Wishing On A Star
“All right young lady – you’re going to behave for your babysitters, aren’t you?”
“Oh come on Mum – as if I’d get up to any trouble – especially with Bobby out for the night.”
Mum smiled as Dad helped her on with her coat. It was February 14th – Valentine’s Day, and Mum and Dad were going out for the evening. Mister and Mrs Boyle were visiting the Hobson’s, and Big Bother for some strange reason had decided a night with my best friend was preferable to sitting and keeping an eye on me.
So babysitters had been drafted in – which meant Cathy Harmer was in the front room, as I watched Mum and Dad head out. Mum was wearing a grey maternity top and leggings – her bump really was getting big now.
As the front door closed, Sam Stewart, Mrs Boyle’s younger brother, brought in some bowls of snacks and set them down.
“Wouldn’t you two rather be somewhere else tonight,” I said as I looked at them, “I am thirteen after all.”
“Nice try,” Cathy said with a smile, “but you’re too young, and we’re staying right here. Besides, your cousin is going to get back before your parents, and we definitely need to be here for that.”
I groaned, and tucked my legs under myself while I watched the television. I was wearing jeans and an old sweatshirt – mainly because I’d spent the first half of the day in a dress and heels.
You see, Cassie’s cousin Patty Pickering had had a very unusual experience a week or two back. She and her friend Rachel Rigg – or as Cassie and I call them, The Terror Twins – had somehow ended up being kidnapped off the street, and used by an armed gang to get into a house they wanted to rob.
Yeah, yeah I know – sounds like an episode of a bad kid’s drama series, but that kind of thing actually does happen. At least it did to them – they were tied and gagged, and when the robbers left Patty managed to free herself. Before she could call the police, however, another gang of robbers appeared and held them hostage.
When she told me about that, I have to admit I shivered – especially as her mum had no idea where she was, never mind Rachel’s parents, and doubly so because the second gang was the notorious Jay Edwards gang. Cassie had a habit of meeting him, but touchwood that hasn’t happened for a very long time.
Anyway – upshot was she somehow got free, called the police, and warned them of a second robbery, which meant the first gang got caught, and as a result she and Rachel were each given a police bravery medal this morning.
She then had a big birthday party after that, at the leisure centre, which I was invited to – and I went to the ceremony because Dad is going to be Lord Holderness one day, so we all had to go.
Anyway, Cousin Tommy went off with Patty and her mum, Bobby and the rest of us came back here – and now it’s me, Cathy and Sam. Cathy was wearing a white smock top over a green long sleeved shirt, a long boho style skirt and green tights – very much her style, as we sat and watched the program together.
After a while, though, I was getting bored, and I could hear Cathy and Sam talking to each other. Eventually, Cathy said “Suzie, if we asked you to play a game with us, would you be up to it?”
“Depends on the game,” I said without turning my head.
“Well, if Sam was to pretend to be a burglar, and...”
Well, it would at least break the boredom, so I said “sure – why not? There are some supplies in a box in the back room if you want them.”
I nodded as Sam went out for a few minutes. “It’s a funny feeling, seeing Patty up there today,” I said as I looked at Cathy.
“I can imagine – how’s your mum?”
“Wishing like mad the new baby would arrive, I think,” I said with a smile. She wasn’t the only one, actually – the nursery was ready, and I swear every time Mum said her back was sore, or she felt a bit funny, Dad was almost at the door before she stopped him, bag in hand.
“I can imagine – having Timmy around our place has put a whole different perspective on our family.”
“You like him though?”
“Oh yeah – I love him to pieces, but a boy around the place?”
We both made the international sign of boys with our faces, before Tommy re-appeared, a scarf over the bottom of his head as he pointed a water pistol at us.
“Don’t move,” he said in a really silly deep voice. “I don’t want to hurt you, I just want your valuables.”
“Oh my god,” Cathy said as she put her hands to her mouth, “please, just take what you want and leave us alone.”
“Can’t do that lady – need to make sure you two can’t raise the alarm.” Throwing her some rope, he said “tie the little’s ones hands behind her back and her feet together.”
“It’s all right, just do as he says,” I whispered as I put my hands behind my back, trying not to grin or laugh out loud as Cathy crossed and tied my wrists tightly together, then let me sit on the couch before she tied my ankles tightly together.
“Don’t say a word,” Sam said as he looked at me, and then put a chair from the dining room on the floor facing me, before saying “sit down” to Cathy. As she sat, he took her arms around the chair back, and I watched as he started to tie her wrists together.
“I’ll tell you where everything is,” she said as she looked at me, “just take it and go.” She then gasped as he started to wrap some rope around her upper body, forcing it against the chair back. This was one of the chairs from the dining room, and I knew it had this funny lattice design – so I guessed he was taking the rope through the gaps as he lashed Cathy to the chair.
“There – now to take care of your feet,” he said as he knelt down, and bound Cathy’s ankles tightly together, before he took another length of rope and tied it around her legs, above her knees and gathering the skirt around them as he did so. Once he had that tied off, he took her ankles to one side and tied them to the chair leg.
“You turn little one,” he said then, as he walked over to me and tied my legs tightly together below my knees, and then went to fetch another longer length. “I’m going to tie your arms to your sides,” he said, and as I looked at Cathy she nodded to say it was all right with her, if it was all right with me.
So Sam tied my arms tightly to my sides, the rope going above and below my chest, and I kept very quiet about the fact I loved the way that felt every time somebody did it now.
And I mean really loved it, as Sam helped me to lie on my side, and then rolled up a scarf before tying a knot in it. “Open wide,” he said, and as I did so he pushed the silk knot gently into my mouth, and then tied the band round my head. Walking over to Cathy, he pushed a piece of cloth into her mouth, and then pressed several strips of duct tape over her lips, before he said “don’t move,” and left both of us in the room.
Cathy looked at me, I looked at her, and for a few minutes, we just relaxed. It felt good to be able to do that – and yeah, I know it sounds strange, but I was quite happy just to lie there and enjoy the feeling of the ropes holding me tight.
In my imagination, I saw myself in a bedroom, dressed in a white silk gown, being held captive by a nefarious villain in return for my father, the Lord of the Manor, freeing a prisoner or paying a large ransom.
In my imagination, at the moment when all is lost, the door would be thrown open, or a shadow would appear at the window, and my rescuer would come in, sweeping me up in his arms as he carries me off, my head resting on his chest...
I opened my eyes to see Cathy looking at me, her head to one side, and I suddenly realised I had a little line of saliva running down from my mouth.
I nodded and sat myself up, and then got to my feet, jumping over (and trying not to show how much I was enjoying the ropes rubbing on my chest) and moving behind Cathy on the chair.
Dropping to my knees, I saw he had indeed ran the rope around her and through the lattice, but her wrists were free from the chair, so I moved myself down and positioned myself so that Cathy could run a finger under the silk band, and start to ease the knot out of my mouth.
Sam had actually tied it fairly tightly, so it took a little while, but eventually I said “thanks” as a very dark and wet knot dropped onto my sweatshirt. I took a moment to catch my breath, and then started to work on the knot holding the rope together around her wrists with my teeth.
Eventually, she shook her wrist free and I shuffled over on my knees, picking at where the rope was tied to the side of the chair. As soon as that was free, Cathy pulled the rope away from round herself and motioned for me to make my way round – and as I got into position, she started to untie my arms and wrists.
“Well done,” Cathy said as she pulled the cloth from her mouth, while I untied her legs. “Do you think you can untie your own legs while I find that nasty robber?”
I nodded and bent my legs, taking the ropes off and then standing up before I gathered the cords and started to sort them out. I could hear Cathy and Sam talking in another room, so I left them alone while I put the ropes away, and then cleared the rest of the things away.
“Well, at least that passed an hour or so,” I said quietly as I went back into the room – and saw Tommy standing there, smiling with his head to one side.
“Been playing a game, have we?”
“And what gave you that idea?”
“Oh – the chair in here instead of the dining room, and the piece of tape stuck to the side of the seat?”
“Damn - missed that,” I said with a smile as I picked it up, and put it in the bag with the rest of the things to go in the bin. “How was the film?”
“Great fun – Patty seemed to enjoy it, but she didn’t say much.”
“Patty stayed quiet? How did that happen?”
“May have had something to do with the clear tape and cloth,” Tommy said with a grin as the phone rang. I heard Sam pick it up and say “Wissenden Hall?
“Oh hi Alicia, what’s happening?
“Yeah I got that – we’ll see you in a little while.”
“What’s happened,” I said as Tommy and I went into the hallway.
“Hmm – oh Alicia is coming over for a while. Nothing for you to worry about...”
