Through Fresh Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“MUM!!!  Have you seen my blue party shoes?”

 

I was racing round the room, trying to find where I had put them under the piles of toys and other junk, when I heard mum say “Ahem – are these what you are looking for Fiona?”

 

“Thanks mum,” I said with a giggle as I took them and put them in my case.

 

“Just how many sets of clothes are you taking,” mum said as she looked at me.

 

“I don’t know,” I said, “how often do you have to change when you spend the weekend with a real Lord and Lady?”

 

Fiona Kerr, that’s me – ten years old, bright, beautiful, and over the last couple of weeks my whole life has been turned upside down by a little fireball I know called Patty Pickering. 

 

Well, that’s not one hundred per cent true – it was Patty and Rachel, Rachel Rigg, and it all started when I stumbled across a web site when I was trying to find some My Little Pony things.

 

The site was actually some sort of message thingy, but the people there all claimed that had been the victims of robbery by the same person – the story I read in mum’s newspaper called him the Games Player.  Apparently, he tied them up and gagged them with their sisters, friends, mums, grannies, aunts – but he made it a game, so they were not scared.

 

I didn’t believe it at first, but then Patty and Rachel came back to the big house I live in with Louise – that’s Louise Hobson, my other best friend – and they told us they knew it was true – he had visited both of them!!

 

I could not believe it, but I was curious about what he did, so they showed Louise and me – and I didn’t think any more of it.

 

Anyway, on the Monday we found out that all four of us were to play girl detectives in a school play, so we agreed to meet up on the Saturday afternoon to go over the script.  We were going to meet at Patty’s house, because mum had a deadline for a new book and needed some peace, and Louise’s dad had a work thing to take care of.

 

But there was a change of plan, and we agreed to meet at the house of Mrs Williamson, the head of Infants.  Apparently Patty and Rachel were friends of her kids, and they were going to spend the day there anyway.

 

Where was I?  Oh yeah – shoes in case, on top of party dress, as mum looked on from the doorway.

 

“I put plenty of underwear in, and changes of clothes,” she said as she came in.  “Look at you – Fiona Kerr, going to spend the weekend at the big – sorry, the bigger house.”

 

“Have you ever met them mum?”

 

“I have actually – a few years back, when you were a toddler.  Lord Holderness presented me with the Cadbury Buttons prize for best new book for the under 5’s.”

 

Mum writes and illustrates children’s books – she’s the name you see on the Dandelion Dale series about fairies in the English countryside.

 

As to why I was going to see him – actually, I was going to spend the long weekend with his granddaughter Suzie.  We found out that Saturday that Patricia and Rachel were actually very important girls - after that rehearsal.

 

The play called for three of us to be held captive, see, so Patty and Rachel made sure our wrists and ankles were tied, and then put a scarf over my mouth and between Louise’s lips to keep us quiet.  Rachel then tied and kept Patty quiet – but that was only the opening salvo.

 

After we had a drink, Lisa and Charlie Williamson came and played with us – and that was when we discovered PATTY’S BIG SECRET!!!

 

It turned out that ever since that visit by that man, Patty and Rachel had played games where they had been tied up and gagged – and they weren’t the only ones, as we discovered that afternoon when Charlie and Lisa tied both of them up really well and gagged them really well – and they both loved it!  Even when we were allowed to tickle them!!  ESPECIALLY when we tickled them!!!

 

Then Charlie and Lisa tied us up as tightly as those two – and left us to try and get free.  We couldn’t, but I’ll tell you what we could do – we could stand up, hop around the house, and then follow Rachel’s lead in pushing ourselves up the stairs while Charlie’s dad stood at the bottom of the stairs.

 

What we didn’t know was Charlie was hiding at the top of the stairs, and took us to where Lisa was already tied and unable to speak.  I think he would have tickled all of us if Louse’s dad hadn’t called to say he was coming for us.

 

Anyway – when I got home, I wasn’t sure what to tell mum, so I just said we had a fun day.  When we were having tea that night, Patty called to see if I was free to go and see another friend with her on the Sunday afternoon.

 

Yeah – another friend, all matter of fact as if we were going to another house in town for a couple of hours on the Sunday.

 

“Come on,” Mum said as she closed my case and picked it up, “get yourself sorted – we still need to pick up Louise and drive out to the manor house.”

 

Yeah, I thought as I sat down and put on my black trainers, the manor house.  When Rachel’s mum picked us up on the Sunday afternoon, we drove out of town and then into the gates of what turned out to be a large house.  We got out, walked in, and then met the friend of Patty and Rach – Suzanne Holderness, the granddaughter of Lord and Lady Holderness. 

 

Yeah, you heard me right – Patty Pickering and Rachel Rigg, all glasses and pigtails and full of mischief, are friends of the oldest and probably richest family in the county!

 

Actually, Suzie’s a little firecracker as well.  She’s two years older than us, but as friendly as heck, and she took us up to a tree house her dad had built at the back of their house – Wissenden Hall.

 

It was up there that Patty told us some of their past exploits – how they had been held hostage for a full weekend, and spent part of it at the hall.  Louise and I didn’t believe them – until they showed us how the masked men had tied them up!

 

They first used sponges and tapes and socks to keep our hands in balled up fists, then tied our arms tightly together – wrists first over the socks,  then more and more tightly with rope around our waists, our tummies and our shoulders, with smaller lengths of rope tightening them even more.  By the time they were finished, I could not move my arms at all – and as I wriggled round, the ropes rubbed on my arms and chest.

 

IT felt funny, and it also felt nice – as if I had to trust everyone else.  So they tied out ankles, and then our legs below our knees – and then they kept us quiet.

 

Really, really quiet.  The scarf over the mouth muffled my words a little, and on the Saturday Charlie had put a hankie in my mouth and taped it over, which made me even quieter, but that afternoon – let’s see.

 

Folded cloth in my mouth, and then a strip of towel with a knot tied in it, the knot in my mouth and the strip tied over it – check.

 

Funny sticky tape wrapped round my head to cover that towel, tape that stuck firm, but when it came off my hair was fine – check.

 

A folded scarf tied over that band, the knot at the back of my head – check.

 

Another scarf tied over my head, and the ends tied under my chin to clamp it shut – check.

 

Louise and I totally unable to do more than make funny muffled whimpers – TRIPLE CHECK!!!

 

I followed Mum down the stairs and out to our jeep, me sitting in the front while mum put my case in the back, and then we drove off to pick up Louise.  I had a blue jerkin on over a black hoodie and jeans. 

 

It didn’t take us long to get to Louise’s house, and I waved at her as she ran out and got in the back.  She was wearing a grey tracksuit and trainers with pink flashes, and a pink t-shirt underneath, and as she got in she said “Excited?”

 

“You bet,” I said as her dad put her bag in the back, and then stood talking to mum for a few minutes.

 

You see, while we were in the tree house, Suzie’s brother Bobby came up and said their grandmother was there.  So we were untied, and then went back into the hall – and there she was, smiling as we came in.

 

Who?  Suzie’s grandmother – Lucinda, Lady Holderness, as the papers call her.  Louise and I looked at each other in shock, but Suzie just introduced us and sat down as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do.

 

Anyway, one thing led to another, and next thing we knew we were being invited to spend the Saturday and Sunday at Holderness Manor!!!

 

 

Well, we said yes, if our parents agreed.  A couple of days later, mum got a telephone call, and it was Lady Holderness, asking if she was happy for me to come and stay with Suzie and some others for a long weekend.

 

Oh yeah – school had broken up last Wednesday, and given that Lady Holderness asked if we would like to come on the Thursday, and stay over until the Tuesday morning.

 

Dad was coming home on Friday from another business trip, after six weeks, and mum was open to having some time alone with him.  So she said I could come, and also said both of them would join us for Sunday lunch.

 

So that was it – Louise and I would be spending the long weekend with Suzie, Patty and Rachel, as well as Patty’s younger cousin Cassie Craig and Lisa Williamson.  That’s what Patty said when Louise and I saw her at the last day at school.

 

“Yeah, that’s right – the others are going to be there at different times over the weekend.  I think Pippa, Cassie’s friend, is coming Friday and Monday, and others are dropping in, but it’s the seven of us for most of the weekend.”

 

“Are there enough bedrooms for all of us,” Louise had whispered.

 

“We’ll double up, but there are,” Rachel had said.

 

“And I guess we can play lots of tie-up games,” I had said with a giggle.

 

“Count on it – I wouldn’t be surprised if we spent most, if not all of the weekend, tied up and possibly gagged too.”

 

“No way,” Louise said, “four days unable to move or speak?”

 

“Did I say we would be unable to move?”

 

Patty looked indignant, as Louise said “No – but come on, four days…”

 

Patty said nothing – and if there is a more dangerous thing than a silent Patty Pickering, I’m not sure what it is.

 

 

 

As mum drove into the gates of Holderness Manor, Louise and I looked out at the tree lined road.  Wissenden Hall had been impressive enough, but this was something different.  I’d found an article on the Holderness family written some months ago by someone called Jennifer Craig in the local paper, that talked about Lord and Lady Holderness and the work they had done in the local community – very big stuff!

 

But it doesn’t prepare you for the sight of that large dark stone house you get when you come up the driveway, or the sight of the welcoming committee that were on the stairs.  I saw Suzie, in a pair of faded jeans, trainers and a blue t-shirt, her red hair pulled back in a ponytail, and next to her the taller Bobby Holderness, her big brother.  He was wearing a pair of shorts and a striped polo shirt, his light brown hair cut short.

 

There was also a grey haired man in a suit who came forward as mum stopped the jeep and opened the door as we jumped out.  “Hey,” Suzie said as we went up to greet her, “Welcome to grandpa and grandma’s place.  Mister Bridges will take your cases in.”

 

“Thank you for inviting them,” mum said as she came up and hugged me.  “I’ll see you on Sunday – mind your manners and behave yourselves.”

 

“Don’t worry, Mrs Kerr,” Bobby said with a smile, “I’m sure they will behave themselves, won’t they Suzie?”

 

“Oh I guarantee it,” Suzie said with a big grin.

 

“Don’t worry mum,” I said, “we’ll be fine.”

 

Mum nodded and waved as she went back to the car and drove off, while the older man took our cases in.  Louise and I stood and waved her off – and then, as she disappeared into the distance, our arms were taken behind our backs, and we heard a rasping sound as our wrists were drawn together!

 

“Hey, what’s going on?” I said as I looked behind me and saw a white plastic strip around my wrists, the same as Louise.

 

“The start of the weekend,” Suzie said.  “You can ask for that to be taken off any time, but it’s staying until dinner time otherwise.  Now, come on in!”


We were led into this massive hallway, all dark wood panels and pillars, and then into a library.  I was pleased to see Patty and Rachel already there, talking at another girl I recognised from the playground – Patty’s cousin Cassie.

 

“Have you seen their arms,” Louise said as we walked in.  I had – all three of them had their wrists behind their backs, and I could see the plastic strip round Cassie’s crossed wrists.

 

“Oh, you’re here,” Patty said as Cassie turned round.  “Glad you could make it.”

 

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Patty,” Louise said as they came over. 

 

“Fiona, Louise, this is Cassie Craig.  Cassie, Fiona Kerr and Louise Hobson.”

 

“Hey,” she said with a smile, “glad you could make it.  Come and sit down for a minute.”

 

As we went to the couch, I saw Bobby securing his sister’s wrists behind her back, presumable with one of the ties as well. “So, ready for some fun this weekend,” Cassie said as she looked at us.  “Patty tells me you’ve played some tie-up games already, and I hope you’re up for some more later.”

 

“Later?  What do you call this,” Louise said as she looked at my wrists.

 

“This?  Oh this isn’t a game – we do this all the time around here.  Want to have a look round?”

 

“Why not,” Suzie said as she stood up, “so long as Bobby opens the doors for us.”

 

Bobby just smiled as he opened the doors, and we went out into the hallway, and then up the stairs.  “This is the playroom,” Suzie said as she stopped and Bobby opened a door on the left, showing us the boxes and bean bags in there.  “We’ll come back there later during the week.”

 

“And this,” Cassie said as Bobby showed us a room with two beds, “is where you two will sleep this weekend.  I’m sharing a room with Lisa, and the others will pitch in as and when.”

 

“Wow,” I said, and I meant it.  It was almost as big as mum’s work room.  I could see our bags under the bed, and it looked as if they had been unpacked already.

 

“Bathroom’s over there,” Suzie said with a nod of her head, “and the rest of this floor is bedrooms.  Want to see the attic?”

 

“Maybe later,” Cassie said, “let’s take them downstairs first.”

 

“Come on,” Suzie said as we walked down, and along a corridor.  Hanging on the wall was a series of portraits.

 

“The Lords Holderness of the past,” Bobby said, “right back to the first Lord and his brother.”

 

We looked at the men, and I began to wonder what their stories were.  “We’ll tell you something of them later,” Suzie said as we looked in a large room, empty but with windows looking out onto the lawn.

 

“This is the ballroom,” Bobby said as we looked up at the chandelier, and out of the windows.  “Through that door is the dining room, and then the kitchen.  Come and say hello to Mrs Bridges.”

 

We went back into the corridor and into a large old style kitchen, where a grey haired woman was standing at the sink, preparing vegetables.

 

“Hello Mrs Bridges,” Cassie said as Patty and Rachel nudged each other, “this is Fiona and Louise – they’re staying this weekend as well.”

 

“Very pleased to meet you both,” she said as she turned round and dried her hands.  She had a nice smile, and the fact we had our hands behind our back didn’t seem to bother her a bit.

 

“We’re going to go out onto the lawn for a few minutes, Mrs Bridges,” Bobby said as he opened the door.

 

“All right – but don’t go off into the woods.  Dinner will not be that long, and you know your grandfather needs to eat early.”

