The Perils of Patty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Cassie Craig has got to be the luckiest girl in the world!”

 

Rachel nodded as we walked through the park, heading towards the town centre so that I could spend some of the money I got for Christmas.  She had been dropped off by her mum and dad, and was spending the day with me while they went off – well, I had no idea where they were going, but when mum said it was all right for the two of us to go into town together, on our own, we both felt really grown up.

 

It was a cold January, so I was well wrapped up, with a pink sweatshirt and joggers, a white t-shirt under the sweatshirt, and a white padded jerkin over the top of that, as well as a white scarf wrapped around my neck and white gloves.

 

Rachel was wearing a long brown duffle coat over a grey jumper and jeans, while both of us had on black Ugg boots.  I like Ugg boots – they’re comfy, they keep my feet warm, and I can get in and out of them easily.

 

So Rachel, my best friend, turns to me and looks through her glasses before she says “why is Cassie Craig the luckiest girl in the world?”

 

There are times, just sometimes, when my best friend in the whole world can be spectacularly dumb. 

 

“Why do you think?  She gets to spend the entire Christmas holiday in different houses, wearing lovely dresses, tied and gagged most of the time, having fantastic fun – and I only got to join in with a little part of that!”

 

“Well yeah,” Rachel said as she pushed her glasses up with her gloved hands, “but it was her thirteenth birthday as well, remember.  You told me what happened when Jenny turned thirteen – perhaps her mum and dad just wanted to do the same thing for her?”

 

And that’s why Rachel Rigg is my best friend – she always sees why some things happen the way they do, even if I don’t understand.

 

Well, maybe I don’t want to understand, but you know what I mean.

 

Anyway, like I said, we were making our way into town to spend some of my Christmas money, and we were walking through the park, when Rachel saw that the cafe was open, and said “can we stop here first and get a drink?”

 

And that was how the whole day started – because Rachel and I went to get a drink, and we decided to stop and have it before we went shopping.

 

 

 

Rachel got herself a hot chocolate, and I bought myself a hot Vimto, and we sat outside, holding them in our hands so that they would cool down enough to start drinking.  I know, I know - they are meant to be hot drinks, but we didn’t want to burn our mouths, did we?

 

There were two men sitting at the table next to us, who were talking to each other in quiet voices.  They both had heavy black jackets on, like the men who dig up the roads wear in winter, dark trousers and boots, and woollen hats on their hats.  I saw the tool bag next to one of them on the ground, but didn’t think anything of it as I looked back at Rachel.

 

“Hey – did you see that program on the television this week?”

 

“I watch a fair bit of television, Rachel,” I said as I watched the white steam coming off my drink, “which one are you talking about?”

 

Rachel looked round and whispered “the one where that gang took over the house, and forced the family into one room.”

 

“Oh, that one – yeah I saw it,” I said quietly.  It was an American program that they show on the Nickelodeon channel – a bunch of teen sleuths who look into crimes in their towns. 

 

On this one, a group of three armed men had forced their way into this rich family’s home, and taken the mum and kids hostage while they forced the dad to do something for them.  I think they had meant it to be frightening, but this was kid’s telly – and besides, I know what that’s really like.

 

Several times over, if truth be told.  I mean, I’m not in the same league as Lady Cassandra, in terms of being held captive by robbers and other assorted bad men, but I’ve had my fair share of encounters – one or two of which Rachel has also been caught up in.

 

“Do you think that sort of thing happens round here?”

 

“We both know it does Rach – at least in terms of being held hostage.”

 

“I know – but even so, gangs who would threaten to kill the others if they do anything stupid while they’re been held captive?”

 

“Who really knows – well, I guess Mister Hampton might, but look around us, Rachel.  Do you think a ruthless gang of robbers might be planning a break in right now?”

 

“Who knows?  Maybe the lady who served us our drinks is a robber, or the two men over there.”

 

I looked at the two workmen, who glanced in our direction as I said “Indoor voice, Rachel – they might think we think they’re really robbers.”

 

They had been talking quietly to themselves, and glancing at us from time to time, but then they both stood up and walked off.  We talked and had our drinks, and then stood up and started to walk towards town again – and that was when our day went to pieces, and something very different happened.

 

As we left the park, there was a big black car parked across the entrance.  The door at the back opened, and one of the two men who were sitting at the bench near us got out.

 

“Hello girls,” he said quietly, “I need you both to get into the car please.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Rachel said, “what did you just say?”

 

“I said get in the car,” the man repeated, and this time he opened his jacket – and we both saw the gun that was stuck in the waist of his trousers.

 

“Oh god,” I whispered quietly, and Rachel gripped my hand – but we both got in, sitting next to the second man as the first man got in and sat opposite us, closing the door.

 

“What the...  Why the hell did you bring those kids in here?”

 

I realised it was the driver of the car who was speaking to us.  I could only see the back of his head, as the first man said “they overheard both of us talking in the park, when we were waiting for you.  They know we’re planning to rob the Hewton house.”

 

Rachel and I looked at each other as the second man said “Don’t be afraid girls – we’re not going to hurt you, but we can’t let you tell the police what you heard.  You’re going to have to come with us and spend the day somewhere else, but you’ll be back with your parents before it gets dark, all right?”

 

Well, they had the guns, and they were trying to be nice – but they weren’t in the Jay Edwards league, I can tell you.  Anyway, I looked at Rachel, and then said very quietly “you promise you won’t hurt us?”

 

“We promise,” the car driver said, “come on, we need to go now.”

 

As the car started, Rachel and I looked at each other, too afraid to say anything, so we just sat quietly, trying to think of where we were going.  I’d never heard the name Hewton, but whoever they were, these three men were planning to rob them.

 

And we were right in the middle of it.

 

 

When the car pulled into a set of gates, we stopped a little way up the tree lined driveway.

 

“Out please girls,” the man with the gun said as he put it in the large bag on the floor of the car.  He and the second man had pulled the hats down over their heads, and we could both now see they were actually black balaclavas, covering their heads so that only their eyes and mouths could be seen.

 

As we got out, we saw the driver had also pulled the hat down over his head, looking at us as he said “So how are we going to get in?”

 

They all looked at Rachel and me, as one of them said “You girls are going to come with us to the front door, and ring on the door bell.  When someone answers it, you say that you’re lost, and you need to phone your parents.  Nothing else, understand?”

 

We both nodded, too scared to say anything.  I kept quiet because I wanted Rachel to stay calm as well, as we walked up through the trees to the very large house.  Not as big as Wissenden hall, but still...

 

“We need to be quick,” the man who had driven the car said, “the head of the family is out of town, but I want us out of here and everything finished well before he’s due to return.”

 

The other two nodded as  I whispered to Rachel “I’ll do the talking – I can see how scared you are.”

 

“Thanks,” she whispered back as we went into a patio, and the three men stood wither side of the door.  I could see one of them had taken a big gun, like a shotgun but shorter, out of the tool bag.

 

Standing in front of the door, I took a deep breath and then pulled the handle that was on one side.  We could hear a bell ringing somewhere in the house, and then the door was opened by a woman, not much older than mum.  She had on a black dress with short sleeves, and a white apron tied around her waist, as well as dark tights and black shoes.

 

“Oh,” she said as she saw me and Rachel standing there, “what can I do for you girls?”

 

“Please,” I said quietly, “we fell asleep on a bus, and we have no idea where we are.  Would it be all right if we came in and called my mum to come and collect us?”

 

She looked at both of us, and then smiled as she said “you poor things – of course you can come in.  I don’t think Mrs Hewton would mind if you used her phone.”

