They always say that if you have a talent that you enjoy putting into practice, and you can make enough from it so that you never have to be a wage slave, you are very lucky. Ray was one of those lucky people. His talent was for spotting situations where businesses were not as diligent in protecting their wealth as they should have been. His specific area of expertise was where the wealth was only being cared for by one female staff member. Experience had shown him that it was usually possible to subdue and restrain that staff member using words alone, but sometimes with a realistic toy gun as a prop. If the potential victim looked as if she would have a go, he would just abandon that target and pick another. It had served him well so far; here it was, the summer of 1990, he'd been doing it for ten years and never been caught

Ray financed his lifestyle by robbery, replenishing his funds whenever his cash float dropped to near £1000. This was enough for a few more weeks, but he didn't want to become desperate enough to take unnecessary risks. This week he had decided that it was time to improve his cash flow situation. He had done this on numerous occasions, always taking opportunities as they arose. The choice of small establishments with minimal staff, although the loot was less, meant that there was less risk. He had found that a lone female cashier or accountant would always submit to being bound and gagged rather than risk injury defending somebody else's money. Also, because the robberies were not high-profile like a big bank job would have been, the police soon downgraded the investigation as more important crimes occurred that needed their attention. It was working so far because their attention had never focussed on him. He had never been questioned, much less arrested. He took the precaution of acquiring the necessary equipment on the day of the robbery, and always dumped it all afterwards, never taking it home. This was just in case he was arrested and his home was searched.

So today he had bought a roll of bandage and a 30 yard length of clothesline, (hemp, not nylon, he believed it retained no fingerprints). Cut into suitable lengths, these were now in the sports bag over his shoulder, with the realistic toy gun. One piece of bandage had a large double knot in the middle of its four-foot length. Checking his watch, he confirmed that the branch should close in two minutes. There were two people in front of him. He was keeping his fingers crossed that nobody would join the queue behind him now. If that happened, he would pretend to have forgotten his cheque book and leave in a feigned bad temper.

This was always his plan, and he had rarely deviated from it. He always chose soft targets where only one staff member was present, female of course, and the pleasure part of the operation was the binding and gagging of the lady on duty. Ray had another weakness as well. He liked his ladies to be pleasantly plump, a phrase he was fond of using. When the woman he had just tied up was very thin, a stick insect as he disparagingly thought of them, he was not tempted to pass the time with them and so left as soon as the money was collected. If the lady in question was more generously endowed, he had a compulsion to spank her before leaving. On most of these occasions he resisted the temptation. Sometimes he merely told the bound and gagged victim that he was thinking about spanking her, just to see the expression on her face. But on some occasions, there was plenty of time, and there was something about the woman that just made it seem right. The business part was taking the money of course. He never let personal foibles get in the way of that.

The most recent deviation from the plan had happened because, one day quite recently, at the last minute, someone had joined the line behind him at a small suburban bank. It was a traffic warden, a plump but pretty redhead. She wore a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up above her elbows, with a navy blue crossover bow tie and a navy blue skirt. She had a peaked cap with a yellow band on her head. Very tasty. It would be a crime not to bind and gag her, he thought. He would have loved to spank her, but there were two of them, her and the cashier. Whenever possible he read the newspaper reports of his exploits in the local press, and he had noticed that the spankings, where they happened, were never reported. He supposed the victims kept quiet out of embarrassment. If there were witnesses, it wouldn't be kept silent and the whole affair might attract much more police attention.

She was showing signs of impatience at having to queue.  He decided that she should definitely come in front of him, and be captured during the robbery. He pretended to be unable to find something, and invited her to come in front of him in the queue, while he stepped to one side and fumbled in his pockets. Soon there was only the traffic warden and himself left, and she was behaving very impatiently, giving the cashier a hard time. She probably shouldn’t have been in there while she was working. At 4.30 the cashier told her to wait a moment. Coming out from behind her counter, the cashier said she was going to flip the sign over to closed, before anyone else comes in. He observed that the cashier, a well-upholstered bespectacled blonde in her fifties, was wearing a corporate uniform similar to that of the traffic warden, but the skirt and bow tie were crimson, and she also wore a waistcoat.

At that point he produced the toy gun and told her to lock the door as well. The cashier's jaw dropped and the meter maid looked on in amazement, while the woman slid the bolts across and scuttled away from the door.