“Alicia? How’s she feeling?”
“Fully recovered, little one,” Sam said with a smile, “she’s on her way round with Martin.”
I hadn’t seen much of Alicia since Christmas, if truth be told – and that was an experience in and of itself. Not on the same scale as Cassie – she spent almost the entire holiday dressed to the nines and bound and gagged to the fullest extent – but fairly amazing in its own way for me.
Cassie spent a couple of days with me, and as with all the other places she visited I also got dressed up and just as tightly bound and gagged as her – which was great fun. She left just before Christmas Eve, but that night a group of us got dressed up and went carolling with Sam and Cathy and a few others. I even went gagged, alongside Louise Hobson, who I guess is Sam’s cousin in a roundabout way, her new mother been Mr Boyle’s sister.
After that, I guess the only time I saw her over the holidays were out birthday parties – we both turned thirteen over the Christmas break, so Cassie had her party first at the manor house, then I had mine on New Year’s Eve.
And tonight she was off somewhere with Bobby, while I was stuck at home... Brian wasn’t coming for a break with his aunt and uncle until tomorrow, and he’d asked me to go to the pictures with him then – as well as sending me the most wonderful card for Valentine’s Day. I wished he could have been here today, but hey – we can’t always get what we want.
“Look, you two go through to the front room and I’ll see what I can scrounge from the kitchen for some supper,” Cathy said, “how does some toasted cheese sound?”
“If you put some Worcestershire sauce on it, sounds great,” I said as Tommy and I went into the main room, and put the television back on.
“You know Granny’s coming to lunch tomorrow,” he said as we sat down.
“Yup – I hope she brings some of her home made toffee with her.”
“So do I – I love the way she makes it.”
“So how was the heroine of the hour when you left her,” I said as we smelt toast and cheese.
“Tired out but very, very happy – are you going to see her and Rachel over the holidays?”
“I’m not sure – depends if they get in touch or not, or what else might be...”
“Hey there trouble.”
“Hey Ali,” I said as I saw Alicia standing in the doorway, wearing an open necked blouse and slacks. “What brings you other tonight?”
“Martin and I need to talk to Cathy and Sam about something – think the two of you can keep out of mischief in here for a few minutes?”
“Sure,” I said as I watched her turn and walk to the dining room. To look at her, you’d never know that a couple of weeks ago, she and Angela, the BIG cousin, were big parts in helping another family member recover from a really bad virus.
We have an American cousin, Sarah Holderness-Carter, who is married to Brian and has two adorable twin babies called Bart and Sarah. Anyway, she is a little bit unusual, and has on a few occasions helped both my family and that of our friends in the US to get over some bad things that have happened.
Mum and Dad didn’t tell us everything that happened, but from what I could gather Sarah fell really ill, and needed a transfusion or something from both Alicia and Angela. She’s fully recovered now, and went home to the US last week, but I can see Alicia is still a little sore from time to time.
“Here we go,” Sam said as he placed a large plate of cheese on toast in front of us, “eat up – we’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“What do you think they’re planning in there,” Tommy said as Sam went back out.
“No idea, and not particularly bothered either,” I said as I picked up a slice and started to eat it. “Let’s leave them to it...”
Bobby eventually showed up, and as we all headed up to bed we saw Mum and Dad come back in.
“Thanks for babysitting, Cathy,” Mum said as she took her coat off, “Alex will run you home now if you want.”
“Do you two need a lift as well,” Dad said as he looked at Alicia and Martin.
“If you could, that would be great Uncle Alex,” Alicia said as she looked up at us. “Good night, you three.”
“Do you have any idea what they were planning, Bobby,” I said as I walked up the stairs.
“Not a sausage – right now, all I want is my bed,” Bobby said quietly, as we went to our rooms. Lying in my bed, I figured I’d find out eventually – whatever it might be...
“Well now, all my bonnie wee grandchildren in one place,” Granny Jacobs said as we went back into the house after the morning service. I had put on for the day a blue jumper, knee length skirt, dark tights and black short boots, while Bobby and Tommy both had on shirts, jumpers and trousers.
“It’s good of you to agree to stay for a few days, Irene,” Dad said as we sat in the front room, while Mrs Boyle brought through some hot drinks, “especially as it is half term.”
“Well, I need a little holiday myself,” Granny Jacobs said as she looked at Mum and Dad. There was a nagging feeling at the back of my head there was something they weren’t saying, but right now I could not put my finger on what it was.
“So what are we having for lunch,” Mum said as she looked at Mrs Boyle.
“Some roast lamb with vegetables – it should be ready in about thirty minutes,” our housekeeper said as she went back to the kitchen.
“So what work do you have to do over the holidays, Susan,” Granny Jacobs said as she looked at me.
“I’ve got some history and an English essay to do,” I said quietly.
“And you Bobby?”
“A few things – I’ll get them done tomorrow, given Cassie and Jenny are heading into town for a day with their grandmother.”
“Any chance we can head into town this week mum,” I said as I looked at her, and then heard a groan as she held her back.
“We’ll see Susie – no promises,” she said quietly before she picked up her mug and took a drink.
“Okay – are you all right mum?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” she said with a smile, “just baby kicking a bit, that’s all.”
I noticed Granny looking at mum, before Dad said “well, sounds like this is a going to be a lively one.”
Lunch was lovely, but as we went back into the front room Granny Jacobs touched my shoulder and said “would you be up for a little game later, once our food has had a chance to settle down? We’ll get Bobby and Sam to pretend to be robbers, and keep the two of us hidden away somewhere.”
“Yes, I’d like that – if Mum and Dad don’t mind?”
“Oh I don’t think they’ll mind,” Granny Jacobs said with a smile, “let’s just go and have our coffee first.”
So we sat down and had a drink, before Granny Jacobs said “Give me a hand to take these mugs into the kitchen, will you Suzie?” She was wearing a grey cardigan over her brown blouse, and a knee length grey skirt, as well as grey shoes and tights.
So I picked up the mugs, expecting something else to happen – and sure enough, as soon as we put the cups down, I heard Sam say “All right, you two – don’t make a sound, just put your hands behind your back.”
“Who are you,” Granny Jacobs said as she winked at me.
“Never mind – we just need a place to crash for an hour or two, and we need to keep you two out of the way,” I heard Bobby say as he crossed my wrists behind my back, before I felt something different being used to tie them together – some sort of cloth, by the feel of it.
Looking to the side, I saw they had torn up an old sheet, and were using that to bind our wrists, and then around our arms behind our back – not forcing them together, but at least keeping them secured to each other below our elbows.
“Open your mouths,” Bobby said, and as I did so I felt another length of cloth, which had been rolled up into a ball, put inside my mouth, before there was the sound of duct tape being ripped from a roll, and Bobby pressed several strips down over my mouth.
I looked at Granny, who was having her mouth covered by Sam, before we were both escorted out of the kitchen and out to the treehouse, walking up the stairs as we were taken into the larger room, and helped to sit down on two beanbags.
As Bobby put my ankles side by side and started to tie them together with another strip of cloth, Sam turned on the television and the DVD player, while my darling brother secured my ankles and legs, and then did the same thing for Granny.
“We need to keep them quiet while we find something to change into,” Bobby said.
“Wllbqeetthnsstt,” Granny said as she winked at me.
“All right – if you be quiet, we’ll let you watch this,” Sam said as he started the DVD – a really old musical film called The Young Ones. I recognised Cliff Richards in it, as Granny Jacobs nodded and started to sign along to some of the songs.
For my part, I just relaxed and put my head on her chest, listening to her as she gag sang. I didn’t know the words, but she was happy, and so I was happy as well.
It actually was a good film – all about a youth club, and how Cliff’s dad wanted to pull it down for a new building or something. Anyway, we both enjoyed it, but as it came to an end I heard footsteps outside, and looked over, expecting it to be Bobby or Sam come to free us.
So imagine my surprise when the door opened, and Grandma came in, smiling as she looked at both of us.
“Hello Suzanne, Irene,” she said quietly. “I see you’ve been enjoying a film.”
“Gdnndttt – crtjnsss?”
“I may watch another one – but forgive me if...”
“Oh no – another captive.”
“Ah – it appears the miscreants who captured you birth have me as well,” Grandma said as she put her hands behind her back, both of us watching as Bobby and Sam bound her wrists and arms, and then she sat on a third bean bag, Sam gagging her while Bobby tied her ankles and legs. Grandma was wearing a mustard coloured twin set and tartan skirt, with dark tights and brown brogues.
“Phrhhppsssthnxtflm,” she said, Bobby nodding as he started one called Summer Holiday – and this one I knew something about, as I had seen a stage show with the rest of my family before.