 

“All right,” Bobby said as he rolled his eyes, and then led us out onto the most enormous lawn.  We walked along the side of the house, and then I gasped as Suzie, Cassie, Patty and Rachel started running down the slight slope towards the line of trees at the bottom. 

 

“How on earth can they do that and keep their balance,” Louise said as I watched them.

 

“Practice,” was all Bobby said.  “Go on – try running after them.  The grass is dry, so you shouldn’t slip.”

 

Louise and I looked at each other, and then we started to run down the grass as well.  We went slowly at first, but once we got our balance we were just as fast as the others, running along the edge of the trees and playing tag – only with our arms instead of our hands.

 

I lost track of time on this, so busy were we laughing and running, so when Bobby said “Sorry girls – time for dinner,” we all complained.

 

“Where does that path in the trees go to,” I said as I looked at it.

 

“That goes down to the lake – maybe we can go there tomorrow when Angela’s here.”

 

“Angela?”

 

“Our oldest cousin,” Bobby said as we walked back up the path.  “You’ll like her – she can teach you a lot of things.”

 

“But right now, I’m starving,” Suzie said as we went in, and our hands were cut free so that we could wash them.  As we went into the dining room, however, we saw Lisa Williamson sitting already at the table.

 

“Hey there,” she said as she waved at us, “have fun outside?”

 

“We did,” Cassie said, “why didn’t you come and join us?”

 

“Why do you think?”

 

I looked at Lisa, and suddenly realised her waist was tied to the chair back with a length of rope, while her ankles and legs were also tied tightly together.  “All right everyone,” Bobby said, “sit down and put your hands on your head.”

 

“You get tied to the chairs to eat,” I said as Bobby wrapped rope round my waist.

 

“Only when we have guests,” Suzie said.

 

“Well, you were the one who didn’t believe we could be tied all day and still have fun,” Patty said as she stuck her tongue out at me.

 

“All right,” I said with a laugh as I watched my legs been tied together, and then swung my bound ankles to and fro as Bobby pushed my chair in.  I watched as the others were similarly secured, and then Bobby sat down as well, saying “comfy?”

 

“Actually, yes,” I said as I swung my legs some more.  “But where are you grandparents?”

 

“On their way – why?”

 

“Well,” I said as I looked down, “I’ve never met a real Lord before.”

 

“Neither have I,” Louise said, neither of us noticing the door had opened.

 

“Well you have now,” a kindly voice said, and we saw Lord Holderness walk in, holding the arm of Lady Holderness.  He looked tired and walked slowly, but as he sat down he smiled and said “Hello – you must be Fiona and Louise.  Thanks for coming to stay this weekend.”

 

“Thank you for inviting us Sir,” I said in a quiet voice, and then I so wanted to kick Patty as she started laughing.

 

“Patty,” Cassie whispered under her breath.

 

“It’s all right, Cassandra,” Lady Holderness said.  “I hope by the time this weekend is over, you won’t feel quite so nervous.  You may serve, Mrs Bridges.”

 

We had some delicious chicken with veg and ice cream to follow, as Lord Holderness talked to Bobby and Suzie about their plans for the holidays.  Lady Holderness asked us about our families, while Cassie talked about some of the things her Aunt Connie had been doing recently.

 

Anyway, once dinner was finished, we were untied from the chairs and allowed to go to the toilet, before Bobby re-secured our wrists behind us with the plastic ties, and we went back into the library.

 

“I wanted to show you something from last summer,” Cassie said as Bobby turned on the television.  “This is the day we spent with some of our American friends, pretending to be teenage detectives.”

 

As he played the DVD, we saw Cassie and Patty having breakfast with a taller girl.

 

“That’s my sister Jenny – I think she’s coming tomorrow and staying over,” Cassie said as we then saw them in old clothes – beautiful ones, but they looked like something out of an old movie.  They were then joined by three other girls, who had also changed into those clothes.”

 

“That’s Heidi,” Suzie said as a blonde haired girl waved at the screen.  “She’s my cousin Alicia’s pan pal.  The dark haired shorter girl is Cindy – she’s kind of Heidi’s best friend, sister and troublemaker all rolled into one.”

 

“so who’s the barefooted one,” Louise said.

 

“Oh, that’s Natalie – she’s great fun, as you’ll see.”

 

“So what was the story,” I asked.

 

“Patty, Jenny and I were English girl detectives, who had met up with three American friends for tea and crumpets.  Heidi and the other two were pretending to be Nancy Drew and her friends, while we were Jane and Tuppence Marple and Agatha Christie.”

 

“Who are they,” I asked.

 

“You’ve never read Nancy Drew?  Well, we’ll have to fix that,” Suzie said as we watched them investigating, getting separated, getting kidnapped, tied up and gagged – and then we gasped at the scene where they were all hogtied, tightly gagged and wriggling round as a timer counted down the seconds.

 

 

“Wow – you really acted the part Cassie,” I said as I watched her kick the timer out of the caravan.

 

“Yeah – that was real fun,” Cassie said with a grin like a Cheshire Cat.  The part ended with them all waving, and then the scene changed to the inside of a caravan.  We saw Cassie, Jenny and Patty tightly bound and gagged, and strapped into the seats, as the camera rocked from side to side.

 

“See – told you we did that,” Patty said as she beamed at us.

 

“All right all right – point taken,” I said as I started to yawn.  Suzie looked at the clock, and said “Is it that late? Bobby, can you see if we can get some milk and biscuits, and then we’ll go up to bed.  We need to be up early tomorrow.”

 

“Sure,” Bobby said as he went off, coming back with a tray that had glasses of milk and plates of biscuits on.  We then had out wrists freed, before we were taken upstairs after our snacks and we changed for bed.

 

I came back from the bathroom in my pink pyjamas, to see Louise wearing a white nightshirt.

 

“Cassie said she was going to help us sleep like the others,” she said as I sat on my bed.  A few minutes later, Cassie came in holding a roll of white tape.

 

“Would you guys like to sleep tied up?”

 

“Won’t it hurt,” I said quietly, trying not to show how excited I was at the idea.

 

“Not this way – both of you lie down and cross your wrists in front of you.”

 

Louise and I looked at each other, and then did as Cassie had asked, watching as she taped our wrists tightly together, and then our ankles side by side.

 

“Now, I’ll put a single bit of tape over your mouths – don’t worry, Mrs Bridges is waiting to do the same to me and Lisa in a minute.”

 

“Nothing in our mouths?”

 

“Not this time,” Cassie said, “for your own safety more than anything.  So, get comfy, and then put your lips together.”

 

I wriggled down on the bed, and then felt the tape as it was smoothed down on my lips.  “Sleep well,” Cassie said as she turned the light off, and I wondered how long it wo…

 

Next thing I knew, the sun was shining, and Cassie was cutting the tape from my wrists and ankles.

 

“Good morning,” she said as I looked over to see Louise was already free.  “Stretch out, and then have a shower – I have a surprise waiting for you both after that.”

 

Well, we both headed for the shower, but when we came back in we were surprised to see two sets of clothes laid out for us – clothes that I had never seen before.

 

“Hey,” Patty said as she put her head round the door, “we all thought you might like to dress up today, so I brought some of the clothes I got from Granny Miranda over.  Try them on.”

 

As she went off, I picked up the light pink jumper, and felt how soft it was in my hands, before I put it on.  It had a round neck and the sleeves came just down past my elbows.  I was even more fascinated by the skirt – it was pink, and long, and it had a picture of a white poodle on the front, with the leash coming up to the waist.  So I put that on, and the stretchy pink belt around my waist, before I tried to tie the pink scarf round my neck as well.

 

While I was doing this, Louise was putting no her outfit as well.  She was wearing a white blouse, with the cuffs folded back, and a peach coloured skirt that also had a white poodle on the front.  She was tying a pink ribbon in her hair, and also had a blue sweater over her shoulders.

 

We both sat on the bed and put on some ankle socks – mine white, hers pink – and these funny shoes with black and white panels, kinda like the shoes you have to wear when you go bowling.

 

As we walked out of the bedroom, we saw Cassie coming from another bedroom, along with Lisa.  “Hey there,” she said as she saw us, “looking good today.”

 

“Are we all wearing the same skirts,” Louise said as she looked at their outfits.  Lisa was wearing a light pink cardigan over a matching top, and a long grey skirt with a pink and grey poodle, while Cassie had on a white jumper like mine, and a pink skirt with a black cat on it.  She had her scarf tied in her hair.

 

“We’re all wearing similar outfits,” Cassie said, “Lisa has borrowed one of mine, and Rachel one of Patty’s as well.  Come on – I’m ready for breakfast.”

 

As we walked into the room, we saw Suzie was already sitting at the table, her bound ankles swinging as she sat tied to the chair back as we were last night.  She was wearing a white blouse with a flower embroidered on her left shoulder, and sleeves that came just over her elbows, and the same style of long skirt as us.  Hers was pink with a white poodle.

 

“Good morning,” Bobby said as we approached the table.  “Please, be seated and I’ll get you secured for breakfast.”

 

“Patty really wants us to do this, doesn’t she,” I said to Louise as I sat down and raised my arms, while my waist was tied to the chair.

 

“Looks like that way – where are they anyway,” Louise said as Bobby worked his way round, but that question was answered quickly as Patty and Rachel came in, giggling and talking to watch other.  Both of them were wearing white blouses with elbow length sleeves, the same long skirts as us, white socks and black shoes, with a scarf tied round their necks.  Patty wore a blue skirt with two white cats on it, and a pink scarf, while Rachel’s skirt was red with a little black dog, and her scarf red.

 

Once we were all tied to the chairs, our ankles tied and our chairs pushed in, Mrs Bridges and Bobby helped us all to have some cereal and orange juice.  While we were eating that, we could smell sausages cooking.

 

“Good morning.”

 

I turned round to see an older girl, about eighteen I guessed, walk in, her long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail and tied off with a pink scarf.  She wore a charcoal grey blouse over a dusky pink top, the front of the blouse tied at her belly, and a long pink skirt with a black and pink poodle on it.

 

As she sat down and took some cereal, Suzie said “Hi Angela – this is Fiona and Louise.  Girls, Angela is my oldest cousin, and she’s come to look after us today.”

 

“Well, well – is it poodle skirt day today?”

 

Lady Holderness smiled as she came in and sat down.

 

“How is grandfather today,” Angela said as she looked at her.

 

“Having breakfast in bed,” she said as she poured some coffee.  “Well, don’t stand on ceremony – eat up.”

 

As we ate, I looked at Angela and Lady Holderness talking.  You could see the resemblance, especially in the eyes, as they talked about her plans before her exam results came – whatever they were.

 

Once we had finished, we were untied from the chair, told to go and brush our teeth, and then come down to the library.  As we came in, we found Bobby and Angela waiting for us, and I saw the boxes on the floor beside them.

 

“Now then,” Angela said, “what we want to do this morning is let Fiona and Louise see some of the things this lot have been up to in the past – without interruption, so we’re going to make sure you are nice and comfortable and cannot get free.  Bobby?”

 

“Here,” he said as he handed each of us a pair of sponges, Patty and Suzie grinning as they took them.  “Hold these in your fists, and then hold your hands out.”  We watched as one by one our fists were covered in silver tape, then by a pair of socks, and finally the tops of the socks taped to our arms.

 

“So we’re going to be tied the same way we were at your place, Suzie,” I said, smiling as Suzie turned and nodded while crossing her wrists behind her back.

 

We all did the same, and I smiled as I felt the rope holding my wrists together, and then going round my waist, before another length of rope was tied round my stomach and lower arms.  I twisted them round, happy they were so secure, until all seven of us were secured in the same way.

 

“Angie,” Suzie said, “may I have the extra band of rope please?”

 

Angela looked at us and said “I don’t know if Suzie or the others have explained the rule about the extra chest rope – it can only be tied on if me or another adult is here, and only if everyone agrees.  If that is the case, it will be me and not Bobby who ties it.  So, do you all want it?”

 

I watched as Lisa, Suzie and Cassie all nodded quickly.  Patty and Rachel looked at each other, and then nodded as well, while I looked at Louise.

 

“We won’t be spoil sports,” I said, “so we all want it.”

 

“Very well,” Angela said as she took more ropes, and one by one we had our upper arms tied to our sides above our chests.  As the rope tightened around my arms, I felt it rubbing over my body – it was still a funny feeling, but I didn’t mind it.  I could see the others were happy to have it as well, so I wasn’t going to complain.

 

We all then sat down in the chairs, and watched as our ankles were tied together over our socks, before our skirts were lifted up a little and our legs tied together below our knees.  By the time Bobby and Angela had finished, we were very securely secured.

 

“Now, if you’re going to be tied this thoroughly, you need to be gagged the same way,” Angela said, so we all opened our mouths wide as a cloth was pushed gently in, and then a strip of knotted towelling pulled between our lips.

 

“Sttggntbfnn” Louise said, and I nodded in agreement as Angela produced some triangles of cloth.

 

“We’re going to be using this stuff,” she said as she held up a roll of silver tape, the same stuff that covered out hands, “but it can hurt and damage your hair, so this goes over your hair first.”  She and Bobby worked along the line, Angela tying the cloth over our hair as Bobby wound the silver tape tightly round our heads.

 

“Now, for the folded scarf oooooo…”

 

I heard a phone ringing, and for a moment Angela looked as if something was bothering her.  “Bobby,” she said quietly, “would you finish gagging them please?  I’ll be right back after I answer this call.”

 

We all watched her as she walked out, stumbling a little as she answered her phone, and then looked at Bobby.

 

“Don’t ask me,” he said as he tied a folded scarf over the tape band of each of us, and then tied a folded scarf over our heads, tying the ends together under our chins.  When I saw Louise, her eyes the only thing visible between the scarves, I had to laugh – even if it was muffled.

 

“Sorry about that,” Angela said as she came back in.  “Now, Bobby, do you have the film of two years ago?”