 

She stood to one side, but as I walked in I said “I’m sorry.”

 

“For wh...”  She stopped talking when she saw the masked men walk in behind us, one of them pointing the funny gun at her as she said “Be very, very quiet.  Take us to Mrs Hewton.”

 

She looked at us, and then at them, as one of the men walked behind her and took something from his pocket, pulling her arms behind her back.  Rachel and I looked at each other – we could guess what he was doing, as the driver put his hands on our shoulders and said “walk with us, say nothing.”

 

 

The man then made the woman walk in front, as we could see her wrists were tied together behind her back – but that was all, as we approached a door and she said “in there.”

 

The third man opened the door as we were pushed in, and one of the two women sitting there looked at us, and said “What the...”

 

 

The woman who spoke was older than Mum – she had a bit of grey in her short hair, and was wearing a grey dress with a round neck, tights and shoes.  There was another woman with her, who didn’t look much older than Angela Bowden, and was wearing a blue top, black leggings and black fabric boots.  She had a look of fear in her eyes as she looked at us.

 

“Hello Mrs Hewton,” the man with the woman who opened the door said, “just sit quietly and do as we say, and this will be over quickly.”

 

“I see – so this is a robbery?  And these two young girls?”

 

“They heard us planning to come here, so don’t blame them – isn’t that right kid?”

 

“That’s right Mrs Hewton,” I said as I held Rachel’s hand, “I’m really really sorry.”

 

“She was meant to be alone here,” another of the men said.

 

“Good point – anyone else in the house?”

 

Looking round, I could see why they were asking that question.  There were plenty of photos of the older woman, with her sons and daughters – two of each, but none of them was the other woman sitting there.

 

“No,” she said, “my kids are at my mother’s, and my husband is with his father in town.”

 

“All right,” the man with the maid said, “tie them all up.”

 

The men behind us pulled our hands behind our back, and I felt them using some rope to tie my wrists together.  That was it, just the rope around and between my wrists – and believe me, I was really tempted to say something, but I looked at Rachel, and saw the tears started to form.

 

“Just be brave Rach,” I said quietly, “we’ll get through this together, all right?”

 

She nodded as the two men went behind Mrs Hewton and the other woman, as she said “What are your names girls?”

 

“I’m Patty, this is Rachel, and I’m really sorry,” I said quietly as I watched the men bind their wrists.

 

“You’ve nothing to be sorry about Patty – this is not your fault,” she said as they were made to stand.  We were then marched up the stairs, and into a large bedroom that had a large TV hanging on the wall, and a very large bed against the wall.

 

“Sit on the floor, all of you,” the man with the gun said, and so we sat in a row, before the other two men tied our ankles together, side by side, and then our legs below our knees – in the case of Rachel and me, taking our boots off first – before they pressed a strip of white tape over our mouths.

 

 

“Let’s get on with it,” the man said as we were left alone, sitting there.  I sat still for a few minutes, trying to process what was going on here – and for once, trying to think the way Cassie or Jenny might think.

 

Mrs Hewton and the other two women were just sitting there, too scared I think to do anything – but Rachel was scared as well, looking at me as if this was the worst thing that could have happened to her.  She could easily escape from this – I know I could – but the fact this was no game had got to her.

 

So, I guessed it was up to me to do something about this, so I started to wriggle round, and managed to get my arms under my bottom and bring them up to my mouth, and then peel the tape away.

 

Heddudtht,” Mrs Hewton said as I started to pick at the knot holding the ropes around my wrists.  It came away fairly easily, and I then untied my legs.

 

Cnuurlssmmm,” Rachel said as they all looked at me.

 

“In a minute or two,” I whispered, “if you can stay here for a minute, I’m going to go and see what they are up to.”

 

Rachel nodded as they watched me walk slowly to the door of the bedroom, and then open it slowly, slipping out and closing it behind me.  I listened for a moment, but I couldn’t hear any noise upstairs, so I walked along the hallway and started to walk down the stairs – but stopped at the bend when I saw two of the masked men standing in the hallway.

 

“Nice haul – once we’ve got that safe open, even better.”

 

“Yeah – and those kids meant we got in with no trouble at all.”

 

“True – maybe we should do a kidnapping more often?”

 

“Nah – I prefer our usual way of working.”

 

“So are we still on for tonight?”

 

“Boss says so – some big financial adviser?”

 

“Yeah – name of Craig.  We’ll hit them late on – they’ve got kids, but I don’t think they will be a problem...”

 

I froze when I heard that – they were going to rob Cassie’s place?  Now, I wasn’t exactly afraid for them – I just knew that I had to stop it!

 

So I went back upstairs as quickly as I could, and back into the room, before I went behind Rachel and looked at her wrists.

 

“We’ve got to raise the alarm,” I said as I looked at Mrs Hewton and the other two women, “or else...”

 

“Or else what?”

 

I looked to the door to see the third robber standing there, smiling as he looked at us.

 

“Now how on earth did you manage to get free,” he said as he looked at me.

 

Errr – I got my arms in front of me and untied my hands,” I said as I looked at him and smiled.

 

“Did you now?  Well, we need to make sure you can’t do that again,” he said as he walked in, and picked up the ropes I had left on the floor.  “Hands behind your back please.”

 

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly as I looked at the others while he re-tied my wrists, and then sat me next to Rachel again as he tied my ankles and legs.  Going to the door, he called down “someone bring me some more rope up here,” and then waited until one of the other two men handed him in some more lengths.

 

“You are obviously a very clever girl,” he said as he looked at me, “but I need to make sure you can’t bring your wrists back round again.”  He then tied one length around my waist, holding my wrists to my back, and then another length around my tummy, keeping my arms to my side.

 

“I guess I’ll need to do this for all of you, in guess you get tempted to copy her,” he then said before he put a fresh strip of tape over my mouth, and then went to Rachel, adding the extra ropes to her as well as to Mrs Hewton and the other two women.

 

I watched as they all wriggled round, and yeah – I knew both Rachel and I could usually get out of this – but she was still scared, even after she saw me get free!

 

So I had to think – What Would Cassie Do?  And I realised what she had said in the past – she was right, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, but wait until you are able to do something without being stopped.

 

I saw the man smile at us again, and then heard him in the next room, before the footsteps went downstairs.  Sitting still for a few minutes, I then nudged Rachel and said “Rullrrtt?”

 

Ysssbtmscrdndbrdd.”

 

She had a point in that – the worst thing about doing nothing was just that.  Nothing was happening.  So I wondered once again – What Would Cassie Do?

 

Looking round the room, I could see the remote for the television set was on a stool, and I had an idea.  Pushing myself onto my feet, I jumped over, the three older women watching and Rachel shaking her head as I turned round, picked up the remote, and then looked at Mrs Hewton.

 

I could see the smile on her lips under the tape as she nodded, and I turned the television on, finding a kid’s channel and then hopping back.

 

As I did so, the three masked men appeared in the door – the noise of the television obviously telling them I’d done something – and looking on as I jumped back and sat myself down.

 

“You are one plucky little girl,” the man who had re-tied me said.  “Come on – let’s finish this off.”

 

So they left us there, watching the television as I saw the others starting to relax a little.  I guess I finally got what Jenny and Cassie keep saying to me about doing the right thing and thinking about it...

 

 

 

About a half hour later, the men came back in and made Mrs Hewton, the other woman and her maid stand up, before they made them jump out of the room.  Rachel and I looked at each other, before two of them came back up and carried us down the stairs.