So we sat there, me between my two grandmothers, all three of us singing along this time as the first question I had thought of when Grandma came in went unanswered.
Namely, what was she doing here? I hadn’t been told she was coming today, and normally we know well in advance.
It was only half way through the second film that the possible reason came to mind, so I looked at both of them and said “Whrssmm?”
“Lttlultr,” Grandma said as we all started singing along again.
As the film came to an end, the door opened and I smiled under the tape as Brian Hampton looked through the door.
“There you are,” he said as he looked at us, “Ready for something to eat?”
We all nodded as he reached down and peeled the tape away from my mouth, and then gently pulled the sponge out.
“You sticking around for a while,” I said as I looked at him.
“Yeah – if that’s all right with your grandmothers.”
“What does mum say?”
“She’s happy for me to stop for the meal as well,” Brian said with a smile as he started to unite me, and then we both untied Granny and Grandma.
“Your mum just needed some time to rest today,” Grandma said as she stood up, “so she asked the two of us to keep you company. I hope you enjoyed the films.”
“I did,” I said with a smile, “but Mum does seem to need a lot more rest these last few weeks. Is she all right?”
“Yes, she’s fine – she just needs to rest more with the baby due,” Granny said. “Come on – let’s go and get some food. Mrs Boyle has made something really special.”
After we had eaten, Sam, Bobby, Brian and I were playing a game of Monopoly in the dining room, while the grownups were having coffee in the main room.
“Bobby,” I said as I took the rent for Oxford Street from Sam, “can I ask a question?”
“Sure – what is it?”
“When mum was about to give birth to me, was she as tired as she is now?”
Bobby looked at me, and said “Well, I was only two years old at the time, remember? But I do remember our Grans being around a lot, and Dad spending a lot of time talking to them before you arrived.”
“So this is just how Mum deals with waiting?”
“I guess so,” Bobby said as Sam landed on Park Lane, and bought it, “but it won’t be too long now I think.”
“I wish the new baby was here already,” I said with a sigh as I threw the dice, and landed on Community Chest. “It’s my birthday – collect ten pounds from each player.”
“Well, that would be nice,” Bobby said. “What else would you wish for?”
“A makeup date with Brian?”
“Yeah – that I can do,” Brian said as he rubbed the back of his head, “tomorrow afternoon at the pictures?”
“Throw in pizza afterwards and it’s a deal,” I said with a smile.
“If you two have finished sorting out your time together,” Bobby said with a smile, “Sam owes me twenty pounds.”
“Here you go,” Sam said as Brian rolled the dice.
“Personally,” Bobby said as he looked round the table, “I’d settle for a nice, quiet, peaceful week with no major surprises.”
That should have been the clue that whatever else was going to happen, that wasn’t going to be the week we had.
“Good morning,” I said as I came into the dining room, in my favourite hoodie and jeans.
“Hey,” Mum said as she looked over, “you’re up early.”
“I know, but I couldn’t sleep any longer,” I said as I sat down, and filled my bowl with cereal.
“So when’s Brian coming to pick you up?”
“I was going to ask Mr Boyle to drop me off at the cinema – Brian’s uncle will run us back later.”
“Can you take Suzie into town later, Mister Boyle,” Mum asked as he came in, wearing his gardening overalls.
“I think so, I need to prune some of the trees out back – what time?”
“Should be fine,” Mister Boyle said as he smiled at me. I smiled back – and then saw Mum holding her stomach.
“Are you all right, Mum?”
“I’m all right, Suzie,” she said as she looked over, “just a touch of...”
She then moaned again as Dad came in, and took one look at her.
“Mrs Boyle,” he said as our housekeeper came in, “where is the bag?”
“In the hallway,” she said as she looked at Mum, “shall I get Abe?”
“No – I’ll drive,” he said as Bobby came in. “Would you phone my mother and let her know what is happening?”
She nodded as Dad looked at Bobby, and said “it’s time – will you and Suzie be all right?”
“She went out to buy a couple of things, but she shouldn’t be too long,” Dad said as he helped Mum to stand up. “I’ll call when we know more. Suzie – enjoy your film this afternoon.”
“I can cancel if you...”
“No – it’s all right,” Mum said as she looked at me, “you go and have fun with Brian. Maybe Cassie would like to go as well Bobby?”
“I’ll give her and Brian a call,” Bobby said as he went into the hallway, and I followed Mum and Dad to the door.
“Hey Cass,” I heard Bobby say as they drove off, “how do you fancy going to the cinema this afternoon?
“Well, it’s double dating with Brian and Suzie, but there’s a good reason.
“Okay – meet me there at about two thirty. Tell your folks we’re going for pizza afterwards – and tell them Mum and Dad have gone. They’ll understand.”
“Bobby, what’s going on,” I said as he put the phone down.
“Well,” he said as we walked back into the dining room, “I think at some point today, little sis, you’re going to stop being the baby of the family.”
“Did I just see Alex and Susan going down the road in the car,” Granny said as she came into the room.
“You did,” Mrs Boyle said, “would you care for some coffee, Mrs Jacobs?”
“Yes, I think I had better have some,” Granny said, “this could be a long day.”
I was sitting silently, playing with my food, as I thought about what Bobby had said. “Is mum going to be all right,” I asked as I looked at Granny.
“She’s going to be fine,” Granny said as she walked over and rubbed my hair. “Now, don’t you have some work to get done for school?”
“Oh yeah – I guess it would be a good idea to get our homework done, wouldn’t it?”
“Probably,” Bobby said as he looked at me, “I have this strange feeling we may not have much time for the rest of the week.”
“Hey Bobby,” I called over, “how do you do this common factor thing again?”
“Work out the factors for each of the numbers, then find the lowest numbers in common.”
“Thanks,” I said as I completed the rest of the maths assignment, while Bobby made the last of his notes for his English essay. Putting my pen down, I looked at the clock and said “I wonder what’s happening with Mum?”
“Trust me, I don’t think you really want to know,” Bobby said as he stood up and stretched. “You planning to wear that?”
“And what’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“Nothing, nothing,” Bobby said with a smile, “if that’s what you really want Brian to see you in?”
I looked at my big brother, who for some strange reason was actually making sense, and said “Fair point – how long have we got until lunch?”
“I’ll be back,” I said as I ran up the stairs, and then came back down, wearing a blue smock top over a long sleeved black top, black leggings and my mid-length suede boots.
“My my,” Granny said as she saw me walk in, “anyone would think you were going to see your boyfriend today.”
I blushed a little as I sat down, Bobby just shaking his head as Mrs Boyle gave us a plate of sandwiches and a bowl of soup each.
“By the way, Rebecca,” Granny said, “what time is your appointment today?”
“3 o’clock – funny, I’m going to be in one end of the building, while Mr and Mrs Holderness are...”
She then looked at me and Bobby, before she blushed and said “I don’t think their mother has had a chance to tell them yet.”
“Tell them what,” Sam said, and then he looked at us. “Oy vey, don’t tell me...”
“Suzanne, Robert,” Mrs Boyle said as she sat down, “there is going to be another baby in Wissenden Hotel before the end of the year.”
“You mean you’re expecting as well, Mrs Boyle?”
“That’s right,” she said with a smile, “we told your parents last week, and Lady Holderness yesterday, but I guess with everything going on it slipped their mind. I know they would have wanted to tell you, but...”
“So after you drop us off, you’re going to the hospital as well,” Bobby said. “Thanks.”
“For giving you the lift,” Mister Boyle said as he came in.
“No – for telling us,” I said as the telephone rang, and Granny went to answer it. A few minutes later, she came back in and said “Your mum’s fine – your dad will call when there’s any news, but it’s going to be some time yet.”
“Right then,” Bobby said with a smile, “let’s eat up and go see a film.”
“Hey,” Cassie said as we got out of the car. She was wearing a white jumper under a denim dress, brown tights and short boots. “I thought this was a you and Brian thing?”
“Slight change in plans,” Bobby said, “Mum and Dad went off this morning.”
“Oh? OH – now I get it – any word?”
“Not yet,” I said, “was it this bad when the twins arrived?”
“Worse – it was the middle of the night, so we slept through most of it.”
Brian walked over and hogged me as he said “hey – ready for some fun?”
“Sounds good to me,” Cassie said, “let’s go.”
The film itself wasn’t too bad, and after we left the cinema we crossed over the road to Pizza Hut to grab something to eat.
“Hey,” Brian said as he looked at me, “what’s the worried look for?”
“Her mum’s giving birth,” Cassie said as she picked up one of the chicken strips and started eating it.