 

“Right here,” Bobby said, and we watched as Suzie said “Urrggnnnlffshhss.”

 

“Now this took place when all the girls gathered with their mums and grannies for a day of – well, you’ll see,” Angela said as we sat back and watched the film.

 

As we did so, we recognised Heidi and Cindy, but Angela introduced us to the various aunts, mums, dads and uncles.  I was amazed at how good they were at running – sorry, jumping round in the ropes, as they played out on the lawn.

 

“Hwcmcmrnntthtrrrr,” Louise said as she looked at Bobby.

 

“I was busy elsewhere,” he said, “but believe me, every time I watch this I wish I had been there.”

 

I could see Cassie looking at him as he said this, and her eyes told me all I needed to know.  She really did have the hots for him!

 

“Whrruruu,” I said as I nudged Lisa, who was sitting next to me.

 

“Ddndnknthmthn,” she mumbled, but I could tell she was as fascinated by this as Louise and I were.

 

Once the film came to an end, Angela said “Would you like to see one more, or would you like to play a game.”

 

“Gmmm” Suzie said as she and Cassie jumped up and started to jump around the room.  Lisa, Patty and Rachel joined in, and Louise watched with me as their skirts rose and fell with each jump.

 

“Cmmnnn,” Louise then said as we shuffled forward and then stood up, jumping slowly at first, and then joining the others.  I felt the skirt rising and falling as well, and was worried if something else was showing – but the others didn’t seem to care, so soon I didn’t either.

 

The other funny thing was the extra band of rope around my upper arms and chest.  It hadn’t bothered me too much when sitting down, but as we jumped round it rubbed against my body, and – well, it was a really funny feeling.  I mean, Cassie and Suzie and Lisa seemed to love it, as they closed their eyes and seemed to be humming in unison, and the others were happy as well.

 

It just felt so…  Oh I wish I could explain how it felt!

 

“I think we need to play a game of hide and seek,” Angela said as she opened the door.  “Bobby, just make sure if any go upstairs, they don’t get hurt.”

 

“Got it,” Bobby said as he went out, and we all jumped out of the library, going our separate ways.  Lisa and the older girls started to push themselves up the stairs, and I could see the rope around their legs as they did so.

 

Patty and Rachel jumped down the corridor, while Louise and I decided to make our way up the stairs as well.  We sat on the bottom stair and pushed ourselves up, before getting ourselves back onto our feet and hopping into our bedroom.

 

The closet door was open, so Louise hid in there as I closed the door to as best I could, and then hid myself on the other side of the bed.  I kept as quiet as I could, as still as I could, hoping it would be a while before I was found.

 

Well, I got lucky – Angela came in, found Louise, and then left with her jumping in front of her.  As I lay there, I wondered how long I should stay there before…

 

“Hey.”

 

Rolling onto my back, I looked up and groaned as I saw Bobby waving at me.  “Good choice,” he said as he helped me to stand up, “hiding in plain sight.  Come on – the others are waiting in the play room.”

 

I jumped to the room to see the other six standing there with Angela.  “Well,” she said as she looked at her watch, “it’s nearly time for lunch.  We’re going to untie you and take the…”

 

She suddenly looked past us for a moment as she bit her lower lip.

 

“You all right Angie,” Bobby said as she looked at her, before Angela gasped “Yes – yes I’m fine.  As I was saying, we’ll untie you and take the gags off while you eat.”

 

We all nodded as we were united, the pressure coming off my chest as that rope was removed, and then the scarves taken off before Bobby cut the tape away.  We all then headed for the toilet, and came down to the dining room.

 

As we came in, I saw two more girls had turned up.  One was about Bobby’s age, and was wearing a cream coloured cardigan over a matching top, and  a long powder blue skirt that had flamingos on the front.  She also had a red scarf with white spots tied round her neck.

 

She was standing behind a girl the same age as Cassie and Suzie, tying some rope round her waist to hold her to the chair.  She had on a white short sleeved blouse with a black dog on one side, and a pink skirt with a black dog on the front.  The skirt had a black belt, and she had a matching scarf tied as a band in her brown hair.

 

“Hey Suzie,” she said as we came in, “thanks for inviting me this afternoon.”

 

“No problem, Pippa,” Suzie said, “This is Fiona and Louise, the friends of Patty I told you about.  Girls, meet Pippa and Jenny, Cassie’s big sister.”

 

“Hi there,” Jenny said as she stood up.  “You lot take your seats, and Angela and I will get you secured for lunch.  Had a good morning so far Cass?”

 

“Sure have,” Cassie said as she jumped into a seat.  “How are the twins?”

 

“Driving Dad up the wall when Mum brought me here – they’re getting better and quicker at walking,” Jenny said as we were all secured in place, and then Mrs Bridges brought in our lunch.

 

She then looked at Angela, who was kneeling as she secured Patty’s ankles, and said “You all right, Angela?  You look a bit flushed.”

 

“Fine – just warm from hide and seek,” Angela said, but I couldn’t help noticing she stood a little awkwardly, and then walked slowly to her chair.

 

Lunch was a salad, and we talked about how it felt to be wearing these wonderful clothes, and what we wanted to do that afternoon.  Angela then said the plans were already made, and she winked at Jenny when she said that.

 

“Oh,” Patty said brightly, “what are we going to do?”

 

“Well, it’s a beeeautiful day outside,” Angela said, “why don’t we go onto the lawn and have a run round?”

 

Well, we all nodded at that idea, so after lunch was finished we went back to the library and waited until all of us were tied and gagged.  I was a little bit nervous as I waited my turn, however – not because I was afraid of having my arms immobilised, or not being able to speak.

 

No, it was that extra band of rope around my upper arms.  When I had been jumping around this morning, it had rubbed against me, and I hadn’t been sure quite what to make of it.  I could see the others actually enjoyed it – even Louise – and I didn’t want to be the spoilsport in all this, but it irritated me like heck…

 

“I know what you’re thinking,” Pippa said as she stood beside me, while her arms were tied to her side.

 

“Oh,” I said as I held my hands out, the sponges in my fists, “what’s that?”

 

“You’re wondering whether you want the extra band of rope or not, right?”

 

“How did you?”

 

“We all felt the same way the first time,” Pippa said as Angela tied the rope around her arms, “but trust me – after a while, you get to enjoy it.”

 

“Quiet time,” Angela said, as Pippa opened her mouth and she started to be gagged.  I then put my hands behind my back and waited until all eight of us looked like the masked turtle enemies again.

 

We all took a seat, but rather than tying our ankles Angela and Jenny folded our skirts up, tied our legs together below our knees, and then we all stood up and followed them through the kitchen and onto the back lawn.

 

“All right,” Jenny said as Angela spread a picnic blanket out and sat on it, “walk round, run around, do what you desire, and then we can have some snacks.”

 

Well, we all walked in groups round the lawn, Suzie taking Louise and me for a walk round the house while Pippa and Cassie led Lisa, Patty and Rachel around the edge of the lawn, taking them up and down as they started to try to run.  It was funny watching them take short steps, but it looked as if it was the most natural thing in the world for them to do.

 

“Wnttrrnn,” Suzie said, and as we both nodded she took off, the two of us following her.  Out skirt started to flow out and rise up as we did so, but the strangest thing was the way that top band of rope started rubbing against me, and I wasn’t sure if I was irritated as hell or enjoying it.

 

Still, I kept running after the other two, and after a while I forgot about it – it just started to feel as if it should be there, as we chased the others round the large lawn.

 

“All right you lot,” Jenny said, “come over here and have a drink.”

 

We all walked over and sat down, Jenny and Angela removing our gags and then giving us each a juice carton, holding them so that we could have a drink through the straws.  We also got small cakes to eat as Angela lay back and closed her eyes for a moment.

 

“This is great,” I finally said, “but how did you learn how to do this?”

 

“Fuuunnny you should ask,” Angela gasped as she sat up, her skirt nestling between her legs.  “I have something to show you to teach you some of the basics – let’s head back to the library.  I’ll need two volunteers though.”

 

“Lisa and I need to do something with Cassie and Patty,” Suzie said, “but perhaps Pippa and Rachel will help out?”

 

“Yeah – why not,” Pippa said as she nudged Rachel.  “I need to do some catching up anyway.”

 

“Come on then,” Jenny said as she stood up and helped us all to stand up, “I’ll take you in.  Coming, Angela?”

 

“In a minute,” Angela said as she bit her lip while her phone went off.  So we all walked back in, and Jenny untied Cassie and Suzie, them then untying us as Jenny set up the DVD player and Rachel found some ropes, scarves and tapes.

 

“We’ll see you at dinner,” Suzie said as the other four went out, and Angela came in, sitting on the couch and smiling as Jenny started the DVD.

 

We watched as Angela explained about how to tie ropes around wrists and ankles, and we tried it out – me on Pippa, and Louise on Rachel.  We soon had the art of securing their wrists mastered, as we followed the instructions about doubling the rope over and wrapping it properly around and between them, and then tied their ankles together.

 

Jenny stopped the DVD at the point, and told us to watch what Pippa and Rachel did next.  We watched as they turned so that they were back to back, and were stunned at how quickly they managed to untie each other’s wrists!

 

“Don’t feel too bad,” Jenny said as they did this, “one of the reasons we covered your hands as we did is because it can be very easy to undo knots if your fingers are free, and the knot is easy to get to.  Now, try again, and this time tie the knot so that they will find it difficult to get to.”

 

So Louise and I tried to tie the knot under their wrists, but we didn’t cross their arms, so although it took a little longer they still managed it.  A third time, with their wrists crossed, and this time they could not untie each other with their wrists.

 

Angela, via the DVD as she watched with her lips clamped shut, then told us about tying the rope around the waist, and around the arms and stomach.  So we copied her instructions, Pippa and Rachel twisting round as we did so, before they started jumping round the room.

 

We chased them, subjecting them to a tickle attack before Jenny said “Shall I stop the DVD while you just tickle them?”

 

Well, they nodded, as Jenny did and allowed us to tickle them mercilessly, before Lady Holderness looked in the room.

 

“Dinner will be served in a few minutes,” she said as she looked in, “so I suggest you get ready.”

 

“Yes, Grandmother,” Angela sad quietly as we untied Pippa and Rachel, and then went to get washed before we were tied to the chairs for the evening meal.

 

Over the table, we asked Cassie and Suzie what they had been up to.

 

“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough,” Suzie said with a big grin, and that was all we got out of them as they talked about what we had done that day for Lord Holderness.

 

Once the meal was over, we went back to the library, where we all had our wrists crossed and tied behind us, and to our waists, and then ropes around our lower arms and stomach.  We also had our ankles tied and our legs below our knees, before we each had a sponge ball out into our mouths and then our lips taped over.

 

“Now, this afternoon Louise and Fiona were given some tips on how to free themselves,” Angela said as she sat down.  “So, they now need to free themselves, and only then can they free you.  I’ll put on one of your favourite films while they get started.”

 

So as Jenny started High School Musical, Louise and I looked at each other, wondering what to do next.  I looked at the way her wrists and arms were tied, and realised I would need to use my teeth to undo the knots – my hands were tied so that I could not really use my wriggling fingers, but the tape over my mouth made it difficult to consider how to use my teeth – unless I could free…

 

Louise watched as I slid off the seat I was in, the others happily muffled singing along, and started to rub the edge of the tape over my lips against the cushions.  IT took a little while, but eventually I managed to get the edge of the tape to catch, and by twisting my head a little I managed to peel it off.  I then pushed the sponge out of my mouth, and said “Right, Louise – turn your back to me and I’ll see if I can untie your wrists.”

 

She nodded and turned with her back to me while she tried to rub her cheek against the chair as well, while I picked at the knot under her wrists with my teeth.  Again, it took a while, but I managed to get the rope away from her waist first, and then free her wrists as she got the gag off.

 

“Well done,” she said as she looked over her shoulder, and then we traded places, me rolling to my other side and waiting as she freed my wrists.  One that was done, I could wriggle my arms round and start to untie her arms, and then she freed mine, before we untied each other’s legs.

 

“Forty five minutes, not bad,” Angela said as she smiled at us, and we got to work on freeing the others, Pippa last as the film ended.

 

There was a knock on the door, and Bobby came in.  “Your mum’s here, Pippa,” he said as she stood up.

 

“I gotta go,” Pippa said with a wave, “I’ll see you guys on Monday.”

 

“See you Pippa,” Suzie said with a wave as Jenny stood up.

 

“Time to get ready for bed,” she said, and I surprised myself when I realised I was yawning as well.  We all nodded as we headed up the stairs and got changed for bed.

 

As I lay on my bed, and Jenny taped my ankles and wrists together, I said “You know when I peeled the tape from my mouth – could I do that in bed as well?”

 

“You could if you wanted to,” she said as she smoothed the tape over my ankles.  “We only use the single strip for safety reasons, but if you wanted you could rub your cheek and pull it off.

 

“If you wanted to,” she said as she taped Louise as well.  “Ready?”

 

I nodded as she pressed the tape down over my lips, and did the same for Louise, before turning the light off and closing the door.   It was still light outside, but my eyes were getting very heavy…

 

 

When I woke up on the Saturday morning, Louise was already up, so I started to rub the tape off my mouth.  I just about managed it before Louise came back in, picked up a pair of safety scissors and cut me free.

 

“Thanks,” I said as I peeled the tape from my cheek.  “What’s the dress code for today?”

 

“Jumpers and jeans,” Louise said, “but Angela gave us something to put on our feet.”  She held up two pairs of shoes, with high heels, and I stared wide eyed at them.

 

“Why?”

 

“No idea – you get washed, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

 

Once I had a shower, I put on a grey sweatshirt and jeans, and then tried on the black shoes with the high heel.  They were my size, but I had to walk slowly in them as we went down the stairs to have breakfast.

 

Going into the dining room, we saw the others were all wearing jumpers and jeans – and high heels, their bound ankles swinging on the chairs as we took our places and were secured as before.