 

The three older women were sitting next to each other in front of the couch, their eyes now covered with folded headscarves, and as we were sat next to each other on the floor the third man folded two more, and then used them as blindfolds on both of us – removing our glasses and putting them safely to the side first.

 

“Right,” I heard the man say, “don’t move.  I’m sure you can manage like this until someone comes home – and I’m really sorry you got caught up in this, girls.”

 

“Let’s get out of here,” another man said, and we all listened as the front door opened and closed, and then a car drove away.

 

Rsshhl?”

 

hmm?”

 

Ltsddtthss.”

 

I turned myself round so that I could feel Rachel’s hands with mine, and then I let myself slide down, until I could feel her fingers on the edge of the scarf over my eyes.

 

Wntmmtpll?”

 

Yspllls,” I said, and as she held the scarf I pulled my head down, so that although I was lying on the floor, I could at least see now.

 

Sitting myself up, I pushed myself over to an armchair, and then turned myself around as I looked at Rachel, who was trying to get the tape free from her mouth, and at the three other women.

 

SO I pushed myself onto my feet, jumped over and pulled Rachel’s blindfold off, letting it drop to the floor as she looked at me and said “fnks.”

 

I then jumped over and used my hands to remove the blindfolds from Mrs Hewton and the other two women, the older woman blinking and then watching with her eyes wide open as I made sure the other two could see, while Rachel repeated what I had done and managed to get to her feet.

 

We then jumped over and stood back to back, me standing quite still while Rachel started to untie the rope around my waist, and then around my wrists.  Once the was free, I was able to wriggle my arms round and pull the other band of rope up and over my head, before I sat down and untied my legs.

 

 

Standing back up, I peeled the tape away from my own lips, and then started to untie Rachel as Mrs Hewton said “hwdduddtht?”

 

“I can’t explain right now,” I said quietly as Rachel removed the tape from her mouth.  “Rachel, you start to untie Mrs Hewton and the other two women – I have to call the police and tell them what’s happened?”

 

I walked to the other side of the room and picked up the handset – but before I could start to punch the numbers, the door to the room opened and three men came in, also dressed in boiler suits, and wearing black gloves and balaclavas.

 

I froze – had they come back?  Rachel also looked at me as one of the men looked at all of us for a minute, and then turned and looked at me again.

 

“Put the phone down, lass,” he said in a Geordie accent, “You know I’m not going to hurt you or your friend, but you need to do as I say.”

 

I looked at Rachel, and Rachel looked at me – the day had just got much stranger...

 

“Hello,” I said finally as I put the phone down, “it’s you isn’t it?”

 

“It is,” Rachel said as the three older women looked at us, “but if you’re here...”

 

“Indeed,” the Geordie said, “but what are you two lassies doing here?”

 

 

Whhrrruu,” Mrs Hewton said as she stared at the new arrivals.

 

“My apologies, Lady Hewton,” the man said, “if you will bear with me for a few minutes?”

 

She stopped struggling and nodded as I said, “well, you see, Rachel and I were walking through the park when...”

 

He listened as we told him about our day, but what I really wanted to tell him was what I had overheard about the Craigs.  I was more worried about Cassie and Jenny at that point than us – a very very strange feeling.

 

Eventually, he nodded and said “Will you please keep an eye on Lady Hewton and the other two women – I think we need to talk to these two girls a little more.  Lady Hewton, please accept my apologies – I will be back shortly and will introduce myself then.”

He motioned to Rachel to follow us, as we went into a very large dining room, and he pulled two chairs away for us to sit down on.

 

“Patty Pickering and Rachel Rigg,” he said after he closed the door, “what is it about you that means we keep running into each other.”

 

“I don’t know Mister Edwards,” Rachel said, “but I feel a lot safer with you than the other two men.

 

“So do I,” I said, “but our mums may be getting worried about us, and those men took our mobile phones.”

 

“Well, I can’t let you call them from here – one of my men has disconnected the phone by now,” Jay Edwards said in an apologetic tone, “and I’m afraid you’re both going to have to stay here as well.  I know when we visited with Jenny Craig, I hoped that was the last time, but – well, here we are.”

 

“Jenny – Mr Edwards, I need to ask a favour.”

 

“Oh, what?”

 

“I heard the men who brought us here say they were going to rob the Craigs later tonight – I was going to warn them and the police when you came in, but now...  Mister Edwards, can you get a warning to the police?  I don’t want them to go through this.”

 

Jay looked at both of them, and said “how did you hear this?”

 

“They only tied our wrists and ankles at first – I got free, sneaked out and heard them.  Please – can you do something?”

 

“Amateurs,” Jay said as he shook his head.  “Look, I can’t promise anything, Patty, Rachel...”

 

“Well, will you do something else for us?”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“If you really can’t warn them, at least make sure we can’t move – I really want to be unable to move if we have to stay here.”

 

That was the frustration talking more than anything – I really felt as if I needed a time out, and it had been so long, and I was jealous of Cassie and Suzie, and...

 

“Me too,” I heard Rachel say, and I looked at her.  “I missed it too,” she said as he looked at me, “and I presume the three women here are going to be treated the same way anyway.”

 

“All right,” Jay said as he made us walk back into the room.  “Sit down, and keep quiet,” he said as we went in, seeing the three older women still sitting on the floor, “I need to call for some additional help.”

 

As he closed the door, I looked at the three women and said “I know you’re scared, but – and this is going to sound really funny – we’ve met their leader before, and you’re safe with him.”

 

They looked at each other, and then at me, as we sat down next to each other and waited.  Eventually, Jay came back in and said “I’m really sorry about that – I need some very special help for these two young ladies.  Lady Hewton, allow me to introduce myself – my name is Jay Edwards, and these are some of my associates.  I must ask you to remain calm, and not to do anything to raise the alarm.  If you and the other ladies agree to keep quiet, we can remove those gags and have a little chat.  Do I have your agreement?”

 

They looked at each other and nodded, as the other masked men gently peeled the tape away from their mouths.

 

“I’ve heard of you,” Lady Hewton said, “and your reputation.  Why are you here?”

 

“Well, to be honest, we wish your husband to make a rather large withdrawal when he gets back – which is when?”

 

“He should return at seven tonight,” she said as she looked at us.

 

“Good – now, I am aware of who you are, and you must be Agatha, the maid, but you,” he said as he looked at the third woman, “are a surprise.  Why is your daughter-in-law here, Your Ladyship?”

 

“I called to visit,” the younger woman said, “My husband is coming home with Mark, and we were going to pick up my children from my mother later.”

 

“Hmm – then we need to do something first,” Jay said as he looked at her, “where is your mobile phone?”

 

“In my handbag – over there,” she said as she looked over the room, “why?”

 

“Show me the number on your contacts,” Jay said as he fetched it, “then tell her you and your husband have been invited to dinner by Lord and Lady Hewton.  Can your mother watch the children tonight, and you will collect them tomorrow?”

 

As he looked at us, he nodded, and I hoped somehow our mums had got a message as well, as the younger woman talked into the handset.

 

“Good,” Jay said, “now that is settled, I need to tell you we will be staying until your husband comes home, and I regret to say you will need to remain bound until they return – but we will turn the television on, and make sure you are entertained.  I also have to say, with regret, we really need to make sure you cannot move.  First however, allow us to help you Emma, you Agatha, and you Samantha, to sit on that very comfortable looking couch.”

 

Rachel and I watched as the two masked men helped them to sit down, while Jay opened a bag.  “These two ladies have already proved themselves to be escape artists,” he said with a smile, “so I need to make sure they cannot raise the alarm on their own.  Girls, hold your hands out.”