“Really? That’s amazing – do you think she already has?”
“Nope,” Bobby said as he looked at his phone, “if she had, Dad would have texted me and Suzie. All we can do is wait.”
“I hate waiting,” I said quietly, “it makes me worried.”
“Maybe it was better that I was asleep when mum gave birth to the twins,” Cassie said as she finished the chicken strip. “I know it was more exciting to wake up and see the photos at the breakfast table.”
“Oh I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stay still,” I said quietly as I looked at them.
“You know what she needs?”
I saw Cassie looking at Bobby, and then both of them looking at Brian, before they all looked at me.
“A slice of the supreme,” Bobby said as the pizzas arrived – but I had the funniest feeling that was not what he meant.
We ate up, finished our drinks, and as Bobby paid we saw Mister Boyle park outside in the car.
“Any news yet,” Bobby said as we got into the back of the car.
“I’m afraid not, no – Will you be coming back to the hall with us Brian?”
“If that’s all right,” Brian said, “I can call Uncle Barry for a lift later.”
“I’d like you to come anyway,” I said quietly as we strapped ourselves in, and Mr Boyle drove off.
When we got back to the hall, we all went into the front room, where Granny was sitting watching television.
“Yes, it was thank you,” I said as we came in. “Dad’s not back yet then?”
“Not yet no – where are you going to be?”
“We’ll be in Suzie’s room,” Cassie said as she took my hand and we went up the stairs, while the boys went into Bobby’s room.
“All right,” Suzie said as she closed the door, “just how excited are you?”
“Cass, I could just scream with joy – not just because I won’t be the baby sister, but because...”
“Because you want it to be a girl?”
“Yeah,” I said with a smile as I looked at Cassie. “One bossy big brother is enough, without adding another brother to help him.”
“I heard that,” Bobby said as he walked past the door, making us both giggle.
“Listen, Cass,” I then said quietly, “can you tie me up? I need to calm myself down, and if I can’t move, then at least I have to slow myself down?”
“Sure – want to change first?”
“No – I’m good,” I said as I pushed myself up, and put my feet on the bed, “do my legs first.”
Cassie reached under my bed and took out a box, before selecting a length of soft rope and doubling it over, then wrapping it around my ankles. I watched as the black suede of my boots lightened with the rope pressing down on it, Cassie taking the cords around and between my legs, before she tied it off and then tied my legs together below my knees.
“All right then – do you want your hands covered,” she said as she looked at me.
“Not tonight – just make it tight,” I said as I shifted so that she could see my back, and crossed my wrists behind it, feeling (if this doesn’t sound funny) even more relaxed as I felt my wrists being secured together, and then the rope holding them against my waist.
“Feeling more relaxed yet,” Cassie said as she looked at me.
“Yeah – thanks.”
“Question – what do you want next?”
So she doubled over a long length of rope, and wrapped it around my arms and body, taking it above and below my chest so that they were snugly tied in place, and then using two short lengths of rope to tighten them under my arms.
“There we go – more relaxed now?”
“I think so – tie my ankles to the chest ropes, and then use something to keep me quiet, and I should be okay.”
“It’ll only be for a little while though – it’s nearly seven thirty now.”
“No problem,” I said as she helped me to lie on my side, and then loosely tied my ankles to my chest ropes, “and it’s okay if you just use tape. I’m not going to try and escape.”
“As you wish,” Cassie said as she tore a strip of the black special tape off, and smoothed it over my lips, before she turned my television on and we started to watch the Nickelodeon shows together.
I lost track of time a little bit after that, before there was a knock on the door and Granny looked in.
“Cassie, could you free Suzie please and then both of you come downstairs?”
“Of course, Mrs Jacobs,” Cassie said as I nodded, and she soon had me free. When we got downstairs, I saw Dad was back, with a big grin on his face.
“There you are,” he said as Bobby came down with Brian, “Have you both had a good day?”
“”We have,” I said, “but how’s Mum?”
“Very tried, if truth be told, so she’s going to sleep now,” he said as he put one arm round me, and another round Bobby, “with your new baby sister beside her.”
“I... I have a baby sister?”
“That you do, Suzanne Holderness,” Dad said with a smile, “and her name is Lucinda Irene Holderness – but I think we’ll just call her Lucy, if that’s all right with you?”
I looked at Granny, who was actually starting to cry as we hugged Dad, and then she came over and whispered “thank you” before she hugged both of us as well. “Is she all right?”
“She’ll need a couple of days to recover, before she comes home, but I’ll take you both to see her and Lucy in the morning.”
“Some coffee, Mister Holderness,” Mrs Boyle said as she handed Dad a mug.
“Thanks – and how did you get on today Rebecca?”
“Everything looks good, thank you,” Mrs Boyle said with a smile. “Would you like some supper?”
“Thank you – I need to make a few phone calls, so if you can throw something together I’ll eat after that. As for you two – if you can wait a little while longer, I’ll drive you both back and tell Cassie’s parents and your uncle at the same time.”
“No problem,” Cassie said before she hugged me as well.
Lucy – Lucy Holderness. Well, I guess she is technically Lucinda Irene, but I preferred Lucy already.
The hospital smelt of disinfectant and soap as we walked down the corridor, me clutching a little stuffed rabbit while Bobby was holding a bunch of flowers. We were wearing jeans and jumpers today, as well as trainers, while Dad was in a v-necked jumper over a shirt and trousers.
As we went into the room, Mum was sitting in bed, reading a book before she put it down and said “Hey – come here, both of you.”
“Hi Mum,” Bobby said as he went forward first, “how are you feeling?”
“Very tired,” Mum said with a smile, “but much better now that you are both here.”
I was only half listening – I was looking at the little blonde haired girl in the pink babygro, who was sleeping in the cot on the other side of the bed.
“It’s all right, Suzie – she won’t bite,” Mum said with a smile, “this is Lucy.”
“Hello Lucy,” I said as I looked down into the cot, “I brought you a little present.”
“Let me look after it for the moment, love,” Mum said quietly, “Lucy’s not quite ready yet for cuddlies, but when she’s awake, I’ll put it next to her.”
I nodded as I sat next to Mum, Bobby on the other side while a nurse took the flowers to put them in a vase.
“Mum and Dad are going to come over after Dad has been to the clinic,” I heard my dad say, “and the others can’t wait to see you either. Jennifer Craig in particular.”
“I’ll bet – when are they coming in to see me?”
“Tonight – they want you to see family first.”
“I think that’s our cue,” I heard Aunt Anne say from the door to the room, as she came in with Uncle Simon. “How are you, Susan?”
“Tired and happy,” Mum said as she looked over. “Where are the kids?”
“Alicia is watching Andrew today – she’ll see her another time,” Simon said as he looked at my sister. “So, kiddo, big responsibility for you now, isn’t it?”
I nodded as I looked at her, and then she opened her eyes, moved around a little and smiled at me.
“Hey,” I said quietly as I let her hold my finger, “I’m your big sister, and I’m very pleased to finally meet you.”
She smiled again as she gripped my finger, Dad watching us.
“Come on,” Uncle Simon said, “I’ll take the two of you to the cafe for a drink; let the family talk for a few minutes.”
“Thanks Simon,” Dad said as we walked down the corridor, and into the small cafe. Uncle Simon bought us both a drink, and then sat down as we started to drink.
“So how does it feel,” he finally said.
“Strange – she looks so small,” Bobby said as he looked at us.
“So were you, and so was Suzie – most babies are that small,” Uncle Simon said with a smile, “so never forget that, because somehow you’ve both managed to grow into smart, and not too small kids.”
Bobby laughed at that before he said “so is there going to be any more?”
“That’s not up to me,” Uncle Simon said, “not totally, but I think it’s unlikely. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your mum and dad, and your Aunt Anne and me, we’re not getting any younger. Now, if and when Eddie and Angela tie the knot, no guarantees then, but for now...”
“Mum looks so tired...”
“She needs a day or two to get back on her feet, that’s all. But right now, I think the two of you are the best tonic she could have.”
We both smiled at that, before Uncle Simon said “come on – drink up, and we’ll head back to your mum.”
When we got back into the room, Mum and Aunt Anne were laughing with each other, while Dad was standing in the corner.
“So how long do you need to be in for Susan,” Uncle Simon asked.
“Another day or two according to the doctors – so I should be home on Wednesday afternoon. Do you think you two can behave yourselves until then?”
“Mum, honestly – what do you think we are?”
“My kids,” she said quietly, Aunt Anne and Uncle Simon laughing as Dad shook his head.
