five this morning, bleeding and somewhat incoherent, but I made it clear what had happened and...”

 

“Mark?  What happened?”

 

I turned to see Dad standing in the doorway, staring at us as Patty and Rachel came in.  “Hi Uncle John,” Patty said as she smiled at him, “those nice men who played with us over the weekend came here last night as well.

 

He looked at her, then us, before saying “Right – you can tell me all about it later.  Right now, I’ll go and tell Jennifer what’s happened.”

 

“John – let’s all go and have lunch out today,” Mister Williamson said.  “We can talk after that.”

 

Dad hugged me and Suzie, then said “That sounds good – it will give you all a chance to clean up.  Rachel, I’ll tell your parents that you are staying a while longer, and we’ll take you to our church.”

 

“Thanks,” Rachel said as Dad winked at me.  “I guess you can all have the morning off – a little white lie won’t hurt.”  He walked out as Lisa’s mum stood up and looked at the policeman.

 

“Can I start to cook some breakfast now,” she said.  He nodded before saying “We’ll talk to the girls and you later this morning.”

 

As I looked at Lisa hugging her dad, I wondered how I could have ever thought he was Jay Edwards – it just seemed so preposterous now...

 

The police agreed to talk to the rest of use when our mums and dads were present later that day, so we spent the morning washing, and then talking amongst ourselves about what has happened.  As we talked, Patty and Rachel were giggling away about how nice Jay was again, while Suzie and I talked about out past experiences with Lisa.

 

As we did so, Lisa’s parents were sitting in the kitchen, Mrs Williamson holding an ice pack to her husband’s eye as he described what had happened.  IT sounded really frightening, and I found myself feeling sorry for him – and feeling once again how brave Dad must have been for those three days.

 

But most of all I was glad – glad I was wrong about Lisa’s dad being Jay.  I really liked them all, and the thought of him being the man who had held us hostage twice was just – just wrong.

 

Eventually, Aunt Patty and Mum, and we all went back to the house to a chorus of hugs and a whole battery of questions.  Eventually, however, we got into the cars and went out for lunch.  We were all wearing long sleeved tops and jeans, to cover up the rope marks.  Even Lisa was doing that.

 

When we got back, and were invited into the Williamson house for drinks, I asked to be excused for a moment and went back to the house – Suzie’s mum had brought a present and I wanted to share it with Lisa and the others.

 

 

 

 

“So this is a DVD you made,” Her mum said as we all sat down.

 

“That’s right – I thought you might like to see a film we made before we went on holiday,” I said as I searched through the menu, and clicked on “Fairy Tale”

 

The scene opened on the lawn at Holderness Manor, as Patty, Alicia and I were walking along the grass.   I was wearing a long white robe, which covered my feet, while Patty had on a floor length Edwardian lace dress with long gloves.  Alicia was wearing an electric blue evening gown with opera gloves.

 

“Be careful, my daughter,” Alicia said to me as she waved us off and went back into the house, while Patty and I ran down the lawn,

 

“Alicia is Suzie’s oldest cousin,” I said to Lisa as we ran to the tree line – only to be confronted by a masked pair.

 

“What have we here?  The Princess Cassandra and her nosy cousin!”

 

“We must take them to have our demands for our leader to be released,” the girl said.  Both were dressed in black clothes, with bandanas covering their faces.

 

 

“I recognise your sister,” Mrs Williamson said as she cuddled with Lisa’s father, “but who is the boy?”

 

“That’s Colin, Jenny’s boyfriend.” Patty said with a big smile, as the two of them grabbed us, and took us into the woods.

 

“Oh, a kidnapping,” Lisa said as the scene changed to the inside of the manor house.  Alicia was in a chair, holding her head in her hands as Bobby stood there, in a white top and pants, listening to Alicia explain how her daughter and niece had been kidnapped!

 

“And that’s Cassie’s boyfriend,” Patty said as I nudged her in the ribs.

 

“Now Patty,” Aunt Jessie said, “you know it’s not nice to taunt.”

 

“Sorry mum,” she said, and then she started to sign quietly “Cassie and Bobby, sitting in a tree...”

 

“He’s cute,” Lisa said as Bobby swore with great dramatic gestures to save the princess from the foul fiends.