 

I had to stop myself from grinning as we both held the sponges, and then Jay covered our hands with tape.

 

“Why – they’re just children,” Lady Hewton said as we watched one of the men start to bind her arms to her side, the rope going above and below their chests.

 

“It is regretfully necessary,” Jay said as he took some ropes, and then knelt behind us, crossing our tape covered wrists and securing them tightly together, and then tying the rope around our waists, cinching it so that our wrists were held against our backs.

 

He then tied our arms to our sides around our stomachs, after standing up, and then saw the way the other three women were moving with the ropes above and below their chests.

 

“Well, you need to be treated the same way as your hosts, young ladies,” Jay said to us, “are you in agreement?”

 

I couldn’t remember the last time I had the extra bands of rope, especially around my shoulders, and I wanted to show we weren’t getting special attention – just in case the other women thought we were helping Jay.

 

“All right,” I said quietly, and was surprised to see Rachel nodding in agreement as well.

 

So Jay took a long length of rope, and passed it around my body, pulling it tight under my chest and then taking the rope around my shoulders and upper body as well.  As he pulled it tight, however, I felt – funny.  And that feeling just kept getting funnier as he wrapped it round several times more, and then tied it off behind me.

 

I’d seen for Lady Hewton and the other two women the men had taken the rope under one arm, round the back of their neck and under the other arm.  Jay took a shorter length of rope and used that it tighten the two extra bands to my body – and that was when the funny feeling suddenly got much stronger, and as I squirmed round, and the ropes pressed down, it was both funny, and annoying, and irritating, and – I had no idea what else.

 

I wanted to say something – but unfortunately, the cloth that Jay pushed into my mouth stopped that, and then he tied a knotted strip of towel into my mouth to keep that in place.

 

Hmmgddd,” I said as he then took out a roll of the white tape, and wrapped it round my mouth and head, before tying a folded black scarf over my mouth, and then walked me to a smaller couch, which he made me sit down on before he tied my ankles and legs.

 

“Are you all right, young lady,” Lady Hewton said as she looked at me, and I nodded, staying as still as I could as Jay laid me on my side.  My mind went back to the weekend we were all held hostage, and how much Aunt Jennifer had complained about these extra ropes on Cassie and Suzie at the time – and somehow, I realised that I at least now understood why, at least from their viewpoint.

 

As Jay finished gagging Rachel, she looked at me, her eyes wide enough for me to know she was as confused as I was right now, before he sat her down in a large armchair, bound her ankles and legs and then tucked them under her.

 

As for me, I was getting bored, so I wriggled a little – and then stopped as those ropes rubbed on me.  It was driving me insane – and as Rachel moved and then looked  at me, I knew she was feeling the same.

 

“Now then,” Jay said as I watched the other three women being just as tightly gagged, “allow me to put the television on – and we will make sure you are given drinks and toilet breaks if needed.  Just grunt three times and nod if you need to go.  Gentlemen – a word please.”

 

We all watched as Jay talked to the other three men, and then said “Forgive me, Ladies, Girls – I need to make a little trip, and will return shortly.”

 

I watched as he left, and the three men stood there, watching all five of us as we stayed as still as possible – except for the wriggling as the television programs came and went, and the ridiculous irritating different feelings running through me...

 

“Good afternoon Gentlemen,  a woman with a Scottish accent eventually said, “I was told I may be needed?”

 

“Good afternoon Mrs McPhee,” one of the masked men said as Rachel and I tried to look at her, “Jay got in touch with you then?”

 

“Ay, he did,” she said as she walked into the room.  “Hello again girls – we have got to stop meeting like this.”

 

Hllmssmcff,” Rachel said as Lady Hewton looked at Jay.

 

“Mrs McPhee is one of my closest associates, and very very good with children,” Jay said, “any problems?”

 

“None.”

 

“Good – gentlemen, I fear there may not be much left, but do look around the house.  In the meantime, perhaps one of you could make some tea?”

 

The three masked men left the room as Jay and Mrs McPhee watched over us, but I wasn’t paying that much attention to them by then.  I had other things on my mind – such as why the hell was the extra ropes suddenly so irritating, and so exciting at the same time?

 

 

I had to move, but every time I moved I felt the ropes rubbing on me, and quite frankly it was driving me nuts!  It was like an itch – mum keeps saying you should not scratch an itch, because it just itches more, but you have to scratch it, and when you scratch it, it gets worse after it gets better...

 


Well, that was what was happening with me. I wriggled round to get rid of that feeling – but it just got stronger and stronger!

 

Eventually, when one of the masked men came in and whispered to Jay, and he left, I looked at Mrs McPhee and said “plsssrmffhm.”

 

Wat’s wrong Lassie – need the toilet,” she said as she looked at me.


nnnplsrmffhmm.”

 

She looked at me, and said “You don’t need tae go to the toilet – is somefing else wrong?”

 

I nodded and looked down at the ropes, but she just looked at me again and said “do you need to do something else?”

 

Ysssennddthhhmfff.”

 

“You know I cannot untie you dear...”

 

I grunted in frustration before Mrs McPhee said “Follow me dear.”  She helped me to stand up, and I jumped after her as we left the main room, and then into the dining room.

 

“Is there something ye want to say, Patty?”

 

I nodded and stood still as she started to remove my gag.  Finally, I could have an end to my frustration, the irritation, the torment those extra ropes were causing me...

 

I waited as she untied the strip of cloth from between my lips, eager to say as quickly as I could “Please take the extra chest ropes off,” and end this irritation.  I opened my mouth, let her take the cloth out, waited until she was looking at me, took a deep breath and said “Please can you scratch my nose – I have the most terrible itch.”

 

“Really?  Here,” Mrs McPhee said as she scratched both sides of my nose, and said “better?”

 

“Yes thanks,” I said, wondering what I just did.

 

“Anything else, lass?”

 

I opened my mouth again, to ask for the ropes to come off, and heard myself say “I’m really glad you came to look after us – I’m sorry if...”

 

I saw Mrs McPhee raise an eyebrow, before she said “I had hoped my good friend Jay would not need me, but I’m always ready to help.”

 

“What the hell is wrong with me,” I thought to myself, “just say ‘Please will you take these extra chest ropes off, they are annoying me.’”

 

What I ended up saying was “Please can you ask them if we can have cheese and pasta for food, I really like it?”

 

Mrs McPhee laughed, as I groaned again, and then said “All right – enough talking, I need to gag you again.”

 

“All right,” I said as I opened my mouth, and she pushed the cloth back in, at which point I said “msreebtcnurmfmfthsrpspls?”

 

 

“Last chance, Patty,” Mrs McPhee said as she took the cloth out again, “what do you want?”

 

“I’m sorry,” I said as I took a deep breath, “but can you please put a scarf over my hair and use the silver duct tape instead?”

 

I didn’t have a chance to say “no, wait,” before Mrs McPhee replaced the cloth and the cleave gag, and then stepped out for a moment, coming back with a black scarf and a roll of duct tape – the scarf she tied over my hair, and the tape she wrapped round my head before tying the other scarf back over it.

 

As I jumped back into the front room, Jay was there as well.

 

“Problem?”

 

“No – all taken care of,” Mrs McPhee said as I lay down again, angry and frustrated with myself.  Why couldn’t I say what I wanted to say while I could?”

 

Ptteewhtsrng?”

 

I looked at Rachel, and then at the extra ropes, and she nodded – at least she understood what I was feeling.

 

“Now,” Jay said, “Mrs McPhee and I need to go out for a short while, but we will be back before your husband’s return.  Gentlemen, put on a musical for them to sing along to.”