“All right you two – I need to get you back to the hall, before Grandma and Granddad come and visit. Irene is going to pop in later as well, Susan.”
“I’ll see you later,” she said as we went and hugged her, and said goodbye to Lucy before Dad took us back to the car.
“She’s cute, isn’t she Dad,” I said as I sat in the back with Bobby.
“Yes she is – and so are you, but that doesn’t mean you’re a perfect little angel, true?”
“No – but she still is cute,” I said with a smile.
When we got back, Granny hugged us both and said “I’m heading in now, Alex. Suzie, Lisa Williamson rang and asked if you wanted to go to her house tomorrow.”
“Good idea – keep you out of trouble for the day,” Dad said with a smile, so I went to the phone and dialled her number.
“Hello,” I heard Charlie say on the other end of the line.
“Charlie, it’s Suzie Holderness. Can I talk to Lisa please?”
“Hold on,” he said, and then a moment later I heard Lisa say “hey – congratulations on losing the baby sister tag.”
“Thanks- I think. I’m just calling to say I’d love to call round tomorrow.”
“Good – I’ll get Cassie over as well, and we’ll have some fun together.”
“With or without Charlie?”
“See you tomorrow Suzie,” was all Lisa said before the line went dead.
“Right,” Dad said as he pulled up outside the Williamson house, “I’ll come in with you for a minute – I need to talk to Mark about something anyway.”
As we walked up the path, I held Dad’s hand tight – it was till sinking in what had happened yesterday, and although I had slept well I still felt a little tired. So when Lisa opened the door, and gave me the biggest hug she could, it actually felt better.
“Congratulations Alex,” Mr Williamson said as he shook Dad’s hand, “even if it does mean a few more years of nappy changing.”
“That, I can cope with,” Dad said with a smile, “it’s Abe who is feeling the shock at the moment.”
“I heard – how far along is Rebecca?”
“About ten weeks – hello Yvonne.”
“HI Alex – got time for a coffee before you and Mark get down to business.”
“We’re in here,” Lisa said as she took me into the front room, where Cassie was sitting on the couch, wearing a blue dress, black tights and trainers. Both Lisa and I were wearing joggers and sweatshirts with trainers.
“So how’s your mum,” Cassie said right after she had hugged me to death as well.
“She’s okay, I think,” I said as I sat down, “and Lucy is the cutest little thing.”
“Yeah, I used to think the same of June,” Cassie said with a smile.
“Well, she’s bigger now isn’t she? Anyway, come on – tell us all about her...”
Look, what did you expect the three of us to do when we get together – end up in ropes and unable to talk with five minutes? That doesn’t happen all the time.
Today, we got a clear hour when I told them about Lucy, Cassie told us about what Bobby had been up to with her – and let me tell you, he showed her a Valentine’s Day date to beat all others – and Lisa told us about how Eric had taken for a ride in the new buggy his parents had bought for Trojan to pull.
“Do you think he’d hook Trojan up and take us for a ride,” I said. I’d missed out on the sleigh rides they did when the ground was covered in snow, but the idea of a ride in a buggy was quite nice as well.
“We could always ask him – want to take a walk over now?”
“Why not,” Cassie said as she got up, “I’ll get my coat.”
As we went into the hallway, Lisa called out “we’re going down to the farm for a while Mum.”
“All right – but I want you all back by one o’clock,” Mrs Williamson called from the kitchen as we put our coats on, and headed out of the door.
As we walked down the path, I saw Mr Craig coming out of the house.
“Where are you off to Cassie,” he asked when he saw us.
“The Cottrell farm – we’ll be back for lunch,” Cassie said, her dad nodding as he watched us walk down the road and then turn onto the path that led to the woods.
The path was dry, now that all the snow had finally melted and the ground dried out. As we walked along, I said to Lisa “So have you never wanted a baby brother or sister, Lisa?”
“Seriously,” Lisa said with a laugh as she shook her head. “No thank you – can you imagine if I had a little brother for Charlie to mould in his own image?”
“Point taken,” I said with a laugh, “by all accounts, Freddie is turning into a little Charlie anyway.”
“Oh now that’s not quite true,” a young American voice said behind us, “I prefer to think Charlie is turning into an older me.”
“Oh boy,” we said as we turned round and saw Freddie Hobson and Brian standing behind us.
“Well well – fancy meeting all three of you here,” Brian said as he looked at me. “Going to the farm?”
“Well, that was the idea,” I said quietly, “why?”
“We’ve just been there,” Freddie said, “they’ve gone off with their mother for the day, and Mr Cottrell is working at home. So I’m afraid you’re not going to have much joy there.”
“Oh bother,” Cassie said, “so what are we going to do instead?”
Dangerous thing to say where these two were concerned, was my second thought – my first been “Oh boy” as Lisa said to them “Well, I guess we should just go home again, sorry to disturb both of you...”
“Oh no, no trouble at all,” Freddie said with a smile, “In fact, we insist you stick around for a while...”
“Oh lord, here we go again,” Cassie said as they produced some lengths of cord from their pockets, and then proceeded to tie our wrists together behind our backs – once the allowed us to take our coats off, and then put them back on us so that our hands were covered.
“Well, I don’t suppose this is too bad,” Lisa said, “do you want to come back to my house?”
“Why not – after all, you’re going to let us in so that we can rob your house,” Freddie said with a smile.
“Have you been talking to Charlie,” Lisa said with a smile.
“Oh no – just watching some old television,” Freddie said as we walked back along the path, then the street and into our front door.
“Is it one o’clock already,” Mr Williamson said as we came back in.
“No – the Cottrells are away, so we invited Freddie and Brian to come back with us.”
“All right – have fun,” he said as we walked into the front room, and the boys removed our coats, before we all sat on the long couch, watching as they produced some more lengths of cord and tied our ankles next to each other.
“You’ll never get away with this,” Lisa said with a grin as she watched Freddie, while Brian stepped out of the room for a moment, returning with three woollen scarves.
“What are they for,” I said in a mock scaredy voice, knowing full well what he intended to do with them.
Actually, I thought they were to sue as blindfolds – but I was wrong with that, as he and Freddie pulled them between our lips and used them to gag us. It had been a very long time since someone had used a woollen scarf to keep me quiet – and as the two boys walked out, I made use of the reason why.
You see, much as the thick wool may keep you quiet, it’s not that easy to tie a tight knot with both ends, so I was able to very easily get it out of my mouth with a combination of shaking my head and pushing with my tongue.
“Right,” I said quietly as I looked at both of them, “who wants to be untied first?”
Cassie turned her back to me and held her hands up as I picked at the knot with my teeth, and within five minutes she had her hands free, and pulled the scarf from her mouth before she untied my hands.
Once we both had our ankles free, we turned to Lisa and untied her, before we all took the scarves from our mouths.
“You know something,” she said quietly, “I think it’s time Freddie and Brian got a taste of their own medicine. What do the two of you say?”
We both nodded and stood by the door, waiting as it opened and the two boys walked in.
“Well, we got all the valuables,” Freddie said, “and now we...”
“Are going to lie down on the floor,” Cassie and I said as we put our fingers against their back, “and do exactly what we tell you.”
“Damn – they must have got free,” Freddie said, but he and Brian lay down, offering no resistance as we crossed their wrists behind their backs, and Lisa used some of their supply of ropes to bind their wrists tightly together.
We then crossed their ankles and watched as Lisa secured them together, before we made them sit back to back, Cassie and me tying their legs together below their knees as Lisa tied their bodies together.
“Oh the inhumanity,” Freddie said, “overpowered by the three women we tried to rob.”
“Let that be a lesson to you,” Lisa said before she pushed half a sponge into each of their mouths, and then pressed several strips of silver duct tape over their mouths to keep them in place.
“Have fun,” Lisa said as the three of us left the room, and went into the kitchen.
“Can we get a drink mum,” Lisa asked.
“Of course you can,” she said as we took a drink each from the fridge, and sat at the table. “Where are the boys?”
“They wanted to talk to each other about something,” I said with a smile as Mrs Williamson put some cookies on a plate and placed them on the table.
“So how does it feel to be a big sister now,” she asked as she made herself a hot drink and sat down.
“Funny – I guess I know how Alicia felt now.”
“Has she seen Lucy yet?”
“Oh so it’s Lucy is it,” Cassie said as she looked at me.
“Yup – Lucinda Irene, but Dad’s already said it will be Lucy amongst us, like I’m Suzie rather than Suzanne all the time.”
“Hey,” Charlie said as he came in from the garage, “what’s going on?”
“Apparently the boys are in the front room, talking,” Mrs Williamson said, “why don’t you go and join them?”
“Mum that might not be a good idea...”