 

“Why are we wearing party shoes,” I said to Suzie as I helped myself to some cereal.

 

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Suzie said with a smile.  “The forecast is not too great for today, so we’re going to stay in and around the manor house, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun.”

 

“So we spend the day tied up again,” Rachel said, Lisa nodding in agreement as she drank some milk.

 

“Great,” I heard myself say, and then blushed as Patty said “Told you she’d like it.”

 

Angela and Jenny were also there, both in blue sweatshirts and jeans, but they wore trainers as they talked about her friend Alicia.

 

“Cuz Alicia is coming tomorrow,” Suzie said as she looked at me.  “But let’s get through today first.”

 

“Right,” Angela eventually said, “come to the room next door with me please.”  We all trooped through to the ball room, and took a seat as Jenny and Alicia tied our ankles tightly together side by side, and then our legs below our knees.

 

“Right,” Angela said as she went to a chair by the side, and picked up what looked like a white tent, “each of you is going to wear one of these today – who wants to be first?”

 

“What on earth are they,” Louise said as she looked at it.

 

“They’re called hoop skirts,” Angela said as she slipped one over my legs while I stood up and made sure it sat round my waist.  “In old days, you would wear it under a skirt or gown, to make sure it flowed out and you did not step on the fabric.  For today, what it is going to do is…”

 

“Cover our legs completely,” I said as I turned, the skirt turning with me.  If was funny only seeing the white.  “But we’re wearing heels, and our legs are tied, so…”

 

“So moving becomes more fun,” Patty said as a skirt was slipped up her legs.  Once we all had one, Lisa looked as worried as us.

 

“Try sitting down.”

 

I looked behind me and gently lowered myself onto the seat, watching the skirt as it rose up in front of me and I sat on the fabric.  Standing back up was interesting as well, as I slowly managed to get up.  Lisa and Louise were doing the same, using their arms to steady themselves as the others had their hands covered, and their upper bodies tied as they were yesterday.

 

While they were having their mouths and heads covered, Jenny came over and got the three of us to hold our hands put, gripping the sponges as she covered them in duct tape.

 

“I’m a bit scared of this,” Lisa said, “I’m used to being able to see my feet.”

 

“It can be scary at first,” Jenny said as she pulled socks up over our arms and taped them to our jumpers, “but you have to think about one thing – the only difference really is you cannot see your feet.”

 

“But what if we fall,” I said as Jenny started to tie Lisa’s wrists together behind her back.

 

“Don’t worry – Angela and I are here to watch you, and I’m sure Bobby and the others will help out if need be as well.”

 

“Others?”  Louise looked at Jenny as Angela came over and started to tie her up as well.

 

“You’ll see,” Angela said with a smile as the other girls started to jump around the room, laughing and giggling as they did so.  I was am-AZED at how confident they were, not even noticing my own body being roped until I felt that band pressing down on my chest again.

 

“Ruggntsstthhswl?”

 

I snapped out of my thoughts as I realised Louise was having tape wound round her head, the cloth protecting her hair, while Lisa was already fully gagged and scarfed.  I then opened my mouth for the first cloth, and felt the tape and silk squares silencing me as well, before we all looked at each other.

 

“Go on,” Angela said, “We’ll watch and catch you if you fall.”

 

We looked at each other, and then did little jumped on the spot, looking down as the skirts completely covered our feet and we landed on the heels, swaying a little.  After a few minutes, we tried jumping a little way forwards, and then a little more…

 

When Dad taught me to ride a bike, he first had those little training wheels on it, and then when he took them off he held the bike while I rode it.  With every time, he held it a little less, until before I realised it I was riding it without any trouble.

 

It was the same here – with each hop, each rise and fall of the skirt, each time I landed, I got a little more confident, and so did the others, so that within a few minutes we were all hopping round, chasing each other, looking at the two new arrivals who were standing in the doorway…

 

Lisa and I stopped, Louise almost bumping into us as we looked at them.  One had long blonde hair, with a white Alice band holding it back, while the other had black hair platted into a pigtail.  But they looked alike, and they both were wearing pink sleeveless padded jerkins over roll neck sweaters, jeans and trainers.

 

“Heeeuttt,” Suzie said as she hopped over, “wntjjnn.”

 

“You got started before us,” the blonde haired girl said.  “Still, it’s not too late is it?”

 

“Of course not Hazel,” Jenny said as she came over.  “This is Fiona and Louise – friends of Patty and Rachel – and I think you know Lisa as well.”

 

“Hey,” Hazel said as she waved at the three of us, “I’m Hazel, and this is my twin sister Claire.”

 

Claire nodded as she said “So, where do we go?”

 

“Take off your jerkins and come with me,” Angela said as she escorted them out of the room, only for them to return a few minutes later as tightly bound and gagged as we were, and with the big big skirts covering their legs.

 

“Fllmmm,” Suzie said as we played follow the leader for a few minutes, and then hopped out of the room and along to the stairs.  As we gathered there, I sat down and tried to push myself up as I did yesterday – only to discover there was a teeny tiny problem.

 

These skirts – it was bad enough trying to sit on them, but I realised that it was next to impossible to push myself up the stairs.  If I tried to, either the large skirt got caught or it ballooned in my face.

 

Suzie was giggling under her scarf as she looked at me, and then a familiar voice said “Problem ladies?”

 

“Hgrrttttrvblsshhr,” Cassie mumbled as Angela and Jenny came out.

 

“Hey,” Jenny said as I looked up at Bobby with another lad the same age as him – one Jenny gave a quick kiss on the cheek while the others laughed.  “What brings you up here today?”

 

“Bobby asked for some help – and I can see why,” the second lad said as Suzie mumbled “Jnessbfrnd?”

 

“This is Colin Hampton,” Bobby said as he looked at me and Louise.  I’d heard the name Hampton before somewhere, but wasn’t quite sure where.  “Colin, these two are Fiona and Louise, friends of Patty and Rachel – although I have to confess at the moment, I’m not quite sure which is which.”

 

Louise and I looked at each other and laughed as we realised we had the same colour scarves covering our hair and faces.

 

“Anyway, I take it this lot want to go upstairs,” Bobby said as he looked at Angela.

 

“If you would,” she said.  She was certainly different today – not as distracted, and she reminded me a lot of Lady Holderness as she got us to line up, before Bobby took his sister by the shoulders and Colin lifted her by her feet.

 

They carried her up the stairs, and then returned, taking us up one by one as we stood waiting.  Well, the others stood – I practised jumping a little more, as that band of rope rubbed on me again – it was driving me insane, mainly because I liked the way it felt, and I don’t think I was the only one from the look in Patty’s eyes.

 

I was the last one to go up, and when I got there I found the others were all waiting.  “Ltsgg,” Suzie said as I was put onto my feet, and we all started to jump alongside each other up and down the corridor, until eventually we were led into the playroom.

 

I saw a CD player there, as we were all sat down carefully, the four teenagers helping us so that our skirts did not cause a problem, and Angela untied our ankles and knees.

 

“I think you two deserve a dance,” Bobby said as he helped me to stand, and Colin Louise, before Jenny started the player and we heard The Blue Danube.  Bobby held me by my arms, bowed, and then started to dance with me, Colin leading Louise round the room as we turned and spun, the skirts rising up like spinning tops while we did so.

 

We were then passed back to Jenny and Angela as they took Cassie and Suzie, Bobby smiling at Cassie while we were helped to sit down and our ankles and legs re-tied.  They took different pairs round – Patty and Rachel, Hazel and Claire, and then Bobby led Lisa round while Colin took a break.

 

There was something magical about that, before Lisa was re-tied and we were all helped to our feet.  Bobby and Colin bowed to each of us in turn, before Colin turned the music off and they opened the door, allowing us to hop out and along to the top of the stairs.

 

“We’ll go first,” Angela said as she and Jenny headed down.  We stood there, me looking at Bobby and expecting him and his friend to carry us down one by one.

 

“Oh no,” he said as he looked at me, “watch.”  So I did, as Suzie sat herself down and then let out a muffled yelp as she started to slide down the stairs on her skirt.

 

I was amazed at this, and then I realised I did not need to step on the skirt going down if I was careful.  So I watched the other stake their turn, and then Bobby and Colin helped me to sit on the top step.

 

I took it a bit more slowly, but it was fun as I slid majestically down, Angela catching me at the bottom and helping me to stand so that I could hop over and join the others.  Louise came next and then Lisa, slowly bumping herself down as she looked round.

 

“There we go,” Angela said as Lisa reached the bottom and helped her to stand up.  As she did so, Mrs Bridges appeared and whispered into Bobby’s ear.

 

“Lunch time,” he said, “let’s go into the library and untie you all.”

 

So that’s what we did – we jumped in, had the ropes from our upper bodies and gags removed, and then jumped into the dining room where Lord and Lady Holderness were waiting.

 

“Hello Hazel, Claire – thank you for coming today,” Lady Holderness said as we sat down, moving the skirts with our hands as we did so, and then our bodies tied to the chair backs.

 

“Thank you for inviting us,” they both said before we started to eat.  We told Lord Holderness all about the games that day, and when he heard about the waltzing he looked over at Bobby.

 

“Unfortunately, because of what happened we are not having a July Ball this year,” he said, “But it occurs to us that Alicia’s birthday is coming up soon.  Perhaps we should plan something for her?”

 

“That might be an idea,” Angela said, “especially as I should hear my results at about the same time.”

 

“A reason for double celebration then,” Lady Holderness said with a smile.

 

“Hopefully – but yeah, let’s do that.  Want to talk to Mum and Dad about it tomorrow?”

 

“I think so,” Lady Holderness said as the pudding was brought in.

 

 

After Lunch was finished, Bobby and Colin untied Suzie, Cassie and Lisa, and they went off to the bathroom while Angela and Jenny left the room.  A few minutes later, Hazel and Claire were allowed to walk out, and then it was the turn of Louise and me.

 

We went to the toilet, washed our hands, and then came out to find the boys waiting with sponges, tapes and socks.  “Enjoying it so far,” Louise said as we allowed them to cover our hands.

 

“Actually, I am – how about you?”

 

“Hopping around today was a bit scary at first, but I soon got used to it.  Sliding down those stairs though – it was like being on a helter skelter.”

 

“A very bumpy one,” I said as Bobby taped the socks to my arms.

 

“In here now,” he said as he escorted us into the library, and we saw the others sitting round, already tied while Alicia and Jenny were gagging Hazel and Claire.

 

Once we were all silenced and bound, Angela said “The boys gave you a dance earlier, and you heard our grandparents talking about the July Ball.  Would you like to see a film of last year’s?”

 

We both nodded our heads, as did Lisa, as Jenny started the DVD player and we settled down.  We could see the Manor house, but it looked very different with the marquee up and the cars arriving.

 

I looked on as the others all arrived in their gowns and suits, to be met by the Holderness Family.

 

“That’s Alicia,” Bobby said as I looked at the dark haired girl standing next to Angela, “you’ll meet her tomorrow, as well as her mum and dad.”

 

“Wrrntthrrrfr,” Lisa said as she nodded to the others.

 

“There’s Mary and Cathy, my friends,” Jenny said, “and that is Colin’s parents.”

 

When I saw the man, I realised where I had heard the name before – Detective Superintendant Barry Hampton from the local police. 

 

“Thrssmnt,” Cassie said as I saw two women walk past the line.

 

“That’s our Aunt Cassie with her partner Jo Frost,” Jenny said, “and that’s Aunt Connie with Dave and Daniel.”

 

We went on like this for a while, as we watched the dancing – and then our eyes popped open wide when we saw the girls dancing again later, only this time bound and gagged in the upper room.

 

“And that’s why we did it with you earlier,” Bobby said as the film eventually ended.  “Now, hide and seek – and Fiona, you’re it.”

 

“Mmmtttt?”

 

“That’s right,” Jenny said as the other girls hopped out, “give them a few minutes to try and hide, and then you go and look for them.  I think Bobby and Colin are out there to help as well.

 

I nodded and practised jumping around the room a bit more, getting more and more confident in my abilities to do so, until Angela looked in and said “Right – on you go.”

 

Now, I may be a kid, but even I know the main point of Hide and Seek is to hide and hope someone does not find you, right?  Well, this must be the easiest game of hide and seek I have ever played.  I mean, it’s not like the girls didn’t find good places to hide – they did, such as when I went into the big room and looked round.  Patty and Rachel had tried to hide behind the curtains at the windows – they came down to the floor, and any other time would have hidden them completely, but with the big skirts we were wearing, the curtains bulged out on each side, so I jumped over and found them.

 

It became more a case of which room had they hidden in then where they were hiding – the white skirt sticking out from under the table gave Cassie away, the way the wardrobe door would not close for Hazel, or the skirt sticking up from the floor and visible over the bed for Suzie – you get the picture.  But it was still fun jumping from room to room and looking for them.

 

By the time I’d gathered them all together, it was dinner time, so we were untied, and allowed to finally take the skirts and high heels off before we all sat down and were tied to the chairs at the dining table.

 

Lord Holderness joined us again, and listened to us all as we told them about playing and jumping about with the long skirts on.  He certainly seemed to be more relaxed and talked with us, even laughing when we talked about the game of hide and seek.

 

“I heard you all jumping about and giggling,” he said with a smile.  “Reminded me of the games I used to play with Olivia and Claire.  When they wore those long skirts and – well, that’s another story.  Angela, perhaps you can tell them the story of the robbers and your great aunts after dinner?”

 

“Of course, grandfather,” Angela said as the dinner plates were taken away.  “Perhaps they should all get changed for bed before hand, just in case…”

 

“A very good idea,” Lady Holderness said.  “After dinner, girls, go and get ready for bed, and then come down to the library.”

 

Well, once we had finished dinner, we all went upstairs and got into our pyjamas and nightdresses.  Hazel and Claire were staying as well, so they went to one of the spare bedrooms, and changed while I put on my pyjamas.