 

“He’s cute’” Lisa said as the scene changed to the glad, where Patty and I were sitting on the ground, bands of rope around our arms as our wrist were held tightly together behind our backs.  The long skirts covered out legs, but the matching silk scarves covering our moths held a very large knotted scarf gag as well.

 

Colin was standing guard, looking evil as Jenny went off to deliver the ransom demand.  As she walked up the path, however, she was grabbed from behind by Bobby, who proceeded to tie her up and gag her as well.

 

“If I cannot find the princess,” he said as she struggled to get out of the arm and chest ropes, “Maybe your partner will agree to a trade.  Where is he?”

 

The scene changed to Bobby walking Jenny into the glade, while Colin stood behind the two of us.

 

“Oh, a standoff,” Lisa said as Bobby and Colin traded insults, and then they agreed to a trade.  We watched as Patty and I stood up and started to jump across the grass, our skirts rising up and down as we did so, while Bobby pushed Jenny towards us, walking behind.

 

As we passed, however, Colin drew out a plastic sword and charged at Bobby!  He responded by drawing his own sword, and a Battle Royale ensued as we watched, sitting on Jenny – we had knocked her over, and were making sure she could not interfere.

 

 

“Have at you!”  Bobby called out as he eventually drove the sword into Colin – well between his arm and body – and he staggered around, before falling to the ground, lifting his legs up and letting them fall to the ground.

 

Bobby knelt before us and bowed, before he untied us, allowing me to kiss and hug him before we walked off, and taking jenny with us.  The last scene showed a wedding, with Bobby marrying me, Alicia and Patty watching and smiling.

 

And Jenny?  Jenny was watching as well, tightly bound and gagged, and unable to stop the happy ending!

 

“Very nice, girls,” Mrs Williamson said as she went upstairs.  Mr Williamson carried the cups into the kitchen, and as the others picked another scene I walked in after him.

 

“Mister Williamson?”

 

He turned round and said “Oh hello Cassie – what can I do for you?”

 

I stood there, my hands in front of me as I said “Can I talk to you?  I need to tell you something.”

 

“Of course,” he said as he pulled a chair from the dining table, and sat next to me.  “What’s wrong?”

 

I swallowed, and then said “I’mreallysorryIthoughtyouwereareallybadmanandIwaswrongandI’msorryand...”

 

“Slow down, Cassie,” he said as he looked at me.  “Take a deep breath and start again.”

 

I did as he said, then said “Last night, the man who led that gang...”

 

“Jay Edwards?  I’ve heard of him, and I know you’d met him before as well.  What about him?”

 

“Well, when I saw how Charlie tied Lisa last week, and how you had taught him, it was so similar to what Jay did that for a moment...”

 

“For a moment...”

 

“I thought you were Jay Edwards.  I know you’re not now, but I wanted to apologise for even thinking you were him.”

 

Mister Williamson looked at us, and then said “It’s all right, Cassie.  I accept your apology.”

 

“You’re not mad at me?”

 

“Of course not, but I think you’re very brave for telling me.”  He smiled and said “I’m glad you and Lisa are friends.  I think you’re going to get along just fine.”

 

“Mark?”

 

“Xander,” he called out as Bobby came in with his father, Charlie coming behind him.  “What happened,” he said as he hugged me.

 

“Another game of hostage,” I said, looking at Patty and Rachel as I did so.

 

“Right,” Bobby said, “but you’re all right?”

 

I nodded as he said “Good – you’re all invited to our new house next Saturday and Sunday.  We’re moving on Thursday.”

 

“Wow – everything’s ready?”

 

Bobby nodded as Suzie said “even the playhouse?”

 

“Even the playhouse – you’re going to love it.”

 

“It wasn’t finished last time we were there.”

 

“Well, it is now – and last time, you had to be carried up.  At least this time you can walk up.”

 

“You’re invited as well, Mark,” Bobby’s dad said.  “Time your kids met the rest of their friends.”

 

“I’ll have to decline for me and Patty I’m afraid,” Aunt Jessie said, “We’re going to her other grandmother’s next Friday for the weekend.”

 

“Well, another time – now, tell me what happened.”

 

As Dad came in, I sat down with the others to watch some more of the film – wondering how much Suzie would like her new home...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the An Education index

 

Return to the main index