“Why not,” Charlie said as he left the kitchen, his mum looking at us before we heard him burst out laughing...
“What’s funny,” Mrs Williamson said as she left the kitchen, the three of us looking at each other before we head her start to laugh as well.
“Well, if you’re going to do it, you have to take it,” Charlie said before he came back in.
“See, we are the stronger sex,” Lisa said as she poked her brother.
“Strength in numbers more like,” Charlie said as he shook his head.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Lisa said as her mother came in, “can Cassie and Suzie stay for a sleepover Mum?”
“Well, I’ll need to ask their parents, but I don’t think it’s a problem. Let me call your father first Suzie.”
“If you can’t get him, call the hall – Granny Jacobs is staying for a few days,” I said as Lisa’s mum went into the hallway.
When she came back in, she said “That’s fine – your dad will bring you back here after he’s taken you to see your mum, Suzie, and Cassie can come over when you get back. Right now, you need to untie your captives so that they can go home.”
“Aww mum – do we have to?”
“Yes you do – they both need to head home, so jump to it.”
“All right,” she said as we went in and released Freddie and Brian.
“Well, that was different,” Brian said as he looked at me. “So you’re staying here tonight?”
“Yeah – maybe you and the others can come to the hall tomorrow and welcome Mum and Lucy home?”
“I’ll ask Uncle Barry,” he said as he grabbed his coat. “Come on Freddie – I’ll walk you home.”
“See you girls another time,” Freddie said as the two boys walked out, and I saw Dad pull up in his car.
“See you both later,” I said as I followed them, and got into the front seat.
It was about seven thirty when Dad dropped me off again, saying “I’ll pick you up tomorrow at about ten,” as I grabbed my bag from the back seat.
“See you then,” I said as I waved to him, and then went to where Lisa was standing in the doorway. She was already wearing a pair of blue pyjamas with elasticated cuffs on her wrists and ankles.
“Hey – come on up and get changed,” she said as I came in, “I need to ask you something.”
I went up to her bedroom and got out of my clothes, putting on a green nightdress that came down to just below my knees. As I was folding my clothes, the door opened and Cassie came in, smiling as she put her own bag down and then changed into a red t-shirt and shorts.
“Listen,” Lisa said as she came in, “Mum’s ordered some pizza for us, but...”
“Go on – spill it,” Cassie said as she looked at us.
“Well, we sometimes have a night when Charlie and Dad pretend to take me and Mum hostage. We were wondering if you’d like that to be one of those nights tonight, and you can play along as well.”
“Oh – when will that happen,” I said, because it sounded like a great idea.
“After the pizza, they’ll surprise us,” Lisa said as there was a knock on the door, and Mrs Williamson came in.
“Here you go,” she said as she handed over a bottle of soft drink and three glasses, “I’ll bring the pizza up when it comes.”
“They both want to play Mum,” Lisa said as she took the drink.
“Then I guess I’ll see you later,” Mrs Williamson said with a smile as she left us alone to talk.
“That was a good pizza,” I said as I ate the last piece. “So what are we going to talk about now – boys?”
“OH no,” Cassie said, “no way am I saying what I think of Bobby while you’re in the same room.”
“Relax – besides, given the torch my own brother is carrying for your cousin’s friend...”
“Oh yeah – Charlie and Rachel. Or even my cousin and your cousin, Suzanne Holderness.”
We all started laughing at that – until the door opened and two men came in, wearing stockings over their heads. I could see it was Charlie and Lisa’s dad, but when he said “Well, looks like all the girls of the house are in one place,” I played along and said “Oh no – Lisa, your house is being robbed!”
“MUM!” Lisa called out as she jumped up and ran to the door, only to be held by her father as he placed his hand over her mouth.
“Are you two going to scream and run,” Charlie said as he looked at me and Cassie, so we both shook our heads as I said “Please, don’t hurt us?”
“Then do as I tell you,” Charlie said as he produced some lengths of rope from his back pocket. “Kneel down, facing the bed, and put your hands behind your back.”
“Please, we’ll do whatever you say,” Cassie said as she winked at me, before we both knelt down and crossed our wrists behind our back. “You too, little one,” we heard Mr Williamson say as he removed his hand from Lisa’s mouth, and started to bind her wrists together as well.
“What have you done with my mum,” she said as I looked over, and saw her dad tie some rope round her waist at the same time as Charlie secured my wrists to my back with the rope.
“She’s downstairs – we’ll take her to you in a minute,” Charlie said as he made me and Cassie stand up, and then turned us round. “What are we going to keep them quiet with, pops?”
“Take these,” Mr Williamson said as he passed Charlie two clean hankies, and put them in their mouths.
“No,” I said with a wink, “Please, we’ll be quiet, you don’t hafftddtththht.”
“Hush,” Charlie said as he pushed a hankie into my mouth, and one into Cassie’s before he hand gagged us, making us watch as his dad put one in Lisa’s mouth, and then smoothed some strips of silver tape over her lips.
“Keep those lips together, girls,” he then said as he walked over to us, and tore some strips of tape off, pressing them down over our own lips as well. “Come on,” he then said, “let’s put them all in the same room.”
We walked along the hallway and down the stairs into the main room. The curtains had been pulled across the windows, while Mrs Williamson was sitting in a chair, wearing a pair of red silk pyjamas. Her arms were behind her back, and there were bands of rope around her waist, stomach and shoulders, as well as her legs below her knees and her ankles. Several strips of silver tape were over her mouth as well, as she looked at us and said “Hnnntthmswll.”
“Sorry lady – if we’re going to rob you, we need to keep you all secured,” Lisa’s dad said as we were made to sit on the long couch, Charlie kneeling front of each of us and securing our ankles and legs, while his father tied bands of rope around our stomach and arms, and then our upper arms.
I sighed into the cloth and tape as the rope pressed my arms into my sides, and rubbed on my chest – and looking at the other two, I could see they were thinking the same thing. It actually felt very nice to be like this.
”Rugrelsslrrt,” Mrs Williamson said as she looked at us, and we all nodded. She kept looking at us, and then wriggled round as Charlie said “I’ll keep an eye on them pops – you look around for anything we can take.”
“All right boyo – make sure they don’t do anything,” he said as Charlie sat down, watching us through the nylon that covered his face.
It was funny – knowing this was a game meant we weren’t really scared, but somehow we felt very happy knowing Charlie was watching us. The three of us started to wriggle round like Lisa’s mum did, pretending we were struggling, but in my case all I was really doing was enjoying how it felt when the ropes rubbed there on me.
Closing my eyes, I imagined being held captive in a log cabin, unable to move on the bed with the ropes holding me firmly down, as the villain gloated over me, the cloth between my lips keeping me from saying anything.
Suddenly, the door was kicked in, and there he was – Barry of the Mounties, in his red jacket and uniform, smiling as he came to my rescue...
I opened my eyes to see Mrs Williamson looking at me, but as I looked over I saw both Cassie and Lisa had their eyes closed as well, moaning a little while we wriggled round.
Charlie was smiling as he watched is, before his father came in. “I’ve got all we’re going to get,” he said quietly, “let’s get out of here.”
“So long ladies,” Charlie said with a smile as he and Mr Williamson left, Mrs Williamson looking at me as I wriggled round, the ropes holding me firm as my top rubbed with the ropes on my chest.
“Rugrllssllrt,” she said as she looked at me.
“Efnnksss,” I mumbled, blushing a little about how I felt. She nodded and then slipped off the chair onto her knees, Lisa and Cassie both still with their eyes closed.
“Cmhrrr,” she said as she shuffled over and turned round, me nodding as I slipped off the couch and moved so that we were back to back.
I watched over my shoulder as she used her long fingers to loose the knot holding the rope around my wrists, enough for me to shake them loose and work my arms round under the other bands. That made them rub on me even more, but I suppressed a giggle as I turned myself round, and started to untie Lisa’s mum.
Once I had removed the bands of rope from her upper body, she reached up and removed the tape from her mouth, and took a cloth out. “Let me untie you,” she said as she moved herself round and ungagged me, “then we free our legs and release the other two.”
“This is a fun game,” I said as I waited for her to untie the bands of rope from my chest.
“You like having those ropes there, don’t you Suzie?”
I blushed and nodded as we sat down and untied our legs, the other two opening their eyes and looking at us.
“We’ll free you and then go and see the boys,” Mrs Williamson said, “and then I’m going to make some cocoa while you three girls sort out your sleeping arrangements. I’ll bring the mugs up in a little while.”
“Oh,” Lisa said as she took the cloth from her mouth, “are you going to join us for a few minutes mum?”