 

“What sort of story do you think they are going to tell,” Louise said as we sat on our beds. 

 

“Who knows,” I said as I pulled my top down, but let’s go and find out.”

 

When we got into the library, Angela was sitting in a wooden chair, everyone else sat round her, so we took our places and waited.

 

“Bobby, the lights please,” she said, and as Bobby turned the lights off the only illumination was the candles on the fireplace, and the light from the torch Angela was shining under her chin.

 

“Now, this story took place in this very house, but many years ago, when my grandfather was a young boy.  He has two sister – we call them now Great Aunt Olivia and Great Aunt Clare, and at that time they lived with grandfather, and their parents, here in this house.

 

“Now, one Friday night he and his father were out, leaving Olivia and Clare alone with their mother.  This was in the last spring, so it was still light at about eight o’clock, as the two girls came running up from the trees and into the house.

 

“When they came in, they called out to their mother, but there wasn’t a reply.  They weren’t too bothered about that – they thought she was probably upstairs – so they got a drink and had it in the kitchen.  Clare was wearing a sleeveless white blouse and a pair of what they called Capri pants – a bit like leggings, but they were proper trousers which came to just below your knee.  As for Olivia, she had on a white short sleeved sundress, while both of them wore plimsolls.

 

“Anyway, they finished their drinks, and came down towards this room, thinking that their mother was sitting in here reading.  Well, they were half right – their mother was indeed sitting in here, but she was not reading.  They came in to find her sitting where I am now, but she had her wrists tied together in front of her with twine, and the twine had been taken down and used to tie her ankles together as well.

 

“She also had a strip of brown sticking plaster stuck over her mouth, and behind her was a man dressed in black, with his hand on her shoulder.  The two girls screamed, but before they could do anything else a large hand was clamped over their mouths, and someone behind them said ‘What are we going to do with them?’

 

“’Keep them quiet,’ the first man said, and the two girls watched as he came forward, with a ball of twine in his hands.  ‘Not a word,’ he said to Olivia as he tied her wrists together in front of her first, and then stuck a strip of the plaster over her mouth as the hand was taken away.  Clare could only watch as he walked her over to that couch, made her lie on her back and then tied her ankles with the twine, before he did the same to Olivia and laid her on the other couch.

 

“Their mother was wearing a green coat dress, with a white belt around her waist, and white heels, but right then what she was wearing was not what bothered her the most.  It was what the men intended to do to Olivia and Clare, as the one who had stood behind her said ‘Right – tell us how to open the safe, or they get hurt.’

 

“She mumbled something, trying to tell them she did not know how to open the safe, but that seemed to annoy the two men even more.  The curtains had been drawn over the windows, so it was dim, but the sunlight was still coming through.  She screamed as one of them went to hit Olivia – and then the room went dark, and cold.

 

“The two girls looked at their mother, who was staring at the door over there.  It had been left open when the girls had come in, but it now had a strange glowing light standing in the gap.  The light seemed to step forward, and it became a man – a man who looked at the two intruders.

 

“Olivia and Clare looked at their mother, their eyes wide open, but she just looked at them and nodded as the two men watched the light, before they turned and ran out of the room in fear.  The white glowing man then looked at both of the girls and smiled, before the room suddenly went dark.

 

“When the light came on again, all three of them were free, the twine and plaster strips on the floor – and that was when they were told the story of The Holderness Shadow.”

 

“Wow,” Louise said, “who was the man?”

 

“Well,” Angela said, “we have to go back over two centuries…”  She started to tell the story, but I realised I was getting more and more tired, as I slowly went to sleep…

 

 

 

 

I woke up on Sunday morning to find myself lying on my bed, my wrists and ankles taped and the tape over my mouth.  I looked over to see Patty cutting Louise free.

 

“Hey sleepy head,” she said as she looked at me, “Angela carried you up last night.  You missed some great stories.”  She came over and cut me loose as well, before she said “Come down for breakfast now – you can come back up, wash and change afterwards.”

 

“Sunday and we don’t have to dress for breakfast,” Louise said as I stretched out, and saw it was seven in the morning.  Smiling, I got up and walked down with her, to find Hazel and Claire already sitting at the table.  They didn’t tie us to the chairs this morning, but we were joined by Lady Holderness in her dressing gown.

 

“We’re having a little lunch for Desmond,” she said as she looked at us, “and a few friends will be joining us.  You’ll find your good dresses laid out for you on your beds when you go up.”

 

“So this is a formal Sunday, grandmother,” Cassie said as she sipped her apple juice.

 

“In a way – but first, you need to get ready.  And you need to finish eating.”

 

Once we had finished, we went upstairs and into our bedrooms.  Lady Holderness had been right – laid out on my bed was my yellow puff sleeved party dress, white stockings and shoes.  Louise had a long sleeved grey jersey dress with a thin black belt, black stockings and shoes.

 

“Any idea what we’re going to be doing before lunch,” I said as I put my socks on.

 

“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fun,” Louise said as she opened the bedroom door – only to say “Hi Bobby.”

 

“Good morning,” he said as he came in, wearing a blue shirt and grey trousers.  “I need to get both of you ready, so please, hold these.”  He held out some sponges, Louise and I looking at each other and laughing as we watched him tape and cover our hands with socks.

 

“I guess its ropes next,” Louise said as she turned round, and I followed suit, but instead of feeling rope we heard some metallic clicks, and when I looked at Louise I saw her wrists were held behind her back with handcuffs!

 

“Why,” I said as I looked at Bobby, but he just smiled and said “you’ll see – come with me.”  He led us down to the living room, and then opened the door so that we could walk in.

 

“Good morning,” Angela said as we came in.  She was wearing a knee length cream dress, with short sleeves and a rose print on it, the skirt flowing from her belted waist to below her knees.  Jenny was also there, wearing a black coat dress with white polka dots that came to her knees, dark tights and leather shoes.

 

There was another girl there as well – she looked to be the same age as Jenny, with shoulder length black hair, and was wearing a green dress with a square collar and elbow length sleeves.  The skirt of her dress came to just below her knees, and she wore green suede shoes.

 

“Fiona, Louise,” Jenny said, “I’d like you to meet Angela’s sister Angela.  Angela, these are Patty and Louise’s friends Fiona and Louise.”

 

“Great to meet you,” Alicia said as she and Jenny picked up two wide leather belts.  “Now, stand still for a moment.”  We waited as they wrapped the belts around our arms and chest, and pulled them into our sides, before they fastened a second thinner one around our waists and wrists.  It was very tight, but we could still walk over and sit down as they tied our ankles and legs with ropes as usual.

 

As we moved our bodies round, Patty and Rachel came in wearing their dresses.  As Jenny and Alicia used belts on them as well, Angela pushed cloths into our mouths, tied a thin length of towelling between our legs, and then wrapped the white tape around our heads.

 

The same thing happened to the others as they came in, their hands covered, their wrists cuffed, belts around their bodies and waist and then their legs tied before the gags were applied.  As I saw the clock approach ten, we were all sitting in the chairs, facing the biggest television I had ever seen.

 

“Now,” Angela said as she looked along the line of use, only our noses and eyes visible under the scarves, “are we ready?”

 

“Not quite,” Jenny said with a smile, “can we be prepared as well?”

 

I stared, wide-eyed at both her and Alicia as Angela said “sure – Bobby, give me a hand please.”

 

We all watched as the two older girls had their hands covered, and then they were secured in the same way as us, sitting either side of the row as Bobby and Angela gagged both of them.

 

“Dtthtdthdfftn,” I mumbled as I looked at Patty.

 

“Ththhtsss,” she replied as Angela turned the television on.  “We feel it is important you have a normal Sunday, so here goes…”

 

She tuned to a channel showing a church service, just as the congregation were starting to settle, and then sat with Bobby as the service started.  I don’t normally go to church, but I knew Louise did as well as the others, so I did what they did – standing when they stood, sitting when they sat, and then the words of the songs came up – and everyone started to sing along as well, so I joined in.  It sounded really funny, what we could hear, and I actually realised I was enjoying it immensely – even if the man talking seemed to go on for a long, long time.

 

There were even some songs with actions, and the others started jumping about, the skirts of their dresses – or in the case of Hazel and Claire, their knee length blue skirts that matched their blouses – moving as they jumped about.

 

Once the service had finished, Bobby stuck on a Scooby Doo DVD, and we all sat and watched the film as well as the cartoons that were also on that disk.  I could feel my tummy beginning to grumble, however, and I was wondering how much longer we were going to be here before we had lunch.

 

I could also hear people coming past the room, and I wondered just how many people were going to be there – but eventually, Angela untied and ungagged Alicia and Jenny, who began to release the rest of us.

 

“Stretch yourselves out, rub yourselves down,” she said with a smile, “and then come with me.”

 

“Can I ask you a question, Angela,” I said as Louise and I stood up.

 

“Of coooourse,” she said as she gasped slightly, “what is it?”

 

“Why did you use belts instead of ropes this morning?”

 

“Ah – well, you see, with some people here for dinner, we don’t want them to see any rope marks, do we?”

 

“How many people?”

 

“Come and see,” she said as she opened the door and we all walked out…

 

I don’t think I have ever seen so many people as I did that afternoon.  The main room, the ball room, had been so empty all weekend, and now it was teeming with people in suits and dresses, all talking and laughing.

 

“What’s going on,” I said quietly as Angela looked at us.

 

“Well,” she said “Grandmother and Grandfather though they should celebrate his recovery, so they asked a few old friends and newer ones round for lunch.  I think just about everybody is going to be here – including your parents.

 

“Which is why we used belts instead of ropes today – avoids awkward questions.  Speaking of which…”

 

“Mister and Mrs Kerr, thank you for coming,” Lady Holderness said as she greeted Mum and Dad!  Mum was in a grey short sleeved dress with a green floral print, while Dad wore a light suit, shirt and tie.

 

“Thank you for inviting us,” Dad said as he shook Lord Holderness’ hand, “and for looking after Fiona for us.  I hope she hasn’t caused any trouble?”

 

“Not at all – she has been a very well behaved young girl,” Lord Holderness said as he winked at me, and Louise went up to hug her dad.

 

“Hey kiddo,” Mister Hobson said as he hugged her back, “quite a gathering.  Think I’ll fit in?”

 

“Jack?”

 

“John Craig?  I didn’t know you knew this lot!”

 

“Old friends, come and join me and Jennifer,” Mister Craig said as he took Louise’s dad with him.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mister Bridges called out, “Luncheon is served in the tented area outside.”

 

We made our way out to the big marquee and sat with Patty, Rachel and Suzie at one of the tables with Patty’s mum and Rachel’s parents.  Patty was wearing a yellow sundress with short sleeves and a white belt, while Suzie’s blue and yellow checked pinafore dress came to just below her knees.  Rachel was wearing a blue pinafore dress over a short sleeved white blouse.

 

“So, can you recognise anyone from the films,” Suzie said as she looked at me and Louise.

 

“Well,” I said, “I’m guessing that Jenny and Cassie are with her aunts – Cassie, Connie and Jo, right?”

 

“That’s right,” Suzie said, “the tall guy next to their Aunt Connie is their Uncle Dave, and the little lad in the highchair with them is Danny.”

 

“She looks like there’s another baby on the way,” Louise said as she looked at Connie.

 

“End of the year, I think – and she’s not the only one expecting,” Suzie said as she looked over to where her brother was sitting with her mum and dad.  I could see the little bump in her mum’s tummy as well, as they sat talking to another family.

 

“I recognise him,” I said as I looked at the lad sitting with them, “that’s his cousin Tommy isn’t it?  Lives up north.”

 

“Up north for you is down south for me, remember,” Patty said with a smile, “but yeah, that’s Tommy.”  She had a funny look in her eyes as she glanced over, Louise noticing it at the same time as me.

 

“Oh yeah?  Tommy is it?  Anything you want to share, Patricia?”

 

“No,” Patty said, but she was blushing.  Mind you, so was Suzie as she looked at another table, where Alicia was sitting with three other families.

 

“Recognise any of the dance partners,” Suzie said as she nudged me.

 

“Let’s see – the tall lad next to Alicia must be Martin, and that’s his parents.  That’s Colin, so I’m guessing those are his parents – but who’s the other boy with them?”

 

“That’s Brian,” Suzie said in a very surprising way – slightly distant, far away, almost as if…

 

 

“You’ve got a crush on him as well, haven’t you?”

 

Suzie just nodded as Louise and I laughed.  We saw Cassie in her light blue dress, which had elbow length sleeves and a pleated skirt, as she talked to her mum and dad and played with two little babies.

 

“David and June,” Rachel said as she looked at them, and then she suddenly had the same glassy eyed look as Charlie walked in with his parents to join Lisa.  Charlie looked over and smiled as he did so, Rachel sighing a little in response.  Lisa was wearing a v-necked white dress with a blue cardigan over the top, the lace skirt coming to just below her knees.

 

“Grub’s up,” Suzie then said as we were brought our lunch.  And what a lunch!!  We started with some cold meats and salads, but I’d never tasted such meats – spicy sausages, salmon, and even something called calamari.  I don’t know what it was, but it tasted nice.

 

We then had a cold soup, before we had what I thought at first was a little chicken breast – but then Suzie told me it was Pheasant.  Whatever it was, it was nice, and it had a lovely thick gravy with it to soak up in the potatoes and mixed veggies.

 

While we were having a cold lemon tart, Suzie said “There’s the love of Angela’s life.”  We all looked over to where Angela was sitting next to a young looking man with sandy hair.

 

“Who is that?”

 

“That’s Eddie – Eddie Holmes.  The girl in the black cocktail dress next to him is his sister Mary – she goes to school with Alicia and Jenny, and those are his parents.  Eddie and Angela are engaged.”

 

“So who’s that talking to Cassie’s aunts now?”