He ordered them both to go behind the counter. As there were two of them, he had to be careful. As usual he had cord and tape, already prepared in suitable lengths. He judged that the traffic warden posed the greater threat, so she needed to be taken care of first. He pulled a length of cord from his bag and instructed the cashier to tie the traffic warden’s hands behind her back. The victim looked at him open-mouthed as if she was going to protest, but said nothing. He was amused at the pleasure the cashier took in tying the woman’s hands very tightly and thoroughly. He couldn't help noticing that she crossed the meter maids wrists before passing the cord round them horizontally and vertically several times. It seemed she was familiar with the process of tying hands. He passed her the reel of wide adhesive tape ( he had already cut some six-inch strips off and stuck them back on loosely) and told her to stick a strip over the traffic warden’s mouth. Again, she did so with some enthusiasm, smoothing it down carefully. Then, before he could intervene, she pulled off two more strips and stuck them over the woman’s mouth in an X shape. The victim glowered at them both.The cashier, grinning at her truculently, was then made to fill a carrier bag with cash, before having her own hands tied. After sitting them on the floor, he tied their feet and taped the cashier’s mouth before departing with the cash. He often looked back at this and wondered what the traffic warden said to the police when she was freed

And today pleasantly plump Nina was about to make his acquaintance.

The small building society branch was about to close after a day which had been unexpectedly busy for Nina. Normally she shared the workload with two other cashiers, but this week Judy was on holiday. And, early in the afternoon, Carol, her other colleague, had received a phone call to say that her schoolgirl daughter had been slightly injured in an accident at school. She had left early, which meant that at 3.45, Nina, the youngest member of staff, was running the branch on her own. She had phoned the main branch in the town centre, hoping someone could be sent to help her but unsurprisingly, no help could be spared. Nobody cared much about the small branches, she thought, and she was getting a bit sick of it. You can manage, can't you; it's just for one afternoon. She had heard that sort of thing so many times.

Closing time was 4.00, but there were still five customers queuing. Nina never paid any attention to the people in the queue apart from the one she happened to be dealing with, and she certainly hadn’t noticed the shifty-looking man at the back of the line. He was, however, paying close attention to her.

He observed a generously built woman in her mid-twenties, with light brown hair in a french plait. Her face had a serious set to it, which was offset by her slightly upturned nose. She had very attractive eyes, he thought. She was wearing the company uniform, which was a crisp white shirt with grey pencil stripes, buttoned at the neck, and sleeves rolled up above her elbows, held in place by buttoned tabs. At her collar was a bow tie with a blue and white paisley pattern. Her charcoal grey skirt ended just above her knees, and on her feet were black shoes with 2-inch heels. He had walked by twice earlier in the afternoon, and had seen another woman in the same uniform leaving a while ago.

 She noticed that it was one minute past four, as the penultimate customer left. One man was all that remained of the queue.” I’ll just turn the “open” sign round, so no more come in. I’m on my own this afternoon, and I don’t want to be here all evening” she announced cheerfully as she lifted the hinged counter and came out. He watched as she turned the sign round. Taking the toy gun from his pocket, he said casually “better lock it as well”. She turned suddenly and looked at him. Her jaw dropped as she saw the gun. She turned back and locked the door.

“What do you want?” she asked, then added “silly question. You're after the money of course.”

“Right first time. I need you to fill this bag for me and open the safes .First there’s a safety measure needed. Let’s go back behind the counter “

He followed her through. He pulled several lengths of cord and bandage from the bag and placed them on a desk. Taking one of the longer lengths of cord, he said “Keep still; you don’t want the gun to go off, do you?”

“No” she replied quickly. “No way am I risking my life protecting their money. No need to hurt me. You have the upper hand; I’ll do whatever you tell me to do." She looked at the cords and bandage, and then looked him in the eye. "Are you going to tie me up with all that?" she asked slowly, before adding "Another silly question I suppose"

“Afraid so. A necessary element of a successful robbery. I’m sure you understand. Perhaps you would stand still for a moment”

He passed the cord around her right arm, above the elbow, then took it behind her back to her left arm and did the same, repeating the process. After some deft winding and tightening of the cords, passing them round her body above and below her breasts, he knotted them between her shoulder blades. Nina couldn’t see exactly what he had done, but now her upper arms were drawn back and pinned to her sides. Her hands were still free, no doubt so that she could open draws and safes.