“That’s right,” Mrs Williamson said with a smile as we all walked into the kitchen.
“Good, you all got free,” Mister Williamsons aid as he and Charlie looked over from the kitchen table, “and in not too shabby a time either.”
“Well, we were somewhat distracted,” Mrs Williamson said as Lisa’s father raised an eyebrow. “Do either of you want some hot chocolate?”
“Not for me, I’m going to my room,” Charlie said as he left us.
“We’ll go and sort out the sleeping bags,” Lisa said as we went up to the bedroom.
“Your mum seemed to be in a strange mood,” Cassie said as we went into Lisa’s room, and started to roll out the three sleeping bags.
“Yeah – hey what did you imagine when we were tied up down there?”
“Me – I was imagining being held captive in a tower, unable to move, until Bobby came in like a knight in shining armour and...”
“Dudley Do-Right for me – well, Brian of the Mounties. What about you Lisa?”
“I was in a barn, trussed up with string and wishing... Oh no, oh dear God.”
“What is it,” I said as I looked at Lisa.
“I think Mum wants to do The Talk!”
Cassie and I looked at each other – we had heard rumours of The Talk, but only that. “Nah – surely not,” I said, as the door opened as Mrs Williamson came in, carrying a tray with mugs of hot chocolate on it.
“There we go,” she said as she laid it on the bed, “take one each, all right?”
“Thanks Mum,” Lisa said as she took the cup, the three of us sitting on the floor as her mum sat on the bed, looking at us.
“Mum, you’ve got that funny look in your eye again,” Lisa said quietly.
“Have I? Sorry,” Mrs Williamson said as she sipped her drink. “I forget how quickly you’re growing up at times Lisa – all three of you, if truth be told. Can I ask you a question?”
“Yeah,” Lisa said as she looked at us, “What?”
“When we were playing the game downstairs – I was watching all three of you when you had your eyes closed. What were you thinking about, Lisa?”
Mrs Williamson nodded as Lisa blushed, and said “I may have been thinking about one of the Cottrell boys...”
“Yeah – thought so,” she said as she all three of us blush – well, I felt my cheeks warm, and Cassie certainly was. “Look, girls, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – in fact, I was thinking of Lisa’s dad – but you’re all growing up, and your bodies are starting to change.
“I guess I’m trying to say that if something’s happening, and you’re not sure what, talk to your mums – on their own. We’re here for that, as well as paying for your clothes and making sure you get out of the house in the morning, all right?”
“Yeah – thanks mum,” Lisa said as she finished her drink. If this was The Talk, I had no idea what all the fuss was about. Cassie obviously didn’t either, by the expression on her face.
“Right,” her mum then said as we finished our mugs, “you three enjoy the rest of your night.”
“Thanks mum,” Lisa said as she left and closed the door behind her, turning the light off before she did so as Lisa turned on the bedside lamp.
“I was thinking,” Cassie started saying.
“Always a dangerous thing,” I giggled, and then ducked as a pillow headed my way.
“No seriously – Look at all the babies that have arrived over the last couple of years. David and June, Andrew, Danny and Janey, and now little Lucinda.”
“They’re not the only ones – Mrs Boyle is expecting.”
Cassie and Lisa both looked at me, their mouths open as I grinned back at them. “And you’re forgetting Bart and Sarah as well.”
“Wow – there’s a whole posse just there,” Lisa said quietly.
“Do you think they’ll grow up to be just like us?”
“Would that be so bad a thing?”
“Nah, not really,” Cassie said as she looked at me. “I guess we’re turning out all right, aren’t we?”
“Well I certainly don’t hear Bobby complaining...”
“Would you tell me if he did?”
“Cassandra Paulette Craig,” I said as I looked at her, “you do know how much I delight in embarrassing my older brother at any possible opportunity?”
“Yeah, I know – but would you tell me?”
“Of course I would – so come on, what did you really think of downstairs...”
When I woke up the next morning, I saw Lisa and Cassie were still sleeping, despite the sun coming through the curtains. So I got out of my sleeping bag, went to the toilet, and then walked downstairs.
“Good morning,” Mr Williamson said as he saw me walk into the kitchen. He had on his suit, so I figured he would be going into his office today. “You the first one up?”
“Looks that way,” I said as I sat down, and Mrs Williamson handed me a glass of orange juice. “Is Charlie up yet?”
“You’re safe – he went to see the Cottrell boys, and won’t be back until after your dad has come to pick you up,” he said as he looked at the clock, “which will be at about eleven. Yvonne, I need to get going.”
“See you later Mark,” Lisa’s Mum said as they kissed, and he went out, Lisa passing him in the doorway.
“Ick – Mum and Dad kissing again?”
“Yeah – like you wouldn’t?”
Sitting at the table, Lisa shook her head as her mum gave us both bowls of cereal.
“No sign of Cassie waking up yet?”
“No – I asked her if she was all right, but she just mumbled something about not feeling very well.”
There was a knock on the front door, and we both looked as Mrs Williamson went out, returning with Cassie’s mum.
“Hey girls – Cassie not up yet?”
“She’s still in my room, Mrs Craig,” Lisa said as her mum said “Let me take you up Jennifer.” We watched as they both left the room, before Lisa said “so when does your mum come home?”
“About three this afternoon I think – Dad can tell me when he comes to pick me up.”
As her mum came back in, Lisa asked “is Cassie awake yet mum?”
“Hmm – oh yes, she’s awake. She’ll be down in a few minutes,” she said, both of us looking at each other as I heard the shower start. “She just wanted a chance to get cleaned up and dressed before she came back down.”
“Cassie? Washing before breakfast?”
“That’s right – she just feels a little under the weather this morning.”
We looked at each other and waited until Cassie came in with her mum, dressed and smiling at us as she said “hey.”
“Thanks,” Mrs Craig said as she sat with Cassie while she poured herself some cereal.
“Are you all right Cass,” I said as I looked at her, “you look a bit pale.”
“I’m fine – I just didn’t sleep that well,” Cassie said with a smile as Mrs Williamson sat down, handing Mrs Craig a mug.
“If you two have had your breakfast, can you go and get cleaned up and dressed,” her mum then said, both of us nodding as we went up to the bedroom. As we went in, I saw two sleeping bags rolled up on the bed.
“Funny – wonder what Mum did with Cassie’s bag?”
“Probably put it away already – come on, you can get into the shower first.”
“See you girls later,” Cassie said as we came down the stairs, Mrs Craig smiling at us as she carried Cassie’s bag.
“Suzie, your dad’s on his way over,” Mrs Williamson said as I put my bag down. “Lisa, get your shoes on – we’re going shopping.”
“Oh yeah – present for little Lucy,” Lisa said with a smile as we went into the front room, and put our shoes on. “What are you going to do with most of today?”
“I have absolutely no idea,” I said with a smile, “but I’m so looking forward to Mum coming back.”
“There you are,” Granny Jacobs said as I came in with Dad, “come in here please.”
I followed her into the front room where Grandma and Aunt Anne were sitting.
“Ah good,” Grandma said as I sat down, “we need your help with a few things today Suzie.”
“Sorry – did you just call me Suzie,” I said as I looked at Grandma.
“She did – don’t sound so shocked,” Granny Jacobs said. “We need to get this room ready for your mum coming home – starting with this.”
She showed me a banner, which had a very special message printed on it. “So, we’re going to start with blowing these balloons up, and then tying them together in bunches,” Aunt Anne said, “I hope you have plenty of breath, Suzie.”
Nodding, I took the first balloon and started to blow it up, the others joining in as we made bunch after bunch of pink balloons.
“Why is it pink anyway Granny,” I asked as I passed Mrs Boyle, who had joined us, another one.
“Long long tradition,” Granny Jacobs said with a smile. “Right, we’re going to need that husband of yours, Rebecca.”
“You called,” Mister Boyle said as he carried in a step ladder, setting it up in the corner of the room before he collected the first set of balloons and secured them to the ceiling with a pin. He then worked his way round the room, putting balloons up at Mrs Boyle’s direction, and then taking the banner and hanging it up opposite the door to the main hallway.
The doorbell then rang, Samuel saying “I’ll get it,” as he walked past.
“Very helpful of him,” Grandma said.
“Hardly, Lucinda,” Aunt Anne said with a smile as Cathy came in with one of her mums, smiling as they carried several bunches of flowers.
“Excellent,” Granny Jacobs said, “are you staying for lunch?”
“If you will have us,” her other mum said as she came in, carrying a young boy in her arms as she looked round.
“So this is Timothy,” Grandma said as she came over, and looked at him. “Welcome to an interesting group.”