 

I looked at Louise and said “isn’t that Cathy Harmer?  I recognise her from the florists her mum runs – but who’s the other lady in the trouser suit?”

 

“That’s her mum,” Rachel said.  I looked at her and said “She has two mums?”

 

“Why not?  At least she has a mum,” Louise said quietly.  I’d forgotten how she felt about mums, so I gave her a big hug and said “Sorry – you still miss her don’t you?”

 

Louise nodded and wiped her eyes with her hankie, before we heard Lord Holderness say “Enjoying yourselves girls?”

 

“Very much so,” we said as he hugged his granddaughter.  We then heard a couple at another table call out “Desmond!” and he said “excuse me” before walking over.

 

“He does seem happy today,” I said to Suzie as she looked at him walking off.

 

“Yeah, he is,” she said with a big smile.  “Come on – I’ll introduce you to the others.”

 

We spent the next half hour or so meeting the people we didn’t know already, but I noticed some of the boys disappearing off. 

 

“Fiona, Louise, can we see you for a minute?”

 

We went over to join our parents, who were standing at the big glass windows that went into the house.

 

“I’m afraid we have to go now,” mum said, “but we’ll come and pick you up on Tuesday, all right?”

 

Nodding, we gave them both a great big hug and then went to the front door with them, waving them away as they drove off.

 

“Hey,” Cassie said as we came back to the tent, holding her little sister by the hands as she tried to walk round, “Rachel went off to look for you two.  I’m sure she’ll be around somewhere.”

 

Sitting down, we watched Cassie as Louise said “You know what I’m finding weird about all this?”

 

“What?”

 

“I can’t help wondering if we’re going to end up in the ropes again today.”

 

“You’re really beginning to like it, aren’t you?”

 

“That obvious,” Louise said before we walked back into the house.  Walking down the corridor, we stopped to look at the first of the portraits.

 

“He’s meant to be that ghost you heard about last night – the Shadow.”

 

“Nice looking man,” I said as I looked at him.

 

“Yeah isn’t he jusmmmgmgwshsgngngnnn”

 

The change in Louise’s voice was echoed by me, as we felt a hand over our mouths and were walked backwards, and then up the stairs.  We had been told that was off limits, but obviously something was planned, as we were walked into the playroom.

 

“Hello you two,” Bobby said as he looked round, “I see you found them.”

 

“We sure did,” a boy said from behind me as I looked round.  I recognised Colin, as well as Martin and the young man called Eddie.

 

“Gssursqhnnnswrd,” I said to Louise as we both looked at Claire and Rachel.  Both girls were tightly bound with bands of rope, and their heads were covered in scarves that obviously held other things in place.

 

“I guess I should do some introductions,” Bobby said.  “Guys, meet Rachel and Patty’s friend, Louise and Fiona.  Girls, this is Alicia’s boyfriend Martin, and Angela’s fiancé Eddie.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you both,” Eddie said, and he smiled – a nice smile.  “The two reprobates behind you are Colin’s cousin Brian, and Bobby’s cousin Tommy.”

 

“We heard you two relay like to play tie-up games,” the boy behind me said.  “I’m Brian, and I want to see if I am as good as the girls now – if you’ll let me?”

 

“Whfhfachs?”

 

“Sffnnweee,” Rachel giggled as the hand was taken away from my mouth.

 

“Sorry – so, will you let us?”

 

“Do we have a choice,” Louise said as Tommy came round and looked at her.

 

“Nope – hands out please.”

 

“And as for you two,” Bobby said as Brian and Tommy covered our hands, “You know what we do to those who tell tales, right?”

 

“HNNNNNNNNEE!” they both squealed as they were tickled by Bobby, Colin and Martin, while we were bound the same way as them.  We didn’t have the extra band of rope above our chest and around our shoulders, but I guess that was because it was the boys.

 

A few minutes later, we were sitting next to the other two, our mouths filled with cloths and knotted strips of towel, the tape around our mouths, and then scarves over our heads and tied under our chins.

 

“Who’s next,” Bobby said as Tommy and Brian tied our ankles together, and then lifted our skirts up to tie our legs together below our knees.

 

“We are,” Colin said as he and Eddie slipped out, returning a few minutes later with their hands over the mouths of Jenny and Angela.

 

The big shock to me was Angela.  I’d seen Jenny in the belts earlier, and I knew Colin was her boyfriend, so watch

 

The great and powerful teacher was smiling as Eddie tied her hands behind her back, and her arms to her sides, and enjoying every moment of it as she smiled and hummed to herself.  She was a completely different person as she was slowly immobilized and looked as if she was the same age as us.

 

The really funny thing was as she sat down, after Eddie had gagged her in the same way as the rest of us, and her iPhone went off.  She started wriggling round and laughing under her gag, so that Eddie had to hold her legs as he tied her ankles and knees together, and her eyes were wide open, sparkling even as she twisted round next to us.

 

Two by two they were brought in – Mary and Patty, Cassie and Hazel, Suzie and Alicia, and finally Lisa and Cathy.  As we ran out of seats, the girls were sat on the floor, until all fourteen of us were tightly bound, almost silenced, and looking up at the boys.

 

“Now then” Bobby said, “doubtless you’re wondering why we brought you up here?”

 

“Tssttrhlst,” Cassie said as she looked at him.

 

“Well, it’s ridiculously simple,” Colin said with a smile, “We’re going to have a race off.  All of you – well, not Angela.  For one thing, she’d beat you all hands down.”

 

“Mntsshrhrr,” Angela said as she wriggled round.

 

“Anyway – your carriages await,” Bobby said as one by one we were taken down a back staircase, and outside, before we were put in pairs into wheelbarrows with cushions in them, and then pushed towards the trees…

 

We giggled as the boys pushed us along the side of the lawn and down a path we hadn’t seen before – one that brought us out at the far side of a glade by a lake.  We were rolled down to a flat part, and then helped to sit on some blankets that Bobby laid out.

 

“Now,” Bobby said, “it’s a nice simple race between the two lengths of rope Colin and Brian are laying out over there.  You’ll race each other in pairs, and then we have a race-off to see who the best of the three age groups is.  We’ll run beside you to make sure nobody gets hurt.”

 

“Mggnawshshsmmmmmmm,” Angela said as Eddie sat with her.  She had her eyes closed for a moment, her head resting on Eddie’s shoulder, and she looked – happy.  Very very happy as she wriggled and giggled – and yet Eddie wasn’t tickling her.

 

“Okay – Patty and Rachel, you’re up first.”

 

Charlie and Tommy helped both of them to stand up and hop over to the start line, as Bobby said “on your marks…  Get Set…  GO!”

 

We cheered them on as they jumped across the grass, their skirts rising with each jump, but Patty was easily the winner.  The two boys then helped Louise and me to jump to the start line, the two of us looking at each other over the scarves covering our mouths,

 

“GO!!!”

 

We set off across the lawn, hearing the others cheering us – well, muffled encouragement as we jumped across the grass.  We were matching each other bounce for bounce, as Bobby and Colin followed us along, that finish line getting even closer.

 

As we got closer, I closed my eyes and give one last big jump, but when I landed I felt myself tipping forward.

 

“Got you,” I heard Bobby say, and when I opened my eyes I saw I had crossed the line first!

 

“Wlldnn,” Louise said as we were helped to hop back, Cassie and Suzie jumping to the start line.  As I panted through my nose, I watched them having as close a race as we did, their skirts flowing and jumping up and down, before Suzie won with her last jump.  Hazel and Claire then raced, Hazel beating her sister easily.

 

We then had the older girls racing off – Jenny against Alicia, and Mary against Cathy.  Jenny just beat Alicia, and Mary – well Cathy fell a couple of times, and if you fell before the finish you had to count to ten, so it was no contest really.

 

I glanced over to see that Eddie was untying Angela, allowing her to rest after he removed each rope.  I thought that was rather nice of him – he obviously was tickling her somehow, given her giggles.

 

“Cmnnfeenenwrppp.”

 

I heard Patty talking, and then saw she was on her feet, as Brian helped me up and we headed to the start line.  Bobby stood at the side as we looked at each other, and then shouted “GO!!!”

 

 

I thought I was getting better at hopping round, but Patty showed me I still had a lot to learn, as she easily beat me in the race off.  As I finally crossed the line, Eddie came over and said “Behold Patty – Champion of the Ten Year Olds!”

 

Louise, Rachel and I cheered as Patty nodded and was carried back, while Suzie and Lisa went to the start line.  As their race started, Suzie built up a lead over the other girl while we cheered them on, but then she stumbled after a jump and fell over.

 

Bobby managed to catch her, but he had to count to ten – giving Lisa enough time to come level, and then to stay ahead of Suzie by just enough to win!  That meant Lisa would have to race once more against Hazel.

 

“Wlldndndlseee,” Cassie said as they were helped back and sat down, all of us watching as Jenny rather easily beat Mary in the other race.  “Behold Jenny – Champion of the teenagers,” Eddie said as he carried her back to our cheers, and then it was the last race – Hazel against Lisa.

 

We cheered them on as they started, Hazel taking a narrow lead, but like before, near the end she tripped and was caught by Brian – which meant Lisa was the winner!  As she crossed the line, she jumped for joy, as Charlie ran over and hugged her, lifting her off the ground.

 

“And finally Lisa, champion of the twelve year olds,” Eddie said as he carried her back, sitting her with Jenny and Patty as Angela got onto her knees.

 

“Weeeelll done all of you,” she stammered as she looked in a bag, and took out three party hats in the shape of crowns.  Before she could say anything else, however, we heard her phone ring, and she suddenly closed her mouth and looked at all of us in a funny way.  Reaching into her purse, she took the phone out and said “Excuse me” in a high pitched voice, before she answered it.

 

 

We watched her talking quietly, before she put her phone away and very slowly stood up.  She took little steps over, as if something was bothering her, and then said “I crown you all queen of the races,” putting a paper crown on each of their heads as we cheered. “You aaaaalllllllllll….  You all were truly magnieeeficent out there,” she gasped, “and worthy WORTHY winners.”

 

Cassie nudged me and said “shsslrrtt” as we tried hard not to laugh – especially Alicia, who was looking at her sister in a funny way.

 

“Now – would you like to race each other to see who is chameeeon of champions,” Angela said before she started to bite her lower lip.  All three agreed as we went down to watch them, cheering our own champion on as the race began and they jumped over the grassy lawn.

 

Well, it wasn’t really a contest, as Jenny easily beat Patty and Lisa for first place.  Lisa tried her best, but Patty edged her out in the end to take second place, which al three of us cheered about.  Angela then took a toy crown and placed it on Jenny’s head, as the boys went round and untied our ankles – but only our ankles.

 

“All right – I need you to stand here,” Bobby said to me as I faced him, while Colin helped Louise to stand behind me.  I then felt some more rope being tied to my wrists, and looking over my shoulder I saw Bobby tie the end of the length to Louise’s waist, while Rachel stood behind Louise.

 

We formed an Indian line like that – me, Louise, Rachel, Patty, Lisa, Cassie, Suzie, Hazel, Claire, Cathy, Mary, Alicia, and finally Jenny.  Once we had all been connected with ropes, I watched Charlie tie a length of rope to my waist, and then he led me, the others following as the boys walked alongside us, and Angela to the side of me and Louise, around the grassy part and then alongside the lake.

 

“This lake,” Angela said as she stumbled a little, “is part of the Holderness estate, as is the island in the middle.  Do you see… “  She gasped for breath as Charlie looked back, and then slowed a little as Angela shook her head.  “The building on the island, the white one?”

 

“Hmmmm,” Louise and I said as we nodded.

 

“That is the family crypt, where the Lords Holderness and their families are buried.  Perhaps another time, weeeee…”  I watched as she bit her lip, and then said “perhaps we can take you out there to see what it is like, but not today.  Charlie?”

 

“Yes, Angela?”

 

“Leeeead us home,” she gasped out, Charlie nodding as he took us towards a path in the trees near the edge of the lake.  I looked back at Louise, who shrugged her shoulders as we walked through the trees, past a little white cross which Angela explained marked the place where the brother of the first Lord Holderness died, and then through a gap onto the bottom of the lawn.

 

We were soon back in the house, finding it eerily quiet after earlier, before we went into the library.  The ropes connecting us were removed, and we sat down as Angela said “Will one of you ungag Hazel please.”

 

As Tommy removed the scarves and tape, I saw Angela grabbing the back of one of the couches and gripping it as she closed her eyes.  “Hazel,” she eventually said, “Why don’t you tell the others about the day that led to Cassie winning that bravery award?  I…  I need to go and take care of something.”

 

“Sure,” she said as she looked at us, “well, I guess you could say it started when we invited Cassie to come to a pool party with us at the leisure centre…”

 

Angela slipped out of the room after that, as Hazel told us about the party, and the two men who tried to rob the leisure centre, before they went to Pippa’s house for a sleepover, hoe the men had then broken into Pippa’s house and tied them all up, and Cassie and Suzie had made it seem more like a game while at the same time trying to foil the robbers.  As she told the story, I looked at Cassie, who was sitting with Bobby as he put his arm round her shoulder, and at Suzie with Brian hugging her.  I realized how brave she must have been – even with some of the stories Patty had told, I had thought them a little bit over the top, but hearing this?  Maybe they weren’t after all.

 

“… and then the police arrived, we were all released, and – the rest is history.”

 

We would have clapped if we could, but then Mrs Bridges looked in and said “Dinner in fifteen minutes boys.”  The group then untied us all and we went into the dining room, sitting down as we were tied to the chars before Angela came in.

 

She had gone to have a shower, by the looks of things, and was now wearing a short sleeved black dress that buttoned up the front, with a wide brown leather belt and brown shoes.  “That’s better,” she said as she sat down, “I’m starving – and I suspect you lot are as well.”