 

Sngglnggtt,” the woman they had called Samantha said as she looked at them.

 

“Oh yes – these two young ladies will show you how.  May I suggest The Sound of Music?”

 

I sat myself up, and Rachel hopped over to join me, as the film started, and we saw Julie Andrews running up the mountain as we both started to sing.

 

Thhlslrrlffwfssnffmsscc,

Thlslrlffwfsndffflff,”

 

Lady Hewton and the other two women started laughing with us, as we all sang along, not noticing as Jay and Mrs McPhee slipped out of the room.

 

 

 

 

I saw them come back in as they were told they had to sing at the concert, Mrs McPhee saying “Oh I love this part of the film” as she closed the door.

 

I looked at the clock – it was after five, and I remembered Lady Hewton – she was a real live Lady? – saying her husband would be back at about seven.

 

“Agatha,” Jay said as he looked at the maid, “we’re going to untie you, and allow you to go to the toilet, but the gag must remain in place.  Understand?”

 

The maid nodded as the concert started, Jay untying her before one of the other masked men took her by the arm and we started singing.

 

slngnfrwwlfwdnrsshndew...”

 

One by one we were untied, and allowed to go to the toilet, before we were brought back in and re-tied, this time with our hands in front of us, our ankles crossed and tied, and our legs below our knees.  The exception was Agatha – she did not come back, and neither did the man she had gone out with.

 

“We’ve asked your maid to start to prepare dinner for all of you,” Jay said as I looked at him, “it is important that you eat early tonight - I suspect you will all be hungry.”

 

Well, I couldn’t deny that – nor could I deny I felt SOOOOOOOO much more comfortable now those extra ropes were off.  I made my mind up – as soon as we had a chance, I was going to make sure both Jay and Mrs McPhee knew I did not want those extra ropes during the night.

 

Mrs McPhee had found a Frustration set, so the four of use sat round a coffee table and played the game – Rachel and I had our hands uncovered now, but with Jay, Mrs McPhee, and the other masked men who had guns, we played along, pressing down the dice popper with our bound hands.

 

It was now dark outside, and the lights were on, but I heard the car pull up, and saw Lady Hewton look to the window, and then at Jay.

 

“I must ask you all to remain quiet,” Jay said as Mrs McPhee stood behind us, he stood behind Lady Hewton and Samantha, and the other two men stood either side of the door to the room.

 

We heard the front door close, and a young man call out “Mum?  Samantha?”

 

“They’re probably talking in the front room,” an older man said, and we watched as the door was opened.

 

The first man in was in his mid fifties, with greying hair, wearing a smart business suit, pale blue shirt, tie and shiny shoes.   The younger man had short fair hair, and was wearing a suit as well, but with an open necked shirt.

 

“Emma, darling, we’re...”

 

They both stopped and looked at the four of us as one of the men closed the door behind them, and then Jay stepped forward.

 

“Our apologies for the intrusion, Sir Mark, Mister Hewton,” he said, “but my name is Jay Edwards, and we are in charge this evening.  Your wives are safe and fine – and we will explain about the two girls later.

 

“For now, kindly hand your mobile phones to my associates, sit with your hands on your head – and do nothing unless I say so.  Understand?”

 

Msreeejhnnn,” Samantha said from under the band of white tape around her mouth.

 

“I know who you are,” Sir Mark said quietly, “have they hurt you or Samantha, Emma?”

 

Lady Hewton shook her head, before his son looked at Jay.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“For Sir Mark to conduct some business for us,” Jay said quietly, “Now, sit down, and stay calm – Mrs McPhee, please remove all gags.”

 

As the masked woman ungagged Lady Hewton, she waited until the cloth was removed, before she said “I’m sorry Mark – I’m afraid we’ve been robbed twice.  These two girls were forced by one gang to knock on the door, and when Agatha answered it they forced their way in.”

 

He looked at us, and said “Are you girls all right?”

 

We both nodded as he looked at Lady Hewton again.

 

“They got free, and were about to call the police when this second group arrived.”

 

“That’s right, Mark,” Samantha said as the cloth was taken from her mouth, “these poor girls must have been terrified, but they kept all three of us calm.”

 

I could see Rachel blushing at that, and so did I as Sir Mark said “well, you have been brave – all of you.

 

“So what happens now?”

 

“You all have dinner,” Jay said, “and then – we talk.”

 

 

 

I guess Jay took pity on us for dinner – every other time we have been tied to the chairs, but tonight we were free.  But all five of them were in the dining room with us, as the maid – Agatha – served dinner.

 

And she gave Rachel and me Pasta and Cheese sauce. 

 

Rach,” I whispered as the older people talked to each other, “can I ask you a question?”

 

“What – apart from how the heck do we get out of this one?”

 

“Yeah – yeah, apart from that,” I said as I kept my voice low.  Those ropes...”

 

Rachel looked at me, blushed and nodded.  “I know – I’ve never felt like that when it’s been done before.  I’m not sure...”

 

“Me neither,” I whispered when Sir Mark said “Patty, can I say something?”

 

“Of course Sir Mark.”

 

“I guess your parents are going to be very worried about you, and I accept,” he said as he looked at Jay, Mrs McPhee and the other masked men, “there’s nothing we can do about it now.  When this is over, I will talk to them, and I will tell them what you did today, but for now – thank you.”

 

“Agatha, that was wonderful,” Lady Markham said as the pudding dishes were cleared away.

 

“Now then,” Jay said as the adults were served some coffee, and we were given some milk, “once you have finished, I have to say with deep regret we must make sure you are all secured for the night, while Sir Mark leaves with one of my associates to return to the city.”

 

“Just do as they say,” John, the son, said to his mum and wife, “we’ll be all right.”

 

“I know you will – this man’s reputation is well known.  What happens when I have done this?”

 

“You will be secured at your office, my associate will call me, and we will leave the house.  I am sure the others will cope until the morning – won’t you girls?”

 

“I know it sounds scary,” I said quietly, “but it won’t be too bad.”

 

They all nodded as Mrs McPhee said “Gentlemen, if John Hewton has finished, perhaps you can take care of him first?”

 

“Can I make a request?”

 

Jay looked at Samantha and said “You wish to be together, correct?”

 

She nodded as he smiled and said “very well – but first, John needs to go and be secure.”

 

We watched as the young man stood up, kissed his wife, and then walked out with one of the masked men.

 

 

“How long will you be here,” Lady Hewton said as she looked at Mrs McPhee.

 

“As long as is needed,” she said as Lady Hewton stood up.

 

“Take care of me next – Agatha, Samantha, I will see you soon.”

 

“This way,” Jay said as another of the associates took her out of the kitchen, and Mrs McPhee looked at us.

 

“If you two girls are done,” she said quietly, “stand up and put your hands out.”

 

Samantha stood up and helped Agatha as Mrs McPhee gave us both sponges to hold, and then wrapped the duct tape around our fists as they washed up.

 

“Will you be doing that to us,” Samantha said as Mrs McPhee pulled the socks up over our arms, and taped them in place.

 

“Oh yes,” Mrs McPhee said as she put our hands behind our back, and started to tie our wrists together, “all of you will be treated in much the same way.”

 

As I felt the rope tighten around my arms, I was trying to figure out what I was going to say when they asked about putting the extra ropes on me.  I was not looking forward to the idea of spending the night with those ropes rubbing on me as they did.

 

On the other hand, I couldn’t show how afraid I was of that, for Rachel’s sake.  I looked over as Mrs McPhee tied Rachel’s wrists to her back, with the rope around her waist, and smiled.

 

“Not the worst situation we’ve ever been in, is it Rach?”