I watched as he looked round, hugging Cathy’s mum around the neck.
“He’s still a little nervous,” she said as she sat down, holding him on her knee.
“Well, when the others get her, I’m sure he’ll be all right,” Grandma said with a smile as she sat down as well. Mrs Boyle stood up, saying “Talking of lunch, let me get that sorted out” before she went into the kitchen.
“Now, here’s where we want the flowers,” Aunt Anne said as she went with Cathy and her mother.
I knelt in front of Timmy, looking at him and offering my finger as he reached out and gripped it.
“He’s strong, isn’t he,” I said as he smiled at me.
“He is at that – I said as the doorbell rang again, Mister Boyle opening it to let Uncle Simon and Alicia in with Andrew.
“Wow – looking good,” Alicia said as she looked round. “Is that Timmy?”
“It is,” Cathy said as she came in. “Come and say hello, Andrew.”
The young lad looked at Timmy as he was stood on his feet, Alicia holding his hand before he walked over to Grandma, holding his hands up as he let go of Alicia’s hand.
“He’s just a little nervous still,” Grandma said as she looked over, “he’ll get used to the new faces eventually.”
There was another ring on the doorbell, and Mrs Boyle let Cassie and Jenny in with the rest of their family.
“Hey – no sign of her yet,” Mrs Craig said as they sat down.
“No – but you’re in time for lunch,” Granny Jacobs said as she stood up. “The kids can go into the dining room and have some seats there as well.”
As we went in I sat down next to Cassie. “Hey – you all right,” I said as I nudged her, “you were a bit quiet this morning.”
“Hmm – oh yeah, sorry about that. I just felt a bit queasy earlier, but I’m all right now,” she said with a little smile. On the other side of the table, I could see Cathy, Alicia and Jenny all looking at us, with a funny look on their faces as well.
“Nothing – nothing at all,” Alicia said as the lunch was brought in.
Once we had all eaten, we took our drinks into the front room – in time for Cassie’s aunts and the rest of her family to arrive, little Danny joining the others as Janey sat on her mother’s knee.
“There you are,” Grandma said as Mr and Mrs Bridges arrived with Grandpa, “how did the consultation go?”
“I’m fine,” he said with a smile as he sat down, “getting better, as they keep saying.”
“That’s good to hear,” Uncle Simon said as the telephone rang, and Mrs Boyle went to answer it. A few minutes later, she came in and said “That was Mr Holderness – they’re leaving the hospital now, and will be here in about half an hour.”
“Looking forward to seeing them again,” Cassie whispered to me as we stood by the wall.
“Oh yes – which reminds me. Why’s Patty not here?”
“I’m not sure- she should be here by now,” Cassie said as she looked at the clock.
As if it as a cue, the doorbell rang – but it wasn’t Patty. It was Lisa and Charlie with their parents.
“Hey Yvonne,” Mrs Craig said as Charlie went to talk to Bobby and Sam. “You haven’t seen Jess on your travels have you?”
“I have indeed – they needed to stop off and pick something up,” Mrs Williamson said as Lisa joined me and Cassie.
“Hey – feeling better,” she said as she hugged Cassie.
“Yeah – Mum talked to me,” Cassie said with a little smile.
“Am I missing something,” I said as I looked at both of them, wondering what they were talking about.
“Oh boy,” Alicia said as she took my hand, “a word, O little cousin and now big sister.”
She took me into a quiet corner, sat me down, and started talking – explaining one or two things to me. When she was done, I walked slowly back over, and said “sorry – I didn’t know” to Cassie.
“Not something I wanted to shout about – but you’ve nothing to say sorry for,” Cassie said quietly as I saw something exciting through the window.
“It would appear they are here,” Grandma and Granny Jacobs said as they both stood up and went into the hallway, me and Bobby following them. We stood for a moment, taking deep breaths in my case, before Grandma opened the door and we went outside.
“Hey,” Mum said as she looked over from the car, “come on over – I need you to help me with a few things.”
We slowly walked over as Dad uncoupled Lucy’s car seat from the front passenger seat, and pulled the handle up so that he could carry it, while Granny Jacobs got a bag from the back of the car, and Bobby and I brought some cards and presents that had been delivered to the hospital out of the boot of the car.
“Well, Lucy, we’re home,” Dad said as I looked at her little face.
“What was it like when you brought me home Dad,” I said quietly.
“Cold – definitely cold,” Dad said with a smile, “so let’s head inside shall we?”
“Agreed,” Granny Jacobs said as she started to walk to the door, and back into the warmth of the hall. As Grandma closed the door, Mum looked around and said “Been doing some decorating, have we?”
“Just a little,” Dad said as he opened the door to the main room, “and a couple of people dropped by to welcome Lucy home.”
Mum walked in, stopping in shock as everyone cheered.
“Oh... Oh my,” she said as Aunt Anne came over and hugged her, “I wasn’t expecting this...”
“Welcome home,” Dad said as she carried Lucy in, “everyone, this is Lucy.”
He placed the car seat down and unfastened the straps, watching as Mum bent down and picked her up.
“Why don’t you come and sit with me little one,” she said quietly as she walked to an empty chair, “let everyone come and have a look at you.”
“Family first,” Dad said as Alicia took Andrew over, me watching as my younger cousin walked over with Alicia and looked at Lucy.
“Hello,” he said quietly as he waved at her, smiling as Lucy seemed to smile back as well. That made me happy, as Bobby put his hand on my shoulder.
“Welcome home, Lucinda,” Grandpa said as Dad lifted Lucy up and put her on his lap. “I for one am very pleased to meet you.”
“We both are,” Grandma said as she tickled Lucy’s chin, while Dad motioned to me and Bobby to follow him out of the room for a minute.
“Glad your mum’s home?”
We both nodded as we looked at Dad.
“Well, so am I – so let’s enjoy this afternoon, but if you see Mum getting tired let me know, all right? She still needs a lot of rest.”
We both nodded as Bobby said “I guess it’s going to take a little while for Mum to come to normal.”
“Am I missing something,” I said as I looked at both of them.
“No, not really,” Dad said, “It takes mums time to recover from giving birth, that’s all.”
Nodding, I went back in and joined Cassie and Lisa, sitting and talking with the mums as they took turns holding Lucy.
“All right everyone,” Grandma said a few minutes later as Mr and Mrs Boyle brought through a trolley with bottles of champagne and glasses, “I think we really need to toast the baby.”
“Do you mind if we join in first?”
“THERE you are,” Mrs Craig said as Patty came in with her mother, “what happened?”
“I wanted to get something very special for the baby,” she said as she handed a pink bunny to Mum, making her smile as she said “thank you Patty – I’m sure Lucy will love it.”
Patty grinned from ear to ear as the glasses were handed out, before Grandpa said “A toast – to Lucinda Irene.”
“Lucinda Irene,” we all said as we drank – and yes, we actually got a drink of champagne. Cassie, Lisa and I that is – poor Patty still had to have lemonade...
“Sounds as if it was a great party,” Eric Cottrell said as Lisa and I sat with him and Eric in the front room of their farmhouse. “Pity we weren’t able to make it.”
“Well, I guess you had to take care of things – but your folks are going round to visit them today, aren’t they?”
“Yeah,” Mark said as he hooked the harness up to Trojan, “they’re taking Frank with them, and I think Lisa and Eddie are going over as well. Right – that’s the buggy hooked up. I guess that leaves getting you two ready.”
“Well... we’re half way there already,” Lisa said as she wriggled round, her arms held tightly to her sides with the rope around her stomach. The boys had already bound our wrists and arms, but hadn’t added the extra band – which was a real nice thing for them to do today.
Our legs were also bound at the ankles and knees, over both the ankles of our leather boots and our jeans, the other ropes sitting on top of our fleeces.
“All right, open wide,” Mark said as he held a folded cloth in front of my mouth, Eric doing the same for Lisa – and I could see she was smiling as he pushed the cloth in, and then used a knotted strip of towel to keep it in place.
They then wrapped some of the special white tape around our heads, before covering that with the woollen scarves we had worn to walk over – Dad had dropped me at Lisa’s house again, but Cassie still wasn’t feeling very well, so we had walked over together.
“Now then,” Mark said as he gently lifted us up and sat us on the seat of the buggy, before he sat between us, “ready for a little ride?”
We both nodded as he snapped the reins, and Trojan walked off, going through the gates into the big field as we bumped along. I’d had rides in traps like this before, but this was different, as Mark used the reins to make Trojan break into a trot.
Looking at Lisa, I knew she was smiling as well under the layers, because this really felt amazing. Not as amazing as being a big sister, but still – pretty amazing.