“Now take all the cash from the draws in the counter, please. Don’t want my prints on them, do we?”

It was not long before she had removed all of the cash from the draws at the counter, and from the two safes in the back room, and crammed it all into his bag. He was surprised to see that the safes were open. “It’s not usual for them to be open, is it?”

“No. But I’ve been on my own this afternoon, as you know, and it saves time if they’re open. They should be kept closed; having them open’s against all the rules. I’d be in for some disciplinary process if the manager knew about it, but he won’t. Anyway, I’m in worse trouble now, aren’t I”? She was trying to make everything as friendly as possible. Notwithstanding a slight tingle of excitement at the thought of being tied up, she was scared. She was the prisoner of a criminal with a gun after all. She just hoped he wasn't going to turn more violent. He was behaving more like an officious clerk at the moment

“I’m not going to hurt you” he said reassuringly, looking her in the eye. “Nothing for you to be worried about. I’ll have to tie you up a bit more thoroughly of course before I leave you. Not worried about that are you?”

He made it sound like she was a silly child, being scared of the dark.

“Of course I’m not” she said, trying to sound unconcerned “but if I'm that thoroughly trussed up I could be here all night. That won't be very nice for me. Will you phone the police and tell them to come and untie me? Please? “She had read in newspaper reports that robbers often did this.”That’s if I don’t manage to get myself untied”

“You won’t get loose on your own; I’ll make sure of that. Once I’m back at base, away from this area, I’ll call them. That’ll be about an hour after I go” he reassured her. “I’ve nearly got everything I came for, so I’ll just deal with you. He picked up another length of cord and moved behind her. She stood compliantly while he placed her hands together behind her back; wrists crossed and deftly wound the cord round them, knotting it more than once as he did so. She felt the cords on her arms being pulled tighter, and her hands being pulled upwards. as he fastened the two sets of cords together behind her somehow. She couldn’t see what he had done of course.

He had turned her so she was facing away from his store of cords and bandage, so she was caught by surprise when he suddenly pinched her bottom. She opened her mouth to protest, and immediately the knotted bandage was pushed into her mouth. Laughing, he pulled the ends behind her head, round and over her mouth again and knotted them behind her head. “If I’d asked you to open your mouth to be gagged, you wouldn’t have, would you”.

Nina hadn't been gagged before, but it was adding to the excitement inside her. He must be going to tie her feet, she supposed, but presumably not while she was standing here.

“Let's go through to the back, away from the windows” Putting a hand on her shoulder he steered her through the doorway into the short corridor. He had the remaining cord and bandage in his hand. She walked the short distance to the rest room, with him following. If I’m going to be put on the floor, she thought, it can be one with a carpet. On one side of the room there was a couch that had seen better days. “Sit down there” he pointed to it. Nina sat down carefully, trying not to roll backwards as she did so, as the seat was quite low. With her hands tied it was not easy. Squatting, he pushed her legs together and bound her feet just above the ankles, winding it round enough times to use the whole length. Nina watched as he did so. He seemed well practised at tying people up, she noted. He finished knotting the cord and looked her in the eye.

“Almost finished. There’s just the matter of the safes being left open. You did say you would be in for some disciplinary action, didn’t you.” Nina looked at him in dismay. What was he thinking? “I could leave a note saying they were open. Whoever comes in to rescue you will see it. What if it’s your manager? Will you get sacked, or demoted or what?”

He stood up and left the room, but soon returned with her 18-inch plastic ruler in his hand. She used it for underlining, and for tearing paper in a straight line. “The very thing for punishing naughty girls” he said grinning. Nina could guess what was in store for her. She was fearful, but also secretly relieved. At least she wouldn't lose her job for having the safes open. She thought that, even if a person was revolted by the idea of spanking, they would prefer it to being sacked.