 

She shook her head, but I could see she was afraid, so I said “let’s just get through this,” as one of the men came back, and took Samantha out of the room with him.

 

“Sir Mark, let’s talk in the front room,” Jay said as they left, and the third man watched Agatha put the dishes away.

 

I felt the rope around my arms and stomach, and decided when the time came, I was going to say no to the extra ropes – if I was going to have to sleep bound and gagged, I was going to be...

 

“Ready for the extra ropes Patty?”

 

“Yes,” I heard myself say, and then blanched as I realised what it was I had said, and the ropes pressed my arms into my sides, pressed down on my chest, and I started to feel that irritation yet again...

                                                                                                                              

Nnnggg,” Rachel said as she looked at me, Mrs McPhee tightening the bands with the short length of ropes under her arms, and then I got the same.  Why, why, why had I not said no?

 

“Open wide girls.”

 

As Mrs McPhee pushed the cloths into our mouths, and then used knotted strips of towel as cleave gags, we saw the third man start to turn Agatha’s hands into covered fists, and we heard the front door open and close.

 

Mrs McPhee tied scarves over our hair, and then wrapped duct tape around our heads and over our gags, before folding and tying black scarves over them as well.

 

“I’m really sorry you need to sleep in your clothes girls,” she said as she stood in front of us, “but it’s better this way.”

 

“There are two spare bedrooms upstairs – third and fourth doors on the right,” one of the masked men said as he came in.

 

“Let’s go girls,” Mrs McPhee said, and we walked into the entrance hall and up the stairs.  As we looked in the first room, we both saw Lady Hewton lying on her side, ropes around her and a scarf over her mouth, looking at us.

 

In the next room we saw Mr Hewton and his wife, lying facing each other on the bed, ropes going from their ankles to the foot of the bed and their backs to the top.

 

“Patty, you can go in here,” Mrs McPhee said as we went into the next room, and I sat on the bed, watching as she bound my ankles tightly together, and then my legs below my knees.

 

“Lie down lassie,” she said quietly, and I made myself as comfortable as I could, given the way those ropes were beginning to drive me up the wall.  I watched as she ran some rope from my ankles to the foot of the bed, to keep me in the bed, and then said “Come along Rachel – let’s go and get you settled.”

 

Rachel looked at me, her eyes wide open, and I nodded to show it was all right, before I tried to settle down.  I was tired – I had to admit that, but every time I tried to move, these ropes were rubbing on me.

 

Eventually, however, I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer – the last thing I saw was a man watching us...

 

 

 

 

“Patty?”

 

I opened my eyes to see Jay and Mrs McPhee standing over me.

 

“Get up Patty – you need to take a toilet break.”

 

I nodded and looked at the clock, seeing it was eleven at night, and waited until I had been untied and the covers taken off my hands before I walked slowly to the bathroom.  I hadn’t had the chance to go before that, so I actually was needing it, but with the gag still keeping me very quiet I just want and did it, washed my hands, and dried them before I came out and stood still while Mrs McPhee re-tied me.

 

As I lay on the bed, waiting until Mrs McPhee finished tying my legs together below my knees, I was struggling to stay awake, especially with the way the ropes were still rubbing on me, or the way they felt as my fingers brushed over the ropes around my wrists when I moved...

 

Mrs McPhee looked at me and stroked my hair before she left the room, and a few minutes later I saw Rachel walk past, untied but still gagged as she rubbed her eyes.  I was suddenly trying to stay awake, as I looked down and saw that Mrs McPhee had not tied my ankles to the foot of the bed either.

 

Rachel eventually walked past me, and even though I didn’t have my glasses on, I could see her fingers waving behind her back.  Even then, it took me a few minutes to realise this was not a mistake – Jay and Mrs McPhee had deliberately left my hands and Rachel’s hands free.

 

I stayed still, just as Cassie would have, until I saw Jay and Mrs McPhee walk past and down the stairs, before the lights were turned off.  I listened carefully, as the front door opened and closed, and then stayed where I was until I was certain nobody else was around.

 

Slowly, I sat myself up and waited, before I got to my feet and took a little jump.  I felt the floor creak under my feet, and waited, but nobody came up, no lights went on.  So I took another jump, and then another, and then another.

 

As I went out onto the hallway, I could hear moans from some of the other rooms, but I knew the one person who could help me now, the one person who was in the same position as me, was Rachel.  So I jumped to the next room, the door of which was open, and as I looked in I saw Rachel on her side, her eyes closed.

 

I jumped over to her, and saw she too was not tied to the bed, and her hands were uncovered, so I said quietly “Rsshlll?”

 

Hmmgweee.”

 

I sat on the bed, nudged her with my hand and said “Rsshlhlwkppp.”

 

Btmmsstrddd.”

 

Rshlpplsssttspttee.”

 

Rachel slowly opened her eyes, and looked at me, and then looked at my fingers wriggling about.  Sitting herself up, we shifted until we were back to back and started to work on the knots that were holding the ropes around each of us.

 

It took about thirty minutes to untie our arms, at which point we hugged each other, Rachel crying and me saying “come on Rachel – be brave for a little while longer.”  We then untied our legs, and slowly crept down the stairs, looking in all the darkened rooms before I turned the hall light on and checked the phone.

 

“Oh thank the lord, it’s working,” I whispered as I dialled 999.

 

“Emergency, which service please?”

 

“Police – and please hurry.”

 

A moment later, a female voice said “Police – what is the emergency?”

 

“Please listen carefully,” I said as I looked at Rachel, who was holding herself, “there has been a robbery at the home of Sir Mark and Lady Hewton in Holderness.”

 

“Are the robbers still there?”

 

“No – they tied us all up and gagged us, but I managed to get free.”

 

“What’s your name, dear?”

 

“My name is Patricia Pickering, but please listen – we have been held hostage by Jay Edwards and his gang, and another gang is going to try and rob my aunt and uncle.”

 

“All right,” the female said, “where do your aunt and uncle live?”

 

I gave Cassie’s home address, and then the woman said “all right Patty, a police officer will be with you as soon as possible.  How many are in the house with you?”

 

“Four others as well as the two of us,” I said, “please hurry.”

 

Putting the phone down to end the call, I then dialled my home number, waiting until I heard mum say “Hello?”

 

“Mum, it’s me – Patty.”

 

“PATTY! Oh my god where are you – I have Rachel’s parents here with me – is she with you?”

 

“She is – mum we were kidnapped and forced to help a gang of robbers get into a house, and then Jay Edwards showed up, and then...”

 

“Patty,” a male voice said, “this is Colin’s dad.  Where are you?”

 

“I don’t know – Sir Mark and Lady Hewton live here.”

 

“All right – have you called the police?”

 

“Yes sir,” I whispered back.

 

“Good girl – they’ll be there soon, and I’m bringing your parents with me now.”

 

“Mister Hampton, I told them the gang were going to rob Cassie and Jenny’s place.”

 

There was silence for a moment, before he said “We’ll be there as soon as we can Patty – and very well done.”

 

 

Putting the phone down, I looked at Rachel, who was starting to shake as she looked at me.

 

“Hey,” I said as I put my arms round her, “it’s over.  Come on – we need to get the others free.”

 

“All right,” she whispered as I took her hand and walked her back upstairs, looking in the room where Lady Hewton was lying on her side, her eyes fast shut.  I walked round the bed and started to untie the ropes around her chest, while Rachel started to untie her legs from the foot of the bed,

 

As I loosened the ropes, she slowly opened her eyes and looked at Rachel, before she looked over her shoulder at me.