 

“Yeah I am,” Suzie said as the meal came in, and Lord and Lady Holderness joined us.  They asked us about our afternoon, as Suzie told them all about the races, and then the walk we had been on.

 

“Can I ask a question about the cross on the path?  Why does nothing grow round it?”

 

Lady Holderness looked at me and said “We’re not quite sure, Fiona – it may have something to do with the family legend of the Shadow.  However, it is not true nothing grows there – sometimes, poppies do.”

 

I thought about that – we had learned in school about how poppies were meant to represent lives lost and wars fought, but I wasn’t sure why that was so important here.

 

Anyway, that was soon forgotten when ice cream was brought in, and then Mrs Bridges said “By the way, your ladyship, Claire and Hazel’s parents called to say they would be her at seven thirty.”

 

“Ah,” Lord Holderness said as he wiped his mouth, “then we do not have too long.  Untie the girls, boys, so that they may say their goodbyes.”

 

We waited until we were all untied before we hugged the twins.  “Nice to meet you and Louise finally,” they said as they hugged both of us, “and I hope we see you again some time.”

 

“Let’s go and watch another film,” Angela said eventually as Hazel and Claire came with us to the hallway, and we saw them leave with their mother and father.  As we walked into the sitting room, we had our hands taken behind us and our wrists handcuffed, before we sat down.

 

“No gags tonight,” Angela said as she slipped a DVD in, “this was something Bobby and the girls put together a while back.”

 

We watched the story, with the girls pretending to be princesses who were kidnapped and then rescued by Bobby, laughing along in sympathy with them rather than in a critical or judging thing, and then we all sat back and watched Enchanted.

 

Eventually, however, we were released and had a drink of hot chocolate, before we all made our way upstairs and got ready for bed.  I brushed my teeth, and then went to change as I heard Angela talking to Patty and Rachel.

 

“That really was a fun day,” Louise said as we sat in the chair, waiting for Angela to come in.

 

“Yeah – I never realised the grounds really were that big,” I said, “or they had that lake.  I wonder what it’s like on it.”

 

“I’m not sure – I don’t like graveyards.”

 

I came over and sat with Louise, giving her a great big hug as Angela came in with the roll of tape in her hands.

 

“Sorry I’m a little late,” she said as I went to me bed and we both lay down, “let’s get you both settled…”

 

 

 

 

“Morning, sleepy heads.”

 

I woke up to see Alicia standing over me, while Jenny was freeing Louise.

 

“Breakfast is already on the table, so you two head straight down – we’ll be there in a few minutes.”

 

Louise and I got up and rubbed our eyes, before we walked down and allowed Bobby to tie us to the chairs, while the others came in and were secured in the same way.  It was a little bit cloudy outside, but at least it was dry, and I was wondering what else we would get up to today as we ate our cereal, and then sausages and bacon.

 

“When you get dressed,” Bobby said, “put trainers on as well.”

 

“Why, O brother of mine,” Suzie said.

 

“You’ll see,” Bobby said with a smile, “You’ll see…”

 

I wondered what he meant, but didn’t say anything until we went to get washed.  When I came back into the bedroom, I saw a pair of shorts, a white t-shirt and a pair of socks laid out on the bed.  Louise also had shorts, a t-shirt and socks laid out, but her t-shirt was dark blue.

 

“Hey – are we doing PE like at school,” Louise said as she came in, and looked at the t-shirt.

 

“No idea – let’s get dressed and go down anyway,” I said as I pulled on the t-shirt, shorts and socks, and then a pair of trainers.  Once Louise was ready, we went down to find the others waiting.  Patty and Rachel were already fully tied up and gagged, while Bobby and Tommy were binding the arms of Suzie and Cassie to their sides.

 

“Right,” Tommy said as he came over, and handed us the sponges, “I think you can guess what’s coming next.”

 

“Does this happen every day when you lot come here,” Louise said as she looked at Rachel and Patty, who nodded and said “prttmshss.”

 

“Thsrtt,” Suzie said as they sat down, and watched as we were both tightly bound, while Lisa, Alicia and Jenny came in.  I noticed that Rachel, Lisa and Alicia all had light coloured tops on, while the others wore dark tops – almost as if we were in strips of some type.

 

Once Cathy and Mary had joined us, and we were all securely bound, we sat round, and in at least my case kicked my legs up and down.  The strangest thing was, I was wondering how long it would take them to tie my ankles and legs together – something I would never have dreamed I would look forward to.

 

Eventually, the door opened and Angela came in, wearing a grey tracksuit over a white polo shirt and giggling again.

 

“Soreeee I’m late,” she said as she nearly tripped over, “Bobby?”

 

“We’re just waiting for Brian, Colin and Pippa to get here,” Bobby said, “and then you’re going to show the England team that football is not that hard a game to play.”

 

“Wrggngntpllfftbl?” Jenny said as she looked at Alicia, and I swear they were both smiling as well.

 

“Two teams, split by top colour,” Tommy said, “and you’ll be able to run freely – but I think handballs may be a moot point.”

 

Pippa then came in, and said “Hey – sorry I wasn’t here for the last couple of days.”  She was wearing a black t-shirt and shorts, and put a small bag on the floor as Colin and Brian came in behind her.

 

“Okay – we’ll go out to the lawn, where we’ve got some goals set up,” Bobby continued as Tommy started to bind Pippa’s arms.  “Twenty minutes a side, and we’ve mixed the teams up to keep it fair.  I’ll referee, the other boys are on hand to help with trips, and Angela keeps score, right Angie.”

 

“OHHh Yes – sorry, yes, I keep score,” Angela said, and she had the most ridiculous grin on her face.  Alicia was looking at her strangely as well, before Pippa said “Mredeedd,” and twisted her body round.

 

Know what I was most grateful for?  The fact we didn’t have that extra band of rope for this game.  It would have driven me CRAZY!!  Anyway, we all trooped out, and my team gathered around Alicia.

 

“Rhthtt- yngrns mshurjj…”

 

“Whtt…”

 

“Utwwwmtchrshllndloosseee”

 

We all looked at each other and burst out laughing, Alicia shaking her head as she said “llrrt – jsthffnn.”

 

So we lined up – Alicia as captain, with me, Rachel, Lisa, Cassie and Cathy, facing Jenny, Louise, Patty, Suzie, Mary and Pippa.

 

Bobby blew the whistle as Angela sat giggling on a carpet, and the tournament was underway!

 

We had to rely on watching what was going on rather than talking.  What I realised fairly quickly is that Alicia was pretty good, and Cathy wasn’t bad – and neither were Jenny and Mary.  The rest of us played as best we could, with Suzie and Cassie in goals, and by the end of the first game my team had won two-nil!

 

“All right,” Bobby said, “rest before the next game, and pick new goalkeepers.”

 

“Fseneneurpp,” Alicia said as she looked at me, panting like the rest of us.  I nodded as we all got our breath back, and then we took up positions at the other end of the pitch.

 

Bobby blew the whistle, and we were off again, Angela leading our team in a charge to try and score against Patty in the other goal.  They nearly did as well, but Patty managed to kick the ball towards me – and Jenny then scored before I could dive over and stop her.

 

“Nice try,” Tommy said as he helped me up, and the game kicked off again.

 

Well, it was a close game, but we lost that one one-nil, and as we rested Bobby said “We need a decider.”

 

“Yeeeeesss we do,” Angela called out.  “Captains in goal!”

 

Once we had our breath back, we lined up for the final game.  The forty minutes seemed to fly by, until near the end Patty managed to break free, run past Rachel, before she scored against Alicia!

 

Angela fell over laughing as she did, while Alicia just stood and shook her head.

 

We lined up for the kickoff again, and we tried our very very best, but it was no use – Bobby blew the whistle, and we had lost not just the game, but the series as well!

 

“Well done, Jenny’s team,” Angela said as she got onto her knees and then stood up, “and commiserations to Alicia’s team.  You both played very well.”

 

“Indeed they did,” Bobby said as he patted Alicia and the rest of us on the back, while we walked back up to the house, “but I am afraid you did lose, and therefore you must pay the forfeit.”

 

“Frffeett?  WhtffrreeeEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKK”

 

We soon found out, as Bobby and the other boys started to bombard the six of us with water balloons!  We tried to run away, but it was no use, as they rained bomb after bomb down on us until we were all soaking wet.

 

Even Angela could not save us – she was too busy giggling over something else, until Bobby said “all right, enough – untie them, and let them al go to get washed and changed.”

 

“Fnkssbnsh,” Alicia said as she was untied, but she was smiling – we all were as we went back upstairs and headed for the showers again.

 

I have to say, the warm water felt SO GOOD!!!  I stood under the shower for a few minutes, and then came out, drying myself off as I came back into the room.  Louise was buttoning up her short sleeved white blouse, which she was wearing over a knee length denim skirt.

 

I picked up the pale green sundress and slipped it on, before I sat down to put on my socks and shoes.  “I suppose everyone is going to dress the same again,” I said as we went downstairs.

 

We were almost right.  Patty was wearing a green smock top and a layered pink and blue denim skirt, while Rachel had on a white dress with elbow length sleeves. 

 

Suzie, Cassie, Lisa and Pippa all had on pinafore dresses that came to just below their knees, and t-shirts underneath.  Alicia had on a knee length grey skirt with a short sleeved blouse, while Jenny was wearing a denim dress and a white jumper underneath.

 

Finally, Mary was wearing a black dress with white buttons up the front, and Cathy a red jumper and skirt.

 

“Go on, sit down,” Bobby said to both of us, as once again we were tied by our waists, and Angela came in, walking slowly as she sat down.

 

“Girls, I’m afraid Alicia, Mary and Cathy need to go after lunch,” she said, nodding as we groaned. 

 

“Hi,” I heard Mr Bowden sat as he came in with Lord and Lady Holderness.  “Sorry, girls, but we need Alicia at home this afternoon, and the other two are needed elsewhere.”

 

“It’s been a blast though,” Mary said as lunch was brought out, “and I’m glad we could be here for a while.”

 

“How are you doing, Angela?”

 

She looked at her father, before saying “I’ve really enjoyed this – no problem with me staying until tomorrow?”

 

“None at all,” Mr Bowden said with a raised eyebrow, as he looked at Lord and Lady Holderness.

 

“Don’t ask me,” Lady Holderness said, but she was smiling as well – which made me think she knew something we didn’t.

 

“I’m going to stick around until later tonight,” Jenny said, “Colin’s dad is going to take me back with Brian and Colin later.”

 

“Do you know if Dad got those tickets?”

 

“He did Cassie – don’t worry, everything is in hand.”

 

I wondered what they were talking about – probably a family thing anyway, so we enjoyed the rest of our lunch as we talked about the game that morning.

 

“Well,” Mr Bowden eventually said, “we need to go now.  You girls ready?”

 

Alicia nodded and pushed her chair back, waiting as she was untied.  “Will you do something for me Dad,” she then said.

 

“Sure – what is it Ali?”

 

“Use some zip ties and clear tape?”

 

“There are some in the store room,” Lady Holderness said, so we watched as he went off and came back with some plastic strips and a roll of clear tape.  Alicia put her hands behind her back, and used one of the strips to hold them together, and then sued another around her ankles.  She then put her lips together and smiled as he tore some clear tape free and covered her mouth.

 

“Back in a minute,” he said as he picked Alicia up in his arms and carried her out, while Colin and Brian untied Mary and Cathy.

 

“Do the same to us, Colin,” Mary said, so they too had their wrists and ankles secured with the plastic strips, and clear tape over their mouths.  “WsNSmmtnggu,” Cathy said as she looked at me and Louise while Mr Bowden carried Mary out, and then returned for her.

 

“Right,” Angela said, “Patty and Louise, I need you to go to the toilet first, and then come to the library.”  She stood up and left with Bobby, while Colin and Brian with Tommy’s help untied the two girls and they left the room.

 

A few minutes later Tommy came back and untied me and Louise, allowing us to go to the downstairs toilet before we went into the library.

 

“I think you know what’s coming,” Bobby said as he handed us the sponge balls, and then he and Colin proceeded to cover our wrists, secure them behind our back, and then tie them to our waist and around our stomach.  They then gave us the full gag – stuffed, cleave gagged, taped, scarves, everything.

 

As Colin tied the scarf under my chin, Tommy came back in.  “Lisa and Pippa just went to the toilet – are they ready?”

 

“They are,” Bobby said, “take them away.”

 

Tommy led us out of the room, across the hallway and down some stairs into a cellar, where we both saw Patty and Rachel lying on the first two of seven cot beds in the large room.  Angela was there, saying “Sit” as she pointed to the next two cot beds.

 

As we sat down, she tied that annoying/exhilarating extra rope around our upper arms, while Tommy tied our ankles and our legs below our knees.  We were then made to lie on the beds, as our ankles were tied to the foot of the bed.

 

We had to watch in silence, wondering what was going on as Pippa and Lisa came down, and finally Jenny.  All seven of us lay on the cot beds as Angela said “Patty may have told you about the time they were all ‘kidnapped’ and held hostage before a big party.

 

“The thing is, this game basically involves you seven – doing nothing.  You are our captives,” Angela said as Bobby and Colin came in, “and you had better behave, or we may have to torture you.”

 

I looked at Patty as she raised her head and nodded at both of us, while Bobby set up a board game on the table.  “Now behave,” she said as the four of them sat round and started to play the game.

 

And what could we do, except try to talk quietly to each other, and lie there – totally bored out of our minds?

 

The short answer was – nothing, as we tried to make the best of it.

 

After the last three days, to spend time like this, having to lie still and not jump around, seemed like a complete anti-climax.  I looked over to Louise, who was wriggling round on the bed, and she stared back at me.

 

“You two need to keep still,” Angela said as she looked over from the table, “or I will take steps to make sure you keep still.”

 

“llrtt,” I mumbled as we lay still, looking at the others who all seemed to be making the best of it, the minutes ticking by into hours, watching our guards as they finished their game, and then played cards.