She just hoped this would be at best an idle threat, at worst a couple of smacks. He took hold of her shoulders and, edging her off the sofa, manoeuvred her so that she was kneeling on the floor against the front of it, facing the back. He lowered her forward so that she was face down on the seat. With his left hand he pulled her skirt up over her bottom and with the right hand, swung the ruler and brought it down across her buttocks. Nina couldn’t believe this was happening to her. It stung of course, more so with each slap, but she was tingling with suppressed excitement. He hadn’t pulled her knickers down, she was grateful for that. Or was she? I shouldn't be enjoying any of this, she told herself. Good thing I’m gagged, she thought, I can’t give anything away. She received a total of six strokes on her bottom before he stopped. He drew her skirt down over her bottom and stood up. “Perhaps you’ll think twice before being a naughty girl again” he said in a stern voice. She knew that this was all for his benefit, and he was unaware of her increasingly aroused state. He sounded rather aroused himself. She knew she was blushing, but he wasn’t looking at her face. Staying behind her and not making eye contact, he took another short length of cord and used it to fasten her bound hands to her ankles. It wasn't too tight, but she guessed that she wouldn’t be able to straighten her legs now.

She could hear him collecting up things, probably his odd pieces of cord and bandage, stuffing them into his sports bag on top of the money. She guessed he was about to leave.

He moved round in front of her, another long strip of bandage held horizontally in both hands, Nina realised with some annoyance that she was going to be blindfolded. It’s not like I could get loose quickly as it is, so what's the point, she thought. He’s just getting a kick out of it all. She tried to look appealing and looked him in the eye. It didn't work. He grinned at her

"This will just slow you down, make extra certain you don't get loose" he explained. "I said I'll phone the police in an hour. Say goodnight, blue eyes” he said as he wrapped the fabric round her head twice before knotting it at the back of her head. He tied the knot below the knot of the gag so that the two would help keep each other in place. Then unexpectedly, another slap on her bottom, this time with his hand.

"Been nice meeting you, must do it again sometime" he said. This was followed soon by the sound of him leaving, doors opening and closing.

Nina was now in darkness. She had stayed still for what she estimated as ten minutes, in case he came back. She wondered if there was anything to be gained by shuffling around on the floor. She knew where she was now, but she could easily lose her bearings once she moved. She could fall over and hurt herself. She couldn't remember if she had heard him close the rest room door, but she certainly wouldn't be able to open it. She decided to stay put for the moment, resting her head on the sofa. She tried struggling frantically against the cords holding her hands and arms. If anything it seemed to make them all feel a bit tighter. It made her perspire. That uninvited tingle of excitement was still there. Struggling to get loose, and finding that she couldn't, was definitely not helping. Nor was the realisation that before long, policemen would be coming in, finding her thoroughly bound, dishevelled and perspiring. They would be holding her, untying her. She wondered which restraints they would undo first. Would they undo the gag and blindfold first, then free her feet, then lift her into a standing position so they could untie her arms and hands. She certainly wouldn't tell them about the spanking. And what had he done with the ruler? She would just deny any knowledge if it was found lying around. She imagined the newspaper reports. "Bank raider leaves plucky bank girl left bound and blindfolded" was bad enough. Her friends and neighbours would all read about it. But "Robber spanks bound bank girl" would be so much worse. She would never hear the end of it. No, that was going to remain her secret.

With these thoughts going through her mind, laying face down resting her head on the couch, she was starting to feel more relaxed, and the feeling of arousal was not going away. Not that she could do anything about it. I might as well just wait, she thought. She could almost fall asleep. That is, until she realised that she would need to pee before long. She last went just before Carol left, about three o'clock. Realising that made her worry more. She thought it must be about half past five now. The more she thought about it, the more worried she was about not being able to last out. She would be something of a heroine in the bank as it was, being tied up by a robber, but if it got around that she had wet her knickers, she would soon be a figure of fun. It seemed an eternity before she finally heard the sound of a police siren. Then there were doors opening, voices “She’s in here”,"let's get her untied". Hands were lifting her, unfastening the cords and bandages. In no time she was free, sitting on the sofa, concerned policemen and women attending to her. She was relieved to find that her handbag was still where she had left it, but it had been opened. Nothing seemed to have been taken though.

A few days later, at her flat, Nina was opening her mail. She opened an envelope, handwritten in capitals, which contained her own library ticket. Had she dropped it and someone found it, she wondered. Then she read the post-it note that accompanied it.

It read "we met at the bank last week; you were a bit tied up at the time. Call me if you need counselling”. Then there was a mobile phone number. She was amazed. The robber must have taken her ticket from her bag. He had given her his phone number though.

It must be a phone that he has stolen, she realised. She put the letter and ticket in a drawer; it was time to go to work. She really would have to think about this.