 

“It’s all right Lady Hewton,” I said as I untied the scarf and then picked up a pair of small scissors from the bedside table, and cut through the band of tape around her mouth,” the robbers have gone, and we’ve called the police.”

 

She nodded as she sat up, and removed the scarf that was inside her mouth.  “You managed to get free,” she finally said, “very very well done girls.  Did you say you’d called the police?”

 

I nodded as we saw flashing blue lights through the bedroom curtains.  “All right,” she said as she stood up, “come with me.”

 

She walked down the stairs, holding our hands as we heard banging on the front door.  Opening the door, we saw three police officers standing there.

 

“Lady Hewton?”

 

“Good evening officers – this is the young lady who called the police.”

 

“Where are the others?”

 

“Still restrained upstairs,” she said as we heard muffled shouts from the first floor.  “If you can take care of them, I am going to take these very brave young ladies and give them some milk in the kitchen.”

 

She stood to one side as about eight police officers came in, and then said “Come with me” as we went into the kitchen.  We waited as she opened the fridge, poured milk into two glasses, and then handed them to us.

 

“Not much, I know,” she said with a smile, “but I think you need it more than I do.”

 

“Thank you,” we both said as we took a drink, and then I heard mum say “Patty!”

 

“Hey mum,” I said as she came in, kneeling on the floor, hugging and kissing me as Rachel’s mum did the same to her.  “Sorry we got you upset.”

 

“Lady Hewton?  Detective Superintendant Hampton, Holderness CID.  Apparently you have had quite a day?”

 

“Indeed,” Lady Hewton said as we saw her son, daughter in law and Agatha the maid come into the kitchen.  “Any word on my husband?”

 

“The met are sending a car over now – right now, our primary concern is for everyone in the house.”  He then knelt in front of us and said “are you two all right?”

 

“Yes Mr Hampton,” I said, “But what about...”

 

“Time for that later,” he said as two ambulance men came in, “can you check everyone, and then I’ll have a brief chat with them before these two ladies go home.  I can speak to them in the morning.”

 

“Thanks, Barry,” Mum said as she hugged and kissed me again, before the man in the green clothes started to look at me.

 

 

 

 

 

When I opened my eyes, Mum was standing by the bed.

 

“What time is it,” I said as I sat up.

 

“After eleven – I let you sleep as long as I could, but Mr Hampton is downstairs, and he wants to talk to you, if you feel up to it.”

 

“Sure – can I go to the toilet first,” I said as I sat at the side of the bed.

 

“Of course – come down when you’re ready,” Mum said as she left the room, and I stretched out before going to the toilet.  As I walked in, I looked at my hands, and then realised something.

 

Why had they left mine and Rachel’s hands uncovered?  Jay had never done that before, ever – so why this once.

 

When I went into the front room, Mr Hampton stood up and said “how do you feel this morning Patty?”

 

“Stiff – how is Lady Hewton and the rest of the family?”

 

“A bit scared and shaken up – I’ve spoken to them, and also to Rachel with her parents this morning, but I want you to tell me what happened yesterday Patty.  Sit down, and start with when you and Rachel were walking through the park.”

 

So as Mum gave me a drink and some toast, I told Mr Hampton everything – about the man telling us to get into the car, making us knock on the door, holding us in the upstairs bedroom, getting free and going to call the police before Jay Edwards showed up, and how he had left Rachel and me.

 

“He left you with your hands uncovered?”

 

I nodded as Mr Hampton sat back.  “Well, that’s a first,” he said quietly, “as is the fact he plugged the downstairs phone in the house back into the wall.  Any idea why he may have done that Patty?”

 

“I told him about the first gang going to rob...  Mr Hampton, Cassie and Jenny, are they...”

 

“They’re fine,” he said with a smile.  “When you warned the police, and me, we sent a car round – three men had broken into the house, and were threatening your aunt and Uncle, but we arrived before any serious harm could take place.  Jenny, Cassie and the twins were asleep upstairs, and missed everything.”

 

I breathed a sigh of relief as Mum held me.  “You clever clever girl, doing that,” she said as she kissed me, “wait until I tell Jennifer...”

 

“Jessica,” Mr Hampton said, “do me a favour – don’t mention about Patty and Rachel having their hands uncovered or the phone being plugged in.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Humour me – what Patty said is corroborated by everyone else, but I want to keep that detail just between ourselves, all right?”

 

Mum nodded as she left the room.  “You mean Mister Edwards deliberately did that?”

 

“Let’s keep that to ourselves, shall we Patty,” Mr Hampton said with a wink.  “What I need to tell you is that not only did the first gang of robbers confirm everything you and Rachel said, but Sir Mark and Lady Hewton have told me how you acted when you were the hostages, and how you helped to keep everybody calm.  You, Patricia Pickering, are a hero – and I am very proud of both you and Rachel.”

 

“How is Rachel?”

 

“Better for a good night’s sleep – now,  this afternoon I want you to come with me and your mother.  The newspapers have heard what happened, and a certain Connie Craig wants to talk to you and Rachel about what happened.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Really really.  Actually, a lot of reporters want to talk to both of you – do you know you’re the first person ever to get free by themselves when Jay Edwards and his friends have visited?”

 

“I am?  Wow...”

 

“But trust me – the last thing you need is reporters after you, so the two of you will tell your story to Connie, and she will let the others know.  In the meantime,” he said as Mum came back in, “I have to tell you that you are to be given a Police Bravery Award – you and Rachel – for the way you acted all day yesterday.”

 

“Oh,” I said quietly.  I remembered when Cassie got hers, and blushed as I said “thank you.”

 

“Also, I understand Sir Mark and Lady Hewton wish to meet with you and Rachel separately, but we’ll sort that out in due course.”  He stood up and said “right now, get washed and dressed, and I’ll see you and Rachel at the police station at three this afternoon.  Jessica?”

 

Mum went out with Mr Hampton for a few minutes, leaving me alone with my drink, my toast and one thought.  I was a heroine, but the real hero wasn’t me or Rachel.  It was a man who many people thought was not one...

 

 

 

 

“...and that’s when the police arrived.”

 

Connie Craig looked at both of us, as I held Rachel’s hand, and said “Well, let me just say that you have both been very brave young girls, and I think you both did a fantastic job.”  She looked behind us where our parents were standing, and said “I hope you both spoil these girls rotten for the next few days.”

 

“Oh we intend to,” Rachel’s dad said, “starting right now.  Come on you two – we’re all going for a meal together, and tomorrow you’re both going back to school.”

 

Aww – must we,” Rachel said.

 

“Yes you must – but I do have one other thing to tell you.”

 

We both turned round to see Mr Hampton standing in the door with Aunt Jennifer and Uncle John.

 

“That thing I told you about Patty – this Saturday, eleven o’clock, town hall.”

 

“But it’s my birthday Saturday,” I said as I looked at Mum.

 

“I think we can spare an hour or two for this,” she said with a smile, “all right?”

 

“Got everything you need Connie?”

 

“I have John – and thanks again to both of you.”

 

“We need to thank you as well,” Aunt Jennifer said as she hugged both of us, “it could have been very bad indeed.”

 

I smiled and hugged them both back – and then realised.  A medal on my birthday?  What else was going to happen?

 

 

 

 

It was my birthday – my eleventh birthday – and I wanted to be having fun.  And instead where was I?  Sitting on a wooden chair, wearing a blue dress with a blazer, white socks and shoes, with my mum sitting next to me in the town hall.