 

Every so often one of the boys walked amongst us, tickling our ribs or making fun of us, calling us names.  I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed what they were doing, the tedium settling in again soon after.

 

The most relief came when buckets of fried chicken and fries were brought down to the cellar, and we were all sat up and ungagged as Angela and the boys took turns to feed us and let us drink from cups of soft drink.  We were then all regagged and made to lie down again – all of us except Pippa, who was carried upstairs by Bobby and Colin.  She tried to say goodbye, and I hoped we would meet again one day.

 

We spent another two hours just lying there, before Angela said “Untie their legs – I have an announcement to make.”

 

“Yeah Boss,” Bobby said as the boys untied our ankles and legs, and we were marched in a line up the staircase and into the ball room.

 

“Right, I have some news for all of you,” Angela said as she looked at the six of us.  “Your parents have not paid the very reasonable ransom demands, so I am afraid we have no choice but to torture you, and then shoot you.”

 

“WHTHTTTTTT!”

 

“Do it.”

 

We were taken completely by surprise as Brian, Colin, Tommy and Bobby launched a tickle attack on our sides, all of us giggling under the gags as we tried to get out of their way, but it was no use – they just moved from one to the other of us, taking turns with each and every one of us until we all shook our heads.

 

“And now – we shoot you,” Angela said before, for the second time that day, we were soaked as water pistols were fired into our faces.  We tried to run out of the way, but everywhere we turned, another water pistol was fired onto us.

 

“Having fun?”

 

“Oh hi Dad,” Colin said as he looked at the man standing in the doorway, “That time already?”

 

“I’m afraid so – untie Jenny and find her a towel, all right?”

 

“Yeah dad,” Colin said as he ungagged and untied Jenny, then gave her a towel to dry her face.

 

“Right – see you tomorrow kiddo,” she said as she waved to Cassie, and then left with Colin and Brian.

 

“As for you lot,” Angela said, “upstairs please – time to get ready for bed.”

 

 

 

“Last night here,” Louise said as we sat on our beds, “I wonder what it’s going to be like sleeping normally in my own bed again?”

 

“Who knows,” I said with a smile, “but I’m glad we got to spend some time here with the others.  Hey – I wonder if Patty and Rachel would up for a sleepover at my place next weekend.  What do you think?”

 

“You can only ask them,” Louise said, “but better be quick while they can still talk.”  I nodded and went to their room, knocking on the door and saying “Can I come in” as I opened the door.

 

My mouth nearly fell open when I say both Patty and Rachel lying on their beds, tied up just as tightly as they had been all day, except that they only had tape wrapped round their head.

 

“Ohhheee,” Patty said as Angela turned round.

 

“Oh my,” I said quietly, “Are you actually going to sleep like that?”

 

“Actually,” Angela said, “they slept like this last night as well.”

 

“But you said it was unsafe – why are they allowed it?”

 

“I guess it’s because they’ve done it before a few times,” Angela said, “all of them have.  But this is still new for you, so we decided to go easy, if you like.”

 

“Well,” I said as I looked at them settling in, “I think Louise and I would like to do the same thing tonight.”

 

Angela raised an eyebrow and said, “Why?”

 

“If Patty and Rachel can do it, so can I and Louise,” I said.

 

Angela looked at me, and then said “I need to talk to you and Louise then.  Good night girls.”

 

“Gnnt,” Patty said as Angela walked me back to the bedroom.  “Did they agree,” Louise said as they came in.

 

“Never mind that - how would you like to sleep tied up as we were all day?”

 

“OH a challenge – accepted,” Louise said with a smile.

 

“All right,” Angela said, “but there are some things you need to know.  You’ll need to sleep in your stomachs or your sides – with your hands covered and tied behind your back, it can be very uncomfortable sleeping on your back with them pressing in.

 

“Also, we don’t use the scarves, but you will have a cloth in your mouth and tape wrapped round your head, so once we’ve done this you really will not be able to speak.  So I hope you understand that.”

 

We both nodded as Angela took two pairs of socks from the set of drawers, and then said “Well, let’s do this then.  Take those sponges and hold them, and I’ll start taping your hands.”

 

Having our hands covered in tape and socks was nothing new by this time, but seeing them taped to our pyjamas and nightshirt was, before Angela tied our wrists together behind our back, and then tied rope around our waist and our forearms to our stomach.

 

As we twisted round, Angela looked at us.  “You saw they girls had the extra band of rope as well,” she finally said, “do you want it too?”

 

Louise and I looked at each other, and both nodded, so Angela tied our upper arms to our bodies around our shoulders, the rope rubbing on me as it had before.  We both sat down as our ankles were tied, and our legs below our knees, before we watched as she folded two cloths.

 

“Open wide,” she said as she pushed the cloths in, and then tied a strip of towel between our teeth before she wrapped white tape tightly round our heads.

 

“Okay,” she said as she helped us to settle down, “See if you can get comfortable, and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”  We both watched as she left the room, and then rolled onto our sides to look at each other.”

 

“Dfrrtntt?”

 

“ysstsss,” I mumbled as I tried to get comfortable, breathing slowly in and out.  Angela had been right about one thing – sleeping on my back was out, but I liked sleeping like that, so this could be a long night.  Having said that, we managed on the cot beds that afternoon, so I hoped I would soon get settled in.

 

After a little while,” Angela came back in and looked at both of us.  “How would you like me to read something,” she said, both of us nodding as she sat down and started reading.

 

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a dirty damp hole…”

 

We both lay still and listened, as my eyes slowly closed…

 

 

 

 

 

“Well well – you two slept like that as well?”

 

I opened my eyes to see Patty and Rachel standing there, Patty in a t-shirt and shorts and Rachel in a blue blouse and skirt.  Nodding, we managed to sit ourselves up as they untied and ungagged us.

 

“Breakfast is ready when you are,” Rachel said as we grabbed our towels and headed for the shower, glad to finally be out of the ropes and tape.  I had enjoyed the experience, but those ropes had irritated me to distraction some of the time.

 

Once I had cleaned up, I put on a blue sundress and some sandals – my choice for once – and went down once Louise had put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.  We came down to find the others already there – but this time we weren’t tied to the chairs.

 

“Good morning, everyone,” Angela said as she came in.  She was wearing a rugby shirt and knee length denim skirt, with denim leggings and tights under them, and she had that funny walk again as she sat down at the table.

 

“So, your last morning,” Lady Holderness said as she came in with Lord Holderness.  “I trust you have all enjoyed yourselves?”

 

“We have,” I said, Louise and Lisa nodding in agreement.

 

“Well I’ve certainly enjoyed having you all here,” Lord Holderness said as he sat down.  He certainly looked a bit happier than he had been when we got there last week, there was a bit more of a spring in his step, if you like.

 

“So what have you enjoyed the most,” Lady Holderness said.

 

“I really liked the party on Sunday – and the race we had after,” Lisa said with a smile.

 

“Mainly because you won,” Cassie said, all of us laughing at that. 

 

“I wondered where you all disappeared to,” Lord Holderness said as Bobby and Tommy came in, and sat down.  “So you went down to the lake?”

 

“That’s right, grandfather,” Angela said as she poured herself some coffee.  “And Lisa won fair and square.”

 

“I liked wearing those funny dresses,” “I said.

 

“The fifties clothes,” Rachel said with a smile.

 

“No – those funny big skirts that covered our legs.  Not being able to see really made it different.”

 

“Yeah, I can see whyyyyyyy….”

 

Angela suddenly put her lips together as we heard her mobile phone go off.  “If you’ll excuse me for a minute,” she said as she literally jumped up and walked quickly out of the room.

 

“Is it just me,” Suzie said, “or has Angie been a bit jumpy this weekend?”

 

“she has certainly been excitable,” Lady Holderness said as she looked at the door, and for a moment I thought I saw her actually smile.  “So we hope you’ll come again sometime – we do like having you here.”

 

A few minutes later, we saw the room door open, and then close again quickly as we heard the phone ring again.  Five minutes later, Angela walked back in, smiling – actually, grinning like the Cheshire Cat as she slowly walked back to the table.

 

“Sorry – college freend,” she said as she sat down, “who then remembered she had forgotten to AAask me something.”

 

She slowly picked up her cup and sipped her coffee.

 

“Now, sometime today you parents will come to collect you,” Lady Holderness said, “but I wonder if you, Fiona and Louise, would be up for a little challenge before you go.”

 

“Oh, and what would that be Your Ladyship?”

 

“To show me how much you have learned – by securing and gagging your teacher.”

 

“Who, us,” Cassie and Suzie said as they looked at Suzie’s grandmother.

 

“No, not this time,” she said with a smile on her face, “I meant Angela.  Unless, of course, she does not feel up to it.”

 

I swear, Angela gave her grandmother the funniest look, before she said “Of course I feeeel up to it.  Shall we go into the library?”

 

“Naturally – Desmond?”

 

“I may sit here a while longer with Bobby and Tommy – I need to ask them something.  You go ahead.”

 

So we got up and went into the front room, where Angela sat down and held her hands out, palms up.  Louise very nervously gave her the sponges to hold, and then we started to tape her fists over, Cassie and Suzie watching us.

 

“Here,” Suzie said then as she handed us a pair of socks, and we pulled them up over Angela’s arms, taping them to her shirt before I crossed her wrists behind her back and started to tie them together, remembering everything she had said about doubling the rope over, and taking the ends between her wrists as well.  As I did this, Louise bent down and crossed her ankles before she took another length of rope and tied them tightly together.

 

“Not bad,” Patty said as she looked at the ropes, “not bad at all.  You okay, Angela.”

 

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” she said as she tried to move her arms and legs.  “Right, rope around the waist and my legs below the knees now.  You can fold the skirt back a little to do that Louise.”

 

I watched while tying the rope around her waist to secure her wrists more, as Louise folded the denim skirt back and wrapped the rope around her legs as well.  Before she had a chance to do much more, however, Angela’s phone started ringing again and she suddenly jerked, the rope slipping from Louise’s hands.

 

“Could you possible answer that, Suzanne,” Lady Holderness said as her husband came in.  Suzie nodded and said “Hello?”

 

“It’s for you,” she then said as she held it next to Angela’s ear.  She glanced at us and then said “Hello?

 

“It’s AAllll right, you just caught me in the middle of something.  What do you need to know?

 

“Yeah all right – I’ll see you on Wednesday.  Bye for now.”

 

As Suzie took the phone away, Angela took a deep breath and then looked at us.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “It’s part of the final challenge if you like, to tie up someone who isn’t sitting quietly.  Be as firm as you want – you won’t hurt me.”

 

So Louise picked up the rope and started to tie her legs together below her knees, while I took more rope and tied her arms to her side under her chest.  We pulled hard, and made sure she was secured in both places the way we had been taught.

 

“Good, very good,” Angela said as he twisted around, and bit her lower lip.  “Now rope around my upper arms.”

 

Louise and I did that together, making sure it held her arms tightly to her sides as we secured it, and the others did an inspection.

 

“They got it right Angela,”

 

“Good,” Angela gasped.  “now, once you have gagged me, I’ll show you how a damsel struggles and…  and calls for help.  It makes the game much more fun, so – please, put a folded scarf in my mouth and let’s get started.”

 

I picked up a small blue scarf, folded it and put it into Angela’s open mouth, while Louise used a length of knotted towelling to keep the packing in there.  She nodded and smiled as I then picked up a roll of white tape, and started to wrap it tightly round her mouth.

 

“Fnnkuuu,” she mumbled as I then tied a folded red scarf over the tape band, and Louise tied a second scarf over her hair and under her chin.

 

“There – I think we’re done,” I said as we both stood back.  Angela nodded, and then shouted out “HLPMMMM” as she lay on her side and struggled in the ropes.

 

 

“Wow – I didn’t know she was this good,” Rachel said as we stood and watched her wriggle round on the couch, and then slide off and onto the floor.  As she did this, the sound of a text message came in, and she suddenly called out “SMBDBDDHLLPPMMMMM” as she wriggled around even more.

 

“She must have been practising,” Suzie said as there was a knock on the door and Mr Bridges came in.

 

“Forgive the interruption, your ladyship,” he said as he glanced at Angela, “but Mister Hobson is here to collect his daughter.  I have her bag in the hallway.”

 

“Time to go,” Louise said as she went round and hugged everyone.  “Thanks for everything – especially you Angela.”

 

Angela nodded as she looked up, and then closed her eyes and called for help again, her legs kicking to and fro.  “You’d beater secure them as well,” Cassie said, so I grabbed her ankles, pulled them back and tied them to her chest ropes, Angela shaking her head while I did this.

 

We all stood and watched as she rolled from side to side, trying to break free but failing,

 

“Mister and Mrs Kerr are here, your ladyship,” Mr Bridges then said, as we heard Angela’s phone ring again and she screamed for help from anyone.

 

“Perhaps we should all leave her to try and escape,” Lady Holderness said as she ushered is out of the room.

 

“Hi Mum, Hi Dad,” I said as I went to hug both of them, and the others went upstairs.

 

“Thank you for allowing Fiona to stay over the weekend,” Dad said as he shook the hand of Lord Holderness.

 

“It was our pleasure, believe me,” His Lordship said in return.  “I like it when the kids come and stay for a while.”

 

“Anyway, we need to get going,” Mum said, and then she said “What is that funny noise?”

 

“Oh, my oldest granddaughter was helping the others with a summer play,” Lady Holderness said with a smile.  “I really need to get back to her.  I hope we see each other again soon.”

 

“Thank you for letting me stay,” I said as Patty called from upstairs “we’ll ring you later!”

 

I then went out with Mum and Dad, as a car drove up and Eddie Holmes got out.  He waved to me as he walked to the house, but I got into the car and drove off.

 

“Did you enjoy the stay, Fiona,” Mum said as she looked back at me.  I just nodded – some things need to be kept secret.

 

For now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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