 

Now, I grant you, I wasn’t the only one – Rachel was sitting on the other side of my mum, wearing a white blouse and a grey jacket and trousers, her hair in pigtails as she swung her legs to and fro.  Her parents were next to her, looking almost as proud as mum was looking.

 

And they weren’t the only ones looking proud – Cassie and Jenny were sitting with the twins and their parents, all in their Sunday best and Cassie grinning as she waved at me.  Louise and Fiona were here with their parents – actually, a lot of my classmates were there as well, as was Mrs Williamson with her husband, and Lisa and Charlie beside them.

 

There was a hum of noise, which died down as Mister Hampton came up to the stage, Sir Mark Hewton standing with him.  Mister Hampton was wearing his police uniform, but he smiled and winked at both of us.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said as he looked around the room, and I heard cameras going off behind me as I started to feel nervous, “thank you all for coming here today.  I promise you, I’ll try to be as brief and not boring as possible.

 

“We’re here today because, last weekend, two young girls found themselves in a situation that frankly would give some of the better thriller writers in this country pause for thought in terms of likelihood.  They were on their way into town when they were forced into a car, taken to the home of Sir Mark and Lady Hewton, and forced to be the way the gang of robbers that had snatched them got into the house.  They were then held hostage along with Lady Hewton, her maid and her daughter-in-law, while the armed and masked gang ransacked the home.  According to Lady Hewton, both girls were remarkably brave, one of them freeing herself before she tried to call the police, but was caught and re-tied.”

 

I blushed a little at that before Mr Hampton continued “Once the gang had left, the two girls again managed to free themselves, but before they were able to call the police they found themselves at the mercy of another group of masked robbers – this time the notorious Jay Edwards gang.

 

“Again, they showed remarkable presence of mind and courage in remaining calm, despite the fact both were secured alongside the women and Sir Mark’s son John, while Sir Mark was forced to rob his own company.  Most remarkable of all, however, one of the girls somehow managed to free herself, and her friend, before they called the police, not only alerting them to both robberies and cutting short the time victims of Jay Edwards normally spend bound and gagged, but also allowing the police to catch the first gang in the act of a second robbery.

 

“Sir Mark and his family have asked that both young ladies be recognised for their bravery under what, for any ten year old...  Sorry, ten and eleven year old as of today... would be a terrifying ordeal.  On behalf of the Holderness force, I also wish to add my thanks for their actions, which have led to at least one of the gangs of armed robbers that seem to plague us being brought to justice. 

 

“With that in mind, I would like to ask Sir Mark if he would present these Police Bravery Medals and citations to Patricia Pickering and Rachel Rigg, in recognition of all they did.  Patty, Rachel – come up please.”

 

We both stood up and walked slowly up the stairs and onto the stage, Sir Mark putting the medals around our necks on their ribbons and then shaking our hands as he handed each of us a framed certificate.

 

“You are two of the bravest girls I have ever met,” he said quietly, “and your parents have every right to be very proud of you.”

 

We both blushed as we turned round, holding our certificates while Mr Hampton and Sir Mark stood behind us, everyone clapping and cheering - well, everyone who was not taking a picture of us.  I had never felt so proud, as Rachel and I looked out at all the flashing lights.

 

Eventually, we went down the stairs where Mum hugged me and Rachel.

 

“Hey,” Cassie said as she and Jenny came over and hugged me and Rachel as well, “congratulations.”

 

“Yeah – I need to thank you, you know.  I finally get what you and Jenny keep saying.”

 

“Yes, well – took me a while to get it as well, so don’t worry,” Cassie said with a smile.  “So how does it feel to be a heroine?”

 

“I’m not sure – why don’t you tell me?”

 

“I will if I ever figure it out,” Cassie said with a smile as Lisa and Charlie came over with their parents.

 

“Very well done,” Mr Williamson said as he looked at me and Rachel, “you must have been terrified.”

 

“We were – and we weren’t if you can understand that,” I said quietly.

 

“Yeah,” Rachel added, “it was as if there was nothing we could do to stop what was going to happen, so we just – let it.”

 

He nodded as he said “Well, by the sound of it, you deserve every bit of this.”

 

“Patricia, Rachel, may we speak to you for a moment?”

 

We turned round to see Sir Mark and Lady Hewton standing there.

 

“We just wanted to thank you once again,” Lady Hewton said.

 

“How are you,” I asked quietly.

 

“Recovering – but we both wanted to give you a reward as our way of saying thanks as well.  Your parents will tell you about it later, but thank you again.”

 

She kissed both of us on the forehead, and then went to join her sons and daughters.

 

“Right you two,” Mum said as she came over, “we need to go now.”

 

“Oh – where?”

 

“You’ll see,” Mum said as we went outside, and got into the car.  Driving off, I thought we were going home – but instead, we drove to the leisure centre.”

 

“What are we doing here, Mum,” I said as we got out of the car, Rachel joining us with her parents.

 

“Well, it is somebody’s birthday today, after all,” Mum said as we went in, and into the party room – and I saw a huge banner, that said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PATTY – AND CONGRATULATIONS!!”

 

“Wha...”

 

“Oh come on,” Granny Miranda said as she came over, “as if we would forget your birthday!”

 

All my classmates had come straight from the presentation to here, and I saw Suzie with her family, as well as the Cottrell boys and their parents, and even Alicia and her friends were there.

 

“Come on,” Rachel said as she took my hand, “let’s have some fun.”

 

I nodded and was going to go after her when a familiar voice said “Hey.”

 

“Tommy,” I said as I looked at him, “thanks for coming.”

 

“Hey – sorry I missed the presentation, but you – well, you look great.”

 

“Thanks,” I said with a smile.  “I’ve got some wonderful presents from Mum and Aunt Jennifer – and I see I’ve got more here as well.”

 

“Can I ask a question about what happened?”

 

“Sure – what?”

 

“What was the worst bit?”

 

For a moment I thought about saying “those ropes rubbing on my chest,” but smiled and thought better of it.

 

“Honestly?  Knowing I had to get free and warn someone about Uncle John and Aunt Jennifer.”

 

“I thought so,” he said with a smile.  “Listen – if this doesn’t tire you out...”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Would you like to come to see Big Hero 6 with me later tonight?”

 

I smiled – a little – and whispered “I’d love to, but if we do, there’s something I’d like you to do for me.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“I’ll tell you later – I’ll ask mum if we can go home first,” I said with a smile before I went to join the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Right – you two wait in the car for a minute while I go and get the tickets,” Mum said as she pulled up in the car park.  Getting out of the car, she closed the door, leaving me and Tommy in the back of the car as she went in.

 

“Well, I will say this for coming this way – it saves on buying popcorn and drinks.”

 

I looked at Tommy, before he said “no – it wouldn’t be fair for me to have it when you can’t.”

 

I nodded as Mum came back and opened the door, letting me get out while Tommy got out from the other side.  I had gone home to change, and was now wearing a brown roll neck sweater, jeans and short black leather boots, while a white poncho covered my upper body, the points down over my waist.

 

“I’ll be here to pick you up when the film gets out,” Mum said as I nodded in reply.  She got in and drove off as Tommy put his arm round me and waved for both of us.

 

“Ready?”

 

I nodded as we walked in – the rope holding my wrists together and then to my back as they went round my waist, and then the one around my arms and stomach, covered by the poncho.  The clear tape over my mouth was smoothed really well down, with no wrinkles, and kept the folded hankie in my mouth.

 

I had thought of asking for the extra ropes, but decided not to.  Nothing was going to distract me from enjoying this time with my boyfriend.

 

And besides – this proved Cassie Craig wasn’t really the luckiest girl in the world.

 

Right now, I was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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